Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, Entrepreneurs

Wil Schroter is the co-founder and CEO of which is a crowdfunding platform for startups, so it is not entirely surprising that he would pen a very pro-crowdfunding piece in GigaOM recently. In the piece, he righty calls out a few of the advantages: customer-sourced funding does allow you to test the market before you build, and it does allow you to fund the product before it is built avoiding the need to amass dilutive capital on a speculative basis, and it does allow you to engage with and build buzz amongst your potential customers even before they are your customers. (The recent hysteria about the Pebble Watch is a good example of this.) But what is totally misleading, even disturbing, about Schroter’s GigaOM article is that it so utterly and completely misses the bigger picture.  [Read more...]

Where the Puck is Going

Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, a long time partner at Kleiner Perkins, and a principal in well-respected Khosla Ventures, just published a great piece in TechCrunch on the “unhyped” new areas in Internet and mobile that interest him.  These are the areas he expects to produce the next batch of great opportunities and start-ups.  It is well worth a read, but here are the twelve areas he identifies:  [Read more...]

Going Green

[This post is part of a series about our net-zero residential solar project - to see a list of links to the full Solar Project series, click here or click here to bring up all Green-related posts. Next Post in Series.]

For reasons I cannot explain, solar energy has always fascinated me. So prepare yourself to see a bit more by way of green topics in this blog. A big part of the impetus for those posts is the impending conversion of our home to a net-zero solar-powered residence. What that means, for the uninitiated, is a house that produces 100% as much energy from the sun as it uses over the course of a year. In fact, if the design calculations are correct, and we scrimp and conserve power just a tiny bit more, we may even be able to eek out an actual surplus. Due to the benefits of net-metering, this means the power company will actually pay us more than we pay them in a year – a negative electricity bill – very cool. We are in the final planning and paperwork phases for of the project, so construction won’t start for a few weeks. Expect many more updates on the project to follow in coming months.

In the meantime, for my first general interest green post, I’d like to share a really cool new program worth checking out.

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NFC? NFW! (Near Field Communications is Total Hype) [Updated]

The buzz about near field communications (NFC) is totally missing the point.  NFC is just a contactless (or nearly contactless) replacement for swiping a credit card. But who cares?  The swipe really doesn’t need replacing.  It is no more trouble to swipe a credit card than it is to tap a smartphone on a pad.  20 credit cards stacked up in your pocket is still a tenth the size and weight of your smartphone.  Saving that weight or hassle when you are headed to the gym is hardly a compelling vision.  It is just not valuable to consumers or merchants, especially when you consider the hassles one has to go to in order to manage the security risks.

The excitement is misplaced.  The things to get excited about are systems which handle the payment for you by tapping into the smarts of a mobile device and your identity and your context to create a relationship between you and the vendor, to the potential benefit of both.  Currently an NFC tap is every bit as anonymous and devoid of context as the tried & true credit card swipe.  What you want is a system that knows it is you and allows the merchant to relate to you in the form of loyalty awards, discounts and relevant offers.

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Something From Nothing – Bringing the Store to the Customer

Grocery giant Tesco has launched a mind-boggling new experiment in South Korea.  Ranked at Number 2 in the country’s market, Tesco had fewer stores than its number one competitor, EMart.  Yet it wanted to move into number 1 without adding any stores.  The solution they came up with was nothing short of brilliant, but it wasn’t just a lucky guess; it came from thorough and thoughtful study of the customer.

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Why Did LogMeIn Buy Pachube?

A couple weeks ago newly IPO’ed Boston area company LogMeIn announced it had acquired one of the cooler companies in the “internet of things” space, Pachube.   I’ve long followed the space and continue to find it fascinating (for some great articles, check out ReadWriteWeb’s internet of things topic archive here).  I agree with Cisco that the number of devices on the internet is undoubtedly going to be huge, and I think Pachube is a really cool project to help drive people in that direction with their API and community.

I am a LogMeIn user – it’s a great service.  In particular, I like the ability to totally control a computer from an iPad while on the beach, using their Ignition iOS app.  For those large desktop programs you cannot, and generally would not want to, have running on a tablet or smartphone, it can be just the ticket for taking care of that one desktop chore that would have otherwise forced you back into the office.

So I am clear that they are both great companies.  But where I get a little fuzzy is exactly what LogMeIn, which focuses on human interaction with remote computers wants with Pachube which is focused exclusively on device interaction with remote computers.

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