Archive for the ‘business’ Category giving away 250 tickets to see Iron Man

Friday, April 11th, 2008


Iron Man

You’ve seen the trailer for Iron Man, right? No? Don’t. It might be even more fun when you see it if you don’t see any clips. But the trailers for it look really sweet. Robert Downey Jr. is so good even with facial hair that you want to pinch his cheeks.

Anyways, is a new site on the block in the entertainment space and Vincent that runs Q&A is one of the people behind it. Nice design. Nice features too. Have a looksee. I already sent Vincent my long list of wants. The carbon footprint of the printed off email will probably equate to a few trees. Their video podcast is on iTunes and YouTube and has Paul Byrne interviews famous and wantstobefamous people. 10,000 views for the latest one.

So yes, also organising an advance screening for Iron Man on April 30th and if you are a member of the site, you might get picked to come along. Details how here.

My favourite part of the site are the blogs (but you knew I’d say that) and hopefully they’ll get updated a bit more. I especially like Lenny Abrahamson’s blog (he the guy that directed Garage) and the blog post where he lays into the IFTAs and the shit organisation of them.

Yahoo! to Microsoft: Google just bought us a gimp suit, what you got?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Or is it more Good Wil Hunting. How about them Googles?

Via John Furrier.

And via Washington Post too:

Yahoo Inc. is close to announcing that it plans to carry search advertising from Google Inc. as part of a test that could lead to a broader partnership, according to people familiar with the matter.

Ok it’s a short-term limited test but with Google making more per search than Yahoo! or Microsoft it’s worth looking at to boost the coffers of Yahoo! There’ll be more than a single chair flung over this. Waiting to see the Microsoft reaction. Wonder would they really be evil and sign a long-term binding contract. Yahoo! have always been a media company so maybe it is time to just give up on search and advertising?

Obsessive much?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

I’m giving the last of my free Business Blogging Training Sessions this Saturday at the Irish Computer Society in Dublin. (After that he charges – DM’s biz manager) A big thank you to the ICS for hosting this and providing all the computers for it. This weekend I shall be wearing something additional during my presentations. My shiny new “Obsessive” badge with thanks to Castle Tuppenceworth. I was beknighted or whatever that word for the thing that gives you the thing is. I was given it for my obsession with broadband in Ireland. That old gem. I’d like to thank Dialup “Noel” Dempsey and my bud Eamon Ryan as without them this wouldn’t have been possible. Oh god I’m getting emotional here now. Choking. Up.

Thanks to Fergal and Simon for this. Keep obsessing people. It gets to John Waters and Eoghan Harris. That’s enough isn’t it?


Confirmed: Digiweb buy Novara’s hosting business and are on lookout to acquire more

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Cash deal. Makes Digiweb second biggest hoster in Ireland. Looking at more hosting and telco acquisitions. When are they going to buy that other Wireles company eh?

Some details from the press release:

· Novara’s customers include high profile organisations such as Jurys Doyle, EBS Building Society, An Bord Pleanala, A-Wear and The Department of Justice

· The deal will involve Novara’s 15,600 customers gradually moving to Digiweb’s technical infrastructure while all of Novara’s web hosting staff will join Digiweb’s hosting team. This combined hosting and managed services team will turnover in excess of €7.2m in the coming year for Digiweb and is projected to create an additional 25 highly qualified network and systems jobs in this area over the next three years.

· Though detailed terms of the transaction are undisclosed, the consideration was all cash in nature and represented a significant 7-figure sum.

· On foot of this acquisition Digiweb will become the second largest hosting company in the Irish shared hosting and domains market. On the higher value datacentre services side due to being one of few providers with new datacentre space now readily available Digiweb is also experiencing exponential growth in those services.

· Digiweb will continue to operate the highly successful brands of and

· Digiweb has been growing strongly organically in recent years, recording in excess of 100% growth many years, due particularly to high levels of referral from existing customers, and to an expanding range of products, services and national reach.

· Digiweb is now seeking to build on this organic growth through selective acquisition of complementary businesses in the Irish and UK voice, hosting and broadband industry. The company currently has a number of acquisitions under active consideration, with a view to achieving the company’s stated objective of achieving number one position in the fragmented Irish telecoms and ISP market.

Some nice customers being added to the Digiweb stable which includes one of the busiest websites in Ireland.

Fake Blogging, Ghost Blogging and your Business blog

Monday, April 7th, 2008

As a follow-up to the Blog Crisis Management post and where I offered to chat to Thinkhouse PR (they accepted btw and we chatted on Friday, nice people but I think they still hate me 🙂 ) I wanted to write my views on the idea of fake blogging, ghost blogging and so forth.

These are mostly my own opinions but I think a good deal of bloggers feel the same or roundabout the same way.

Photo owned by Todd Huffman (cc)

Blogs are about people, not faceless entities

When you read a blog you are, in a way, connecting with a person. Both smaller blogs and even the bigger blogs like BoingBoing, you are connecting with a personality and someone you can identify. Due to the high traffic of the bigger blogs and the fact that traffic = more trolls, many just block comments but the more local blogs allow you to actually converse and give feedback to the blogger and blog readers love that. I don’t have stats to back it up but I’m of the opinion that regular readers of blogs trust the bloggers more as they are conversing with a person or at least reading a human being who is willing to converse with them and respond to their feedback. As a result blog readers allow themselves to to be influenced more as the opinions they read are respected more since they respect the person.

Perhaps they are like Facebook friends to them? This is great but when a new blog comes along, talking itself up as a blog yet only allowing positive comments through and hiding behind some secret veil while promoting a specific brand, alarm bells will ring. That’s the danger for business blogs and corporate blogs. To step into the blogging arena, you have to give something up. Tell your story and who you are so the people know something about you when you join the community. Perhaps like an AA meeting. Bloggers themselves like nothing better than to blog about blogging but when they see a new blog starting or a company press releasing that they have a blog and the first entry on the blog is the press release, they get annoyed. When follow-up posts are in the same “voice” as their press release and comments or blocked or very limited, then they get angry. It’s like someone is polluting. Still, you are free to do what you wish with this blog but you could have 100s of supporters instead of knockers

From my view, if I see such a blog come along I’m thinking:

Here’s this blog, obviously promoting something yet not sharing with us anything more than how great they say their product is and when we leave comments, they’re nuked. Is there a person behind this or a team of people, why are they only broadcasting and not conversing? This is a door to door salesperson sticking their shoe into the door of our sociable meeting place.

I’m quite convinced too that most bloggers don’t care if you are a commercial entity trying to build your brand or pimp your product once you have a story to tell or want to talk about why your product rocks. Once you’re not a spammer and are interested in … word of the day! Conversing. Stormhoek, Murphy’s Ice Cream, English Cut, hell even Will it Blend? are all pimping products but they are also very entertaining.

Tip o
Photo owned by Thomas Frederick (cc)

What not to do when starting a corporate or branding blog:

  • Start a blog and be a nameless entity. Admin1 is a no no if you want to build trust. If it’s a fictional character that’s fair enough or a nom de plume but if you are a corporate, people expect a name if they are to build trust with you.
  • Blog and not allow comments. Many will think “Something to hide?”. Allow comments. This does not mean you must allow free reign or put up with repeat assholes.
  • Start a blog and not have some kind of visible comments policy. Tied to the above. Full pre-moderation ain’t great either but showing you have a policy is good if you are a company/brand.
  • Be seen to allow comments and then kill them because they were offtopic. Example:

    Comments come in telling you it’s not a real blog, and wondering if Glenda Gilson deserves any more publicity. They go up, but they’re taken down again.

  • Create a fake “person” and have them blog. A fictional character is fine – Think MR. Tayto but John QPublic of Company Ltd is a no if John doesn’t exist.
  • Hiring a copywriter who pretends to be the CEO and does it all. See, the truth will out. You will get caught eventually and then people will feel burned. The supporters you have will become your biggest attackers. Like Eoghan Harris when he jumped away from the IRA and then from Marxism and then… etc.

Photo owned by Rustybuckets (cc)

Things to do:

  • Remember you are joining a community, behave as such.
  • Before you launch, solicit opinions from a cross-section of bloggers. Mark the blog as private and give some bloggers access. Get their opinions and guidance.
  • Get a staff member to blog if you find someone passionate enough. They do not need to be the CEO.
  • Company full of mumblers? Hire a passionate outsider but explicitly state that’s what they are. Let them work as the community manager.
  • It’s fine to edit and clean the writing of an employee or CEO. Sub-editors are fine. Ghost writers are not. Know the difference.
  • Allow comments but don’t allow a free for all.
  • Guide the comments. If a comment is off-topic, say so and bring people back to what the comment is. Try and answer the off-topic comment elsewhere like via email.
  • Visit other blogs and leave comments.

Ghost Dogs
Photo owned by Terminalnomad Photography (cc)

More on Ghostblogging:
It’s done and it seems some crowds in Ireland offer it as a service. If you’re a company and you hire someone to do this then what does it say about your company? It just shows that you only want a blog because you were told it was good for business without understanding why or there are more priorities in the company than passionately talking about it. I’d be more concerned with the company and where it’s going if that’s the case. Forget a blog. As I said earlier, hiring a community manager type of thing is fine as that person will eventually find some good natural bloggers in your org and he or she is just tarting up the story you dictate anyway. These are evangelists. Also they are going to be good at self-regulating themselves if they have half a clue. If they end up just writing ficiton they too will be found out and that’s their rep ruined in a very public way. Nobody will trust a community manager that suffers from Stockholm syndrome. The BBC has a bit more on this.

There are dozen more tips that I’m sure people could provide too. These were some of mine.

Angles and those that can see them

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Security professionals — at least the good ones — see the world differently. They can’t walk into a store without noticing how they might shoplift. They can’t use a computer without wondering about the security vulnerabilities. They can’t vote without trying to figure out how to vote twice. They just can’t help it.

Bruce Schneier in Wired

This is a love letter to Irish entrepreneurs like Pat Phelan, Johnny Beirne and Denis O’Brien (but not in the gay for them kind of way) and to people like Richard Branson. While I know Pat and Johnny well enough and don’t know Denis at all and certainly not like Sarah does I think the way they see the world as well as Mr. Branson is different to most people. O’Brien has shown again and again annnnnd again that he has an eye for opportunities and the vision to make them massive successes. Look at the Digicell empire he’s built when so many thought he could never tame the Caribbean and South American markets. He owns radio stations, taxi firms, football managers and job websites here in Ireland. Branson, well, Branson is into everything and doing very nicely thank you very much.

Orange Phone
Photo owned by hyku (cc)

Then there’s Mr. Phelan, now whether it’s the informal engaging attitude from him or maybe I’ve not met enough Irish business people but Pat is different. You talk to Pat about anything and he can see patterns and shapes in businesses so that he’ll find ways of making money from something that you would never see and I’ve not encountered much of that with Irish business people. From Chef to O2 voodoo doll material to big boss of MaxRoam and someone well regarded in Telecoms 2.0 circles.

And Johnny too, worked his ass off to build and kept going and pushing with that and along the way coming up with other ideas for other businesses and services and he’s far from finished. Pat and Johnny and the Collisons too! are of the Schneier breed, of the O’Brien breed, of the Branson breed, people that sees angles in things and they make them visible to the rest of us. They’ll never stop being like that, Pat’s busy flying all around the world but he’s already working on other pet projects and I’m sure he’ll do the same for the rest of his life. Johnny is the same with Grapevine and Patrick created an offline version of Wikipedia for the iPhone.

TV Testing Room
Photo owned by The Consumerist (cc)

In Schneier’s article he goes on to talk about a University that’s teaching people to think like a security consultant. It’s not a course on security but the security mindset. Do we have anything close to that in Ireland for business? Not exactly “Think Differently” since Apple fuzzied that one up but some kind of creative business planning classes. Is this why those business book shelves are so chock full of autobiographies as it shows you how others thought? Can this be thought or is it a natural gift that can just be coaxed out of someone and polished?

Patrick and John Collison on Late Late Show tonight

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Tune in to see their interview with Pat.

Meanwhile here’s a Q&A I did with Patrick earlier in the week:

So what will you and the other lads be doing with Live Current in Vancouver?
I’ll be overseeing the engineering side of things generally, and working with all of the individual product teams to get design, infrastructure, etc., done right. Harj and Kul will head the development of different products, and oversee the creation of the next batch of successful products for Live Current.

You were mostly based in Silicon Valley though of late worked out of Vancouver too. What are the differences between them in terms of tech culture and culture in general?
Obviously, the biggest difference is that Vancouver can’t even begin to compare with the size of the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem — and this impacts culture in everything from fundraising to hiring. More generally, though, Silicon Valley is very single-minded and growth-driven, whereas Vancouver tech folks seem to take life a bit easier. Perhaps because of that, they tend to have a slightly longer-term vision. Both lifestyles have their attractions.

Is this the end of 23 hour days for Patrick Collison, I really can’t see it to be honest.
Judging from things so far, I think any answer other than “no” would be some sort of clinical denial.

With your new free time what do you have planned?

I’ve always loved the idea of learning to fly (I was really disappointed to read that the airfield at Coonagh in Limerick is to close). So I’ll hopefully do some of that.

You routed around the “system” in Ireland and went to the States to build Auctomatic. Is it much easier to build a tech company over there even if you are a blow in from Ireland compared to being a native here in Ireland and setting it up?

Without a doubt. You’ve got to be careful here — on hearing this line, people will always say, “but look at successful Irish tech startup X”. Yes, there are successful startups here (and they deserve a lot of credit). But, with that said, I think it’s almost unarguable that it’s easier to build a successful tech company in the US. Things like the huge pool of talent, easy access to funding, chance meetings, and so on, are all mostly absent in Ireland.

People usually dislike this criticism because it seems unpatriotic. I don’t think it is. Nobody (that I know) is saying that Ireland _can’t_ match Silicon Valley — just that we need to do much more. Ireland certainly has its own unique advantages, and addressing some of our shortfalls could make a big difference very quickly.

Teenagers and early twenties entrepreneurs powering all the innovations on the web or that’s what it looks like. Do you think your age and not being tied down is an advantage?

The lack of responsibilities and commitments is certainly a big advantage. I don’t think youth per se makes a huge difference, but anyone who has mortgage payments, kids, etc., will certainly have to think more carefully about risky opportunities — and probably forgo some that might have led to big things.

How many random girls will now start adding you to Facebook, do you think?

I’m still waiting. It’s all just a matter of time… right?

Blog Crisis Management – How to deal with the restless natives of Irish Blogging

Friday, March 28th, 2008

This is rather rich coming from the person that’s been at the centre of many of these blog storms but anyway. No better asshole expert I suppose.

It’s not just Mulley that’s a loudmouth online and that can become an issue for companies and as blogs influence search engine results and online opinion, it can become quite damaging for a company even if what they rant about is true. You can however combat a crib turning into a riot and do it quite easily and transparently.

Photo owned by seesix (cc)
Are you listening?
If a blogstorm happens, you should not be hearing about it via a reporter or a staffer who gets forwarded an email. Why not listen? It’s free and can be managed easily enough. Use Google Alerts, Google Blogsearch, Technorati or Bloglines Alerts to monitor your company name, your company website address and all your product names. Get even more paranoid and set up alerts for board members and directors too if you want.

Google Alerts

Not only should you be looking at outside sources, you should ideally have a space on your own site (maybe a blog!) where people can come along and leave comments. If they leave comments there at least you will see them faster and will be a little more comfortable as they are on a site that you have ownership of.

The monitoring is good for a few reasons, two obvious ones are that it can tell you who is talking about you as well as the volume of discussion online about you or your products. Both very important metrics.

looking for..
Photo owned by Mac Babs – Bárbara Bessa. (cc)
I see you baby
Now that you see people talking about you, you need to respond. Why on earth would you let the thing build and possibly become over-exaggerated? It might be scary to wade into what you think is a hornets nest of complaints but if you do it right (forgive the continuance of the analogy) you won’t get stung. First of all if there is a great volume of chatter over whatever crisis, then you need to read them all, consider them, read them all and then go straight to the source and comment there. I’ll go into the tone on how to address the matter at hand further down. Once you have left a comment you should then go to other bloggers that are chattering about the issue and give shorter commentary on them there and link back to the central blog where you gave the long explanation. Suggest you will answer questions there, that way you are centralising the discussion and containing it, even if it is not on your space. One place is better than 9, right?

The calm guiding hand
Tone, attitude and a sense of humour are important for these things while keeping your focus to reach the goal of helping those that are reacting. There is no need to add fuel by attacking who attacked or criticised you. Take blame if you screwed up. Don’t bullshit. It won’t work on blogs. Simply reacting can calm the blog storm to a great deal. Bloggers can shout and roar and the minute they feel you are listening to them, they’ll calm. (Yeah there are exceptions) Most bloggers will appreciate that you’re at least listening, that’s pretty important. Start with a thank you for their opinion and acknowledge that something must have gone wrong if they’re so annoyed. Point out that happy customers are crucial to the business if you want repeat custom etc. If as mentioned above there are multiple sources of this storm, suggest/request to this blogger who is the source that you’ll address all issues here on this space, with their permission, besides the conversation scattering all around the net. The blogger themselves would probably appreciate that.
Figure out with all the various feedback what went wrong and point out areas that need further investigation and what can be fixed.

Attitude includes how you leave the comment. Sign your real name and leave a real contact address. Do not come on the blog as an entity like BigCoRep, come on as John S from BigCo. Explain your situation and what you on behalf of the company can do right now and in future to make sure it won’t happen again. Thank the person for making this issue more widely known. Leave a link to email address so that you can be contacted again for this or any other issue.

Vernon Drive Grocery
Photo owned by SqueakyMarmot (cc)
Addressing an issue is not one to one
Sorting out the issue the blogger has is of most importance and addressing them about their issue should be done in the same place where they complained about it. Their blog. But consider that you are not on the phone to this person when they are complaining. They are in effect inside in your store complaining and the store is full of potential customers. Remember this when you react and try and sort their problem. There are dozens more pretending to look around this “store” when they’re really pricking their ears and listening in. You are not just addressing the issue of a single customer. You are also telling many more potential customers than you give a damn. Your retail space/store is no longer in one physical location, the register might be but your retail space is the whole Internet these days. Behave and react as such. And then there’s Google acting like an instant replay from now til eternity. That blog post and your reactions to it are not just about who read it today but about who will read it next week, next month and next year. Google will bring people to that blog until Google disappears.

La la la la, I can’t hear you
So what if they don’t listen? What if they won’t let you leave a comment? Well first be proud that you made the effort. You should have a copy of the comment you left (having a blog and posting it there would be really handy now wouldn’t it?) Well anyhow, you can still leave it on the other blogs if after a while it is obvious the central blog in the storm is not going to play the game. Of course you can always try and leave the comment again as the spam software could have eaten it. False positives are not as rare as they should be. Another thing that can happen is the person does not appreciate your feedback and the effort you are trying to make. Then they are just doing all of this for the kick and not to get something sorted. But that’s fair enough too because again, your behaviour if beyond reproach will be seen by everyone else as being so or a chunk of them. Seeing some bloggers in the past keep attacking when the “offending” party has tried to make amends I’ve noted the comments become a lot less supportive of them and more of “dude, they said they’re sorry and they’ve gone above and beyond”. See, people are rational even with chaos or storms happening.

Mr Camerahead (9/52)
Photo owned by timparkinson (cc)
There’s always one
Sometimes you might end up getting one of these obsessive types that for whatever reason decides to become your biggest critic and will rant and rave about you til the cows come home. It is futile to deal with people like that, you’ll learn that after the first attempt and it should be you last attempt. Shit happens, so do trolls. Luckily enough they are few and far between and you’ll find nobody pays them attention and even if a potential customer finds their ranting they’ll be logic enough to have the nutter alarm go off in their head.

Critics of blogging in Ireland have complained that the Irish blogging scence is awfully chummy and people are far too nice and civil to each other. True, the smallness means people are very friendly but what you’ll find is people also stick up for each other a lot too. You might just find that other bloggers out there could have your back without any coaxing whatsoever just because they consider you part of this community. (Are you getting the subtle start a blog suggestions?)

I hope that’s been of help for those wondering how to deal with the storms that can happen now and then. It’s actually not hard work to see who is talking about you and you know what? It can be very rewarding because if you’re a good company with good servuce you’ll see you’re being talked up more than being talked down. So don’t see the listening as a way of finding out the bad, it can be quite affirming too and don’t forget to also pop on by to those leaving positive comments and let them know you appreciate it.

There’ll be two follow up posts to this, one will deal with fake blogging and how not to irk the noisy natives. What’ll the other post be about eh? I hope this was useful to you. Thanks for reading and consuming. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Photo owned by haniela (cc)

Business talks/events coming up in April ’08

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Public Dialogue with Mick Wallace:Thursday, 24th April at 8pm.
Venue: Lecture Theatre Q015, Quinn School of Business, UCD

Doing Business Differently

How do ethical, political or moral obligations combine with business? Can we do business ‘differently’?

Mick Wallace, builder, developer, and philanthropist will be joined by Sara Burke, journalist, for a discussion on the subject of engaging in socially responsible projects and actions in business. This is a public dialogue, and there will be opportunity for audience members to take part in the discussion. The evening will end with a wine reception, to which you are all invited to attend.

This event is jointly run by the Equality Studies Centre within UCD’s School of Social Justice, and the Quinn School of Business.

First Tuesday -April 1st

First Tuesday on April 1st will include a panel of prominent Irish entrepreneurs and there will also be an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch.

‘Call for entrepreneur’s seeking investment’

Confirmed panelists for April 1th include:

Guy Johnston – ETM

* John Dennehy – Entrepreneur/investor
* Terry Clune –
* Sean Gallagher – Smarthomes
* Ashley Glover – Research and Markets

If you are interested in pitching please contact David Neville

Date: Tuesday April 1st
Venue: The Radisson SAS Hotel, Golden Lane, D8
Registration: 6-6.30pm Event will finish before 9pm
Cost: euro50

I’m an Ambassador

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Ferrero Rocher, think of Ferrero Rocher. No don’t! Nooo. Too late.

The Princess Bride, Fishy Fishy, the Ivory Tower, O’Connaill’s chocolate, Pat Phelan, Sigur Ros, His Dark Materials, John Blackbourn, All About my Mother, Fight Club, blogging.

Those are just some of my favourite things. Er. Ignore the musical reference. I’m sure it’s not just me that loves something so much or the work of someone so much that I try and introduce other people to it/them. Movies, restaurants, chocolate, music, people, communications etc. There are just some products and people out there that you want others to enjoy too. For selfish reasons of course. You will always get a kick out of introducing someone to something or someone that causes a positive reaction or instantly gives them value where there was none before.

Shane mentions a prequel to His Dark Materials and I made a comment on how I give that trilogy as a present to someone every Christmas. It’s great to give such a wonderful creation to someone and they themselves get such a kick from it and maybe pass it on again to someone. My best friends and I are a bit obsessed about the Princess Bride and every now and again when someone mentions they haven’t seen it, we as a group all go “oooh” in unison and talk it up. Maybe this is the kick cult members get when they ensnare someone into their religion? But enough about members of Fine Gael.

Ferrero Rocher
Photo owned by Al- Fassam [ Online! 😀 ] (cc)

There are a good few other things that excite me enough to turn into an ambassador for them and no not the ugh Brand Ambassador type. What things excite you enough to get you gushing and all ambassadorial? (Imagine making products that do this?)