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Archive for May, 2008


Baltimore OpenCoffee June 2nd 9am

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Columbia has an OpenCoffee every other Monday!

6181 Old Dobbin Lane Suite 200
Columbia, MD 21045

Phone: 410-953-6311

(The Cosi opens at 9am, so don’t come early)

Cosi was selected because it has free wireless, so bring your laptop and be ready to demo your stuff!

Please circulate to the appropriate audience.  Learn more about OpenCoffee

Our initial invite list is hopefully a nice combination of coders, business people, and investors, so theoretically we should have a diverse and interesting audience.

Thank you, we look forward to seeing you!

Uneven coverage dooms start-ups not begun by the 250

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Read/Write Web had a great post the other day by Josh Catone where he discusses the uneven coverage of Internet start-ups. Josh essentially indicates that if you don’t know someone (join the 250!) then you basically don’t get a lot of press coverage. Josh observes that many start-ups get left out of publications because they don’t have the right investors or know the right people or generate the appropriate buzz out of the gate.

This is certainly something Cogmap has struggled with. When we launched free private maps, VentureBeat wrote an article. Other than that, despite personal emails to many prominent Web 2.0 news blogs, there was basically zero coverage. TechCrunch covered OrgPlus when they launched a similar service with a hefty per month price tag and never even mentioned other players in the market. Is that indicative of the better PR firm they hired?

I actually assume that it was more a product of completely random outcomes. They get a million press releases, they are in such a rush to get the news out due to pressure of the blogosphere, and they are under-resourced, so they don’t have time to be comprehensive, or make sure things are “fair”. As Josh indicates, he has to make a call every time he is asked to cover something and it turns into his whim. Essentially, if you catch him on a good day or a slow day or he likes you, the odds of coverage go up. How do you get on the list of similar services if he doesn’t know you? Luck. Well-known investors?

Everyone agrees investors play a key role in coverage. You can actually have media invest in you these days! Arrington invests. Calcanis has the ability to generate media coverage and invests. Even Fred Wilson has his own popular media vehicle and his association is an imprimatur of start-up savvy-ness. Ironically, after millions of blog posts discussing how cheap it is to build a start-up using today’s technology, the challenge of getting media coverage even if you build the better mousetrap continues to exist – although there is no doubt that the cost has come down in some ways, an email to TechCrunch can get you hundreds of thousands of visitors. Now the challenge is having a relationship that allows you entry. You no longer have to be a rich kid to be in the cool clique, but you still have to be cool!

As my friends would say, that basically dooms me.

Unfortunately, Josh does not offer a prescription for this challenge. Now that he has recognized this shortcoming in his coverage of start-ups, what will he do? What should he do? What should the industry do? Maybe the answer is to be Scoble: Cover everything all the time, writing millions of posts per day.

Would love to see how more people think about addressing this problem, particularly as bias in media outlets becomes a bigger problem (see Techcrunch).

Notes from the undercog

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Couple of thoughts I wanted to get out there:

  1. Great quote: George Foreman, Muhammad Ali’s opponent in the famous “Rope a Dope” fight, once recalled that after he pounded Ali with body shots for the first several rounds Ali asked him, “Is that all you got?” Foreman remembered thinking to himself, “Yeah, that’s about it” right before Ali knocked him out.
  2. Split testing on technology deployments and feature evolution is critical to the success of big web sites. Google’s stuff is discussed here:
  3. I always talk about wedding books like this: The reason you see such a profusion of celebrities writing books about organizing a wedding is that after you do your wedding, you think you have learned a bunch of stuff about how to do it that you weren’t told when you started, and thus the world needs to hear your message. Hence, celebrities write wedding books: They think they now know some big secrets because they figured out stuff people didn’t tell them and they have access to people that would publish their book. I recently realized the same is true of site SEO. I have spent a bunch of time on SEO, so I now think I am an SEO expert. As the four hour work week proves, it isn’t that hard to become an expert in anything. Or at least sound like one. Expert is such a relative thing.

GlamTV debuts with an interesting, but probably not good idea?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Glam Media tries to do something new, which is nice, but not necessarily a brilliant idea.  They launched GlamTV, which licenses video content from third parties and allows their publisher network to then show the video content with Glam-embedded ads.

I assume this was driven by a lack of web sites that had significant video volume in Glam’s sweet spot, so they are trying to build out the content themselves.  My gut is that the best web sites in Glam’s network won’t want to use this syndicated content, so the upside to building their own video inventory and then building a video network on top of it will be minimal.

As I have long said when it comes to start-up ad networks, it just takes a couple of deals to look like you have a nice little business – they could close eight or nine $50,000 tests the first month and think (and sell to investors or acquirers) that this is the base of the hockey stick when it is really just the same kind of bump a new web site gets when they get TechCrunched.  Huge traffic for the first week and then a tiny fraction of that traffic actually sticks around.  Getting $50 cpms, as they have discussed at length, is great, but there are a bunch of other important questions: Sell-through rate and eRPM.  If they are selling all of the inventory at $50, that is a hit it out of the park business, but if publishers aren’t getting a couple of bucks (both the syndicator and the syndicatee, I would suspect), then it will be hard to build a viable business.  Can they build to a decent sell-through that nets out to an eRPM that high?  Seems challenging.

Travel in June

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Going to be all over the place, so I want to see everybody and hook you up with Cogmap stickers.

Plans look like this:

1) June 3 – EconAds Conference in NY

2) June 4 – Advertising 2.0 Conference in NY

3) June 10-11 – Graphing Social Patterns East in D.C.

4) June 16-17 – Web Widget Expo in NY

5) June 23-24 – An Event Apart in Boston

6) June 25-27 – Hanging out in NY

Shoot brent at this domain an email if you want to hang out.  I know I have to post more, incidentally.

Cogmap 2.1.2 released! 2.1.3 will have a changelog page.

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

We like telling everyone how fast we are cranking code and we want to make it easier for people to spot when we broke something and tell us, but I recognize that not every change is interesting.

In the meantime, more bugs were fixed and now you don’t have to login to create a chart, you just get in there and start! Let us know if anyone has any problems.

Baltimore OpenCoffee May 19th!

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

6181 Old Dobbin Lane Suite 200
Columbia, MD 21045

Phone: 410-953-6311

(The Cosi opens at 9am, so don’t come early)

Cosi was selected because it has free wireless, so bring your laptop and be ready to demo your stuff!

Drinks are plentiful, food not so much.  Maybe eat before you come.

Please circulate to the appropriate audience. The goal is to keep it smaller rather than bigger, so forward with consideration. Shoot me back an email if I should add you to an email reminder list. Also, given that we are just getting started, a quick email to tell me if inviting you hit the right audience would be inordinately valuable.

Our initial invite list is hopefully a nice combination of coders, business people, and investors, so theoretically we should have a diverse and interesting audience.

Thank you, we look forward to seeing you!


Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Hanging out at SocialDevCampEast before I head to Bangalore in the afternoon.

Greg Yardley, one of my most favoritest bloggers, came down from NYC!

The sessions feel like they are starting an hour late, which totally crunches my time here.

How many people are in Cogmap Organization Charts?

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

We thought it would be fun to do some analysis of Cogmap data and talk about the results.  Specifically, we wanted to see whether being public or private had any effect on map size.  Here is a chart showing the ratio of maps with a given number of people in them to the total amount of a given map type:

The black line represents public maps, the red line is private maps.  The end result is that public maps tend to be slightly larger than private maps.  The median private map has 6 people.  The median public map has 8.  The top quartile of public maps has 18+ people, private maps top quartile has 16+ people.

If I had to hypothesize why this is true, I would credit the larger community at work on public maps, resulting in more data.  Want a better map?  Make it public!

Cogmap 2.1.1 loves IE and SEO

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

As some of our favorite users have mentioned, we have had some horrific trouble supporting IE with the crazy javascript that goes on via Cogmap.

I am happy to say that this seems pretty fixed in the newest release.  If any Internet Explorer users have problems, please let us know so we can get cranking on it.

Additionally, you will notice that we have a new and super-improved clean URL scheme that should send our SEO traffic through the roof!  You can now visit pages using URLs such as: – If someone changes the name of the chart, then visiting that page will take you to the most recent version of the chart still named Google.  Not sure what the best practice is there, but that is what we decided to do for now.

You can access the Directory and Outline version via: &

If you have a private map that you created, you access it like this:<username of map creator>/<map name>

Sweet!  Lots of other bugs were also fixed and we have set up a series of 301’s to get all of the URLs straight.  We think this is probably the most stable release we have had in five or six months, so enjoy and let us know if you have any problems!