Stubborn Dreams

Getting out of my cube

Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurs

Ignite Philly (2) – Evolution of Entrepreneurship

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Thank you to Geoff DiMasi, Alex Gilbert, Far McKon, and Vanja Buvac for organizing another interesting event, full of diversity and aerogami.

In the late 90s/early 00s (in the era of the dot com boom and Philly Tech magazine), when I drove east towards NJ on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I couldn’t help but notice the building with castle-like turrets trumpeting its presence as the headquarters of Half.com. I always thought the building was a little ugly but I was always like “Wow. Half.com was founded here. In Philly.”

Yesterday, Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital and the founder of Half.com, kicked off ignitePhilly #2 at Johnny Brenda’s. Josh has been involved in several initiatives (Tech Council, Greater Philadelphia First) to help answer the question of the Philly Brain drain (why do talented graduates choose to leave Philly after they finish school here). He honestly admitted that none of those initiatives really worked; they were trying to address the problem from the top-down.

As an investor in LinkedIn, del.icio.us, and Stumble Upon, he has learned that communities can be nurtured but they cannot be created from the top-down. Times change, Philly evolves. IndyHall, DreamIt, Philly Startup Leaders – these are Philadelphia-based ventures that were started by entrepreneurs. Josh says that these ventures are really getting traction. Succeeding because they are not top-down driven but started by entrepreneurs.

If there was a hidden subtext to Ignite Philly #2, I think it showcased the evolution of Philly. Maybe true to its stereotypical/fictional”Rocky” roots. A democracy for technology. Interesting people doing interesting things outside the Silicon Valley mindset and spotlight (until they’re ready). Bringing art/design/technology to people who want to learn, reinventing the practice of teaching/public television. Making it easier for good developers to spend more of their time developing. Bringing people together who might not have met. Adding value.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we want/can have more look-at-me high profile companies and their flashy headquarter buildings, but I think Philly is at the ground-level of the evolution of entrepreneurship. Small, focused teams with big ideas that can make an long-term impact (and money – passive income: good)  

Eve H., PARK(ing) day, Philly

  • (PARK)ing day started by Rebar in San Francisco.
  • Event was last Friday. Mostly started by architects and landscape designers. Started off with sketches.
  • Success was based on the involvement of key individuals (Pam, Jeff) and organizations (City Planning Commission, City of Philadelphia)
  • What is a parking space? Pennsylvania Horticultural Society had staff meetings in their PARK(ing) space that day. Up in NYC, A HR firm held job interviews.
  • Green space is very important in the city. Green spaces allow people to connect. People have the urge to talk to one another. People just need a little nudge to connect
  • Random walk-ins: David from UPenn – stopped by the parking space, sat down on rocking chair, and chatted for 5 minutes and left (this is what the day was supposed to do – connect strangers we live and work with)

Chris Lehmann, Science Leadership Academy

  • School 2.0: Creating the schools that we need today. Progressive education with 21st century tools.
  • Stop thinking tests can measure learning. Right now, schools are very data driven (but really good data is hard to collect – hint: not tests).
  • It’s not what students get on tests but the work they do that is important
  • Student-centered-learning: Make schools inquiry driven. Something to figure out vs. not what they want you to know.
  • Traditional classroom: Hierarchical assessment. Recall-based learning. Obsolete in the age of Google.
  • “Certain technologies are not additive. They are transformative” -Neil Postman. Technologies must be like oxygen
  • Projects. Students doing amazing things: Flow process bio-processing engine project. Installed in Guatemala – helping villages get off the grid.
  • Students using UStream to share their classroom lectures and discussions with the world
  • Research/collaborate/communicate should be part of learning
  • “Good person + Bad system” -> (Bad) system usually wins
  • What is the role of the teacher in the age of Google? Wisdom

Jameson Detweiler, Drexel’s Smart House

  • “Better Living Through Smart Design and Technology”. It’s not just about green, but helping people. Focus on solving problems that affect people in their daily lives
  • Location of Smart House: 35th & Race. Former fraternity house in less-than-ideal condition
  • 10 students will live in the house. They will try out the new technology in a real-world environment, every day. The house is a test framework for smart design and technology.
  • Five areas of focus: Environment, Energy, Interaction, Health, Lifestyle
  • Examples of technology being tested: Globule-infused paint to reduce energy consumption; Summalux LED lighting to help circadian rhythms, counteract SAD; open-source format for nutritional information
  • Smart House focus on *integration* – how well do the technologies work with each other *and* with people
  • Affiliate program – opening up Smart House to smart minds outside of Drexel. Let them know.
  • Design competition. Announcing final design/winner in November

Adam Turkelson, Neat Receipts

  • Practitioner of Neural Networks. Neural networks are used everywhere. Expert systems, knowledge bases. You probably have used one already.
  • Biologically ingrained processing models applied to Machine Learning
  • How it works: (Biological neuron) Dendrites -> Soma -> Axon becomes (Virtual neuron) Input -> Activation Function -> (adjustable weight) > Output
  • Exaggerated claims of success hurt NN
  • 1940s-1960s: Various models. 1970s: Nothing happened 🙂 1980s: Back Propagation.
  • Back Propagation: Saved field of NN. (non-linear -> stochastic)
  • Back Propagation most widely used NN. Many open source implementations. However, slow algorithmically and computationally
  • NN are amazing, powerful. Be creative. treat them like toys, not like complicated programs

Stu Hankin and Wil Robinson, IdeaBlob

  • IdeaBlob is a new venture from Advanta
  • The idea with the most votes at the end of the month wins $10,000
  • Any kind of idea goes. (Poor) Hanging bag hand guard. (Good) Business cards to help student get elected
  • Important concept: Don’t be afraid that someone is going to take your idea. Be afraid that no one will ever see your idea.
  • IdeaBlob features top advisors and guest advisors (president of Kiva.com) – Connects experienced entrepreneurs with aspiring entrepreneurs
  • IdeaBlob contest – 8 ideas for grand winner (Sept. 22 to Sept. 31)
  • October 22nd. BlobLive in Philly. Prince Theater. Free drinks! Brings IdeaBlob to the people. People in audience give advice/support to people presenting their ideas on stage. Free drinks!!

Steve Welch, DreamIt Ventures

  • Change is overused term. He prefers evolution (better ideas/more efficient systems)
  • Great ideas come from more efficient systems
  • Differentiate, Select, Amplify (Biology) applied to business creation/evolution
  • World GDP per capita has increased rapidly. Driven by evolution of open markets that share ideas and products across borders
  • Early-stage companies. Very few VCs (except for Josh K.) invest in them.
  • DreamIt. Darwinism. 11 companies. 3 months incubator. 1 on 1 mentoring. Legal/accounting/startup counsel.
  • Costs have gone down dramatically. Evolution of business: East Indian Trading Company to Microsoft/billg to Facebook. Costs go down with outsourcing of development and manufacturing.
  • Speed. The World is too competitive. Your idea needs to get out there.
  • This past DreamIt: Lots of great ideas, not enough requisite technological skill.
  • Next DreamIt: HackerTrack – allow hackers to apply. Meet up and team up with people with big ideas.
  • Diverse teams – don’t want others who act like you, talk like you.
  • Fail quickly – Josh K. – testing ideas out with as little capital as possible
  • Businesses that survive long term bring value to society

Mark Yim, University of Pennsylvania, GRASP lab

  • Talk given to engineering education conference about teaching / how he teaches
  • Demonstration: Asked audience to point towards the sky. Most people pointed with index finger. In Japan, people lead with their thumbs (thumb-centric society – texting). Point: Technology changes people
  • Push model of learning. “Chalk and talk”
  • Pull model: Interactive with web
  • Learning from phenomenological obervation. Engineers taught theoretical concepts, but not design
  • Traditional labs: Push model. Tell them what to do exactly.
  • New labs: Give the students a problem, tell them to solve it but not how to solve it. Don’t tell them what to do. They come up with their own experiments.
  • Learn a lot more from failure than successes – students designing vibration dampening-type system. Some of the more crazy ideas – Mark told them so but regretted telling them so.
  • Non-linear elasticity of rubber. Students develop model of rubber band/how it stretches. Tested via bungee cord with action figure. How close can you get the action figure to the ground? Some got close, some action figures hit the ground (hard)
  • Heat transfer: Students taught theory – told to design a heat sink for an iPod like device (but not told how to design it)
  • Paper Aqueduct: Students build out of cardboard and glue. How much water can it transport without the system breaking down.
  • Conclusion of students: Must claimed they learned more in the new lab (but it might be that they think they learned, not that they learned)

Beth Van Why, Design Philadelphia

  • Beth found Make:Philly a permanent home at UArts (big part of Make:Philly’s livelihood/success)
  • Her new project: helping to find design a permanent home in Philly.
  • Design Philadelphia – celebrating its 4th year. October 16-22, 2008. Funding from William Penn Foundation, City of Philadelphia organizations, design firms.
  • Open up what’s going on in design in Philly to people in Philly. 450,000 people see DP brochures.
  • DP = Lectures and “all-out parties”. Lots of professional organizations and local gallery (F.U.E.L) involved
  • Showcase local designers. Josh Owen.
  • 15 open houses. Behind the scenes at architectural and/or product design firms. See the different types of creative work going on.

Don and friends, 8Static.com

  • DesignPhiladelphia 8Static.com party. October 18th. $5/$8. Studio 34. 4522 Baltimore Pike. 6:00 Free screening of “Reformat the Planet”
  • “Reformat the Planet”. No-budget documentary about the chip music scene. Premiered at SxSw. 150k views on PitchFork.tv. Free screening at 10.18 party.
  • Joey – 17 years of guitar playing experience. Makes GameBoy foot controllers
  • Dino – 3 channels of GameBoy sound.
  • Don – Visuals for 8Static. Likes simple, repetitive patterns (because he’s neurotic). Likes to remix original video game graphics (especially if they’re female)

Far McKon, Aerogami

  • Goal: 300 Paper Airplanes folded during <5 min of presentation

Jen Yuan, Web 2.0 Free Agent

  • Emailed Geoff saying she wanted to speak at Ignite Philly (2). Topic? “Smart Pet Tricks: Hacking Cats into Dogs”. Geoff sold on the topic alone.
  • Teach cats to sit, beg, high-five. And even jump through a flaming ring of fire a.k.a. hoop!!
  • 9 lives, 9 tips. The twist: These nine tips are not just for teaching real cats to do tricks. Managing programmers said to be like herding cats. These tips also apply to managing projects.
  1. Step back from your preconceptions
  2. Recruit every useful skill set
  3. Make the most of what you’ve got
  4. Get on board as early as possible
  5. Communicate expectations clearly. Use simple unambigious gestures
  6. Give immediate positive reinforcement (make a clicking sound to let them know reward/food is coming.
  7. Gradual steps. Teaching cat how to sit. Looking at you -> looking up -> (food behind ear) -> sitting down
  8. Set a realistically generous timeline
  9. Maintain what you’ve developed (do it over and over and over)

Howard Blumenthal, MiND TV

  • Worked for Viacom, MTV in their formative stages. Wouldn’t work for them now.
  • Mainstream TV not for the people. Billion dollars spent by presidential candidates on TV advertisements (contrast: $1b/yr spent on cure for cancer/cancer research). Rupert Murdoch of Fox wants to control what you watch.  “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking”
  • “By the people, for the people”. 5 minute long shows. Diverse collection of shows.11 different 5 minute programs in a hour. Channel 35 / Channel 20 (Comcast)
  • MiND TV: The New Public Television. Open Forum for sharing and learning.
  • Teaching people to make television. Recent workshop: high school students to senior citizens learning to make shows.
  • MiND TV evolving from Janice Davis: 1st person with show on MiND to new stars: 9 yr old State Fiddling chamption.

Jim Stogdill, Accenture

  • 5-yr veteran of defense contracting. Wants to bring Open Source Systems into Defense Land.
  • Eisenhower. 2nd World War. Foresees permanent armament industry of vast proportions. The military/industrial complex.
  • 50 years later, very isolated military/industrial complex
  • Inside the Defense bubble – warped version of Prisoner’s Dilemma/Nash equilibrium (No one gets what they want). CMMI/System engineering/formal systems.
  • Open source collaboration – 2 directions (e.g. don’t expect that you will not be changed)
  • Culture and Trust. Culture comes first. Trust comes later.
  • People are fractals too.

Jason Allum, RipIt

  • Building small. Little projects that you can sell. Passive income is cool.  
  • VCs not really interested in small apps/projects. 
  • Building is the easy part. Money/time/help
  • Microfinance: small amounts of money for little piece of the action
  • IndyHall Labs – framework for micro-entrepreneurship. Logical extension of IndyHall. Automates process of user buying, getting email, paying, you getting paid
  • Accounting. Real-time dashboard: Put something in, what do you get out (earnings down to the pennies)
  • Customer support: Through IndyHall labs, access diverse talent pool. Free you up to do new things.
  • Next step: community to match up projects and ideas with talent and cash.

Kristin Groenveld, ArtSphere

  • ArtSphere. Celebrating 10th anniversary
  • Bring art to people who don’t normally have access to art
  • Involve lots of different people. Get people from other countries, other parts of Philly. People isolate themselves/communities are isolated.
  • ArtSphere has events in public spaces. Everyone feel welcome. Meet someone who you might not meet in your normal sphere.
  • Fishtown Recreation Center. Good location (easily accessible via public transportation) in a neighborhood with lots of crime.
  • Fishtown Diaries I and II: Document ArtSphere and the good things going on

Harris Romanoff and Dana Schloss, MakePhilly

  • MakePhilly: Started with Craigslist posting that drew 15 random folks to Dark Horse(?)
  • 2.5 years old. 18 meetings, funded by own members
  • “All of us are makers as long as we’re willing to play”
  • “Making is more of an attitude (thing) than ability”
  • MakePhilly meetings: 1) Open make 2) Guest speakers 3) Maker challenge
  • Maker Challenge: “1 hour to make something with people you don’t know.” “In the end everyone comes up with something different”
  • Successful Maker Challenge. Rube Goldberg machine. Why? Little bit of planning but with parameters that allowed creativity (Rock’em Sock’em robot integrated into Rube Goldberg contraption)
  • Not-as-successful Maker challenge. #16 – Marble Run (Similar to Rube Goldberg). Why? No parameters. Couldn’t fit together (integration problems). Weren’t really that organized. Did not really provide materials that sparked inspiration 
  • [Note: I participated in the marble run (above) and I was thinking that it wasn’t a failure. You form an ad-hoc team. Time literally flies – you have to make decisions quickly and go with it. You’re arguing with people you don’t know – what is the line – have I crossed it? We decided and started building. Adjusted. We made something worked and we were proud of. Integration is always tough. 10 more minutes and it would have worked]
  • October 19th: Art Buggy Derby. Washington Square Park. http://www.artbuggyderby.com
  • Monthly meetings. Sunday at 3pm. Next one: November 23rd

Geoff DiMasi & Paul Wright, Open Source Philadelphia

  • Declare Philly an Open Source city
  • Worked with Mayor’s office (6 months)
  • Improve on the information we share
  • Philly as place to not just work, but to live and to grow
  • Ben Franklin was an early open source pioneer
  • From video: “We talk openly. We speak honestly. We motivate, we innovate, we create. Creativity is everywhere.”
  • Open hearts, open minds. City of brotherly love. Open source city. Not just technology, communication. Greater impact than sum of parts.
ignite Philly (2) was fun. It was different from the first one. The first one, the kick-off is always unique just for being the first. The second and thereafter – those are the important ones – that prove that there is momentum. I didn’t mingle but I had a nice time meeting William (soccer coach). Yes, I should have talked to that cute girl taking notes too, right next to me.
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Written by kleeruby1

September 24, 2008 at 3:20 pm

A Brief History of Upcoming.org by Andy Baio

with 3 comments

Waxy, Upcoming.org, Web2.0, Post-Yahoo Acquisition Timeline

“A Tale of Three .Orgs” (Talk given by Andy Baio at 6/04/2008 PDX Web Innovators meeting)

Bram Pitoyo’s writeup: http://linkenfuego.wordpress.com/2008/06/05/portland-creativetech-event-review-pcter-16/

It started with a script that Andy wrote. He published the result of the script which used a dictionary word list to find available domains on his website, and he registered the three .org’s he liked (Upcoming.org, Waxy.org, Meaty.org).

Waxy.org

A couple of months before Meetup.org launched, Andy started Waxy.org. He said that the process of starting a blog was the most important decision he ever made (and he didn’t know it at the time…).

In this first post on Waxy.org dated April 14, 2002, he set three rules for Waxy.org:

  1. No journaling. He believes that you have to be a really good writer to make your personal experiences relevant to people who don’t know you. [I believe this is why most blogs of the personal nature aren’t successful]
  2. No tired memes (at the time, there were memes going around like what kind of smurf were you – this is still prevalent today with the 50 questions)
  3. The most important. Be original. Don’t write stuff that other people are writing. [When I look at waxy.org today, the fact that you can deep-dive into his archives and be entertained and fascinated for hours is proof Andy creates interesting, original content.]

The purpose of these three rules? Add value.

According to Andy, starting Waxy.org was of immeasurable value.

  1. It raised Andy’s visibility beyond that of his personal social networks. Within one year after Waxy.org launched, Andy was cited in the NYTimes five different times by five different writers. Waxy.org became an influence on mainstream media
  2. It was a platform for launching his future projects. The blog post on the upcoming launch of Upcoming.org: http://waxy.org/2003/09/upcomingorg_lau/
  3. His blog connected him to like-minded people.
  4. Through Waxy.org, Andy has pretty much been able to meet everyone he cares about and admires.

“So many people are not producing, they have it backwards. Don’t try to develop an audience. Blog what you love. Write what you care about.” – Andy talking about blogging

Meaty.org or the genesis of Upcoming.org

Meaty.org was Andy’s first (of the three) .org site. It was going to be a place to get like-minded people to meetup.

Andy had been meeting with a group of geeks in the LA area. He liked the whole thing of meeting people from virtual communities. He wanted to make software to enable that experience. He started working on Meaty.org on the side. He had a nightmare dealing with recurring dates. Then, Meetup.org launched (June 2002). When Meetup.org launched, he was beaten to market. He abandoned Meaty.org.

Lesson #1 of startups from Andy: “Finish it. Don’t take time off from it.”

Andy Baio speaking at PDX Web Innovators in June 2008

Upcoming.org

Started January 2003. Following his first lesson, he did not stop until it was ready nine months later.

The Ebay/pez-like inspiration: He always loved live music but he was terrible remembering.

Friend [day after interesting band played]: “That was awesome”

Andy: “Why didn’t you tell me about it?”

Friendster was hot at the time. The social network du jour.

Andy’s novel idea: Treat the event like a blog post. Let people connect on it and build their friend network. Result: Events would be automatically known by friends, sharing of events.

The first version of Upcoming.org was pretty rough.

Side note: Andy is big on high-resolution, pixel-perfect mockups done in Photoshop. He cannot imagine a site from a rough wireframe.

[The wireframes he showed looked very good. Like what you would expect from a major design house. I believe Andy’s design sensibilities are way way above the average developer and probably was a big factor for upcoming.org’s success.]

Andy did the design of Upcoming.org’s logo himself. He commented that it looks great on old school baseball jersey tops (which they gave away/wore).

Upcoming in 2003: http://web.archive.org/web/20030919021857/http://upcoming.org/

2003. Rough site launched. Barely functional. He held a beta month before.

Point: It was good enough. Put it out. The feedback that came back so validated the September 2003 launch.

[Side note: question from audience about the “watching feature”. Andy said people were confused from the beginning (His intent: this event looks cool, will let friends know, not actually attending]

Then the project stopped completely in June 2004. He killed the project development. His son was born.

He said pick two out of three:

  1. Day job
  2. Side project
  3. Baby.

As a result, all work stopped for eight months, but Upcoming.org kept on growing slowly.

There were more people using it, but the use was not really exploding.

The Infoworld Article fires momentum

Link: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/03/21.html

John Udell wrote an article about upcoming.org. He loved it but said it was lacking, suggested an open API.

After Udell article, Andy publicly committed in his Upcoming blog post. He promised all stuff out within a week. Andy’s blog post announcing his commitment: http://upcoming.yahoo.com/news/archives/2005/03/21/jon_udel/

Andy decided to bring on two friends, Gordon Luk and Leonard Lin, as partners to help get the stuff done. The partners split the commitment-based work. One crazy week later, he and his two new partners launched with an API, tagging, email, SMS.

Andy’s blog post one week later: http://upcoming.yahoo.com/news/archives/2005/03/28/huge_cha/

“Evite was the old (Web 1.0), Upcoming was the new (Web 2.0)” – Tim O’Reilly Web 2.0 white paper

White paper: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html

People were building applications on the API.

Upcoming was a micro startup. But Upcoming’s influence was disproportionate to its size. Heavy SV influence. Very active in SF. It had Robert Scoble writing about it all the time.

Yahoo acquisition process

In July of 2005, Andy got an email from Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr. Flickr had just been acquired by Yahoo. Caterina had been tasked with bringing the cool back to Yahoo.

The Yahoo Acquisition via Caterina Fake was an outgrowth of connections Andy had made through Waxy.org. Andy originally started connecting with Caterina via Metafilter and various blogs

“Friends doing great work/able to bring/pull up others with them” – Andy’s musing

So, Andy and his two partners were brought in to meet with Yahoo Local.

The acquisition process

Patentable IP, just a website (easy for the acquisition lawyers on the Yahoo side)

Side note: patentable IP – qualifies for taxable long-term capital gains!

Back of envelope calculations – Andy decided, partners agreed (cannot discuss split)

Negotiations – they doubled money they were asking for.

Did they have a lawyer? Of course! Same lawyer that del.icio.us used later.

Three meetings later, acquired October 2005.

At the Web 2.0 conference at which Yahoo announced its acquisition of Upcoming.org, Andy was actually already there on a press-pass (via his Waxy.org writer credentials)

Becoming part of Yahoo

Entrepreneur naivety: You sell site, then do something else

Reality: You sell site, get a new title, maintain site

Good parts:

  1. Brilliant people hidden in the nooks ‘n cannies of the rank-and-file. Even rank-and-file were great/smart (del.icio.us, mybloglog, Yahoo pipes)
  2. Full-time focus – so wonderful/great to go full-time on upcoming
  3. Platform technology
  4. Able to replace sketchy roll-your-own geo-locating technology (e.g. ‘same event listed in multiple SF locations’) with “WhereOnEarth”. The same geoplatform that powers the Flickr geo stuff

At the time, Yahoo’s standard platform = PHP. Del.icio.us written in Perl -> lots of changes

Andy wrote upcoming in PHP, easier. He admitted he was not the best programmer in world – PHP code he wrote not the best. But it did the job.

Since the Yahoo acquisition, every lick of code rewritten.

The Not-so-great parts

  1. 3-person company -> 14,000 person company (bureaucracy)
  2. Technical integration with other parts of Yahoo: very hard, time-consuming,
  3. Drew away from things/features? (for organic growth). The time-consuming integration with Yahoo News/search (was not external traffic, was sort of artificial traffic – coming from normal Yahoo visitors)
  4. Complexity – tremendous amount, once acquired by Yahoo they had to switch to their APIs/platform

However, everyone benefits from the acquisition. Upcoming.org became more stable, more powerful than ever would have been just with Andy’s limited resources. At the time of the acquisition (2005), he had just doubled servers. To 2 leased servers.

How Upcoming works behind the scenes at Yahoo:

  1. Yahoo – integration with search and local – Upcoming became the event infrastructure for all of Yahoo
  2. Yahoo! page inline widgets – Upcoming powers the event listings
  3. Yahoo Auto – auto events, powered by upcoming

Upcoming had good APIs (benefited integration). Occasionally, had to expose private APIs but in general, API-level integration.

Not every event had to be added by Yahoo user -> event feed auto-pulled stuff in

Upcoming metro – replaced by Yahoo GeoSearch (no more double-booking, one booking in wrong metro area)

Upcoming was never intended to be a business. Wasn’t even a company, never even incorporated (LLC). Yahoo M&A guys, doing due diligence, it was easy for them. 3 guys, leased servers, website (IP)

Lesson #2 of startups – “Build for yourself. Build something you love. Build with smallest team possible. Bootstrap yourself.”

Andy didn’t leave his day job at financial firm until acquired (link to Dimensional Fund Advisors).

No overlap with firm – conflict/of/interest. Andy worked nights and mornings on upcoming.

Yes, of course, occasionally he had to tweak the site while at work.

On the other hand, much bigger problem if work at an Internet/technology firm. Yahoo: One of Andy’s partners wanted to start Pizza shop – couldn’t do it – real/potential Yahoo food+local conflicts

In fact, Pixar anecdote: Pixar one of best offices to work in (Andy’s opinion – he got to tour the SV landscape) they have right of first refusal – you have to tell them what you’re working on. They invariably say no – go ahead as soon as they do

Advice: if any conflict, don’t do it. Try not to do something employer would want.

Andy’s big BUT (even though acquired) “not to do it to seek acquisition exit”

Lesson #3 of startups – “Do it well. Find an audience. At the very least, people will like you (provide something of value)”

Post-Yahoo

Post-Yahoo, post-integration, when contract up last Nobember, Andy was offered to work on some really interesting things (can’t talk about because of NDA) at Yahoo.

Feeling “working on something you built for someone else” <- not the same

Andy left – walked away with more flexibility + options

After leaving Yahoo, Andy moved to Portland – able to buy bigger home (was in Palo Alto)

Andy loves Portland’s DIY culture. It is different from SV: Classic Silicon Valley mindset like the 6th & Sunset strip in Hollywood in the 80s: “We’re going to get signed with a major label” mind-in-clouds/ mentality

Why are you building it <- Silicon Valley mindset/commercial goals

In the time since his son was born, the whole waxy.org site has been neglected (time to devote focus on waxy again)

This year (2008), Andy went to GDC. He loves the Indy Game movement. It was a mind-expanding experience (GDC)

He believes Gamedev lags web 2.0.

His Startup idea??? Something about games and dropped a clue: Providing a way for creators to make money doing what they love

Andy has been meeting with Rael Dornfest (former CTO of O’Reilly Technology). They have “Bottle Cap labs”: every week pick a project/launch it

Question and Answers

When was the tipping point?

It happened early on. There were some bizzare uses of upcoming.org

  • College town – spike – only 2 or 3 individuals to get anonymous college town on upcoming. Just a few dedicated people
  • China – Americans in China following soccer, using upcoming for gatherings

The core users shine through. To do this day, enough people using site. PDX WI event top event in Portland. Yahoo! brass annoyed populist event like Britney Spears concert #2 billing to some tech gathering. However, what other way can measure activity vs implict/explicit activity

Andy wanted website to become more popular/more events get advertised. Very large audience who likes to lurk – 95-98% of Yahoo just going to look. While at Yahoo, he tried to get Upcoming to become more Yelp like (reviews, consumed by Lurkers).

Inappropriate events

“Class of frustrating behavior” -> flat out abuse

Nigerian spammers discovering upcoming (using private msging feature)

Fought back with heruristics to do analysis of incoming private messages/event listings

Great hack : Send all private site messages through spam assasin

Noman’s land – other banned users – only other banned users can see what banned users do

The Yahoo acquisition, transitioning the users

Comparing how Blogger did it with how Flickr did it:

  • Blogger: Big redesign, new features, just use new Google account)
  • Flickr (no new features, sent emails month in advance)

Upcoming (like Blogger approach, old school people free t-shirts)

“The deck”

Hates most forms of web advertising. But loves “The deck”. Different sites, no CPM love it. network of high-profile sites

Written by kleeruby1

July 31, 2008 at 3:16 pm