The importance of trust and the value of frameworks

By | Entrepreneurs, TechCrunch, Venture Capital | 2 Comments

David Cruickshank has written a great guest post on Techcrunch UK this morning – Trust me, I’m a start-up.

His basic point that trust is very important, is one that is sometimes forgotten in business. The whole post is well worth a read, but I particularly liked the framework he offers for understanding the building blocks of trust (this comes from the essay Trust & Trust Building):

  1. Ability – our competency to deliver on our promises
  2. Integrity – our credibility of communication and commitment to fairness
  3. Benevolence – the intentions and motives behind our actions

I like this because a) I think trust is critical, and will become more so as the web becomes more pervasive, b) it defines the building blocks in a manner that is simple and easy to remember, and c) it offers a framework against which one can assess a business.

Frameworks like this are great because they force you to look at all the elements of whatever it is you are trying to deliver. In this case it helps avoid the easy trap of assuming people should trust you just because you are bleed integrity or just because you can be relied upon to get the job done.

There are of course many different frameworks vying for our attention (the work of Tara Hunt which I cited recently is another). I think that it is a useful exercise to periodically evaluate your business against the ones you believe in most, but the bigger value comes from taking the time to think about good frameworks and have them feed into your intuition to make you smarter in your every day activities.

More on social search – Yahoo! testing Delicious integration

By | Google, Microsoft, Search, TechCrunch, Yahoo! | 4 Comments

One of the things I like about blogging is that it forces me to think about a topic in detail every day, and often that takes me down paths I might otherwise never have found.

Today I started reading a Fred Wilson post on how well delicious search is doing. He doesn’t source the data and it is hard to know how much to read into this table, but on the face of it at least it appears that social search in the form of delicous is gaining traction.

Then I surfed Fred’s blog a bit more and read his thoughts on how Yahoo! should respond to Microsoft’s approach. There is a lot of interesting stuff in this post, but I want to pick out something that is a bit off the main topic of Yahoo!-Microsoft. As I think about the potential for next generation search I an on the look out for evidence that the current experience is broken. So it was interesting to read that Fred thinks:

they [Google] have better results [than Yahoo!] in the right rail and that is becoming increasingly more important in areas like travel and financial services where the organic results are getting spammed up

If Google is getting to the point where we have to rely on paid search results rather than organic results, surely it is time to think about something new.

And that something new might be social search.

The final stop on my wander down a social search path this morning was Techcrunch where I learned that Yahoo is testing out integrating delicious into their search results. You can see from the screenshot below that they are augmenting search results by adding information about how many times a site has been bookmarked. I think that is simple and neat, for sure there is much further that you can go with social search, but this is a good start. I would definitely be more likely to click through to a page that has been bookmarked a lot.

Flock 1.0 beta changing the game for social networks?

By | Facebook, Identity, Social networks, TechCrunch | 7 Comments

I have been using the Flock 1.0 beta for a few days now and the People Sidebar feature has really got me hooked. The product is well hyped (Techcrunch 40 winner) and has lots of great features (review) – but the People Sidebar could have a significance which goes beyond this latest skirmish in the browser wars.

Through tight integration with social media services the People Sidebar gives you an aggregated view of your network across the different services that you use. The picture below shows the top 3-4 people across my Twitter and Facebook networks.

This reduces the importance of having all my friends on the same network. It may even eliminate it.

As Facebook sweeps all before it people are struggling with compartmentalising their identity. It is problematic when your boss can see the side of you that is designed for your friends, or family. One solution to this problem is for Facebook et al to add features which allow you to show different parts of your personality to different friends – e.g. different groups can see different photos or status updates only go out to the portion of your network that you want to see them.

Flock is now giving us a glimpse of an alternative future. Instead of having your whole network in the same service and using tools within that network to compartmentalise your identity, you can leave the different parts of your network in the services that are most appropriate for them and manage them through an aggregator service in your browser.

This has profound implications for the value of social networks. If the approach Flock is pioneering wins out (and it is very early days yet, both in terms of number of services integrated and functionality available at the aggregate level) then I think we will see a world where there are multiple large social networks. Today it looks like there will only be space for one or two.

Techcrunch’ed’UK – it’s a shame

By | Blogging, Entrepreneurs, TechCrunch, Venture Capital | 12 Comments

I want to add my voice to all the others out there on the recent goings on at Techcrunch.

Many others have described events, so I won’t do that.  If you haven’t heard and are curious you can work around most of the coverage starting over at Broadstuff

I think the whole saga is very unfortunate.  I have a lot of time for Sam Sethi and the work he has been doing at Techcrunch.  As I have written before this kind of activity is a very important catalyst for the UK internet scene.  Also worthy of mention is that Sam has put a lot of work in without taking a lot out, if you know what I mean.

I am already hearing lots of chat about a replacement service, so hopefully this won’t prove to be much of a disruption.

Techcrunch UK party and the London Web2.0 scene

By | Entrepreneurs, London, TechCrunch, Venture Capital, Web2.0 | 3 Comments

A number of people have been putting in a lot of hard work trying to create a Silicon Valley style environment in London to foster entrepreneurialism and web2.0.

You are doing a good job guys and gals.  Your work is important.

The catalyst for this post was the Techcrunch UK launch party on Thursday night last week (I was too tired on Friday and had promised to get the Microsoft post out…)

Great event.  Really great.  What I liked was the positive vibe in the room – Sam saying that we will all be millionaires kinda captured the spirit – things are really exciting at the moment.  There was a good mix there too, entrepreneurs, VCs, and advisors.

Some names.  These people stand out as publicly pushing things forward:

  • Sam Sethi – founder of TechcrunchUK and all round good guy
  • Robert Loch of Internet Peeps
  • Simon Grice of Etribes and the mashup*
  • Mike Butcher of mbites – now chief editor (or something) for TechcrunchUK – last seen walking backwards making contrived video footage at the party on Thursday

Well done also to Olswang for hosting.  We need lawyers helping to push the ecosystem forward.  There was a good post from Fred Wilson (partly) talking about how they help out in the US.