Showing posts from July, 2009

Apple Tablet-killer: the Thin-Tablet

While the 'net is abuzz over rumors of the Apple tablet, I'd like to point out a category of device in a form-factor that doesn't yet exist, but would be a killer product. It's also what I believe the CrunchPad tablet should have been designed to be. And that's the "thin^2 tablet". By thin, I mean it's physically thin in dimension, like the iPhone, but it's also thin in the sense that thin-clients are thin when they have nothing but firmware to access a remote server.

The problem I see with a rumored $800-ish device of that size, is that it's highly likely the same buyer will also own a smartphone. For the CrunchPad, at a rumored $400-ish price-point, it's hard to buy into the couch-surfing, coffee shop sipping usage model. In either case, if you already have a capable smartphone, home & work PC, and/or just have an available WiFi network, why duplicate functionality, applications, and user configuration and data files across multi…

A business model for Twitter, Google-style

While the scale first style of attacking a market is still be proven out, getting a critical mass is mostly certainly a key element in the success of a social networking startup. These kinds of startups can pop up seemingly overnight in mass quantities, and one of the key ways to compete is to create an extremely rapid growth of user base and establish a site or service as de facto (and a verb) for the space it's in. This describes the trajectory that Twitter appears to be on.

Scaling to 1 billion users for any one startup is monumentally difficult. Scaling to 10 billion, given the current population, is impossible. Sometime before reaching either size, a startup needs to transition into a real business model. There's always the M&A path, but having a real business model amps up the M&A valuation significantly. In that spirit, here're some thoughts about some changes Twitter could make to allow them to "turn on the revenue" tap when they need to.

Two things…

Yahoo's infrastructural disadvantage to Google: Java performance does not scale

Yahoo(YHOO) uses a Java-based MapReduce infrastructure called Hadoop. This article demonstrates why Java performance does not scale well for large scale compute settings, relative to C++, which is what Google(GOOG) uses for their MapReduce infrastructure.

A couple months ago, I wrote an article about how Hadoop infrastructure should use C++/LLVM, not Java, to be as scalable and efficient as possible. And to be competitive with Google infrastructure. Discussions surrounding Java vs C++ performance often seem to morph into something bordering on religion, are muddled with arguments about various tweaks that can be done in one language or the other, and then dissipate into the abyss of non-action. Very few discussions focus on the real issue.

I thought I'd take a different tact, and benchmark what I believe the real problem with Java is, vis-a-vis its use in large scale settings. Rather than focus on the relative Java-vs-C++ performance, I instead benchmarked the behaviour of multi…

Venture 3.0, Andreessen Horowitz will change venture capital forever

The announcement of the new VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz, and their first $300 million fund, is not just the entry of yet another high-profile person into professional venture capital. It delineates the emergence of a new style of VC, a recipe of successful venture capital going forward, and the Darwinistic demise of those who do not quickly adapt to it.

I've been dialed into startups on the entrepreneur side for 15 years. It's pretty clear to me, the conventional ways of venture capitalism are no longer effective. Entrepreneurs have gotten smarter, are much more informed, and are seeking alternative ways to fund startup companies. In the age of TheFunded ("the Yelp of the VC world"), it's become imperative to think about the funding process as a customer service industry. Treat an entrepreneur poorly, get some bad juju added to your rating.

What's even more difficult to contend with, is that the rate of technology change is accelerating. The Stone Age laste…

kaChing: the sound of money flowing away from mutual funds

This year's Finovate Startup 09 Conference in San Francisco hosted some 56 financial oriented startups. Attending as a blogger from Seeking Alpha (a conference sponsor) and a serial startup guy, it's hard to beat merging the best of two worlds. If you didn't have a chance to attend, a great way to summarize the big picture painted by Finovate Startup '09 was encapsulated by a remark from a fellow Seeking Alpha blogger and hedge fund manager; there are no areas of finance left which will not be heavily disrupted. Some of these startups represent such disruptions to current financial business models. If you're in the biz, I heavily recommend attending the flagship Finovate in NYC on September 29, 2009. Your life is about to change.

My runner-up favorite theme at Finovate was peer-to-peer lending. This has a lot of potential in that it creates a new asset class which takes banks out of the equation, allowing (pools of) borrowers to directly borrow from (pools of)…