December 07, 2010

Mike Lazaridis - RIM (Walt and Kara)

Mike Lazaridis - RIM (Walt and Kara)

DEMO of the RIM tablet - Playbook - running Air apps. HD video, multitasking and easy app switching. QNX OS. Will be released in Q1. Will be really competitive in price.

Mike: acquired QNX a company that came out of the University of Waterloo and we have acquired a number of companies from my Alma Mater. This is our platform for multicore processing. Historical constraints of power consumption, network capacity, speed and we have always worked within our limitations. We have over 500 carriers and partners in the world.

Walt: growing consensus that your Blackberry platform is looking old compared to other platforms. So when will this different platform get into the blackberry. Mike: we are focusing on multicore as the OS for many devices. The tablet is what mobiles computing is all about. Globally a lot of the world is running on 2 and 2.5G and that is why the Blackberry is the #1 smartphone in those markets. The Tablet OS allows up to jump into the world of mobile computing with WiFi and 4g. Blackberry 6 and torch browser is a very powerful device. Bt rather than be all things to all people we can present the right OS for the right task.

Kara: Apple and Google are at the leading edge. You are saying that they are not doing the right thing? Mike: communications devices that become great, smart phones and tablets. As a global player you have to be able to provide all three. They will all be called Blackberry. When we have multicore capability across the board they will all have the Playbook OS. BBM is an explosion that has happened. Our competitors have taken a smartphone OS and are trying to upgrade it to a tablet computer.

Kara: when the stories come out that you are dead, how do you react? Mike: we have seen this before, have been there since the beginning. Kara: I churned from Blackberry because it didn't have. The features. Mike: we are running a business, we are providing value to customers, arguably we invented the communications smartphone. We decided to go global, so we had to work with the available network technology. I have been talking about how big the smartphone market is going to be for 5 years.

Kara: how many operating systems can there be? Mike: we continue to focus on our position of strength in enterprise and security. These are regulated industries. Walt: why the consumer ads? Mike: Blackberry has crossed over. QNX is an OS that is right for the enterprise. Walt: but iPhone has been penetrating into enterprise. Mike: we never had 100% of enterprise but we continue to develop for those customers.

Kara: what are your predictions for enterprise vs consumer. Mike: we are trying to build great product that consumers love. I would argue that the Playbook platform is the strongest platform available today. Why not run Flash? this is really early and it is a big market.

QNX runs many things that you don't see. High end routers, high speed trains, power generation, home automation, cars, hospital equipment. This is something that is the foundation of things you don't see and we have bought it out in the open. Working with Adobe and opening it up to their developers.

Dan Hesse - Sprint (Walt)

Dan Hesse - Sprint (Walt)

The real difference that 4g makes is for interactive media not just because of capacity and speed but latency. Video is coming in and latency is very important. The two standards WiMax and LTE each have three versions. We are putting in 16E version of WiMax and in Japan they just trialled WiMax 16M at 300mb/sec.

Walt: why WiMax? Dan: we wanted to be first and when we started this the spectrum we had meant WiMax was available to us then. LTE will be the larger global ecosystem. We thought it was to be important to be first. It prodded Verizon to move faster and in 2010 we will have 120mi POPs up.

Walt: numbers? Dan: if you go to clear wire wholesale numbers it'll give you a pretty good feel and the lion's share of evo and epic is us. If you look at the Sprint brand and the Nextel business. What we said is that beginning in 2013 we will turn down Nextel but only after we add PTT to the other networks. 4g is one element of many that has helped out business. The last two quarters, Sorint is the fastest growing brand of any postpaid brand in the US. Simple pricing, value, better customer service, 4g. Our brand improvements have been dramatic. iPhone: I can't say if we are going to get it. Under the right terms and conditions we'd like the iPhone.

Walt: you are also part of the CTIA (you will be chairman in 2011) but what about tiered pricing. Dan: tonnage is driving this because the new devices use so much more data. 15 years ago I launched world net and it was the first unlimited pricing. Customers will pay a premium for simplicity and unlimited. Just not to have the worry and even though the plan is more expensive and even if they won't use all that data. One of the ways we want to differentiate ourselves - simply everything plan. We can increase revenues and decrease costs, we eliminated 85% of our rate plans, we reduced the number of calls to customer care by 50% per customer. So far - we are not going to do tiered plans but we increased our top rate plans for devices that use more. When you get the really big screen, the fast processor, they use a lot more data. Right now our bias is to stick with unlimited. You have to manage the two tails - low usage plans and high end but also to manage abusers. The big development could be - because the world is changing from one device to multiple devices. Could I have one plan for all my devices? Everyone in the industry is looking at this right now.

Walt: metering has been reimposed on us. Isn't that going to depress app development and services? At some point the only way is that capacity is going to increase is if the carrier can manage ROI on the network. If a lot more spectrum were available and the FCC agrees, we could manage pricing.

Walt: Clearwire. You own most of that company and they are building your WiMax network, are net they competing with you? Dan: I am in wholesale and retail, and the real issue is which is the more important business. Walt: if you own 54% can't you tell the ? Dan: we don't have voting control. That's why we don't consolidate their numbers in our results. At the time we did the deal is that we didn't have the money to do the network ourselves. So having a separate public company was advantageous. We expected that with this many owners we couldn't all agree.

Walt: 4g how would it change my life? Dan: very fast load times, uncapped data cards, great video.

Audience: have Verizon really caught up with you? Dan: most important things are devices. How many smart phones, air cards, myFi cards. To my knowledge there isn't a Verizon smartphone that they have announced.

Audience: Clearwire going to tower companies and doing separate deals, doesn't this give you a cost disadvantage. Dan: yes there are potential synergies. Expect to see more synergies and network asset sharing going forward.

Audience: net neutrality? Dan: we are very supportive of the FCC proposal.

Jon Rubinstein - Palm (Kara)

Jon Rubinstein - Palm (Kara)

Question about using other peoples product including iPhone. Jon: we wanted to have a unique experience. We thought through the fundamentals to create a unique experience. We have lots of people who use iphones, we have competitive analysis groups. I don't want to be tainted by other experiences. What we are seeing a lot in the industry everyone is copying the iPhone.

Kara: referring to Andy's comment last night about Palm history and legacy etc. Jon: we drew on the lessons but we didn't use any of the stuff before. WebOS is the most advanced mobile OS out there. We took a leap forward, it is very similar to what the Chrome guys did.

Kara: why didn't you get traction? We had a great team, product system, product pipeline, we had carriers, we had developers, we had cash. But I think the market moved too fast as far as the competition went and we saw a very clear way to get to profitability. But we couldn't see how we were going to get to scale given the size of profitability. Clearly there are some things we could have done better. Marketing, speed. We ran out of runway so being acquired by HP is really positive. We looked at a variety of alternatives and we felt sale and partnering was the best way to get to scale.

Kara: who else and why HP? Jon: I can't disclose but we had around 6 companies interested. The reason HP got the company is that it made the most sense. They didn't have a great mobile strategy, we couldn't get to scale. This was really strategic for them. The biggest computer company in the world and they need to be in mobile.

Kara: do you feel you have autonomy? Jon: we are part of the personal systems group. We are a global business unit. We integrated part of the company and kept other pieces - including engineering - separate. Several hundred HP people came to join us. From my perspective what we were planning on doing and what HP wanted to do was very aligned. We are off and running and we have support from a variety if other groups including HP labs.

Should the Palm name continue? Kara says kill it. Jon it has stengths as well as brand recognition. Phones and tablet and a variety of products coming up, we haven't announced dates. We have a variety of radically new products coming including a new tablet.

Kara: can there be that many OS's out there? Jon: I think there are going to be 3-5 and we are going to be one of them. We have two build great products on a great OS and good relationships with the carriers to get the hero slots. Smart phones 30-40% in the Us, 20% worldwide. This is just the beginning, the mobile device space is the place to be. WebOS 2 has 50+ new features. We have enhanced multitasking, universal search "just type", developers can build plug ins for search engines, if you go to a a site with search capability you are prompted if you want to add it. Over the air provisioning lets us update all the time. It's going to scale very nicely on the tablet. I don't think that people are going to have one device. Can you have the abilityc to share the data in the cloud and can they interact. Eventually HP printers will be webOS based.

Audience: what's the WebOS story? How do you convince a consumer? Jon: one is we really do have a unique user experience. We really integrate into the cloud and it's going to be a user benefit. Connected device strategy is going to be really important. Right now we are really quiet as we integrate into HP. Stay tuned.

Glenn Lurie - ATT President Emerging Devices (Walt)

Glenn Lurie - ATT President Emerging Devices (Walt)

Walt: consumer reports this week noted that you have the least reliable network. How did that happen? Glenn: we want feedback. We've had great success. We have a lot of partners. Did we like what we read? No. Will we dig into it? Yes. The reality of a wireless network is that you want to know where it's not working.

Walt: speed is one thing. Voice is another. Why haven't you been able to fix the dropped calls problem. Glenn: 5000% increase in data usage in the last 5 years. iPhone, cards, other emerging devices. This is significantly bigger than anyone has seen in the world. The growth curve isn't slowing down it is speeding up. Applications are going faster and faster. We had to deal with it first.

Walt: you have this huge data pressure. How does this relate to voice? Glenn: it is about capacity. How many times defies owing our network. Our vendors have also never seen this kind of growth. In SF and NYC those are the hot spots.

Walt: your service has improved where I live in DC but my calls still drop and it is not a rare event. Aren't you the dog chasing the car that will never catch it? Glenn: I am help accountable for the business via our results. Our third quarter results were record growth in adds, churn low, revenue up. We spent 18.5 Bi last year and this year in network investment.

Walt: difference in usage between platforms? iPhone and Android are similar. Seeing usage go up in Torch but a little bit less.

Walt: what about iPhone going to Verizon? Glenn: we had the Razor exclusively at launch and people then said Cingular would be dead. Didn't happen. We have come out and have said publicly that we are not concerned about churn to Verizon if that ever happens.

Walt: Randall (CEO) said that many customers were locked into plans. Glenn: family plans are very popular. iPhone has made a nice leap into the business world. Android is doing very well. We are excited about WP and seeing nie results. For now we are the only provider in the US that has every device.

Emerging devices: from the computers on your desk to vehicle telematics to smart grid to tablets to wireless laptops, we look at every device and every business model. We are doing wholesale, prepaid as with the iPad. We focused on the activation process and the rate plans are prepaid in nature. We also put in there the ability to understand how much you use. People like this activation want to give customers the best rate structure so we are not subsidizing the device for the Galaxy tablet. Today there are there ereaders - Amazon, Nook, Sony - all three are on our network. Amazon is a wholesale customer, how they GTM is up to them. Credits Amazon for their model and customer experience.

Walt: how much time did iPhone take? Glenn: we meet with Apple in early 05 and we talk all the time. I talk to Tim Cook almost every day.

Walt: if your network is in bad shape why are you adding more devices before getting the network right? Glenn: devices that are bursty not thirsty are ok but other devices like tablets and certain users drive big traffic. We analyze and tune our network every day.

Walt: isn't it important that your consumer reputation isn't damaged? Glenn: yes this is core and fundamental to what we do every day but at the same time our results have been really good.

Walt: If and when Verizon gets the iPhone (they already have Android) do you think their network is going to be strained. Glenn: I don't wish ill will on my competition. Have they done what they need to do to prepare for usage? I don't know. What I am saying is that we have done a lot of work and spending to improve our network and the stats are showing that.

Walt: 4G. You seem to be the vaguest about it. Verizon and Sprint are ahead of you. T-Mobile has done a labeling move. Whe n, how man cities and when in 2011? Glenn: customer care about their experiences more than acronyms. We are going HSPA+. we have. O ut it into the network we are in the process of building out. The backhaul. It's a type of 3G. The key is the customer experience. What happens when you roam outside of the high speed enabled areas, need to be able to degrade gracefully.

Audience: RIM holds on better than iPhone in the same network. Glenn: these are consumer electronic devices, we go through extensive certification, are they going to be different, yes.

Audience: no ATT logo on the iPhone, no logo on Kindle. Why is the carrier hidden and how is this good for ATT? Glenn: in wholesale we leave it up to the customer depending on what they are looking for. All our agreements are custom depending on the requirements of the wholesale customer. On iphone you see it on the box and the network identifier. Some of it is about brand, some of it is about profit.

Joe Belfiore - MS Windows Phone (Walt)

Joe Belfiore - MS Windows Phone (Walt)

WP is much later than iPhone and Android. Joe: we have been doing phones for a long time, Apple made big changes to the industry. We have tried to take advantage of what apple and android has done. We have been doing this for a long time but we think now we have a product that is right up there with those guys.

Walt: you don't have multitasking, cut and paste. Joe: across these devices there are lots of different consumers. We have tried to build experiences that people are doing at high volume - testing, web, games, media. Easy to learn, reliable, happen in an elegant and niec way. We have functionality shortcomings like copy paste that we are working on. Early 2011. Multitasking - we load browser pages in the background, we load email in the background, we play music in the background.

Walt: this is where Apple started in 2007. You are coming along in 2010 without that. Joe: we believe that we have other benefits. Photos experience is great. Camera works above the lock. Hardware has a camera button. We have focused on valuable scenarios and some users will choose us.

Walt how is it doing? Europe in late October, US second week in November and so far so good. Now 10 launch devices in place. Ad campaign has tamped up. Now working on retail. We are not talking about numbers.

Walt: other people do. When somebody doesn't announce it makes people think you maybe aren't selling a lot. Joe: too soon to talk about numbers.

Walt: your campaign is about quickly glancing and go. What that's about. Joe: we talked to a lot of users and we felt streamlining the experience for the average user. Tke advantage of visual design to make it look exciting and attractive but also to reduce steps. Can people get things done faster. Camera button. Live tiles. Relatively large squares that evoke information about the app you would launch. The start screen is also your speed dial, the number of texts people send exceeds their phone calls. So why not speed texting. People are front and center. Whenever they post to a social network, the tile updates. We have integration with FB and WL. There are 8 tiles without scrolling. It's a flexible interface and you get to choose.

Walt: when I was reviewing I found that 3rd party apps that I downloaded, you and very few apps (today marketplace has up to 4k) and I found that many apps didn't give me any information on the tiles. Joe: we'll see people do more as time goes by.

Walt: last night Andy said you have really old code in your system. MSFT narrative has been that you rebuilt and it is all new, but Andy says the kernel is old. Joe: it is mostly new. We do have some old code in the kernel that are old, but as long as it doesn't impede our ability to deploy scenarios it doesn't matter and in fact the code is tested, scribed stable. The graphics capability is great. Based on DirectX. We used Silverlight and XNA for 3rd party apps. These are new. Andy implied that we were encumbered by legacy and I don't agree.

Walt: why didn't you just build a phone? Joe: the decision came down to the fact that the phone market is huge and diverse. Do we think that we can build all the hardware to meet all the niches? We felt we should focus on the software. There is an implied tradeoff that the user experience won't be as good. What we have tried to do based on our experience with windows where there is the right amount of specified variation and specified sameness. Apple and others picks they are very explicit. Android wide open. We have focused on elements of user experienec that we tthnk matter. We are tyrying to get the benefits of constraint whilst enabling the right variation for end users - cost, size, keyboard.

Walt: how long will it take you to get back up? Joe: we have chose two focus on higher end hardware. We are not in every country yet. More price points. Don't know how long it will take us to develop that kind of volume. Not a couple of months, maybe a couple of years.

Walt: who will be the dominant platforms? Joe: 4-6 vendors who have significant share in smartphone space. A bridge to cross for vendors to deliver high quality experiences. Blackberry has been very good at productivity but hasn't yet crossed over to be really good at lifestyle scenarios.

Walt: do you assume you will be in that group? Joe: I do assume. Star at with a great product and an experience that is valuable to people.

Walt: I am confused about the tablet strategy at MSFT. Ironically the slate has been a Microsoft idea for a long time. Joe: it is certainly the case that we have tried to make PCs cover the broadest ground possible. I the past our focus in desktop windows has been on keyboard, mouse, stylus. Phone has been small devices and touch. Over time we are going to take the lessons learn in both and cross pollinate.

Walt: Why isn't your phone OS your tablet OS? Joe: we have just released our phone. Windows today is our big operating system that operates today on a broad range of devices.

Joe: when we work with our partners we like the idea of elegant coexistence. Three buttons. 4 point capicitative multitouch is a requirement. But not so restrictive that manufactures can't add new capabilities. For baseline capabilities we want a level of predictability and usability for users.

Endgagdget: challenge on tablets. Apple very successful, Android. You guys have this clunky, ugly Windows 7. You cannot be blind to the idea that Windows 7 isn't designed for touch. Joe: stay tuned. We acknowledge the fact that you have to do a thoughtful and good job in designing for the firm factor. We are going to look across the board at all these things. We are where we are at today.

Mike McCue - Flipboard (Katie)

Mike McCue - Flipboard (Katie)

25 people in the studio, used to be an art gallery. "we love white space"

A digital magazine just for me on iPad - we call it a social magazine. Bring the aesthetics of print to social media. Inspiration: when I left TellMe and I met my cofounder Evan and we decided we wanted to have fun. Imagine if the web was washed away in a hurricane and you needed to build a totally new web from sratch what would you do differently. About 6 months into it the core ideas for flipboard hard started to come together.

Social media changes distribution and because of HTML5 and the iPad we can now make the online experience as beautiful as magazines.

Friends in Facebook I have found people who are incredibly interesting and who post stuff. Katie: Flipboard changes behavior because of the way it pulls stuff in automagically.

Web pages getting too crowded, ads not effective. Clipboard Pages are about the convergence of social media, HTML5 and the iPad. A web page that is reflowed into a new template to emulate the magazine experience.

DEMO - sites that have been reflowed into this format. Images placed to give images more dramatic power. Yu et to these pages by just double tapping on the article and you go to the new format.

Great for long form content, we put in magazine stayle full page ads. Currently nt making money during this experiment. We don't plan to charge for Flipboard itself just like you wouldn't pay for a browser. The opportunity for the publishers to have advertising that is a lot more effective similar to their economics in print. Like the experience of liking a fantastic ad in print (e.g. vogue). It'll probably the same advertisers that a publisher has a relationship with but a different ad unit. We mighty help with placement and targeting (sounds like he doesn't want to sell advertising"

The web is at a point in time where it needs a game changer it needs a face lift, a new approach to monetization. A very exciting time for publishers and the web. It is going through a metamorphosis right now.

Katie: you have taken away scrolling. Mike: scrolling was created with original computers and there was never a form factor like the iPad. What pagination does it that allows for designers to build beautiful content because the dimension is understood. There is a place for pagination especially long form journalism and other forms of long form content pagination is amazing.

Katie: how will publishers get to you, how would you scale. Mike: it is just HTML5. There is a templates for short form, long form, pict urea, portrait and landscape. W are keeping it small now to learn, some time next year we will open it up to anyone.

Katie: you are only on iPad right now, you have alienated a lot of users. Mike: the iPad has allowed us to open up the design possibilities. The iPad is a great device, great DEV environment, we see a lot of rounding out of the product that needs to happen. We have to prove out the concept from the user and publisher point of view. When the time is right we will go to other platforms and when we get there we will evaluate the specific platform and see how Flipboard will fit in to that platform. we are in the lab working on things like iPhone and not Android quite yet. Working on social network integration. Location - you could imagine a magazine about where you are at the moment. A location oriented magazine that is real time and up to date that still looks like a beautiful magazine.

Acquisition of the Ellerdale project. He and his team connected to the twitter firehouse and rss. There's too much stuff. There are too many social networks to check. More friends and more content from those friends and this is increasing exponentially. How do you make sense of all of this. That is what the Ellerdale guys have been working on.

Competitors: this is a very hot space, there are a lot of things happening. Pulse, Twitter clients, FB clients, doing iPad versions. There is a blending of these two worlds happening. As we move to a person-centric view, this is what is happening.

Video and rich media: imagine a video social network integrated into Flipboard. We need to keep pushing html5. One of the nice things about Flipboard is that there's not a lot of flashing and moving on the screen.

Daniel Eck - Spotify. (Peter Kafka)

Daniel Eck - Spotify. (Peter Kafka)

Can't get Spotify in the US today. We have technology and business problems to solve at the same time. Won't commit to a specified date for the US launch.

20 hours free streaming music per month for ad supported service. In the US it will be $10/month.

Lots of speculation about the company: not looking for more funding now but wouldn't rule it out in the future.

Sounds like Rhapsody, Napster and others. Daniel: music is popular and a lot more spread out in terms of genres. So that is why we think there should be a consumption model now. Napster started that. Nw we have broadband in our phones as well. People want to have access to everything on every device. Pandora becoming widely successful because of smart phones. Independent of the type of media, people just consume more of it. Overtime we are going to figure out all these differny ways for producers to get value.

We have a bit more than 750K paying customers paying us 10 Euros. We have 10mi users. The most important thing for me is that the value of the access model is to get people to build their library. We introduced the portable subscription model in Sep 09. People are actively sharing their library. It is about convenience and accessibility. It is a service that is inherently social. Twitter and FB and other social networks have had a huge impact on people's ability to share content.

Two huge platforms - the social platforms and all the mobile devices together fuel growth.

DEMO - showing downloaded playlists. It's a very simple experience they want to download their collection, have it available and it is not a fixed amount of music it is an infinite amount of music and ve ry shareable.

Question: about being offline due to service provision issues. Daniel: service level and avail is a huge issue for all social networks. We use peer-to-peer infrastructure. Our users tell us that we provide their music faster than if it were on the device. I think there are two problems with music: one is format and the other is device. I don't think that people buy a CD is for collection it is because CD is ubiquitous and it plays anywhere. This is a foundational idea behind Spotify. Play anywhere. We are at this fragile state of the web, everyone expects everything for free, we are moving towards a paid model. Apple app store and it is almost a curation of paid stuff.

Question: is Jobs campaigning against you? Daniel: I read the news but the label guys are not telling me that. I don't focus on that, I focus on product and doing so as a user and building the product that I want. For all forms of media we need to make it as easier to discover and play anytime anywhere.

The vast majority of users do not pay for music today. It strikes me as odd that the value of the entire music industry today is around 15Bi dollars. We need to build a legal service.

The US is the world's largest music market and it just takes time. We really believe in our model - listen, share, discover, social. We would not just launch a subscription model. Free matters, short trials don't work. You Tube is one of the biggest music players in the world. Yu Tube has become a music player but not an effective one. Radio is mostly free. We just want people to build their library, to build a much bigger collection.

On Sean Parker. I just saw the Social Network it is a great movie, I'm not sure it is true. Sean wrote me this really long email explaining what was wrong with the product. He is so great at product and great to have him around to bounce ideas off.

Question: Sirius and their business model. A: I haven't played with them much. Sirius has some great and unique content. I am an inherent believer in Internet as distribution.

Rob Glazer: why haven't labels given o the same deals here? A: labels see what we see. If this is going to move on to be the next big thing then the want to get it right. Rob: I have a different answer that I will share privately.

We are a developer on the Facebook platform. Our one criterion is that we would never want to do any exclusive deals. We want music to become like water. We think music is the most social object and could even surpass photos. They are paying with attention or money today. We want to be on more devices - today a lot of devices out there and the majority are not music enabled.

Dennis Crowley - Foursquare (Kara)

Dennis Crowley - Foursquare (Kara)

Not profitable, we have enough money to last to the end of next year, we are hiring up as quickly as possible and to build out as quickly as possible. We got $20mi and not currently looking for more. Valuation was around $100mi. We are 41 people but well supported by the developer community.

We've had these ideas for a long time about what we want to build so when we had the decision about do we stay independent or align with a bigger company and they felt independence was better. For us it's about continuing to build things that they way they should be built and to remain independent. The Dodgeball stuff informed this. Y aThe timing was way out of whack.

Kara challenges that he just replayed Dodgeball. With Foursquare Dennis says it was the foundation but they added game mechanics. After Google I went to work at area code and as this shaped the vision of Foursquare. In college we used to play Foursquare all the time at block parties.

Q: What is it right now? It's different things to different people. We are building tools to mobile phones to make the real world more interesting. If you make a badge about going to the gym and it makes them go to the gym more that's pretty interesting. We use game mechanics to get people over the hump of signing up ands keep them involved for a month or so. We are excited about revisiting the game mechanics and we are now getting really good at this so let's rethink this. Different mechanics that pull levers for different people.

Kara: I want stuff. Dennis: under the hood it's a stats engine. We have retailers that are lining up to give aways stuff. Building a coupling engine on top of the stats.

Kara: automatic check in? I go into the Apple store and there is always a teenager sexting. I want the Apple store to say it's Kara Swisher and start petting me. Dennis: are people going to have screens behind the bar, can you see loyalty information in real time at check in and who is there.

Dennis: every time we do a deal with a big merchant we have to do custom, so we are focusing on tools to make it easier for merchants to integrate. We have thousands of developers working on the API.

Assisted serendipity now looking at ratio of girls to guys and tipping points in a bar. Taxi sharing apps. Game called mob zombies. Things people doing about our dataset.

Kara: competition. Facebook check-in, Groupon. Dennis: good for the industry. Creates awareness. I don't think the are stealing our idea. Checkin becomes a commodity the check in itself isn't interesting, it's what happens after the checkin. Some people are going to love the deals, some people will like sharing with their friends some people will love the crowd sourced data. Personally I am most excited about the utility 'making New York easier to navigate.'

Dennis: we haven't wanted to charge local merchants for a product that is not good enough. The model is to be able to create and sell tools to local merchants. Also getting brands involved. History Channel and Bravo tagging the real world with lat/long and at check in we can tie this content into the experience.

Kara: where do you go. Dennis: we are focused on the near term product roadmap.

Kara: Groupon and Google. Dennis: I don't see Groupon as a competitor. There is a lot of overlap. We could partner with a Groupon. Certain deals could be sweeter based on check-in information and the stats.

Dennis: the most difficult thing for us is that it's 40 people. The exercise of growing, the company keeps breaking. It took us a long time to figure out how to build the engine to build the products. Team working better, processes. I am still doing a lot of product stuff and a lot of evangelism. I have a hard time with this, I have always been hands on, have had to learn how to delegate.

Kara: what's overhyped? Dennis: I don't have a good answer. I think this is under hyped. I don't think people understand how this is going to change the way that people interact with physical space.

Passive check ins: great idea but the GPS device resolution isn't there yet. The other thing is that it drains your battery life. These are issues that go against passive check in.

Question: read a stat that % of check ins are private. Check in off the grid for privacy but personally it is great to have my breadcrumbs. If I check in off the grid I can get badges but not for mayor. Check in in Foursquare social graph vs publishing to broader social graph.

question: how do you prio devices? We have priod iPhone because we are iphone users. Ramping up on android. Ultimately we want to be agnostic. We have symbian, palm, windows mobile and they were built using the API.

Susan Wojcicki - SVP Product Management Google

Susan Wojcicki - SVP Product Management Google

4* increase yoy in number of searches, Admob doing more than a billion ad requests per day and has doubled since acquisition.

I think mobile is going to enable a lot of things with advertising "closing the loop" via check ins potentially. Mobile brings the opportunity to bring people not just to a site but to an actual store.

Question about how Google and Apple differ in their approach. We'd like to have everybody be an advertiser. Describes low friction approach for people to become advertisers.

Discussion about privacy, notion that markets can self-regulate and recent FCC points on this. "Google is ultimately a consumer brand - the things that we do our users are going to feel comfortable with." pointed out that they didn't use a cookie on AdSense until last year.
Re FCC: softball/managed answer "we'd need to see their specific plans"

Do consumers practically care about the exchange of private information in exchange for value? "I think they do care. They want the services and they want the advertising to be relevant."
Pushes on the point as to whether or not the consumers are really aware of eg ads in gmail leveraging the content of email. "if you are getting ads that a relevant to what you are looking for then it is all useful information."

You guys dominate search, the bigger you get you become a bigger target and it becomes harder for you t navigate politically. How much of that is in your head as you think about products? "it's a very competitive market. What are the right things for our users. As soon as we ar not generating as much revenue for publishers that's the moment they are going to go somewhere else." "we're always careful about privacy, users perception, advertiser effectiveness."

Growth: how has the culture changed over time? "google is a mUch bigger company. We have tried as much as possible to have a lot of different groups and to give them autonomy. In general they have their own P+L. Breaking into groups and giving them autonomy is how to make it run when it is big."

Question about retention, counter-offers: "it's good for the employees. Our employees are really valuable to us. Our employees are our business. google has beeb doing well as much as possible we try to keep our employees."

What's the come on for a new employee? "Google's scale. If you are Andy Rubin and you look at the scale he can operate now. If you make cool stuff and users want it, Google is an incredible platform."

Groupon: question about culture merge for acquisitions. "every deal is going to be different. YouTube runs more or les standalone, Doubleclick we integrated."

Product most excited about: "enabling mobile to close the loop, how can I find out the best local offers, as an advertiser how can I See if someone saw my ad and came into the store. How can Google crack the local market. About Groupon and the other offer companies, they have come up with smart models." Dodges a question about whether they are going to do this themselves or not.

Why is local so hard? "it's hard because it has to be really simple for the small businesses. Really easy for users to sign up and it has to perform. sales model is different. Can't just take the search model and just apply it to local."

April 01, 2010

to the SMH: thanks for publishing another letter ... kind of.

I'm grateful that the Sydney Morning Herald published my letter in response to the moronic outpourings of the Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy. But the editing is a let down and shows that Herald clearly doesn't want to offend part of its base. They left out my best line!

 Here's the link to the several (all critical) letters that they published in rebuttal to Conroy's absurd statements.

Here's the text of my letter as published:

As an Australian internet media executive with many years' operating experience at home, as well as in Japan, Europe and North America, I am incredulous that Senator Conroy can ask, ''Why is the internet special?'' The very asking calls into question his qualification for the portfolio.

His ministry is responsible for broadband and the digital economy. The facts: Australia is 16th in internet subscribers per 100 inhabitants; it has expensive access on a monthly basis; it has no fibre-to-the-home; and it has a supply oligopoly (in pay TV, too).

Perhaps the senator might live in some of the places I have in order to experience real competition in price, speed and consumer choice (without censorship). I can recommend Tokyo, Paris, San Francisco and Munich.

Brett Wayn San Francisco

Here's the original, as sent, with the redacted sections in bold:

From: Brett Wayn 

Date: 31 March 2010 8:07:08 PM PDT


Subject: Letter to the editor


As an Australian internet media executive with many years operating experience at home, as well as in Japan, Europe and now North America, I'm incredulous from afar that Senator Conroy can ask "Why is the Internet special?"  The very asking calls into question his qualification for the portfolio. His ministry is currently responsible for broadband and the digital economy in Australia. The facts: 16th in internet subscribers per 100 inhabitants (OECD, June 2009), expensive access on a monthly basis, no fibre to the home and a supply oligopoly (in Pay TV, too!) I note - from the uncensored Wikipedia entry - that Senator Conroy was apparently born in the UK and migrated to Australia. Perhaps he might live in some of the places I have in order to experience real competition in price, speed and consumer choice (without censorship.) I can personally recommend Tokyo, Paris, San Francisco and Munich. Speaking of Munich, I'm amused by the senator's ill-informed observation that filters are "100 per cent accurate." Come now Senator, isn't that like asserting that children are 100% safe in the care of priests? 


Dr Brett Wayn

San Francisco, California