Steve Jobs Apple Computer CEO Steps Down Takes Leave of Absence For Health Reasons

This email went out to Apple employees.  Steve will take some time off to focus on his health.  I would like to wish Steve a speedy recovery.  Meanwhile, COO Tim Cook will take over day to day operations.

Here is Steve Job’s memo to employees:
Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

Update:  For more information on Steve Jobs health that has been reported check out this playlist put together by DJ

Playlist of Steve Jobs Videos

Yahoo Will Get New CEO – Carol Bartz – Good Choice – Lets See Some Bold Moves

Yahoo Inc. is expected to announce that Carol Bartz, former chief executive of software company Autodesk Inc., has accepted an offer to become the Internet company’s next CEO, according to people familiar with the situation.  Boomtown’s Kara Swisher was the first to break this and now it looks like Kara had her ear to the ground in the right spots.

Hiring an operational Silicon Valley insider is a good move for Yahoo.  What Carol needs to do is filter the signal from the noise internally at Yahoo. I’m sure everyone there is jockying for position.  Carol needs to hire from the outside and bring in some ‘mavericks’ to get Yahoo relevant again in both the product side and the corporate side.  She has a big job ahead of her.  I think the thing that no one is talking about is that she makes a great partner to Jerry Yang who obviously has the desire to make Yahoo great again.

From WSJ today. Ms. Bartz, 60 years old, will face a number of challenges as she tries to turn around Yahoo’s flagging performance and stock price. Some investors have been lobbying for a break-up of the Internet giant, for instance. Yahoo faces tough competition from Internet rivals such as Google Inc.

Ms. Bartz still serves as executive chairman of Autodesk, of San Rafael, Calif., which she ran as chief executive from 1992 to 2006. Autodesk is around half the size of Yahoo, with approximately 7,000 employees world-wide.

Ms. Bartz was also an executive at Sun Microsystems Inc. and she sits on the board of Cisco Systems Inc., with Mr Yang. She is also a member of the Intel Corp. board with Yahoo President Susan Decker, who was also interviewing for the CEO job.

In afternoon trading, Yahoo’s stock fell 2% to $11.96 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock remains well below its 52-week high of $30.25.

Ms. Bartz’s appointment will likely reopen questions of Yahoo’s strategic direction, potentially clearing the path for the company to restart negotiations with Microsoft over a sale of its search business. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who tried and failed to buy Yahoo last year, has publicly said in the past few weeks that a search deal with Yahoo should be made when there is a management transition at both companies. Microsoft late last year hired a Yahoo search executive Qi Lu to lead its Internet business.

Ms. Bartz and Yahoo’s board will also have to turn to other ways to right the business, which is being hurt further by the down economy. That could include striking a deal with another partner like Time Warner Inc.’s AOL or divesting of smaller business units.

With these major strategic questions in mind, Yahoo’s board focused its CEO search on experienced executives with deal and operating experience, according to people familiar with the search. Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock led an informal committee of directors in the search; the group also included Frank Biondi, the former chief executive of Viacom Inc. Directors quickly zeroed in on a short-list of external candidates, such as former Vodafone Group PLC Chief Executive Arun Sarin, among others.

Web 2.0 Revenue Models ?? Drama 2.0 Weights In

Web critic blog – Drama 2.0 has a post about the realities of Web 2.0. Not  to toot my own horm but if you’re interested in Web 2.0 business models just read my posts from the past 2 years – the monetization answers are there.

Here’s the conclusion that Drama 2.0 came up with – pretty right on.

As we head into 2009 facing one of the toughest economic environments in decades knowing that the fun and games are over, it’s time to face the reality: the Web 2.0 we have today is not the Web 2.0 we envisioned a few short years ago.

The most popular Web 2.0 creations have not been cheap to grow and operate. They’re still struggling to find revenue models that will serve as the foundations of self-sustaining businesses and even those startups that generate significant revenue in absolute terms (namely Facebook) cannot justify the valuations they’ve been given. And profitability is still largely a pipe dream.

While it’s possible that Web 2.0 stars like Facebook, Digg and Twitter will turn things around, it’s quite clear that these companies are not like many of their hot Web 1.0 counterparts, which, despite having to battle challenges of their own, were able to develop viable revenue models and turn a profit relatively early on.

Given all this, for Web 2.0 proponents who continue to make the same asinine argument, “Don’t treat Web 2.0 like Web 1.0!”, it’s 2009 and I concede defeat. Web 2.0 is not like Web 1.0. It’s in a special (ed) class of its own.

The Quiet Tech War: Google vs Cisco – DNS Is The Internet Oxygen – Cisco Does Deal With Infoblox on DNS At The Edge Speaks Volumes

Network World is reporting that Cisco has done deal with Infoblox for managing DNS at the edge. In enterprise speak this is about the branch office – in tech speak this is about intelligent addressing and control of the edge. Infoblox vNIOS™ software for Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISRs) empowers branch offices by automating core network services, providing the performance benefits of local service delivery with unparalleled resiliency and centralized visibility while reducing branch network capital and operating expenses.

Here is Yankee group perspective worth noting on this Cisco Infoblox announcement…“Remember the ‘Trapper Keeper?’ That’s what Cisco’s routers are becoming for enterprise branch office: a single place to keep all critical network applications and services,” says Phil Hochmuth, senior analyst at Yankee Group. “This is being enabled largely by the AXP, which allows organizations to cram as many services — even ones beyond Cisco’s own scope, such as Infoblox IP address management — onto a single platform.” …hmmm DNS in core and edge routers.. hmmm policy at the edge… interesting.

There is a bigger picture here. DNS is the small little Internet feature that will be the focal point for the upcoming Internet war between Google and networking vendors including Cisco. Why? DNS is the Internet Oxygen. DNS made Google – no DNS – no URLs; no URLs – no Web; no Web and URLs -no search. Here we go again except instead of web pages and search, we have web services up for grabs – that includes enterprise and cloud services.

Having a technology that is automated and programmable (i.e. policy) will gives the winner the viable solution to deliver the next generation search and application paradigm from advertising to brokering transactions.

Over the past 8 years insiders at Cisco have been debating the future of Cisco. Many back in 2000 were arguing internally at Cisco that they have to “move up the stack”. Well they never did it. In fact Cisco has been spending a ton of time rewriting IOS and figuring out what to do. Meanwhile back in 2000 a little growing company named Google was scaling their DNS offering (aka URL search) to take over the online advertising market. Now it’s apparent that Google has a mission in the cloud and networking space – they have been moving down the stack – right into Ciscoland.

This middle ground (Cisco moving up and Google moving down the stack) will be where the battle of the titans will take place. This feature from Cisco is an indicator of what the battle will be for.

Update: I just found out that this has not been officially announced yet. I believe it will be discussed here at this event in San Jose this week.

CES 2009 Thoughts and Observations

I have been on the ground here in Las Vegas at CES 09 since Wed morning. I am not rapidly blogging the show because the flow from the news outlets are good enough (G4 has good coverage). I’ve been busy in meetings all day everyday and wanted to share my observations.

CES is not dead. In fact the focus seems more peaked than ever. There is a real emphasis on doing deals not a lot of BS.
Social media has evolved to be bigger than ever. I really enjoyed watching the social media stars letting down their hair (Sara Lacy and Julia Allisson) at the after hours parties. Check out Brian Solis for all the photos.
Intel in spite of their bad finanical results is showing some great stuff – it’s seems to all be coming together with Intel’s stuff – WiMax, Widget TV, tons of intelligent embedded technologies at their booth.
Convergence is still happening
New marketing trends developing and all have social media components
The WiFi is horrible here at the show – I’ve been relying on my iPhone for internet access.
Twitter is huge for coordinating among all the social events and helping participants navigate the show.

All in all a very good CES this year.

Yahoo Keyword: Arbitrage – A Yahoo BiD Coming From Investment Group ? It’s About Damn Time

Mike Arrington has a report that a group of investors are circling Microsoft for money to take over Yahoo. Finally, someone is making a run at Yahoo. The wounded beast is begging for a takeover and what a bargain that would be. I would love to have the cash to take over Yahoo. Yahoo has amazing assets.

This is the easiest arbitrage and the best investment if the group can get the company at the right price. Also a huge win for Microsoft. I am happy to see some life in the technology financial markets. This would be a fun deal to work. Can’t wait to see the debate – obviously I have an opinion with a ‘capital O”.

A group of well known Silicon Valley executives and top investment bankers are putting together a Yahoo takeover deal that would be financed largely from debt supplied by Microsoft, we’ve learned from sources with knowledge of the proposed transaction.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, the investment group would make a takeover bid for Yahoo at a relatively low premium of around 20% to its current price of around $13 per share, valuing the company at just over $20 billion.

Simultaneous to the transaction Yahoo’s search and search marketing business would be sold to Microsoft. Following the transaction the new executive team would take over the top ranks of Yahoo. A key goal of the new team would be to attempt to attract back much of the executive talent that has fled Yahoo in the last year.

New Venture Capital Model Is Coming? Limited Partner Investors Seeking New Avenues

NOTE:  Visit the siliconANGLE blog for a community of bloggers on Social Web and Technology Opinion and Analysis.  THANKS

Is this financial market mess going to put the nail in the venture community? Today’s Venture capital has been struggling for sometime with ony a few small hits and very handful of big returns. The problem is that entrepreneurship is stuck because of venture capital. We need to modernize the venture capital business so entrepreneurs can get busy. I am seeing more early stage creative development then in years past. The entrepreneurial process will never die but it will evolve. These are the pains that we are seeing now with startups. The capital markets are a mess and with no liquidity market today’s venture capital firms are spinning their wheels. The good news is that capital markets are efficient and will work around the bottleneck we are seeing. This NYTimes story is an early indicator that big money will find new homes.

NYTimes has a very interesting story…

Investors in venture capital and private equity funds who want out are discovering that their stakes are worth less than they paid for them.

As returns on venture capital investments sour and investors’ wealth deteriorates, some of these investors — the universities, foundations and pension funds known as limited partners — have been unloading their stakes in the funds. When they decide they can no longer supply the money they had previously committed, they sell their stakes at a discount to what is known as a secondary firm.

In the second half of 2008, as more limited partners tried to sell their stakes, the price they could get for those stakes fell to 61 cents for every dollar of face value, according to a report from Cogent Partners, an investment bank for institutions looking to sell their holdings on the secondary market. That is down from 84.7 cents on the dollar in the first half of the year and a 4 percent premium in 2007.

A stake in an early stage venture capital fund that has already been fully invested, for example, would be worth 10 to 30 cents on the dollar, Mr. Gull said. “It would have relatively young portfolio companies, some number of them will need additional capital so the fund will get diluted and there are not going to be any exits for some number of years.

A 40 percent loss is no different than investments in the public markets, Mr. Gull noted, and investors would prefer to have the cash. They think, “It’s a sure thing that I can redeploy in some other activity I think has a larger chance for return,” he said.

Mr. Gull said he could not predict when pricing would improve, but his firm is betting that it will not see any meaningful returns from private equity and venture funds until late 2010.

Discovery, Navigation, and Collaboration – Hello Holy Grail – Facebook Is Soaring – They Will Be Huge – Trust Me

I am a big believer that Facebook’s massive growth is bigger than most people think. They are pushing a utility that delivers big time value. Over the past year I have been studying the utility of Facebook and can tell you that it’s not about just sharing and throwing sheep – It’s about people in a new paradigm. Facebook has the opportunity to take a very strong value proposition and evolve how users discover and navigate (the core principles of search) BUT more importantly they are in the exchange position of real value – actionable value transfer. Simply put: they broker transactions from finding lost friends, staying in touch with existing friends, making new friends, to finding and buying products and services. They can be a hub of collaboration of all sorts. All of those elements make them poised to make it big time. If they continue to keep their eye on the user experience (utility) ball then they can get there. Their numbers are just too big to be dethroned. The only way Facebook will miss the opportunity is if they screw it up on their own. Facebook as they say is ‘gold plated’.

Here is a post from Facebook’s CEO Founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Today, we reached another milestone: 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day. This includes people in every continent—even Antarctica. If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.

When we first started Facebook almost five years ago, most of the people using it were college students in the United States. Today, people of all ages—grandparents, parents and children—use Facebook in more than 35 different languages and 170 countries and territories.

The full potential of the web is to make the world more open, so everyone has a voice and can share what is important to them. With 150 million voices and counting, we can’t wait for the rest of 2009, and we look forward to offering even more ways for you to connect with the people who matter most.

Is Intel Crashing and Burning? Q4 Expectations Fell 20%; Well Below Previous Guidance

I love Intel as a company and have been using their products for all of my digital life, but I have to say that I noticed a big change in the company over the past few years – it’s got this sinking feeling. Now Erik Savitz is reporting that Q4 Earnings are not great and below guidance (translation Intel missed their numbers). 2008 has been a bad year for business all around and Intel is no exception.

Intel has been slowly laying off employees and cutting back on almost all expenses especially marketing. We’ll see how much impact Intel has at CES. It would be a shame if Intel continues to sputter because it certainly will leave a crack in the door for AMD and others to get back into the leadership position.

I miss the old Intel. Maybe Andy Grove can come back and give a pep talk to management.

New York Times – A Failed Ad Strategy

New York Times is now selling ads on their front page. I have to say that I didn’t even notice.  This is the reason why it’s a failed strategy.  Trend is away from print to online and that is where the NYTimes should be focused.  Not only are web users not clicking on display ads, a new crop of software led by Adblocker Plus is blocking all the ads.  Adblocker Plus used on about 10% of all web users is quietly gaining ground as a tool for end users.  I wonder if the New York Times will see the impact of the fact that display ads are being blocked.

From Adage.

The New York Times unveiled a display ad on its front page, despite decades of fear that advertising there could contaminate the journalistic product or brand.

New York Times front page ad

Enlarge
Today’s ad, which promotes CBS, occupies a strip of real estate two and a half inches high at the very bottom of page A1.

Today’s ad, which promotes CBS, occupies a strip of real estate two and a half inches high at the very bottom of page A1. That makes the unit less noticeable than the boxes available on the front of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, but it’s still a big departure for the Times.

In a statement this morning, the Times pitched the turnabout as win for marketers. “In 2006 we began testing ads on some section fronts and received a very positive response from the advertising community,” said Denise Warren, senior VP-chief advertising officer for the New York Times Media Group.

Taking its situation seriously
But it’s also a clear reflection that the Times is taking its situation seriously, something that was questioned after a recent presentation to investors and analysts. The New York Times Co. finally cut its costly dividend payments last November but drew fire for failing to suspend them altogether. “It just seems the reality is it’s a very, very difficult business right now, newspapers,” a questioner told executives. “And the notion that cash is flowing out of the company to the equity seems — it seems like you may not understand the gravity of the situation.”

In a funny way, the awful business environment may have actually freed the business side to sell the ads without worrying about an outcry from the newsroom.

“While three years ago the notion of the august New York Times serving up front-page ads would have stirred emotions far and wide, today it’s a one-day story,” said Ken Doctor, a newspaper vet turned media analyst for Outsell, a research and advisory firm. “When someone doesn’t have enough to eat, he doesn’t quibble about the source of the food.”

Made their peace
Many other papers have already made their peace with front-page advertising. The Journal began selling front-page units in 2006, carefully milking their potential to get big commitments from the five marketers allowed to buy them each year.

“Every single purchase has with it an annual commitment, an online commitment,” said Michael Rooney, chief revenue officer at Journal parent Dow Jones. “Some are multiyear, and some are global as well.”

With such prominent ad units, of course, it’s easy to wonder how the big articles next to them hurt or enhance their effectiveness. General Motors and Hewlett-Packard ads have bumped up against negative coverage of their own companies.

The front of the Journal’s Marketplace section today, on the other hand, shows an Oracle ad next to an article pegged to the Consumer Electronics Show. That’s an adjacency Oracle might have liked to arrange — which in turn is a possible suspicion that bothers opponents of these ads. Mr. Rooney said the paper never talks about news articles with advertisers. “It’s just not a conversation we would ever have,” he said. “Whether it’s the B section, the A section or anywhere in the paper, we sell our audience.”

Off the table
Last June The Washington Post’s new publisher, Katharine Weymouth, told Ad Age that front-page ads remained off the table. “I’ve had advertisers beg me to put ads on the front page, and we’re not ready to do that,” she said. The same goes for ads on Post-it notes affixed to the paper. “We declined to do that because we thought it cheapened the front page.”

Since then, of course, the economy has worsened dramatically. The Washington Post Co. saw print-ad revenue at its newspapers fall 14% in the third quarter.

This morning Ms. Weymouth confirmed, however, that the Post still doesn’t sell front-page ads. “No,” she e-mailed Ad Age. “The Washington Post does not currently accept front-page ads in our print edition.”

Steve Jobs Health Memo – Apple MacWorld 2009 – Hormone Imbalance Has Caused Him to Chill A Bit

Update January 14, 2009:  Steve Jobs Steps Down Til June for Health Reasons

I just read at AllThingsD that Steve Jobs has publicly announced that he has a hormone imbalance and that will be preventing him from doing the Keynote at Apple MacWorld 2009.  Steve, in rare form, announced that he is “Chilling Out” with his family rather than preparing for MacWorld 2009.  Good for Steve.  He has poured his heart and soul into Apple and turned that puppy around from the dismal state it was in when he took over over a decade ago.  All the recent health speculation comes to an end now.  Steve will be around for a while.  Being the CEO of any company never mind Apple can be a like a “meat grinder” so it’s great to hear that Steve is taking some time to “chill”.

I got to know Steve’s family over the past few years here in Palo Alto and I’m glad to see that he is focusing on his family while maintaining his CEO post at Apple.

Letter From Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Dear Apple Community,

For the first time in a decade, I’m getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote.

Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed.

I’ve decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.

As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.

Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause — a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.

The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment. But, just like I didn’t lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple’s CEO during my recovery.

I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple’s CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first.

So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.

Steve

Update:  Apple just posted the announcement on Steve Jobs’ health status on their Apple.com.

Here Are My Traffic Numbers for 2008 – Direct Traffic Not the Same as Total Reach or “GraphRank” – Furrier.org Direct Traffic for Blog in 2008

During 2008 I spent most of the time rebooting my energy and working on research & development of a few ideas that I’ve been kicking around.  I blogged a bit more and saw traffic to the blog increase hence the addition of sponsors.  Thanks Infoblox and Volomedia.

I am working on a research piece on ‘Total Reach of a Blog” – specifically ones like mine.  Often the best blogs don’t have to have huge direct traffic numbers to reach millions of people.  If a blog or blogger has a high “GraphRank” (term I’m trademarking can’t find the symbol to insert) they have a huge reach.  Anyway more on that later in another post (people who follow my research might know where I’m going with that).

Here is my blog FURRIER.ORG – DIRECT TRAFFIC FOR 2008 (site and rss reads in unique visitors):  Thanks for all the 297k people who read my blog.

JAN          15,325
FEB          10,254
MAR           7,493
APR          26,426
MAY         26,648
JUN          20,285
JUL           22,853
AUG          18,967
SEPT         33,987

OCT         38,649
NOV        50,632
DEC         26,263

TOTAL DIRECT TRAFFIC             297,783

New Reality: Silicon Valley Wealth Machine – The Rebooting Meritocracy

Businessweek has a post about Silicon Valley wealth machine. Silicon Valley is going through another downturn. It’s the second major downturn in less than 10yrs. I’ve been on the ground for all of those years. It’s down, but not completely ‘out’.

Silicon Valley is a special place for entrepreneurship, and it continues to be. The issue is not that there is a wrench in the machine, but that the machine is broken. It’s rebooting.

One thing I love about Silicon Valley is that there are no handouts. It’s the ultimate entrepreneurial meritocracy. Change happens and it happens both from the bottom up (entrepreneurs) and the top down (capital market). The question is which force is driving the change.

Redistribution of wealth is upon us. The entrepreneurs and investors that move on this current market opportunity will capture the proverbial “chips on the table”. As an entrepreneur, I love this market. Opportunities are everywhere. Unlike the dot com bust, this tech (entrepreneurial) market never really crashed. Everywhere I look I see discounts and new opportunities. Smart money will move around, but in select places. Is the market scary? If you’re an incumbent it sure is scary.

Silicon Valley Web 2.0 is hurting, but not for the obvious reasons. A bigger force is at play here – massive redistribution of wealth is taking place. Some are scared, and some are welcoming the opportunity of possibly acquiring the wealth “on the table”. I think that Facebook and Twitter are great examples of what might be possible. Facebook will become the next Google. The only thing holding them up is that the ‘new revenue’ model that is soon to arrive at the “station”. When that “train” arrives (and it will) Facebook will say Goodbye to all the naysayers.

Research & Development Void?

The bigger picture is more long term and that’s all about research and development. Judy Estrin recently came out to talk about something really important – the innovation gap. Let me translate her thesis – we are screwed if we don’t have steady research unencumbered by short term agendas. Think how important institutions like Stanford, MIT, and SRI have been to Silicon Valley and entrepreneurship. Without these deep research institutions we would not have many innovations that created wealth – hello Ethernet; hello Apple; hello Cisco; hello Google, ..etc.

The lack of institutional research leaves a void in the Silicon Valley ecosystem. John Markoff postulates in his book “What the Dormouse Said” that the culture and research of the 60s drove the PC revolution. The question now is what revolution are we developing and where is the research? Will we miss the next important energy, medical, or tech breakthrough? Where is our modern day moonshot mandate?

How will it play out? The future is unwritten.

Update: The Wall Street Journal has a great perspective on how regulation is hurting entrepreneurship. Add the lack of research mentioned above and the opinion is complete.

Ultimate Recession Company – Virtual Events – ON24 – Conversation with CEO Sharat Sharan

Last month during the Web 2.0 conference I stopped by the office of ON24 to meet with their CEO Sharat Sharan. I was interested in meeting with Sharat for three reasons: 1) he was funded by USVP, 2) his company is doing extremely well, and 3) he’s lived through two bust cycles.

ON24, a venture backed company, has built up a business that is now global. Initially they were focused on “Live” events and now have focused on servicing the enterprise via webcasting, demand generation, and rich media offerings. I was very impressed with Sharat in that he is very geeky and is deep technically. More importantly, he kept his company alive through two up and down cycles. ON24 has built an infrastructure platform that handles corporate casting, conf call, demand and lead gen. However, what got me excited is the new direction of virtual conferences.

As Second Life struggles with it’s virtual business approach, ON24 is kicking butt. Trade shows and conference are the areas that companies cut during a recession and having a viable platform like ON24 makes sense. To me the big upshot is the trend in social networks where trust and communications are now being established. This will lead to a viable model for virtual collaboration or better yet virtual events. Although the product isn’t what I had hoped, it delivers the basics and it is state of the art.

ON24 isn’t going out of business anytime soon. In fact they are doing great even in this market. They have the ultimate recession product – it increases revenues for companies while reducing costs. Now that’s a business model.

ON24’s challenge is to make the user experience truely social instead of some vendor speak “spam party”. I know that they are working on that but that is not their job. Corporate customers need to adjust the ON24 product to fit the market rather then just fit their marketing message.

A couple of sound bite comments from Sharat worth noting:
– Second Life is inappropriate for business
– Brands want control over their virtual environment
– demand generation and lead generation is key to the ROI for corporate customers
– users enjoy exciting new apps but it complicated things – the latest and greatest don’t necessarily translate to success
– the social web is becoming more cluttered (noisy) and we need new filters and look to expert systems or guides to lead in this area
– in 3-5 yrs rich media will be the standard not the exception with interaction capabilities being front and center
– patience is what allowed him to survive and keep his business on track for the 2 down cycles (including this one)
– reinventing and serving customers that drive revenue help companies survive – eliminate the heavy cost structures if revenues aren’t in sight
– revenue is the ultimate success story for this current market condition; revenue equals product/platform validation
– Erwin Federman was the key to the success of ON24 with Erwin Federman ON24 never would have made it

I have to say that I really liked Sharat and his team. Sharat is a true entrepreneur, tech guru, and great executive. We shared some great entrepreneurial stories including some about USVP which will remain off the record. PodTech and ON24 where both funded by USVP. USVP shut down PodTech, but supported ON24 (Erwin Federman wasn’t on the board of PodTech).

Sharat success as he puts it comes down to patience and support of his team (including Erwin Federman of USVP).

My prediction is that we will see a massive rise in social “virtual” collaboration very quickly or more short term – “virtual” events. The question is can ON24 platform enable and accelerate that trend. The key to success will be user experience.

Infrastructure 2.0 – Web 2.0 Meets The Enterprise

My other blog (BroadDev – Broadband Developments) is focused on Infrastructure 2.0. If you’re interested stop by. Here is a post that I wrote on Infrastructure 2.0. It was started by Lori MacVitte at F5 – F5 is doing some great work in quality social media.

The bottom line is the the network infrastructure is capable of being smarter. The opportunity (for companies) is to create or enable the “Dynamic Enterprise.”. Like Web 2.0 did for web sites and web apps, Infrastructure 2.0 will do for networks – addressable, discovery, intelligence, and policy will be at the center of the Infrastructure 2.0 equation. The network needs to be smarter and automated to new functionality and benefits.

Lori writes: “VM sprawl is predicted to be one of the outcomes of early adoption and excitement over virtualization. Just as IT struggled to manage the explosion of PCs and servers across the enterprise, it is predicted that now it will need to find a way to manage the explosion of virtual machines as they pop up all over the enterprise with surprising alacrity.

Want to learn more about Infrastructure 2.0 come to this event in San Jose.

Hiring a VP of Sales for Startup – Major Funding Issue – CEO Has to Be Chief Sales Person

I was asked yesterday about the right candidate for VP of Sales of a startup. I found this great post on the subject by Steve Browne who wrote the book called Traction.

Hiring a VP of Sales is the most important thing a startup can do. In my startups I handle all the sales function. At my last startup PodTech I did all the initial sales from scratch and built it up to a $7m run rate. The problem is it’s hard to find a true VP of Sales to run revenue generation at a startup and at PodTech handing it off to someone other than me who just couldn’t roll with the market was a big problem for the company (as it turned out for me as CEO).

Hire the wrong VP of Sales and you risk killing your company. Don’t hire someone and you risk running out of cash. A startup needs a Chief SalesPerson – it has to be the CEO or a CoFounder. The fact is there is only two ways to fund a startup: sell a product or service or sell equity.

Here is some text from Steve Browne (thanks Steve)

The VP of Sales for a startup must be the tip of the spear. By that I mean the VP of Sales must come up with the first few sales, create the sales manual and then teach others how to do what they did.

So one of the first filters to use is to make sure they have created revenue (from scratch) at a startup. If they don’t have this recent experience, that is a problem.

My next bit of advice for a founder or CEO faced with hiring a sales or marketing vice president would be to ask them for their plan. Once you get down to only a few candidates, ask them what they would do if you hired them. See if they can produce a plan. By seeing this you can best judge if they are in danger of being successful.

By a plan I mean at least the summary of the sales plan which would be the sales (and/or marketing) section of your startup’s business plan. This has several advantages:

* It will weed out those who are incapable of coming up with a plan. If the candidate can’t create a sales plan for your company they are unlikely to be able to create and implement a successful plan once you hire them.
* It will allow you to see what you are buying before you hire them. That way there are no big surprises later. If you disagree with the plan you can discuss that during the interview cycle. Maybe one of you will learn something.
* The results you get from asking a few people to come up with a plan can be illuminating. Hopefully the finalists are good at what they do. Getting their opinion of how to tackle the sales challenge will be useful at a minimum and might even lead to new insights.

Government’s Ponzi Scheme Beats Madoff 1000x

By Anton Walhman

By now we have heard about Bernie Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme,
where the life savings of at least hundreds of people – perhaps
thousands – went up in smoke. We are all being told that this
represents the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time, by a wide margin.
Right?

Wrong. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme isn’t even close to the biggest one ever,
by far. The biggest Ponzi scheme is one in which we are all victims,
to the tune of close to $50 trillion – not billion. It’s the unfunded
liabilities of the US Federal Government, particularly Medicare and
Social Security.

How does it add up to $50 trillion? In a classical Ponzi scheme, the
government has promised pay-outs of monies under the guise of “Social
Security” and “Medicare” (among the two largest schemes) for whom
taxpayers will be on the hook in the future. What about the Social
Security “trust fund?” It consists primarily of IOUs denominated in
government bonds, to be paid for by future taxpayers. Madoff would
only have been so proud to be in charge of this giant scheme.

There are just over 100 million households in the US, although only
approximately half of Americans are significant Federal income
taxpayers. What that means is that some 50 million Federal income
taxpayers could be the ones carrying the burden of funding this $50
trillion Ponzi scheme. That’s $1 million per taxpayer, folks. If the
government expands the tax base to 100 million people, it’s $500,000
per person. That’s the average net worth of all Americans. Everything
we own is spoken for in the government’s $50 trillion Ponzi scheme.

What’s the bottom line? Sure Bernie Madoff is a giant crook, but even
this giant pales in comparison to the Ponzi scheme in which we are all
victims to the tune of anywhere from $500,000 to $1m each. One can
also suspect that this number will increase further, because the
government may be expanding its activities into further areas of
society, including health care, the banking system, industries such as
automobiles, and so forth. Are you enjoying the service you receive at
The Post Office? At your airport’s TSA station? Then you will
increasingly love the world of entitlement socialism, built on these
giant Ponzi schemes.

There are many things of which we can be critical of President George
W. Bush, such as the new Medicare Ponzi scheme, the bailout mania, the
general insane increase in government spending (all with massive
Democrat support in Congress). However, for what it’s worth, President
Bush warned against, and tried to do something about, two of the
biggest problems of all time: He tried to (1) Put the lid on the
corrupt Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led to the mortgage crisis,
and (2) Convert Social Security from a Ponzi scheme to a private
401(k)-style savings account. In future years, historians will look
back at those who opposed President Bush’s reform proposals in those
two areas, in the same way we are now looking at Bernie Madoff, except
this Ponzi scheme is 1000x larger.

Measurement for ITunes Validated By Big Publisher on ITuns – Plug-In Model by Volomedia Is Working

VoloMedia, which provides advertising and reporting solutions for portable video and audio from the PC to devices such as iPods and iPhones, today announced Ringtales as the latest content partner to adopt the VoloMedia iTunes plug-in, extending the value of their popular podcasts by measuring ad consumption in their content wherever it is downloaded.

Ringtales is the publisher of “Dilbert,” recently selected by iTunes as one of the best video podcasts for 2008, and other popular podcasts such as “The New Yorker Animated Cartoons.” In addition to adopting the VoloMedia iTunes plug-in, Ringtales is driving consumer subscription and showcasing the “Dilbert” podcast to advertisers through a microsite located at http://www.volomedia.com/volocast/landing/dilbert. By integrating VoloMedia’s iTunes plug-in, Ringtales enhances the audience reach, tracking, measurement, monetization, and reporting of their podcasts whether consumed on PCs or iPods and iPhones.

Plug-in for iTunes is the best way to measure success on anything from ITunes or the web. What’s interesting to me is that plug-ins are being validated by big publishers/broadcasters. This is an indictment of the state of the online video metrics market. No one really has a great solution on podcasts and video in the market unless they have a plug-in or deploy a flash client.

I think that we’ll see plug-ins become more standard as publishers/broadcasters look to monetize their content and more importantly for advertisers to pay higher CPMs for targeted conversion.

Death of MacWorld – MacWorld Is Dead

MacWorld is now dead. Apple announced that this is the last Macworld where Apple will be present. Worse is that Steve Jobs is not Keynoting as reported by Venturebeat.

This marks the end of MacWorld. MacWorld is now officially dead. This will mark the end of an era and start the beginning of a new world order. I expect MacWorld to fold shortly after this next event. No Apple no MacWorld. It’s been nice knowing you.

Apple Announces Its Last Year at Macworld

CUPERTINO, California—December 16, 2008—Apple® today announced that this year is the last year the company will exhibit at Macworld Expo. Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, will deliver the opening keynote for this year’s Macworld Conference & Expo, and it will be Apple’s last keynote at the show. The keynote address will be held at Moscone West on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. Macworld will be held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center January 5-9, 2009.

Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.

Apple has been steadily scaling back on trade shows in recent years, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo and Apple Expo in Paris.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.