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Last weekend Mike Arrington wrote that people who blog are basically automatically associated with the companies they work for even if it the content is on their own personal blog. While I disagree overall with his view, I do believe there is one group of people to whom the association does apply. That group are CEOs, more specifically startup CEOs. I’ve written and spoken for a long time about how tools like blogs and now Twitter will ruin careers because they make it so easy to say something you regret a moment later. With today’s Internet services, a moment is all that’s needed to wish you could DVR back and change what was said.
I’ve noticed a number of startup CEOs making comments that are just out of line either about a person, a group of people, a subject, etc. I’d like to share two of the most recent comments that have been pointed towards me in the hopes that if you are a startup CEO, you will pick up some tips on things not to do. Remember, whatever you say today, will follow you forever. Think before you hit the update button.
Last week I posted a column looking at the NY Tech Meetup and what it takes to present. I used iminlikewithyou CEO Charles Forman as my example because he was one of the evening’s presenters who was able to present multiple times and was able to use slides when that’s not allowed for others. I don’t know Charles, the only interaction we’ve had was saying hello at the meetup. Charles sent me an email after my post requesting that I post his video because he wanted to see it. I obliged and posted the video for him to use an hour later.
Charles Forman, the CEO of iminlikewithyou, decided to post a comment which was picked up on Valleywag. You can read the entire comment on VW but nearly moments after his comment I began to receive emails (including from his friends) noting how horrible it was for him to use personal attacks when they weren’t warranted. Here are a couple of the things he said: — This service is now known as OMGPOP –
- If you have a problem with fairness, why aren’t you paying $20? You very realistically take up 2 seats.
- I think the real problem is that you are jealous of my ability to run a mile in under 3 days. Maybe its that I date hot girls?
- You are a sad, lonely, disgusting man. I hope you don’t die of a coronary before we have a chance to patch things up.
If I was an investor in his company, I’d be seriously concerned that this type of person is running a company with our money. Most experts note that when this type of behavior goes on outside of the company, it typically goes on inside as well. I can only imagine that if he made these types of comments to an employee, a suit could easily be filed.
Perhaps Charles should focus more on his business as from the charts below, it looks like even with all of his self-promotion, it’s gone nowhere.
Shortly after Charles posted his comment, Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis responded with with the following message, “mega-troll Allen Stern crushed by Charles Forman over a “meetup” – wow”. What that says to me is that Jason encourages this type of behavior. We’ve seen these type of attacks many times before with Jason. If you don’t write fluff posts about Mahalo, you are instantly a “hater”. Jason has said things including that the entire SEO industry is a bunch of haters, 37Signals apparently are haters and when Andrew Baron noted that Mahalo traffic was flat, he too became a hater. What does it say to the Mahalo employees, both in the U.S. and in other countries, that their leader encourages unwarranted personal attacks? With the rate of departures from Mahalo over the past few months, could it be that this behavior goes on inside the office as well?
Based on the chart below from comScore and most of the online analytics services, perhaps Jason should too focus more of his energy on Mahalo rather than encouraging this type of behavior. comScore reports Mahalo’s August U.S. visitors at 1.688 million and a decline for September to 1.383 million, about a 20% drop. Other services, Quantcast and Compete show a similar drop.
Again, my hope with this post is to get you to think about the things you say and how you act in public. Don’t say or do something that will not only hurt you today, but more importantly in the future.
Tonight was the January 2008 edition of the NY Tech Meetup. Six companies took to the stage, my comments and videos are below. I am quite disappointed that neither leader Scott nor his assistant replied either here on CN or in the mailing list to the ideas I raised. Oh well I guess. I’ve decided to provide my raw notes and immediate feedback on each startup that presented.
GoMobo lets you place an order for a fastfood joint you like online or by text message so that you can avoid the line and go directly to the pickup point. It’s a good idea, and the demo looked good but will it really save that much time? I just know that when I get to Dunkin Donuts to pick up the coffee that I just ordered, that they won’t have it ready, it will be in the wrong place, etc. They currently have 200 locations in NYC in the system and are in 8 other cities. Establishments are reporting a 5% uptick in incremental revenue. I am not sure it’s incremental since I would go to the place anyway and wait on line. This demo left me wanting to learn more, I will try to get a real interview with the team later this week.
I can’t comment on TagItOn because I have no idea what it does. The demo left me wondering what it is, does and why it’s alive. It’s not tags for content, I guess it’s like “tag you’re it”. Apparently you can friend people in different degrees and then do things with them. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine. They really need to work on this demo before they show it ever again.
You should know Gilt by now, they’ve had several posts on Silicon Alley Insider :) Founder Alexis Maybank presented the app by basically showing a bunch of half-naked women in lingerie and I guess they are all at sale prices (no, not the women). It’s all short-term sales of clothing and accessories from top designers. Basically online closeout sales. Site is kind of ugly. They have 3-4 sales a week and are adding mens clothing soon. Unfortunately Scott ended their demo at the 3:30 mark so I don’t have many more comments about it. Seems like it could work pretty well. Perhaps my stylish friend Patricia could provide more insight into Gilt Groupe. If you want a login – go to “www.giltgroupe.com/vip/nymeetup”
iminlikewithyou sure gets a lot of love from the Tech Meetup – perhaps the most I’ve seen to-date. They presented several months ago and “got away” with a flash demo and tonight they got to pimp both iminlikewithyou and their new game Tetris Blockles. I wish I could remember the name of the game that was the same as this back in 2000. I think it was on AOL but Blockles is basically a multi-player tetris. It’s very good looking. You get gems which give you superpowers and you can screw with your opponents. It’s not a new concept at all, but the iminlikewithyou crowd will eat it up like a hot Krispy Kreme. Dude from the service says current average time on site is 45 mins per day per player. Dude uses a lot of curse words for cheap crowd cheers.
Here’s the idea. You have a reservation at your favorite top-of-the-line, you ain’t getting it if you ain’t Jason Calacanis kind of place. But you can’t make it. Rather than call the place and tell them you can’t make it, you can slap your reservation up on TableXchange and make money on it! This Hannah Montana! The audience immediately asked why you couldn’t just make reservations all over town and put them on the site. I already signed up an offshore team to start making reservations in the morning. I think the idea is a good one, the execution will be the downfall of the app. It just sets itself up for abuse.
Not really sure how to explain USFirst but it’s a site that helps kids get the most out of technology. They put on various competitions — the one they showed us was from the Georgia Dome with 27,000 kids and robot technology. The group was founded by the guy who developed the Segway. Check out the video to get more about the company. They are looking for people to participate – either in time or financially.
Update: Hank Williams has a review of the evening’s demos as well.
Last week we posted a demo of iminlikewithyou’s new Flash interface. By the way, the cool cats call it, “iilwy”. Today I have come across three great overviews of the product worth sharing:
- Muhammad Saleem – Very detailed review, notes that this app is like hot or not for the web savvy. Muhammad ends the review with, “with the new design i was blown away. you can seamlessly jump from one part of the site to another without having to wait for pages to load, and every aspect of the site looks flawless.”
- Molly at DemoGirl – she has a great flash screencast of how the app works – she notes several times how iilwy is basically a way to waste time.
The service is now known as OMGPOP.
I have requested a demo at their office and will report back once confirmed. I have two invites so drop a comment if you want one. DO NOT post your email in the comment box, I will grab it from the email field. Grab invites on Mashable or Muhammad’s blog.
The last presenter of the evening at the September NY Tech Meetup was iminlikewithyou. Killer Startups reviewed this application in June. Frankly, coming out of this demo, I have close to no idea what this application does. The presenter started by saying he is very nervous and standing next to him appeared to be a model of some sort. It turns out she “won” a game on the site which allowed her to come to the Meetup. The pre-recorded demo showed us lots of pictures of women with large breasts in tight t-shirts and skimpy bikinis. I guess it doesn’t matter what your app does if you sell sex :) They seem to only want good looking people inside and have put methods in place to keep “normal” people out. In fact, the model only said a few words, but she did say that if an ugly guy keeps bidding on you, you just ignore him.
From what I can tell, you play games which give you points and those points allow you to bid on the man or woman you like. The games are also based around people. Maybe I am missing something.
I am going to attempt an on-site interview with their team in the coming days in the hopes of learning more about what the application actually does.
The service is now known as OMGPOP.
Here is the video from the demo:
map-runner.com – Ready, Set, Run
The newly launched site Map Runner sports itself as a runner’s ultimate web based companion. It consists mainly of running routes, mapped out by runners themselves. Members can post their own running tracks and they have the option to complete a personal profile with photos etc. Of course, this way, runners can collaborate, fashioning their own routes, or just simply meet up with runners like themselves. read more »
iloho.com – Access the Best in Travel
Iloho is a travel network with a specific focus on trip planning and airfare. The site, which has just launched, features travel reviews and news, discussion groups, airline route reviews and resources for trip planning. The homepage host the month’s most popular articles which include such titles as “A to Z Guid to Travel Secrets You Need to Know,” and “Adventure in Tibet”. Users are encouraged to share tips and stories about destinations and planning. read more »
SmartPageRank.com – Stats Toolbar for Firefox Users
Want to know the stats on various sites you’re browsing, but don’t want to use Internet Explorer to do it? SmartPageRank allows you to check out site stats from Firefox with their own toolbar and a whole bunch of data. Scrolling over the various categories you can find out the Alexa ranking, PageRank, the Dig PR, the availability of the domain name, Whois information, backlinks, and the value of the site. read more »
iminlikewithyou.com – A Place to Fall in Like – NOW KNOWN AS OMGPOP
i’minlikewithyou (IILWY) is the fun way to flirt online through creating games and bidding points. You start off with a certain number of points that you can increase by being active on the site. With these points you can bid on other users’ games. Games run generally from one to three days, at which time bidding is closed and the game creator picks a winner out of the top five bidders. The site gets to be addictive and you want to check out who the latest members are and what new games are starting. read more »
DesktopNexus.com – Reinvent Your Desktop
Desktop Nexus makes finding the wallpaper that you want at the correct resolution for your screen easy as pie. Browse through the various categories without having to deal with pop-ups or payments or irritating ads. You can even get a feed updating you on the latest uploaded wallpapers available. What’s really cool about this site is the fact that they will recommend to you which wallpaper dimensions you should try using first and they give you various options so as to fit your screen. read more »