This is What I Want to Be When I Grow Up!

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Yahoo Shuts Down Geocities.com

Yahoo has closed Geocities.com, an online property it bought several years ago for $4 billion. During its heyday–during the dotcom boom of the late 90s and early 2000, Geocities.com was one of the most trafficked sites on the Internet with its offer of free webhosting and web page building service. At the time it was the Blogger, Wordress, MySpace or Facebook of its day. A lot of web developers, web designers, and bloggers I know–including myself, used the service to learn and teach ourselves HTML. My first website I believe was hosted there (or was it Tripod?) and it was called “Boogie’s Base on the Web.” Sadly I couldnt find an online archive of this as this website predates Google and I think even the Internet Archive –can you imagine that?

Here’s to Yahoo Geocities! We will miss you.

What it Takes for Filipino Software Companies to Go Global

Melvin Calimag, a Filipino journalist and blogger for ZDNet Asia posts in his blog PinoyPost a question on why is it that, unlike in India, there are very few IT/Tech companies in the Philippines who have gone global. He writes:

Need for Filipino IT firms to go global : Pinoy Post : Blogs : ZDNet Asia

Unlike India which has launched quite a number of successful global IT firms, mostly in the BPO (business process outsourcing) sector, the Philippines seems to be content in merely hosting multinational companies in the country. 

A cursory glance at the composition of the largest tech firms in the country would reveal that the majority, if not all, of them are foreign-owned. Even in the field of outsourcing where the Philippines has made some inroads, the biggest names are still those from the United States, United Kingdom, and yes, India.

Sure, there are some Filipino-owned BPO firms which have expanded into foreign shores, but none of them have approximated the level of prominence or success the likes of India’s Infosys, and even Satyam, have achieved–just the mention of these company names would earn recognition of their country of origin.

Sadly, that’s not the case with the Philippines. While the country has somehow been able to market itself as a viable offshore destination, there are no homegrown icons to speak of that can serve as IT ambassadors for the country.

While I certainly share the sentiment, let me share my thoughts on why that is–specially for software product companies (which have a different set of challenges than IT service or IT-enabled service companies). I think the challenge for many software companies in the Philippines (and in Asia for that matter) is that it takes a considerable amount of capital to build a sustainable and profitable business abroad.

Although I have heard of stories and case studies of small, local shops making a nice profit developing casual games, online services or iPhone apps; I have yet to see one scale to a size beyond being a lifestyle business for the owner, or to develop a sizable customer base or presence to be called a truly “global” company. By global, to have the size, reach, stature and success of companies like F-secure (Finland), Trend Micro (Japan/Taiwan), Kaspersky (Russia), ICQ (Israel), Skype (Estonia/Sweden), SAP (Germany), Zoho (India), and many others.

Creating a scalable business with considerable international presence and a sustainable business model in my opinion requires considerable capital. Companies can start out with low cost Internet direct marketing, but to truly grow and to make a name for themselves, they will eventually have to join trade shows, go on trade missions, meet face to face with international analysts/press/decision makers and influencers , or in the case of complex or business applications provide consulting and support, develop partner/reseller channels, and many others.

In order to do this, you need capital. For a company just starting out, often times the only way to do this is to get funding from a) a wealthy angel investor (as in the case of GSCand G2iX as mentioned in Melvin’s blog post); or you would need b) venture funds/institutional investment/debt/capital raised through IPO; or a third route is to c) raise capital purely through organic growth.

Now the first (getting angel investment) is difficult as it requires the right sort of connections or “social capital.” Preferrably you would want to get investment from people who know the industry–who have realistic expectations of the time horizons and amount required to get a software company of the ground and can mentor the software entrepreneur how to best use the funds provided. This is something not all Filipino entrepreneurs have access to, but is something that considerably more Indian entrepreneurs have with the success of many country men who made it big in the US in the 80s and 90s like Vinod Khosla of Sun Microsystems and Sabeer Bhatia of Hotmail (and literally hundreds, possibly thousands of others who found success as software engineers/analyts/testers, etc in the US).

The second (venture capital/institutional investments/IPO) is hard, because the Philippines and many countries in Asia simply don’t have access to the type of capital markets and business ecosystem that entrepreneurs in the US (specially in Silicon Valley) enjoy. In this regard, GSC and G2iX (companies mentioned in Melvin’s article) struggle as well as evidenced by their aborted IPOs.

The third route is hardest as it requires that software companies have a large enough market in its home country for it to be able to grow enough to support and fund that kind of internal growth. This is hardest as it is outside of the entrepreneur’s control. For Filipinos it is difficult because of lackluster economic performance of the country. This is compounded by the fact that the market is just too small (specially for companies developing enterprise/engineering/scientific) applications to fuel the kind of focused expansion/growth required for quick product development, innovation and market penetration (notice how many Singaporian and Australian software companies themselves struggle to create truly global software product companies, simply because their home market is just too small to raise enough capital to build global companies).

Perhaps technical brilliance, innovative products, smart people are not enough? The environment, connections, access to capital, and maybe luck (ie where you were born) plays a part as well. Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts as well.

Zoho Launches Zoho Gadgets

This is interesting. It seems these guys never tire of building new things into their platform. Zoho launched recently its Zoho Gadgets, which allows users to embed Zoho apps to be embedded in any OpenSocial compatible site or social network. This includes Orkut, iGoogle, Gmail, Friendster, Ning and Yahoo. Although not OpenSocial compatible, Zoho Gadgets also support embedding on Facebook.

Zoho Gadgets connects you to iGoogle, Facebook, Orkut, Gmail etc | Zoho Blogs

Zoho Gadgets launches today with the aim to connect Zoho applications with external applications. Zoho Gadgets, available at http://gadgets.zoho.com, can be integrated/embedded with online applications like iGoogle, Facebook, Orkut, Gmail & more. To start with, we are offering six Zoho gadgets.

* Zoho Docs (Including Writer, Sheet & Show)
* Zoho Mail
* Zoho Calendar
* Zoho Tasks
* Zoho Contacts and
* Zoho Planner

This just in: Oracle to Buy Sun

After several weeks of flirting with IBM, now comes news that troubled technology company Sun Microsystems will be acquired (for sure?!) by big bad tech behemoth Oracle. Just a few years after ingesting Siebel, Peoplesoft, JD Edwards, BEA, and many others, now Oracle will take on ingesting the considerable assets, talent and notable history of Sun. Among the new properties that will be folded intor Oracle? OpenOffice, ZFS, Glassfish, and what many consider to be Sun’s Crown Jewels: Solaris, Java and recently open source database MySQL (!)

Everybody is holding their breath to find out what will happen next. The press relase is below:

Sun and Oracle

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 20, 2009 — Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) and Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL) announced today they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Oracle will acquire Sun common stock for $9.50 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at approximately $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt.

“We expect this acquisition to be accretive to Oracle’s earnings by at least 15 cents on a non-GAAP basis in the first full year after closing. We estimate that the acquired business will contribute over $1.5 billion to Oracle’s non-GAAP operating profit in the first year, increasing to over $2 billion in the second year. This would make the Sun acquisition more profitable in per share contribution in the first year than we had planned for the acquisitions of BEA, PeopleSoft and Siebel combined,” said Oracle President Safra Catz.

“The acquisition of Sun transforms the IT industry, combining best-in-class enterprise software and mission-critical computing systems,” said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. “Oracle will be the only company that can engineer an integrated system – applications to disk – where all the pieces fit and work together so customers do not have to do it themselves. Our customers benefit as their systems integration costs go down while system performance, reliability and security go up.”

There are substantial long-term strategic customer advantages to Oracle owning two key Sun software assets: Java and Solaris. Java is one of the computer industry’s best-known brands and most widely deployed technologies, and it is the most important software Oracle has ever acquired. Oracle Fusion Middleware, Oracle’s fastest growing business, is built on top of Sun’s Java language and software. Oracle can now ensure continued innovation and investment in Java technology for the benefit of customers and the Java community.

The Sun Solaris operating system is the leading platform for the Oracle database, Oracle’s largest business, and has been for a long time. With the acquisition of Sun, Oracle can optimize the Oracle database for some of the unique, high-end features of Solaris. Oracle is as committed as ever to Linux and other open platforms and will continue to support and enhance our strong industry partnerships.

“Oracle and Sun have been industry pioneers and close partners for more than 20 years,” said Sun Chairman Scott McNealy. “This combination is a natural evolution of our relationship and will be an industry-defining event.”

“This is a fantastic day for Sun’s customers, developers, partners and employees across the globe, joining forces with the global leader in enterprise software to drive innovation and value across every aspect of the technology marketplace,” said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun’s CEO, “From the Java platform touching nearly every business system on earth, powering billions of consumers on mobile handsets and consumer electronics, to the convergence of storage, networking and computing driven by the Solaris operating system and Sun’s SPARC and x64 systems. Together with Oracle, we’ll drive the innovation pipeline to create compelling value to our customer base and the marketplace.”

“Sun is a pioneer in enterprise computing, and this combination recognizes the innovation and customer success the company has achieved. Our largest customers have been asking us to step up to a broader role to reduce complexity, risk and cost by delivering a highly optimized stack based on standards,” said Oracle President Charles Phillips. “This transaction will preserve and enhance investments made by our customers, while we continue to work with our partners to provide customers with choice.”

The Board of Directors of Sun Microsystems has unanimously approved the transaction. It is anticipated to close this summer, subject to Sun stockholder approval, certain regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

YouTube Symphony Orchestra @ Carnegie Hall – Act One

The world’s first collaborative online orchestra performed at Carnegie Hall on April 15, 2009. Selected by the YouTube community and several members of the world’s most renowned orchestras, the YouTube Symphony Orchestra is made up of over 96 professional and amateur musicians from 30+ countries and territories on six continents and represents 26 different instruments.

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Google Losing (Massive Amounts of) Money in Youtube

Google may be losing up to $1.65M a Day on YouTube–this is according to an article by David Silversmith in his blog at Internet Evolution.

He bases his assessment from research provided by financial firm Credit Suisse and Internet measurement provider comScore Inc. According to their estimates, Youtube is on track to serve 75 billion video streams to 375 million unique visitors in 2009. From this amount of users and traffic, it is estimated they earn only anywhere from a low of $90 million (Bear Stearns) to a high of $240 million (Credit Suisse). Revenues come from adwords and home page banner advertising, and premium dedicated channel content.

To earn this however, they spend an estimated $753 million annually on bandwidth and infrastructure. So, depending on whose version of
revenues you accept, Google is losing anywhere from $513 million to
$663 million annually on YouTube, or anywhere from $1.4 million to as
much as $1.65 million every day (see chart below).

Internet Evolution – David Silversmith – Google Losing up to $1.65M a Day on YouTube

You can read more of David’s post here, or read a post from Technologizer, which expects Youtube to radically shift its strategy and content to survive.

Now if Youtube is having a hard time monetizing its massive user base and traffic–what does this bode for the site’s smaller competitors such as Veoh, Brightcove, and others? Or for that matter sites that offer free services such as Twitter. What does this say about the viability of businesses whose business model is around free and user-generated content?

IDC: Linux spending set to boom by 21 percent in 2009

Matt Asay posts in his blog his analysis of IDC’s latest study on the corporate adoption of Linux. According to the report, the growth in the adoption of Linux and Linux-related software is set to outpace the growth in UNIX and UNIX-related software as well as Windows and Windows-related software in the coming years:

Matt’s other insights from the report:

  • Most of the deployments for Linux is for the free or non-paid/community-supported Linux OS distributions
  • Linux is set to outpace the larger market, with customer spending on Linux expected to grow year over year by 21 percent in 2009. The larger software market, meanwhile, will struggle to deliver 2 percent growth in 2009. And from 2008 to 2013, the Linux market is set to grow $12.3 billion to $35.5 billion, representing a 23.6 percent compound annual growth rate.
  • Even so, it is important to note that the size of Linux versus, for example, Windows, is telling: the Microsoft software ecosystem was $149 billion in 2008. IDC rightly points out that “even with a sub-10 percent growth rate through 2013, (the Microsoft ecosystem) will add $56 billion in spending.
  • Virtualization is expected to be a big driver of Linux. While cloud computing is also expected to drive Linux and open-source adoption, the real money is coming from increases in Linux adoption–from 13 percent to 18.6 percent–for more traditional workloads like ERP, database, etc. Most of this growth in traditional workloads is coming at Unix’s expense.
  • IDC finds that 53 percent of enterprises it has surveyed are planning to increase adoption of Linux on the server and 48 percent expect to increase adoption of Linux on the client (desktop, laptop, etc.) “as a direct result of the economic climate.”
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, while Microsoft has been attempting to make Windows an inviting platform for open-source vendors, IDC expects no movement from Microsoft to make its software available on Linux. This is war, and Microsoft for all its talk about interoperability, apparently sees interoperability as a one-way street on which other vendors interoperate with it, on its terms, to its advantage.

Its a good time for companies to start thinking about moving to Linux, and applications on Linux such as messaging, virtualization, security and enterprise business software. The economic conditions today certainly provide an incentive for many to do so.

While Linux already has some headway in the server market, it remains to be seen if this growing interest in Linux will result in greater share in other markets such as client devices. While the desktop PC and laptop market is already largely dominated by Microsoft and contested really only by Apple, the really interesting thing to look out for in my opinion is the brewing battle for Linux to have a place in new devices such as Netbooks and Mobile phones.

Enterprise Web Content Management Smack Down

{{de|Pankratiasten im Bodenkampf. Verkleinerte...
Image via Wikipedia

This week it seems Im finding a lot of links related to head to head vendor competitions, tournaments, and now in your face smackdowns:

It all started when CMS Watch’s Kas Thomas posted his “reality checklist” for CMS vendors. Each vendor should ask themselves 15 tough questions about their product. Now one particular vendor Day has put down the challenge to all other CMS vendors, the CMS Vendor meme, to answer the questions from the check list. Surprisingly, this challenge elicited a wave of responses from Day’s competitors; among them Alfresco,  Jahia, Nuxeo, Knowledgetree, and even the incumbents such as Vignette, Autonomy Interwoven and others. Most of them were done tongue-in-cheek, with some good natured competitive trash talking thrown in for good measure. They are interesting in that they provides a nice peek into the cultures and attitudes of the vendors and how they assess their own product.

Blogger Julian Wraith posts a scoreboard in his blog. As of the time of this posting, the results are (remember most of the vendors rated themselves on the vendor evaluation checklist posed by Kaz Thomas):

  1. 43/45 – Jahia
  2. 43/45 – Hippo CMS
  3. 42/45 – Magnolia
  4. 42/45 – EPiServer
  5. 42/45 – GX *
  6. 42/45 – Midgard
  7. 42/45 – Nuxeo **
  8. 41/45 – infopark
  9. 41/45 – KnowledgeTree
  10. 40.5/45 – Enano
  11. 40/45 – Day
  12. 40/45 – Alfresco
  13. 40/45 – GX
  14. 40/45 – CoreMedia
  15. 40/45 – Sitecore
  16. 40/45 – Alterian
  17. 40/45 – OpenText
  18. 40/45 – Ez Systems
  19. 38/45 – dotCMS
  20. 37/45 – Vignette
  21. 37/45 – Autonomy Interwoven
  22. 36/45 – Escenic
  • bold scores are where the vendor did not score themselves but it was subsequentally worked out by Jon Marks
  • * Score adjusted to reflect original scoring system
  • ** Vendor does not seem to be able to add up

Here is the full text of the checklist:

Trends: A reality checklist for vendors

Web CMS vendors live at an interesting intersection between the new and the old: They live with one foot firmly planted in the enterprise-software world (a world of servers and routers and black console screens with flashing cursors), and the other foot planted on the Flashy, fast-shifting ground of the Internet.The two worlds are diverging rapidly. Traditional enterprise software development (the kind associated with “programming in the large”) tends to be slow, costly, inflexible. Solution sales, marketing, and support tend to be correspondingly process-heavy and inertia-laden. The Web, on the other hand, is agile, fun, and friction-free. It has changed the way people look at computing. It has changed expectations (and conversations) around marketing, pricing, maintenance, support, and just about every other aspect of the enterprise-software experience.

And yet somehow, software vendors who should know better (again: vendors in the Web CMS space) are sometimes failing to perceive how profoundly things have changed in the past year or so.

As a public service, then, I propose the following “reality-check checklist” for Web CMS vendors (and other enterprise software vendors) who intend to stay afloat — if not prosper — in 2009 and beyond. Violate these rules at your own risk.:

“WE GET IT” CHECKLIST FOR VENDORS

1. Our software comes with an installer program.

2. Installing or uninstalling our software does not require a reboot of your machine.

3. You can choose your locale and language at install time, and never have to see English again after that.

4. Eval versions of the latest edition(s) of our software are always available for download from the company website.

5. Our WCM software comes with a fully templated “sample web site” and sample workflows, which work out-of-the-box.

6. We ship a tutorial.

7. You can raise a support issue via a button, link, or menu command in our administrative interface.

8. All help files and documentation for the product are laid down as part of the install.

9. We run our entire company website using the latest version of our own WCM products.

10. Our salespeople understand how our products work.

11. Our software does what we say it does.

12. We don’t charge extra for our SDK.

13. Our licensing model is simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand.

14. We have one price sheet for all customers.

15. Our top executives are on Skype, Twitter, or some similar channel, and: Feel free to contact them directly at any time.

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The Yankee Group Business Collaboration Tournament

revers1.
Image via Wikipedia

Here is another showdown–this time between collaboration software vendors. Interesting in that it has a tournament style presentation format (ala Streetfighter or K1) and pits large on-premise software vendors such as IBM and Microsoft, with small, up and coming vendors such as pure-SaaS provider Zoho.

This was developed by Yankee Group. Read more below:

The Yankee Group Business Collaboration Tournament

Although the buzzer-beaters and Cinderella surprises of the NCAA college basketball tournament have been put to rest for 2008, Yankee Group revisited March Madness in the business collaboration vendor landscape.This season marks the inaugural Yankee Group Business Collaboration Tournament. Based on the framework we’ve developed, the tournament will crown the technology vendor with the most comprehensive business collaboration solution the champion of 2008.

In addition, in this Report we also announce the Yankee Group All-Tournament Team and Collaboration Coach of the Year. These awards are given to the vendors that are most successful within the categories we evaluated:

* Community-centric collaboration solutions
* Real-time and messaging collaboration solutions
* Mobile collaboration solutions

We also evaluate the 16 selected vendors (see Exhibit 1) on IT friendliness (e.g., their ability to integrate with existing solutions); the level of service and support they provide; and, at a strategic level, their product road map, their commitment to business collaboration relative to their entire portfolio and their long-term viability.

However, the purpose of the tournament is not to predict the ultimate market champion, but to evaluate vendors on functionality and alignment with Yankee Group’s vision of the Anywhere EnterpriseTM, which essentially is a business that—technologically speaking—allows corporate users to work anywhere using any device. The goal of the Report is to help businesses make the right purchasing and licensing decisions for their collaboration infrastructure and strategy.

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