Most Popular Hobbies

I am helping a company create a list of the most popular hobbies in North America and am finding it extremely frustrating. I may have to visit a library and check out some back issues of American Demographics magazine to find some good data.

Here's what I found so far online about just one hobby, coin collecting:

New LinkedIn Feature

Finally! I have been sending and receiving 100-200 emails per day for several years now, and it has always been frustrating for me that Outlook provides no easy way for me to turn incoming emails (or outgoing emails) into Contacts. LinkedIn.com is now offering a free Outlook plug-in tool that does just that. I just ran the "collecting contacts" feature on my current and archived email lists and it came back with several hundred old contacts with whom I am no longer in touch.

EContent Magazine

My wife always laughs at me when I talk about my masters degree program in Library Science. She imagines me working in a library. (I LOVE libraries BTW). It only lasted for 1 semester because my CD-ROM publishing company really started taking off and needed my full-time attention. But I learned some valuable things while in the program. One of the main things was becoming familiar with a few of the major publishers and publications in the library market.

Information Today is one such company. It has many good publications. One that I love and read cover to cover is EContent. The readership is probably fairly small, but the articles are well written and I love the research. It's all about search, content business models, content management, news feeds, subscription databases, search engines, RSS feeds, XML, digital rights, syndication, and more. I learn here about companies that rarely get covered in the main stream technology press.

Brightmail files for IPO

A 4-year old anti-spam company with only $26 million in fiscal 2004 revenue and very slight profits has decided to go public. This will really test how ready the markets are for smaller IPOs. This is a major growth industry, to be sure, but the company doesn't have the revenues you expect these days.

Here is an excerpt from their S-1, filed today:

Open Source Business Conference 2004

I just returned from an amazing conference in San Francisco where I gained a much greater appreciation of the accelerating shift away from closed-source proprietary software to open source software and web services that provide value-add on top of a free technology stack, sometimes called the LAMP stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PhP. I was impressed by many things about the conference, including its business tone and convincing statistics about adoption rates of open source, but two talks stood out for me.

“Jump Start Your Business Brain” by Doug Hall

Doug Hall says you should focus on one "overt" benefit and not try to be all things to all people. The book states that "analysis of four thousand concepts indivdates that the greater the number of benefits promised, the lower your chances of success." People talk about writing marketing copy that emphasizes the benefits and not the features. But Hall goes one step farther: focus on a single, overt benefit. "The more you focus on doing one thing great, the greater your probability of success." He asks why people choose particular restaurants. Usually it's because they are famous for one dish or specialty. Great restaurants don't try to be all things to all people. In my case that's true. The main reason I ever want to go to Ruby River is for their giant coconut shrimp with orange marmelade sause.

Blue Nile files for IPO

Seattle-based Blue Nile, an e-commerce diamond seller, has filed for its IPO. The company had revenues of $129 million in 2003 and operating income of more than $11 million. Imagine that: another profitable e-commerce company, this one selling diamonds and jewelry, with an operating margin of more than 8%. The bubble burst because of over-investment, but the internet�works incredibly well for well conceived e-commerce, content, and advertising business models.

Terms Sheets & Valuations

I'm reading (it's about time) a great 100 page book called "Terms Sheets & Valuations: An Inside Look at the Intricacies of Term Sheets & Valuations" by an east coast venture capitalist. It is outstanding. I wish I would have read this book five years ago before we (MyFamily.com) raised our first $12 million Series A round. I'm not sure it would have changed the subsequent events, but at least I would have had my eyes open going into business with venture capitalists. I agree with this quote by Murray B.

Albertsons Suppliers Must Participate in RFID

Newsflash. Radio-frequency identification technology has yet another major backer. Albertsons Inc., the $36 billion food and drug retailer, said Friday that its top 100 suppliers must participate in its RFID program by April 2005. Source: Techweb

I'm very interested in doing a startup in the RFID space. If all suppliers to major retailers have to use RFID technology within just a few years, there is a very large opportunity in this space. I'm going to start looking around for startups in this space.

Marchex IPO

I'm watching with interest the planned IPO of Marchex, Inc., a Seattle-based company started by the Russ Horowitz gang�-- the founders of Go2Net. These guys are excellent business aggregators. They make acquisitions and weave them�into a large, scalable business. Marchex is seeking $28 million (revised downward from their November S-1). Last year's revenues were about $22 million. Most of it came from Ah-ha.com, a company that MyFamily.com once acquired and owned briefly.