A Busy Day–Provo Labs Update

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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.

In the late afternoon FundingUniverse.com held a call with a potential strategic partner (whom I got to know pretty well at the Corporate Alliance summit last fall.)

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.

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