TechCrunch Boston: What I missed

Bob and I went to the TechCrunch Boston Meetup Friday night. We got there at about 6:15 and the place was already filling in nicely. We bumped around upstairs, helped ourselves to a couple drinks, ran into some folks from around the way, checked out some demos, hung out with some new local entrepreneurs and ultimately had a nice time. My friend Don Dodge was there and he introduced us to Mike Arrington who, much to my surprise, was a lot more fun-going than I imagined he’d be. However, we had to leave. Friday was my birthday and I had my wife and some friends waiting in Copley Sq for me, so they could mess me up. So Bob and I left and went about our business of getting messed up. I regretted having to leave and I expressed it to Bob as we were walking about. But c’est la vie.

Then, this morning, Don emailed me his blog post about the rest of the night and I see what I actually missed. Too much to bear. But, it was my birthday so I do have a good excuse for leaving! I would have loved to chatted with Doc Searls, for starters – that’s just for starters. I guess you know you’re a real web geek when missing the chance to gab with Doc Searls is one of the bigger disappointments.

Anyway, Bob and I had a nice time. I said to Mike Arrington, “Ya know Mike, it’s about time you brought TechCrunch to Boston, man.” He looked at me with this expression of shock and amazement and said , “I know I can’t believe this! What a great town! We’ll definitely be back!” He emphasized “definitately.” I’m very much looking forward to the next event.

TechCrunch Boston

Google and the Sleeping Giant

There’s been a lot of talk in the mainstream media and in the blogosphere lately about Google’s acquisitions, Microsoft’s acquisitions, and whose acquisitions were better, or meant to block the other. It’s good stuff! Really good stuff. I’ve got a few opinions about this stuff, like anyone watching the developments from afar, but I don’t feel that I’m that much in-the-know so I choose to just sit back and observe and learn from it all. Over the past few days there have been some more developments in this Google vs. Microsoft hype that’s really been interesting to watch, including Microsofts acquisition of aQuantive. I think all this stuff has a big impact on me and on Citysquares actually.

I follow Don Dodge’s blog, and Donna Bogatin of ZDNET, and others like those in my blogroll (to the left). These folks all have strong positions and views of Google and Microsoft, and their transactions and supposed strategies.

I’m a big Microsoft fan. Maybe because I grew up on Microsoft and I’ve been certified in a variety of Microsoft products and skills (e.g., MCSE W2k + Active Directory). I am fairly savvy with ASP and .Net, with SQL, Active Directory, Exchange, etc etc. I’m just a loyal Microsoft guy. I didn’t choose .Net, SQL, Windows Server for Citysquares. I chose LAMP technology instead, for reasons I won’t go into here and now, but in short because it’s just a better development platform, IMHO.

I use Vista.
I use Office 2007 – I don’t ever see myself going to and Google apps.
I use MapPoint 2006. Yet Citysquares’ uses Google Maps.
I don’t use Hotmail except for my Messenger services. Yet I do use Gmail, and I do use Google Talk.
I don’t use MSN, ever. But my home page is my super-customized Google page (iGoogle).
I use MS Money 2007, and love it.
My preferred search engine is Google.

In my life Google has a place, and Microsoft has a place. I see Google as trying to push into too many places – and I don’t like that. It’s sort of like watching a teenager who has too much freedom, money, and independence. Maybe it’s more like the way Donna Bogatin put it – Microsoft is a sleeping giant.

Only time will tell and in the meantime I’ll continue watch this like I watch the Boston Red Sox and the NY Yankees.

Newspapers and Local Search – what’s wrong??

A validating little piece on The Praized Blog today and Don Dodge’s blog about the Local Search space and if/why newspapers get-it. I could not agree more with this, as some of my previous posts might indicate (in more or less words).

Ultimately I think this comes down to two major issues with the papers. And by papers I’m referring to the top dogs like The New York Times, and small community papers and TownOnline (here in New England). In fact, I had the opportunity to interact with an exec at TownOnline/Herald Interactive and there was a sort of arrogance there – like they’re so far ahead of the rest of us that we should be so lucky. And looking at them a year + later, nothing’s changed. So actually, let me make this 3 major issues:

  1. Arrogance: Just through my experience with Herald Interactive/TownOnline, and even some indirect communications with The Boston Globe and Boston.com – there’s a very old-school, conservative mentality. I have a contact at a large IBank who deals with these folks and he and I talk often about the hard-headedness of these folks. I’ve been introduced to a few people at these papers and they just can’t be bothered. At the risk of sounding bitter (maybe I’m too late), I’ll stop there.
  2. Stodgy: I think there’s a lack of innovative and forward thinking leadership at a lot of these companies. Folks, it’s 2007. If you’re a newspaper and you haven’t made a big Internet play yet – you’re in deep doo-doo. I commend the NYT for making some big big changes over the past year or so. I love what they’ve done and I find myself using those features and logging in more often every week. Great job NYT! Boston.com – wish I could say the same for you. I don’t think this has as much to do with #1 and #3 as much as it simply has to do with an old-school, stodgy, good ol’ boys club mentality.
  3. Techno what? Yes, no doubt there is a lack of technological initiative and strategy. But you can’t expect a newspaper with the first and second characteristics to embrace technology, can you? I haven’t really seen any major paper embrace technology in a meaningful way with a few exceptions (NYT, WSJ). Those exceptions have not only embraced technology, but they’ve also integrated into their business model – they’ve made adjustments. And as time goes on, things seems to working out fairly well.

All of this circles back to why they haven’t made a significant local-search play. The reasons for me are obvious, but I’m not a newspaper industry expert – no really, I’m not. Surprised I’m glad, too. Because there’s a market for me and Citysquares.com that allows us to make a big move. Question is, how long will it take for them to make another adjustment? I’m not too concerned, but my antennas are definitely up and tuned in.