Posts Tagged ‘The Industry Standard’

A Verizon iPhone is not happening in 2009

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

At least, I don’t think so! Read why in my latest article in The Industry Standard: A Verizon iPhone in 2009? Not likely.

(And sorry for the lack of recent posts! I am hoping to get back to writing more regularly VERY SOON.)

What prediction markets have to say about the Dow

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

The vast majority of the news about the economy is so dire these days, it’s unusual to hear something positive. But according to the prediction markets, the outlook for the Dow Jones is fairly optimistic. In fact, a majority of people are betting that the Dow will rise above the 8000 mark before the end of April. To read more about this positive news, take a look at the story that I wrote today for The Industry Standard: Prediction markets lead toward a Dow rebound.

Signs that your start-up could go bust

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

My latest article is up on The Industry Standard - Five warning signs a tech start-up is in trouble. In the article, I highlight five symptoms that are sometimes indicative of a start-up that’s about to fail.

Caution sign

Of course, there aren’t always warning signs that a company is in trouble. This is probably stating the obvious at a time when Wall St. is considering a $700 billion bailout of some household names – AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac. These are companies that were so big that they seemed infallible, but yet here we are, and those companies are struggling so badly that they might not recover.

It’s not very fun to focus on the negative. I would much prefer to tell the stories of start-ups that succeeded, made millions and helped save the world. But hopefully by looking out for some of these warning signs, you’ll be able to head them off before they happen to your company.

Photo by adselwood

Twitter's business model & my two Twitter accounts

Monday, July 14th, 2008

I just posted a new article on The Industry Standard10 ways that Twitter could make money quickly. Please go have a read!

Twitter account
I have written quite a bit about Twitter in the past, ranging from the basic (What is Twitter?) to the dubious (I like Twitter, but it has a big problem), to analysis (The multiple personalities of Twitter). This new article takes a look at the company’s business model (more specifically, it’s lack of a business model) and discusses the ways that the company could make money quickly. The bottom line is that Twitter has a quickly growing and dedicated audience, and because of this one fact, I think that the company will ultimately be successful, no matter what business model it chooses.

The other thing that is happening for Twitter – at least for me – is that the most that I use Twitter, the more I like it and want to use it, and the more that I am discovering new ways to make it work for me. Today, I realized that I am spending too much time going to specific individual’s Twitter pages (for example, mine is here), trying to keep up on what they are doing because I am following so many people I can’t be sure to catch all of the people who I really REALLY want to follow. So I opened a second Twitter account that I don’t post to, and I just use to follow the individuals from which I don’t want to miss a single post.

Before you scoff at me because you think that it’s crazy to have one Twitter account, let alone two, take a look at this article. Apparently, I’m not alone.

Follow me on Twitter at @mchang16.

Consulting sucks, but thanks for the work

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Starting a company is tricky because there is never enough money. There are ways to raise money, and ways to save money, but usually you are thinking about both of those things because money is tight.

At the moment, I’m doing quite a bit of consulting work to give my company a cash infusion. And this is working quite well. Luckily, the projects are interesting and the clients are delightful to work with. (They also read my blog!) Most importantly, the money is coming in.

Love HateBut although I love my consulting jobs half the time, the other half of the time I despise them. Because every day, every hour, every minute that I spend doing my best work for my clients is time that I take away from working on my start-up.

I consider this to be a necessary evil at the moment. But the process of getting these consulting jobs and using this capital-raising strategy has given me some insight into how to make the process more painless than painful.

My most recent article on The Industry Standard has the full scoop, so go read it now to find out more – Consulting for capital – 5 ways to make it work for your start-up.

These are the five points that the article covers:

1. Charge by the hour
2. Watch the contract terms
3. Learn from the work
4. Network
5. Schedule around your busy times

What strategies do you use to make consulting a positive capital-generating tactic for your start-up?

Photo by *_Abhi_*

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

MySpace vs. iTunes

Friday, April 4th, 2008

My most recent article for The Industry Standard just went up – How MySpace Music could beat iTunes. If you’re interested, please give it a read!

The music industry is something that I’m really thinking about lately with the launch of Fat J Records and signing Cara Austin – so the recent news about iTunes overtaking Wal-Mart and MySpace Music’s launch are both of great interest to me. And there are a lot of things about the MySpace vs. iTunes topic that I didn’t have space to include in my article for The Standard. So I thought I would just list them here, kind-of stream-of-thought.

MySpace logoMySpace Music can beat iTunes by supporting musicians. This is the premise of the article that I wrote for The Standard. Basically, I think that if MySpace Music provides data about the fans that purchase music, ticket and merchandise to the musicians, it can beat iTunes. Go read the article for the whole argument.

CDBaby is a model of how MySpace Music could work. CDBaby is an unbelievable music retailer that caters only to independent artists. And this is what its privacy policy says (these points are directed at buyers who visit the site):

“Only the musician whose music you buy will know who you are. If you don’t even want the musician to know about you, just say so at the bottom of your order form.”

I use CDBaby to sell CDs for Cara Austin, and so far, NOT ONE person has requested that CDBaby withhold their contact information. This is because people who go so far as to buy a CD are usually fans – and they don’t mind the band or artist being able to contact them again in the future.  According to the company’s Website, CDBaby has sold 4,202,465 CDs to customers resulting in $71,482,212 paid directly to the artists.

iTunes is a store, MySpace is a community. I read this quote from someone involved in the deal, and this is a really important point. While there are millions of people who buy music from iTunes, the MySpace community that uses MySpace to discover new artists and read about what they are up to, will be a powerful environment for making a purchase. With the possibility of revenue coming from MySpace, artists will do even more to make sure that their pages are attractive, interesting and compelling. And the community of music on that site is going to get stronger and stronger. Imagine 5 million musicians adding content, video, new songs and new song versions – this is going to be incredibly powerful and impossible for iTunes to rival.

Facebook’s chance to win in this space is shrinking by the minute. Facebook is gaining on MySpace in the social networking space, but Facebook’s support of music is, well, pathetic. They are going to have one shot to try to release a music platform that users will like (and use) but it’s not looking good. With MySpace’s announcement of the support of three of the four major labels, one possibility is that Facebook already has the support of the fourth (but that is highly unlikely and just speculative on my part).

International will be huge. I read that MySpace Music isn’t going to be able to distribute music internationally yet. What? What is the licensing issue with that? My suggestion – sign up all the indies asap and start selling to Japan, England, Australia, and everywhere else that has an appetite for U.S. music immediately – or else that could be a place that MySpace Music will be vulnerable.

DRM free matters, but won’t be the thing that wins it for MySpace. As part of the announcement, MySpace announced that they music that is sold from its music store will be DRM-free. (DRM=Digital Rights Management, it is the protection that Apple places on its files that prevents people from being able to share them.) This is a big deal, but not the biggest, as this will just (finally) compel Apple to follow suit with iTunes.

There is still a perception issue that could cause MySpace some serious problems. MySpace has kind of a seedy image. The site’s design is fairly unattractive, and it’s hard to navigate the social network without running into something that borders on pornography or spam. The company is going to have to do battle against that perception to win back people who have become disillusioned by previous negative experiences with MySpace.

Can Apple prevent iPods from using this service? Technically, I’m not sure if there is a way for Apple to limit the sites from which the iPod can download music, but if users are unable to load music from MySpace Music to their iPods, that would be a serious setback to MySpace. It also would likely cause a revolt among iPod users against Apple, but it would still be a hiccup in the acceptance of the service.

More on starting a company in an economic downturn

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Yesterday, The Industry Standard published an article that I wrote about why it’s a good idea to start a company in a recession. The article is here. (You should probably read it if you want to follow the rest of this post.)

Hacker News logoThis article generated quite a bit of buzz on Y Combinator’s Hacker News, so I wanted to take a minute to respond to some of the comments. Here’s the link to that chatter.

– The most common disagreement with the article seemed to be that many of the points that I was making about why it would be good to start a company in a recession also apply to starting a company in a boom. I agree completely. However, we unfortunately are not in a boom at the moment – we’re in (or entering into) a recession. The viewpoint of the article is “since we’re in a recession…” not “if you could pick between recession or boom…” I wholeheartedly agree that if you could set your ideal conditions in which to start a company, a boom would be the time.

– One commentor wrote: “start a company at a time and a place where there are no constraints and even the biggest idiot can be successful.” I disagree with the notion that there is ever a time that there are no constraints on a start-up. If there aren’t constraints, there should be. And this is the point I was trying to make. In a boom, start-ups don’t always SEE the constraints as readily or operate with restraint – but they should if they want to be using best business practices and give themselves the best chance of success. A recession forces those contraints on a start-up – but those constraints aren’t BAD. They help set good patterns and behaviors for running a business.

– In my opinion, it is not true that there is ever a time or place that “even the biggest idiot can be successful.” Successful idiots – especially in the world of start-ups – are rare.

Finally, various commentors suggested three other reasons that it’s a good idea to start a company during a recession and I wanted to include them here because I thought that they were worth mentioning:

1) “Your competitors will go bust.” -m0nty

Another commentor put it this way:

“Because the well-funded riff-raff drops out sooner.” -edw519

2) “Businesses that increase market efficiency in novel ways seem, to me, more likely to succeed during a recession. This is so obvious that I’m surprised the article didn’t mention it.” -mkn

3) “Also could get one more attention — maybe — because the media won’t necessarily expect anyone to be doing anything positive. Recessions are one big moan, and the ‘yipee!’ of a startup will stand in stark contrast.” -sabat

Thanks for all your commentary – keep it coming.

(Update: The discussion is continuing here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=142792)

My new gig: The Industry Standard

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

I have been a fan of The Industry Standard for a long-time – I have written about them before, and many of you will remember the magazine version of The Industry Standard as being the fastest growing magazine of all time before the bubble burst, taking The Standard down in its wake. Now The Standard is back, with an online-only site that focuses on a prediction marketplace.

And I’m the newest writer/contributor to the site.

My first article is up now – Five reasons why a recession is a good time to start a company. Go read it, comment on it, let everyone know what you think about it. And then come back to 16thletter and let me know what you think.

Industry Standard article

The Industry Standard is back

Monday, February 4th, 2008

I just got an email with the subject line: “Thanks from the Industry Standard.” Here’s what the message had to say:

“You were one of the first in line to ask to see the brand-new Industry Standard. To show our appreciation for your interest, you are being notified of today’s official launch!

“The site is not only designed to give readers insights into technology and the Internet economy, but also provides a unique community feature — a predictive market.”

The new industry standard logoI’ve written about the Industry Standard in the past, related to the fall of the mighty business (print) publications that I used to follow. But today the site (as a Web-only property) is relaunching.

The site is positioning itself as a “prediction market,” offering analysis and opinion from writers and experts, and then giving its readers the opportunity to agree or disagree – and hopefully use the “power of collective intelligence” to predict the correct outcome.

From the site:

“The prediction market articulates the same emphasis on community knowledge and networking that is perhaps the Web 2.0 era’s most important contribution — the power of collective intelligence. Prediction markets have proven to be remarkably powerful tools for gauging events and trends, and we think that the addition of this technology to the site will provide a very special type of meaningful interaction.”

From my first look at the site, it is debatable whether it will have much of an impact. The contributors and analysis are good, but nothing to truly distinguish it from the content on any other site. The predicition market stuff is vaguely interesting at first glance, but who has time to vote on more news stories? Even so, my prediction is that the Industry Standard brand and the IDG parent company (with the top tech brands in its arsenal of sponsors – Intel is the “launch sponsor”) will be enough to guarentee a revenue-generating future.

Looks like I may be betting against TechCrunch on this one.