E070: with Brian Alvey

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This week we have Brian Alvey, CEO of Crowd Fusion. For more information, show notes, and an upcoming schedule, go to www.thisweekin.com.

00:00:45 Jason is taking his first week long vacation in the Catskill Mountain in Upstate NY since starting Mahalo next week

00:01:30 Brian is the first guest to be asked back for a second time while he works with customers of Crowd Fusion in the LA area, one of which is a top 50 media site

00:03:00 Brian introduced Jason to Fflick which brings movies to Twitter but it’s all about execution. The ultimate test when investing in a company is would you use the product? Like Blippy and Rapportive who brings CRM to your email

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00:07:00 Ask JasonJohn CecchettiniSimpleCTMS – What should a startup do when a competitor starts throwing stones right away?

00:09:00 Answer – First, is the competitor bigger and more established than you or are they smaller? The person is high profile and outspoken person in the community and is trying to make a competing app that isnt released yet. If they are bigger you are fighting up, not down, don’t ever fight down. You could say you are thrilled at the attention you are being given on your groundbreaking product and you appreciate the feedback and feel that you are on track with these 3 features and encourage the person to continue to provide feedback while you gain marketshare. In this case everyone probably knows he is a d-bag but you should pretend he’s not. It’s not taking the highroad but you are making them appear as a troll and thank them for the free advice.

00:13:00 Brian – has seen Jason perfect this approach by raising his own visibility but attacking someone bigger. It’s important to note that people probably haven’t seen the criticism and it will disappear if you don’t make a big deal about it and comment

00:14:00 Tyler – You guys nailed it, when it’s happening to you, you have all the emotions that go along with it. Try to sit back and remove yourself from the situation and analyse things.

00:14:45 Jason – Also use it as a motivational tool for your employees

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00:18:00 Ask Jason – Ray Chan Chin Ching – We want to sell ads on our site but we don’t know which ad network to use or what format to allow, what should we do?

00:19:45 Answer – All ad networks suck equally, they tend to have terrible inventory and sell to the worst advertisers, it feels like a pump and dump. Their are a few high profile companies like Federated Media but even their customers feel the same. If you are going to be a publisher you need to invest in 3 things: content, technology and a sales team. Focus on selling directly and forming the relationships yourself. Is the site generic or in a vertical? Generic sites are harder to sell but you could focus on a few high CPM or affiliate products and create the content around those products where the ad almost becomes part of the content.

00:23:45 Brian – You are right about ad networks, keep it relevant, work distribution deals, try synching your ads with your audience

00:27:00 Tyler – Some startups are targeting behavior.

00:27:30 Jason – Like Tacoda but it doesn’t work too well

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00:31:30 Shark TankSam HowleyCustomerCradle – Google analytics for offline businesses, it’s a marketing conversion tracking system. It helps you tell which advertisement campaigns are working and which employee converts the best.

00:34:30 Feedback – Excellent pitch, you took the full minute and at no point did it drag but the website needs a little bit of work

00:36:10 Brian – the pitch was great, my question is how does it work, what is the capturing method?

00:37:00 Sam – Capturing takes place on the website or on a systems tray application

00:37:30 Jason – Can you integrate it into products like what 37signals has?

00:37:45 Sam – Not at the moment but we have discussed that

00:38:00 Jason – Integration will be key to your success, people do not want to have all their information spred across multiple apps

00:39:30 Tyler – Platinum status pitch, tieing in deeper analytics on top of the point of sale would be nice.

00:43:00 The News with Lon Harris

00:43:30 We put the Skype logo in the top right corner, they ask for it in their TOS

00:43:50 Google Voice Recognition for Android – Google has unveiled a new voice recognition feature for the latest Android phones. The new application, Voice Actions, allows people to tell their phones verbal instructions for things like sending e-mails, making calls, getting directions or playing music. The free app is so far available only for Android 2.2 and will come preloaded on Motorola and Verizon Droid 2 phones. Many Android phones already had the ability to search the Internet via voice command.

Android phones, taken as a category, already outpace iPhones. Think that trend will continue? Will we see Apple’s purchase of Siri – a “personal assistant” software company that also worked with voice-command technology – become more crucial in the coming months as they now have to compete with Voice Actions?

00:44:35 Feedback – Something has to happen because people are texting too much whil e driving, it’s an important issue. I think we will see a lot more legislation around this. It’s possibly a way for Google to own mobile search. It’s like the accessibility issue like blindness, everyone at times wants to communicate but can’t type. Jason doesn’t see it as a major game changer

0051:45 Oracle Sues Google – Oracle issued a press release on Thursday saying it had filed suit against Google for infringing on copyrights and patents related to Java. Oracle, of course, acquired Java when it purchased Sun Microsystems earlier this year. They’re claiming Google “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property” with its release of Android software. Furthermore, they’re claiming that Java is a mobile operating system competitor against Android, and Google is using elements of Java technology without a license. The lawsuit further alleges that Google knowingly hired former Sun Java engineers in an effort to infringe on copyrights and patents.

Google’s representatives said they could not comment before fully reviewing the lawsuit. For background, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was part of the team that developed Java at Sun before becoming CEO of Novell and later Google. Other members of the Google management team played a significant role in Java’s development back in the ’90s.

Thoughts on this? Is this a case of Google actually behaving inappropriately, or the way that patents work being woefully out of date for how technology actually comes together?

00:52:45 Feedback – The issue here is Java needs to be open source, they have different flavors that are but the core needs to be open. It’s probably not a good idea because Google will just create some alternative

00:54:10 Deadpool: TweetMeme – Twitter introduced their own version of the “Tweet” button this week for websites to encourage people to share their content on Twitter. In doing so, Twitter is actually licensing some of the technology developed by TweetMeme, which has been offering their own “Retweet” button for a long time now, even though they designed the actual Tweet button entirely in house.

TweetMeme Pro will live on for websites that want customized Twitter analytics, but the company is now going to refocus on a new product called Datasift that curates various realtime streams.

The new Tweet button has another feature, actually – it can allow the owners of websites to suggest Twitter accounts for readers to follow.

Think Twitter handled this well? Does making a deal with TweetMeme, rather than straight-up taking the idea and running with it, encourage developers to innovate and build new products around Twitter? Or will this discourage third-party developers from working in the Twitter ecosystem, for fear that their ideas will just be absorbed?

00:55:00 Feedback – People at one point thought that they could create businesses on top of someone else’s platform but I warned many times it’s not advisable and if you do you will always be looking over your shoulder. Zynga maybe the only successful one to do this but they branched out to different platforms to protect itself

01:01:45 Airstrip Gets Funded – San Antonio startup Airstrip creates mobile software that allows doctors to monitor their patients’ data, such as vital signs, from anywhere through their smartphones. The company’s “Observer” suite includes apps that focus on cardiology, critical care and lab work. The FDA approved the app last month. Now, they have announced that they have closed a round of financing from Sequoia Capital for an undisclosed sum.

The idea here is not only that doctors will save time with these devices – not having to be “on call” at a hospital to get test results back, or able to be more flexible in how they treat patients – but also that patients can have tests done from home. For example, if you think you have sleep apnea, normally you’d need to spend a night in a lab; now, you could be monitored whiel you rest comfortably at home.

I know we’ve discussed the caginess generally around investing in medical technology startups, but does this sound like a good investment to you? What’s the quickest route to monetizing this technology?

01:02:40 Feedback – Brillant idea, well done Sequoia, call centers in India will be doing this soon, rich people will want their health monitored. The question is how much is too much?

01:06:00 WePay Raises $7.5 Million – Y Combinator backed startup WePay has raised a $7.5 million Series B round led by Highland Capital Partners. The startup had previously attracted a high-profile roster of angels, including Ron Conway, Davd McClure and Max Levchin.

WePay is a billing system, much like PayPal, with the crucial difference that it allows for “group paying.” Unlike PayPal, you don’t get one account that’s tied to your previously-established bank account. Instead, you can set up a variety of FDIC-insured accounts to which you can invite other individuals, all totally separate from your main personal accounts. There’s also the option to use a WePay VISA prepaid card. Among the “groups” the site is appealing to are girl scout troops, fantasy football leagues and timeshare owners.

The site earns money by charging a 3.5% transaction fee. The plan with the new funds is to staff up and start encouraging more sites to incorporate the WePay API into their service.

What’s the stop PayPal from just adopting this same system? Think WePay has a chance competing against the PayPal online payment juggernaut?

01:07:00 Feedback – This is like Kickstarter for everybody, it helps groups like fraternities or book clubs raise money. One good example is parents raising money at the end of the year to buy a teacher a gift.

01:09:15 Google Ventures reportedly invests in Apple game maker Ngmoco

01:10:10 Empire Avenue – Canadian startup Empire Avenue has raised a $200,000 seed round from a group of angel investors. The site assigns everyone an “influence score” based on their social media presence and then allows users to “buy and sell shares” of one another. Your influence score is your share price, measured in the site’s virtual currency, Eaves. Everything from posting a photo to Flickr, tweeting, getting blog comments or getting people to buy your Empire Avenue shares makes your stock price go up.

The site plans to use the funds towards its rewards and advertising programs.

Thoughts on the “social influence analytics” space? Think this has more promise than Klout or similar systems that have sprung up previously? Is all of this “measuring social influence” stuff just a fad or is there a real business here?

01:11:15 Feedback – the idea has been done before and the score can always be gamed and it really doesn’t matter. It cannot be a single score, multiple scores are needed for areas of expertise

01:14:30 Internet Explorer 9 Beta is Coming! – Microsoft has announced that it will launch the IE 9 Beta at an event celebrating “The Beauty of the Web” in San Francisco on September 15th.

Anything specific you’re expecting? Can MSFT possibly catch up to Chrome and Firefox at this point?

01:14:50 Feedback – Yes, they can get better but they don’t focus on the browser for some reason, speed is critical and they don’t have that down yet

01:17:40 No show next week.

01:19:54 END

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