2.0 Thinking

1896 Telephone, hand cranked magneto on right ...

There is a lot of talk out there in the Value of Web 2.0/Social Media companies.  Being an EIR at Highway 12 Ventures I’ve had the opportunity to discuss this in great detail with a lot of VC’s who are questioning how many social networks and ad monitized sites can you have?

Web 2.0 is a functionality.
Web 2.0 is a toolset that allows the person to person communication that we call Social Media.

How Much Value Has the Telephone Created?

When the phone was invented how many phone manufacturers could the market support? What eventually happened was the telephone was adapted into other business models. Other new services sprang up to support these businesses until the point that the phone is ubiquitous. Yet still, more than 150 years later we see constant innovation around the telephone and the basic functionality that it enabled.

  • Telesales
  • Customer Support
  • Conference Calls
  • Mobile Phones

Applying 2.0 Thinking

Web 2.0 will lay out the same way.  Yes at first we become enamored with the functionality. The Media/Advertising model has been the most popular business model applied to Social Media to date. It’s easy: get enough eye-balls sell advertising. That will only extend so far.

The extent to which Web 2.0 can be applied to various business models has barely been tapped.  If it helps you think about it in another way, look at groups within companies. Marketing is obvious.  HR is just starting to get underway. While Legal has typically been prohibitive to corporate adoption even they to will find innovative ways to adopt the tool set.

One of the areas that excites me the most is the financial space.  I personally think all this turmoil, despite the outcome (unless it really is Armageddon) will lead to a lot of opportunities for 2.0 style financial services.  There are already some great options in the financial software arena like Mint and FreshBooks.

The piece that very few Web 2.0 start-ups have been able to capitalize on yet is the mass amounts of data at their fingertips.  Data mining, deep analytics and predictive modeling will be huge.

If the Web flattened business models Web 2.0 will turn them inside out. My best advice is get creative and think beyond advertising.

Image via Wikipedia

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Why I like selfish bloggers. And why I’m selfish.

tac in summer

If you want to have a really popular blog, don’t follow my example.  According to all the blogging “experts”, if you want a famously successful blog make all your posts about your readers and the benefit to them. Write nothing but top 10 lists and 12 steps to better whatever posts.

Basically spoon feed all the answers to your readers.  Of course if this logic worked Americans would be the skinniest people on the planet because we buy more diet books than the rest of the planet combined.

While these types of articles have their place (the grocery store magazine rack), I sometimes get bored/annoyed with these types of articles.

I read blogs to get context.

I want to know what were the circumstances behind why you did something.  I want the random pieces of insights that bloggers share for no particular reason.

Don’t tell me how you think I should do something.  Tell me why/how you did something and I’ll figure out how it’s applicable to me.

I think that too often people take advice, “best practices” and case studies too literally. Just because something worked for you is no guarantee that it’s going to work for me.

I write so much about how I use social media, what I do at work and personally because it’s my hope that by providing some context around why I did what I did that you can figure out a way to make it work for you in your context.

So I hope you’ll indulge my selfishness and in turn learn something about yourself along the way.

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P.S. And yes I do enjoy a good How-to/Top 10/ 12 Step post as much as the next WIIFM (what’s in it for me) blogger

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What’s in a name? New Communications Business

Graphic representation of a minute fraction of...

So I thought I’d explain the title of my blog: NewCommBiz

I like things that are new.

It doesn’t even really matter what it is, just new stuff in general really interests me.

  • How/why is this new?
  • Where did the idea come from?
  • Who thought of the idea?
  • Is this going to be a success?
  • Who will ultimately use this?
  • How will they use it?

I love communication.

This is what I got my undergraduate degree in.

  • The way people communicate.
  • The way groups communicate.
  • The way communication effects our perceptions.
  • The way communication effects our culture.
  • Interpersonal, Small group, Mass Media, Computer Mediated.
  • Communication Theory.
  • Communication in practice.

I am fascinated by business.

It’s what I got my Masters degree in.

  • Business models.
  • Business innovation.
  • Business management.
  • Business lifecycles.
  • Business transitions.

The Trifecta

Now if you want to really get me geeked out, combine any of the above in any possible combination.

  • The effect the Internet is having on the media business.
  • Mobile phone adoption.
  • New Internet Businesses.
  • The information explosion and how knowledge workers aggregate and stay productive.

2 out of 3 ain’t bad

But really you don’t have to have all 3 to get me excited.

  • New business ideas that have nothing to do with the Internet.
  • Old communication business models.
  • General business challenges.
  • Old communication technologies.

Why am I telling you all of this? I don’t know really. Part of me thought you might be interested in what makes me tick. But partly because I’m seeing a lot more of the 2 out of 3 category.  At Highway 12 Ventures I see a lot of new businesses that have nothing to do with the Internet.  At HP I’m doing more and more “traditional” marketing. Things like CRM and metrics.

I find all of these things interesting and they really allow me to learn and grow. Hopefully this results in me being a better, more well rounded business leader.  I will probably even blog about some of these things, even though they may seem a little off topic from my traditional topics.

I hope you find it as interesting as I do and can learn something along the way.

P.S. To be fair the reason I’m interested in the traditional stuff is so I can see how new communication business ideas apply :)

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Random Thoughts 09/17/2008

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Web 2.0, Venture Capital and Me

Today my two worlds collide.

Tac Search on Wordle 9-4-08

I’ve always had two slightly different (but overlapping) worlds I live in.  One is the Online Social Media/Marketing world that most of you reading this blog are familiar with. The other is as an evangelist for the Boise tech scene, which I cover on my TechBoise blog.

About 18 months ago I started TechBoise to fill a gap I saw here.  That has lead me along a wonderful path where I have met some of the smartest and best people. It has been a truly humbling experience.

Shortly after starting TechBoise and getting out to meet people I got an email.  Mark Solon of Highway 12 Ventures liked what I was doing and wanted to meet with me.  I’d worked with enough start-ups to know that VC’s typically don’t email people out of the blue.

Highway 12 and Mark were different though.  This is the most accessible, engaged firm I’ve ever met. Mark has been a great mentor to me.  He has gone out of his way to support TechBoise, make introductions for me, listen to my crazy ideas and answer my stupid questions.

Today I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining Highway 12 as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR).  EIR is kind of a vague term that has several different applications.  Wikipedia has a general definition here.

Basically this will be a knowledge exchange.  I’ll be advising Highway 12 in the areas of Web 2.0/Social Media and Marketing.  I’ll participate in the due diligence process and help out their portfolio companies where appropriate.  In exchange I get an inside view into the world of Venture Capital.  I’ll get to do my two favorite things: meet interesting people and learn new things.

I will not be leaving HP, this is something that I’m doing on my own and is not a conflict of interest with work.  My management knows about this and is supportive. They realize that value that I can bring to my job being out there on the front lines seeing what’s coming up.

As usual I will share with you what I can about what I learn but will obviously respect all companies confidentiality. If I ever write about a company Highway 12 is working with I’ll be sure to do so with full disclosure.

Here’s the officiall media release.

Highway 12 Ventures Gets Serious about Social Media
Rocky Mountain venture firm taps HP Web 2.0 Marketing Manager
to focus on Web 2.0 and Social Media Start-Ups

BOISE, Idaho – (September 4, 2008) – With the increase in social media start-up activity in the Rocky Mountains, the opportunities for early-stage funding are increasing.  Highway 12 Ventures, a leading VC firm investing in high-growth, entrepreneurial companies in the Intermountain West, has brought Tac Anderson on as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) to focus on new opportunities in this fast-growing emerging sector.

Anderson is a frequent speaker and nationally recognized expert on social media and Web 2.0. He is actively engaged in driving social media initiatives for both public and private enterprises. Anderson currently leads social media activities across Hewlett Packard’s global enterprise unit for both internal collaboration and external marketing.

“Tac has passion and a vision for the future of social media. He has become a thought leader in this area and will be a great asset to our firm in evaluating and making investments in this fast growing sector,” said Mark Solon, managing partner. “Having founded multiple businesses in his career, he also has a keen sense of the challenges that start-ups face.” Anderson also started the highly successful TechBoise blog, known as the voice of Idaho’s tech community, and is active in his hometown’s start-up and economic development communities.

About Highway 12 Ventures
Highway 12 Ventures is a leading early-stage VC fund investing in high-growth, entrepreneurial companies in the Intermountain West. With over $100 million under management, it is Idaho’s largest venture capital firm. Highway 12 Ventures is part of the Village Ventures nationwide network of venture capital funds. For more information call Denise DeCarli (208) 345-8383 or visit www.highway12ventures.com

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CPM is the Root of all Evil

There is a common concerns around the web right now. People are rightly concerned about another bubble. Startups are springing up, gathering users and being aquired with no other revenue model than AdSence (if that). Often times these startups are being acquired by other startups that don’t even have a revenue model of their own.

obama ads on ID Statesman Why the insanity? CPM. Cost per thousand (M is the Roman Numeral for thousand). Media buyers live and die by CPM. Ad rates are based on it, fiscal budgets are centered on it.

There is even a growing concern for the lack of return on Social Media Adverstising. Ads placed on blogs and social networking sites don’t seem to be yeildingvery high click thru rates.

What gives? Where’s the promise of Social Media Marketing (SMM)??

The problem isn’t SMM, it’s you. You’re lazy.

In campaigns I’ve run and been involved in, advertising on blogs and social networking has been very successful, if done correctly. You can’t take the same attitude that marketers have taken for decades: more eyeballs. It makes me sick. Why isn’t your social media advertising netting out the promise of higher click through rates? Because your campaign sucks and you don’t understand anything about the community.

You throw some generic campaign up, the same copy you used in print and wonder why no one clicked on it. Quit being lazy! Take some time to understand your customer, take even more time to understand the community you’re approaching and figure out how you can add some value. Heck spend a few hours looking threw blogs and social networks; which ads get your attention?

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Random Thoughts 09/02/2008

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Using SMS to power the smart homes of the future

Most common mobile keypad alphabet layout.Image via Wikipedia I had an epiphany on the way home from running errands. (I’m sure I’m not the only one to think of this but I haven’t heard of any application that works this way.) We picked up a take-n-bake pizza and Jen wished we could warm up the oven remotely.

One of the prohibiting cost, as I understand it, is that you have to build one box to manager all of your home devicices, and then an app to remotely manage that box. A lot of companies are working on how to crack the whole Smart Home thing. Once it’s solved it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a time where I could sink my mobile phone to my house and start my oven with an app on my phone.

Then the thought struck me that it would be easier and more widely adopted to SMS eneble your appliances. Let your phone act as that box and SMS to act as the network.

I could just send an SMS to my oven that recognizes my phone number and a simple command like: “450″. If I get delayed and am not going to make it when I planned a simple, “off” would turn it off or “pause 20m” would pause the oven for 20 minutes.

You could really apply this to any appliance/function in your house.

“DVR ch7 7-8″ would record channel 7 from the next 7:00 to 8:00 am or pm.
“Lights on” would turn on a predetermined set of lights like the main downstairs and outside lights.

I could go on but an open standards like this would do more to drive Smart Home adoption than any proprietary platform and would enable a wider economic base of people access to it.

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