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If you haven’t tried Technorati in a while, go take another look. At their birthday party, they rolled out a new major upgrade to the service. Dave Sifry – the CEO / founder describes it in detail. My quick scan around the blogosphere pundits showed consistently strong positive feedback. I often get asked how I manage to keep up with as much information as I do – especially about the companies I’m involved with. Part of my secret weapon is Technorati, NewsGator Online search feeds, and FeedDemon. Plus – they all work really nicely together.
Happy birthday guys.
My partner Greg Galanos led the first round investment in Danger, the company that makes the T-Mobile Sidekick. I’ve loved it since the day the Sidekick 1 came out and – over the past five years – have tried pretty much every other mobile / data device and always come back to my Sidekick.
I got my Sidekick 3 a few days before heading to Alaska. I didn’t expect it to work up here (my Sidekick 2 didn’t work last summer – T-Mobile’s service wasn’t strong enough.) Imagine my surprise when I showed up and it worked perfectly. I’ve had two weeks of it now and it is a simply awesome product.
Greg pointed me to a great review of the Sidekick 3 on the hiptop.com site. The author totally nails why this is such a great product. The brilliance of the company has been that they’ve known their demographic and stuck to it (hint – I’m not in the demographic.) Amazingly, with each interation, the product adds more distance from the alternatives.
After several years of trying to explain to people the difference between a Sidekick and a Blackberry, I finally settled on a straightforward analogy. Sidekick: Blackberry = Mac:Windows. That kind of says it all.
When Niel Robertson – the founder and CTO of Newmerix – started talking about his idea for a set of “next-generation software quality assurance” products aimed at packaged application vendors, he regularly listed several packaged application vendors, including PeopleSoft, Siebel, Oracle, and SAP as candidate packaged applications to target.
Newmerix focused their development initially on PeopleSoft products and has released three products – Automate!Test (automated software testing), Automate!Change (change management), and Automate!Program Manager (product management and regulatory compliance) – all for the PeopleSoft platform.
When Oracle acquired PeopleSoft, a number of VCs that I know said something like “Brad – your screwed – there’s no reason for these products after Oracle owns the entire ERP footprint.” “Au contraire” I responded (using one of the few French phrases that I’ve actually managed to learn), the trend and complete migration zoo that Oracle will generate insures the need for these types of products (if you want a hysterical and detailed overview about why this is happening, take a look at Niel’s brilliant post titled “I Pity The Fool” – I bet you never thought that Mr. T and the elusive Dirk Benedict could be woven into a serious discussion of Oracle’s migration path for the various products they’ve acquired.)
Of course, only time (and performance) will tell the end of the story, but so far it’s getting more and more exciting every quarter. However, every time I talked to Niel, he’d look at me and say something like “SAP.” Sometimes it was more, but often that was it. Today, he backed up his word(s) by announcing that Newmerix now supports SAP’s products. We are starting via the acquisition of the Object Manager product line from a company named Skywire – these products immediately become Newmerix Automate!Change for SAP and Automate!Program Manager for SAP.
These acquisitions use a long time “early acquisition” strategy that I’ve used successfully in many of my portfolio companies (Fred Wilson kindly referred to me as the “master of the venture rollup” – fortunately I can count some real masters like Jerry Poch and Len Fassler as mentors.) If you’ve followed NewsGator’s trajectory, you know that they have acquired three companies to date – FeedDemon/BradSoft, NetNewswire/Ranchero Software, and Smartfeed.org/Windows Mobile Reader.
As an early stage VC, I’ve found that when you’ve got a clear long term strategy developed, a super strong leadership team that is open to integrating new technologies, people and products into their company (vs. a classical “not invested here approach”), and a willingness to get close to great small companies that can help you quickly extend your product footprint, a buy (vs. build) approach is often really compelling. There are lots of risks and not every acquisition or company is successful, but if you do it right, you can end up with some very nice companies like Return Path.
Congrats Niel and the Newmerix team on your nice strategic move – I look forward to the next one.
I occasionally hear things from people about how “spam is on the decline.” This always entertains me because immediately after receiving an email like this, I get a 200 message comment spam attack on my blog and three IM windows pop up in Trillian with random people I don’t know saying “Hi” with a link to what I’m sure is something truly evil.
Yesterday, Postini announced that instant messaging attacks had increased by 500% in May. They are dealing with large enough numbers and a diverse enough sample size for the numbers to be statistically significant. Here are some interesting ones for you.
- 138% increase in corporate IM traffic
- 500% increase in IM spam attacks
- Nifty new names for IM attacks such as Browaf, Tilebot, and Khoobe
- Postini processed 25 billion email messages in May (13% increase from April)
- 86% of traffic was spam or contained viruses
- 65% of traffic was rejected at the network layer (e.g. directory harvest or denial of service attacks)
If you like stats, Postini has consolidated ones across their entire system. IM (what I think of as “Spim”) is clearly on the rise.
Spam in the blogosphere has continued to accelerate unabated. Why – oh why – do people think that I want a comment that says something like “I haven’t been up to much today. I’ve just been letting everything happen without me. Basically nothing seems worth bothering with. I’ve just been hanging out doing nothing. I just don’t have anything to say right now. More or less nothing happening.” on my blog with an associated link? At least my filters are working on the porn ones now.