Archive for February, 2010

Inside IDEO the Innovative Design Firm

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Last week in my Organizational Behavior class we watched a video about IDEO. It is a design and consultancy firm that innovates for the biggest companies in the world. I had never heard of them until now and didn’t realize such companies existed. I thought the video was super cool and fascinating. The whole idea of what they do is intriguing to me. I believe that it is not only beneficial for existing companies but the process in general is great for anybody who wants to improve or create something and then turn it into a business. One of the infamous legends of Google is their white board where they just spin off idea after idea to prompt new products and services. These types of activities are powerful and effective and if adapted to each company or team’s needs I believe would be advantageous. All three parts of the ABC Nightline feature after the jump.

Is Twitter In Decline?

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

I was on Scott Bishop’s website just now and I came across his recent Twitter post. I found it to be an interesting read and clicked over to RJMetrics to get a further feel for the statistics that Scott laid out and discussed. The gist of these posts was to analyze recent data released on Twitter usage and what it may mean for the future of the online social network. Here are the pertanent results from RJM:

  • Twitter ended 2009 with just over 75 million user accounts.
  • The monthly rate of new user accounts peaked in July 2009 and is currently around 6.2 million new accounts per month (or 2-3 per second). This is about 20% below July’s peak rate.
  • A large percentage of Twitter accounts are inactive, with about 25% of accounts having no followers and about 40% of accounts having never sent a single Tweet.
  • About 80% of all Twitter users have tweeted fewer than ten times.
  • Only about 17% of registered Twitter accounts sent a Tweet in December 2009, an all-time-low.
  • Despite these facts, Twitter users are becoming more engaged over time when we control for sample age.
  • And their conclusions of this data

  • When you look at new account registrations, no one can deny that Twitter is still growing like a rocketship (that’s good).
  • However, upon closer inspection, the rate of new user signups has dropped meaningfully from its peak and many new users never do anything with their accounts (that’s bad).
  • Furthermore, the percentage of accounts sending out tweets has steadily declined over the past six months (that’s worse).
  • However, our cohort analysis reveals tremendous loyalty and engagement from those Twitter users who stay on the system after their first week as members (that’s good).
  • In fact, those users who stay become more active over time, so much so that they make up for the missing activity from those users who leave (that’s incredibly good).
  • I would say that these results are a mixed bag of sorts. Twitter is obviously still growing but the regressive rates cited are concerning.

    When Twitter began to catch on about a year ago I checked it out and couldn’t see the point. As a regular person it looked like a site dedicated to Facebook status updates. I refrained from getting an account but my partner set up one for our clothing company. I began to think that the only real advantage of Twitter was for brands. It allowed them to connect with users. That seemed to make enough sense.

    But it left a bigger problem. Why does an average person care to use Twitter? Who wants to follow the average person? It isn’t like Facebook where you can stalk everybody you know’s life. On Twitter you kind of have to hope your important enough for somebody to want to stalk you. Sounds difficult. Whereas on Facebook all 500 of your friends are accessible to see everything about you, on Twitter maybe 25 of your friends can figure out what you’re eating, which they can also figure out from your Facebook. This was my thinking a year ago as I continued to keep a close eye on the new startup.

    It is for this reason that about 6 months ago I said that Twitter would be rendered irrelevant within 2 years. Not completely irrelevant, just Myspace irrelevant. Myspace is still a big deal, you just have to be looking for something specific to get the most out of it. Otherwise you won’t like it because it has become cluttered with so much waste. The days of it being the communication hub died when Facebook stepped on it and it failed to respond.

    The bottom line is Twitter has a problem. It is a great networking tool. But most people don’t want to network. They just want to communicate with people they are already friends with. Twitter does not provide that community atmosphere that attracts, and addicts the masses. It fills a niche for connecting people who don’t know each other through things they both want to know about.

    About a month ago I finally figured out that Twitter may help me out and I signed up. I still think it will be reduced to Myspace status in 2 years, but I still use Myspace for my brands. Twitter will continue to have a use. But soon the general public will cease signing up for it in droves because most people who sign up sign up because they think its trendy. Shortly thereafter they conclude they can’t use it and they abandon their accounts. What will Twitter do when it isn’t trendy anymore?

    Based on the recent progression of social networks, Myspace>Facebook >Twitter(I realize there were sites before Myspace, but I’m only 21), it is safe to conclude the next big social network is right around the corner at which point the only thing holding Twitter or any of the other big 3 up will be its core competencies. Facebook remained steady through Twitter which was predictable. But how will Twitter look after the next wave?

    Things can always change. Twitter could reconstruct and evolve as other sites emerge, which Myspace never managed to do. But I predict it will be reduced to a similar state.

    I’m An Entrepreneur

    Friday, February 19th, 2010

    This week we were in our screen printing shop preparing to fill an order when my partner, Bruce Ackerman, had a random thought. He said something to the effect of, “dude did you ever think about the fact that we’re entrepreneurs?”

    I gave him the side eye before replying, “ya think?”

    “I guess it’s true. But I am not comfortable using that word. It sounds weird,” said Bruce.

    Now, I can kind of sympathize with the weird part. After he mentioned it I started to think about how many times I told somebody I was an entrepreneur, or anything remotely close to such a description. Then it occurred to me that I just about never said that word outright and at most said ‘I have a business.’ Even then I generally reduced said business to a serious hobby, turned into a business largely for legal reasons!

    It was then that I realized Bruce had a point. Sorry for the side eye. I continued to delve into my own use of the word. I realized that I put it in writing fairly often. It is the easiest way to convey what I do. One word encompasses a lot. But when talking to someone in person It occurred to me that I preferred to explain some of my ventures in depth, probably in an attempt to make them seem more mundane.

    Subconsciously, I think I relate entrepreneurship with somewhat of a rebellious, if not rogue image. And I do not think of myself as rebellious or roguish. My guess would be that a fair portion of society views the term in a similar light. Risk takers who prefer not to fit the mold that most of the population chooses to fall in line with. This may be where my self-image and entrepreneurship break off.

    I don’t think there is anything roguish or daring about being an entrepreneur. I see it as another path that people take in life. Now we may have some characteristics that emerge more often than others but we aren’t always trail blazers. To me, anybody who recognizes and leverages the value of themselves, or creates an entity that adds value to the lives of others could be considered entrepreneurial.

    The person who owns your local barbershop, hair or tanning salon is an entrepreneur. What’s so different about that? Nothing to me. They are just small business owners. I probably view myself more along those lines, in terms of pure relational factors. But they really are one in the same. The barber took the same chances starting his own shop as the software engineer who developed a new technology and got venture capital to back his or her idea. But one seems more glamorous or daring than the other, right?

    Why is that? I think it is because if we acknowledged such reality on a regular basis it would take away from the aura that comes with being an entrepreneur. We like to think that entrepreneurs are rare. They come along once in a while and must have some special ingredients that they channel to invent, design, and innovate. It’s true that entrepreneurship spawns great invention and innovation, but it is also the foundation of our society and an essence of everyday living. We use the services of entrepreneurs everyday, and we often know them personally. But it rarely dawns on us.

    We should recognize this and take advantage of the opportunity we have to help each other grow and learn. We often think we have to reach out to some guru via the internet or buy a book to get advice about our startup or idea. How about talking to the local McDonald’s franchise owner, or picking the brain of your insurance agent? They may have a word of wisdom or two for you as well.

    And I Quote…

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

    When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. –John F. Kennedy

    NBA All-Star Weekend Thoughts

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

    I caught pretty much all of the festivities surrounding the all-star game as well as the game itself and I have a couple of thoughts after taking it all in. Here they are…

    The Dunk Contest must be discontinued. Nate Robinson won for the third time. The fact that Nate Robinson has 3 dunk titles speaks volumes to the shape the event is in nowadays. To Nate’s credit, he gives the competition everything he has and is a tremendous athlete. More power to him for taking the crown as long as nobody else wishes to be serious about it.

    What needs to happen to revive the event you ask? Lebron James needs to enter. There is no reason for him not to, other than the fact he is probably scared of losing. But he shouldn’t even care about that. All the great athletes go in and earn their stripes. Kobe, Dominique, Jordan, Carter, McGrady and now Lebron must. If he doesn’t then I think he loses some credibility. Nobody will think less of him as a player but one has to wonder why wouldn’t he? Between this and the attempted wiping of the footage of him being posterized from about a year ago paints a portrait of Lebron as someone who shies away from friendly competition and anything that may damage his pristine reputation as a supreme player. He needs to loosen up and go in. And if he does that then you know the best will try to go against him, just so they can say they beat him. Thus, the competition of the event would rise back to where it belongs.

    The skills competition, 3-point shootout, and team event were all good. I can’t figure out why the female player for Team Sacramento no longer plays for Sacramento but other than that I think it continued to be an excellent event. I had a hard time understanding why the 3-point shootout didn’t have any three-point shooters in it. Steph Curry is about the only player who I would consider a three-point shooter. The others just shoot threes sometimes during a game. The event was still good though.

    The NBA has the best all-star event without question. They have for a while and they probably will for the foreseeable future. They understand better than all the other major leagues the value of a strong fan experience. I think they’re biggest advantage is that they embrace the demographics of the league’s players and they leverage that to tap into the culture of the sport. David Stern does not try to make or present the NBA as something that it is not. Everything from the commercials that are run down to the music, performers, and merchandise are a reflection of its biggest stars.

    If only he could force people to enter the dunk contest…

    Who Let Nate Robinson Win TWO NBA Slam Dunk Titles?

    Saturday, February 13th, 2010

    I can’t remember much about the 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, except it was the worst one I had ever seen. Even worse than the year Fred Jones won. Maybe that contest wasn’t so bad, it’s just that Fred Jones won. As I’ve said, when I am at college I don’t catch the latest and greatest in the sports world as often as I did in the years of my youth. I actually missed the Dunk Contest completely last year. So I’m watching the previews for this year as I am sure to not miss it again and would you know 50 Cent Nate Robinson won again last year? I’m probably late but still. Nate Robinson? Twice? Who let that happen? If he wins again they need to cancel the contest again like they did after Kobe won and make all professional dunkers reconsider their craft.

    Derrick Rose Dunking on Goran Dragić

    Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

    This weekend Derrick Rose will represent the Chicago Bulls in the NBA All-Star Game. I can’t remember the last time the Bulls had an All-Star. I think it was Michael Jordan, but I could be wrong. Well, in celebration of the all-star drought coming to an end here is Derrick against the Phoenix Suns a couple of weeks ago getting loose on Goran Dragić. Since I’ve been back in school I almost never watch sports anymore but I was lucky enough to have been watching this game live and it was impressive to say the least. The fact that he dunked on Dragić is cool but not that big of a thing to me since he’s only 6-4. But I love the way he literally punched the ball in and showed emotion. Because if you have been watching Rose since his freshman year of high school like me or if you are a dedicated Bulls Fan, also like me, then you know that he is stoic about 90% of the time. And Stacy King had a classic call, gotta love it.

    BlackBerry Curve Still Top Selling Smartphone in North America in Q4

    Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

    The BlackBerry Curve has been the top selling smartphone in North America for a very long time now. Quarter 4 kept the trend going according to IDC Mobile Devices and Technology Trends. I’m not impressed though. Its great they are selling so many devices but the 83xx, which is where I would guess the bulk of these sales came from is about 4 years old and the 85xx should have  never been made IMO. Check out the full list after the jump.

    1. RIM – BlackBerry Curve
    2. Apple – iPhone 3G S
    3. Motorola – DROID
    4. Apple – iPhone 3G
    5. RIM – BlackBerry Pearl
    6. RIM – BlackBerry Bold
    7. RIM – BlackBerry Storm
    8. Palm – Pre
    9. RIM – BlackBerry Tour
    10. T-Mobile – myTouch 3G

    RIM has been holding down 40-50% of this list for almost two years now and in that time they’re stock price has taken a dive into the dumpster. What people really want to see is some creativity out of them. Hopefully they have something new and exciting coming in 2010.

    I am somewhat surprised the DROID is third on this list. But at the same time it does make a fair amount of sense. After the iPhone and Curve things tend to be wide open. Phones like the Palm Pre, which I would buy over the DROID in a heartbeat are relegated to terrible carriers like Sprint that stunt their sales and phones like my beloved BOLD are more viewed as business devices and do not sell as well in the consumer market. I look for the Pre and Pixi to both make a move in Q1 now that they are on multiple carriers.

    New Heinz Ketchup Packets

    Friday, February 5th, 2010

    Anybody who has ever eaten with me is aware of the frequency with which I have french fries with meals. With that comes ketchup and I consume lots of it. Probably twice the average of any one person, maybe more. So I keep a close watch on the ketchup industry in my free time, for the sake of fellow ketchup lovers. Check out this new ketchup packet from Heinz. It allows you to dip or squeeze. Interesting. I’ll be sampling soon.

    Why, Why?

    Thursday, February 4th, 2010

    After completing my most recent post about Snow Falling on Cedars I realized I still hadn’t bought Raven by Allison Van Diepen yet. I instantly had an impulse to make a purchase. Needless to say, when you’re shopping for something like books you can’t just stop at one. Before I knew it there were three other titles I wanted.

    Four years ago I was given a gift card to Borders for my birthday or Christmas, I can’t remember now. Tonight was the night for it to  finally be used! I was a bit afraid that it had expired. In fact, the current Borders gift cards aren’t even designed the same way for the system to read so they must have really had to adjust to even accept my purchase. But I digress…

    So I have all of my books added to my cart and whatnot, ready to checkout when I realize that my cart has 2 books in it instead of four like I selected. How did this happen? Well, Borders decided it was a smart decision to separate new purchases from used purchases. Seriously? I literally had to create a username for the site and then a completely new username for Even worse was the discovery that my gift card was not to be accepted for any used marketplace purchases. Bonus!

    Could you imagine if Amazon separated new and used items into two different stores? The notion in itself is ludicrous. What is Borders thinking? No wonder they are on the brink of bankruptcy. In a world where Amazon is a digital version of Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble is among the most stable stocks on the market(they aren’t going anywhere), Borders is manipulating its online customers like this? Forcing us to create multiple usernames, and pay multiple bills even though everything is being purchased at the same time. Horrible!

    I have been to physical Borders stores countless times and I absolutely love the environment. I actually prefer it to Barnes & Noble, although I like their store atmosphere also. My confidence in Borders was so strong from a positive consumer experience that I actually purchased stock in the company back in 2008. I made a small profit before selling it preceding the bank collapse.

    About a year later the stock has recovered from a flat line and is still border lining on unstable hovering around $1 per share. Yesterday the stock rose about 35% percent on reports from CNBC that Borders Group may not be going bankrupt after all. That’s great to hear but they have to do something about their internet setup.  You can’t expect to stay afloat without doing such simple things as accepting gift cards and not forcing customers to pay 2 tabs for one purchase.

    Now I know why they have been crushed and Barnes & Noble is maintaining position. Borders is doing themselves in. For their sake I hope they change course soon before its too late. And as for my two purchases, since I couldn’t use my gift card for my used books I moseyed on over to Amazon. Would you believe I actually got one of the books new and the other still used for the SAME price as both of them used at Borders? And I only had to pay once!