The Sapporo Beer Machine – When Innovation Goes Right

I had the pleasure of enjoying several automatically vended Sapporo Beers from an amazing Sapporo Beer Machine (my name for it) during a five hour layover in Toyko’s Narita airport on May 4th 2009. I found this little jewel of beer serving luxury in the Priority Lounge while I was flying Northwest Airlines on my way to Bangkok, Thailand. This thing puts the Heineken Mini-Keg Dispenser to shame.

Here’s how it works. You take a freezing cold glass out of the tall glass freezer immediately beside the beer dispenser and you place it upright at the back of a little flat tray. Much like a gas station hot chocolate dispenser or the automatic soft drink dispensers behind the counter at your local fast food joint this machine would, upon the push of a button, fill a frosty glass with Sapporo right to the 90% mark every time. First the tray would lean backwards to create the perfect angle for the addition of a stream of cold beer with minimum froth. Then the beer flows and stops perfectly just before the top. Next the glass is raised back to level again. Then a sneaky little second nozzle that you didn’t even notice comes out and adds the perfect amount of head to the top of the beer. Next you drink the glass to empty and return to the beer robot. Repeat the process until you forgot that you have five hours to waste in an airport lounge.

Although I was able to remember to post a note about the dispenser to Twitter while in the lounge I forget to shoot a video of it with my digital camera. But, someone didn’t forget so you can check out the machine in action here: I’m probably not Googling properly but I cannot find any other references to this exact machine online. I’d love to buy one or at least figure out how much it costs (so I can add it to my Christmas wish list). If you can read the Japanese label on the front of the machine from the video please post a comment and let me know if it says anything that would aid my search. Or send me a link to more information about this machine.

Seeking a Job or Business Success in a Tough Economy

Thanks to Rick Smith at WRAL LocalTechWire for covering an interview we had last week about surviving what he is calling a “nuclear winter” in the business world. He also highlighted my advice for job seekers in his The Skinny column as well where I think he did a great job of capturing the urgency that I think job seekers should take to building their personal brands online before looking for that dream job. Thanks for the coverage Rick and Happy New Year!

Sending 10MB of Text Messages Costs a Cool Thirteen Grand

My dad sent me a note today about ZDNet Government Reporter Richard Koman digging into the per-megabyte cost of text messages as charged by the top four wireless service providers. The original post that did the exploration on the unit cost of AT&T text messages was posted on CrunchGear back in July but Richard Koman’s post included a recent note from Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) to the wireless carriers asking them to clarify some of the details about how they provide and price their text messaging services. CrunchGear determined the cost to send one megabyte of text messages was around $1,300. Wow.

Senator Kohl noted a 100% increase in the price of text messages with major carriers from 2005 to 2008 which I’ve been mentioning casually to friends as well recently. I found out back in January that Verizon had bumped me off of the unlimited text messaging plan that I had purchased (probably back in 2002) for $7/month. The new price for the unlimited plan was offered to me for right around $20/month. Back in 2002 I used to send text messages to people with the expectation of getting an immediate call back to ask me how the heck I got a message into their phone. In fact, in July of 2004 I got a call from my mother (from her Nokia phone) to thank me for text messaging her a happy birthday message but she was confused a bit since her birthday is in September. I remembered sending the message a long time before so I asked her to check the date on it… it was from September of 2002 (nearly two years old). She simply didn’t know how to find text messages in her phone and somehow didn’t get alerted when the message arrived years before.

The increase in utilization of text messaging can’t be denied and the continuous release of new mobile phones with full keyboards is driving adoption as the momentarily brilliant but frustrating T-9 input phones continue to die off slowly. But Senator Kohl is looking for hard details on the costs mobile service providers incur in providing text messaging to their customers and for proof of the increased demand for text messaging over the last three years. I think the increased demand is obvious and the doubling of cost seems appropriately related to the increased demand for text messages among wireless networks. The Senator also asked for a comparison of the gross profits across multiple lines of wireless provider revenue including text messaging, voice service, and data service. He cited a recent text messaging price increase by Sprint that was followed shortly by the other three of the top four vendors to wireless phone subscribers doing the same. He mentioned that he thought the steadily increasing rates for text messages wasn’t indicative of the fierce competition that should exist among carriers in an open market… indirectly accusing the wireless carriers of collective price fixing although he described his letter instead as the opening of a conversation.

One of the comments following the CrunchGear article mentioned that the figure of $1,300/mb of text messaging data was probably a bit underestimated because it assumed that the average text message contained the full 160 characters when it may contain as little as 20 on average, I don’t know. I thought another comment was brilliant as well and I wonder if it’s true. It mentioned that the data transfer required to send the average text message was nearly identical to the overhead required for the messages between a mobile phone and the local cellular towers that it updates with its position as it moves. Also, as I discussed my thoughts on this tonight with my friend Wes he mentioned that the issue really isn’t with bandwidth at all considering the fact that text messages don’t always go over main carrier networks where bandwidth is at a premium. These messages only move over the airwaves between mobile phones and cellular towers in most cases and this type of exchange of data occurs over the last mile in concept (where bandwidth usually isn’t an issue).

Wireless Electricity

Intel recently announced a display of some new technology which looks like another step along the way to a good proof of concept of efficient wireless electricity. Building on Marin Soljacic’s work at MIT (it’s unclear to me whether Intel is actually building on top of the work of Marin’s group or if they’re working in parallel) the group from Intel is displaying the transfer of energy without wires from a transmitter to a receiver separated only by air which in result lights a light bulb. Intel’s demonstration was covered by Gizmodo and has a nice description and some great pictures.

Two years ago Marin Soljacic’s group out of MIT made their first announcements of their plans to use electromagnetic induction (the transfer of energy through the conversion of electric charge to magnetism and vice-versa) to transfer energy through the air from a sending device to a receiving device. The trick to keeping everything safe for humans and electronic devices sharing the air in between was to use a very low power signal and to then use the principle of resonant energy transfer. This is essentially pushing on a wave at a frequency that in result magnifies the strength of the wave. In plain English, think about pushing someone swinging on a playground swing. If you push them at the right time during their swing you will increase the speed at which they swing and the distance they cover. Push at the wrong time and you slow them down. The same concept allows your standard AM/FM radio to tune into a radio wave frequency.

Shortly after Marin’s announcement of the concept for a system to efficiently provide for wireless electricity in the fall of 2006 I contacted him via email. I requested a meeting to introduce myself and my ideas on how important wireless electricity is for our world and also asked for the opportunity to invest in his research. Hey, never chance never dance. Within a few weeks he responded with a short but polite message with an apology for the delay in his reply because he was having difficulty responding to his email volume with the 200+ media outlets that picked up on his recent announcement. He mentioned that he was currently not considering investment or commercialization options for his research. I figure that at some point he’s going to have to consider transferring some of the intellectual property he’s created at MIT out to a private corporation to seek the type of investment required to take it to the next level. Maybe he’s taken another route already and has licensed his technology to Intel in support of their current exploration into wireless electricity. I wish I had some better information on this. Since late 2006 his name has been a continued topic of discussion as the progress on his work has remained on the fringe of media hot topics.

Before Intel’s August 2008 announcement of their demonstration Marin has completed his own presentation of a working device built to the specifications of his plans announced in late 2006. News of his prototype built at MIT was released mid year 2007 and once again was widely covered by the media. Marin’s faculty homepage at MIT tells a bit of his story through links to news stories and published research. Intel took another 14 months and has claimed that they’re able to transfer power the same distance as Marin (a couple of feet) with greater efficiency (75% over the previously achieved 50%), essentially losing less power through the air.

Efficiency is of course the name of the game with wireless electricity now and that’s why everyone’s measuring it and talking about it. The first challenge was creating a way to transmit power through the air in a way that is safe for humans and everything else in between the sending and receiving devices. Wireless electricity has existed for many years in the form of lightening in nature and arcing among high power circuits. I remember as a kid enjoying the night sky going from black to bright white during a major snow storm as a nearby power exchange station shot huge arcs of electricity into the air. Our house was probably two miles from the station and we could clearly see the strings of electricity that must have been launched several hundred feet into the air to have been visible to us. Severe storms, the kind that produce the biggest lightening, have always been one of my most favorite things to see. For some reason seeing nature at work creating electricity in the sky is incredibly calming to me and I’ve been known to wanter outside in big storms just to get a chance to take it all in.

In concept, radio and TV waves are already electromagnetic waves, containing a wave component of electricity and another of magnetism that mirror each other and repeat over very long distances. But they are very low power and require a powered device on the receiving end to interpret their signal and boost it. As another example in about 2001 I bought an induction charged electric shaver which charged by simply sitting in a cradle (no metal connections existed on the charger or the shaver). The charger which plugged in to the wall outlet alternated current within a coil which created an alternating magnetic field which because of its immediate proximity (about 5 millimeters in distance) was sensed by the shaver which itself had a coil of wires on which the current alternated in result of alternating magnetic field. This process moved the alternating electric current from the wall outlet into the shaver which could then charge its internal battery as if it were also plugged into the wall. I was probably the person most excited in the world to be charging my shaver for the time I used that model. In the radio/TV and the induction charging shaver examples we have both a long distance and short distance solution for electromagnetic signal transfer. The long distance solution being too weak to transfer any type of meaningful power to the receiving device and the short distance solution not being able to cover any meaningful distance. As an entrepreneur this void is what got me excited about a mainstream wireless electricity solution that fell somewhere in the middle. A model that was both powerful enough to charge a receiving device but weak enough to be sent over long distances without disrupting everything in between.

In both Intel’s and Marin’s prototypes they’ve started with a distance of a couple of feet (enough to allow them to stick some things in between to see what effects are realized) and they’re entirely focused on trying to get as much power as possible from the sending device to the receiving device. There may also be a parallel advantage here in that 100% power reception on the receiving side may also mean that since no power is lost along the way that it couldn’t have affected anything in between because otherwise it would have lost intensity but I don’t know enough about electromagnetic signals to know if this is true. I guess a device in between could have been affected by the signal even if passes along an identical signal but something about the law of the conversation of mass and energy seems impossible there. I’ll defer to a physicist on this one. Regardless, efficiency is the goal and the improvement from 50% to 75% efficiency within just 14 months is really exciting.

I envision a go-to-market solution here where 15-20 feet is considered good enough for the first round of devices because it accommodates the size of a standard private office, cubicle, or room of a residential house. Since all of these are already hard-wired from an external source to the outlet the big advantage here in the short term is from the wall outlet to the end device: the cell phone, laptop computer, monitor, projector, digital camera, etc. I think the first company that moves in this space will establish a brand name with builders who will install the wireless electricity sending devices into each room they build alongside traditional plug-in devices. These relationships will then later be leveraged as a product with the required efficiency at longer distances and through more obstacles (walls being the important ones to consider) becomes available and they go into production as the infrastructure that moves power from an external source to every outlet or end device within a building. I haven’t done the math but my gut (Steven Colbert reference) tells me the first opportunity is at least a $50 billion annual market with the latter being 3-5x that annually. Then of course the opportunity that remains is for long distance regional power distribution through the air. Even as optimistic as I am now I really don’t see this being utilized as the primary source of power distribution any time within the next 25 years even if it were to exist now but the model for its adoption exists in the transition from wired home phone service to cellular phone service. Personally, although there is absolutely no good reason for me to have a wired phone line at home I do have one. Even early adopters like my wife and I are still clinging to the ways of old I guess because if just feels wrong to abandon it. I guess our monthly stipend to AT&T for wired phone service helps us sleep better at night. I do have a number of friends that don’t have wired home phone service but I don’t know of any of our parents that have done completely without. Time will change this of course.

I do wonder what the required efficiency for widespread market adoption will be, it seems like 75% is getting really close. For instance if I pay 10 cents to charge my laptop over night (I have no clue what it costs me to do this now but it can’t be much) I would gladly pay 15 cents to charge it over night without a plug. Since the devices that consume the majority of power in my house are large or don’t ever move (water heater, air conditioner, oven, lights, etc) it seems like the efficiency lost will maybe apply to 10% of my power consumption in total but will benefit 100% of the devices I move around and that need their batteries recharged at least once per week (laptop, cell phone, digital camera). That seems like a trade off that most people would be willing to make. So, what are you waiting for Intel? Other than the obvious requirements of bringing a product to the mass consumer market which I don’t begin to claim to know it seems likely that the remaining obstacle will be in terms of power intensity. Current prototypes are lighting a light bulb. I’m not sure how that equates to the power required by my laptop’s power chord but it seems likely to be less.

Of high concern will also be authentication and access control. Since wireless electricity when originated like in current prototypes is turned on literally any device that is in reach of the signal can charge from it. I’m not sure whether multiple devices receiving the signal will cause additional usage of power from the source. They may also reduce the strength of the signal for all other receivers which if true means that your immediate neighbors could easily leach off of your power. Although wireless Internet signals went mainstream without any decent type of encryption in place they were typically associated with sources that allowed unlimited data transfer which meant wireless Internet theft really only drew resources away from the source device but didn’t cause any associated additional unit cost to the owner of the wireless access point. Of course in aggregate a unit cost to upgrade to a higher speed service existed but this didn’t affect the vast majority people. If additional users of broadcast wireless electricity cause the source device to increase its power throughput in a similar fashion there may be a direct unit cost to the owner who will experience a higher power bill in the following month. If this is the case finding a way to limit usage to a controlled group of receivers will be critical before a solution can go into mainstream production. This doesn’t seem easy considering the broadcast model and no apparent need for communication from the receiving device back to the source device (unlike in the wireless Internet signal model) with wireless power.

In terms of social benefit (since I’ve spent my focus so far considering commercial applications and strategy) I see several opportunities that we must hold high in our list of intentions for the technology that enables whatever solution we end of reaching:

Emergencies: Wireless power over long distances should remove many of the break points in power service that are caused by natural disasters that take down physical transmission lines. Using wireless power as an alternative power source just for emergencies might allow a central power source to bring local power sub-stations back on line instantly when major trunk lines are disabled.

Safety: Countless accidents caused by the necessity of power transmission lines could be eliminated. Physical power chords are some of the last things we have running all over our houses and offices these days and they spend a lot of their time among our feet and near our water sources where they are most likely to cause problems.

Beauty: Power lines are most frequently run through the air where they serve little other purpose other than being a great resting place for shoes whose laces have been tied together and for birds who intend to poop on us from a fixed vantage point. Among our houses and offices the wire managers and conduits that move wires around are constantly being adjusted in an attempt to make them more discrete already.

Poverty: Moving power through the air may make it more cost efficient than the current implementation which requires a lot of resources of wood, metal, rubber, and land to get it from point a to point b. Areas of the world that it has been just too difficult to get reliable power to previously may be easily powered without the need for wires. Historically we know that the access to a reliable power infrastructure is a key component in stimulating developing countries’ economies.

Political Power & War: Moving power through the air may make it more difficult for military targeting of key power distribution resources as they won’t be as visible as they are now and they won’t follow any key distribution lines. After an attack power could be restored more quickly from an alternative source station that re-powered the air from a different point whether provided by the country affected or by emergency relief efforts from allies.

My Peace of Mind: Power chords are so 1800s and they’re cramping my style. Everything else I do today is free from wires, except my tightrope walking habit (my fake tightrope walking habit that is), so it sure would be nice to cut that electric wire away without worry of being shocked back to the century that invented it. Set me free!

Update 1/13/2009: Last week Palm announced wireless electricity as part of their new charging base for the Palm Pre to be released around March of 2009. The device’s Touchstone base will be sold separately and uses the basic process of induction to turn electric current into magnetism then back into electric current. The Touchstone base (like a shaver I bought back in 2001) claims to charge “wirelessly through the air” when in fact the charging base and the device actually touch directly. Having the two components touch isn’t required as part of the transfer of energy but it is required to minimize the distance between the sending and the receiving devices. As I’ve mentioned above, new developments focus primarily on using this same principle over a more helpful distance (larger than two millimeters :)) of five to twenty-five feet where the challenge becomes focus, sensitivity, and tuning to preserve the energy in the transfer and prevent damage to anything along the way.

Gearing Up for Fortune Brainstorm Conference

I arrived in San Francisco via Southwest Airlines on Saturday evening (somehow I managed to find the two Southwest flights that day without any funny security speeches, bummer) and then spent the evening catching up with Arvind and his friends in the Marina area of town. We had breakfast Sunday morning in Palo Alto and then drove up Interstate 280 to catch Highway 92 west to Half Moon Bay where I checked into the Ritz Carlton for the Fortune Brainstorm Technology conference.

Upon arrival we checked into the clubhouse and pushed our tee-time back thirty minutes to give us a few to warm up on the putting and chipping green before hitting the links. We played the Ocean Course (the other course is an older style tree course a bit more inland that weaves in and around the nearby neighborhoods, it’s called the Old Course). Once again I was caught off guard by the cold air along the Pacific Ocean so I picked up a logo windbreaker to keep me warm. I realized after beginning to play that it was custom built for golf because the arms on the jacket were telescoping so that it would look normal when standing straight but would flex during your back swing so as to not tug against you as you moved. Cool idea, although it probably had no affect on my game, it did allow me to stay warm throughout the afternoon instead of having to take it off and put it back on throughout the day. The clubhouse didn’t have any sunscreen so I picked up a hat in an attempt to just cover anything that might burn. I think I pulled it off with the exception of a bit of my neck that’s been tingly since.

After the game I uploaded some pictures of the course to Flickr and pushed a few videos of our shots on to YouTube (Herb on the 18th tee, me on the 18th tee, Arvind on the 18th fairway, Arvind and I cruising along the 16th hole fairway). Disclaimer: yes, I need to work on my golf swing, it’s pathetic I know. We spent enough time on the course taking pictures of the incredible scenery that we upset more than one group behind us. Apparently they weren’t working as hard as we were to enjoy themselves.

A friend from last year’s conference, Herb Kim of Codeworks in the UK, joined Arvind and I for golf and then set a dinner reservation at Cafe Gibralter which is about four miles away from the Ritz in Half Moon Bay. Herb’s friend Alasdair, a venture capitalist from the UK, joined us for dinner as well. Ryan had recently landed and arrived at the hotel so he added a 5th to the group. Herb was recommended the restaurant from a traveler on Dopplr, the travel serendipity site that had reminded us a few weeks back that we’d be at the same conference again this year. The food was fantastic.

After dinner Arvind and I downed a bottle of wine in the hot tub and chatted about web business models. I walked him through some of the big changes in the works at Preation and we talked about how our business model has already changed over the last 12 months. It was nice to get his ideas on the model changes. I plan to keep him up-to-date on our transitions especially the customer microeconomic model that our projections will be built upon.

The conference runs through Wednesday at noon but I’ll be jumping a plane back to the East Coast for another conference earlier that morning. Now it’s time to put my thinking cap on and start taking notes.

Intuit Faces a New Era of Innovation

Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit. Quotes from his short presentation on “the new face of innovation.”

Major transitions have been as follows: DOS to Windows, Desktop to the Web, now we’re in a time where ideas won’t come out of companies but instead users will build the value within a platform and will look for other users like themselves to give them the rest of what they need.

Will our 25 years of history of success and innovation be a benefit or an inhibitor to our success? The young people in the company are being empowered to contribute their ideas through creative time and labs.

This year Intuit put their TurboTax product’s customer community within the product and took it off of the web. They found that 40% of questions asked by customers were first answered by other customers, and at a level of quality that exceeded their own ability to answer questions. Questions even outside of their realm of expertise like what vendors they use for other services and what the lowest price is that they get.

Google Calendar Down Today

Anybody have trouble with Google Calendar today? I was unable to access my Google calendar account from around 2PM to 8PM Eastern time today. I searched Google News for any details but didn’t find anything. I used Google Blog search to look for comments about it but came up empty there as well.

During the downtime today when I attempted to access my online calendar I was directed to a page that said that the service was temporary unavailable, the message was repeated (I’m assuming it was the same message) in about 15 languages, I found one of them helpful. On other attempts to load the page I was directed to a shorter message only in English that referenced a Google calendar support article in their knowledge base. The article explained three ways that the problem could be my fault and left me with no good options to figure out what was actually going on, or to get an update. Now that my calendar is back online this evening there don’t appear to be any notices or alerts inside the software about what occurred. Maybe they’ll send me an email, if so I’ll post it here when I get it.
During the downtime today I realized three things that surprised me:

  1. I’ve become very reliant on my Google calendar. It’s a free service so I have to realize that it won’t always be available, or as available as a paid service that comes with a real business Service Level Agreement (SLA), but while it was down this afternoon five meeting invitations stacked up in my email inbox
  2. Google didn’t make any information about the outage readily available to me… either at my regular calendar URL, via email, or within their knowledge base. I guess Google doesn’t feel the obligation to make that communication.
  3. I’m really glad that I use Goosync to sync my Google calendar to my Palm Treo. I was able to check my calendar on my Treo during the outage but I didn’t dare to try to sync it because I wasn’t sure if it would erase all appointments from my Treo considering that whatever Goosync connects with at Google to make the integration was probably down too. In the event that my Google Calendar never came back it was nice to know my Treo would still have all of my critical information on it. Technically Google has absolutely no liability if my calendar had not come back.

I’m sure glad my Google Calendar is back up now. Time for me to get back to work managing the 29 meetings I have already scheduled this week.

Broadband on a Plane

Replacing the role recently held by snakes, broadband access is slowly slithering its way toward a plane near you. For years I’ve been frustrated when flying, primarily because airplanes are not intended for people anywhere close to 76 inches tall to ride in comfort. On a flight with Northwest Airlines yesterday the woman sitting next to me commented on how my knees were pressing snugly against the seat back in front of me. I guess since it has been proven that height correlates to lifetime income earned and that 90% of CEOs are above average height (“Short Guys Finish Last” The world’s most enduring form of discrimination. The Economist, December 23, 1995) that it’s an evil game to force me into earning enough to afford flying first class everywhere I go.  I digress. In recent years I’ve realized that my frustration with flying comes equally from my lack of productivity as it does from physical discomfort, these days maybe even more. With long lists of to-do’s in my email inbox and an entire email folder flagged containing things I need to read (much of it being online), the day of settling down with a good book on a long flight just isn’t getting it done anymore.

Now with the airlines nickeling you for every little thing the least they could do is offer in-flight broadband access that puts cash in their pocket each time you agree to let them rocket you through the sky. In an article published this morning by eMarketer regarding in-flight broadband they cite a source that is confident that this market is about to explode, with projected annual revenue in the billions within a few years. While flying yesterday I thought that if I could just text message from my cell phone that my productivity would be increased tenfold. I can text-to-email from my Palm Treo and my team in the office knows my email-to-text message address so I would instantly be in touch with home base throughout my travels.

My friend Erik who flies more than just about anyone I know is concerned that full broadband access will enable everyone-and-their-brother to get on their computer-enabled voice-over-IP  (VOIP) phone and begin loud obnoxious conversations that you’ll have to listen to. Sort of like what happens now right when the plane’s wheels touch down on each flight and the cell phones come out… “hi honey, yes we just landed, no, the plane landed, yes we took off, I’m at the airport, no I don’t have my bags yet, yeah it’ll probably take them forever, they always lose my bag, no meet me outside, no don’t park, yes I’m still on the plane, etc, etc, etc.”

So, if they do take the full broadband route which will be incredible for many reasons including streaming movies and music as well as normal communication and nearly in-office productivity they had better be smart and figure out a way to filter and prevent VOIP at the network level and create a number of rules that the flight-attendants are ready to enforce regarding distractions to other passengers.

Social Widget Platforms Supporting Rockstar Valuations

Widget maker RockYou who claims a reach of nearly 90 million users per month has raised another round of funding at a handsome valuation estimated at around $400 million. With a similar widget solution used primarily as way to creatively display and share images, audio, and video within a social network, Slide, a company founded by startup second-timer and Pay-Pal co-founder Max Levchin recently raised a round at $500 million. It makes sense that platforms with this type of reach should be worth a lot of money but from a traditional financial standpoint these valuations are way out there. RockYou is rumored to be on track for about $10 million dollars in 2008 revenue which sets the revenue-to-value multiple at 40x in comparison to other Software as a Service (Saas) companies being valued at closer to 10x fiscal 2008 revenue.

In search of companies with compelling technological solutions and a wide social network footprint it appears that investors are driving the price of social widget companies through the roof. In this case, unless there’s a potential acquisition negotiation in process that I don’t know about, it seems that a 30x additional revenue multiple premium is being created from future expectations on the potential of 90 million monthly uses. Although I don’t know the current estimations, I would assume that 90 million monthly users is still pretty insignificant in comparison to the total number of monthly worldwide social network users. If by chance it’s less than 1% of the market then I guess there is some pretty significant opportunity for growth here from top market contenders.

Going back to dot-com-era valuations which were in many cases based on exposure and activity, not revenue or profit, RockYou is currently supporting an enterprise value of $4.60/monthly-user (and Slide an EV of $7.80/monthly-user). Who would have thought that each time I load a MySpace profile and interact with a RockYou supported widget (by hitting play or clicking to answer a question) that I’m putting five bucks into the pockets of the RockYou team. Pretty sweet deal. Keep it up guys, other SaaS companies I know of need more of these great funding model comparables. I wonder what a company doing twice the annual revenue with 600 million monthly users is worth under this model? By revenue alone $800 million, or by exposure $3.7 billion.

New LinkedIn Feature: A Spiritual Upgrade

Now, I’ve always considered LinkedIn to be a “fair and balanced” organization but after receiving a new connection request through the LinkedIn site recently I took a moment to consider if they’ve been passing judgment on me from day one.

Frankly, I’m a religious person but have been known to miss Church on a Sunday every once in a while. You can understand why as I reviewed my LinkedIn connection requests while eating a Sausage-Egg-and-Cheese McMuffin (sinful I must admit) I was so surprised to see this new button now available in LinkedIn. Hidden there inconspicuously between the ‘Accept’ and ‘Archive’ buttons was a statement I just wasn’t prepared to consider this early in the morning. I didn’t dare click on it as I was unsure what would happen. So, I avoided the question entirely and just ‘Accept’ed the new connection.

Along with my acceptance of the connection I also included the following note to my colleague:

“Thanks Christina. And remember, I’ve chosen to be connected to you over being connected to God. So, I expect some really good introductions… and the next time I’m in a tight place and need guidance I will be calling upon you. No really, what’s your cell phone number?”

Christina never sent me her cell phone number.