Utterances of a Zimboe

Programming the Internet.

Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

New companies, updated structures

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While reading the quite excellent book “Mavericks at Work”—which discusses about the most innovative and imaginative companies in the US—I bumped into these notes that I think are quite relevant in this era of fast evolution (technological and others):

[Malcolm] Gladwell drew on social science research that documents the importance of practical skills (“tacit knowledge”) over raw brainpower; the tendency of individuals who think they’re smareter than others (and get treated that way) to worry more about acting smart than learning new things; and the dangers of what three psychologists have called “the dark side of charisma.”


Groups don’t write great novels, and a committee didn’t come up with the theory of relativity. But companies work by different rules. They don’t just create; they execute and compete and coordinate the efforts of many different people, and the organizations that are most succesful at that task are the ones where the system is the star.

(pp. 198-199)

In the last couple of years, I think I’ve been starting to learn that accomplishing things is less about individuals and more about coherent, healthy, and diligent groups of people. This implicates also that projects need to change along the people and a successful system must support such a living structure. In today’s world—or at least with Internet-related projects—you can’t afford spending a year to collect a team, and then go away for a few years to establish a single company.

Current, tens of years old form of a company doesn’t support this kind of an approach; shares and wages should be deprecated as forms of ownership and compensation. For building successful businesses we need to create more dynamic models; and an open attitude, as always.

And, of course,

[…] a system without stars is not going to win.

John Sullivan on p. 200

although those stars may be revealed (or made) not until by that exact system.

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Written by Janne Savukoski

May 4, 2008 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

Nokia opens door to wonderland?

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Ovi (en: door) provided something that I thought was never possible: I was stunned by a fr**ing Nokia production! There doesn’t seem to be much stuff out yet, but the intro looked ‘soulful’ and the promise was interesting—even grand, perhaps. Nokia hasn’t really provided much of either ever before, but especially the attitude has always been visibly missing. Phones have been allright, but all the ‘interestingness’ has been carefully filtered out. Especially their software has been less glamorous.

It almosts seems like Nokia had grown up and might be ready to put themselves ‘in the line of wire’. Of course, getting into content business is a fine business opportunity for them, but still, a street-credible service just might indicate that there’s some genuinely fresh thinking going on in there. (I mean, there’s tons of stuff being explored internally, but they don’t dare publish anything.) Also, the name selection, as it implies that they’re comfortable with their roots, tells something about maturity.

I hope I’m not overreacting. We’ll see how this starts to fold out.

Congrats to Nokia. Nice intro. Be brave! Or—C’mon, speak! Risk it!

Written by Janne Savukoski

August 29, 2007 at 10:31 pm

Posted in Business

EBay upgrades affiliate share

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This is merely just a note to an earlier post, but as it’d go very much unnoticed if I just added it there, I’m posting it here now… yay: Ebay Increases Payout to its Affiliates

A 10PP increase to 50…75% of the eBay’s whole revenue slice! Pretty decent, uh? EBay definitely does it’s part on pioneering1 the Internet as a business platform. And as hard as it can be to be a pioneer, I’d really like to see these efforts to turn into profit. It would be a strong case for the evolving Internet business ecosystem.

(I don’t know how profitable the API functions of the company actually are right now, but instead of digging that out now I think go get some sleep…)

1) There are of course others, but I believe eBay was the first to provide a serious API. Kudos to them.

Written by Janne Savukoski

May 19, 2007 at 1:20 am

Posted in Business, Internet

QoTD by Paul Graham

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Paul Graham about marketing:

Another advantage of telling the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you’ve said. You don’t have to keep any state in your head. It’s a purely functional business strategy.
— in Founders at Work, 2007

It was just wonderful that someone like Paul said it out loud so clear. I guess this is something many technical folks think about do, but some business credibility is of course needed for being able to state it plausibly. Furthermore, it would be just priceless if this kind of a message got across business culture, as then we could at last achieve peace between engineering and marketing… (or something.) Engineering can’t really learn the marketing way of promoting stuff as we would just be exaggerating ourselves more work and—more importantly—underrate our present results. But, as a more common adoption of honesty may be a couple cultural generations away, it was relieving for me already as it brought a little more confidence about honesty not necessarily bringing the dooms. Kind of a high-level permit for being honest. (As if I’d ever been doing anything else, but just thinking if there’s something wrong in being honest… Luckily not.)

Btw., that Founders at Work is a really fine book. A must read for all startuppers, at least. And I’d strongly suggest all programmers to read at least the Greenspun interview. That was just so to the point, even in kind of a raw way. Fabulous.

And back to startupping now..

PS. I’ve been a little quiet lately but I guess it shouldn’t be such a big a deal for either of you, my dear readers. I’ve had to nice (as in man) blogging a little in favor of hacking.. and I’m also a little short in subjects, as this stuff is just not yet worth blo/ragging about. But I hope I’ll get to that point soon enough and myself back into more active blogging. Hear ’bout ya.

Written by Janne Savukoski

March 30, 2007 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Business

Affiliation as the mashup business model

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Update 3/31: Peter has a post which very nicely correlates with this. I suggest checking it out.

When you use someone else’s API you become a reseller. That is to say you provide distribution to their service. Most web services don’t have business models for their APIs because they don’t have reseller business models, yet.


This is just a very humble opinion, but I think the only serious way to make business out of mashups1 is for the mashed-up service(s) to provide affiliation features and give the ‘mashuppers’ a slice of the generated revenue.  A mashupper — ie. ‘mashup provider’ — functions as a retailer for the service backend and thus earns a provision for the business created for the actual service provider.  Although this affiliation aspect covers only a little part of the whole Internet servicing service mediation ecosystem issue, I really believe it’s the most crucial.  Yes, all the traditional stakeholders — like marketing and customer/developer support — Affiliation! are possible, but those are supplementary roles and not directly linked to business transactions.  The beef is in the actual business service.  (I guess this is obvious?  Why the heck am I writing this post?)

For example, the Google’s search isn’t a business service (fortunately!), thus there would be little sense to provide a SOAP api for it.2  Unlikewise Amazon’s api, which produces hard cash for Amazon and so it’s feasible to provide affiliation3 for it; the same goes for eBay.  And I wish there’ll be a lot more in the near future!

WS-Affiliation anyone?  We don’t want a zillion proprietary affiliation mechanisms!  (Naturally, the possible exception to the ‘we’ are the restafarians.  God damn those short-sighted hippies!)

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1) This (very short) post doesn’t concern SaaS or any other software business. This is about all kinds of consumer business services that are delivered—at least partially—through the internets.

2) Oh, lookie here: there’s still a SOAP api for AdSense.  (Which was expected, of course.)

3) This is related to the Amazon E-Commerce Service.

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Written by Janne Savukoski

January 18, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Posted in Business, Internet

Yay, Good Luck WSO2!

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I just discovered the company WSO2, and what they’re doing sounds really fascinating. (Interesting how it had slipped my zillion-blog-entries-per-day radar..) It’s cheerful that also Intel is helping (and counting on) the web service -ecosystem to evolve. I truly wish that in a few years a noticeable part of business services — in global scale — will be delivered using the WS-standards. As it should sound a bit sci-fi (or you’re not getting it), it’s good to remark that they’re already doing a hell of a lot traditional business around SL also. This WS-stuff is quite moderate compared to that.

Actually, what made me look more carefully was the name Weerawarana, which was very familiar from several web service -related articles. There are currently 6 references in my thesis bibliography — mostly WSDL and BPEL stuff — which are authored by him.

I wonder what kind of sensations were related to his transition from IBM to an independent entrepreneur. For me, such transition is being quite a thrill.

Addition: The product of WSO2, Tungsten, sounds highly familiar, so it was only the company I had missed..

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Written by Janne Savukoski

August 29, 2006 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Business