Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Last week at CES all the internet big guys had something to launch. MSFT & MTV are going after the music market, Google learned how to bundle software apps together and Yahoo announced Go.

While a lot of blogger attention was paid to those Mountain View guys, I think people missed the real gem about Yahoo! Go (for the record I don’t love the name, but I love the concept).

Now if you saw my keynote at Syndicate (preso online here) you know that I was hinting at what was to come: give the consumer what they want, when they want, where and how they want – whether that’s on their couch, on the beach, in the car, wherever. And that’s the strategy that Terry, Dan and Marco laid out at CES. And that’s cool. BUT…that’s not the real exciting news announced on Friday.

The real exciting news is the Yahoo! Go app itself. This is one of those products that only comes along once in a while and words cannot do it justice. It’s one of those products that you see and say “oh, that’s how it always should have been” or “wow, now it gets interesting”. So why am I so excited? It seamlessly syncs your mobile phone with the web. Your device is just a live input to the web.

  • Take a picture with your camera – it shows up on Y! Photos. That’s it. No sending to an email address, no waiting to upload. Just point, shoot, and its shared (I can’t wait til they add Flickr support)
  • Meet someone, type their phone number into your phone, it shows up in your Y! Address book. No syncing, no cables, no button to press.
  • Works in both directions – this is the killer one for me. I manage a lot of my addresses/phone numbers on the web and I always forget to sync. Also the idea of me being able to get all my favorite family photos on my phone without having to upload them to my phone rocks. It’s a slideshow in my pocket without having to every plug my phone in.
  • IM & Mail too – you can do Voice IM on your phone. Your email box is totally in sync (kinda like IMAP for your phone)

I realize in writing this how excited I am about it, but how hard it is to explain why. If you have a Nokia Series 60 phone, drop everything and go get it. If you don’t, find someone who has one and get them to try it out and show you.

It’s amazing and I hope this bodes well for the future of mobile and living room devices. As an industry we have to make these things incredibly seamless. My better half’s eyes glaze over when I say “OK, to get the pictures off of your phone, you need to plug this cable into the computer, then open the software program, then click Import and pick a place to save, then find them in Explorer and double click the image, then….” No one does that. But soon I can say: “Just take a picture and go to My Yahoo and you’ll see your pictures.”

Now that’s worth getting excited about.

With the holidays I’m a bit behind in blogging, so this is probably the last “look back on 2005” post out there.   When I look back at this 2005 I see a lot of great and memorable things that have happened in the world, the industry, at my company and for me.   But this post isn’t about those things.   This post is about the utterly exasperating little things I’ve witnessed in the industry/blogosphere over the last year.For those of you that don’t know my sense of humor, realize that this post is all about things I’ve found to be hilarious in a completely dark and sarcastic way.   I think people can become carictures of themselves without even knowing it and I’ve been able to witness that a lot this year.   For example:

  • Your company sucks – Upon meeting me in person recently, two different bloggers came up to me and said “I just dissed all the work that Yahoo is doing and said Yahoo sucks on my blog.   Nice to meet you”.   What is my response supposed to be?  When you become a blogger do you lose all manners? In the non-blog world I’ve never been at a party and had somebody say “I was just talking to my wife about how much we hate the neighborhood you live in”.   Maybe I should start responding with  “I’ve never read your blog, but I’m sure I’d hate it”.
  • EVP – I ran into an Executive Vice President of Sales at this company.  15 employees.   Wow, I wonder what the Senior Vice President of Sales, and the VP of Sales, and the Director of Sales, and all the salespeople think of their boss?   Oh wait, he is the whole salesforce.    I can’t wait til he gets a promotion next year when they hire the second salesperson.
  • Congrats, you suck – I was at a conference where someone launched a brand new web product.  I know how hard it is to time something to a conference and inevitably bugs get through.   So what happened?  Someone in the audience gets up to the microphone and says
    “You just launched this thing 10 seconds ago, I just ran an extensive test on it and found a bug, what are you doing to fix it?”    Um, fix it, I suppose.   I think that person spends too much time with the rude bloggers. 
  • Emily Litella Syndrome – Ok, maybe there’s a theme here.  But this is what I find funniest of all.   I read lots of blogs, and I find that intelligent, thoughtful, insightful bloggers are the worst at this.     They make a post with a scandalous headline “Yahoo plans to feed small children to giant sharks” and go on and on about how awful this is, how this fits in with with the “grand strategy” we’ve all witnessed, etc, etc.   Sometimes, they even link to an article that contradicts everything they say (because they skimmed it and missed the facts).   Then–yes, blogging is a conversation–someone points out that they were completely, utterly and deeply wrong.   So they post an “UPDATE:  Well, it turns out that Yahoo is not feeding children to sharks, but that they are donating money to starving children and to Aquariums across the world to preserve endangered species of fish.   But that doesn’t matter, Yahoo better watch out cuz we’re onto them and know about their ‘grand strategy’.”  And of course the headline remains unchanged and becomes the top headline on Memorandum, Digg or whatever the heck is popular today and everyone’s aggregators have that headline staring you in the face.  Ahhh…the new age of citizen journalism.

I think its a pretty safe bet that I will continue to find many more exasperating moments like this in 2006.   I’m looking forward to meeting the Senior Executive Managing Partner and EVP, Finance at some new 4 person startup (his desk is near the fridge in his business partner’s apartment) and maybe I’ll get to try out saying “that’s your blog? Oh, yeah, I don’t read that blog, it sucks”.

I’m really excited about the news that Josh Schacter and his service are now part of the Yahoo! family.

I know that we’ve been talking for a long time about how to work together, and I’m so glad that its come to fruition.

I personally believe that harnessing the power of community to help people discover “what’s out there” is what the internet does best. After all, blogs are a way that people act as human filters to the world’s info. We point people to other posts that are interesting and help people find and discover.

Services like Y! My Web and IMHO have the potential to be the way that everyone shares links. You might not want to blog about it but you might want to save and annotate it. In the future, it’ll be easy for everyone to do this.

Now, I can’t wait to see Josh and all the team here come together to make this all sing.

I’ve had a busy few days: my birthday, friends from out of town visiting and now I’m off for Thanksgiving. This is the first week since I’ve been blogging that I’ve missed my goal of posting at least 2 times a week.

When I worked in TV, this is the time of the year that we’d trot out old “evergreen” news pieces that we knew we could easily re-run. So, I’ll try it on this blog. If you are a new reader, here are some posts to check out. And remember if you haven’t read one of these posts, “it’s new to you”:

Another off-topic post today, but I couldn’t resist (it does involve my old profession though)

Top of the RockToday, for the first time in over 20 years, the “Top of the Rock” re-opens in New York City. The “Top of the Rock” is the observation deck on the top floor of 30 Rockefeller Center and since 1933 was one of only two places (the other was the Empire State) to see NYC from above until the World Trade Center was built.

Even though the observation deck wasn’t open when I lived in NYC, I was lucky enough to get a personally escorted tour of the roof deck when I worked at NBC in 1991. We were planning to do a shoot with Tom Brokaw up there and so the building manager took us up a crickety old elevator. From the moment the doors opened it was clear that this was an art deco masterpiece (albeit covered in two inches of dust and debris). The interior lobby and restaurant area was a showcase of 1930s art deco style with marble floors, period details and large windows that opened out onto a stunning roof deck. I wish I could remember more of the details to share them with you, but I remember feeling like I had stepped into the past and was able to get a special peek at something very special.

Top of the RockOnce out on the deck the view was magnificent. To the north you have a great view of Central Park which is only a few blocks away and relatively unobscructed. To the South you have a clear view of the Empire State and midtown unfolding before you. While not as clear of a view as it must have been in the 30s, you can still see both the Hudson and East Rivers as well. I’d argue that this is the best view of NY to be had (and of course the building manager thought so too).

That visit excited me so much that I ended up reading a bunch on 1930s deco architecture afterwards and the experience stuck with me for a long time. I can’t tell from the pictures, but I hope they kept a lot of what I saw. I’ll have to go back next time I’m in NYC and if you make it, be sure to tell me what you thought.

Photos Courtesy of Rockefeller Center Archives

I’ve begun to read the Signal vs. Noise blog on a regular basis (its on my own My Yahoo!). I find all of the guys there insightful but I particularly look out for Jason Fried’s posts.

Today, Jason points out a great thing: Bessemer Venture Partners Anti-Portfolio.

BVP isn’t afraid to show how they totally missed the boat on some amazing investments. I’ve always admired people who don’t take themselves too seriously. I try to live that way (I try) and I like that many people at work try to do the same. I’d love everyone to give this a try.

Maybe this should be one of those memes that floats around: My Anti-Accomplishments. Now, I just need to summon up to courage to do it first…

On the Apprentice this week the winning team got to go on the field of Shea Stadium and play a little baseball with some Mets players. (is that really a reward, couldn’t they have gone to see the Yankees?) Craig mentioned how he thought that’d be a cool thing to do and it reminded me of the time I got onto the field of Wrigley Field in Chicago (home of the Chicago Cubs).

In 1990, I worked for a small TV production company in Chicago as a gopher/audio-tech/PA and went on shoots for private clients, local TV stations and CNBC and ESPN. That year, the all-star game was in Chicago and ESPN was all over it. I did numerous shoots for them in the weeks before the game but one was much more special than the others.

Our assignment: an interview with Don Zimmer at practice before a Cubs day game. Once we got there and found the PR rep, we followed him into the park. I’d been here many times before as one of the thousands of fans that filled the stands. But the seats were empty; the players were all around the diamond doing sit-ups. I loved this park and this team, so I was already excited. Then he led us right onto the field. Stepping in the grass, walking around the bases as we headed to find the coach, I was in complete awe. I couldn’t help but look around trying to soak it all in.

Then I felt myself bump into someone. It was Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg (for you n0n-cubs fans he was the second baseman for the Cubs) doing sit-ups. Here I am a huge fan, and I nearly trip over him – I could imagine the headlines: “MVP Sandberg sidelined by careless TV crew”.

The interview with head coach Don Zimmer (who later went onto the Yankees) was fine. He kept spitting tobacco at my feet–gross!–and my job was to hold the boom mike as close to his face as possible without getting it soaked with that tobacco. I didn’t really pay any attention to whatever he was saying, I was still just looking at all the players and the stadium in complete awe.

Working in TV gave me all sorts of great opportunities like this one, its really one of the things I miss most about leaving TV and working on software and the Internet. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to turn this blog thing into another trip back to Wrigley Field.