Friday, August 25, 2006

One of the best viral marketing executions in a long time - So funny!

Jess is watching "What Not To Wear" so I was just surfing around Digg and saw a post that earlied had very few diggs had already received 1266. The title of the Digg is simply "A million thanks! Yes... A MILLION! (Flash Animation). Because of the sudden jump and because I call "What Not To Wear", "What Not To Watch," I clicked on the link.

Youhave to see the link for yourself to know what I'm talking about. At first, I was like "huh, that's kind of funny" but the longer it ran, the more I laughed. The flash was incredibly well designed because of the two simple navigations. One says "I've had enough" the other says "Exit". The eye is drawn to Exit and so instead of closing the window, I clicked to a screen that revealed a URL which when I clicked on that, brought me to the site!

I've bought a bunch of eCards before but I've never bought one from Hallmark in part because (for me personally), Hallmark's success in the real world has hampered its brand relevance in eCards. My mum buys Hallmark.. I buy BlueMountain or some other type of eCard.

Since I had already developed a like for the characters, I was really happy to see that upon visiting the Hallmark site, a hilarious discussion between the characters (and a cute third character) played-out and there is lots of additional content for these characters. Some try-hard, others amusing.

Anyway, I've always thought that obvious attempts at corporate flash viral could never work but here I am now bookmarking for the first time!

read more | digg story

Apple hiring a business ethicist

This Wired article reports that Apple has posted a job listing for a CSR (Corporate Social Resonsibility) Manager in the wake of allegations that their iPod factories in China are sweatshops. According to Maureen Wilson, in Apple Community Affairs "Apple's current Community Affairs program focuses on employee volunteerisim. Throughout the year, Apple employees share their time and talents with local communities and schools."

According to a a survey commissioned by the National Consumers League, the survey found that "76% of American consumers agree that to be socially responsible, companies should place employee salary and wage increases above making charitable contributions" and "similarly, the survey found that 76 percent believe that a company’s treatment of its employees plays a big role in consumer purchasing decisions." Sweatshops prove to be a constant "hot button" issue with consumers and it really sullies the Apple brand.

Unlike most Fortune 500 companies, there is no community affairs or CSR link that I can find at the Apple site. Apple's brand is heavily favoured by the psychographic set that counts CSR and social justice as very important personal values. It's surprising that Apple has taken so long to appoint a CSR manager and that they still don't seem to embrace community initiatives and charitable giving as a natural extension of their brand.

I've heard it said by some of my Apple alums that are still with the Company that Steve considers the products Apple and its educational discount sufficient contributions to society but I hope that's not true.

I'd have to guess that Gore (an Apple Director) would be pressing this issue, no?

read more | digg story

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stage6 - So much better than YouTube

I'm so incredibly impressed by DivX's Stage6 site and think it's the best UGC site on the web (to date). The site is in "alpha" (I hate that dev, alpha, beta, gm and release have lost their meaning but that's another point entirely) and I'm experiencing slow loads of basic pages on their site but what impresses me the most is their Karma system.

Yesterday, I commented at Digg on the story that The German version of Wikipedia will include an expiremental feature that new wiki edits won't be posted live to the site until "a registered user with a certain level of time and experience approves the changes." This acknowledges the point that most UGC sites have failed to grasp: Not all users are equal

This is why I love Stage6 and increasingly avoid YouTube. YouTube's rating system is entirely one-dimensional: Every rating is counted equally. What Stage6 does is allow people to classify their vote based on 4 positive traits (wOOt!, Fresh, Funny, Genius) and 4 negative traits (Lame, WTF, Creepy, and my personal favorite: Flamebait)

It's not the voting itself that makes this concept so good but rather what happens to the uploader's permissions based on the ratings
. Get too many negative ratings and presumably your ability to upload decreases or goes away entirely. This is exactly what a UGC site needs. I have been working on a similar concept for an as-yet unannounced initiative. This kind of permission/point system is so obvious and so beneficial to both the host site and its community. Whether it's Stage6 or YouTube or any other site that's storing this content, your bandwidth costs are your biggest variable operating cost. Being able to reduce bandwidth by restricting uploads to the better-rated users is just good business.

The other difference between YouTube and Stage6 is it's revenue model. YouTube announced that it will run custom branded commercial channels, starting first with Paris Hilton. That YouTube, the site whose slogan is "Broadcast Yourself" would think this the best path to generating revenue and introduce this concept with Paris Hilton should give everyone pause for concern. The Stage6 approach to revenue?

It encourages it's users to sell their videos online. You set the price, they get a transaction fee of 10% plus a 3/10ths of a cent per megabyte of your file and the Stage6 seller gets the rest. Now what's missing from this model in my mind is a dynamic marketplace for the buyer's to influence the sale price. Plus, only a small percentage of Stage6's content will likely be truly saleable (i.e. who the hell would pay for a viral video?) but I've always said that the most popular businesses are the ones that make other people money.

From a pure business perspective, what I love about Stage6 is that it's evolved from DivX. Making money off a codec and player is near impossible. But for them to introduce Stage6 is the perfect business evolution. DivX reports over 200 million downloads of its software. They are now figuring out all the ways to integrate between their player and Stage6.

Lastly, the quality of the video is far superior to YouTube and Google Video.

And it's the first time I've seen the Daniel Craig Bond trailer
and I have to say: It looks so much better than any Pierce Brosnan Bond movie.. I thought I would NEVER say that but it's true. The Brosnan movies had become too Hollywood.. I'm definately excited for Casino Royale.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My recipe for Friendster.

Friendster has just received $10m in new funding. Here's how I would spend the money:

1) Localized AdSales Engine: Focus on creating sales portals for advertisers in the foreign markets where you are picking-up new members. Until you fully execute on point 2, you won't be seeing a surge in new North American sign-ups.

2) Introduce a radical new approach to Social Networking focused on who the BusinessWeek article claims you are now targeting: "Post-college, young urban adults looking to connect to people in new cities." MySpace has become overloaded with features and overrun by band spam and people that the post-college demo have no interest in socializing with (at least, we hope they don't). Build a feature-set based on the concepts BorrowMe, Favourville, Meetup, Peerflix, etc. In other words, ways by which new relationships of similar interests occur.

3) Open yourselves up: Leverage both the threat of your patents and your 10m strong user-base to start doing what MySpace refuses to do: Partner with other data providers. Build an API or at least some web services that allow the plethora of Web 2 upstarts like the companies I mentioned in point 2 Go to the plethora of web 2 upstarts and start getting them to interact with you. Give them a small share of ad revenue generated on the pages where their content appears.

Once you've done those, give me a ring.. Steps 4/5 will leapfrog you past MySpace. Maybe not in terms of number of accounts but in terms of targeted advertising appeal.

read more | digg story

Winners of the first GiveMeaning Competition

The winner of GiveMeaning's new project voting system is Gisele Mansfield's fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Because her project was the first to receive 100 votes endorsing the project, donations made to her project will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000.

Also, Jay Arron's project to start a new charitable organization called Shift was approved soon after Gisele's project.

We introduced the voting system as a way to ensure that projects that start on the site have sufficient support (i.e. a big enough initial audience) to succeed in their fundraising goal. What will be interesting to track is how many of the people who voted for a project (which carries no financial commitment) will make a donation to it, now that it's live.

A couple of other cool things:

One of the charities listed at our site, Richmond Therapeutic Equestrian Society, has gotten the one and only William Shatner to put himself up for auction on eBay with the winning bid being donated to RTES' programs that provide therapeutic horseback riding to young people with disabilities. There have been no bids as of yet, in part because no one seems to know about the listing. None of the local media outlets have picked-up on it. Come on people!!! It's William Shatner!!!!

There is a company that is going to be launching soon called Chossing Joy From their splash page, it says: "A community of caring, courage and comfort for people with health challenges and those that support them." I had a great dinner with the principals of the firm last night and heard some of their plans. Check out their site and join their mailing list. From what I understand, I think this will be a leading example of real online community.

I'm going to write a seperate post about Friendster's comeback.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sad News

A few months ago, we started a fundraising initiative for Bob Park a man who had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. We learned that he passed away this morning. There is not much more I can say. Everyone on the team has Bob and his family and friends in our hearts. I am grateful for the fact that I was able to witness so much love expressed to him and his family through the site.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Off to the races!

As a result of the $5,000 matching prize, three new projects have begun to collect votes this week.

You can see them here

We introduced the voting system as a way to measure the support/enthusiasm for a project before it actually began fundraising. The reason for this is simple: If a project doesn't have sufficient support before it begins, it is not likely to succeed in its fundraising.

A vote is just that.. A simple click of a button. No donation, no commitment, just an indication that you would like to see such a project posted on our site and eligible for fundraising.

To encourage new projects being posted, we have created a competition for the first proposed project to reach 100 votes. The first project to reach 100 votes will be given a $5,000 matching fund, meaning that every donation made will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000.

If you've got an idea for something you want to see happen, in your community or abroad, create a project by clicking here.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

$5,000 to the first project started at

What is the one thing you want to see happen that would make this world a better place? Post your idea at our site and be the first to get 100 other people to agree your idea is a good one by September 15th and GiveMeaning will match any funds raised for your idea dollar-for-dollar up to $5,000!

GiveMeaning is the only site where any person can say "this is what I want to see changed in my world." Once your project is approved, we handle all the tax-receipting and find a qualified charity willing and able to accomplish your stated objective.

Best of all, 100% of all funds collected go directly to the charity selected for your project. No fees are charged. We support ourselves entirely through sponsorships from socially responsible companies.

So, if you've been looking at GiveMeaning as a way to raise money but haven't started yet, or if you're just finding out about us for the first time, submit your idea today.

Just go to and click on the "Start Now" link on the homepage.

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