Thursday, August 30, 2007

Facebook Invasion

Businessweek has been paying a bit of attention to the influx of older users on the social networking site (Fogeys Flock to Facebook and Too Old for Facebook?).

The 35-and-up crowd now accounts for more than 41% of all Facebook visitors. was originally designed to be a social network open only to those who had .edu e-mail addresses, mainly college students. The site programmers would add a network for a college only if the demand was high enough.

I was a junior when my college was welcomed to the Facebook world, and I quickly learned to love the site.

Facebook opened to the general public on Sep 27, 2006. At first, like most college students, I was not happy about this change.

But, as a self-confessed social networking addict, I have learned to enjoy the fact that more people have joined the site. I was surprised when friends of mine who were born in 1960 and 1947 created profiles.

If you choose to join Facebook, pay careful attention to the tips in Avoiding Facebook Faux Pas.

Don’t be afraid to ask Facebook users for help. We’re pretty friendly people.

When Journalists Speak, Startups Should Listen

There really does seem to be a trend for startups to make it nearly impossible to find out their location or the contact info for any real, live human who works there. I get the whole issue that some startups may be in stealth mode, or that perhaps they're virtual and don't have a physical office. That's cool - but would it hurt to make it one person's job to sort inbound calls? (You can screen 'em via voicemail if you must.)

Scott Kirsner gives advice to Web 2.0 startups (often guilty of these under-the-radar practices). He notes the tradeoff is a chilling effect on the enthusiasm of reporters who might want to write about the company.

Unfortunately, you’re also making it harder for journalists to get in touch when they’re working on stories. I almost never send e-mail to addresses, or fill out contact forms – usually because you never get a response, or if you do, it comes three days later, when a story has already been wrapped and published. Instead, if a company doesn’t offer a phone number and I really want to talk with them, I search Google for a few minutes to see if I can get their phone number, call 411 if I happen to know where they’re based – and then usually give up after about four or five minutes of trying. I just move on to another prospective interviewee.

Earlier this year, I got an email out of the blue from a USA Today reporter looking for the contact info for a company (not a client I hasten to add) that was featured in the MIT Enterprise Forum's Brave New Web conference. (He had plucked my name off the MITEF release.) Luckily, I had some liaison emails and called our contact there and then relayed the info in a timely fashion. But I couldn't help but think how frustrated said reporter must have been that he couldn't find any contact info for this young company on its own site.

Try Scott's suggested experiment. Put a press contact on your site for a time and see how it goes.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Mass. Sports Good Showing in Inc. 500

Last week's Globe reported that Massachusetts can brag about a good showing in the Inc. 500, which is really the Inc. 5000 this year. (For the first time, the publication has expanded its list to a whopping 5000.) The print edition hits the street this week.

Of the top 500, 24 of the companies are based in Mass. This cool map presents the list visually. Given the density of dots around New England, we can feel good about the region's continued position as a center of innovation.


Monday, August 20, 2007

CEO Lingo Can Predict Innovation

University of Minnesota researchers have found that a CEO's use of future tense can predict a company's track record in innovation.

"The answer lies in the words of the CEO," said Rajesh Chandy, professor of marketing at the university's Carlson School of Management. "By simply counting the number of future oriented sentences in annual reports we can predict future innovation by the firm."

In an upcoming paper, "Managing the Future: CEO Attention and Innovation Outcomes," to be published in the Journal of Marketing, Chandy and his co-authors show that CEOs who focus their attention on future events, as well as external activities, lead their firms to earlier adoption and invention of new technologies and greater and faster development of innovations. In contrast, more attention to internal operations leads to slower detection, adoption and implementation of new technologies.

Chandy and crew studied empirical data collected from the online banking industry over eight years to determine innovation outcomes such as speed of detection, speed of development and the breadth of deployment of technology. By counting the number of future oriented words and phrases in letters to shareholders over this time span, they were able to predict the level of innovation by the firm up to five years later.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

BlogDay: Five Blogs to Check Out

John Wall has tagged me for BlogDay. I am all twitterpated over this; it's the big excitement of my week. A bit of background from Jeff Pulver:

BlogDay was created by Nir Ofir in 2005 with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries, cultures and areas of interest.

BlogDay 2007 is taking place on August 31st.

And the suggested rules from Jeff:

When creating your BlogDay blog entry, please try to follow these instructions:

  1. List five Blogs that you find interesting and if you can tell, include the city/country where they are from.
  2. Identify five Bloggers to tag to join in this game with you. I recommend emailing the bloggers you tag to give them a heads up of you tagging them.
  3. Use the tag: BlogDay2007 in your blog post.
  4. (Optionally): Contact the owners of the blogs you shared as your "blogs to take a look at."
Without further ado, here are my five blogs:

BetterWorldBooks - I've run into these guys because of Room to Read, a nonprofit that builds schools and libraries in developing countries. BWB (Mishawaka, IN) collects books (mostly through book drives on college campuses and libraries), sells them online and donates the proceeds to literacy and education organizations. RtR is one of the nonprofits BWB supports. This blog is invariably inspiring and hopeful.

green-vox - This is the blogging home for Dwell Creative, (Portland, Maine) which popped up in my Google Alerts earlier this year because they got profiled in a to-die-for NYT article on green agencies. "Dwell Creative is an advertising + pr agency focused on positivity and authenticity. Most traditional advertising agencies promote consumption as a way of life. Our approach focuses on authentic messages as brands." I just love their writing and their mission.

Chris Brogan - Chris (also from Mass.) is well known already and he's taught me a lot about social networking and all kinds of new stuff. Chris has created this nice Ning network of Grasshoppers with the sole purpose of being helpful to other folks in the network.

GenuineVC - David Beisel's (Venrock) thoughtful writing on the local VC scene and all things digital. This meaty post on Seven Digital Uber Trends is a good read.

GOOD Magazine - Runs a nice blog; here's an interesting post on a system under the floors that converts the footsteps of crowds into energy! In their words: "GOOD is providing a platform for the ideas, people, and businesses that are driving change in the world."

Do I have to stop at five? Let me add two bonus blogs: - I met Megan (from our fair state) at BlogHer Business this year. She's cool and runs a fun site. It's just a tad different from what I do for a living.

Innovation Economy - It's not like Scott Kirsner needs my help in generating visibility :), but he's just back to our fair city, and this blog is fairly new, so check it out. It's also the title of his weekly Globe column, and as usual, he's got his finger on the pulse.

My other favorites are Fake Steve, Kawasaki and Huffington Post, but I figure those are already pretty famous.

Happy BlogDay!

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Separated at Birth: Fake Steve and Dan Lyons

I get tired of those silly convos where folks debate the strengths of the West Coast versus the East Coast as petri dishes for tech or life sciences companies. Can't we all just get along?

But today, chalk one up for the allegedly stuffy Easterners. Because Fake Steve has been busted and he's one of us -- and no less than a resident of our fair state -- Dan Lyons, senior editor at Forbes. Could we have a prouder moment?

I knew Lyons (below) had a sense of humor, but who knew he was this funny.

FSJ's blog today, under the eloquent title, "Damn, I am so busted, yo," reports:

I've been busted by a newspaper reporter. My cover has been blown. Guy named Brad Stone, who works for the New York Times. Have you heard of him? Well, tip of the hat to you, Brad Stone. You did the sleuthing. You put the pieces of the puzzle together. You went through my trash, hacked into my computer, and put listening devices in my home. Now you've ruined the mystery of Fake Steve, robbing thousands of people around the world of their sense of childlike wonder.

Having read this post, which does not reveal FSJ's true identity (except for some adorable mugshots of a Jack Russell terrier), I Googled - my fingers trembling with excitement - to find Stone's article, which is here. Stone kept me in suspense until paragraph four, when he finally spills the beans.

Stone fills us in, and gives us a few examples of Dan's twisted wit:

Mr. Lyons said writing as Fake Steve became addictive. He developed a unique lexicon and catalog of insults for the character. Bill Gates is Beastmaster, and Eric E. Schmidt, Google's chief executive, is Squirrel Boy.

Last month, when a reader asked Fake Steve about Apple’s succession plan, he replied: “My plan at this time is to live forever and to remain in charge here, though perhaps with fewer restrictions on my power. The truth is, I am not human — I am a man-god, son of Zeus, born to mortal woman but fathered by the ruler of the gods, lord of thunder.”

It's tough enough to maintain a blog on a regular basis, but my hat is off to Lyons for his trenchant satire and consistent voice for FSJ.

And you know it's a good day when you get to use trenchant in a sentence.