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Archive for the ‘business’ Category

The three metrics of a startup

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

We all have way too little time on our hands, and when starting a business, time and focus will shift further. The success of your startup has three sources: focus, focus and focus. So instead of making a complete dashboard (something that I do however recommend in most cases), there is a minimum of measurement your startup needs:


Customers in the cloud?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

This week, I am lucky to be able to attend both the New York Internet Week and the Cloud Computing expo. On both events, I felt again that the customers have become the one element that is not in the picture.

Best entrepreneur in town!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

If you would as me today to divide starters (end entrepreneurs for that matter) in two divisions, my first choice would be to see who is becoming an independent craftsman on the one side, and the entrepreneurs willing to create “a company” on the other side. This article is not about who’s right or wrong, but I wish to express my concern for entrepreneurs, especially in the Flanders area, that believe becoming king of the village is the highest possible objective for their new company or venture.


It IS still a startup!

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Great chat last week with the proud manager of a young company, that has made the gap in becoming profitable now. Not easy, and really a great achievement.

Bit strange however when he told me about all the changes he would now make in the company… (more…)

European telcos want to charge Google

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

European telecommunication giants are preparing to fight Google over the data traffic and bandwidth that is consumed due to YouTube videos, according to a new report from the Financial Times. Their goal: to have Google pay them for the bandwidth YouTube and its other websites consume.

The metaphor of the bullfighter comes to mind. The enraged bull (or a herd of bulls in this case) storms – with bloodshot eyes – towards the red cloth. His only goal is to hurt or kill his fluttering menace, his only weapon: brute force. The fearless bullfighter plays along and taunts the beast a little more. When the thousand kilos of bovine meat have closed to a mere few inches, the matador swoops away, raises his sword and elegantly, but decisively, stabs the beast between the shoulderblades. The fight is over. The bull has become victim to its own rage and shortsightedness.

So too will the story go for tradional telcos. Yes, they are absolutely right: internet companies like Google move gigabytes of traffic through their copper pipes. And they *should* be paid for this! The enraged telcos stab furiously at Google; frustrated because they still don’t understand internet business and only see their revenues and margins decline. All they know is how to charge for landlines and interconnections, and by God, that is what they’ll do. They’ll charge Google more than they ever charged before!

And Google will pay them… and play them; and it will take ownership of the consumer. For Google, it will be a bargain: pay the telcos for bandwidth usage, and then turn around and offer their services plus connectivity for free to the consumer! Instant lock-in. Google will stab the telco by taking the end-user away from them. For every Euro they demand from Google, they’ll loose hundreds of Euro’s in end-user subscriptions. Worse even: as soon as Google has control over enough end-users, they will be able to play the telcos against each other. Telefónica, France Telecom and Deutsche Telecom will have to earn the *right* to provide internet access for Google… And that will be the end of the bullfight; until another matador comes along and challenges the incumbent.

It is the typical herald of innovation and change. Just as an upcoming breeze announced the arrival of Mary Poppins, so too can we deduce the arrival of imminent change by the giants and incumbents who put their heels in the sand and try to push their old model more violently than ever. Was it not Einstein who said: “Stupidity is trying the same thing again and expecting a different result…”?

Richard Stallman says cloud computing is a trap

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

There’s been some buzz on the web about GNU founder Richard Stallman’s statement that cloud computing is a trap and that Web-based programs like Google’s Gmail will force people to buy into locked, proprietary systems that will cost more and more over time. Many of the Free software advocates seem to agree and so does most of the Slashdot crowd (which, as we now, is entirely representative of the world’s geek opinion ;-) .

Stallman’s point is that in cloud computing, information is not free (‘free’ in the sense of liberty, not ‘gratis’). The application provider has full control over your data and you don’t have unlimited access to it. If the supplier should go bust, you lose your data. He argues that people choose convenience over freedom. I argue that it is becoming impossible to keep all your data at home and that often data becomes more valuable when it is kept by others.

First of all, we accept similar systems in other domains without thinking. If we were to follow Stallman’s train of thought, all of us would have to keep our money at home, take courses in investment banking and trade our shares and bonds ourselves to get a 3% return on our savings. Oh, yes, and we would of course need to buy vaults to protect the cash from disasters such as fire or burglars. It is not only more practical to bring it to the bank, it is also safer and it becomes more valuable.

The same goes for data: more and more business models are built on the concept of user-generated data and the increase of its value through the network effect. YouTube would be non-existent if people kept all their videos at home.

The main difference between data in the world of cloud computing and our money in the bank is legislation. Now I’m usually not an advocate for additional laws and rules, but our data is becoming almost as valuable as our money, so it should be protected by laws. One of the things the current financial crisis has learned us is that governments will go to great lengths to protect the money of the common man. If they would see that the common man’s data is equally important, then they could take appropriate measures to keep it free as well…

Newtonian business

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Innovation is difficult.

There, how’s that for kicking in open doors. In most companies, the main focus is on the “invention” part of innovation: people are stimulated individually, or in R&D teams, to find new technologies or creative ways to do business. However, this is not the most difficult phase of innovation. Getting the innovation into your business is…