Archive for the ‘business’ Category

And now the board of Trinity commissions their own app

Monday, May 19th, 2014

After the well received reaction to Trinity changing their logo. Oh right. It now seems that the Board of Trinity College, University of Dublin (get used to that) want an iPad app just for their board meetings. The Public Tenders site lists iPad App for Board meetings.

Informally asking and those who dabble in this area think it could cost anywhere from €15k to €25k based on how difficult the “cloud” backend will be.

From the Trinity College iPad app tender

Background & Project Overview

It is desirable for a number of reasons to move to an electronic system of organising and circulating documents for the College Board meetings and for meetings of the Executive Officer Group. Such benefits include environmental gains, financial gains and more efficient use of College resources and staff.

There are a number of ways that the organisation can securely circulate documents. Both commercial options and in-house options can result in savings versus the current processes. Best practice in other educational providers was explored and it was agreed by the Executive Officer Group (EOG) that the purchase of a hosted solution should be explored.

Reminds me of Dave Morin and the “bespoke app” he had made so he could communicate with his secretary.

I guess an app is needed because nobody has already made one. Oh. Hang. On.

But hey CLOUDCOMPUTINGAPPBUZZWORD!

Here’s one take on that new Trinity logo too from Conor Walsh.
New Trinity Logo

“Square acquired by Visa” – Will Secret, Whisper influence the news?

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Woke up this morning to this:
John Wilshire Square bought by Visa

How can you trust a system that allows any rumour, lie or planned defamation to be published? Well, American laws for one. It’s a hot startup and has millionaire backers for two. Plenty of startups that do very dodgy things are left unchecked for a while in case there’s a chance they make money and others can profit from it. Ireland would knock and attack an idea like this, bludgeon it with negativity until we kill it. The American way is to encourage success so you can come in later and try and get a cut too.

Valleywag loves Secret. And some really good information has been leaked out through the app. And crazy fun stuff too. It was a Secret post that eventually unraveled the toxic truth behind how Github operated in such an anti-woman brogrammer way.

And the Evernote acquisition rumour was so far untrue. If you read this hilarious Tumblr, most of the rumours are untrue. Yet every now and then… Something like this too would be a perfect hoax, it’s well known that Square is trying to sell itself and is failing to do that. Visa is already and investor and of course the Square founder is already well known for running Twitter. Hoaxes have to have reality as a base.

For hunting stories though, tiny bits of information, rumours that are mostly untrue but with a tiny amount of truth are things you can use to chip away at a story. A lot of investigative type stories are almost negotiations or trades. Approach a source with a little bit of information, see will they give you a tiny bit more when you offer than tiny slice of truth. Take that, move on, uncover more with that and chip away even more until eventually you have a solid foundation for a story and then are confident to approach the main sources you can use/you want for your story.

An hour after the Twitter chatter, nothing has happened to that Square piece. An hour with a rumour or bit of information is a long time in media and a very long time in tech media. But the Paltrow/Martin marriage on the rocks rumour was weeks on Whisper before the conscious uncoupling became a reality. Nieman Labs even goes through the use of apps like these for journalism. Journalism with a small j, mind. Buzzfeed has even inked a content deal with Whisper. Well it certainly won’t be old-skool media would would find that distasteful and would take two years to come to that decision too.

Whither Simply Zesty? When £3M turns into £200k valuation

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Update: This is in the Sunday Times tomorrow so publishing this now and not Monday.

So the Simply Zesty blog is dead since April as is their Twitter account. This week UTV’s 2013 report came out and it was all very positive, mostly but…

So it looks like UTV have written off close to £3M in “value” from their Simply Zesty acquisition. The shareholders got the initial £1.6M in cash and then the other £3M in consideration was written down in 2012, 2013 and moved to zero for 2014. Last year UTV bought the remaining shares off everyone for £200k and didn’t wait until 2017. They were bragging about the savings from that in the report. Uh lads, you were the ones that agreed a £4M valuation.

Report:

From the page numbered 104 in doc but is actually page 106

“The acquisition of the rights from the previous corporate shareholder On 14 January 2013 the Group entered into an agreement with a previous corporate shareholder of Simply Zesty Limited to pay a cash consideration of £200,000 in settlement of their rights in relation to the estimated contingent consideration arising on the acquisition of Simply Zesty Limited. The fair value of the related estimated contingent consideration amounted to £1,031,000″

Simply Zesty £3M write down

Other “highlights” from the report

As outlined in the Strategic Report, as part of the restructuring the Group bought out the contingent consideration rights of the remaining stakeholders within Simply Zesty for nominal sums. The estimated fair value of this contingent consideration amounted to £1,760,000.

At 31 December 2013 the contingent consideration was valued as £Nil

“it also involved the buyout of the contingent consideration from certain stakeholders within Simply Zesty which resulted in a credit on the release of the remaining fair value of this financial liability. The overall impact on the Group’s results for the year was not material

“Free cash flow from operations decreased by £1.7m to £15.7m (Restated 2012: £17.4m), reflecting the decrease in EBITDA of £3.2m, and a £2.9m non cash gain arising on the buyout of contingent consideration rights held by the previous shareholders in Simply Zesty as part of Group fundamental restructuring, the costs of which are included within EBITDA also realising significant gains on the buy out of contingent consideration arising on the acquisition of Simply Zesty in 2012.”

“This restructuring also saw the merger of Tibus Digital Agency with Simply Zesty to deliver as a full service digital agency under the Simply Zesty brand. The integration of these businesses resulted in a change in the management within Simply Zesty and consequently the value of customer relationships was deemed to be impaired and the remaining carrying value of £188,000 was written off.”

Creativity – It’s always been you

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Creativity is there already in our brains. Waiting to be left out. The old saying that “giving something a name gives you power over it” holds true when trying to understand things in our own mind. Having a language, a vocabulary, a corpus to describe your ideas can make them a reality.

The language to describe the things in our heads that we want to create is a hidden language for a lot of people and it’s only through reading, learning or understanding that we can structure it for everyone else (and even ourselves) to interpret it too.

Art
So when we read, view, see art and so on, that allows that fuzzball of creativity to find the language anchors or context to describe it with our own experiences if we want to produce art. As they say, that statue is already there in the marble, you just need the tools and skill to reveal it. The language to tell your brain what it is may very well be the idea of muscle memory and knowing how the marble can be molded.

Quantum Mechanics needed a new form of mathematics to be made before people could describe it. It was always there, what it was though was something that couldn’t be described with the language that already existed so it didn’t fit into the real world (in a way) until the language was figured out.

Programming
Programming has many languages. Programmers take ideas and put them into a language they know that gets a computer to do things and there we go, something is created. The efficient way to describe that process is what can make an app into an amazing app, the language that describes and defines the user interface might make it as easy to use as the iPad operating system. Software will eat the world and those knowing how to communicate efficiently in code will get fat.

You are creative, we all are creative but maybe for some of us it’s the lack of ways to describe what we want is the thing holding us back. Yeah we have the idea of the 10,000 hours but probably in those 10,000 hours are lots of figuring out how to describe to the world and ourselves, what we want to do.

Getting it out of your brain is that scene in Total Recall. The shit old one, not the shit new one.

I listened to the final Reith Lecture by Grayson Perry earlier and maybe it was ideas and imagery in that that made me take that idea that’s always been there and allowed me to put it into these words.

How do you get it out?
So how do you get it out? When you walk along the same part of the carpet at home, you just wear that down more. Stop rubbing the same part of your brain with the same subject matter. It’s the equivalent of using a set of Ann and Barry books to try and map out the history of the world. It’s going to come out at the same level as those books.

So be diverse. Want to succeed in business? Stop reading all your Richard Branson books. Stop waiting for his next one before you do something. In a way, experience the world. Read lots of different things, experience the language of those things and how their creator sees the world.

It can become much easier if we have a clear way of describing it. So it’s always been about you, you have the creativity, you just need to know the language to decode that fuzz.

Business ideas, Neuroplasticity, Music, more. All have their own languages, fluency in them or experience of them could give you an advantage. You have the ideas, find the language to describe them.

Just fDIY

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Of late I’ve seen a few people complain about lack of coverage of X or Y by “the media”. Complaints on Twitter. So that means those complaining have access to the Internet, have an email address and can type.

They may have or have not heard of WordPress, Blogspot or Tumblr. All web services that allow you to create your own content. I KNOW RIGHT?

  • Someone done a ones to watch list in 2014 and left out some progressive startups? fDIY so.
  • Your city left out of great places to start a business? fDIY so.
  • Why didn’t the paper call out some some stupid racist prick? fDIY so.
  • You can do a better recipe than that food blogger? fDIY so.
  • That cool band isn’t getting any attention? fDIY so.

This is 2014, we have easy access to services that allow us to create content on any connected device. We have social media accounts where we can share the content that we can easily create. There is a crucial need for media, yes, but they’re being hammered left, right and centre by internal factors and market factors.

Yeah you could be an unknown blog with sfa visitors but Google will find your content. Even if you only ever write one blog post, you will be found. And maybe that’s all you need to do, just a single blog post. Your ideas of lack of coverage on your bugbear might not be unique so that means people are probably Googling about it so you’ll get traffic from interested parties.

And maybe if you fucking Do It Yourself, the media that forgot/ignored what you now highlight might decide this is worth some attention now. Whether they give you attribution or not, your topic is getting coverage. Job done.

You’ve always been the product

Monday, January 13th, 2014

So many, many, many articles with the frayed line “If you’re not paying for it, you are the product” when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, Google and any free services out there.

Yet people pay for the Irish Times newspaper (Print edition) and the Irish Times sells data about you to advertisers:

The Irish Times has a higher percentage of ABC1 readers than any other Irish daily newspaper.
66% of Irish Times readers read no other paid-for Irish daily newspaper.
62% of regular visitors to irishtimes.com are ABC1.

You buy the Irish Times? You are the product.

Maybe you pay for your TV licence but you are still the product when you listen to RTÉ Radio. Rate card with demographic breakdowns.

If there’s advertising then people are the products too. What about music festivals? You pay a chunk of money for a weekend pass and the festival organisers charge brands to have stands at the event because hungry, thirsty and fun seeking people will be at the festival. And they are of age ranges 21-27 mostly and 45% female and 55% male etc.

So maybe you are the product if it’s free OR of value but has advertising.

Well… If you buy an iPhone, are you also “the product”? There’s no advertising on your phone but there is commerce around you and your phone. Apple use the fact that hundreds of millions of people use iOS devices to do deals with media companies and to encourage developers to make apps that they can sell to the iPhone users. And Apple gets a 30% cut of those transactions. They do deals with telecoms carriers to sell the phone on their networks using data showing how much an iPhone user spends on average over a contract.

If you have money or even just attention that can be extracted by another party, you’re the product. We have always been the product. If you’re reading this, are you the product?

Some content links and thoughts for 2014

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Content is coming back again, thankfully. When social media came out first we fiddled with the mechanics of it. Then as always, there was a huge advantage to being early adopters of it but now as it settles down and reaches saturation, the idea of good content (even in a status update) is coming back into play. The same thing happened with Google Ads. So easy when it first began but as more used it you had to be creative, cunning and change-receptive.

I wrote last year about the GIF economy and writing for timelines. Hopefully we’ll see more leaning on the idea of genuine content this year.

The New York Times rightly pats themselves on the back for their work in interactive storytelling in 2013.

Some fantastic tips from Upworthy on getting your content noticed. Write 25 headlines for a single article and see what ones work is but one of many tips.

And on that, Reddit data shows that timing and headlines mean so much to getting pushed up on Reddit with many links being previously added but getting to attention.

Frank Luntz rules on effective language:

1. Simplicity: Use Small Words
2. Brevity: Use Short Sentences
3. Credibility is As Important As Philosophy
4. Consistency Matters
5. Novelty: Offer Something New
6. Sound and Texture Matter
7. Speak Aspirationally
8. Visualize
9. Ask a Question
10. Provide Context and Explain Relevance

SEO still works and here is a fantastic infograph on some of the factors Google takes seriously when looking at your content. A lot of cross-over but here too are some SEO guidelines.

And of course, paying for traffic makes financial sense if done right. Handy guide to Google Adwords.

And as a counter to the SEO idea, Johnston press talks about using social to push their content more these days. They talk about going back to the older days when you didn’t write headlines for SEO.

This guide, on how to use Twitter well, also by the New York Times will come in really handy for you too.

Karl’s stats from Broadsheet show that Facebook and Twitter are a big pusher for their content so that might be an inkling as to where your traffic sources come from.

BUT, lots has changed with Facebook of late and it’s harder and harder for your fanbase to actually see your content due to Facebook Edgerank so be very very aware of the possible dwindling returns with Facebook. It also makes me wonder whether Edgerank is the new SEO and you will need experts to basically manipulate your Edgerank in order for you to be seen inside in Facebook without paying each time. And in a way this is full-circle in Internet Marketing. Paid advertising and SEO, paid updates or organic updates…

We also have this idea of tiny information. Apps like Circa and Potluck give you a small amount of news in short articles instead of bombarding you with content all day.

Via Paul Watson, Love this idea with the Yahoo sports app that allows you to create your own GIF from their footage. Yes!

So a question too, when does Conversion Optimisation techniques come to Facebook? It’s not all funny pics of otters looking like some English bloke.

What Would Google Do … with robots

Monday, January 6th, 2014

So the world or a tiny subset of the world that has the time to be interested in things about robots, had multiple double takes when Google bought Boston Dynamics, the military robot maker. It turns out that Google has been very busy buying robotics companies, not just Boston Dynamics.

Google has always been about using algorithms to replace humans or at least automating tasks. via Forbes:

A little more specifically, the New York Times has noted, Page has “argued that technology should be deployed wherever possible to free humans from drudgery and repetitive tasks.”

What work do humans in Google do right now? What cerebral and physical tasks can be replaced?

Book Scanning
All these books published and printed and not a single digital copy. Libraries of books that could be scanned in and shared with humanity. Of what Google scans in, they need operators of scanning machines since books are not uniform in size and texture. You can spot hands in some of the scans like this blog talks about.

GoogleBookScanFingers

A standard machine could never do this but a robot could. And Google book scanners are not classed as real Google employees it seems. Just waiting for robot replacements.

Data Centre Work
While Google data centres are mostly about servers and don’t need humans, they still need humans and humans need to be catered for in data centres. Google data centres run hot, higher temperatures mean less money and energy spent on cooling. Google data centres are efficient enough and they have staff in shorts and t-shirts in there because they run warm. Humans are probably a bottle-neck in custom made data centres.

Aisles are made for humans to fit in so they can swap out failing equipment. Bottle neck. Google spent $1.9 billion buying the old New York Port Authority which just happens to be a location for the best fibre connections in America. Kevin Slavin in his TED talk about algorithms talked about Skyscrapers in New York being gutted to house data centres. Imagine how inefficient one of these would be because of the shape and because of catering for humans. If Google made skyscraper data centres like Japanese automated car parks though:

Fires need oxygen to keep going, as do humans. Eliminating oxygen in data centres is a good way to stop fires spreading but you can’t have humans then. Robots are cool though, right? One wonders can you have oxygen free data centres?

Mapping and live traffic reports
Obvious section this. Mapping seems obvious since Google already has cars and trikes going around the place (and even people with backpacks). Google already does driverless cars. So drones. And low and behold the FAA now are allowing trials of pilotless drones. No more traffic helicopters thanks to Google traffic drones. Helicopter pilots are very expensive and not that common, many are ex-military because you need so many thousands of flying hours to fly commercial.

Google Infrastructure
Google needs data centres all around the world. As developing countries boot up and become more web connected, more data centres will need to be deployed. Remember the idea of Google dropping shipping containers that were data centres to spots that needed them?

As the wildest and most far flung parts of the world become flattened and connected, they’ll need data centres. They’ll also need infrastructure for those data centres. Why not use drones, driverless vehicles and robots to build them out and to connect them? On that, reliability is important too so having drones guard your electricity supply and repair it is also important. Humans do this today:

Or this:

Don’t forget underwater cable repair too!

Hardware Manufacturing
Remember that Google is now a hardware company as well. They own Motorola and all the hardware parts of that. They seem to be making a loss year after year with it but making the hardware section more efficient with robots could be something good. If they were to take their expertise at making processes more efficient then their hardware factories and partner factories could in theory pump out high quality smartphones like the Moto X and newer versions of Google Glass that don’t cost over €1500 a pair.

RobotDroid – What if
Despite working on mobile possibly longer than Apple, Google were way behind with their mobile initiative and are still playing catch up with Apple on this. The idea of making an operating system open source (to a degree) and free to use has made Android the number one Internet operating system out there and more Android phones than Apple phones are being sold. Apple phones still seem to be used more and for higher value purposes.

So maybe this time when robots and drones will eventually become mainstream, Google wants to be out the gap first and have the momentum and be the main platform for building robots on? All those robots and drones with sensors that feed into Google services. All that information. Apple are always good at coming into a market late and taking the higher end of said market and then going lower into it but Apple may not be the dominant force in the robot world, they’re still a consumer company. Probably going to be a while before consumers use robots.

This is a Google robot:

Maybe too far
Airdrops of 3d printers for what, I don’t know. News robots in war zones. instructional robots. Google Robot Dog Tracks. Remember too that Google has often given away IP and knowledge if it makes the world more efficient which helps Google be more efficient. They bought Urchin, turned it into Google Analytics and gave it away for free. So there could be something in that too.

Lastly, Robots are just fucking cool, Google can afford to play with expensive but fun things.

Business Links – Monday December 30th 2013

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Some links that might give you some guidance or inspiration:

Purpose from David Hieatt. Linked to him numerous times. Been to a workshop of his. Very inspiring guy, this is brilliant.

And more from David Hieatt.

Outing fake quotes and then using it as a hook for your college that prides itself on studying original sources.

Who goes to work to have fun? Nice counter to the brogramming, Movembering, “serious fun” workplaces that seem to actually use fun as a more sinister form of control and use “fun” to mask other issues. Hard to make a harassment complaint when you take part in the “fun” events and those remarks about your small breasts were just in the heat of “fun”.

And on the topic of HR and issues. Netflix and HR, some interesting thoughts. And a nice dig at startups that are far too casual.

The best thing you can do for employees—a perk better than foosball or free sushi—is hire only “A” players to work alongside them. Excellent colleagues trump everything else.

Mentally strong people and what they avoid.

Dylan’s thoughts on tech in 2013. Great line:

Any company’s real business is people. Everyone is in the headhunting business, it’s simply a question of whether you realise it or not.

Vinny’s things from 2013 that he liked.

Get yourselves a startup sales play-book.

Allen Pike on “Unprofessionalism” or rather accepting that you will get cranks unhappy with whatever that you do and your choice is to accept that and move on. Succinct and valuable.

Starting a business in 2014? Some thoughts

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

The end of a year and the start of a new one is the most common time to think about changing job or starting your own company. I’ve written a lot about working for myself and taken shots (some cheap) at various industries through the years. Mostly when I write blog posts I write them for myself. Not for traffic, not to get links back but as a mechanism to put into words the various thoughts and imagery that are swirling around in my brain. Writing for me makes me understand my thinking on various topics, makes me understand myself.

I’m sure at this stage many of these are wrong but here are some posts from me on my thoughts on business and tech through the years. My favourite on this topic is the first one:

And? You can always go back to living in mediocrity.

If you’re young and want to do a tech startup, leave Ireland.

When people react in a negative way to what you’re doing, fuck em. Pork in Every Fucking Dish.

Get yourself inspired. The web will give you infinite possibilities.

Be your own hero. Stop with all those bloody business autobiographies.

Don’t hire anyone, ever.

Failed means you at least tried. Fail fast, fail cheap.

Fuck traditional things you need to have, fuck brochures, have a comic.

Just start.

You have to do public speaking, you have to do conferences, you have to do sales. So get up, sweat like a sweaty thing and get used to it. Start small and do many iterations.

Get yourself a business communications bible.