Friday, May 16, 2008

TieCON 2008 - Day 1: May 16, 2008

This is my second year attending this crazy conference. Here're my notes:

Bill Campbell - Intuit
  • CEO's main job # 1 priority - hire, develop, and retain good people - this is what they should be thinking about it first, and always
  • Recruiting: look for people with a "few notches under their belt" , people who "understand scale", and have "headroom" (i.e. willing to learn and have capacity)
  • Integrity: "your reputation stays with you rest of your life" - build that capital
  • Focus on Process:
    • is there a structure to your 1-on-1 meetings, staff meetings?
    • mid-quarter reviews (where are we, what needs to change)
  • Focus on Product:
    • "why has marketing lost its clout?"
    • "because it forgot its first name"
    • "what is that?"
    • "product --"if you don't put product focus as #1 and care about it as such, hype ain't gonna cut it"
  • Management:
    • Don't aim for consensus - go for the best idea
    • Hardest thing for a CEO is to not be imperial and not be the smartest guy in the room
Mike Speiser, Managing Director, Sutter Hill Ventures
  • Ideas are Easy, Execution is Hard:
  • Free ideas to implement
    • Gr8
    • Personalizr
  • Reinvent *existing* markets
  • Software company mentality: can you plan for daily releases?
  • Get good PR to get acquired attention instead of focusing on direct solicitations
  • Recruiting: use linkedin to determine chemistry fit between potential hires and the company by looking at the quality of connections between you and the person you are considering to hire
E-Bazaar: IP Protection for Open Source

It is possible to leverage patent protection for open source, but more as a business process patent. Essentially you are saying that your company has a unique way of using/applying a open source product (which is trying to differentiate your support/services)

Chris Anderson: Mr. "Long Tail" :-)
  • New marketplace: scarce space = expensive distribution; long tail - abundant space = free distribution
  • What can "free" do? Internet - nationwide economy built on "free" (really?)
  • What happens when things get free? Innovation comes when you can start wasting what you'd otherwise conserve; examples:
    • waste transistors by developing GUI, web, video games
    • waste storage:
      • My 9-year old has more storage than my entire company's email server:
      • Monday morning note from IT: "Please delete old emails from Inbox because our server is full"
    • waste bandwidth:
      • Scarce bandwidth causes mass media that shoots for general appeal: e.g. Everybody Loves Raymond
      • Abundant bandwidth can address long tail needs: Everything that can be done on video will be done -- e.g. LonelyGirl15 on YouTube
  • Econ 101: "In a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost" -- BUT what happens when the cost is zero? (software is a zero marginal cost) Everything that can be digitized, will be digitized -- and anything that can be digitized, will eventually be free
  • Taxonomy of "Free"
    • Older:
      • Cross-subsidy (razors for free but charge for blades)
      • Ad-supported (media)
    • Upcoming:
      • Freemium (upselling. old model: give away 1% to sell 99%; new model: give away 99% to sell 1%, e.g flickr vs filckr-pro)
      • Labor Exchange (consumers create something of value in exchange for free goods or services, GOOG-411)
      • Gift Economy (wikipedia, craigslist, open source)
  • Use Abundance to market Scarcity
    • You write an article for HBR for free to draw attention to your business
    • Prince gave away CD's (millions) with Daily Mirror to promote performance
KEYNOTE PANEL: They Like You, They Really Like You - Now What?: Challenges After Hypergrowth
Kara Swisher (moderator) with Panelists Derek Liu, Jia Shen and Kent Lindstorm

Somehow my feeble mind hasn't quite grasped how to build a useful (by my standards) application, let alone a business, around social networks. Gadgets, widgets.. it's a far cry from my usual user types that I serve via BI applications. Maybe another way to ask the question is that what is my BI userbase trying to find in social networks that is not there.

Anyway, some interesting tidbits I heard:
  • "Social network needs to grow organically" it's interesting our competition didn't come from "established" big-traffic sites like Yahoo, AOL, or MTV who did try to enter social network scene, but it rather came from companies that started in college dormrooms like facebook or local music scene like MySpace a- Kent Lindstorm
  • "Young people use email because their parents send them email, else they don't check their emails at all -- it's all IM or other messages via facebook wall, tweetr, etc." - Jia Shen
  • "By the time when you get married, social networking doesn't matter anymore, because you aren't really trying to meet someone" - Jia Shen
  • "We don't have a QA team. Yahoo (as much as I love them), will take 5 weeks deciding whether they should do something, or to QA something that goes out, in our world, 5 weeks means 100's of iterations -- we have to rapidly iterate without QA and look at the metrics to determine your course" - Jia Shen
  • "Advertising is a maths game - social networking provides a lot of that plus metrics on social dynamics that become extremely important for better targeting" - Jia Shen
  • "Bigger convergence of gaming world with social network, a la second life" - Derek Liu
  • "Battle of social graphs coming up" - Jia Shen -- "all leading social networks are taking their social graphs and mapping it out, kind of like what Microsoft Passport was trying to do" -- "AOL could become a bigger player in this that one would think"
  • Ken: "There is a global aspect to this that is not always realized in Silicon Valley, Facebook is not 4000-times bigger than MySpace as we'd like to believe in the Valley", "Integration with mobile is another key factor -- look at QQ in China, their integration of social network, SMS, and IM is exemplary in a way that US doesn't get it"
  • "It's all about targeting -- improving your CPM or CTR" - Jia Shen
KEYNOTE: Leadership on The Edge
Robert Swan, Founder & President, 2041

This was pretty inspiring - if I ever saw a true environmental activist, Mr Swan has to be one. The man's led teams to both north pole and south pole to make a statement, and hasn't stopped there. Go to and check it out.

1 comment:

Matt S said...

Hi Sandeep,
Amazing write up. I feel like I was there. Thanks!