Category Archives: obama

Does President Obama Need to Bail Out Twitter?

obama tweets

During this historic week there will be many pressing issues for the new administration: The Economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Hamas, Global Warming, Energy, Education, Social Security, Health, and lastly Twittgm logoer.

Billions are being given to GM to build more car&trucks that the public really no longer wants. For a fraction of that investment we could save Twitter and the worlds premier micro-blogging network.

To Twitters credit they have finally hired a business development person. A good step in figuring out the revenue side of their equation. However, here is my New Year’s gift to Twitter.

Twitter has a large following and seems to have no way to make money, or does it?

One of my colleagues seems to have broken the revenue code for Twitter. Since she asked that I protect her identity I will call her “Mickey”. Mickey has been blogging with Twitter for a couple of years. Her Tweets have a modest number of followers: perhaps a couple of co-workers, friends, relatives and a few random lurkers. What was valuable about Mickey’s Twitter existence was her Twitter name. It seems that a company that wanted to broadcast their product messages on Twitter desired Mickey’s Twitter name. Similar to those who made money by domain sitting on website names, there is actually a real economy in Twitter names!

Mickey and this company negotiated a settlement with real cash exchanging hands.

band

A recent article in Venture Beat revealed that 93 of the top 100 brands do not own their own Twitter brand names. Naturally this “opportunity” is not unique to Twitter. Clearly the same economy exists at Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

All of these social networks have become large transmission networks for targeted content and thus have an obvious commercial value.

A big difference between Internet domain names and the private namespaces of social networks is that they are privately owned and reserved by the owners of the SN. The Internet has the Uniform Dispute Resolution Mechanism, while there is no such mechanism for Social Networks. These networks operate within the normal commercial guidelines of any business and are thus subject to trademark and copyright laws within the jurisdictions of their business. Namespaces for Social Networks are in a big gray area right now.

In the Twitter terms and conditions they state:

“We reserve the right to reclaim usernames on behalf of businesses or individuals that hold legal claim or trademark on those usernames.”

Now back to Mickey.

Why should Twitter allow their subscribers to barter usernames and not profit from the network that they own?

Here are my two suggestions for Twitters Commercial Business Model.

obamaFirst, Twitter should recover all trade names for companies that are owned by individuals who are speculators and not official company officials. (At least Mickey got her payment!) This move would signal that Twitter is serious about the business use of their network. Any company that wants to do business on Twitter and capitalize from their valuable network should have to pay a direct fixed monthly fee to Twitter. In addition, a variable monthly fee can be gained based on number of Tweets and followers. These businesses would pay for access to millions of subscribers, just like advertisers pay for television ads.

Second, Twitter should build a business-matching engine. This feature would suggest that users follow certain commercial channels based on their Tweets, interests and other fans and followers.

These suggestions are not going to garner 100’s of millions for Twitter, but they are the prerequisite to larger advertising and subscription models.

If they follow some of these ideas, Prsident Obama can spend more money for the bailouts of CitiGroup, Ford and GM.

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Filed under advertising, E-Commerce, economy, mobile, mobile advertising, mobile commerce, obama, politics, social networking, Twitter

The Technological Political Battlefield of 2012

 

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As I read Jose Antonio Vargas‘ report in the Washington Post   titled “Republicans Seek to Fix Short-Sightedness” on my Blackberry, I realized that this story is an excellent bookend to my previous blog about the Obama Internet machine.

In his well thought out piece he links the Republican election disaster to their lack of technological savvy.  My favorite quote in his article is:

“The Republicans are the party of talk radio, the Democrats are the party of the Internet”

A great observation was that the with the 1990’s technology of talk radio you can broadcast your message and influence the masses. With the Internet you can also influence the masses, with the significant benefit of developing mailing lists and raising money, directly.

This technological campaigning and fund raising changes in 2008 are as significant as Kennedy’s grasp of the use of Television in the 1960 campaign.

Before we once again get consumed with the 2012 Presidential election,we should ask , what will be the technological strategies and tactics of the next cycle?

Here are some of my top three predictions for the technological battlefield for 2012.

(as dangerous as it is to make predictions 4 years in advance!)

Social Networking will be big in the next election cycle
This election saw the beginnings of using social networks such as facebook®, MySpace® and Linkedin® as linkedin4organizing and fundraising tools.   Volunteer recruitment will be a social networking exercise, by 2012 these networks, and probably new ones, will be mature and even more mainstream.  The party that masters social networking will have an advantage.  A key aspect of mastering social networking will be the durability of the networks.  We already can see how the Democrats are continuing to use their social networks post election.  Starting the next election cycle with social networks measured in the 10’s of millions will be a significant asset.

Mobile equals Internet

The advances in mobile devices will largely erase the difference between Internet and mobile campaign efforts.  Direct fundraising via the mobile device will be commonplace.  The mobile will be more prominent in real time organization.  In 2004, the product of my former company (Upoc) was used by protesters in New York to direct real-time rallies during the Republican Convention.  The party that is mobile savvy will have a real-time advantage in 2012.

Management of Viral Videos matters
youtube_logoDuring this last cycle both parties were injured by popular viral videos. Examples of these videos include Obama’s Pastor – Reverend Wright, the Palin/Couric Interview and the more watched Tina Fey parodies.  The news cycle for politics is 24/7, with every moment forever archived on sites such as YouTube.  This election cycle witnessed the first “made for YouTube” videos by the Obama campaign.  The next election cycle will use YouTube as a major battleground.

Please share with me your views of important technology trends for future elections.  It will be interesting to bring this post out of the archives in 2012 and determine how well we did with the predictions.

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Filed under Election, location based services, mobile, obama, politics, social networking, wireless

Note to the New CEO of Yahoo – Mobile desktop matters

What is your mobile homepage? And does it matter?

jerry_yangThe exit of Jerry Yang from Yahoo got me thinking about the implications, if any, it would have for mobile.    In the desktop browser world, the fight for your homepage has been waging for years between Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, AOL, and anyone else who managed to hijack it.  The theory is your homepage selection drives page views, which in turn drives advertising revenue.  More views equal more bucks.

So, what does this mean in a mobile device context? Does homepage matter?

What is particularly interesting in the mobile domain is the competing paradigms for driving traffic.  There is the “traditional” browser homepage war, the mobile desktop icon, a range of Java or Brew applications, and widget portals.

The key question is what to you want to do with your mobile device when you access the Internet and how best to get the answer you want.

A second factor is despite the proliferation of full keyboard mobile devices; the long-winded entry of URL’s and the point and click model of a desktop still does not translate well in the mobile arena.

The specific models at play on the Blackberry are:

1-    Set your homepage
2-    Download bookmarked Icons for specific sites and services
3-    Java Applications that mange collections of information feeds
4-    Widgets and Portals that are a collection of widgets.

Here is my solution – let me know if it matches what you have or you have a different use model.

When I access the Internet on my mobile it is usually about answering a particular question or reading a specific newspaper or blog.

I have my homepage set to the minimalist Google mobile.   I can enter anything I want in the search box, from a website I want to visit to a question.  This is a very functional model for me when I need business information or just want to impress family and friends with some arcane trivia.  Did you know that the state bird of Alaska is the Willow ptarmigan?mybb1

For routine information and entertainment I use the very easy downloadable bookmark icon.  The icons I have on my device are:  NY Times, Washington Post, ESPN, MLB, NY Yankees, Weather Channel, CNN, CNBC and ABC News.   This library of information is great for those commuting train trips.  In 25 minutes I can catch up on the news, read my favorite editorials, and follow the local sports teams.  This is very efficient for sites I visit often, and much better than bookmarking these sites within the browser.  This is another good example of the difference between the desktop and mobile experience.

Next, I have certain downloaded applications that I use often.  My favorites are VZW navigator, followed by Google maps and iskoot (for Skype).  For navigation applications I am asking my device a specific question and getting a specific answer.  It is either, “How do I get to….”, or “ Where I am and how did I get here?”  I use Skype on my desktop and there are rare occasions that I us it contact a business associate.  Iskoot works well and is free.

The next category of applications isthe content aggregation portal.  I have two examples that I have on my device.  The first is a very good RSS reader called Viigo.   You can easily set up the blogs that you follow and they also have pre-loaded feeds that you can keep or easily delete.  If you want to follow this blog on your mobile device, this is the solution.

I have also downloaded a specific RSS reader from “The Hockey News”.  If you read this blog regularly you know I am a big Hockey fan.  I am sorry to say the Hockey New RSS portal is poorly executed and rarely gets used.  This should be bad news to the editors at the Hockey News.  If a diehard mobile guy who is also a diehard hockey guy finds your mobile application to be poor, it is time to rethink.

Note to the Hockey News:

I make the same offer to you as I did to the New York Rangers.  I will volunteer to fix your mobile application.

yahoo1Lastly, the widget portal that I have downloaded is “Yahoo Go! “.  In my view, this is a good implementation for the wrong paradigm.  Yahoo Go! Is a mobile version of the  “My Yahoo” desktop homepage.  It has lots of general information categories in a very slick carousel interface.  What is interesting is that, although I have used Yahoo as my desktop homepage for 10 years, I almost never use “Yahoo Go!”.   The reason for my low use of this service is simply that I have no reason to use it.  It does not function as a way for me to get quick answers (Google), quick information (Icons), or navigate (VZW).

It is interesting to speculate what Obama had on his Blackberry?

The Iphone, G1, HTC and other large screen devices can easily enable similar models.

With advertising revenue the ultimate goal, understanding the mobile desktop paradigm is step one.

We can hope that the successor to Jerry Yang will re-think the mobile environment to be truly mobile and not just a transposition of the desktop.

Will the Yahoo and Google be the only advertising game in down, or will quick footed start-ups like Mojiva make even bigger inroads in this lucrative market?

Please share with me what you have on your mobile desktop.  I will collect the input for a future blog article.

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Filed under advertising, CEO, Google, hockey, mobile, obama, portal, widgets, wireless

Presidential Blackberry!

KUWAIT OBAMAOn Sunday morning I was in my car waiting to pick up my kids at Sunday school and I was reading the NY Times on my Blackberry.  One of the feature stories was about President-Elect Obama and his Blackberry.  It seems that Obama, like many executives of our generation relies on mobile access to news, blogs and email.  The question the article raised was should a President be permitted to have a Blackberry.

There are the security concerns.  Email being intercepted? The President’s surfing habits tracked; even is location known.   What about a President who uses the Internet from their office?

If we assume that the NSA, CIA and Secret Service can figure out how to make the President’s BlackBerry secure.  I see two issues (other than security) in this intellectual exercise.

Number one– should the President be able to get unfiltered information that has not traveled through a maze of bureaucrats?

What would be the implications of a President who does not live in the “bubble”?   In general – I only see upside to getting information first hand.  Most good executives seek many forms of input and I have found that usually the best info is the unfiltered, first hand accounts.  From written accounts of Obama’s management style, getting unfiltered information from many sources is what he wants.

The question is really what does a President read that was not specifically written for him?

Getting unfiltered information can only make the processed information higher quality, more relevant and less prone to “yes men”

One Thumb up for the Blackberry

Number two – Timeobama-with-blackberry2

A Blackberry, or any other mobile Internet device can be a huge distraction and time wasting device, if not used properly.  I would draw an analogy to the early days of the Web when people would “surf” endlessly.    You need discipline to not react to ever buzz and beep that happens 24/7.

Does a President have “down time”?  Is every free moment scheduled for meetings, briefings and speeches?   Is time with your family also scheduled?   I would assume that a President needs un-connected time to think.

On the time issue – I give one thumb down to Presidential Blackberry use.

It will be very interesting to see what mobile technology Obama uses.

As you think about Presidential use of a Blackberry, consider this:

How to you manage your time as an executive? Do you get unfiltered information?

Interesting questions for all of us to ponder.

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Filed under mobile, obama, wireless

Wireless, Politics, the Economy and Hockey

Sometimes if you just take a moment for deeper observation at an event you can get a sense of what pundits spend a lifetime interpreting. Last night I took my youngest daughter to a Ranger game. They lost in overtime, 3-2 to the Edmonton Oilers, so I will not dwell too much on the fantastic comeback, the grit and determination and the ultimate let down.

Here are my other observations during those 4 hours:

Observation 1 – Wireless Gen
My daughter sent and received approximately 120 text messages. She communicated to classmates about the homework she would have to do when she got home, she chatted with her cousin about God knows what, She took three calls, and she cheered the loudest in are section. She does not have ADHD, she just multitasks at the rate of a cyborg!! This is the next generation.

Observation 2- Politics

obama buttonThroughout the game the roving camera guys put crazed fans on the big jumbotron. Twice last night, the fan was wearing a big Obama button on their Ranger jersey. When they saw themselves on the arena scoreboard instead of pointing to their Ranger emblem, they pointed to the Obama button! If seems the hockey Mom and Dad demographic in New York went for Obama.
Observation 3- More Wireless
The Rangers have several interactive mobile promotions during the game. The simplest is a text to screen application where your message is displayed on the scoreboard. What is “interesting” is that you text to one shortcode, get a thank you message from another shortcode and then are instructed to text a third shortcode for a free wallpaper. Also, the thank you shortcode responds with “Thank you for voting!” Opps? Did I vote? Time to check that campaign provisioning!

NOTE TO NEW YORK RANGERS MOBILE DEPARTMENT:

I herby offer – pro-bono (maybe you can pay me with an autographed stick) to fix your mobile applications to make them coherent and effective; to have them run on one shortcode, with proper messaging before, during and after the user interaction.

Observation 4- The Economy

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I made a quick count on the number of empty luxury suites last night. I stopped counting after 23. Madison Square Garden has about 60 suites for the well-heeled New York corporate crowd. While I have seen empty suites in the past, the number of dark boxes is very large. As a proxy for the recession/depression on Wall Street, just counting the number of flipped light switched on luxury boxes is a leading indicator of the economy.

Observation 5- The Economy – Oh Canada! (Or is it just the Oil(ers))

Since the Rangers were playing a Canadian based team, the national anthems of both Canada and the U.S. are sung before the game. I like the Canadian Anthem, and can sing it with the best of them. I have to admit I was never quite sure who Canadians are “on Guard” from?

Anyway, I observed a very large number of Edmonton Oiler fans, from Canada. This is unusual. Usually the out of town fans come from New Jersey, Long Island and Philly. This got me thinking. Is there some other geopolitical trend that has caused these fans to be in New York?

I came to three possibilities – either they paid for a tour before the dollar increased in value, or they all work for oil companies in Edmonton and have more money than they know what to do with, or they are Canadian “snow birds” who escape the harsh Canadian winter to bask in the less harsh New York winter. You decide.

Amazing what you can observe if you just take a minute to look!

iamaranger800

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Filed under economy, hockey, media, mobile, New York, obama, politics, Rangers, wireless

Would you have invested in this start-up? Its made over $500M!

The World’s most successful E-Commerce Start-Up is planning a successful exit after just 24 months.

Imagine you are an Investor listening to this company’s pitch.

The date is early 2007. Decide if you would invest.

The business plan shows projections of almost $500M in revenue by 3Q2008.   They estimate in excess of 40M registered users with average revenue per user “purchase” event of over $80.  There will be a significant amount of return uses.   Users will gladly opt-in to your marketing messages and receive upwards of 7 promotional emails per week.   The opt-out rate will be quite low.

The company will use social networking and viral marketing to a degree not yet seen in their product category

Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace, Flickr, Youtube, BlackPlannet , Asian Avenue, Faithbase, EONS, Digg, Eventful, Mybatanga, and probably more will all promote the product

Many of the subscribers of this service will also gladly donate their time to this company to help promote its leadership and mission.

The product will be promoted via a combination of online advertising, mobile shortcodes, television, radio, print ads. Most importantly,there will be personal appearances by the company’s charismatic leader.  He will draw crowds in excess of 50,000 to hear him speak.

Included in the investor pitch deck is a plan for a 30 minute infomercial in prime time on 5 national networks.

Oh, and the product that people are getting for all this money?

Hope and Change.

This company plans a successful exit on Tuesday.

Regardless of your politics, you have to admire the unprecedented E-commerce effort of the Obama team.

If Kennedy was the first President to really understand and utilize TV, future historians will name Obama as the first candidate (perhaps President?) that fully capitalized on the Internet as a powerful fund raising (E-Commerce) vehicle. Continue reading

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Filed under E-Commerce, Election, mobile, obama, politics

The Upoc community remains consistent in its political views

 

 Over the past 2 months we have polled the Upoc community 5 times on presidential candidate preferences. These polls are by any evaluation unscientific.  

 Before I reveal the answers, it is important to disclose that in 2004 we polled the community on their choice for President Bush or Kerry, Let’s just say that the outcome of that poll, had it carried through to the real election, would have changed the history of the world over the past four years. Kerry won that poll by around 15%.
We asked the community about their preference of Democratic Candidates, then each of Hillary and Obama vs McCain, and lastly if Obama should take Hillary as a running mate.
 The preference of the community was strongly for Obama. When given the choice of Obama Vs McCain, Obama won by 20 percentage points. Interestingly, when given the choice of Hillary vs McCain, she also won by about the same margin. So, while Hillary was a clear second choice for our social network, if she had won the nomination they would have supported her. This is an interesting outcome that somewhat contradicts the generally accepted generation gap in Obama vs. Hillary supporters.
This past week we asked the network if Obama should take on Hillary as his running mate. The result was “Yes” by around 20 percentage points. I found this result also surprising, although had we presented a choice of several VP possibilities, the result might have been different.
It would be interesting to see similar polling from Facebook and MySpace. Is it a matter that the social networks are more left leaning (Younger demographic) in their views? Or are the Republicans just less responsive to social networking polls?

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Filed under McCain, obama, politics, polls