Use Twitter for Blog Comments


A quick tutorial on how to use Twitter to let people comment on your Blog built on Zesty

I’m not in love with Disqus, but I’m a huge fan of Twitter. So why not use Twitter for comments? We did just that, and it worked great! The downfall was twitter only lets you search with their API within the last week. We are looking to store reference to the tweet ID to overcome (an curate) social feeds. More on that soon, onto the tutorial.


Step 1: Setup a Twitter App for your Domain

Head over to https://dev.twitter.com/apps/new and create an application your for your domain. You will need a read only app (read/write will work the same). When you are complete with the setup form on Twitter you will want to create an Access Token.

After setup, you should see these setting for your Twitter App

Step 2: Add your Auth and Token information in Zesty

Log into your Zesty Website (don’t have an account? Tweet me and I’ll set you up with a couple months free). Open up on Styles & Settings, click on General Site Settings. On this view you will see Twitter as a setting option in the left Nav. Click the Twitter link and copy your Consumer Key, Consumer secret, Access Token, and Access Token Secret into the respective fields in Zesty. Save.

Login to Zesty > Styles & settings > General Site Settings > Twitter

Step 3: Create an Ajax file in the Code Editor

Create an HTML AJAX file in Zesty’s Code Editor

Click the code editor Tab. On the left side under PARSLEY FILES, there is a grey cog (gear). Click that gear to reveal 3 create options. You want to select HTML AJAX. Name that file twitter-comments.

In that File paste the code provide here, you can later modify the markup HTML code for your layout/design needs. Note you will want to swap out the @RandyApuzzo with the twitter handle you are using to receive comments.

<ul class=”comments”> {{each api.twitter.hashtag({get_var.hash},40) as tweet}}

  • {{tweet.name}}: {{tweet.text.replace(#{get_var.hash}|

@RandyApuzzo|http(.+?)\s,’’)}} 

<em>{{tweet.created_at}} {{end-each}}
</ul>

A look at the Twitter HTML AJAX file created in Zesty’s Code Editor

Step 4: Create Comment/Tweet Button on your Blog Article Page

Locate your Blog Article view in the Code Editor under Parsley Files. My view file was called “Article”, yours maybe blog-article, simple-blog-article, or whatever you renamed it to. Somewhere on that view (likely below the content) you will need to create a tweet/comment button. Here is the code:

<a class=”share-button custom-popup-button” href=”https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?hashtags=rda{{thispage.zid}}&url={{api.tinyurl.shorten(http://{site.domain.encodeurl()}{thispage.getUrl()})}}&screen_name=randyapuzzo” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” data-related=”randyapuzzo”><span class=”icon-comments”></span> Comment via Twitter</a>

In that block code, there are three parts in bold you will need to switch. Switch out the data-related=”randyapuzzo” and screen_name=randyapuzzo with the twitter handle you are using to receive the comments. Also switch out the rda with three unique letters for your website. This is the hashtag that is used to search against.

Step 5: Load the comments

In that same article view, you will want to add two lines of code. The first is a div to load the comments into. Code:

<div id=”comments”> loading comments… </div>

The next line is the load script using JQuery which calls out to the Ajax HTML file we created in Step 3. Put this code at the bottom of your view file:

<script type=”text/javascript”> $( function() { $(‘comments’).load(‘/ajax/twitter-comments/?hash=rda{{thispage.zid}}’); });
</script>

One change is needed to the above code. Change the three letter acroynym in bold (rda) with one you used in the step above.

Step 6: Make the Comment/Tweet Button pop-out with JavaScript & LESS Styling

In the Code Editor under Javascript (left panel file list) located main.js. In main.js write this JQuery code:

$(function(){
$(‘.custom-popup-button’).click(function() { var width = 575, height = 400, left = ($(window.innerWidth) — width) / 2, top = ($(window.innerHeight) — height) / 2, url = this.href, opts = ‘status=1′ + ‘,width=’ + width + ‘,height=’ + height + ‘,top=’ + top + ‘,left=’ + left;
window.open(url, ‘twitter’, opts);
return false; });
});

That code will target the button you created in step 4 and make a simple pop-up window for the commenter to enter their tweet in. This step can be skipped, but it adds a nice touch. Here are the styles I use on my www.randyapuzzo.com blog:

.comments{ li { list-style: none; background: #fff; padding: 20px; min-height: 48px; position: relative; clear:both; margin-bottom: 10px; border-left: 3px solid #ccc; em { color: #c7c7c7; position: absolute; top: 6px; right: 8px; font-size: 11px; } img { float: left; margin-right: 20px; } }
}

Test it!

Publish your file changes with the Publish All button in the top right corner of the Code Editor. Then visit your set and write a test comment.

If you have any trouble tweet me @RandyApuzzo

If you haven’t tried Zesty out yet, check it out at http://gozesty.com you can use it all you like without paying up until you send your website live. Have fun!

Written by

Designer, Developer, and Architect in the digital world. Co-creator of @gozesty and many other fun things!

3 Reasons Apple Should Have Bought Nest


Guest author Alex Salkever is the global product manager of cloud computing/IaaS at Telefónica.

Cupertino is going to rue letting the smart-home device maker slip into Google’s hands.

Alex Salkever January 15, 2014

http://readwrite.com/2014/01/15/nest-apple-google#awesm=~ot56PEcZggoHnL

Google surprised the tech world Monday with its $3.2 billion acquisition of smart-thermostat maker Nest. Given that Nest was founded by former Apple executive Tony Fadell, who designed the iPod, lots of people had assumed the company would eventually get snapped up by Cupertino. But some press reports suggest that Apple wasn’t even in the bidding.

Here are three reasons Apple may regret passing on the deal.

1. The Data

Google sees clearly that data acquisition platforms are the future of technology. Our technology will be more aware of us and our needs. Anyone who has tracked the iteration of Google Search has watched this happen over time. And anyone who compares Google Search five years ago to Google Search today clearly sees the value of using data—personal, location-specific, temporal, environmental—to dictate information sharing and selection.

The Nest is essentially a giant distributed data network. Yes, it is a bunch of point specific devices. But over time, the Nest, which is basically a nifty design on top of a sensor platform, will provide huge volumes of information about how people live, their habits, their wants, their needs. It taps directly into the Google Now zeitgeist, which is, frankly, happening now.

2. The Design Team

If for not other reason than as a defensive play, Apple should have kept Tony Fadell out of Larry Page’s hands. Apple has a ton of capital. Nest was going to be a tremendous hit, almost certainly profitable as an acquisition even at a high multiple. It already is, arguably, the biggest success story of the Internet-enabled hardware and home electronics.

So why didn’t Tim Cook cough up a few billion and keep Tony Fadell in the fold, affording Apple access to one of the best product minds in the world who is now focused on one of the fastest growing product markets (smart phone sales are, of course, slowing). Why let him go to Google where his product design expertise and his, for lack of a better word, Jobsyness, could provide a fearless leader to a team that has struggled to deliver truly compelling product design?

3. Skate To The Space, Not To The Puck

Apple has basically failed to break out of the computing box. The iPhone, the IPad, the various laptops and desktops, all are flavors of dedicated computers.

That’s well and good, but there is a much bigger story outside of computers and in the world of functional things connected to the Internet. They are more task-specific devices. They are varied. They may not have as much platform gravity as computers. But they are critical and they are becoming ubiquitous.

Apple is nowhere in that market. The AppleTV is the closest thing it’s come to an Internet of Things appliance, but it hasn’t been a breakout success compared to the iPad or the IPhones.

Skating to the space is hard when the entire rink is one giant white space as the future unfolds before our eyes. Google is skating to the space. Often, the space will likely remain just that. But sometimes they may get there right when the puck does, and that’s what Apple needs to worry about.

The Empty Nest

None of this is to say that Apple is doomed or that Apple has been dealt a severe blow. To the contrary, this deal may actually serve to wake Apple up enough to get it moving in the right direction (and I don’t mean an iWatch). Shocks to the system are good.

The fact that Google not only scooped up Nest Labs but also 100 former Apple employees is also of consequence. And certainly the Nest buy has resonated through the thick walls of the Mac fortress in Cupertino.

http://readwrite.com/2014/01/15/nest-apple-google#awesm=~ot56PEcZggoHnL

The Case for Online Education


Why online education will eventually be better than offline

(Originally posted on the One Month Rails blog)

The honeymoon is over. People are writing about how online education will never replace offline education. I’d like to challenge that view: not only will online education eventually be as good as offline education, it will be better.

Saying that online education will never be as good as offline (because it’s not currently as good) is like taking one look at a Model T, saying that it’s unsafe, and urging everyone to switch back to horses.

The reason online classes will eventually be better than offline classes is simple:

We can measure and respond to students’ behavior much more easily and quickly when education is digital than when it is analog.

On the other hand, what makes for a good teacher in a classroom setting? A good teacher is someone who can:

  • come up with compelling content that explains complicated topics
  • take in a lot of information about how students are responding to that content
  • quickly adjust the style based on that information quickly

A good teacher can see the look in a student’s eyes and tell immediately whether a particular topic is resonating or not. He or she has the ability to reiterate a point and respond to questions in real time. That’s what we mean when we say that an in-person classroom experience is more “personal” — and it’s hard to imagine online education being able to match that anytime soon.

But let’s suspend disbelief for a second. In theory, a computer can take in vastly more information than a human can and respond to it much faster. According to Scientific American, two years ago the fastest computer could store almost ten time as much data as the human brain and process it almost four times as fast.

Companies in the online education space are not currently taking advantage of even a fraction of the data that they could be.

Imagine what a good teacher could do if he or she knew where exactly a student was getting confused during a lesson, how long it took that student to complete an exercise, or even the student’s physiological responses to the content (say, for example, by tracking heart-rate or eye movements via webcam — forget about the creepy-factor).

There are a handful of education startups already tracking some of this data, but they’ve barely scratched the surface of how to use it to make education more compelling.

This brings me to my second and more pressing point:

The biggest problem with in-person education is that it forces a linear, one-size-fits-all teaching style.

In any classroom, there will be some students are behind and some that are ahead.

Even the best teacher in the world must deal with this tradeoff, which boils down to the following question: Should I slow down to help more students understand, or speed up to cover more material?

And so they inevitably end up settling on a pace and an educational approach somewhere in the middle.

As a result, in-person education is always suboptimal for a large number of students in a classroom.

Online education can solve this problem because it allows for personalized learning. Educational content and style can adapt to a particular student and that student’s response to a particular lesson.

Imagine a world in which no one person experiences the same class in the same way. One that adjusts a lesson on computer programming depending on whether a student already has previous experience with programming, or is a total beginner — why not use concepts a student may already have to allow them to learn something faster?

Or one in which the way the material is delivered is different depending on whether the student is an auditory, a visual, or a kinesthetic learner.

Or one in which the order of the lessons themselves are rearranged. (Or A/B tested!)

Or one that can identify early that a student might get stuck in an upcoming lesson and takes him or her on a learning detour to reinforce important concepts and avoid frustration that might otherwise lead to abandonment.

Actually, you don’t have to imagine this world, because Salman Khan is already doing it with Khan Academy (watch 13:35 if you’re not yet sold on the value of personalized education).

Finally, advancements in online education allow teachers to treat classes in the same way that startups treat products.

There are tons of amazing tools out there for a/b testing, onboarding, gamification, email campaigns, measuring user satisfaction, and so much more that startups use. Why not apply the same tools to education? It’s going to happen, it’s only a matter of time.

That’s why it’s frustrating to hear people brush off online education as a failure that will never amount to anything. Let’s see the current batch of online educational classes and platforms as what they really are: a first attempt.

Written by

creator of “One Month Rails”, partner at @growhack, teacher at @ga, growth hacker at @qventures, ny ambassador to @sandbox_network, add,

Published January 15, 2014

Can Jelly ever really pose a threat to Google?


An analysis of the ground realities of Biz Stone’s vision of building ‘the Search Engine’ for the current world!

Much has been written and spoken about Jelly and Biz Stone’s vision of building the next world’s search engine and an empathetic world! Some have criticized it heavily, others have described it as extremely confusing. My goal in this post is not to analyze Jelly in it’s current form but instead analyze the vision of building a new search engine. So before I begin on the analysis, here’s some facts that prove how ‘the Novel Idea’ as described by Biz is not really novel at all:

  1. The one word term for Biz’s vision for Search would be ‘Semantic Search’. Semantic Search is not at all a new thing, it’s been talked about since almost a decade now. Infact Google itself made a huge stride forward in that domain by launching Humming Bird. Others like Quora also have acknowledged that almost 30% of their traffic comes from semantic search!
  2. The whole notion of using pictures to ask questions is also not really being done for the first time. In my mind the pioneer of this was The Hunt. The below screenshot describes how they do it.

Now getting back to my analysis, as far as I understand and foresee the future, Jelly lies in the intersection of Visual Search and Semantic Search. In crude way, it can be called as ‘Quora with Visual Search’! So to complete this analysis we need to look at these two components separately:

  1. Semantic Search: I think the credit should go to Siri for making Semantic search a hot thing today. Search inherently is a query or question. But when you are made to type it, you would rather not type the entire question but only the keywords. However with voice that’s not the case. And products like Quora and StackOverflow have demonstrated that direct answers can indeed be the solution to search queries instead of throwing up a billion websites.
  2. Visual Search: Visual Search has also been around for more than a decade but nobody has perfected it yet. Now I fundamentally believe that Visual Search will pick up someday, because there are a ton of things in the world which even voice can’t really describe. Imagine yourselves describing a piece of art or costume, your description can never be totally appropriate. It’ll always be incomplete and hence the search results would never be right!

I think it’s hightime that Google realized that throwing up a billion results for a search string doesn’t solve the user’s problems. Instead it causes so much wastage of user’s time. Most queries performed by people are direct questions which can have only one or two correct answers. But at the same time Jelly in it’s current format is causing too much of junk to be created! I see user’s being totally confused on what the hell they are supposed to ask? But the bottom-line is whether or not Jelly would be the ‘future’s search engine’, semantic visual search is going to be there and it would be used by tons of people all over the world!

To stay tuned with more of my thoughts on startups and consumer web, follow me on twitter or my personal blog on tumblr.

5 SEO Trends To Stop Talking About (and Why)


If you hear your ‘SEO specialist’ touting any of these trends like it’s 2012, find a new one—fast.

search engine optimization: the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. —Google (so meta!)

It’s 2014, and SEO is still not dead. Its death has been declared time and time again, but the truth is, it will never go away. It will evolve, it will mutate, it will become unrecognizable to many—but it won’t die until search engines do.

SEO firms, however, have and do fade away as they fail to update their toolbox of techniques. What worked in 1997 won’t work today. Hell, what worked in 2012 won’t work today. If you manage an online presence with the help of an SEO partner, it’s good to know how to spot a bad one.

So in typical linkbait form, here are 5 SEO trends we should all stop talking about—or at least change in our conversations. If your SEO specialist keeps dropping these buzzwords and phrases like it’s still 2013… It’s time to move on.


#5. Pleasing the Google-bots.

From the humble beginnings of the SEO industry, two camps emerged: black hat and white hat. For the unfamiliar, black-hat techniques are meant to exploit search engine algorithms, delivering results that might seem impressive but are all-too-often busted by the next algorithm update. The rewards are short-term at best, and devastating at worst.

It’s easy to laugh at black-hat techniques with the advantage of retrospect. Oh, keyword-spammy page footers! Oh, link farms! Oh, Anglo Rank! But big websites are still being penalized by Google’s police force for engaging in shady link-building tactics. If you want to know more about that, ask Rap Genius. They’ve just recovered from a hefty penalty that cost them 80% of their traffic for eleven days. Even major retailers like J.C. Penney have faced “manual action” that Google has taken against them.

White hat techniques, on the other hand, are generally considered to be ethical practices founded on sound marketing principles. It might take more investment upfront, but the results are geared toward the long term. These strategies put the customer first — not the Google-bots.

The fact of the matter is, your primary focus should always be your customers. What you’re doing on your website (and off) should never detract from your customers’ experience or perception of your brand. Stuffing your content full of keywords and doing other things “to please the Google-bots” will only alienate your audience and raise your potential for a hefty penalty. Don’t let a rogue black-hatter trick you with get-clicks-quick schemes!


Photo by Dinkum

#4. Mobile websites.

Hey guys, did you know mobile is the future?! If you don’t have a mobile website, you’re done for!

Just kidding… kind of. Though if you don’t understand the impact mobile devices have had on the way we read, watch, talk, shop—you know, live—well, I’m not sure anyone can explain it to you. Ol’ Steve Jobs really changed everything with the iPhone, you know?

Speaking of the legendary visionary, here’s an interesting factoid: He really didn’t like Flash. He even wrote a lengthy treatise about it in 2010. The fact that Apple refused to support Flash on any of its devices really dealt a blow to Adobe’s widely-used platform. So much so, that even Adobe says Apple killed Flash.

So Flash didn’t really make it to mobile, which was too bad for all the companies that invested lots of time and money into creating dynamic content in Flash for their websites.

For this and other reasons, the differences between coding for websites and mobile sites led most companies to adopt a two-website strategy: one with a mobile domain (mobile.something.com) and one for desktops. This strategy was meant to optimize customer experience, though most of us know that the mobile versions were often stripped-down to the point of being restrictive. Sure, it helped with speed and smaller screens, but shouldn’t there be a better way?

Yep. It’s called responsive design, and if you’re not investing in it, it could be costing you.

Responsive or adaptive design eliminates the need for multiple websites, which is great for several reasons:

  • The “mobile or desktop” paradigm is outdated; we now have tablets and devices of all sorts and sizes.
  • Responsive web design will react to the needs of the viewer, no matter what device or browser they’re using. Your customers get the same great branding experience, every time they visit your site.
  • Google now penalizes duplicate content—so having two websites with the same content is a liability.
  • Google also clarified its stance on mobile website strategies and search results, with strong support for responsive design.
  • Maintaining one site (and one SEO profile) is cheaper, plus it’s easier to push out updates when you only have to do it once!

Ditch the separate mobile site and start thinking about responsive web design. When your SEO guy says “mobile-friendly,” make sure he means “responsive.” And as for Flash… Better to use HTML5 instead.


Photo by Nino Barbieri

#3. Cloned geo-targeted pages.

There is no better example of “pleasing the Google-bots” than creating cloned geo-targeted service pages. They’re essentially carbon-copies of a business’s services with localized keywords thrown in. These pages don’t offer anything new to the customer, and can actually be downright confusing (wait—does this business even have an office here?).

Now understand me: this is different from redirecting users with geo-location techniques based on the user’s location. As long as you aren’t cloaking your techniques, Google won’t give it a second thought. It’s also good practice to create geo-targeted pages that feature unique information about each store location—address, hours, great employees, service awards, you name it. That’s valuable for your customers.

No, what I’m talking about is Some Guy’s Plumbing Service hosting a bunch of pages that look like this:

And no matter which one you read, the message is the same: “If you need [plumbing in CITY, STATE], call Some Guy’s Plumbing Service. We offer all the [plumbing in CITY, STATE] services you need!” Except for about 300 more words. Guess what that looks like to customers and search engines? You got it: straight-up spam.

For businesses who serve a radius-area, there are ways to create great geo-targeted pages. But it takes a little more work than saying to your SEO, “Write 25 new pages, one for each city on this list.” You’re going to have to provide some information and make some basic strategy decisions. If your SEO isn’t already asking questions… Prepare for duplicate content and a potential penalty.

Lest you think I’m blowing smoke, here are a few articles about engaging ways to optimize for [your keyword in CITY, STATE].


Photo by Marcial4

#2. You’ve gotta be on Pinterest!

Ahh, Pinterest. The popular blogging platform has captured the hearts and screens of Hispanic & white females in the 18-64 age bracket. Turns out, that’s a pretty big chunk of the US market in general, so it’s no surprise that trendspotters are shouting “Land ho!” while pointing to the craft & recipe paradise.

But what do the numbers really mean? Should articles like this determine your business’s social media strategy for the new year? Well, that depends. Whether you’re considering Pinterest or any social networking/blogging site, first ask yourself a few important questions:

  • Who’s using the site? If your target market isn’t actively using the site, don’t bother. There are so many sites to choose from, there’s bound to be one that closer aligns with your target audience. You can’t (successfully) use them all, so pick the ones that give you the best odds of reaching your base.
  • What are they doing there? Just as important as who is there is what they’re doing. Each social site has its own culture and “code of conduct” which unsavvy businesses can easily break. Look at tumblr and Reddit, for example. Users on tumblr (a very visual platform) share images and GIFs, using tags to build tight-knit fandoms and communities. On Reddit, it’s all about ideas, as subject-focused subreddits delve deep with long-reads and discussions. If your content doesn’t play by the rules, it’s not going anywhere. It’s important to understand user behavior on any network, and Pinterest is no exception.
  • Can I commit to creating/curating content on this network? So you know your audience is there. You know the types of content they like. Before you throw another social account into your marketing mix, consider — Do you have the time and energy to fully engage for the long haul? Social network success depends on cultivating relationships with fans, customers, and the curious. You can’t repin a few photos and call it a day. Whether you’re curating content from other users or crafting your own, it will take time and consideration to do it right.
  • What will I get out of it? Social media is notorious for being difficult to measure in terms of ROI. If you’re looking for a discrete effect on your bottom line, you’re going in with the wrong attitude. Social media is about managing your brand and connecting with customers—being part of the conversation. There are excellent examples of businesses reaching out on Twitter and Facebook, and brand success stories on nearly every social network.

If you can find the right site and mix of content, you’re going to increase your share of mind with the people who matter most. Could that site be Pinterest? Maybe. But if the above questions don’t point in that direction, well, tell your SEO specialist that you’re “not Pinterested.”


Photo by Martinas Angel

#1. Content is King.

We’ve known this phrase was going to be problematic as soon as it started catching on. Having trouble in the SERPs? No problem! Just get some content on your low-performing pages and watch the traffic roll in. People love content. Content is valuable.

Fast forward to where we are now, and it’s even more obvious that this strategy isn’t going to work forever. People’s web browsing habits have made it clear that quality wins over quantity, every time. The SEO’s rallying cry of “More content!” ignores a vital fact: Content is not inherently valuable, because “content” isn’t actually a thing at all.

No, really. “Content” is one of those words that doesn’t actually mean anything (like “concept” or “value”) until you fill it in. It’s defined as “something contained.” The contents of a book. The contents of an unopened box. The contents of your stomach. Sure, you could put anything in there—but they don’t all guarantee the same results.

And that’s what it’s all about: results. Your content strategy should be driven by business goals and the desired results. It should have purpose. Content for the sake of content is empty and pointless. It fulfills no promise. Content created with a goal—to inform, to persuade, to entertain—is more likely to use vision, strategy, and effort to attain that goal. To fulfill its promise.

There are four main types of content, and the business who wields them wisely will easily pull ahead of the pack. Sharing information effectively in right type (whether it’s text, audio, image, or video) will ‘make’ your message. Ineffective content will break it. Therefore, content should never be your king… It should be your messenger.

This is the logical conclusion of all the previous points I’ve mentioned. Put them all together, and it becomes clear that good content:

  • Puts the customer first, not the Google-bots
  • Is shaped by website design and the customer’s user experience
  • Provides real value, delivers on its promises, and is not empty or repetitive
  • Is accessible and shareable on the sites that matter most to your customers

And the best part of all? This is the kind of content Google—and your customers—will always be looking for.


Thanks for reading my article! If you enjoyed it or found it useful, please consider sharing it on your favorite social networks. You can also find me on Google+ and my music blog, ExplorersTM. Keep calm and optimize on. ~Alice

Written by

I’m Alice. Follow me for updates from ExplorersTM… sometimes.

7 Traits Great Entrepreneurs Are Made Of


Why don’t have the chops to become a great entrepreneur.

Or do you?

1. Great entrepreneurs don’t create excuses, they create solutions.

2. Great entrepreneurs take responsibility for their work, and feel responsible about others.

3. Great entrepreneurs have a tough work ethic, to start and work until the job is done. They start by focusing on one task and then expand until the picture is painted. When dreams become a reality.

4. Great entrepreneurs control risk and exposure. And aren’t impulsive or emotional when it does happen.

5. Great entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need “an investment” to build great companies. They’re creative and figure out other ways and execute.

  • Apple, started from a garage, Steve Woz created the product Steve jobs sold it.
  • Facebook, started in a dorm room, Mark Z. wrote the code with the help of the right people and got traction way before they got their first investment.
  • Gurbaksh Chahal, found an ad software from a guy online, sold advertising deals to businesses. And paid for the software while trialing it for 90 days.

6. Great entrepreneurs master the law of leverage in business — getting things done through the right people efficiently.

7. Great entrepreneurs know that everything he/she is learning, from any and everywhere is valuable and an asset in the long run.

So do you have what it takes to become a great entrepreneur?

Written by

I write about Social Media, Branding and Entrepreneurship: www.hasanshaz.com

Published September 26, 2013

Google Play Movies & TV Comes To iOS To Compete Head-To-Head Against iTunes Store


Next Story

Google just released a new app in the iOS App Store, and it’s a significant one when it comes to the company’s content strategy — the awkwardly named Google Play Movies & TV is an iTunes Store competitor for movies and TV shows. You can watch your Google media content directly from your iPhone or iPad. But, just like the Kindle app, you won’t be able to buy or rent your content directly from the app — you’ll have to use the browser.

With today’s release, Google is using a strategy that was very efficient in Amazon’s case with the Kindle — if you want to make people switch to your content ecosystem, release your app on every major platform.

The company has an advantage over Apple. If you own an Android phone and an iPad, you can watch your Google Play movies on both devices thanks to the new app.

The app is pretty straightforward. You can browse your content and watch a movie or a TV show directly on your iPhone or iPad. There is a Chromecast button as well to stream your video to your TV.

Yet, Google is a bit behind in the content game. It doesn’t have the same thorough deals in place. For example, you can only buy or rent TV shows in the U.S., Japan and the U.K. So if Google Play Movies & TV is available in your country, it could be a nice alternative to the iTunes Store, Amazon Instant Video and other minor players.

Apple still has two key advantages over Google on iOS. The iTunes app is already installed on your iOS device when you first launch it, and Apple rejects apps with an integrated content store. That’s why you can’t buy books from the Kindle app on iOS — it’s one of the iOS SDK rules.

In other words, users will have to browse the Play store from Safari or another device. It’s not the best experience possible, but it works — Apple keeps the best user experience for its own store.

Google Play iOS - Screenshots

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/15/google-play-movies-tv-comes-to-ios-to-compete-head-to-head-against-itunes-store/

Exploding Startups – Quit while you are ahead!


Yesterday, Google bought Nest for $3.2B.

Today, I spoke to a half dozen entrepreneurs that saw that as a sign that their companies had real potential to exit large (maybe not Nest large, but large nonetheless.)

Those entrepreneurs are idiots. As are most of us.

There is only a single indication of a potentially large exit — explosive growth.

If your company’s growth is explosive, as defined as uncontrollable, server melting, holy shit I don’t know what we should do, hold on to your seats, because this is just insane growth, then maybe, just maybe, you will see a large exit (or maybe large funding round).

But the likelihood your company is growing at that rate is nearly zero.

So what are your choices?

Quit. Yup. Just stop what you are doing right this minute. Think it through, pull out Excel and forecast the actual time (without the standard entrepreneurial optimistic factor) it will take you to get to $100mm in annual revenue. Longer than five years? You are not exploding. Quit.

Or adjust your expectations. Stop burning money. Treat your current financing as the only money you will ever get. If your company doesn’t have a clear path to an inflection point or terminal velocity that will take it to $100mm, you will never get to the KABOOM exit.

But what about your investors that said don’t worry about revenue? Cool. Take a moment to really explore the viability of this reality. You are not showing signs of explosive growth. Things are going to be potentially hard. Will they be there with a checkbook? If you are unsure, even in the slightest, assume they won’t, and build accordingly.

(As an aside, you can be showing explosive growth in user numbers or any metric/KPI that is indicative of the ability to eventually push $100mm in annualized revenue. Take Twitter as an example. They didn’t care about revenue until they did. And then BOOM! they jumped in Uncle Scrooge’s money vault.)

The greatest trait of an entrepreneur is also our biggest Achilles heel. Our hope and optimism. Yet, we suspend realism and pragmatism for that very same hope and optimism. Yes it looks bleak, but I am fucking Micah Gabriel Baldwin. I will knock this shit out.

You are not Nest or Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat or Uber or any other explosive growth company. Don’t be unrealistic with your actual potential and optimize for the success that your company is supposed to achieve.

Remember it is ok to not exit Nest large, but it’s not ok to drive yourself into the ground trying to achieve something that will never happen.

UPDATE: I’ve been asked how this pertains to non-venture backed companies. It doesn’t. The only goal of a venture backed company is to exit large. It’s why its such a risky investment. It’s why its a venture. If you are building a company to live a great lifestyle, feed your family and the family of your employees —cool—you are not heldup to this requirement. And if you don’t want the pressure then don’t take the money.

Written by

Done a bunch of startups, helps a bunch of startups, doesn’t know how to do anything other than startups. Except play with his animals. Currently @graphicly.

Published January 15, 2014

OUCH! Up To 110 Million Have Their Credit Card and Personal Data Stolen


The U.S. retail giant Target, with over 1700 stores and in excess of 350,000 employees, has just announced that data from up to 110 million people has been stolen from their system. This includes credit and debit card information as well as customer information such as mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses.

Target first announced the breach in December stating that criminals forced their way into Target’s systems, gaining access to customer credit and debit card information. Initially, Target thought that 40 million customers (or guests as Target prefers to call them) were affected. However, the company has just admitted that the ongoing forensic investigation found that up to 70 million more customers were affected and additional personal data was taken.

The data theft took place on and around Black Friday, normally the busiest shopping period of the year. In a sophisticated attack, criminals managed to install data-stealing code on to card-swipe machines at all Target stores.

It looks as if the data breach scared away many customers as Target has just announced disappointing results with a fourth quarter 2013 comparable sales decline of about 2.5%. This shows how costly data breaches can be in terms of lost customer trust, which is likely to be shaken further with the recent announcement. In addition to the drop in sales, Target is facing many other costs including reimbursements for credit card fraud costs, liabilities from civil litigation as well as fees to investigate and fix the security gaps.

Target has long had a focus on collecting and analyzing customer data. I have written about the example that Target can accurately predict when a woman is expecting a baby simply by analyzing the buying patterns. For retailers, this kind of information is important because there are not many times in our lives when we change our buying patterns, but starting a family is one of them. The company also knows that expecting parents spend a lot of money on baby-related goods in the last trimester of the pregnancy and the correct predictions can enable companies to send marketing material and special offers just at the right time.

At Target, customer data has long been viewed as one of their most important assets; it looks like it is now turning into one of their largest liabilities. As more and more companies collect, store and data-mine our personal information there is a lesson in here for everyone: One of the most important assets in today’s companies – data – can quickly turn into a massive liability. Every company that stores personal customer data has to ensure this data is protected and made as safe as possible.

In an open letter, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel writes:

“Our top priority is taking care of you and helping you feel confident about shopping at Target, and it is our responsibility to protect your information when you shop with us. We didn’t live up to that responsibility, and I am truly sorry.”

He assure customers that they will have zero liability for any fraudulent charges arising from the breach and offers all Target guests one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to so you can have peace of mind. If you are concerned, then check out this part of Target’s website.

What’s your view on Target’s data breach? The fact that it took so long to find out that much more people were affected? Or your view on data security in general? Please share your thoughts…

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Posted by:Bernard Marr

Spam-Fighting Startup Impermium Joins Google, Discontinues Third-Party Services


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Impermium, a cybersecurity startup that was backed by top funds like Accel and Greylock, is joining Google. They had raised $9 million in funding from Highland Capital Partners, the Social+Capital Partnership, AOL Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Freestyle, Greylock and angels like Matt Ocko.

We are trying to figure out whether this was an acquisition, an acqui-hire or whether Impermium’s employees are just joining Google. Google has not returned a request for comment.

They were building a risk-evaluation platform that would improve account management by identifying fraudulent registrations, compromised logins, and risky transactions. Impermium sent out a message to its customers saying that it will shut down offering services to third-party websites. But we hear that the team will still be working on the same core problems and technology over at Google.

This is a statement that appeared on their website just minutes ago:

When we founded Impermium three years ago, our mission was to help rid the web of spam, fraud, and abuse. As sites gain in popularity, criminals and miscreants are never far behind, and Impermium has worked hard to defend some of the largest and fastest-growing sites.

By joining Google, our team will merge with some of the best abuse fighters in the world. With our combined talents we’ll be able to further our mission and help make the Internet a safer place. We’re excited about the possibilities.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to all of our customers and partners. Your support and feedback were invaluable, and we’re glad to have been a part of your growth. We’d also like to thank our invaluable investors, advisors, and supporters, including Accel Partners, AOL Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Data Collective, Freestyle Capital, Greylock Partners, Highland Capital Partners, Morado Ventures, and the Social+Capital Partnership.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/15/impermium-google/