Anyone Can Steal Your Identity In 2 Minutes If You Don’t Protect Your Mobile Device With a Password

July 31st, 2013

enter_passcode

My amazing wife got her first smartphone recently (She’s a  R E A L L Y  late adopter) and the first thing she did was to connect her Gmail account to her phone.

When I tried to protect her phone with a password she hated it and refused to use it. “It’s really annoying to type this password each time I use my phone”.

Well my wife is a grownup so I simply let it go until today when a simple fact dawned on me (It’s a bit embarrassing to admit I overlooked it)…

If someone gets a hold of my phone and my phone isn’t protected with a password that person can gain access to EVERY service I use on the web, effectively hijacking my identity, in a matter of minutes.

All they need to do is to go to any website/service I’m using (Facebook, Gmail, LinkedIn etc.) and click the “forgot password” link. This will trigger a password reset email that will reach my phone’s inbox in seconds and pooooof they change my password and gain full control of my identity.

I’m going to call my dear wife now and try to convince her that the inconvenience of typing her password each time she uses her phone is worth the protection of her online identity (Good luck to me :-)

In case you don’t know how to protect your phone with a password here are a couple links:


Without Your Scouts You’re Sitting Ducks

July 21st, 2013

If you ever worked in a company and saw it grow from a small team to more than 50 people  you’ll know how it feels to see that flexible, fast moving, company you remember from the early days evolve into a slow moving creature.

This process is completely natural and has nothing to do with the quality of your team. In fact you can have the most amazing team on the planet but once they are 50 people strong (or even before that) they will lose the ability to move fast.

5-10 year ago moving slower was an inconvenience, but the changes we’ve seen in the last 5 years caused this “inconvenience” to become a strategic threat:

1. Your competition got faster

In the past 5 years the cost of developing a product has plunged and the time it takes to get to the market has shrunk to a fraction of what it used to be.

While your team is stuck with an endless roadmap and has it’s hands full for the next 3 months, those small startups move at the speed of light and meet the market’s needs before you even blink.

Moreover, if you’re actually successful you’ll have 3-10 teams on your back in a matter of months eliminating the head start you think you had.

2. Small teams can scale too

5-10 years ago a small startup who wanted to play in the big leagues had to make huge upfront investments in hardware and negotiate complex deals with co-hosting companies and CDNs to meet the basic SLA requirements of the big players. This put a very high barrier on scale.

The cloud has changed all that. Any startup today (Even bootstrapped) can scale to millions of users at a reasonable cost.

And cost isn’t the only factor. Virtualization has automated many processes enabling a small team of people to manage hundreds of servers.

3. The big players have opened their doors to small startups

In the past if you where an operator looking to add VAS you would approach one of the big players (Amdocs, Comverse etc.). You wouldn’t even dream of letting a 10 person startup anywhere near to your servers!

Today the big players (Operators, publishers, media giants, brands etc.) have come to realize the value of working with those small and creative startups. They’ve learned to balance the risk with the value they get from working with those companies early on.

Big players today who choose to work with small startup get early access to innovative products, more attention, faster dev and a cheaper price. So why not?

A cavalry without scouts is a group of people on horses waiting to get hit

So you’re in battle. You’ve assembled your force (product + team + clients + revenue) and you’re marching on towards your goal (a billion dollar company :-).

The one thing that’s missing is your scouts. A small unit of 2-3 people who, between them, have the full skill set required to take any idea on any platform and turn it into a working product in minimal time and cost.

Your scouts operate outside the boundaries of your (road)map, explore uncharted territories ahead of your cavalry, identify those hidden tracks and shortcuts and alert you when there’s danger  or a major roadblock ahead.

Not every cavalry would be open to add a small unit of scouts to their ranks.
They might think those scouts are an indication that they aren’t fast enough or brave enough or aren’t cut for the job. They couldn’t be more wrong!

Your cavalry is amazing. They ARE the company! Without the cavalry there is no company.

Your challenge is to let the cavalry know that without the scouts they are sitting ducks waiting for a small startup to ambush them when and where they least expect. It’s up to you to clear the way so your team of scouts becomes an integrated part of your force.

 

 


Roller Coaster Shmoller Coaster

July 4th, 2013

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve read about “THE ROLLER COASTER” we entrepreneurs board when starting our companies.

What I don’t get is why entrepreneurs think their roller coaster rides are any different from those of other people.

Life IS a roller coaster, for everyone, not just you the: self-pity, whining, entrepreneur.

You could have been flipping burgers, fighting for survival and finding yourself fired with no notice and no way to pay the bills.

You could have been a young mom who was woken up 5 times last night to feed her baby and needs to go to work as if nothing happened.

You could have been a kid at school who gets bullied everyday, twice a day.

You could have been a teenaged girl looking at the mirror everyday and hating herself because she doesn’t look like she’s been photoshopped.

You could have been unemployed.

Heck, you could have been homeless!

But no, you’re not:

You have a job you love!

Do you even realize how rare that is?

Do you  realize how incredibly lucky you are?

You have what 99% of people living on this planet don’t have: You have a mission. You have a passion.

So fasten your seat-belts and enjoy the ride.

 

 

 


Are you reporting to or responsible to?

April 3rd, 2013

Say you’re a child and your mom calls you asking you to go fetch a loaf of bred.

You’ll go to the local grocery store and try to get one. If, for some reason, that grocery store was closed, or they run out of bread you’ll go back to mom and tell her “Mom I couldn’t get the bread, they’re closed”.

Now fast forward… You’ve grown up and you get the same phone call from your partner asking you “Can you get some bread for dinner?”

What will you do if you find the grocery store is closed? If they run out of bread? Well… You’ll find another grocery store. And if that one is closed you’ll keep driving…

Yes, look behind, there is no one there to report to.

YOU are responsible to bring the bread. If you don’t bring the bread there would be no bread on the table.

 

Bread


Singlytics – What’s Your SPI?

October 23rd, 2011

“Data driven culture”, “Data driven design”, “MoneyBall”, “KPIs”…
We all need data. We can’t run our businesses without it. I’m just wondering how much of it do we really need?

The problem with data is its tendency to inflate. It starts with a simple Google Analytics/Mixpanel set of events and before you know it you’re spending $1000 of your investor’s money on buying a 42″ screen to display your amazing “data driven” charts to everyone that visits your office.

When I read Moneyball what struck me most wasn’t the data driven decision making. As I read the book the words kept desolving until I was left with a single word… “Walks“. Understanding that walks, maybe the least sexy piece of data out there, is THE most important piece of data in Baseball is what made Billy Beane special to me.  It was his ability to see the single stat in the heart of it all that impressed me the most…. “Walks, Walks, Walks”. If you didn’t learn to walk you had no place in Billy’s team.

What’s your SPI?

When we set to build MyFamilio we took a bit of drastic approach to analytics. We decided our SPI (Single Performance Indicator) for the time being is “moments shared” and we looked for a way that would reflect to us how well we’re doing.

What if a bell rings every time a family moment was shared on MyFamilio? If we suck then there will be no bells ringing. If we’re doing OK then the bells WILL ring. But only when they ring so often it make our lives unbearable will we know that we’ve succeeded. In which case we’ll need to find a new KPI to fight over.

And this is exactly what we did. Instead of displaying our Mixpanel charts on LCDs we tied our SPI  to an app and this app “rings a bell” whenever someone shares a moment with their family on MyFamilio.

If you choose your SPI bravely you’re about to be incredibly depressed. There is nothing more depressing than the silence that follows when people don’t use your service and the bells stop ringing. I’ve never found a more effective way of telling you “You’re not there yet… Go on what are you waiting for? Make those people happy”

We call this approach Singlytics. It changed the way we look at analytics. The question is… Can you handle it? :)



The David & Goliath Syndrome

November 11th, 2010

Ask Boxee about Google/Apple TV,  Ask Wibiya about Meebo Bar/Facebook Bar, ask SohoOS about Zoho, Ask Followbase about  SalesForce and you’ll get a logical explanation about how their product differentiates itself and how they’re going to win.

Now ask the same question again but this time cover your ears, don’t listen to their answer and instead concentrate on the CEO’s eyes… The eyes always tell the truth. You’ll see that despite the logical explanation they’re giving you they don’t really understand why you even asked the question at the first place. Deep deep inside they don’t feel they’re any smaller or inferior to the giants they’re up against and if you ever saw a Chihuahua standing firm and barking on a Pitbull you’ll know what I’m talking about.

It’s because they’re suffering from the David & Goliath syndrome!

The Origins of  the David & Goliath Syndrome

If you want to understand the origin of the David & Goliath Syndrome you’ll need to get a feeling of the kind of place those entrepreneurs, who now lead most Israeli start-ups, grew up in. You’ll need to take a little trip down the time tunnel to Israel of the late 60s and early 70s…

For the first 30 years of Israel’s existence we were not so different from a modern age Sparta. A small nation, surrounded by enemies and breeding children to grow up as soldiers willing to die for their country. Israel was full of people who survived the Holocaust. You were either a child of a survivor or knew one. Every child grew up knowing that the alternative to a strong and surviving Israel was the death camps and the motto was “Never Again!”.

Just like in Sparta we had our elite worrier class, the ones who grew up in the Kibbutz. They were separated from their parents at birth (though their parents lived with them in the same Kibbutz) to grow up in children houses, crying at night for strangers instead for their moms, living in a collective where the individual was a tool serving the greater good of the whole. These were the ideal conditions for breeding the toughest, bravest soldiers and indeed most of those kids ended up in the best units of our army.

Daady is a Brave SoldierAliyah (Immigration to Israel), Security, Bread & Peace.The Best to the Air Force

But the origins of the David & Goliath Syndrome reach way beyond the borders of the Kibbutz. Every child in Israel of the 70s grew up hearing two mantras over and over again:

  • “It’s Good to die for our country” – Attributed to Josef Trumpeldor who supposedly said that at his death bed after being shot in the battle to defend Tel-Hai.
  • “A few against many” – This was drilled to us from day one. We are few and the enemy are many. We survive not because of our numbers but because we’re smarter and better. We’re David and they’re Goliath.

Don’t mistake my tone for cynicism or criticism. We had no other choice and there’s no way we could have survived as a nation without the sacrifice of the people who fought to defend it.

But growing up in this kind of atmosphere comes with side effects and one of them is the David & Goliath Syndrome: An inability to realize you’re way way beyond your league and to really face the fact that your competition can wipe you out with a flip of a virtual button.

So next time Israeli entrepreneurs sit in your office and you’re thinking “Who are those arrogant bastards sitting here telling me they’re the next Google”  know that this is not arrogance nor stupidity (maybe just a bit of Chutzpah). They really believe it. They can’t help it. They’re suffering from the David & Goliath Syndrome and their strategy is a one line bullet: “We’re better”.

10 minutes into their pitch you may be thinking “Why would I invest in those guys, they clearly don’t realize who their up against”, but you know what? These crazy people are exactly the kind of people that will keep fighting against all odds, the kind of people you want with you in the start up trenches. The only kind I ever want to work with.


“f”

November 6th, 2010

It looks like people are not sure what Facebook Deals means for companies like Foursquare.

It will be very interesting to see what this means for smaller location services like Foursquare, which has been ramping up these types of deals in recent months. Will it be a case of all ships rising or everyone going over to Facebook?

My guess is that it will all boil down to a sticker… One sticker to lure them all, one sticker to find them, one sticker to bring them into the store and bind them

2010 was the “Like” year. Companies/businesses lost all touch with reality, and high on Likes, completely surrendered their brand to Facebook.

How many times, in the last year, have you watched a TV ad, read a magazine ad or a billboard and seen the Facebook Logo? Facebook has done what no other brand (online or offline) has been able to do in history. They got thousands of companies to display the Facebook logo, for free, next to their logo on every prime ad real-estate you can imagine.

If you try to reflect on the actual ads you’ve seen this past year you’ll see exactly how strong the Facebook brand has become.

A year ago you would have seen ads saying “Join us on Facebook” and displaying the full Facebook logo. Then, instead of using the full “Facebook” logo they started using the smaller version with the letter “f”. Nowadays companies simply add the “f” logo to their ad. That’s it. No “Join Us”, no Facebook logo, just an “f”!

From "Facebook to "f"

2010 was the “Like” year. 2011 will be the “f” year. The year when Facebook will cross the boundaries and extend their presence from hunderds of millions of people and brands online to millions of business in the real world.

If you’re still not sure how Facebook Deals is going to affect companies like Foursquare ask yourself: Which sticker are people more likely to recognize as they pass by a store? Which sticker will get them to check for local deals?

Local Stickers


My Pathetically Lame Kindle

November 1st, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I was waiting, with a group of friends, for our flight back home to Israel. They were all playing with their iPads as I pulled out my Kindle. I can’t even start to describe the outburst of laughter and ridicule that followed as they were holding the THING.

It started when they tried to touch the screen and nothing happened and went on with the Kindle’s primitive looking page flips and ended up with them, almost lying on the floor, laughing at the description of how I need a flashlight to read at night.

I took it as a man :) And then I asked one of them “Do you read on your iPad?”. “Sure” he said “I read thousands of articles since I have the iPad”. “No” I insisted “Do you read as in reading a book”, “Oh” he said and immediately opened his iPad to show me how beautifully pages flip when you read on iBooks “I’m already at chapter number 3 of this book”.

You know what? They were right. My Kindle is pathetically lame. Using the five click navigation instead of simply touching the screen it annoying, the keyboard is ridiculous and don’t even get me started on the so called “browser”. The funny thing though is that while my friend read the first 3 chapters of his book (in the 3 months he has an iPad) I read thousands of pages worth of books in the 3 weeks I have my Kindle.

Reading articles will fill your brain, reading books will fill your soul.
From the amazing Gandalf to the unforgettable Druss. From Middle Earth to 12th century Kingsbridge. For every person I’ve met in life I’ve met 10 amazing characters in the books I’ve read. For every place I’ve visited in our world I’ve traveled to 100 amazing other worlds those gifted writers created for me. The people and places I’ve met in my books are as real, for me, as the rest of you guys and I can’t imagine my life without them.

In a world where content is consumed in chunks of 140 characters and 60 seconds videos, in a world of push email and Blackberries, being able to lean back and loose yourself in a book for 5 hours is a priceless gift.

It’s true, my Kindle IS lame but for me it’s simply a book, nothing more. A 10.2 oz book that gets me reading more than ever before… and for that I love it.

Kindle 3 6"


The “Instafaces” Experiment

October 16th, 2010

The Instafaces experiment started on a whim. I asked @yanivg: “What if we went to Union Square, put a cardboard on the pavement with a pair of feet drawn on it, and whenever a person steps on it we’ll shoot their portrait?”… “hmmm, sounds cool” said Yaniv.

The next day, at lunch break, I went down to Staples and got a piece of cardboard, some sticky letters and a marker. I came back to the office and gladly enough Yaniv agreed to be the first “user” of Instafaces (bootstrapped with $18.69 :-) ).

Instafaces Photos Stream


We gave some thought about how to provoke the reaction we wanted, and Yaniv came with the brilliant addition of using a tripod. This creates a situation where the photographer is static and people from the crowed need to stop their flow and stand on the Instafaces mat for a 5 seconds magical moment with the photographer.

We set off for Union Square and set up our Instafaces mat near the Subway exit, and Yaniv started stopping people, pointing to the mat, and guiding them to stand on it so that he can shoot their portrait. What followed was truly amazing. Initially it took us about 5 minutes per shot and people hesitated (it’s in the human nature to think that everything has a hidden motive) but gradually people started coming.

The first question they all had was “What is this for?”, so we decided to A/B test (a product manager is a product manager:-) and drew the Facebook “F” logo on the mat so people will understand these photos are going to be uploaded to Facebook. It’s amazing how powerful the Facebook logo and brand have become. Adding the Facebook logo increased conversion by a 100% and we we’re shooting a portrait every 2.5 minutes or so.

What we decided to do next was much more dramatic for conversion. We simply took the Instafaces mat and put it in the middle of the sidewalk, effectively blocking the traffic and making people go around us. At this point we were taking a portrait every 30-60 seconds (compared to the 5 minutes it took us at the beginning). I had to stop when a cop came to me and told me I was blocking the traffic. I was so overwhelmed with Adrenaline that I actually asked him if he would agree to have his portrait taken before I leave, very, very stupid move in the US, but luckily I encountered a nice cop who replied with a simple “no”.

One minute later, when it all ended, I stood there in Union Square and my whole body was shaking. It was only then that I realized what a rush my body was experiencing from this amazing, unmediated, random encounter with hundreds of people, including the many that said “no please” because that was an important part of it too.

WOW, I’m sure this is not the last time I’m going to do this. I do have some “Product” insights, both about the Instaface mat itself and about the “interface” between the photographer and the people. The most important being that we must have a card with the URL of the Instafaces Facebook page the photographer can give to the people so they can see their pictures and spread the love, starting with you.


Tweetpasana

October 6th, 2010

Like many horror stories, this one started with a stupid commitment I took on myself.

@yanivg challanged me, and I took an oath – I will not be visiting Twitter until we finally deliver Facebook Connect on AOL Answers. Oh, I was sure it will take us max 1-2 weeks – no big deal.

However, priorities changed and it ended up taking 3 months.

I did try Tweetpasana in the past, not tweeting for a month or so at a time. However, this time it was the real thing. I cut myself completely from Twitter, not even looking at it to see what others tweet.

We’ve met the challange, and I can tweet again! Yay!

Except…

The funny thing is that I find it hard to tweet now. My self-forced Twitter exile ended almost a month ago but I tweeted only once. You see, tweeting suddenly feels almost like shouting. It’s noisy. It actually feels like the first tweets I ever did back at 2007.

There were additional consequences. I noticed that I have an urge to unfollow every person I don’t care about on a personal level from my stream. After being away for 3 months from my stream, when I finally visited it again, it felt like “What are all those strangers doing here”. I’m tired of all those links and “valuable” tweets and I actually miss the days when Twitter was a window to people’s lives, as in a way to know what @idancohen was cooking for dinner.

Oh, I’m sure I missed a lot of “valuable” links and important industry news – but I think it was worth it.

I’m not going to tell you my life is changed, but I will recommend you consider trying this.
Why?  Because we’re the same people who spend our lives creating those social ecosystems and one of the most important things to keep (in any profession) is perspective and, as it is, the only way to have a proper perspective is to take a step back and look at things from afar.

alone thinking

Never Believe Your Own Story

June 14th, 2010

The StorytellerCreating new products is a delicate balance between the future and the present. If you want to really push the envelope with a product you need to see beyond the current market, but if you look too far you’re giving people nothing to hang on as they transform from their current reality to the future your company is creating.

What fills that gap between future and present is good old storytelling. Any entrepreneur is, first of foremost, a great storyteller. For the entrepreneur storytelling is like a ferry enabling investors to cross that river that separates the present and the future and just like any ferry boarding the entrepreneur’s ferry will cost you, a sack of gold given for a promise of riches.

The Problem with stories though is that at some point you may start believing them yourself. When you’ve heard/told the story for too many times, you may stop questioning its validity or worse, stop asking what were the facts the story was span around.

Reality Check
Innovation and startups couldn’t exist without a touch of storytelling. What’s important is that you remember to conduct a reality check from time to time.  Make sure that your story, just like any great story, has a beginning, middle and end and at every stage of the story ask yourself if the facts indicate there is enough truth in your story.

It’s OK to change your story. It’s actually even OK to completely dump it and write a new story from scratch if you feel your product’s story has evolved from an inspiring piece of fictions to a piece of fantasy. It’s better you have the guts to face your investors/customers and tell them you want to share a new story with them than keep telling the same story hoping that if you tell is over and over again it will become a reality.

Never believe your own story blindly because once you do you’re in danger of finding yourself in a Never Ending Story.


What’s Behind The Google.com “Wallpaper”?

June 3rd, 2010

Google announced they’re now enabling people to personalize their Google.com experience by selecting their own background image. This is not a particularly innovative feature – Ask.com and companies like Groovle have been supporting this feature for ages, But unlike these prior arts, in the case of Google.com, This may be more than a simple personalization feature.

My guess is that this is part of a larger product plan aimed at gradually migrating people from Google as a Home Page > to Google as a Cloud Desktop > to Google “Operating System”. This is how things may roll:

Step 1 – If it has a wallpaper it’s a desktop

What’s a desktop? It’s a bunch of icons with a wallpaper. Take an empty page like Google.com add a “wallpaper” and suddenly you got a very “desktopish” filling to it.

When climbers need to climb a very high mountain they need to stop in several base camps along the way and stay in those camps until they acclimatize and can move on to higher altitudes.

The Google.com wallpaper, even if it seems like a minor feature, is a crucial base camp in Googles climb from homepage to cloud desktop. It’s a crucial psychological step enabling people, who are used to a very clean Google.com, to “acclimatize” and get ready for the next step: The introduction of Google’s “desktop icons” on the google.com homepage.

Step 2 – If it has a wallpaper and icons that open all my favorite apps it’s a cloud desktop

Once people are used to the desktopish look of their Google.com Google may add the second “personalization” feature and display the icons people need in order to access their main productivity/fun application directly from their Google.com homepage.

Step 3 – If it has a wallpaper and icons that open all my favorite apps and runs on my desktop is an operating system

So we have people who got used to the desktopish look of their google.com homepage and are now used to accessing their main application using the google.com “desktop icons”. The last step in the plan would be to encourage people to install the desktop version of their google.com experience.

I can see the banner on google.com “Want Your Google.com to be Crazy Fast Click Here”. When people install the Desktop Google.com app they will be presented with a “Run Google when I start my computer” option. And before you know it you got Windows/Mac users running Google OS on and they haven’t even noticed it .


Twitter’s PUBLIC Window of Opportunity

May 20th, 2010

Basic Social Features on Twitter

What Facebook did, when they released Open Graph may have been too drastic. Instead of “taking the stairs” and guiding people from a semi private experience to a public experience, step by step, Facebook “took the elevator” and pressed the PUBLIC NOW button.

When people came out the elevator door, and saw the public reality, they where frightened. Messy integrations like the Yelp one did no good to relieve their fears and the public outcry started building up.

Personally I think that, despite the current outcry, 2 years from now, Facebook’s vision of “a web where social (public) is default” would be realized. The web will evolve from an opt-in to an opt-out experience.  An experience where, by default, you’re loged in to you favorite social network.

But until that day comes, and people get comfortable with being public, the current situation presents a great opportunity for Twitter.

Twitter has one major asset right now. 100 million people that understand the true meaning of PUBLIC. Those people are not scared when their status messages are publicly displayed for all to see and are perfectly OK with their “friends” list being public. They feel this way because they’ve been public on Twitter from day one. They’d been “imprinted” with public.

When you look at Twitter’s product roadmap in the last 2 years it looks as if they’ve been doing all they can to keep their product almost unusable. They’ve deprived people from the most basic features you’d expect in a social netwrok. I wonder what would happen if Twitter lost their product inhibitions and finally made Twitter the social network it can be?

The beauty is that they don’t need to sacrifice their core product and their simplicity. The experience you see when you land on twitter.com doesn’t need to change at all. The only thing Twitter needs to do is enrich the publishing options and take control over the second click, on what we see once we click links/images/videos etc.

So Twitter. These are some of the the features I would like to see. The features that may get people to use Twitter, instead of Facebook, as their main communication platform:

  • Photo upload + Image galleries
  • Comments + Discussion view
  • Events
  • Extended Tweets (AKA Facebook notes)

@twitter, you say you want to be the pulse of the planet? Well, my friends ARE part of this planet. You guys have a chance, a window of opportunity, to take 100 million people, and turn us to the best ever ambasdors of the “public web”, a web Mark dreams of, the web you already own.

All we’re asking for in return is the most basic features needed to express ourselves, engage in real conversation and keep in touch with our friends.


Public is the Best Privacy Policy

May 16th, 2010
 David Blaine

Public Privacy

I’ve been quietly listening to all this privacy whining going around lately but it’s getting a bit tiring.

I feel that in a sense, people’s expectations for privacy on the web are somewhat childish. What Facebook did now, and Google did in their Buzz and Street view fiascos is nothing but a welcomed wake up call… GET PUBLIC.

The difference between private and public on the web is one line of code. I’ve have lived by this law for years. I send emails knowing anyone I write about may have full access to my emails. I store my family photos knowing any photo can can find its way to the web… And so on. There’s no real digital privacy. What is private today may become public tomorrow because of a policy change, or a bug, or a hacker. But public it will be. Hence, public is the best privacy policy for me.

We already live in a very public real world. Our world, and I’m speaking of the real world (remember there’s that world too) is anything but private. We hate thinking about this everyday, all day, so we repress this fact but our moves are being constantly captured on CCTVs, our phone calls are being automatically monitored by commercial companies and by state (And this is just what we know about).

It’s OK that every single move/phone call/email/sms we make can potentially be recorded by the state but when Facebook/Google “invade our privacy” and publish our precious status messages or share our “secret” friend list for everyone to see we wake up and whine.

Just like a kid who told a secret to his best friend, only to find out the next day there is no such thing as a secret, we all whine to our collective moms and start trashing Facebook in countless blog post crying “But Mommy Facebook promised not to share my secrets”… And Mommy gives us her most compassionate look and tells us “Next time kid think twice before you share your secrets”. And you know what Mommy is 100% right.

We all want the most amazing products.  We want to be able to share endless amounts of data, gulping amazing amounts of storage, we want those services to be fast and most importantly we want them to be free. But nothing is free. Don’t you ever listen to Mommy? Everything comes with a price and the price we pay for the amazing free services we get is our privacy.

We’re not paying anything we’re actually gaining our freedom. Because when you got no privacy no one can invade it.


Daddy I Want a Farm – Losing Facebook One Corn at a Time

May 9th, 2010

Yesterday Zynga announced that they’re going to branch out of Facebook and launch their own Zynga Live gaming network.

Is that bad for Facebook? I’m not sure. I actually think this can end up as one of the best things that happened to Facebook in 2010…

Imprinting

Imprinting

As a product person I always felt that one of the hardest things to do is to control your product identity. In “identity” I specifically refer to what people answer when they’re asked “What is Facebook?” (or, in my case “What is Yedda?”).

What is Skype? Ask people what Skype is and 99% will tell you it’s a cheap/free way to call people, even though it’s a full fledged IM… Ask people what MS Messagner is and 99% will tell you it’s an instant messenger, even though it’s a full fledged VOIP client. Why is this happening?

My guess would be “Imprinting“. People associate the product with the first activity they engaged in when they’re exposed to the product. What’s even more important is that they will go on and “sell” the product to their friends using the same terminology. In the case of Skype this resulted in hundreds of millions telling their friends “Did you try Skype already?… No? you don’t know what Skype is… you must try it’s a free phone”.

Once imprinting happens changing people’s perception of your product is almost imposible and even millions of dollars in marketing expenses wont guaranty a result.

Facebook did an amazing job building their product “identity”. Go ask people what Facebook is and 99% will tell you “it’s where I keep in touch with my friends”. Becoming that kind of communication channel for hundreds of millions of people is nothing short of amazing.

2 weeks ago I relented and opened a Facebook account for Shahar, my 7 (and by that I mean 18 of course) years old daughter. She was begging me to do so for weeks, kept going “Dad I want a farm, ppppplease, dad I want a farm can I have a Facebook?”

If you ask Shahar what Facebook is she will tell you “It’s where my farm is”. In her case Facebook lost the product identity battle. The imprint is done, and for her Facebook would always be a gaming site. The best scenario Facebook can hope for now is that she will think of Facebook as a social gaming site… But there is already a better social gaming site than then Facebook… it’s called Zynga Live

What’s Next

Zynga is a classic example of a parasite growing so much that it start threatening its host. Zynga threatens the core of Facebook, their identity. Each time a person sees a corn/cow in his news feed Facebook’s identity is shaken and that person has to ask himself if he just signed into a social gaming site or a social network?

Facebook can’t continue being passive. They know that and have already started restricting “apps” from doing stuff like flooding people’s news feeds with their updates (and guess who’s going to be most affected from that move?)

But this is only one little step. Facebook is facing a crucial junction and they’ll have to take a decision in the next couple of months. There are 2 main options I see here (and I’m sure I’m missing many others:)

Option 1 – Acquisition:
Don’t laugh. What we’re seeing right now might be part of a weird courtship ritual (think lions) where, to the onlooker, the whole thing looks really aggressive but ends up in… acquisition. This will cost 2-3 billion but will enable Facebook to gain control of their identity and branch out Social Gaming from Social Networking by introducing a separate brand/sub brand

Option 2 – Pest Control:
There is only one way to get rid of a parasite that aims to choke you… force, brute force. If things go down this road we’re about to see one the ugliest battles in the history of the web. It will make Apple/Adobe look like a child play.