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New York City, in the Bag

Returning to my hotel (too cheap to stay in the conference hotel), I found that the common areas had been rented out for the Radar Magazine Launch Party. Pushing through the Paris wanna-be’s on my way out to dinner, I was talking with my daughter on the mobile who was enthusiastically telling me the results of her swim lesson. As I exited the hotel, one of the staffers ran after me down 45th street and in panicked tones yelled that I forgot my goodie bag. I began to object and he screamed “Just take it!”

In the Bag
Match.com ¾ arm length burn-out t-shirt.
“Don’t you know who I think I” Radar Magazine T-Shirt
Jhane Barnes eye glass case (no glasses)
Radar magazine
Altoid small mints
Bottle of Mark Body Lotion, “Hollywood Pink Flamingo”
Mark Kiss Therapy lip balm, “Sheer Red”
Hotel QT Lollypop
Small Piece of unblessed Kabbalah Red String
Hardcopy book “StarStruck” When A Fan Gets Close To Fame
One bottle each Gardnier Shampoo, Conditioner and Leave in Conditioner
Pamphlet, Betty Ford Institute.

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Syndicate Conference

Overall it was a rousing success, especially given it was a first time conference. A sell out crowd – I moderated three panels and I did not get a conference bag – they ran out. The audience was heavy on execs from the publishing side of media companies trying to figure out the implications for their business. Mix in a few technologists and a few dozen corporate marketers and you quickly see that RSS is everywhere and changing everything. Below are a few of the most interesting thoughts/factoids from the conference.

Paul Kedrosky Companies give their CEOs $500,000 of training on proper disclosure under Sarbanes Oxley. Then they give a product manager a blog. Both are disclosures in the eyes of the SEC. This will lead to a lock down of information in the post hobbyist phase of blogging.

Elliot Ng and Scott Wilder of Intuit. There are 20 million small businesses in America and only 3 million use account software. Our challenge is to reach these late technology adopters. We use Blogs, Wiki and RSS Feeds to help create highly engaged customers that will evangelize our product and create new customers.

Charlene Li email is my to do; RSS is my to know.

Bill Flitter our customers are lowering their cost of customer acquisition by 50% using RSS Advertising.

Rok Hrastnik Three case studies with hard facts:
RSS for Search Engine Optimization resulting in a 75% increase in traffic,
Private label branded RSS Aggregator resulting in 23% click-through rates
RSS Feeds to customers with click through rates 75 times higher than commercial email.

Luxembourg is the new Redmond

Let’s just say it – Skype has build the operating system for the internet in two years. In the annals of the technology business, it’s probably only second to Paul Allen buying DOS for $50k. But 20 years later, Redmond fiddles (with Longhorn) while Skype burns up the internet with a scalable (peer-to-peer), secure, real-time communication network with directory and network-based identity.

The first application of course, is voice. When I talk to my fellow Americans about Skype, the universal reaction is – why not just use your cell phone? With our inexpensive communication services, huge country, and globally-challenged thinking, rich Americans don’t get the power of free global calling. But it caused 100,000,000 people to download Skype. Think about that – how many broadband lines are there in the world? Did I mention that this is the size of their directory? Their milestone last week was three million concurrent users.

Baring the Telcos introducing network latency prior to the arrival of WiMax, the telco’s will suffer, but you still need broadband. However, the disruptions caused by Skype go much further, because if they can do secure voice, everything else is a lay-up.

Skype recently added the number three communication application, Chat. They have also added file sharing and voicemail. What’s next? My guess is email and then RSS. Then they watch for interesting applications created by third parties via their API. Skype rips off the idea and makes it better since they control the platform – see, they really are the new Redmond.

Remember all those cool applications that the rich client crowd promised LongHorn would deliver – you know before they stripped out WinFX and made it XP 2.0. Longhorn was to empower information workers by intelligently prioritizing the flow of information we all receive, IM, RSS, phone calls, web and video conferences, voicemail, email, etc.

Who’s the one company who can do that now? And can do it from any device? And look at the lock-in – screen name, billing relationship, Skype-in number today. Tomorrow your contacts, your data, the relationship between and among both, and finally, network intelligence. It’s finally come true – the network is the computer.

AD:Tech MOB:Scene

For those of you who think the trade show business is over, visit AD:Tech today through Wed at the Marriott in San Francisco. AD:Tech Panel

How big can the business of selling technology to advertisers be? The above picture, taken from my panelist-eye-view shows the standing room only crowd. And we were in the smallest of the five rooms!

For those of you who can’t get enough RSS Marketing, I will also be moderating a couple panels at the Syndicate Conference as well as on a panel at Stanford’s E-Day.

Is Microsoft Serious About RSS?

If you answer no, take a look at their beta RSS Aggregator. Click on “show.” Have fun. Unless you are a web-based aggregator vendor, then you can shriek in terror.

Note the following features:

Snappy Ajax interface
Ease of adding RSS Feeds (they don’t have to be cached)
Neat organization of My Feeds, Recent Searches
Collapse All / Expand all RSS Feeds
Directory style navigation with subscribe-able sub-directories
And most of all, the best UI of any web based aggregator – by far!

I am reminded of the early days of Outlook when Microsoft went from worst to first in email in a matter of quarters.

Bet Bloglines is happy they sold.
And if Yahoo reinventing their company around RSS why can’t they do this?
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Update to original post. Less than 24 hours later, they took it down. [Insert your own conspiracy theory here]. Richard McManus has screen shots.

Busy, but Thanks!

A quick thanks to Jeff Nolan at SAP Ventures, who had some kind words for SimpleFeed yesterday. He is recommending us to his portfolio companies and we would be delighted to help.

I have been busy, lots of exciting stuff in the works. But I look for a long post next week, complete with the usual sarcasm and bad puns.

Churchill Club – What’s Hot in 2005?

Last night I attended the Churchill Club’s “Venture Capital: What’s Hot? What’s Not?” On the panel were Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital,
Joe Lacob of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and moderating the panel was yet another venture capitalist, Geoffrey Yang of Redpoint Ventures.

After a superb comedic introduction by Yang, the panel settled into mostly violent agreement on the topics.

Hot – Digital Home, particularly component plays. Software with Open Source components or delivered as a managed service. Later stage deals in China.

Not – Packaged Enterprise Software. Storage. Semiconductors. Nanotech (for decade).

Breyer restated his belief in “content deals” and peer-to-peer networks as he said at last year’s event. Oddly he suggested that distribution through retailers and PC OEMs was promising – it’s 1994 all over.

Gurley pushed his belief in the future of multiplayer gaming, mobile devices and security.

Lacob was the most candid. On too much money in the venture business, “the venture capital business has ups and downs but over the long term venture capital averages 30% returns and that is a very sustainable business.” On the flow of good ideas, “good ideas are always out there, but the venture business tends to follow trends not lead them so our attitude is not always receptive.” On outsourcing, “we had a company with 800 people in Pakistan and after 9/11 we had to move that operation to Costa Rica.”

Yang closed with a few thoughts. We are entering a bubble in internet media companies that have “search” or “local” in their business plans. We are entering a bubble in investing in China. Finally, the recent run up in stock prices will create a “carbonated environment for startups,” and valuations will go up – I’m always happy to spread this type of news.