Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kreb's Law of the Internet

"The longer one lurks in the Internet underground, the more difficult it becomes to ignore the harsh reality that for nearly every legitimate online business there is a cybercrime-oriented anti-business." 
– Brian Krebs in Krebs On Security

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reviews of Business Tools from an Unlikely Source and More

How would you choose which tools to use for running your business? It's trivial to find product reviews, either from paid writers in a variety of media, or from seemingly random opinions listed in an app-store like fashion. It is rare to find comparisons among solutions from a group of actual customers. I found one such instance in an unlikely source: a podcast whose contributors were a group of Java, Scala and Groovy programmers who also happened to be principals in their own businesses. Here were folks openly talking about the joys and sorrows of doing stuff they really didn't like doing: expense reports, invoicing, bookkeeping, finding back-office assistants, and other administrative tasks. For example, there is a frank discussion about which general ledger products (QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Mint, Kashoo, etc.) work well with which expense tracking solutions (Epensify, Harvest, OneReceipt, etc.) and so on.

That information alone was well worth repeated listens. 

But also buried in the audio was music to an entrepreneur's ears: opportunity.

At one point Dick Wall says: " ... you guys know what the Mechanical Turk is? I hear you that you can kind-of out-source these jobs that require human intuition. It's almost like you want a service that you can trust where you can out-source a bunch of the admin stuff that goes with running .. to .. to .. some faceless thing like the Mechanical Turk, and someone, somewhere will do it."

Thereafter TaskRabbit and "virtual private assistants" are mentioned. Note well the recasting of the popular term "virtual personal assistant". It as if personal isn't sufficiently confidential. I heard the desire for confidential administrative piecework that isn't presently served. I believe there exists a gap between what Amazon Mechanical Turk, TaskRabbit, ODesk, et al. offer and traditional temporary employment concerns.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Why Some Notebooks Are Better Left Unread

I was rummaging through one of my notebooks and came a few pages of awful web business ideas I had a couple of years ago. One stood out as simply .. icky.

I now realize the notion was perfect material for inclusion in Shit Silicon Valley Says, but not much else.

So have at it .. I give you:

AirBnB for Ashley Madison

Interestingly, somebody else had the same notion.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Will The-Man-In-The-Middle Get Out of The Way?

I saw this in my Twitter feed few days ago:

A bold statement. I was impressed. Let us contextualize it a bit.

In 2008 Gartner predicted Top 10 Disruptive Technologies for the next four years would be:
  • Multicore and hybrid processors
  • Virtualization and fabric computing
  • Social networks and social software
  • Cloud computing and cloud/Web platforms
  • Web mashups
  • User Interface
  • Ubiquitous computing
  • Contextual computing
  • Augmented reality
  • Semantics
The precise extent of some of those are fuzzy, but I think we could make a case for a couple being universe-denting, life-changing and commerce-altering. Both social networks and cloud computing might make the grade. It is interesting there are hierarchical dependencies in the list: multi-cores enable virtualization which enables cloud computing which enables cheap start-ups building web mashups. So good on Gartner for that.

However, if one takes ubiquitous computing to mean mobile devices, smartphones, and perhaps specifically the iPhone (recall it being dubbed "The Jesus Phone"?), I would exclaim that we have a winner. Further, the smartphone revolution wasn't especially predicated upon any of those other technologies. The disruption was borne of envisioning and implementing the device, and then having the chutzpah to break the stranglehold carriers had on what kind of devices could attach to their mobile networks. It has been said that Apple's market cap today being half it's peak is a realization the iPhone was an epic disruptive singularity.

For the record, Gartner did not specifically mention the iPhone.

That said, could Mr. Swalmius possibly be onto something with WebRTC? A decade is an eternity and Gartner had scores of analysts but might he right in pointing to an audacious economic re-arrangement lurking here?

How about a world without telephone numbers. When was the last time you used directory assistance or a phone book? When I need to make one-to-one contact with anyone promptly, I consider the channel which will most likely solicit a timely response. For more intimate contacts, frequently it is SMS, but increasingly so, a private message via a social network like Twitter or Facebook. If real-time interactivity is essential, I resort to a phone call, Skype, or G+ hangout.

Peer-to-peer communication has generally heretofore required third-party entities for both endpoint mediation as well as store-and-forward of message payload. See e-mail, SMS, et al. These third-parties are increasingly not disinterested in your content.

The potential of WebRTC and it's associated technologies have these characteristics:
  • Encrypted, peer-to-peer communication - there is no "man-in-the-middle". 
  • Runs in a browser, nothing else to install; no browser plug-ins or extensions like existing collaboration solutions which rely upon Flash or Java
  • Can run on that thing you carry around with you.
This is not a broadcast medium, but it does turn the web inside out. There are so many things that could go wrong to derail this, but it is fascinating to ponder what might get traction. Peruse some of the links below.