Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reputation.com US$ 41 million raise on Twitter.

I was trying to get an overview of the Reputation.com raise of US$ 41 million on Twitter and the results are quite interesting:


1) Most tweets are in fact "retweets" of primary source of information with no value added content;

2) Twitter has a role of selecting the right primary sources which in this case are the wsj, VentureBeat and the press release; in a sense, it create a perfect market place for news where the news that are most retweeted are the winners because they are the most read;

3) Twitter was not conversational in this case or not on this subject: some people tried to make sense of such a big round and for which purposes. Some people were suspicious of the business model (would people pay? will the company sell data to advertisers...) but nobody really engaged with them. Maybe the news of this fund raise was not exciting enough and I will keep trying to find other news that are more conversational.

Note that I was only able to find less than a handful of reference of the fund raise on Google Plus. It may be that people are sharing information privately or that Google is not doing a great job at indexing Google Plus yet.

Anyway, congrats to Reputation.com on this round. They are great partners and we look forward to more interaction with this fabulous team.

Attached is the storify story with the most interesting or most retweeted tweets: http://storify.com/philippe_cases/reputationcom-41-million-dollar-round-coverage-on-

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is Curation the future of the social Web?

I was sitting on a panel moderated by Ben Parr on the subject at Parisoma with the CEOs of Scoop.it, Storify and Start-up digest. For a round up of the panel, please see: http://storify.com/philippe_cases/round-up-on-the . The panel was very thoughtful and engaging and Ben Parr, I have to say, is brilliant. He threw at the panel and the audience three bones that we could not handle and yet they are going to be a big part of the social web moving forward: the first one was email overload, the second Google+ and by the same token Google and the last one was mobile.

I guess the subject of the panel was a follow up on an article that Ben wrote about a fireside discussion between Reid Hoffman and Liz Gannes at the Web 2.0 expo in San Francisco where Reid Hoffman hinted that Web 3.0 would all be about data ( http://mashable.com/2011/03/30/reid-hoffman-data) . Another line of thinking is that Web 3.0 will be about managing information overload. As the social web is creating massive amount of data, the question is how does the user keep up and leverage the resources available around him to make sense of this massive amount of data. Whether you listen to Reid Hoffman who emphasizes structured data or the proponents of the information overload concept who emphasized unstructured and media content, it leads to the same definition of web 3.0 which is to manage the massive amount of information being created by the social media. I don’t like the idea of just managing information overload as I found it too restrictive. I think it is much more about making sense of it rather than managing it.

If the type of data is one obvious discriminator of technologies people are going to use, the other obvious one is who is going to manage and I would venture three possible venues: algorithmic, human or algorithms trained by human. At the end of the meeting, I was discussing about the latter with Andrei Ustinov who is training bots at Virtuoz to answer self service questions. Those types of bots understand what the user is asking and are able to present the right content to the user. These are trial and error systems and human needs to be there to tweak the systems.

Of course, in order to be fully complete, we would need to understand the application (what it is that the system actually does) as well as the privacy policy being used to process the data and this would make a complete web 3.0 system. Reid Hoffman approached the subject of privacy policies without calling it that as he is using the notion of explicit versus implicit data. At the end of the day, I think that this is going to be more than just a question of data being used but more what the application is doing with the data as well as the control that the user has over this data.

If you look about it this way, Curation is going to be a small fraction of Web 3.0 but probably the one with the most social impact as everybody could become medium as well as amplifier. I think there are a lot of start-up opportunities everywhere but my own personal take having been an early investor in Inquira is that the combined curation and aggregation approach holds a lot of promises as a system could look at collections of content at once rather than one content at a time, making the curation more scalable.

Another way to look at the same issue of what is Web 3.0 is from a technology standpoint. An interesting article published this morning by Edd Dumbill ( http://oreil.ly/qaBgss ) argues that Google Plus will commoditize the social layer. I will leave this assumption to him as I believe that the social layer is already commoditized by Facebook, Twitter and Google and we don't need one unified layer for everything. And he goes on to define a social layer as a layer enabling to identify, share, notify changes of address, annotate (commenting on content) and communicate. Guillaume Decugis thinks that curation will be the next layer of technology to be commoditized as it will surface the topics that a user would be interested in, both explicit (what the user is declaring he is interested in) as well as implicit. In this case, curation is the entire web 3.0.

How you define the problem is key to answer the question the panel was asked: if you are thinking about it as information overload then email management is part of the solution. In all cases, Google as well as Google Plus will be part of the discussion as technology providers as well as actor in the space and Mobile will accelerate the growth of data and provide another set of data of its own such as location as well context to start with.
I am very intrigued to see where all of this is going…..This is exciting and I am waiting to hear new definitions of Web 3.0.
Reid Hoffman widget provided by Spoke

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Few thoughts on Google+

I have been playing with Google+ for more than two weeks now and I really like the product even though I find it overwhelming. Ok, it is Google next attempt to catch up with Facebook and lay down the foundation for a meaningful social connection layer. In a way, it was necessary for Google to not become irrelevant as social overcome any type of algorithm to find relevant links about what you are interested in.

So far, Google has been able to demonstrate that Google Plus is very cool as a platform to post articles or message and it seems to be catching on in the “social network” community. What worries me about Google’s approach is twofold: 1) it is an attempt to recreate Facebook and my question is do we need another Facebook? Do companies need yet another profile and if yes, what is this profile supposed to be when the company has a web site that you can access already easily through a Google search? If I have a blog, do I need to push my info to Google Plus when people can find this information easily by typing by name followed by blog, as a consumer, I have spent massive amount of time to build my profile on LinkedIn, why do I need to build another one when you can access that I already built 2) it is a massive attempt in unifying all Google properties which creates massive issues of privacy policies as well as a very palatable lack of interoperability between the Facebook, Apple and the Google platform. In a way, I would have loved for Google to build their social networking layer but keep the information discovery mechanism that it already owns with Google Search and the Web as the publishing platform.

For me as a user, what changes? Well, I have now five platforms that I need to check on a daily basis: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and mobile. In addition, I have a little bit of fun with Foursquare but just to play with a couple of friends so it doesn’t count. What am I going to do as my time is already very short? I am probably going to cut one of those platforms. I don’t think it is going to be Facebook as all my family is there. It cannot be email or mobile so at the end it is going to be neck to neck between Google Plus and Twitter.

Now, who is going to win or lose in this battle, it seems to me that three companies will be hurt pretty badly Twitter and LinkedIn:
1) Tumblr is right at the end of the tunnel and they are seeing the train coming. Google+ is all about posting and it is really easy to do;
2) Twitter because their installed of active users is pretty small, geeky in nature and prone to use new technologies and more importantly because Google + is far superior to twitter as a media platform. If I use Google +, I can see a post and I can see what people commented in the post, which Twitter doesn’t do;
3) LinkedIn: the emergence of profile on Google Plus is going to commoditize the biggest asset of LinkedIn and clearly hamper its ability to develop their social networking capabilities. Luckily for LinkedIn, Google wants all profiles to be public but I can see companies like Monster or other leverage Google social graph to develop their own LinkedIn clones. Fortunately, LinkedIn has already critical masses in the HR management market;
4) More stretched is WordPress even though I really think that there is a risk here as Google has its own blogging platform. To which extent this is going to be successful will depend on how successful Google Integration strategy is going to be. Microsoft has been successful with Office and there is no reason why Google could not be successful in the same way by commoditizing each feature by providing an integrated approach;
5) Regarding Facebook, I think Facebook is strong enough to compete and resist to any attempt of that magnitude. Obviously, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the Facebook base with all the privacy issues that plagued the company and some may be ready for a change anyway so people will be tempted to switch but people will realize that Google is not as flexible as it seems, witness is their requirement to make your Google Profile public.
6) Lastly, of course, Yahoo and Microsoft are becoming even more irrelevant and the three real platforms of choices for the consumer are slowly becoming Google, Facebook, Apple and maybe Amazon.

Regarding my new year's resolution, I have done the half marathon and well on my way to be paperless before the end of the year. This said, I lost my beautiful pen last week on a plane and i bought one right away. So unconsciously, I may still not be there yet.