Ad ‘Experiments’ Come To Delicious As It Updates Social Bookmarking API With Authentication, Rate Limits

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Delicious, the veteran bookmarking site that last year released a rebuilt version of its service, is moving into its next phase of growth: the company has announced a new version of its API that gives it more security and control over data that is passed through the platform; and it is going to begin to run advertising alongside content on the site.

The news underscore how Delicious — once a plucky poster child of Web 2.0 that got acquired, ignored and then sold by Yahoo — may not be the traffic engine that it was in its early years. (ComScore puts the December 2013 figure at 296,000 uniques, compared to its 5.3 million figure on its fifth birthday.) But new owner AVOS — YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen’s newer venture — continues to work on ways that it might recover some traction and glory.

There is another reason for the the changes. Delicious has been on a bit of a development tear with new apps for iPhoneiPadAndroid and Firefox; integration with Firefox Social API; and a Chrome extension – all free to use, like the main site. Tightening up the API and getting more commercial are not only unsurprising, but possibly essential for Delicious to support its current services and whatever it may have planned for the future.

Delicious illustrating its blog post with a GIF featuring dynamite wicks on its logo also seems to point to how the company itself views the significance of the news.

Delicious says the new API, version 1.1, will go live in the coming weeks. Delicious doesn’t give a full run-down of what features it will have but does note two key points: it will require authentication for every request to its API, and it will introduce stricter rate limits (again – no details on what those limits will be).

The main reasons for the API update appear to be general security and stronger control of Delicious data by Delicious itself.

The existing version 1.0 of the API does not require developers to provide authentication when making API calls, “essentially enabling them to access public information from the Delicious API without us knowing who they are,” save for IP address. Adding authentication will help Delicious better track developers and also what kinds of requests are being made.

As for the rate limits, Delicious does not say that a more liberal policy up to now has led to malicious security or data breaches as such – in fact, the biggest headache for Delicious in its users on the security front seems to be glitches related to the first major relaunch of the service under AVOS back in 2011.

But it makes a few references to what could possibly go wrong because of the kind of activity they already see on the platform. “Many applications that are pulling data from the Delicious API at very high rates (scraping, bots, etc.),” it notes as one example.


Delicious has chosen its API announcement as the same time to note that it will also soon launch advertising — which it gingerly refers to as “experimenting with ads.”

Just as with the API, there are no specific details or even screenshots of how these ads might look, but it does give a few guidelines for how it intends to proceed. First, the content will be “transparent to users” — which you can take either as clearly sponsored, or simply extremely in your face.

Second, the introduction of ads will be “iterative” — likely because Delicious knows that this is a sensitive issue for some regular Delicious users.

“We are conscious of preserving the existing Delicious experience and will make improvements based on feedback,” the company notes. Another reason, not noted by Delicious, is that it gives the company the freedom to try out different things to see what works.

As with API update cycles at other platforms (Twitter is one notable example from last year), these often can be traced to wider business decisions being taken by the company in question. The same can be said for Delicious. Advertisers and marketers generally require a significant amount of data on how sites are used before making spending decisions, and so the API will go some way towards being able to provide that kind of reporting.

Path Finally Closes That Elusive Series C

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It’s been a bumpy road for Dave Morin’s Path, as manic rumors over the last year have pegged the “private” social network at once as the subject of lagging growth, shrinking staff and potential acquisitions, while at the same time raising a mega $50 million round at a $500 million valuation.

Today, the company’s long path to a Series C appears to finally have come to an end. Having recently revealed an additional revenue stream with the launch of premium subscription plans and product additions like private sharing, over the last quarter, Path has been making moves that appear to have reassured investors of its long-term prospects.

Tonight, Kara Swisher reports that Path has raised $25 million and added at least one new investor in Indonesia’s Bakrie Global Group, bringing its total funding to $65 million.

Morin, who is also an ex-Facebooker, also told Swisher that, while the company closed a smaller round than its $30 million Series B, it was in fact an “up round.” As Path was reportedly valued at $250 million for its Series B, if it’s an up round, the company’s value has increased since April 2012 in the eyes of investors and it could be as high as $400 million.

What’s more, in November, TechCrunch Co-editor Alexia Tsotsis heard from sources that Path was closing a round of over $7 million that also included Morin’s friend and former Facebooker, Dustin Moskovitz. TechCrunch has again heard from sources that this is true — that Moskovitz is an investor in Path’s Series C — as we reported at the time.

Swisher also reports that Path’s existing investors, which include Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures, Insight Venture Partners, Redpoint Venture Partners and First Round Capital, also participated in the round.

As to why Path opted for an Indonesian lead investor for its Series C? Morin explained in an interview with Re/code that he “was always looking” for a strategic investor in Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia. Morin said that Southeast Asia is one of the regions where Path’s traction is strongest, saying that it was even stronger “than people understand.” Bringing on Bakrie as its lead investor gives Path a partner that understands the market and can help it strategically expand and increase its footprint in Southeast Asia.

While it’s difficult not to see the raise (and improved valuation) as a positive sign, saying that it’s a sign where Path wants to be, particularly in the U.S., would be unfair. In conversation with Swisher, Morin admitted that Path still had a number of “challenges in the U.S. market” that it needs “to focus on.”

With Morin confirming that Path is now at 23 million customers, the challenge may not be a lack of traction, but stemming a leaky user base in the face of the changing social market and the explosion of young mobile social networks like Snapchat.

We have reached out to confirm all of the above with both Morin and Path and will update as soon as we learn more.

I am terrified of writing something beautiful

And that is the only reason I keep trying

Today I want to talk about terror and beauty. For me the first is a prerequisite for the second, so that is where we will start. My hope is that your reception of this first unsavory topic will vaguely resemble your reception of a Hepatitis B-vaccination. That is, while you may not adore long sharp needles, you will grudgingly allow me to puncture your arm with one knowing that it will ultimately improve your coming trip to the Himalayas.

Terror is a difficult emotion to coax out on cue. With that said I really want to give you the opportunity to sample its dark bouquet before we continue. In the pursuit of that end we are going to rely on Terror Management Theory (TMT). According to TMT there is a uniquely human terror driven by the desire to live and the realization that death is inevitable. Assuming we all have a healthy desire to live, a little realization that death is inevitable should be all we need to mix up a little organic terror.

If you are not reading between the lines, I am asking you to think about the fact that you are going to die. To consider the inexorability of defeat in the longest mission your body will ever undertake. To carefully evaluate your final grade in staying alive. F.

Still having trouble getting those creative death juices flowing? Here are a few writing prompts that TMT researchers use to study how people react when forced to think about their own death.

“Please briefly describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouses in you.”

Enjoy that? This one is to die for.

Jot down, as specifically as you can, what you think will happen to you physically as you die and once you are physically dead.

Well no, our friends over at Terror Management Theory Inc certainly are not driving around blasting the ice-cream song all day. The point is that they are good at giving you a little taste of your own unique terror, which will help you better relate to how I feel when I write.

There are many ways to create beauty in the world, and I still choose writing even though it terrifies me. Why do I pursue, even adulate, a form of creative expression that elicits the same emotions as “jotting down what I think will happen to me physically as I die”? The answer to that question lies at the core of how human beings at once experience terror and try to manage it. Let me explain through my own creative process.

Generally I get ideas when I am falling asleep. While I stare at the ceiling all manner of midnight wanderers visit me. At the time they seem grand. So grand that I often have to force myself to stay in bed. I want to breath ideas into beautiful words right there. There is some hazy buzz, some ominous overture that wonders what makes this evening escapade different from those that came before. But inky sleep is usually enough to ease that nagging itch.

When I wake up in the morning there is this perfect outline in the sand left over from the night before. Everything is laid out in front of me. Every shadow, every nuance. No trace of the sullen wisps that preceded sleep. I feel like I can create something that shakes off the inevitability of death like a fly.

Then I sit down to write and the wind and waves start picking up again. The once clear edges on the outline soften and begin to fill in. I start paying attention to the details rather than the big picture to stay on track. And there is room for doubt in the details. Even as I try to keep the wind out, I start bumping the outline myself. Cutting and changing that original idea to be a little less grand, a little less bold. And while I struggle with the wind, I must always keep one eye on the sea.

The foaming tongues that whisper worry. The rising tide of doubt that this idea is not going to succeed. Cannot succeed. The laughing ocean that asks why this beauty will hold precisely where the waves have washed away so much before it. And the wind is ever insistent. That slop of writing? Those stumbling words? Your meaning will not mar my pristine shore.

As the hum builds to a dull roar the sand starts filling in faster. Suddenly I am flailing around on an empty beach, chasing shadows. Everyone else is looking up through this one-way mirror and laughing about the traces in the sand that I can’t seem to catch. All of my failed ideas, missed opportunities, broken relationships are rising up in the dark torrent of water that screams “We only ever have so much time, and this is how you use it?” The terror that I work so meticulously to hold down through writing, inevitably storms through it.

When the spinning sand and crashing water rise too high I have to stop. I sit down. I wait for the air to clear. I stare at the doctor with the sympathetic stare and hold out for his words to make sense. Because thats the truth about Terror Management Theory. The part that the prompts do not tell you. The diagnosis that says when we truly face the threat of our own demise it is paralyzing. That says real terror crashes down upon us like some great dark wave, and pins us helplessly to the bottom.

But even in the face of that terror humanity has a buoy to grasp. There is a treatment, a light we hold up to stave off paralysis and imbue life with meaning and value. According to TMT that grand system, one which we have crafted and curated since the first humans conceived death, is culture. The amalgamation of creativity, imagination, and unfolding society that orders the world and allows us to see and share the beauty that can slip deaths clutches even if we cannot.

It is in the name of that constant struggle to stay afloat that I always return to my scratches in the sand. That after the voices quiet I slip back to the same beach to chase beauty even with the knowledge that the wave will rise up again. That the crashing torrent will knock me down, inadequate, over and over again, until the day that my name is added to the human casualty list. I come back knowing that culture was always the treatment for terror, never the cure. I come back to writing because I believe that the greatest artists were those who’s work brought them closest to the wave. Who screamed terror and beauty into the breach and at times could not tell one from the other.

I will likely never scribble beauty that can stand toe to toe with thundering death, but when I put my finger to the sand and am bowled over by the same terror that grappled with van Gogh, Dickens, Mozart and all tortured faces of the ages, I know that I am looking in the right place.

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Published January 9, 2014
Thanks to: Keren


icstarg 1Techbash – Part 3

VERBATIM – John Jonelis

This is a story of high expectations, high reality, and high energy. I may as well give it to you straight, because Loop Lonogan would want it that way. He’s in the lockup. Too much hard partying on Twelfth Night. His guests spilled into the street and all kinds of trouble erupted—part of it involving a policeman he knocked cold. So I’m here at i.c.stars headquarters. Here to finish Lonagan’s series of articles. I’m talking to the president and co-founder, Sandee Kastrul.

The location—downtown Chicago. The workspace—all business. I start by throwing out this question: “Can I call i.c.stars a social incubator. Is that fair?”

Sandee bursts out in a smile. “I love it—I love it. It’s all about transformation. Technology is a tool of transformation. Sandee 2We teach technology because it’s creative. It doesn’t know what you look like. At the end of the day you can be a rock star.

“But what really gets us jazzed about technology is the systems thinking and the process that’s embedded in it. If you can take that and apply it to community leadership, to organizing, to service leaders, to entrepreneurship, we can literally make a change in the communities that we come from. And so we sit between the leadership and the technology side. Our vision is 1000 community leaders by 2020. So everything is about the leadership angle.” Continue reading THE APPRENTICE MEETS DIGITAL BOOT CAMP

Technical Debt is a Tool.

Technical Debt is probably the worst Nightmare of every Software Developer. Yet — as a Product Manager it is one of my favorite Tools to work with.

Many people in the software development community compare technical debt to a loan. You trade development speed (e.g. to ship a certain feature sooner) for a certain amount debt in your code base. This debt usually means ugly code, bad documentation and edge cases that aren’t handled properly.

“You owe me money, and this car ain’t going nowhere till I get it! “

Technical debt is usually regarded as a very bad thing that should be avoided as much as possible as it lives on in your code base and gets more and more expensive over time by introducing weird behaviour into the system and increasing the complexity of the code base.

While the metaphor of technical debt sometimes is useful to explain the downsides of rushing something out of the door I’d like to paint another picture here, kind of advocating for (clever use of) technical debt.

Conscious acceptance of technical debt can be worth a lot. It helps with time to market if you need to have something ready before your competition can offer it. Shipping functionality sooner rather than later also buys you information about whether the thing you are building actually makes sense. This can help de-risk going down a certain path or help you save resources by figuring out early that the feature you plan to ship wasn’t a great idea to begin with.

Also make sure to check out a similar post on the advantage of short user stories by Allan Berger.

Technical debt is a tool in your toolbox. Use it to your advantage. That said, it obviously is one of the tools that need to be handled with care and should only be used if well understood.

If you found this post helpful you might want to follow me on twitter where I tweet about Software Development & Product Management ☺

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Co-founder, CEO & Product at @blossom_io

Published January 10, 2014

10 things I expect new hires to know on day one

A few days before Jessica would join our team, I scheduled a Skype chat. I wanted to prepare her, in greater detail than I had already done, for her new role with our little company.

More importantly, I wanted her to really grasp who we are as a company, and what we aspire to accomplish. An hour before our chat, I sat down and wrote the following list. (#10 here replaces one that was specific to Jessica, and to Jessica only.)

I’ve shared this list selectively with certain people, and at their prodding, I’m now sharing it with you.

1. Our first priority is to be a profitable, honorable, successful business. We can do nothing else listed here if our business does not remain open and does not operate with integrity. We define success based on the other things listed here.

2. Our second priority is to do our very best to ensure every customer, both paying and non-paying, is satisfied each time they have an experience with our business. Even a horrible experience can become a memorable one if handled with care.

3. Our third priority is to make a meaningful difference in the world. We do this best by giving of our time, effort, and money to efforts such as charity: water, to help and uplift others—locally and abroad. We hope to be known by this long after we close our doors.

4. It is your privilege and responsibility to make our jobs easier by lightening the load, taking the initiative, challenging our ideas when appropriate, and enhancing our team’s culture.

5. It is our privilege and responsibility to extract every ounce of potential from you that we can, to make you the best contributor to our team and to our community that you can possibly be.

6. Do what works best for you and for our company, not others. You would be unwise to not consider the methods, tools, and ideas of others. However, you would be even more unwise to be swayed by every new compelling or forceful argument that comes along merely because it was spoken by someone notable.

7. We strive to connect great companies with great talent. Let that become a hallmark of who you are while employed with Authentic Jobs, even outside of work with friends and associates who have nothing to do with our business.

8. When uncertain about a decision, contemplate it further and counsel with the team. I have found that the best decisions I’ve made have followed significant thought and discussion, rather than hastily making a decision.

9. There will be times when you will be required to use your best judgment and ask for forgiveness later, if necessary. Don’t let fear of reprehension prevent you from accomplishing great things or from resolving problems when time is of the essence.

10. Good judgment begets great judgment. As you consistently make good decisions, you’ll find your propensity for making good decisions in the future increases. Mistakes, and learning from mistakes, are indispensable tools for acquiring wisdom and improving judgment. Making the right decision the first time, however, is exponentially more beneficial to our company and to your overall well-being.

Jessica has been with us now for roughly four months. I’ve referred back to this list many times since then in evaluations, company meetings, and so forth. “Day one” has become everyday.

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Founder of @authenticjobs. Favorite number is 7.

Published January 10, 2014

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Go to Startup Lessons Learned

Startup Lessons Learned

Lessons learned the hard way — Curated by Michael Sacca

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How We Killed a Startup and Revived it in 72 Hours

We’re likening the past three days of our startup Nibbol to frolicking through Wonka’s Chocolate Factory while on crack.

Within 72 hours, we spoke with a lean and mean enterprise software guru, had 10 epiphanies crammed down our throats, gambled our lives by climbing up Pivotal Lab’s rooftop, and were floored by the chops and humility of a badass designer and two engineers.

LESSON #1: There’s (not always) Free Lunch.

Lyle Fong, co-founder of Lithium Technologies, agreed to meet with us at 2 p.m. last Thursday at his swanky downtown San Francisco office. (Side note: Alex knew him from his Cal days.) We envisioned two things at the meeting: Free food and yoda-esque advice on building community online. Free food never happened.

LESSON #2: Focus On Making One Kick-Ass Product.

After we pitched our idea of building an online booking platform for veterinarians, layered with an active pet owner community, Lyle was quick to point out we needed focus. Alone, each of our proposal sounded sexy and viable. But attempting to include multiple features all at once, Lyle said, sounded as if we weren’t confident in our choices, let alone knew what the hell we were doing.

For clarity, our business model first sounded like this:

An online booking service that would attract both pet owners and vets with a Q&A service. Pet owners would ask a question and vets would be able to answer them voluntarily. An answer deemed helpful would build the vet’s reputation, increasing the likelihood that pet owners would book appointments with them.

Nah. Said Lyle.

That vets’ schedules were already busy meant they wouldn’t take time to answer questions without tangible returns. Instant gratification. Monetization. Lyle instead suggested that pet owners skip expensive in-care vet visits entirely and resort to cheaper, online advice for non-emergency diagnoses. This meant we could take a nice slice of each consultation price. Potentially disruptive? Check. Moolah? Check. Time to pivot towards greener grass? Check.

LESSON #3: Test All Assumptions. Even From a Man Worth >$50 million.

If reading books by vanilla-sounding Steve Blank taught us anything, it’s that we should test everything. Even advice from tech gods. That evening we blasted out a large survey, and in a few hours were slapped with a simple realization. Turns out pet owners care more about having Fluffy meet face-to-face with his vet. The numbers didn’t lie.

We were back to square one.

LESSON #4: Your First Idea May Actually Be Your Best Bet.

Yes, lesson #4 is debatable.

And we’ll probably be relegated to Paul Graham’s blacklist for making this claim. But we believe that as long as you validate assumptions for your initial idea with potential users, there’s no need to pivot—unless, of course, you’re no longer pumped about it.

From our experience, about 99% of the time we hear great-sounding advice that is either 1) crap or 2) non-pertinent to our business model. Luckily the crappy ideas can be tossed out. But the great-sounding, non-pertinent ones can mislead you from your original idea. You may then find yourself building a completely different product you don’t care for. Thoughts, readers?

LESSON #5: Build in Cadence.

We’ve got Jessica and Lyle to thank for this. Our mentor and survey ninja, Jessica, equated our over-eagerness for too many features to a Swiss army knife.

Just hack away at one product. Lyle told us bluntly to aim for Y Combinator andAlchemist (the forgotten child of incubators in the Bay Area), not necessarily for the money, but to stay in cadence. In other words, people are lazy and need to be kept on track by scheduling weekly meetings with mentors to show progress. Deadlines are required.

Some may disagree and believe you should take your time and release only polished products to users. That’s somewhat true, but customer development is multi-pronged, don’t you think? You’ve got to ask the right questions (Editor’s note: Props to Jessica), test and validate the assumptions, build the product, get user feedback, break, then build some more. A constantly tested product built on tested assumptions is way hotter than an untested product built on tested assumptions alone. (Editor’s plug: Getting to Plan B by Randy Komisar)

LESSON #6: Test Your Team’s Strength with a Hackathon.

The second biggest concern for us during the past three months had been (and still is) building our Tolkien Fellowship. (Don’t get this? Read our previouspost.) When we started Nibbol, we convinced ourselves that we wanted to launch a startup with only friends and/or friends of friends. Why? Because it’s all about how the team stays resilient and supportive when poop hits the fan. The survival of a product, we feel, is only as good as the product team’s bond.

We saw a glimpse of this with Coral (designer), Raymond (engineer), and Gabe (engineer). To be frank, the trio didn’t have much of a portfolio to flaunt, so our expectations were up in the air.

But at Pivotal Lab’s GeekList hackathon, everything flowed like water.

For the first 24 hours, we cranked out three proud pages of our scheduler. This might be considered chickenshit by hackathon standards, but the amount of work that goes into a web program is unreal. That we saw this as a marathon rather than a 48 hour sprint meant our prototype was going to be raw but delicious.

LESSON #7: Surround Yourself with Animals.

The result?

Coral blew us away with her OCD-ness of .ai design—she would stop at nothing until each page was prototype-perfect and matched our UI/UX guidelines. William had to drag her away from working on the finished homepage several times. Yes, she’s a beast (Editor’s note: Coral’s overdue for a Dribbble account).

Raymond’s an iron machine. He coded like his life depended on Nibbol, occasionally swatting away the overly curious, backend Ruby on Rails ginger engineer who’d slither by our table every hour. Raymond interpreted Coral’s work seamlessly. We also learned that “yeah, that can be done” is his only tagline.

And Gabe possessed infectious humility. Must be his Italian upbringing. He had answers for everything back-end related. Plus, he didn’t seem to mind hand-holding the Python-deficient Nibbol team and articulating his work in layman’s terms.

LESSON #8: You Don’t Have to Pitch at Hackathons.

The Nibbol group never ended up pitching. We supposed it wasn’t worth presenting an incomplete product. Were we wrong not to do so? Probably. The director wasn’t too pleased to see that the two teams (ours and the ginger engineer’s) who hacked the most over both days bailed at the eleventh hour. Walking away shamelessly with backpacks stuffed with KIND Bars probably didn’t help either.

By the end of our 48 hour stretch, we’d gone through at least 40 bottles of GT’s Kombucha, several boxes of hipster-inspired pizza, and smelled lovely enough to pickle cabbage. Our team rewarded ourselves with a nice climb to Pivotal’s rooftop. We reflected. We laughed. We had our kumbaya moment. And at that moment, we realized how lucky we were to be so hungry and foolish.

Pretending to hack.

Useful Reads for Pivotal Engineers (as observed on the desks of Pivotal Labs’ Engineers—the real shit.)

1. UX design for Lean Startups
2. Universal Method of Design
3. Information is Beautiful
4. The Human Face of Big Data

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