Category Archives: Attention Economy

Venture Wrap: Five Across For Cisco

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Cisco has announced it is acquiring social network builder, Five Across. The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2003, raised $2 million from Granite Ventures and Adobe Ventures in 2004 and have 11 staff.

Five Across has a social networking platform called the Connect Community Builder, which empowers companies to easily augment their websites with full-featured communities and user-generated content. In essence, they provide socnet functions to websites.

Dan Scheinman, Senior VP and GM of the Cisco Media Solutions Group sees this acquisition as an important step towards Cisco being positioned to assist its customers “evolve their website experience into something more relevant and valuable to the end-user.”

Cisco seems to have woken up to the fact that networking is not all pipes and plumbing. The people factor is the X-factor. In fact, check out their tagline: Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate.

I suspect we’ll be hearing about more acquisitions in the social media space from these guys.

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Bit Part: Social Networks as Social Media

Social networking and social destination sites by and for social networking alone just don’t cut it. People get bored with networking  for networking’s sake: there needs to be a focus point or focal points beyond simply socnet.

Om Malik has glommed onto this thought I had way back in the mists of time, circa August 2005 and now asks: Are Social Networks Just a Feature?

In Yoick’s view, successful web communities have at their core, a set of pursuits or strange attractors – these pursuits work best if they deliver some benefit from interactions between members of a community…the higher the usefulness factor, the more compelling an attractor.

To sum up, I agree with Om. Yoick is essentially building an “integrated community entertainment platform”, a term borrowed from Andrew Littlefiled, CEO of Doppelganger. Within this ICEP, the social networking aspects are critical as part of the community journey, but they are not the sole destination.

Are you under TiVo’s StopWatch?

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Putting his hand on the proverbial Bible, Todd Juenger, a VP at TiVo, swears blind that the digital video recording company is not archiving and selling inidivual subscriber’s data.

TiVo is, however, through its StopWatch initative offering ad agencies and television networks the opportunity to receive real time data concerning which programs TiVo subscribers are watching and which ads they are skipping.

Talking with the San Francisco Chronicle, Todd said that StopWatch only delivers a random, anonymous sampling of what their user base is watching.

Inherently as an advocate of the attention economy I find nothing wrong or alarming in what TiVo is doing. However, there is a slippery slope effect and it is up to users to determine their level of confidence in particular companies…do you trust companies like TiVo…will they continue to anonymise your data?

Venture Wrap: Wizen Up To Product Research

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San Mateo start up, Wize, assists people find the best products in less time than if they were searching for them on generic search engines like Google.

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How do they do this you may ask? They compile expert and user reviews and insert them into a scoring algorithm that outputs a Wize Rank – a single numerical score from 0 – 100 – that essentially uses the wisdom of crowds to alert consumers to products worthy of their attention.

Wize has raised $4million in  Series A financing from the Mayfield Fund and Bessemer Venture Partners. Michael Arrington covered this news recently in a post that was headed “Four Month Old Wize Gets $4m” – a number of folk have reacted to this heading with the WOTF knee jerker that the world of venture has gone all crazy again. I mean, how could a company that’s only been going for four months get $4 million in funding. So we yoicked around a bit and soon placated ourselves that Mayfield and Bessemer hadn’t gone nuts.

Wize’s CEO, Tom Patterson, had been an Entrepreneur in Residence at Mayfield, so this start up has been cooking for a while – it’s only been on the plate for 4 months, but the recipe is a tried and tested one. I’m a big fan of EiR’s and have been successfully running such a program over at NICTA for a few years now.

According to Raj Kapoor, managing director at Mayfield, “We started working with Tom as our Entrepreneur in Residence a year ago to revolutionize the product research space and zeroed in on Wize, as they have the most compelling proposition – giving the mass market consumer the simple answer on what product to buy when confronted with dozens of reviews and guides on the Net. By bringing together a breadth of data in an intuitive interface and simplifying the decision process, Wize will funamentally change the way users research products on the Web.”

Talking with the folk at Wize, I agree with their premise that while expert reviews are ideal for letting you know how a product compares to others in its category, user reviews are better at letting you know how a product performs over the long term in the real world.

Competition includes ViewScore, Nextag, Thefind and Shopping. Nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition. It will be interesting to see how the space pans out as consumers oscillate between the comfort zone of a generic search and honing in on the right products based on collective knowledge of what works in various product categories. More power to the consumer!

Stumbleupon: The Blogger’s Long Tail

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An experiment conducted by Stephen De Chellis on the effect of bookmarking blog posts across various solutions has produced some revealing results.

First off, Netscape delivered minimal results.

Secondly, and not surprisingly given their marketshare, once the story hit the front page of Digg, digsters flocked to the blog in question.  The third news aggregator used, Stumbleupon, saw healthy initial results, but nothing like the Digg-generated traffic.

The real surprise came a week or so after the blog post when Digg traffic was way down, and Stumbleupon was very healthy.

Stephen concludes….Digg had brought in the highest number of hits, but they were fleeting. A massive wave of people will go from Digg, to your blog and then never return. Netscape? Do I even need to linger on that one? StumbleUpon… there be the long tail for a blogger!

The Attention Economy Lives

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Despite attention-based, customised news solution Findory being iced by its founder Greg Linden, the Attention Economy is live and well.

Michael Arrington, commenting on Findory entering his DeadPool, says that…it will take a significant technology step forward for a new startup to get traction…in this space.

We’ve spoken about them before, but have just blogged over at Techcraunch regarding Touchstone being recognised by the Burton Group as the closest thing to an attention management system.

Well, Michael, after a few months of alpha testing, we believe Touchstone is just such a significant tech step forward. 

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Chris Saad, Faraday Media’s CEO (the developers of Touchstone) highlights the following ways in which their system differs significantly from Findory:

* Touchstone aggregates all your information sources (email, alerts, news) as news is not the only thing vying for your attention

* Touchstone does not recommend more content, it filters your existing content set

* Touchstone does not just create a page you have to keep checking – it brings the info to you in the form of a news ticker, popup alert, sms, etc. The more important the info, the bigger the alert.

* Touchstone is also a platform, so others can innovate on top in order to find the right mix of aggregation, ranking and presentation.

Yoick – Hightechwire hits WordPress “Growing Blogs” list

Thanks for all your attention – courtesy of which we’ve come to the attention of WordPress and are now featured on their Growing Blogs list.

Keep it comin’!