For the first time ever I just deleted a blog post. I got up at 4 am, flew to Oakland, drove to Santa Rosa, spent the day with the YackPack team, and then drove back to the airport, where my flight was delayed for 2 hours (wind problems), and so, while waiting for my flight, I posted something about Alan Kay’s lecture last week and how people today aren’t taught to think and then I went off on something about how smart our ancestors were. I was pretty hammered after a long day and not in a great mood, so my post didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Then I got an email on my blackberry with a comment from a good friend who challenged my argument, and I got to thinking about it, and I decided my post was really quite a thoughtless one, not backed up by any research or scholarship at all, so I decided to retract it. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. But I’ll put some more thought into this subject and post something later that is more substantial.
I guess this is kind of like repenting for a blogger.
On the heels of my interview with Daily Herald Business Editor Grace Leong, I found this news interesting today: Lenova announced that it is selling PCs outside of China.
I think we in the US should brace ourselves (psychologically) for the possibility that Chinese computer manufacturer Lenova, the #3 PC manufacturer in the world behind Dell and HP, will continue to gain market share and could eventually become the #1 computer manufacturer in the world.
I think Dell and HP are great companies and would stay on top if the majority of PCs were purchased in the U.S. long term, but the business and consumer demand for PCs in Asia (particularly in China itself, Lenovo’s home turf) will grow at a much faster pace than western demand.
But according to the People’s Daily Online, Lenovo’s revenues were recently lower than forecast and Dell and HP are competing aggressively in Asia.
So this will be a very interesting fight to watch over the next few years.
I’m definitely looking forward to hearing Dell CEO Kevin Rollins speak at the BYU Management Society breakfast in Salt Lake City next month.
You can visit pages.google.com to sign up for a simple web page creation tool. You get 100 MB of free storage space for whatever web pages you build. Google hosts them for free also.
I tried to sign up, but they’ve already limited access during the beta test period.
With thousands of employees at Google spending 20% of their time working on a pet project, we will continue to see new services rolling out of Google like a flood.
It’s not part of a big top-down world domination strategy on the part of Google’s founders. I heard Larry Page say at his CES Keynote that his ability to predict what Google is going to do next is zero. It’s just part of a massively well funded and empowering and innovative world changing business culture.
I think Google will be the world’s leading innovation machine for many years.
Google’s unprecedented empowerment of thousands of smart engineers, and its ability to fund hundreds of promising projects and then to roll the best ones out with virtually no marketing expense to hundreds of millions of users worldwide will enable Google to get into scores of information, advertising and software businesses, all under one umbrella.
The recent Google sell-off is likely just a temporary blip, since long term this company will be wildly successful as the world’s leading information company.
Yesterday was busy and productive.
In the morning we held an LDSMedia.com meeting with Deseret Book. We have a great partnership with them. The new LDSMedia.com web site is coming along nicely. By next week it will be nearly ready for prime time. We’ve added some free clip art and are making it possible for our content acquisition team to identify and index great LDS audio and video content anywhere on the web and easily include it in our search results. Our goal here is to launch the "LDS Google," with instant access to all content (and all content types) of interest to Latter-Day Saints. (There are about 12 million LDS/Mormons in the world.) Actually, it’s won’t really be the LDS Google because we aren’t planning to index tons of web sites, just the ones that have the best and richest LDS content.
Later in the morning, I had a great phone call with Wendy Bird, a Utah entrepreneuress (I’m not the only person to use this word) who runs My Princess Pearls with a passion. I gave her some advice about term sheets and valuations. In fact, I recommended the book "Term Sheets and Valuations", a must have for entrepreneurs.
Then I spoke for about an hour and a half with the Daily Herald Business editor Grace Leong about Provo Labs, my experience as the co-founder of Ancestry.com and MyFamily.com, and my general outlook on the high tech industry and global competition. She had just interviewed Stephen Covey and at one point flattered me by saying I had answered one of her questions in the same way that he did. That felt good! He apparently feels, as I do, that the United States has become somewhat complacent because of our 20th century economic prosperity and our general feeling of superiority, but the reality is that the world, particularly India and China, are increasing their productivity and skills at such an extraordinary pace that we will find ourselves in second place in many areas in the coming years. (In fact, in many areas, we already are in second place, or in education, way down in the rankings.) A recent Wired magazine article showed a chart on the number of scientific papers published each year in major languages. Mandarin is quickly catching up to English.
Our workforce need to be humble enough to learn best practices from leading companies from all over the world. I recommend "India Unbound", "China, Inc.", "The World is Flat", and "The Only Sustainable Edge." I also have the biography of the leader of Singapore, but haven’t read that yet.
I’m *very hopeful* that Provo Labs and DevUtah can sponsor a mixer in the next month or two and invite Amy Lewis (runs a 350 person business process outsourcing company in Delhi, India), Jayson Ahlstrom (Update Now, Inc.), and Nathan Gwilliam from Arizona (helps companies with what he calls insourcing) and Danny Sullivan (not the search engine watch guy), who helps companies in the U.S. hire workers in the Philippines. I’d like to see 50-100 attendees to learn from these folks (or perhaps others) about the best way to do offshoring.
Our Provo Labs content acquisition team met with our attorney where we discussed the need for a system for generating license agreements. We will soon have 4 full time content acquisition team members. And we hope to be entering into hundreds of license agreements in the coming years. So we are building a system for generating and managing those contracts. We also have an engineer who will help us build an automated royalty payments system.
Two of us have experienced the nightmare of manually processing web log files and generating hundreds of royalty checks at the end of each quarter: me at Ancestry.com and Mark Elder at Infospace. So we are designing a system that will make royalty and ad-sharing calculations every day. This has to be easy to manage.
In the afternoon, I had a board meeting with one of the non-profits that am helping.
So it was a pretty packed day. Today I’m in Salt Lake most of the day (for a meeting at the U of U and also a meeting with Jim Wall, publisher of the Deseret News) and tomorrow I’ll be a preliminary judge at the BYU business plan competition.
Alan Kay is speaking in Salt Lake on Thursday. I would go hear him in a heartbeat if I weren’t judging a business plan competition at BYU on Thursday. Alan is one of the pioneers of the computer industry, having worked at Xerox Park from 1970-1980, then Atari, Disney, and HP. He got a Ph.D. from the University of Utah in computer science.
Don’t miss the chance to learn from one of the great computer scientists of our time.
I have never been to DEMO, but it is well known that many of the greatest companies of our time were launched there. (List a few)
But I’ve recently watched all the videos from presenters at DEMO 2006. Here are my comments about them. My notes to specific Provo Labs employees are in brackets.
Kaboodle. This is a socially driven comparison shopping engine. I like the data harvesting method which employs a single click to send a product page to your Kaboodle page, which you can then share with friends.
[Richard: we should do a 1-click approach like this when we are harvesting content (images, audio, and video) for our LDSMedia.com site. It could be integrated into the new toolbar we are going to be distributing or it could work like the Press It feature on WordPress, the blogging software that I use.]
Dennis Wood (director of human capital for vSpring) has a great article in the recent Connect magazine about executive recruiting and hiring right.
Dennis is a star. He is the most LinkedIn person in Utah (he passed me a long time ago) and in his article he discusses how he recently used LinkedIn to land a CTO for a vSpring portfolio company.
I remember a year or year and a half ago trying for a full hour over lunch to convince Paul Ahlstrom about the value of LinkedIn.com. He remained stubbornly unconvinced. So now it is great to see his own human capital director endorsing it for all startup companies as a great way to recruit!
I have also been unsuccessful most of the time in convincing CEOs and VCs to start blogging.
The social networking value of a blog is extremely high. I get contacts nearly every week from smart people around that world that comment on my blog or email me directly. Most of our Provo Labs job applicants come from people who read our blogs and feel a connection to the way we think and to what we are doing.
So Dennis, if you’re reading, please start a vSpring human capital blog, then write a article about how your blog is attracting great talent to your portfolio companies. And vindicate me yet again!
Brock Blake, CEO of FundingUniverse.com (a Provo Labs portfolio company) just made it on the list of Utah’s Top 40 Under 40. At age 25, he was the youngest person on the list. So he can stay on this list for the next 14 years! Way to go, Brock.
Brock is already being quoted in the Wall Street Journal online about how to raise money from angel investors, so maybe he’s gunning to make a national top 40 list soon.
His company recently got some great coverage with a Connect magazine article about Simpligent, the highest rated company that presented at the November 2005 speedpitching vent held in Provo.
Rix Ryskamp, Simpligent CEO said this: “We have been contacted by quite a few investors since the speed-pitching luncheon,” says Ryskamp. “This has been the most productive funding event that I have ever seen. The amount of exposure we received in a single day was amazing.”
This site has a ton of great content (encyclopedias and other reference works), a simple search engine, and a tremendous growth chart.
The company went public last year and is worth $100 million, even with little revenue track record. The expectation, of course, is that revenue will follow the excellent traffic growth that the company is seeing.
The company made its quarterly SEC filing today and announced Q4 revenue of $889,000, up 58% from Q3.
It’s rare, anymore, for an internet company to go public with almost no revenue. But with this traffic growth chart, the company’s revenue is certain to grow. This is definitely a company to watch.