Friday, September 28, 2007

Brazil Slaughters Sweden In Google Uptime Game

Almost four-fifths of Sweden’s population uses the Internet compared to just over 20 percent of Brazil’s, yet Brazil has beaten Sweden handily on at least one measure: Google availability. Uptime monitoring company Pingdom reports
that from Sept. 1, 2006 to Sept. 1, 2007, Brazilians were only without
Google (GOOG) for three minutes, while those in Sweden had to go
without the popular Internet search giant’s services for almost an hour!

Among other victories, Mexico beat the U.S. (16 minutes compared to
31 minutes), while France edged out the UK (19 minutes to the UK’s 20).
The good news for Internet surfers everywhere is that Google achieved
greater than 99.9 percent uptime across all monitored web sites, which,
Pingdom notes, “has to be considered extremely good, even for a company
with the resources of Google.

Article Link

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Crowdfunding software projects

When it comes to software development, history has shown that niche
products can often lead to profitable new markets. The challenge, of
course, is discovering that the niche is there. microPledge uses the power of crowdfunding to uncover untapped demand and, in the words of its founders, "get software made."

The idea is simple. Anyone with an idea for useful software can
submit it on the site. Others who like it can then pledge money to help
see the vision realized. Developers browsing the site can submit quotes
for creating the software; the one with the best quote after two weeks
is chosen for the job. Those who pledged, meanwhile, get to have a say
in how the product takes form. The New Zealand-based site was launched
in August by three business-minded brothers. They explain: "Being
people with plenty of ideas, we kept wanting to start projects—the kind
we knew people would find interesting. If we could only get people to
pledge to support them ... Then one day it dawned on us that we had to
run the service ourselves."

microPledge currently focuses on open source projects, for which it
receives no payment, but ultimately it plans to diversify to include a
variety of commercial projects and to charge a portion of the funds
pledged. The site also offers a USD 20 "incubator" service to help
protect innovators' ideas. About 160 users and 75 projects have
populated the site so far, and its founders are interested in mutually
beneficial partnerships to help it grow.

In addition to a marketplace for software development, microPledge
reckons its site will come to be viewed as a free market-testing
service to gauge the reception for new software products and features.
Interesting example of the intention economy at work: when consumers
have to put their money where their mouth is, it's a pretty good bet
you can believe what they say. Time to consider how micro-pledging
could be applied to your industry. If not to raise funds, then at least
to find out what your customers really want.

Article link

The Top 5 Viral Facebook Techniques

The dynamic of Facebook application marketing is rapidly changing.
What once was an environment in which your application was practically
guaranteed to go viral has shifted to one in which you need to come up
with creative ways of marketing your application. The MyBucks application
is a perfect example of this. After Aryeh Goldsmith (the creator of the
MyBucks application) added the “Top Referrers” feature, the application
immediately turned viral. After seeing all the applications go viral I
have decided to do a brief overview of a few key features that help
your application go viral. While this is not an exhaustive list, it
covers the majority of tricks of the trade that are currently being

  • Forced Invite - The first instance that I saw this implemented was by David Gentzel when he launched the Happy Hour application.
    Within a matter of weeks the application has already become the 13th
    most popular application on Facebook, which is no easy feat. This
    method was duplicated by other applications with varying success within
    a matter of hours. What exactly is this method you ask? As soon as
    someone decides to add the application they are forced to invite 10
    friends. This is a risky tactic but David Gentzel was able to leverage
    his other highly popular applications to drive traffic to this
    application. Personally, I don’t recommend this tactic. It is a brute
    force method that can be used by those with popular applications that
    don’t have rich feature sets. I have a feeling that most happy hour
    users don’t return to the app on a daily basis, but then again I don’t
    have statistics to back that up.
  • Invite after action - When the Facebook platform first
    launched there were no restrictions as to how many people an
    application user could invite per day. As a result many of the initial
    applications that took advantage of the checkbox invite forms grew
    rapidly. Since the launch, there is now a limit of 10 friends per day
    by each application user. While it has been significantly limited by
    Facebook, it is still a useful form of marketing. When building your
    application you should definitely come up with an effective way of
    allowing users to invite other people.
  • News feed - The news feed is the most powerful component
    of Facebook. Period. There are two ways that applications can leverage
    the news feed. The first is naturally built in. Most of the time, when
    a user adds an application it is displayed in their friends’ news
    feeds. While it is not a guarantee that it will show up in other
    people’s news feeds (due to a number of factors pertaining to news feed
    optimization), this is the primary thing that helps applications spread
    virally. When I launched my Bush Countdown clock
    I added no viral components and relied completely on people’s news
    feeds. This has spread the application to close to 8,500 users. While
    not spectacular, it is hardly something to sneeze at. The second way of
    using a news feed is by leveraging the news feed API calls that
    Facebook has provided. Within reason, you can regularly post news items
    to a user’s mini-feed within their profile. A small percentage of the
    time that item will end up on their friends’ news feeds. While this is
    severely limited, at least you can get it on to your users’ mini-feeds.
    Every form of exposure you can get (within reason) for your
    application, you should strive for.
  • Referrals/Giveaways - This is the most recent form of
    viral marketing on Facebook. I am seeing a number of applications
    adopting this technique. The referrals tactic is to come up with an
    effective way of encouraging your applications users to market your
    application for you. They can market your application on blogs,
    websites, forums, Facebook walls, messages to friends and more. The
    bottom line is that you end up with your application users being the
    ones that get scrappy with the marketing, not you. Giveaways are
    usually combined with this to provide an incentive for users to promote
    your application. There is a risk though in making your application
    look cheap, but for now I think this is a great technique.
  • One-on-One - Used alone, this technique may not result in
    viral growth of your application but combining this technique with one
    of the others I have listed can result in exceptional results. The
    concept is straight forward. Reach out to people that you think will
    find your application useful. This technique is more for targeted
    applications, not for generic applications such as poke wars or zombie
    biting or any of the other generic applications out there. Reach out to
    those individuals that you think will benefit from your application and
    then follow-up with them once they’ve added it. The result is
    passionate users that become your own brand evangelists. This technique
    has been used by countless communities to help generate passionate
    users. If you nurture your application users you will see positive
    results in the long-term.

While each of these techniques can provide varying results, all of
them are targeted at creating the viral effect. Ultimately that is what
makes the Facebook platform so appealing currently. You can rapidly
reach thousands to millions of individuals in a short span of time at
minimal cost. The problem with these viral techniques are that many of
them will become practically useless soon after I release this post.
That is the nature of viral marketing. Viral marketing techniques lose
their appeal after they become adopted by the masses. While the
techniques that have been used until now are far from revolutionary, I
have a feeling that we will begin to see truly creative techniques in
the coming months.

Article Link

The Hidden Cost of Facebook Applications

Every day I talk with clients and prospective clients about
developing Facebook applications and the best way to go about it. The
reality of the matter is that unless you have some insanely catchy idea
that naturally goes viral, chances are you are going to need some help.
That help comes in the form of marketing. All the larger applications
have been launching new apps which they the cross promote. For all the
remaining applications (who now make up the majority), it is frequently
close to impossible to gain significant traction.

While minimal traffic on Facebook still amounts to more than most
websites drive in the first day, there is nothing that can be done to
increase traffic except for the following:

  • Build in viral features (invites, news feed postings, catchy profile boxes … see top 5 viral techniques)
  • Invite all of your friends on a daily basis
  • Share the about page of your application so that it ends up in your news feed
  • Pay for advertising

Aside from that there is not much else you can do. This contrasts to
websites which once picked up by search engines can immediately start
getting traffic and as content is added can grow in size. On this blog
for instance, over 50 percent of my traffic comes from search engines.
This is not the case for Facebook applications since they can’t be
crawled. The result?

As the application market becomes saturated it is going to become
increasingly challenging to make your application go viral. Not that it
wasn’t already challenging to make things go viral (see the book “Made to Stick“),
but without search engines, driving traffic suddenly became a lot more
expensive. In contrast to a website, your only hope of success is
having your application go viral. While your odds of going viral are
significantly increased on Facebook, I question the long-term
sustainability. The number of applications that go viral without the
assistance of marketing are going to decrease significantly in a short
period of time. What do you think?

Article Link

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Startup King's new gig

Bill Gross has more than 50 disruptive
Internet companies under his belt. Now he's looking for moneymaking
opportunities in the physical world.

By Erick Schonfeld, Business 2.0 editor-at-large

2.0 Magazine) -- Some people can't stop thinking about food. Bill Gross
can't stop thinking about new businesses. One of the world's great
serial entrepreneurs, he's launched more than 50 startups through
Idealab, his incubator in Pasadena, Calif. His track record includes
both winners (CitySearch,, NetZero/United Online) and
losers (eToys,, Free-PC). But he's best known for inventing the
pay-per-click advertising model behind Overture Services (formerly, the pioneering search engine he sold to Yahoo! in 2003 for
$1.6 billion.

Now, after more than a decade of launching
dotcoms, Gross has rediscovered the pleasures - and profitability - of
the physical world. Idealab's current lineup is crowded with companies
that make actual products: robots, 3-D printers, electric cars, rooftop
solar collectors. As Gross puts it, he's much more interested today in
"atoms businesses" than "bits businesses." He recently sat down with
Business 2.0 Editor-at-large Erick Schonfeld to talk about why.

Article Link

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Facebook graduating on

Facebook - graduating on

Few websites can reach the status of Google and have their name be used
as multiple parts of speech. But "Facebook Friends" from around the
world have been "Facebook-ing" each other—sharing photos, keeping in
touch, and finding long-lost friends—via the uber-popular social
networking site since it was founded in 2004.

Originally only available to college students, Facebook opened its
doors to high schoolers in September 2005, then to work networks in May
2006, and finally, in September 2006, to anyone and everyone. Now, the
site has more than 31 million active users and is growing at a rate
three times that of rival social networking website
Facebook's constant growth and popularity with a younger audience gives
the site a reputation that is hip, welcoming, and increasingly huge.

Article Link

Thursday, September 20, 2007

12 Year Old Gets $6.5M for Gaming Company

A Silicon Valley company co-founded by a 12-year-old has just raised $6.5 million in venture capital.
PlaySpan, based in Santa Clara, Calif. says it offers game publishers a
technology that lets users make payments and shop for other items. It
calls itself the first "publisher-sponsored in-game commerce network."
Arjun Mehta, a 6th grader, says on his Web site that he is passionate
about software that can make the game experience more "rewarding," and
that he started the company last year in his garage. He paid for it
from earnings made from selling online game items he won."

Article Link

Monday, September 17, 2007

Club Penguin: Re-imaging Game Mechanics With Tip The Iceberg

club penguin

The first thing you notice is that everyone is really
dressed up. When you click on another penguin, their “Player Card”
appears. This shows all of the pins, hats, props, and accessories that
the penguin has acquired by completing various missions and shopping at
various stores. The net result is that a lot of penguins end up looking
like Elton John. (As Emily Yoffe points out, you must have a paid
subscription to Club Penguin to properly outfit your penguin.) Many
initial penguin-to-penguin comments are sartorial in nature, such as
“Where did you get that hat?” or “Nice outfit.” A common opener,
though, is the one that the pink penguin directed my way: “boy or girl?”

…Going to someone’s igloo usually means admiring how they’ve
decorated it with three flatscreen TVs, an aquarium, and a drum set.
You might do a little dancing to the booming rock soundtrack (penguins
can acquire special dance moves) and then go your separate ways. After
all, there are constant parties to attend.

…The iceberg is the site of Club Penguin’s most resilient urban
legend: If enough penguins gather on one side of the iceberg, it will
tip… The iceberg has never tipped, yet the idea will not die. If you
hang around for a bit, a penguin might show up and start drilling, or a
penguin would appear and shout, “TIP THE ICEBERG,” and start corralling
everyone to one side. One tipping theory held that all penguins on the
iceberg had to be the same color, leading to some incidents of
colorism: “Get out of here blue!” A legend like this is a sign of a
healthy game. Players are so invested in trying to figure out how the
world works that they go beyond what the designers have intended.

Article Link

Friday, September 14, 2007

Raising Money

One of the primary directives of a non-profit organization is to raise money. For accedited US non-profits Firstgiving (which we profiled yesterday),
makes it easy for members of your organization to set up donation pages
and collect donations from friends, family, colleagues -- or total
strangers. Non-profit groups can also use the service to manage fund
drives of their own.

Fundable and ChipIn are two other fundraising web applications that work very well for charities that are not accredited non-profit organizations.

There are a large number of for-pay payment processing solutions --
many of which include offline software packages as part of the product.
PaySimple is one of the more affordable packages, costing not too much more than a normal merchant account. Blackbaud is one of the more well-known enterprise solutions for non-profit fundraising (they offer other services as well, such as CRM).

Article Link

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lending Club Breaks $1 Million, Expanding

lendingclub.pngLending Club, the Facebook exclusive person-to-person lending service has passed the $1 million mark in loans to Facebook users.

The milestone comes just short of 3 months since the the site hit the $100,000 mark, and 3 1/2 months since going live as an original Facebook Platform partner.

Lending Club will also announce today that it is expanding beyond
Facebook and will now offer similar ways to connect borrowers and
lenders through thousands of alumni associations and professional
organizations via

The new site includes tools for building diversified loan portfolios
composed of pieces of 20 to 30 individual loans, hosts a forum for
financial experts to share their knowledge with the Lending Club
community, and “Better Rates Together,” a blog community that features
expert advice on P2P lending and personal finance.

Lending Club recently secured $10.26M in Series A financing led by Canaan Partners and Norwest Venture Partners.

Article Link