A Good Month, a Good Quarter

Being that it’s June 29th, the last business day of the month, and the last business day of the 2007 Q2, I must take a moment to reflect on the excitement that I’ve felt today, and through the past 3 months.

Three months ago today, it was the last business day of March, also a Friday. Looking at my Outlook calendar I had one meeting scheduled – a telephone demo with Iotum (Talk-Now). Ali’s graduation party was the next day. The deal with eCoast hadn’t closed yet, but it was imminent and the announcements were all but formal. We were still working out my basement, 2/3 of us were anyway. And we didn’t have any real solid prospects on a sales manager.

Well, I’ll spare you from the minutiae of the rest of the days thereafter, and most of the updates are here on this blog. In a nutshell though, our new Manager of Biz Dev, Phillip Dias, joined the team, and soon after he hired Zac Champa to work with him. Both of these guys are just rock stars, I’m very pleased with the quality work they do, the energy they bring, their attitudes and their cultural contributions.

Chris has some awesome community activities planned, some great campaigns incubating, and he continues to contribute to sales.

Bob is starting to heat things up with respects to product development, hiring an engineer, and getting a new site/platform built in time for the holidays (knock on wood).

We also have an office now and aside from some acoustical concerns, we’ve settled in and are quite happy. We’ve even made some new friends, like Mike Freedman and Paul McBride. We have some great new customers, some early partner oppty’s, and a big outlook with many challenges and many promises on the horizon.

Today was a big day, in more ways than one. We made our numbers for June, we had some breakthroughs, we formed a tighter bond with some customers, we also formed a tighter bond with each other. We had dinner and drinks at Redbones tonight too. Zac thanked everyone for making Citysquares the best job he’s had in a long time, Phillip, Bob and Chris shared their sentiments, as did I.

Today was a very good day, in more ways than one. And looking back to 90 days ago, we’ve really made some big progress.

Undoubtedly the good-times can’t last. That’s not how life works, that’s not how business works. There will be hard times and tough days, tough months, even tough quarters. July will not be a picnic. It will be a tough month and August will be harder. No picnics here at Citysquares.

But today, June 30, 2007, is a good day that we’re enjoying. These days make the others much more tolerable.

I’m Leaving MySpace

After about two years or so in MySpace, I’ve decided to quit.

When I first started using MySpace I was totally reluctant. At that time my coworkers were using it heavily, and a couple of my friends and family were also active in it, but I joined, reluctantly, to be a part of the party. I had been

in MySpace prior to totally committing and I found it, frankly, just plain boring. I just didn’t get-it. Then again, I wasn’t a teenager either. I found the technology just and UI to be insulting to me and to society at large, and the users were more annoying to me then a bunch of drunk teenagers at a suburban mall. Every time I saw one of my friends or colleagues huddled over his/her keyboard, pecking away inside MySpace, I thought less of them – no really, I did. I love my friends and my family, but MySpace always seemed to pathetic to me, and so did it’s most active users. A couple of my friends blog in their MySpace profiles and talk about what they ate, who they dated last night, how sad or happy they are. Gimme a break!

Look, I’m really not passing judgment on anyone who uses MySpace, especially my friends and family. I’m not! It just isn’t for me. Never was.

Recently I’ve been getting more and more spam to my gmail account, from supposed MySpace users who “want to be my friend.” It’s totally out of hand. Every time I login to MySpace (once a month) to delete the Friend Invitations, it seems to trigger a flood of spam. Literally within 2 minutes of logging into my MySpace account (which in and of itself is sometimes impossible to do) I am flooded with spam from users like “Nikita” or “Samantha” or “Abigail” who “want to be my friend.”

Back about 2 years ago when Facebook was starting to make more of a name for itself, and some where poo-pooing it for any number of reasons, I wasn’t able to join, because I never had a .edu account. I actually held a grudge against Facebook because of that, until a couple of weeks ago when, after reading all the hype, I decided to see what it was all about. And let me tell you – it’s the total opposite of MySpace. It’s organized, it respects privacy, but it’s also open and free like a social network should be. It’s respects “community” by respecting the community.

I’ve recently heard and read some interesting research about the difference between MySpace users and Facebook users. Some research indicates that MySpace users are a) inevitably teenagers and 20-somethings (who will inevitably grow bored with it) but also b) “lower wage earners.” I don’t know about all that. Personally, I just think MySpace is for social butterflies who are much more open about their personal communities and networks, than, say myself. I tend tend to guard my community from those who may either take something from it, or contribute something undesirable to it. That community tends to be, first, my professional network, and secondly, my social network. MySpace does nothing for either of those real-world communities.

LinkedIn is sort of a hybrid of my professional network and my social network, with the ratio being 85% professional and 15% social.

  • The social element to my LinkedIn activity is typically my effort to help a friend get more involved in my professional network, for their own benefit.
  • The professional element to my (now) Facebook activity is the opposite – it’s an effort to get my professional network more involved in my social life, and it’s network.

MySpace never served either of those purposes. I will not miss it. Not one bit.


Cancel MySpace Account
We’re sorry you’re leaving MySpace!

Please briefly explain in the form below why you’re cancelling. You can really help us improve MySpace!

  • If you’ve been bothered by the amount of email you’re getting from other users on Myspace, you can stop notification emails without cancelling

Click here to change notification settings.

Click “Cancel My Account” to submit yourcancellation request.

NOTE: You will receive an email from MySpace instructing you on how to confirm your cancellation request.
You must follow the instructions in that email to complete cancellation of your account. Thank you.

Cancellation Comments:
Cancel MySpace Account
WARNING: Cancelling your MySpace account will PERMANENTLY REMOVE all of your profile information from MySpace, including your photographs, comments, journals, and your personal network of friends. This information cannot be restored.

You may re-register your current email address after cancelling, but you will need to rebuild your personal network from scratch.

Confirm Cancel Account

Account Cancellation Request Sent Your request to cancel your MySpace Account has been sent. You will receive an email shortly with instructions for confirming that you wish to cancel.

You must follow the instructions in that email to complete cancellation of your account. Thank you.

Google Reader Going “Offline”

Wow wow wow, now I’m really impressed. I’ve long searched for an RSS reader that is a) free and b) simple that provides offline reading capabilities. I’m not a fan of the version built into Outlook 2007 – not at all. In fact, although I imported my RSS feed (OMPL) into Outlook (from Google Reader), I don’t believe I’ve ever even used the Outlook RSS reader.

I was just catching up on some blog reading and I noticed a new link in the upper right corner of my browser that read “Offline.” I clicked it and a tidy little window popped up explaining that I can now read my Google Reader subscriptions when I’m offline! Well hello there!

I use Firefox and it prompted me to install Google Gears (beta). Check it out:

Enabling Offline Web Applications

You can enable offline mode for Google Reader by installing Google Gears.

This is an early release of Google Gears (BETA). After installation, please pay attention to the warning dialogs and grant access only to websites that you trust.

More Information
Google Gears (BETA) is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality using the following JavaScript APIs:

Store and serve application resources locally
Store data locally in a fully-searchable relational database
Run asynchronous Javascript to improve application responsiveness

Developer site
Frequently asked questions
Developer Forum

Very cool indeed.

So this opens up a whole other topic now doesn’t it? In fact, it’s something that maybe should have been discussed at this weeks Red Herring East conference that I just attended – the topic of the problems facing online applications such as Google’s competitor to MS Office. The biggest reason people say those solutions won’t work, or at least not anytime soon, and/or that they won’t hurt Microsoft’s market share, is because there is not real offline model. Well, not so fast. And surely no one ever truly thought there would never been an offline solution, it’s just that Google hadn’t come up with one – YET.

Marshall Phelps

Marshall Phelps

Originally uploaded by Benee

Very candid conversation with marshall Phelps, corporate VP and deputy general counsel at Microsoft. Very frank, straight talker. Great honesty about the end of the os and about google’s advantages and challenges.



Ben Saren



blog: www.yoursuspect.com

Sent from my BlackBerry

Web 3.0, at Red Herring East

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originally uploaded by Benee.

Talking about “web 3.0” at Red Herring East today. That’s a tough topic. Good panel:

Moderator: Joel Dreyfuss, Editor-in-Chief, Red Herring
Michael Jones, Co-Founder and CEO, Userplane
Sim Simeonov, Technology Partner, Polaris Venture Partners
Carol McGarry, Executive Vice President and Creative Director, Schwartz Communications
Marc Davis, Social Media Guru, Yahoo

Unfortunately it never really seemed to go beyond identifying and defining what Web 2.0 is. I just don’t think we’ve seen enough of Web 2.0 to clearly say what it is, we’re still in the Web 2.0 tween years, in my opinion. IMHO, Web 3.0 will have much much more to do with a) mobile and b) virtual.

I liked listening to Marc – he’s vocal, and he’s bold.

REVISED: Seeking Developer for Full Time Position

CitySquares is seeking a full time Drupal developer. Please see below for more details. If you know anyone, please send them my way. Thanks!

Internet Applications Developer


Citysquares is seeking a talented, skilled, and innovative Senior Web Applications Engineer to work primarily in PHP, MySQL, MVC platforms (e.g., CakePHP) as you improve our website’s infrastructure and work alongside a Front End Web Developer. You will create dynamic web pages based on the Drupal technology, possibly MVC source code and reusable classes that will not only improve our website’s general infrastructure but also increase effectiveness for customers and users. As you develop and implement new features and address mission-critical issues, your strong understanding of Object Oriented Programming, SQL skills, and a basic familiarity with Web 2.0 technologies (AJAX, Ruby) is important. You’ll play a critical role in our small, fun, and innovative Internet startup where creativity and excellence is recognized and appreciated daily. This position will rely heavily on your experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals.

Candidate should have superior technical skills, excellent communication and cross-group skills, and a desire to work in a casual and fun environment where hard work is the norm. This position requires an ability to quickly master new technologies and applications, agile development efforts, and a passion for quick results.


• Improve the existing website infrastructure.
• Build consumer-facing web-based applications.
• Design, build, enhance, and optimize content management and dynamic new media platform, content distribution and syndication infrastructure
• Take ownership of end-to-end development efforts including requirements definition, data modeling, network and database infrastructure, website development, and more.
• You will be programming on Linux, utilizing primarily Drupal, and perhaps a mixture of Object Oriented Programming solutions, and MVC frameworks, Javascript, PHP, Perl, and Python.


• 4+ years as Web Applications engineer.
• 3+ years in database design and data modeling (MySQL focus preferred).
• Must be extremely proficient in PHP, Perl, MySQL, XML
• Big bonus points for experience with Ruby, other forms of MVC
• Network administration and programming in UNIX/Linux environments.
• Multi-level security database design.
• Strong interpersonal and team skills.
• Willingness to have fun, experiment and try new things
• Must be passionate about working in a high-energy, funded startup.

If you are interested, please send your resume to jobs-at-citysquares.com. Thanks!

My Office

This is a picture of my office at TechSpace in the South End of Boston. I’m posting this to show you, but also to test an image insert function in my blog. I haven’t been able to get it working for a long time, but I think that by upgrading my Drupal theme the problem is fixed. Funny thing about Drupal, I love it, and now Bob and I are talking about using it for our next platform for Citysquares.com. More to come on that, for sure…

Here's my little corner office. I dig it. I spend more time here than I do at home, so I should like it.My Office: Here’s my little corner office. I dig it. I spend more time here than I do at home, so I should like it.