This Cringely article captures the Web 2.0 startup phenomena from the point of view of the VC’s.
Also on Cringley, comments on the NZ Originated … A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection, and further analysis by Juha.Out of the Red
Third in my Christmas read stack was Richard Prebble’s ‘Out of the Red’ which covered the privatisation of New Zealand 20 years ago.
I like NZ Political reads. This vintage of politicians has a great sense of humour and as you know some of the characters and can remember events they are a good read. Like most of maddogs books it can be consumed in a couple of sessions.
I found the suggestion that applying some fairly basic management techniques turned the SOE model around a bit simplistic but there were some useful business culture lessons in there that make it worthwhile and sharpened up my thoughts.
I especially liked this tidbit …
… watch the cash. A clever accountant can, for a period, get the books to say almost anything. What he can’t do is create cash.
I sounds like we got really close to a Flat Tax under Lange. The idea of a flat tax rate really appears to my limited understanding of economics and sense of fairness.The world just got smaller
Amazon just released an ‘International Service‘.
Often US companies are criticised for not seeing outside their borders, but Amazon looks to have done the work with local customs officials so that …
For your convenience, when we use Priority International Shipping … Amazon Export Sales will estimate and collect an Import Fees Deposit … to pay the Import Fees on behalf of you … to the appropriate authorities of the destination country … If applicable, you authorize us to designate a carrier to act as your agent to clear the merchandise with the relevant customs and tax authorities in the destination country …
I.e. they work out duty and customs clearance so your stuff can come straight to your door.
Amazon is doing some big and smart things. S3 & EC2 are cool extension of services. They went deeper in the stack. Amazon have now built a value added international distribution channel which will mop up other suppliers. They just broadened their value chain.
It also reduces the value of local distributors for global products. (Wonder what a landed MacBook costs?)
The world just got a lot smaller.Zuned
Played with a Zune today. It’s Microsoft’s iPod Competitor.
Just a quick look, but loved the big screen. Interface, Design and buttons were very clean. Dunno if it was better or worse than an iPod but it seemed pretty nice.Dumb Money
I’ve had a fairly positive run in the media of late but this article in ComputerWorld was a great example of just how careful you have to be with what you say.
It came from a workshop that a few of us did in conjunction with Unlimited Potential and NZTE. We wanted to do a 4 hour workshop where we could really dive deep into some of the subjects that affect young companies. It was great fun and I think high value. The media was invited along by the organizer - its amazing what ends up coming out the end of the process.
In the industry Dumb Money refers to capital that comes from people that are not experts in your particular space. Its an awful term when you read in in print but its one of those industry speak things that you throw out without even thinking. Our industry is full of them.
RTFM (Read The Manual) is an old classic.
In our office “You had me at hello” means “I’m there. Stop selling. Next point”.
Actually a new one that entered the office with Fletch (he claims) and I was Craig’ed with today is “I’m picking up, what your putting down”, which I believe means “I get your point”.
Anyhoo, my point on my 60 second dumb money rant was challenging the young entrepreneurs in the room if it mattered where they got money from. They just needed some. Access to capital was their biggest barrier to committing to their business. Getting smart advice perhaps was a second priority because they were the passionate experts that just need to get to the next step. I wasn’t even saying that was right I was just throwing out a challenging statement - as I’m prone to do.
In the case of AfterMail, our non industry expert (dumb) angel money was a super smart guy who added a huge amount of value to our business and played a big role in doing our deal. I learnt a huge amount off him and will often ask for advice.
So I cringed when I saw that article.
My lesson is your lesson. Be very careful about what you say when there is media in the room.NetSuite going for IPO
Larry Ellison (Oracle) owned company NetSuite is the seen as the next big Software as a Service (SaaS) player.
NetSuite has raised over $100 million to date, and is looking to raise another $100 million in the IPO in exchange for 10% of the company.
That’s the US way to do it, raise the big money and go for it.
Though in this space I think the gap of what you can do as a mini-multinational and what you can do as the big US company is much closer.
Stay tuned.Do tax cuts cost money?
Is it just me or does anyone else think it’s silly when Michael Cullen says that reducing tax costs money? His message seems very much ‘politics of envy’.
Surely reducing tax, creates more investment, which creates more revenue, which means that more tax gets paid. Optimists (like me) would actually argue that reducing tax may increase the government tax take. But I’m sure its not a 1-1 match.
I just love this example of how the tax system works.
I’m no macro-economic expert but I do believe that increasing savings is key to promoting a positive investment cycle. So personal tax cuts into a savings scheme would make sense to me.
Business tax cuts will directly increase investment. That allows us to increase productivity, and that would definitely grow the pie for all.
Check out this chart from the NZ Institute …
Making progress behind the scenes on Wellington 2.0.
As a point of clarification (because I’ve been thinking VOIP for a few days) VOIP is not primarily about saving money (though it helps), its about connecting to markets.
For example www.packet8.net allows any one in the world to present themselves with a US phone number. That means that when you dial the US you can lessen the ‘where are you from?’ question and present a local number for sales and support queries.
Why am I angry enough to push this Wellington 2.0 concept? Because we could not use the Packet8 service reliably - so we had to keep dropping back to a standard phone service and present as being from NZ with +64 n nnn nnnn. It just makes it harder.
The international part of this strategy is to provide a clean Quality of Service (QoS) connections that we can run low-res data communications services, first consumer VOIP like Skype, Vonage and Packet 8, then desktop video and eventually hi-res video conferencing - like Access Grids.
Because VOIP is so inexpensive compared to traditional carrier based call plans - it is seen as a threat to their revenue. No one seems to be able to confirm or deny but it appears that VOIP data traffic is actively ‘managed’ down to a low QoS such that it becomes unusable.
But it’s not about the money. If the carriers offered VOIP services where we could have a US, UK and Australian phone numbers and CD quality voice audio (which is very possible) we would probably pay a reasonable amount for the service.
The current situation makes the carriers appear anti-business and spoilers. In this time of carrier’s claiming to ‘get that consumers hate us’ why not spin it around with some positive management and allow us to connect to world. Use the technology they have at their disposal to make us more competitive and connect us to the world - rather than try to constrain us with old and tired business models.Rod on Rod
Rod Oram had some nice words to say on National Radio this morning …What’s that over your shoulder?
DomPost ran a great photo today of Astronauts passing over NZ. (Also on SpareRoom)
Full res shot is here …
Sunny just posted that Google now has Patent searching.
For those living the world of intellectual property, there is often very little we can do about sifting through document after document to find competing ideas. Enter Google. They have put together an interesting site that makes it easier to search for relevant topics and has a layout that is quite user friendly, compared with the somewhat â€˜go awayâ€™ interface of the USPTO site. nice job Google.
Here’s mine …Bad iron experience
I had 3 days, 2 nights in Auckland this week, mainly for NZTE Beachheads. But I was traumatised by a bad iron experience.
The Beachheads program does reimburse me for hotels but I feel guilty about spending to much money and selected 1 Hobson Street which was very cheap on Wotif. It was the first time I’d stayed there but my heart sank when I saw the Iron.
It was like a dolls house toy iron.
Try as I might I could not de-wrinkle my shirts. Even worse I thought I had - until I saw myself in a bathroom mirror mid morning and realized I looked like I’d slept in my clothes.
If Hotels did Interaction Design ….
A media organization is doing a look back article on Y2K next week. Does anyone have any stories of the Y2K and would be happy to be interviewed?
Flick me an email and I’ll make intro’s.Repeat Offender
Article in IdeaLog is up.Wellington Airport - even better
Wellington Airport now has another innovation. First Wishbone and then Wifi and now a coffee cart in the Koru Lounge!
Wishbones are becoming the new Starbucks (but in a good way). Saved my life when baby #2 arrived.It’s Yahoo!
As expected Telecom has announced they are JVing with Yahoo.
As XtraMSN was for many NZers their first internet/ISP experience the transition provides a massive opportunity for everyone. This is compounded by Yahoo probably not being a brand well known by most NZ people.
Let the homepage wars begin!
Big questions now include ….
- What does Microsoft do?
- What is the homepage transition strategy?
- What gaps result from the Telecom/MS spilt ?
- What Browser will be pushed?
- What happens with Hotmail/Live in NZ
Does anyone have any tips for authoring tools that allow you to create content blocks and publish them to word, a web site, pdf brochures etc?
An example would be help authoring, or writing a marketing web site and product collateral.
What’s the cool tool these days?Business Velocity
We’re operating at a time where the velocity of business has speed up so much that in many cases business conventions are being challenged.
An obvious examples are property leases which are often 6-9 years. In a time when businesses are built and sold in 2-3 years a 6 year lease seems strange. The business may fail (maybe it runs out of cash in year 2) or be wildly successful in year 3 and needs 10 times the space. Predicting company size 6-9 years out is meaningless.
Employment is similar. Job security is fiction and fast moving companies need fast moving staff. Careers are accelerating faster than convention - expertise is more related to experience than time - so you can have a very capable people who are young in years.
Convention is to invoice monthly and pay bills on the 20th. In some industries this is an artificially slow cycle that delays cash receipts and delays investment. There may only be 12 investment cycles in a year. How much more could you do with 52 cycles, or 365 cycles (assuming there was no material increase in workload).
Tax cycles, bank statements, cheque clearing and business convention force periods into a business that may longer be relevant. To break these cycles into realtime or near real time exchanges increases velocity.
If cycles are shorter investment required can be less. I’m sure reducing payment days from 30 to 10 reduces cash requirements at least by half. Working capital is freed up.
Web Services, a technology that allows systems to communicate electronically, give us a chance to increase velocity. But we also need to look at convention and say - why does it need to be this way? I think the time is getting close where technology is not just going to be used for automating traditional processes but will enable business connections that will challenge convention and traditional timings. This should provide opportunities for nimble companies and groups of companies that connect together.Time for Mobile Data?
I’ve been using my T3G Minimax green match box for a few weeks now and it is great. I’ve probably done 30+ live demo’s and I trust it to be reliable. We still have a few of the Vodems but are subbing them out as we get new staff.
Telecom is upgrading to their 3G service today in the Auckland CBD. The upgrade is called EVDO Rev A and real speeds are reported as 2.9MB down and 1.2MB up. (compared to 1.7/.150 with the existing EVDO). What that means is that sending large emails with attachments will be much faster. The key aspect for real work use is latency. This has halved. RevA will be in Wellington CBD by April and national by the end of 2007. USB and Smart express cards are due February/ March.
While it would be great to have wifi everywhere - the cellular based system is becoming good enough that you can have access anywhere. We spend around $50 a month for each connection. With hotels being dumb and charging $20 a day for wifi a data card makes a lot of sense.
For email and web demo’s mobile data is good enough now. If you haven’t yet committed to mobile data I strongly recommend it. It allows you to keep on top of things while on the road. Less downtime during the day is more time with the kids at night.