Archive for April, 2008

The rare woman tech start-up founder

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

The first time that I became really aware of how unusual it was to be a female start-up founder was a couple of months back. At the time, I was writing a series of articles about entrepreneurship based on the book Founders at Work (you can find links to all the articles here). When I finished the series, I sent a note to Jessica Livingston, the author and co-founder of Y Combinator, to thank her for the book because it had a big impact on me. The following is a small snippet of her reply:

“I am especially pleased that you have started your own thing as a woman. Female founders seem so few and far between.”

Female symbolI think it might be because I don’t live in Silicon Valley (where I live, start-ups themselves are few and far between) but I hadn’t thought too much about the rarity of a female founder until I read Livingston’s email. Since then, I have thought quite a bit about it. And today, this post – Girls in Tech (Yes, They Exist) – by Sarah Lacy crossed my Google Reader, and I wanted to share it. One of my favorite bits:

“It’s understandable not wanting to be treated as a “token.” But the way I look at it, if I’ve got disadvantages of being a woman in a male-dominated industry, why not take the advantages?”

The topic Sarah’s post is that men and women are different. And it’s true, that might account for there being fewer women founders. But, although it may have been said many times in many ways, I think it’s a mistake to gloss over the issue of having kids. It is possible that I believe this is such a major factor because I read Penelope Trunk’s blog, which, honestly,  scares  the  hell  out  of  me. (Go read some of those posts, you’ll fall in love with her blog, but you’ll be scared, too!)

For every start-up founder, I think, balancing a career with the rest of life is something to think about. But as a woman, the issue rarely leaves my mind. It adds urgency, pressure and stress. And I’m sure for some women, this trifecta of bad emotion is enough to keep them from starting that start-up.

What do you think?

I want my OpenID

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Today I was on the AllThingsD Web site because I wanted to comment on a post from Kara Swisher’s BoomTown blog – Twitter: Where Nobody Knows Your Name.

After I got to the post…

  1. I scroll to the end of the comments, discover that I need to login. Click the “sign in here link.”
  2. Enter user name, first and last name, email address.
  3. Arrive at a page that says “Before you can use your new user name, you must first activate it. Check your inbox and click the link.”
  4. Go to my email.
  5. Open the message.
  6. The message says “To activate your user, please click the link. After you activate, you’ll receive “another email” with your login.” (The quotes around “another email” are theirs, not mine)
  7. Click the link in the email.
  8. Arrive on a page that says “Your account is now active!” My username and password are on that page. But where is the post that I was originally trying to comment on?
  9. Go to the home page and try to get back to the article on which I originally wanted to comment.
  10. Scroll to the bottom of the comments section.
  11. See that I still need to login. Realize that I didn’t copy my password before and I don’t know what it is.
  12. Go to my inbox and open the second message from AllThingsD.
  13. Login to the site & post my comment.

This was a tedious process that could be simplified, but I’m not even upset about it. I understand the reasons behind requiring registration on a Website, and I’m not opposed to giving up some data for the privilege of using a site for free. It’s what happened next that really got me thinking.

After I successfully posted my comment, I went to my passwords spreadsheet – the one that I keep on my computer (the one that is a massive security risk) to update it with my latest username and password information. I entered the information for AllThingsD – on line 49.

ConfusionThat’s when I realized that I am up to 49 separate username/ password combinations. And this is just for the sites that I track on my spreadsheet (I don’t have my Gmail account on there, for example, because I for some reason don’t think that I could ever forget my Gmail username/password). I would consider my Web usage to be on the high side, so most people probably have fewer passwords to remember; but I would say that my organizational skills are above average, so most people probably don’t keep a neat spreadsheet of all their user names and passwords in it.

If I’m having trouble managing all my combos, other people must be too.

OpenID logoOpenID, which aims to eliminate the need for multiple user names and passwords across multiple Websites, will hopefully be the answer to the password crisis, but there are still too many problems with OpenID for it to currently be a viable solution. OpenID poses some security risks, many companies that claim to have adopted it haven’t really, and OpenID doesn’t allow companies that use the system to “own” the data of each and every site visitor, which is good for the users but bad for the companies (and what’s bad for the companies, they will hesitate to implement).

But OpenID – or something like it – is desperately needed. By me.

Photo by Erik Charlton

Outsourcing rocks!

Friday, April 25th, 2008

That was my alternate title for the story I just wrote for The Industry Standard – up now on the site: 10 reasons that start-ups absolutely should outsource (almost) everything.

From the titles I’ve chosen, it’s pretty clear that I am a huge fan of outsourcing. Since I am the only full-time employee of my company, I am a big outsourcer. Outsourcing has been a great way for me to scale quickly without breaking the bank. I’ve written about this before, so I won’t rehash everything here, but if you want to read about my experiences with outsourcing, here are some choice selections:

Globalization, outsourcing and Pure Incubation
How to hire a Web designer using eLance
How to prepare for the globalization of your Internet business

And I found out today that all this outsourcing has had a positive impact on my business – for the first time (March 2008), I was in the black.

Celebration

I am a fan of celebrating the small victories (and believe me, it was small), so I’ll be celebrating this weekend. Have a good one.

Photo by bfick

Two sites where you can get great free images for your blog

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

People ask me all the time where I get the images that I use on my blog. There are two sources – and one tool – that I use to find and manipulate the images.

1. Flickr – This is by far my favorite site for free images because of the wide variety and types of images that are available. The community of users that upload their pictures to Flickr – from all over the world – ensures that there is a vast collection of images of varying quality (some are incredibly good). The trick with using Flickr images, however, is that you need to use images that are governed by the Creative Commons license that fits with what you’re doing.

Attribution licenseHere is a list of Flickr’s Creative Common licensing policies. Basically, the “Attribution License” is the most liberal, and allows you to use anyone’s image, manipulate it how you want to, and do most things that you would want to do with it – as long as you give the author of the image credit. My suggestion if you don’t want to get into the intricacies of Creative Commons licensing is to stick with these images. As of today, there are more than 7.5 million images with this license on Flickr, which is certainly a big pool of images to choose from.

Here’s the link to the images with that license.

Just make sure that whatever you do, you give credit back to the photographer. I use “Photo by photographer” with a link to the Flickr page at the bottom of posts. You can do that attribution any way that you want, however. (Hat tip to Skelliewag.org)

Young photographer
Photo by muha…

2. stock.xchg - This site has a database of very good free images that you can use for your blog. Just type in your search, and look to see what you can find. You will have to register to download images, and make sure that you check the “Availability” of each photo. If it says that “standard restrictions apply,” you can use the image. Sometimes, however, the photographer must be notified or approve the use of the image before you post it. So be careful to check this out.

BONUS- A great cheap tool for screenshots and minor editing of photos

If you have Photoshop or another major image editing tool, use that. But if you don’t have a great image editing tool, consider using SnagIt from TechSmith. There is a free 30-day trial and the tool is only $39.95 for a single-user license. I use this tool ALL THE TIME and it’s been really helpful. The learning curve is short and it can handle all the simple editing tasks that I do on my blog.

Do any of you have any other great free image sites that you use? If so, please post them in the comments.

Online video advertising – stats and status

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

My latest article for The Industry Standard is now up online: Three online video formats for the future. In the article, I take a look at the current state of online video advertising, and make some suggestions about where video advertising might be able to head in order to stay relevant to the medium and to move beyond traditional ad formats.

In the course of researching for the article, I came across a lot of great online video stats. These are in addition to some earlier articles about online video that I posted to this blog. Those articles are here:

Online video stats for September 07
Video is not going to kill the Internet in 2010
Some more YouTube stats

The new data covers a wide variety of information, from online video usage to online video advertising metrics. I just am going to include it here because it’s great information for anyone who is following online video. I’ll also include links to all the sources so that you can explore the information in context.

Online Publishers AssociationOnline Video Advertising, Content and Consumer Behavior (PDF)
Online publishers association logo
This report contained a great deal of useful data, particularly about audience reception to online video advertising, including the following statistics:

  • Over 40% of U.S. online video users watch online video on at least a weekly basis; over 70% at least monthly.
  • 80% of U.S. online video users have watched an advertisement in an online video. Of those people, 52% took action after watching that video; 28% looked for more information; 19% clicked a banner ad that accompanied the video; and 16% bought something as a result of the ad.
  • 56% prefer that the advertisement is related to the video content.
  • Both 15- and 30-second pre-roll ads are effective at lifting brand awareness; 30-second ads outpace 15-second ads in “likeability.”

Advertising.comBi-Annual Online Video Study: First-Half 2007 vs. Second-Half 2006 (PDF)
Advertising.com logoThis study bills itself as the “who, what, when and what works of online video consumption and advertising.” The most surprising data from this study is the age range of online video consumers.

  • 31% of 18 to 34 year olds watch streaming video; 69% stream video more than once per week
  • 69% of consumers 35 and over watch streaming video; 47% stream video more than once per week
  • 95% of those surveyed are streaming video at home (vs. 4% at the office and 1% at school); 45% of streaming takes place in the evening.
  • 42% of consumers have forwarded a video clip to a friend
  • 94% of consumers would prefer to view ads than pay to watch a video
  • 63% of consumers would prefer ads that are shorter than television ads
  • Consumers are 8% more likely to view a 15-second advertisement through to completion (vs. a 30-second advertisement)
  • The 30-second pre-roll slightly outperforms the 15- and 5-second ads when measured in terms of click-through rate

BtoBInteractive Marketing Guide

Online video advertising spending

comScoreMore than 10 billion videos viewed online in the U.S. in February (08)
comScore logoThis is the most recent data that I could find – the highlights:

  • U.S. Internet users viewed more than 10 billion videos in February; this is a 3% gain vs. January, and a 66% gain from February 2007
  • 135 million U.S. Internet users spent an average of 204 minutes watching online video in February
  • 72.8% of U.S. Internet audience viewed an online video
  • The average online video duration was 2.7 minutes
  • The average online video viewer consumed 75 videos

Social networking in the enterprise will be tough to pull off

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I am a couple of days behind on this story; I am just reading about Forrester Research’s report on the growth of enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies. According to the report:

“Enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies will grow strongly over the next five years, reaching $4.6 billion globally by 2013, with social networking, mashups, and RSS capturing the greatest share.”

2.0It’s interesting that social networking is going to be the area of biggest spending for enterprises in the next five years. But this raises a red flag for me. Having worked at big media companies that have the largest technology companies as their clients, I have watched a lot of enterprises (at least in the technology space) try to implement the latest and greatest technologies somewhat unsuccessfully. And I am incredibly skeptical that enterprises are going to be able to successfully implement social networking into their sites.

One of the main factors for social networking to be successful is a big community and affinity – and I’m not sure that the majority of enterprises have the audience to foster a strong social network.

But with that skepticism said, I think that it’s really great that enterprises are going to be trying to implement this stuff. Some of them will undoubtedly be wildly successful, pushing Web 2.0 technologies to get better and bigger and more scalable.

Photo by fffriendly

10 reasons entrepreneurs should take more vacations

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

As I write this post, I’m getting ready to go away for a long weekend with Chris (my husband) to visit friends and family in Philadelphia. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that both of us are entrepreneurs – Chris helped start Spine Frontier a couple of years ago and I started Pure Incubation back in September. It may be obvious from that statement alone, but let me just come right out and say it – we are both insanely busy with our jobs. It is hard to get away for a vacation – even for a weekend – and to take a day off (gasp!) is practically impossible. But we are doing it this weekend.

Philly loveAs I was thinking about leaving, though, all the reasons why we shouldn’t go away kept swirling through my head. And they almost kept us from going (we didn’t book our flights until 5 days ago, for example). So I thought it might be useful to give my fellow entrepreneurs a list of 10 reasons that they should take more vacations. Refer back to this post anytime you are considering going away, but almost back out. Be strong! Take that vacation!

1) You work too much. I have no problem with working hard – or long – but if you are an entrepreneur, it’s likely that you work too much. Like to the point where you aren’t getting enough sleep, exercising regularly or eating well. Working a lot isn’t necessarily the best way to be productive and it’s hard to stop once you’re in the habit. So stop everything for a couple of days, get some sanity back, and you’ll be able to return to the job with a more realistic outlook on work duration – and you’ll likely be more productive during the hours that you are working.

2) New environments spark creativity. Right before I quit my last job, I took a vacation to Arizona. On the trip, we went to visit Taliesin West, the Frank Lloyd Wright school of architecture. I know very little about architecture, but seeing the amazing creative environment that was built at that school was so inspiring to me that I know that I had to leave my job. It opened my heart up again to the creativity that was just dying to come out – and that I could bury in the sameness of my everyday life.

Dance Philadelphia3) You are getting boring to be around. This is happening to me. I meet with friends for a drink or dinner, and they ask me what’s going on, and pretty much the only thing that I have to tell them about is my business. And to me, it’s really exciting and fun and interesting to talk about my work. But I can tell that their eyes are starting to glaze over at times. Going on a vacation will give me something else to talk about – outside of my work.

4) It’s been a long time since you’ve been on a vacation. Admit it – when’s the last time that you took a vacation? A real one. A work trip doesn’t count. If it’s been longer than 6 months, it’s time.

5) You need to reconnect. For me, the trip will be great because I’ll be able to reconnect with Chris. We see each other during the worst part of our days – in the mornings (when I can barely function) and after work (when all Chris wants to do is veg out and recover from the insanity of his day). A vacation is going to give us the opportunity to spend the good parts of our days together – and this is important. Maybe you need to reconnect with your spouse, or your friend, or your kids or your parents – or maybe you just need to reconnect with yourself (solo vacations are highly underrated in my opinion). Invite whoever it is that you’re missing to go away with you and spend the time reconnecting.

6) You need to get out of the house. OK, this one might just be for me. But my office is IN my house, and I can never escape work (or the house). I love where I live, I look at the ocean from my office window, but I need to get outside of these walls. If you work from home, which many entrepreneurs do for a season, you know what I mean.

7) It’s helpful to remind yourself why you’re working so hard. Most of us aren’t working our butts off for nothing. There is usually a dream, a goal, a vision to come at the end of it. For me, I want to be able to travel. So taking periodic vacations reminds me why I’m doing all of this.

Joan of arc of philly8) You need some fresh air. You’re probably working so hard and so much that you spend most of the daylight hours in your office, wherever it may be. You need to get outside, to breathe the air, to have the sun shine on your face. Typically people spend time outside on their vacations, whether it’s strolling through a neighborhood or doing something active.

9) Talking to people in other places will help your business. No matter what your company is doing or building, you have customers that you need to serve. And getting out of your familiar bubble will allow you to talk to people about what you’re doing – and will help you refine your ideas to make sure that you’re serving them better.

10) Vacations are fun. At least, they should be. And if a vacation isn’t fun to you, do something that is. The point is, you need to lighten up sometimes, have a little fun, laugh, joke around, remember that everything isn’t serious and at the point of imminent collapse (which is how entrepreneurs usually feel).

Bonus #11) Your employees want you to go away. (This is for those of you who have employees.) If you ever worked for someone else, you know how it is when the boss is away – there’s a feeling of freedom, of lightness, of relief. As the boss, you may not want your employees to feel this freedom. But it’s important not only for you to get a break, but for your employees to get a break from you. When you get back from vacation, you’ll find that they are refreshed, as well.

Happy travels!

(the pictures here are all from Philly – “Love” by vic15, Dance Philadelphia by my aim is true, Joan of Arc by pwbaker)

Social networks and international audiences

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

My latest article is up on The Industry Standard, Facebook vs. MySpace: The battle for global social network dominance. It takes a look at MySpace and Facebook, and makes a prediction about which will win in the competition for international audience.

When researching the article, I came across a lot of data about social networks in various countries, and it as interesting to see the various social networks that are winning in countries around the world. According to Comscore, “the number of worldwide visitors to social networking sites has grown 34% in the past year to 530 million, representing approximately 2 out of every 3 Internet users.”

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the social networks that are less familiar to those of us in the U.S., and the countries in which they are popular. The data comes from sources here and here.

Orkut – Brazil
Orkut logo

9158.com – China
9158 logo

hi5.com – Peru, Columbia, Central America, Mongolia, Romania, Tunisia
hi5 logo

bebo.com – Ireland, New Zealand
bebo logo

cyworld – South Korea
Cyworld logo

Live Journal – Russia
Live Journal logo

This is also interesting – a visual look at MySpace (blue) vs. Facebook (red) according to Compete.com.

Compete.com myspace vs. facebook

New online video technology launches; has a viable advertising model

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Online video is already huge and getting bigger all the time. At least 75% of Internet users watch videos online and 8 hours of video content being uploaded to YouTube EVERY MINUTE. But there is a problem with online video because no one has (yet) figured out a long-term viable advertising model that will work with video. Google (which owns YouTube) is certainly working on it, but all the models that have debuted so far – pre-roll, post-roll, sponsorship – have fallen short because none of the formats have taken advantage of the inherent interactivity of the Internet. That is, until now.

I just took a look at what Revision3 and VideoClix have teamed up to put together and it’s great. Not only is the ad format interesting and cool, it’s also fairly unobtrusive and seems tailor-made for the Internet’s interactive format.

The first video to debut with the new technology is Diggnation (although all of Revision3’s videos will have the technology shortly). Watchers are able to interact with the video as it’s playing. When a viewer clicks on an item in the video that has additional information included, an area is displayed to the right of the video that has the details about the item, as well as room for advertising or additional vendor information.

Diggnation screenshot

This is clever. For one thing, the information that was provided was fun and interesting. (For example, I found out that the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam has rooms that range from 1 to 5 stars and one of the rooms has a shower in the middle of the room.) I wanted to click every link in the video to find out more about the video that I was watching, the clothes that the hosts were wearing, and even to see what computers they were using. Since my clicks didn’t stop the video, I was able to click around when something was happening that I was less interested in watching and I didn’t have to miss anything that I didn’t want to miss.

My prediction – this online advertising format will be viable and long-lasting, particularly in the consumer market. Clickable video is here to stay.

I like Twitter, but it has a big problem

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Really, I’m sure that Twitter has more than a single problem – most companies/concepts/new technologies do. But I think that the main issue with Twitter is that it will never gain mainstream adoption until there is an easier way to get new people understanding and using the technology – a quick and easy way.

Twitter logoHere are the issues that I think make Twitter so difficult to start using:

1) It’s hard to explain. I have been in a number of business meetings in the past month where the topic of Twitter came up. In one meeting (about social media) the person doing the presentation hadn’t heard of Twitter and everyone in the room looked at me like I had two heads when I brought it up. In another meeting, the president of a content creation company told me that his company “Looked into Twitter, didn’t get it, and figured that it would never have mainstream adoption.” I tried to tell these people why they should care about Twitter, why people telling each other “what they’re doing” in 140 characters or less was important, but they just didn’t get it. And I’m sure that was my fault because I did a terrible job explaining. There MUST be a better way to explain. I think this video was awesome and helpful, but what about when I don’t have a video handy?

2) There is no “key selling proposition.” Lovers of Twitter will tell me that I am crazy, that Twitter is so great because it does so many things for so many people. But I would tell you that to get mainstream adoption, it needs a key selling proposition. How do I get people to use Facebook? I tell them that it’s a low-key way to connect with friends I’ve lost touch with (and I give examples). How do I get people to use Tumblr? I explain how I can link to things and pictures and stories and all the stuff that I find interesting on the Web and that I can set it up in about 1 minute.

I don’t have ONE good way to get people to start using Twitter. Some people say that they get immediate and great input on restaurants when they are traveling. Twitter birdOthers say that they use it when they’re lost or to get answers to questions. But I haven’t effectively used Twitter in any of those ways (although I’ve tried). I am not sure if that is because you have to have a certain number of people following you, a certain level of celebrity within the group that is following you, or if you actually need to know the people in your Twitter network, but those uses clearly don’t work for everyone. I am left without a great way to convince everyone that I know that they should use Twitter (and people I know using Twitter would be the one way that the service would actually begin to be extremely useful to me).

3) People sign up and then leave. This almost happened to me. I started using Twitter, had a bad experience, left, came back and managed to stick with it (although I’m hardly a Twitter power-user.) Here’s my embarrassing story:

I started using Twitter on October 18, 2007, with this Tweet: “Joining twitter, trying to figure out how it works” 

My fourth Tweet was this: “There’s never been a better time to do a startup http://www.scribemedia.org/…” Followed quickly by my fifth Tweet: “I should get a tatoo”

Of course, I meant for my fifth post to be connected to the fourth post, but I got tripped up by the 140 character limit. So I quickly went in to try to delete the fifth post and couldn’t – there’s no delete. So then I was horrified because I was trying to establish my professional Internet presence and not only did my Tweet say “I should get a tatoo” but I didn’t even spell tattoo correctly. I quickly made a couple of other posts in hopes of covering up the embarrassing post, and then bailed.

I came back again on January 4, 2008, with this message: “Trying Twitter again. I wish I could get into it.”

My next Tweet: “about to throw twitter out the window. just tried to send a direct message, dont think it worked. grrrr ”

Thank God for @tylerwillis who quickly replied “it worked if it was the one to me.” He might have saved my Twitter life. I kept going.

Everyone was writing about Twitter. I knew that I had to figure out how to use it, but I was struggling. I personally knew only one person who used Twitter. My friends (mostly non-techies) and business colleagues (behind in Web 2.0) weren’t using it. So I started “following” people, just in an attempt to see how Twitter worked. I currently follow 585 people, most of whom I started following on January 4th or 5th.

Then I started getting input from people about how I shouldn’t follow so many people and how I was incorrectly using Twitter. This is a gem that I received that day (via email):

“Saw you follow me on twitter, and you seem really interesting but.. can I respectfully refer you to this document http://www.caroline-middlebrook.com/blog/twitter-guide/ . ( i.e #3). Sorry just telling it like it is :-(

I had no idea what this guy (who I didn’t know) was talking about. I went to the link and this is what the link said:

Twitter Guide Part #3: Using Twitter Properly

So I figured that I made a mistake, that I broke some “Twitetiquette” but I had no idea what. So I wrote my new email buddy back to ask what my issue was. This is what he told me in reply:

“I know from your blogs that you are a top person. intelligent and info source. When I looked at your twitter follow I checked it out and simply you were not someone I would want to follow. … Bottom line, would you want to read and follow your own twitter posts? Maybe you would? …

With twitter you get flooded with feeds and if feeds are pointless crap, then people don’t have the time to follow them, unless they already know and are interested in the pointless crap of that person….

I can only tell you that when I looked at your twitters, you offered me “nothing” of interest.”

OUCH. I was a brand-new Twitter user being shown the door for writing “pointless crap” on Twitter.

I clearly am someone of outstanding stubbornness (or stupidity) because I stuck with Twitter. And I still use it, although not as much as some people. But I have a feeling that this experience that I had, this barrier to entry that was almost impossible to overcome, is probably holding people back from adoption.

When I went through the phase (lasting 2 days) of trying to add a lot of people at once, I had some strategies. One of those was to add all the people named “Melissa.” I typed the name into the search box and found that most people named Melissa have quit on Twitter after joining. Here’s the “Recently” timeframes of the first 19 Melissa’s that show up:

2 days ago
about 1 year ago
7 months ago
11 months ago
about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago
protected
3 months ago
15 hours ago
11 months ago
protected
9 months ago
10 months ago
protected
21 days ago
9 months ago
9 months ago
4 months ago
13 hours ago

If I consider “current” Twitter users as anyone who has sent a message in the past month, and I eliminate the Melissa’s who have protected updates, only 3 out of 16 (19%) are still current users of Twitter. I thought this might be an issue between female/male users of Twitter, so I did the same thing with my husband’s name (Christopher). I found this:

about 1 year ago
5 months ago
3 days ago
8 months ago
10 months ago
19 days ago
protected
2 days ago
20 days ago
about 1 year ago
7 months ago
2 hours ago
about 1 year ago
protected
about 1 year ago
11 months ago
10 months ago
10 months ago
protected

The results were a little better – 5 out of 16 (31%) were recent Twitter users. But in my unscientific study, there is clearly a huge drop off from the number of people who sign up to Twitter compared to the number of people who continue to use the service.

4) The people who don’t use Twitter don’t understand the language of it. Anyone who reads this post who doesn’t use Twitter will not know the following terms and what they mean to Twitter or how to use them:

@mchang16 (the @ symbol is the biggest because it’s all over Twitter, and not intuitive)
Follow
Tweet
Twitetiquette
Recently

Something needs to be done to make it easier to get people to use Twitter, and to get them to stick around to learn how to use (and keep using) it after signing up. If that doesn’t happen, there will be no widespread future for the service.

Follow me on Twitter (if you dare!) @mchang16.

(As a footnote to this story, my email buddy and I became Facebook friends, although he still doesn’t follow me on Twitter.)