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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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What Happens To CPM’s When The Economy Turns Down?

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Here’s the start of the conversation:

Nerd 1: “Man – those Facebook ads really suck.  They are completely irrelevant.  And – well – embarrassing (e.g. almost porn.)”  I can’t imagine that they ever get clicked on (except the porn.)”

Nerd 2: “Yeah, but it doesn’t matter.  It’s all CPM based so all that matters right now are page views.” 

Nerd 3: (also co-founder of a generation one search engine): “Yeah – that worked really well the last time around – until the economy went south.  Then – CPM rates became asymptotic with zero.”

It went on for a while (along with additional sushi and saki consumption.)  It was interesting.  And important.  And chilling for anyone relying on CPM-based ads only.  Maybe it’ll be different this time.  But that’s what “they” said the last time.  Don’t forget to be sitting in a chair when the music stops playing.

Smart and Interesting People in Reston

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I’m in Reston, Virginia today at the The New New Internet Conference.  Brian Williams – the CEO of Viget Labs – invited me to speak on a panel after spending some time this summer in Boulder with the TechStars gang. 

A lot of my friends that live in Silicon Valley rarely stray out of Silicon Valley.  “Center of the startup universe” is no longer a cliche – rather, it’s like a scab that has been picked so many times it no longer will heal.  Silicon Valley is a critically important place in the world for creating companies, but it’s not the only place smart people that are doing interesting and important things hang out.

Last night at the pre-conference dinner I found a bunch of this type of person including dudes like Ryan CarsonFrank GruberTim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Rohit BhargavaOm Malik hung out, teased me about my clothing, and had a conversation with James Surowiecki that I snooped on. 

While Silicon Valley is on a fault line (literally and metaphorically), it’s important not to forget all the other interesting stuff going on “not in Silicon Valley.” 

For example, at this conference there is a “Government Track” with topics such as “Web 2.0 at the State Level”, “Current Web 2.0 Initiatives within Government Agencies”, “Virtual Government: Real Life Uses for Second Life”, “Intellipedia”, and “Let my data go! Making the case for transparent Government.” 

Now – before you go “yawn” or “Government 2.0” – remember my premise that the next 36 months will see massive crossover adoption into the enterprise (and government) of the consumer Internet innovations we’ve seen in the past 24 months.  Assuming that is correct, the dollars that will be spent are going to be massive and much of it will happen in Fortune 5000 headquarters and large government agencies that aren’t based in Silicon Valley.

A wise man once told me “go visit your customers.”  Today, he might say something like “son – buy a plane ticket and fly somewhere other than the center of the startup universe just to see what is going on and how people are thinking about this stuff.”

Detailed Analysis of NetSuite S-1 Filing

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If you follow SaaS software and are interested in getting a great summary of the NetSuite S-1 filing without reading it, Jason Wood has a nice dissection of it at NetSuite IPO…Another SaaS horseman braves the public markets.

Customer Service Has To Change

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I am regularly amazed at the amount of money consumer electronics, mobile device, and cell phone companies spend on “stupid customer service tricks.”  I got the following note from a friend that has a Sony Reader.

My screen cracked for some reason.  Probably got hit in my bag somehow.  I sent it in to Sony for service and they offered to fix it for $272; a new unit is $299.  I declined. I sent a letter to the Sony USA VP marketing.  I pointed out that when my ipod broke, I got a new one in 20 minutes at the store, no questions asked.  And the contrast in experiences is why my family of 4 has 8 ipods but is only likely to have 1 reader. I got a nice phone call last night and a new reader is on its way! 

I am a consumer electronics junkie – you name it, I probably have (or have had) it.  My best two customer experiences to date have been the Sonos (truly amazing) and Slingbox (we are investors so I’m glad it’s amazing.)  Apple has also been a happy place to be, as long as I walk into the store and give them my sad puppy dog look.  Most everything else sucks.  When something breaks (like my Sony DVD player did last month), I just buy another one to replace it rather than struggle through the six week “send it in and then pay us almost as much as another one to get it fixed” routine.)

The Sony Reader example above is completely consistent with my reality.  It’d be so easy for Sony to start by sending out another one and have a delighted customer.  The result would be worth much more than the cost of incremental customer acquisition and the customer destruction support function.  The strategy of “send me your broken thing and I’ll replace it” seems so logical today in a world where people shout from the rooftops about the great experiences – buying much more goodwill than a million banner ads. 

At least the Sony USA VP Marketing has a clue.  Maybe Sony should put her in charge of customer care!

Time to Stuff the Ballot Box

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I’m amused by the endless awards that our industry bestows on people and companies, but I can’t avoid the seduction of asking you to vote.  I promise you don’t have to make choices between Clinton and Obama – yet.

The Webware 100 are up for selection.  Several of my friends are listed as candidates.  

Please vote early and often (ok – you only get to vote once – so early will have to do) for them.

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