Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Redux

Year-end is a natural time for reflection on events of the past year and a time to plan goals for the year to come.

As I think back on 2009, I am struck by a few observations.

The year began with the macro overhang of the economy and the recent failings of the US financial markets. The world lost its orientation and no one knew if we would continue to free fall or if we had hit bottom and that a recovery was the next natural phase.  The ability to navigate is premised on the ability to orient - to know where one is in relation to one's destination. In a global panic, bearings are not possible and decision makers went into paralysis and they scrambled to reorient themselves and to know which was up and which way was down.

Start-ups depend on future growth for their success - investors, customers, management, and employees must believe in a future world where demand remains robust and where future profitability validates today's investment decisions. In a world with an uncertain future, projections that demand future growth become at best optimistic and at worst insane.  Accordingly, the land of start-ups began 2009 with no sense of future direction and free from data points to help suggest a rosy tomorrow would dawn.

With the worst economic conditions since the 1930's as the backdrop, the new year began with tremendous uncertainty, and even worse, an overhang of pessimism in a world (start-ups) that demands optimism.

While the macro picture loomed, the micro conditions for me and Widgetbox were important to revisit. No one can control the economy, but each executive is able to control and influence their own companies - burn rates, employee morale, company direction, strategy, etc.

At Widgetbox, we made some hard but important decisions with respect to how to navigate the "fog." First, if we use financial option value as a framework...the value of an option is a function of volatility and time. The more time and the more volatility, the higher the value of the option. If we think of every start-up as a financial call option, we then can maximize value by extending the duration of the option, while the volatility is self-evident.  As such, we made difficult decisions to reduce headcount and to extend the life of our company and it's option on the future. We let go most of our business people and kept the engineering team largely whole with a skeletal layer of business folks.

Second, we focused on process optimization. Why process? Many start-ups work on the random acts of heroism theory, whereby people work extreme hours to achieve productivity and innovation. As a three-year old company, we needed to find a way to drive innovation and productivity with both a reduced head-count and the need to preserve goodwill and morale. As such, we moved to a formal scrum process, weekly sprints, and a social contract. The contract stated that we would release every Tuesday and that the sprint would be locked down and no new stories would be added to the sprint without the CTO or CEO's approval.  The process investment supported a huge increase in reliability, innovation, and morale and we avoided the burnout that comes from constant changes to development priorities and schedules. We shipped every week of the year and built a product organization that became incredibly nimble and productive.

Third, we focused on monetization. While perhaps an obvious focus area, we were born in an era where platform investments were tied to non-revenue metrics and the basis for value was in uniques, impressions, and other non-financial benchmarks. We knew that to survive we would need to turn our sights on aligning our product investments, features, and users with a viable commercial model capable of delivering venture returns. From a modest run rate in January, we began to grow our revenues steadily month over month and we set a collective goal to 10x the business by year-end.  The whole team's mindset shifted to embrace the goal and every employee began to add ideas, suggestions, and value vis a vis how to best monetize the business. Over the year, we added a billing system, tiered our products and services, became adept at funnel optimization, conversion analysis, data-driven management, and how to work on making our business predictable and scaleable.

Fourth, we matured our thinking on strategy from one in which we would speculatively project "good" ways to grow revenue to pull-based strategy analysis in which our customers - now over 14,000+ - provided us the ideas, feedback, and inspiration with which to invest in products, features, and markets.  While the world was disoriented, we grew in confidence with respect to our direction and how we would navigate our growth and future direction.

In summary, we extended our runway by reducing burnrate (adding 18 months), we invested in process to support scaleable execution and progress, we committed to monetization and made it a company-wide mandate, and finally, and thankfully, customers were able to provide us the direction we once looked to the whiteboard to provide.

As the macro world improved, we are well positioned - as a company and culture - to leverage that the returning sense of optimism.   Customers have helped us identify a new line of business - rich media advertising - that is perfectly suited to our technology. is our latest product initiative and one in which I hope to tell you much more about as 2010 begins.

While the world started 2009 in a daze, we were very lucky to have committed employees, patient investors, and customers that helped us maintain our confidence in a better tomorrow. It was by no means an easy year, but one in which the entrepreneurial maxim regarding the need for perseverance and luck hit home.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why Blog?

I am reading Warren Bennis' seminal work on leadership, On Becoming a Leader.

The book profiles scores of business leaders and seeks to identify common abstractions that help reveal "truths" about leadership.

Early in the book, I came across the following passage, which perfectly describes why I blog and the benefits of structuring your thoughts via a post:

"Faulker said, "I don't know what I think until I read what I said." That's not just a joke. You learn what you think by codifying your thinking in some way. Codifying one's thinking is an important step in inventing oneself. The most difficult way to do it is by thinking about thinking  - it helps to speak or write your thoughts. Writing is the most profound way of codifying your thoughts, the best way of learning from yourself who you are and what you believe."

I imagine that the paragraph above hits bloggers like a visceral truth - thinking, writing, and editing, all the while mindful that others will critique  your thinking, helps to codify and transcend your thoughts from loose collections of ideas into an integrated world view that helps you reveal to yourself what you think and why.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Scott Cook - Wisdom

On Monday, Widgetbox and I were invited to attend and present at Intuit's inaugural entrepreneurship day. Intuit's founder, CEO, CTO, and senior management hosted twenty plus companies to share ideas on innovation and to explore avenues of partnership.

For me, the highlight proved to be an impromptu talk by Scott Cook on lessons learned from 28 years with Intuit.

He boiled down this advice to the following observations:

  1. The Power of Word-of-Mouth
    1. 81% of Intuit's customers are driven by WOM
    2. WOM remains the #1 driver of customer acquisition
  2. Be Where the Customers Are
    1. Understand where customers buy and make sure your product is readily available
    2. Retail traditionally drove the majority of Intuit's sales --> therefore, retail expertise and management were vital to competition
    3. Today, the web is replacing retail and again the company is moving quickly to driven on-demand transactions
  3. How Do you Create WOM?
    1. focus on what you choose to do?
      1. The goal is to identify the #1 problem in the customer's life and to build products that demonstrably solve the #1 problem
      2. Why is it a problem? How does it manifest itself? What would be the benefit? How can the benefit be measured?
      3. If you solve people's #1 problem - they will tell everyone they know about it and the WOM magic starts to happen
    2. be thoughtful on how you choose do to it?
      1. How? Intuit's focus is on customer driven innovation (CDI) - CDI is an immersive and holistic approach to product development. Immersive in that Intuit looks to "live" with its customers to identify the tacit and overt problems facing customers. He talked of the need to observe customers in action and to trust what you see not what they can articulate or verbalize.
      2. Holistic in that the entire team lives with the customer - eng, prod, mkting - and the cross-functional fluency with the prospect's problem allows for products that are "designed to delight"
  4.  Hiring
    1. Be very selective
    2. Identify 3 most important traits for hire in question
    3. Example - Apple retail hires for the trait "deeply caring about others"
    4. Interview to diligence and prove the candidate has a proven history of the traits in question
Common sense - for sure - but like many best practices they are harder to implement and manage than they are to understand.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Last Child in the Woods

Last Friday, my wife and I went to see Richard Louv speak.  Richard is the author of Last Child in the Woods, Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder.

His book and talk center on a series of alarming developments in the lives of America's children:
  • increasing divide between the young and the natural world
  • loss of freedom and time alone for children to explore the woods, local creek, etc.
  • growth in structured "play dates" and the decline of time to create play, particularly play outside
  • fear of traffic and strangers that keeps kids inside rather than outside running around and exploring
The talk mirrored an article I read about a study in the UK.  A few stats follow to set the tone:
  • Less than 10% play of children play in natural settings compared to 40% of adults when they were young.
  • Three quarters of adults claimed to have had a patch of nature near their homes and over half went there at least once or twice a week. 64% of children reckon they have a patch of nature near their homes but less than a quarter go there once or twice a week.
 What are the costs of the children losing access to time in nature?

Louv notes research that links nature deficiency disorder with very real mental health challenges (ADD, ADHD) and physical fitness ailments (childhood obesity, diabetes).

For many, time in nature is therapeutic and calming. For parents and adults, it is important that we are aware the growing loss of access to the outdoors that many children face and that we work to lead or sponsor day hikes, fishing trips, camping outings, and other means that allow children the joy that comes from freedom to play, catch frogs, get the great outdoors.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Living History: Larry Ellison

Last night, Ed Zander (ex-CEO of Motorola) interviewed Larry Ellison at the Churchill Club.

The interview proved to be fascinating, with Ed Zander a perfect choice to push and prod Ellison on topics ranging from ORCL's early years, his motivations for buying Sun, to politics, sailing, and the prospects for the US economy.

The title of the post "living history" hit home last night. We are fortunate to not only live in a place where monster companies are born and scale, but also to work in an industry where many of the pioneers remain active - Ellison, Jobs, Ballmer, Dell....

While the story behind ORCL is well-known, Ellison made a few very interesting comments worth sharing.

First, he argued that the reason behind the Sun acquisition is to move into the systems business. He believes that the tech industry treats customers like "computer hobbyists." Customers are forced to buy components - servers, storage, switches, databases, app servers, applications....- from a long list of vendor and to then spend vast sums integrating systems to address a given application. His goal is to leverage Sun to create systems - billing systems, airline reservations systems....where engineers optimize the integration not customers and service providers. He envisions building the successor to Tom Watson Jr's IBM, which he views as the most successful enterprise company of all time.

The systems vision is an interesting one and one that flies in the face of conventional wisdom - ie that the industry and customers are best served via a focus on horizontal specialization. Components rather than systems, the industry long argued, delivered the greatest innovation at the lowest total price. His systems vision challenges orthodoxy that specialization trumps integration.

Interestingly, Steve Jobs is also driving a systems based approach. Rather than follow the PC model of separation between hardware, software, peripherals, applications...., Apple provides integrated solutions - systems - that despite the significant price premiums are trumping the PC approach to consumer marketing and strategy. The integration of software, hardware, applications, and services (iTunes) provides greater consumer utility than the "computer hobbyist" the PC industry espouses. The Mac vs PC ads hit this point time and time again.

Second, Larry Ellison is bearish on the US economy. Rather than seeing a W, V, or U shaped recovery, he humorously called for an L-shaped recovery - ie a decline to a new equilibrium from which we will not see any meaningful recovery for at least five years. His logic - 70% of the US economy is premised on consumer spending and US consumers are so overwhelmed by debt that they will be forced to save, not spend, to service massive debt obligations.

Finally, he reeks of competition. He cannot go five minutes without commenting on IBM or SAP. He clearly takes tremendous energy from focusing on an competitor and on rallying the company to take share, to win accounts, and to out market the competitor in question. He made one comment that really struck home - "pick your competitors carefully for you will quickly come to resemble the companies you compete with."

Thanks to the Churchill Club for a great event.

Friday, September 18, 2009


There is a real challenge in being present - that is enjoying right now, this moment. Modern technology and life makes it very easy to be distracted and the stress and pressure of Silicon Valley provide ample opportunity to ponder the past or project the future.

The problem is that such ponderings and projection limit the ability to enjoy right now and sap your energy and effectiveness.

Books on wisdom share a common refrain - the past is the past, the future is uncertain and a projection of anxiety or fantasy, and the only sure thing is right now. Too often people live in their heads - thinking about lost opportunities in the past or making up stories - both good and bad - about the future.

The lack of being present exhibits itself in many ways - chronic BlackBerry checking, the inability to listen, eyes that wander or a blank look that lets you know the mind is somewhere else, conference calls or meetings where it is clear half the attendees are 20% "there" at best.

In many ways, I am far from immune from the risk of living in a fog of yesterday/tomorrow, rather than the very real moment of the now. It is very hard not to be seduced by distraction or to walk around in a fog of thoughts that make it hard to focus or be truly with other people - actively listening and engaged.

When I get home, I try to clear my head and really be home. When I sit in a meeting, I try to clear my head and be there for that meeting. Over a coffee, talking to your wife, your colleague, focusing on the present is laughably hard to do.

But when you can - the ability to enjoy becomes so much greater.

My friend Paul Levine told me that the best you can do is wake up every day and focus on that day - not the day before, the month before, or two weeks from now. But rather, today.

As a CEO, I have found that advice to be very empowering and a great way to handle the ambiguity of tomorrows to come and the anxiety that comes from worrying about missteps in the past.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Healing of America

T.R. Reid's book, The Healing of American: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, is an important read.

Reid, a Washington Post correspondent, explores health-care systems around the world and asks and works to answer the following questions:
  • why is American the only developed economy that does not provide health care to all its citizens?
  • why does American spend 2x per capita on health care while leaving 45m uninsured?
  • should health care be considered a right or a privilege?
  • why are administrative costs 4% of spend in France and 20% of spend in the US?
  • why is the US 23rd out of 23rd in life expectancy over 60 amongst developed nations?
  • hows does health care work in Germany, France, Spain, the UK, Japan....?
Health care reform is a very complex issue, and the cacophony of sound bites from both parties only serves to raise, not answer questions. In my effort to come to a personal, informed decision on the issue, I turned to Reid's book after hearing him interviewed on Newshour.

The transcript of his interview with Betty Bowser can be found here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Long Does It Take to Hit $50m in Revenue

Very interesting analysis from Tableau Software regarding how long it takes a software company to hit $50m in revenue..

See my post on "When it Goes Right, What Does it Cost to Build a Great Software Company?" for more analysis on time to profitability, time to IPO, median capital raised, etc.

Dashboard at 570
Dashboard at 570

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The New Normal

Bill Gross of PIMCO is one of the nation's sages. His monthly Investment Outlooks marry wit, wisdom, and market insights to great effect.

His August Outlook, Investment Potions, looks at the implication of the "new normal" GDP outlook on jobs, income growth, and return on assets.

His core point is that the current economy is premised on 5% GDP growth - ie factories, retail stores, job levels, asset allocations, forecast pension returns...all presume that the economy will continue to grow at 5% year after year. We geared our companies and economy to a fixed level of expected economic growth.

Now, we are in the Great Recession and facing high unemployment, lower consumer spending, etc., accordingly, PIMCO forecasts GDP growth closer to 3% than 5%. The implication is that we have massive overcapacity built into the system and we will simply not need all the retail space, cars, jobs, houses, etc that we have built when it appeared all but a certainty that GDP growth was a fixed variable set at 5%. Moreover, pension funds, endowments, and private investors will need to readjust their return on capital expectations to match the long-term reduction in GDP growth.

He writes:
A 3% nominal GDP “new normal” means lower profit growth, permanently higher unemployment, capped consumer spending growth rates and an increasing involvement of the government sector, which substantially changes the character of the American capitalistic model. High risk bonds, commercial real estate, and even lower quality municipal bonds may suffer more than cyclical defaults if not government supported. Stock P/Es will rest at lower historical norms, and higher stock prices will ultimately depend on tangible earnings growth in the form of increased dividends, not green shoots hope. An investor should remember that a journey to 3% nominal GDP means default/haircuts for assets on the upper end of the risk spectrum, as well as extremely low yielding returns for government and government-guaranteed assets at the bottom end.

While the stock market continues to perform, analysts like Gross and structural deficits make a recovery back to the 1990's "normal" hard to imagine. Rather, the economy will need to restructure and shed capacity in order to arrive at a new equilibrium.

Rather than build out our economy to support growth - think of the wave CSCO rode in the 1990s - we may see people unwinding capacity. Spending related to growth - networks, factories, private infrastructure - will need to slow/decline.

Technology - a bell weather of growth - will be a challenged market place.

Perhaps the best play will be to buy assets as the market sheds, there may well value found in buying hard assets at firesale prices rather than investing in high-growth models that are predicated on new market development and spending.

Not a bullish view, I know, but one that may prove to be the reality.

Monday, August 24, 2009

End of Summer Reading

Quick post: I am in the middle of an historical novel binge and strongly recommend the following.

Genghis: Birth of an Empire
Genghis: Lords of the Bow
Genghis: Bones of the Hills

Terrific stuff and if you want a great biography on Khan, read Genghis Khan, The Making of the Modern World

Finally - Agincourt, the tale of Henry V's epic battle as told by an English bowman.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Rise of Consumer SaaS

In the past six months, consumer subscription services have exploded across the web.

Until September of last year, the tried and true revenue model for consumer Internet services was on-line advertising. The model - page views, unqiues, and CPMs - is well understood and sites looked to use direct sales and ad-networks (read Google) to monetize traffic and impressions.

The cooling of the on-line ad market, flight to quality for advertisers (ESPN, etc), and the realization that ad revenue may not scale forced many consumer services to consider charging their users for access to functionality and value.

While SaaS is a well-defined success story in the enterprise space, it was considered a virtual truth that on-line users would not pay for on-line services. Why? - free substitutes, ad-funded business models, and a general end-user belief the web should be free, etc.

Today, "freemium" is on the rise and there are great teams across the valley working to monetize via micro-payments and subscriptions.

LogMeIn's IPO provides insight into the power of direct-to-consumer subscription services, as have traditional success stories such as anti-virus (SYMC, MFE).

However, there are many good examples of the consumer SaaS trend
  • Vimeo
  • Dropbox
  • Flickr
  • Wordpress
  • Widgetbox
These teams are working on using price, features, and value to tier users into free and paid product buckets. Furthermore, good work is being done in optimizing user registration, user conversion, affiliate models, A/B testing product and purchase pages, tracking churn, etc.

I expect to see more services looking to move to charging users and to significant innovation in optimizing subscription revenue.

Here at Widgetbox, we use a AAA model to manage the business:
  • Acquisition - driving new registered users
  • Activity - driving activity, conversions, and value per user
  • Ads - monetizing "free usage"
The model and focus on transactions is allowing for tremendous progress in understanding our users, while using the ultimate test - will they pay you for the service - to gauge our value and utility.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Widgetbox Hits 100m Uniques

Widgetbox recently hit an important milestone - 100m monthly uniques as measured by Quantcast.

To put 100m into perspective, Widgetbox is now the web's 19th largest network.

It is tremendously rewarding to work on a technology platform that touches tens of millions of people a month, and Widgetbox's continued growth is huge validation that the atomization of the web and the rise of widgets as a valuable medium for content syndication, web page construction, and personalization continues apace.

In addition, Widgetbox's focus on self-service solutions and the freemium model is driving tremendous growth in customer acquisition as customers - prosumer, SMB, and enterprise - use the Widgetbox platform to widgetize, distribute, and measure their content.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Education of an American Dreamer

In 2005, I wrote about Pete Peterson's wonderful book, Running on Empty. I just finished is autobiography, The Education of An American Dreamer and highly recommend it.

Running on Empty indicts both Republicans and Democrats for ignoring two troubling twin deficits - the the trade deficit and the budget deficit - which, he believes, may ultimately bankrupt the country. The hard-hitting book highlights the off-balance sheet, unfunded entitlement program liabilities that will fall due in the coming decades. With trillions of dollars in Medicaid, social security, and drug benefits promised to current and future retirees, he warns of some very hard choices that face the nation. For example, he estimates if Congress was forced to fund promised entitlement programs, we would face, "an immediate and permanent 60 percent hike in the federal income tax, or a 50 percent cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits."

His recent book walks the reader through his quite amazing career. Quick CV
  • Northwestern BA
  • Chicago MBA
  • Marketfacts (research analyst)
  • McCann-Erickson (head of chicago office)
  • Bell & Howell (CEO at 36 of Fortune 300 company)
  • Chair, Council on International Economic Policy
  • Secretary of Commerce
  • Lehman Brothers (CEO)
  • Blackstone Group (Founder and Chairman)
  • Concord Coalition (Founding President)
  • Fed Reserve Bank of NY (Chairman)
What strikes me is the many various industries in which he excelled - research, advertising, manufacturing, government, investment banking, merchant banking, public policy.

Each very successful person is somewhat sui generis, however, one can always learn from those who have accomplished so much for so long.

Monday, April 06, 2009

There's No Need to Bat .900

This Sunday's NYT included an interview with John Donahoe, eBay's CEO.

When asked how his management style has evolved, he pointed to a lesson from an early mentor.

"Another part of my management style I learned from Kent Thiry, who was another one of my early bosses, and is now CEO of DaVita. I did not know it at the time, but I was suffering from a real fear of failure. Kent said, "you know John, your challenge is that you're trying to bat .900." And he said: "when you were in college, you got a lot of As. You could get 90 to 95 percent. When you took your first job as analyst, you were really successful and felt like you were batting .900." But, he said, "now you are playing in the major leagues, and if you expet to bat .900, eithr you come up to bat and freeze because you're afraid of swinging and missing, or you're a little afraid to step into the batter's box." He said,"remember, the best hitters in MLB can strike out 6 times out of 10 ands till be among the greatest of all time hitters."

And he said,"that's my philosophy - the key is to get up in the that batter's box and take a swing. And all you have to do is hit one single, a couple of doubles, and an occasional homerun out of every 10 at-bats and you're going to be the best hitter or best leader around."

The interview really resonated with me. The best performers understand that failure is part of the game, that one should focus less on discrete events (single at-bats) and more on the process of performance (practice and routines), and that fear of failure can be paralyzing and self-fulfilling.

In this marcro environment, strike out rates are going up, and it is even more important that leaders focus on singles, doubles, the occasional home run, and mind set that helps to get in the box and take a swing.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Widgetbox Turns 3

Today, Widgetbox turns three.

On April 1, 2006, Ed Anuff, Dean Moses, and Giles Goodwin formally started Widgetbox.

Here is a copy, thanks to, of the first front door.

The site promised to "change how the world thinks about syndicating functionality on the web."

And so it has!

Since launch, Widgetbox has helped tens of thousands of publishers syndicate their content, service, and applications via widget technology. The company continues to ride the web widget syndication wave and we just finished our most successful month ever - serving over 740m widgets to over 89 million uniques.

Importantly, in addition to traffic, Widgetbox just reached an impressive customer milestone with over 400 paying customers.

Happy Birthday Widgetbox.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Widgetbox Update

On Jan 22nd, Widgetbox launched its first subscription service, Blidget Pro.

Since launch, CBS, eBay/Kijji, the Golden State Warriors, LA Lakers, the Michigan Times, Lockheed Martin, Steve Spangler Science, and hundreds of other content providers and marketers have become Widgetbox customers.

While the widgets are all unique, some important commonalities exist. Content providers, e-commerce companies, and brands all recognize that widgets represent a powerful medium for reaching new users, driving traffic, syndicating content, and improving natural search performance. While the recognized need is universal, the implementation details continue to be a major friction limiting adoption.

Prior to the Blidget Pro, a widget strategy required material expesnive custom development, one-off anlytics and tracking, custom creative, questions regarding distribution, and a host of complications that frustrated the ability to levearge the opportunity.

The Blidget Pro is based on several important concepts that help explain its success:
  1. configuration vs customization - no coding required
  2. leverages existing content - syndicates existing video, image, post, and twitter content
  3. custom branding and linkouts - maintains brand promise and drive traffic
  4. leverages Widgetbox's platform - syndication, installation, and analytics included
Importantly, Blidget Pro is another example of a freemium model in action. Every month, thousands of content owners use Widgetbox's free servcies to widgetize and distribute their content. By providing value-added features to paying subscribers, Widgetbox is building important customer relationships with companies looking for a set of premium features that help them better meet their widget goals.

Another important element of our strategy is self-service. In a challenged economy and in an emerging technology category, it is vital that prospects are able to self-discover, self-qualify, self-provision, and self-deploy. All day long, customers discover Widgetbox, purchase a subscription, and deploy their widget without ever talking to one of our employees. As with all new markets, expensive technology that requires a push-based selling model will limit adoption.

All of us at Widgetbox are excited by the uptake in customers and in the success of the self-serve model. We are busy working on even better features and premium offerings and will keep our focus on simple, self-service tools that differentiate based on ease of use, ease of adoption, and rapid time-to-value.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Blidget Pro

Widgetbox just launched an embeddable widget creator.

Simply enter your blog feed, youtube, twitter, hulu, flickr, or vimeo user id into the the widget below and build a branded, tabbed widget that aggregates all your content, like the BBC widget in the side bar, in seconds.

The Sweet Remains

As some of you know, my brother, Rich Price, is an rising star in the singer-song writer world.

He recently formed a new band, The Sweet Remains, with Greg  Naughton and Brian Chartrand.

Their new album, Laurel and Sunset, is now available on iTunes.

Definitely worth listening to!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wolf Wanderings

My cousin is a wildlife biologist at the University of Montana. He just sent me an email from one of his colleagues about the wanderings of a wolf they had collared.

The email follows, but is an amazing reminder of the huge range predators require. Cool story.

and so it begins... :) One of my gps collared wolves is now famous! For those of you that don't know, this 1 1/2 year old female wolf was trapped/collared by a FWP wolf specialist for my project at the beginning of July. She was trapped in Paradise Valley outside of Gardiner, Montana. At the end of September she dispersed and over the following 5 months managed to travel all throughout the western half of Wyoming, through the SE corner of Idaho, NW Utah, and as of Saturday was located just outside of Vail, Colorado. I roughly connected her GPS locations and she has travelled over 1,000 miles as the crow flies!! Her data doesn't do much for my project (since I am using the collars to get accurate estimates of territory size), but it sure is incredibly interesting.

A Colorado news story on the wolve can be found here.

Interview with MIS Financial Review

During my time in Sydney, I spent some time with Julian Bajkowski, a reporter with MIS Financial Review, which covers the Australian IT market.

The article he wrote on our talk and Widgetbox can be found here.

Thanks to Julian.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Widgetbox and Atlassian

Widgetbox and Atlassian just announced an integration that allows Confluence users to add Widgetbox widgets - over 120,000 - to their wiki.

Venturebeat covered the story here.

Atlassian is one of enterprise software's real success stories with over 14,000 customers in 109 countries. Confluence is their flagship wiki product and the following video illustrates how Confluence users can add relevant widgets to their project pages. Other Atlassian products include Jira, Fisheye, Bamboo, and Clover.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Founder Dilution Survey

Sim over at Polaris Ventures is looking for founders to help him quantify dilution over the life of a company (financings, stock option refreshes, etc) and the impact of fund raising on the ultimate stakes founders enjoy in their companies.

He will be sharing his findings on his blog.

Branded Widgets

Quick post to highlight two widgets currently featured on Widgetbox.

The first is from Pampers, one of P&G's crown jewels. The widget, seen below, is a pregnancy calendar that provides week-by-week updates on fetal development. The user is able to configure the title, birth month, day, and year.

Pamper's widget provides dynamic, relevant, and personal information to the user. By using configuration parameters - such as the birth date - Pampers  allows each user to make the widget their own. Rather than simply serve an ad, Pampers is providing contextually relevant information to its target audience and inviting them to embed the widget on blogs, start pages, and social networks.

The second is from the CBS show, The Insider. Built by CBS using Widgetbox's Blidget Pro solution, the widget includes three tabs - news feeds, video clips, and twitter posts - as well as custom branding. The Insider widget is a wonderful example of how Widgetbox can help content owners quickly and easily turn their content into attractive widgets that get installed across the web.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Last week, I was fortunate to spend three days in Sydney as a guest of Fairfax Digital, one of Australia's leading media companies. Fairfax's assets include the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Domain, and RSVP, Australia's leading dating site.

Fairfax Digital and XMedia Labs organized a one-day digital summit, Media09, that included speakers from around the world. Speakers included, among others, media executives from the BBC, Guardian, Washington Post, Wikia, Blue State Digital, and Widgetbox.

Ben Self, from Blue State Digital and the Tech Director for the DNC, provided a fascinating synopsis of the Obama's use of the Internet to manage online fundraising, constituency- building, issue advocacy, and on-line social networking; see Obama Case Study for more details.

I really enjoyed my time in Australia - the city spectacular, the people welcoming, and the conference a terrific overview of the media strategies of some of the world's leading media companies.

My talk centered on the lessons of Ray Oldenburg's classic book, the Great Good Place, which introduced us to the framework of the Third Place. My talk is embedded below.

Thank you to XMedia Labs and Fairfax for a wonderful trip and a super day.

The widget below is one I made for Fairfax to demonstrate the power of aggregating content via Widgetbox's widget platform in order to better reach the Internet users aggregating in today's on-line 3rd places.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Introducing Blidget Pro

Widgetbox just released Blidget Pro: the next generation of our successful Blidget tool and our first subscription-based service.

The Blidget Pro is a far more powerful version of the Blidget - a tool that has converted nearly 100,000 blogs into widgets and served 2.3 billion impressions since its initial launch in 2007.

The Blidget Pro represents a major innovation and is the easiest, fastest way to turn all your feed-based content (videos, images, tweets, posts...) into dynamic, branded widgets.

Since launch, Widgetbox has served over 6.5 billion widgets and widgets are proving to be a very valuable way for publishers and developers to to reach new users across the web. However, to date, many publishers and developers have found the high cost of custom creative a friction in leveraging widgets. Priced at $3.99 per month, Blidget Pro is designed to be the self-service, no coding required solution of choice for those looking to widgetize their content assets.

The best way to appreciate the product is to see a few in action - all made using the solution.

Simpsons on Hulu - media company example with in-widget video playback
AMZN Top Sellers - e-commerce example
NextTag Affiliate Example - using widgets to sell phones and phone accessories
Mahalo Widget - publisher example with multiple tabs
Company Example - how to aggregate training videos, RSS feeds, etc
Blogger Example

- Easily create viral, branded widgets without any code
- Custom header, footer and/or body assets (jpg, gif, swf, png)
- Tab integration for multiple feeds and formats
- In-widget video integration for YouTube, Hulu and Vimeo (more coming soon)
- New visual layouts (slideshow, brick-mode, headlines with images)
- Custom widget linking (header, footer and/or body)
- Premium promotion on

To give the system a try, please visit the site.

Best and please let us know your feedback!