Category Archives: People

image-aHR0cDovL2JsdWJlZGJ1aWEwMjo4My9pLzM5L0MyN0FCMjYxQjEyMjM1RDdEMDRBMkU4RUFCRDJCRC5qcGcBeen to Starbucks lately? Maybe you dropped in for a quick work session — what with the free Wi-Fi and warm $4 lattes? You snagged a tiny, wooden chair, propped open your Mac, waited a few minutes for the spinning rainbow to get you online, only to realize how maddeningly slow it is. But, what the heck, you thought. You’re just gonna blast off a few emails, and maybe take a call or two before you hit the road. But first, you gotta bend and stretch to find that ever-elusive outlet… only to see the rotund nerd on the faux-leather couch next to you has already sucked up all the power, with about 4 devices double-jacked in the plugs. OK, you think… well, this Mac’s battery is good for about 45 min.

And there’s the call, your smartphone almost vibrating itself off the little, round table. You quickly reach over your laptop lid to snag the phone, almost toppling the hot latte. Whew, you think. That woulda been a nitemare, spilling coffee all over your expensive, blingy gadgets. You swipe to take the call right as the barista starts grinding the 4 pounds of beans he needs for the long line of people standing elbow to elbow, extending out the door, letting the cold air and traffic noise in. And that heavyset guy next to you? His power-sapping devices start jangling with meeting alerts. He grabs his phone and dials in as well. Conference call. And he’s not the quiet type. He’s bloviating into that phone about the upcoming sales conference as you try and hear your caller — the low-talker VP on the other end — your boss’s boss — as he near-whispers to you something about something you need to do, right as the barista ramps up the grinding blades.

Yeah, we’ve all been there. Working in coffee shops. But guess what? You hate this? You travel a lot? Cause THIS is your life on the plane now that the FAA is relaxing rules around devices at 40,000 feet. There is NO MORE black hole away from being “always connected”. If the airlines allow your fellow passengers to take calls, conduct meetings, and run their businesses on the plane, you’ll have no respite from the loud-talker salesperson, the weepy mistress crying about her lousy life as the “other woman”, the whining geek too afraid of not being the only one with the good idea, and the seatmate hogging not only the armrest, but the very peaceful air you used to be able to relax into. All we can do is pray the airlines will have the sanity to make some rules about the new etiquette that will be so sorely needed as we torpedo into the future with our gadgets turned on, gate to gate!

At 8 p.m. on December 31, 2013, 6 year old Sofia Liu was walking in a crosswalk at Polk and Civic Center in San Francisco with her mom and younger brother when she was struck and killed by an Uber driver. Uber is a ride-sharing company that provides “car service on demand” via a smartphone app. Wherever Uber provides service, simply launch an app and Uber will automatically locate you and connect you to the closest driver. Within minutes a driver will pick you up and get you to your destination. There are several ride-sharing companies providing car services on demand, including Lyft and Sidecar. Uber has been growing and innovating beyond typical taxi services by promising quick pick-up and drop-off, as well as delivering Christmas trees and even kittens.

When the driver struck little Sofia, Uber stated he was “not employed by Uber at the time of the accident because he did not have an Uber customer in the car with him”. Since he was “between fares”, Uber claims they are not responsible for the death. However, an attorney representing the family of Sofia is filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against both Uber and the driver alleging that the driver was an Uber contractor using Uber’s app at the time of the accident. Furthermore, the attorney claims that the driver was “texting while driving” using Uber’s app to prepare for his next fare, causing him to be distracted.

Uber is declining comment over the lawsuit, but it seems like the attorney’s strategy is to associate the driver with Uber simply by the fact that the driver was logged into Uber’s app. This will take the discussion about if and how to regulate start-up services like Uber to the next level. Are the Uber drivers too distracted by technology in the car making them unsafe to be on the road? That will be the key question for a judge or jury to answer. In the meantime, San Francisco has one of the highest rates of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in the nation, so watch out for yourself out there! At least one San Francisco Supervisor seems to be “on the case“.

By the way, according to Uber, the driver that struck little Sofia has been “deactivated” as a driver in their system.

Why does a company that started by selling books continue to disrupt so many industries they’re not first considered to be experts in? Amazon has evolved from being an online bookseller to becoming not only “the world’s marketplace” but one of the world’s largest providers of cloud services — creating an entirely new service offering that just a few years ago didn’t even exist. And, in the meantime, becoming a high-tech company that rivals the ones expected to innovate in this area.

That may be the primary reason Amazon has been able to take-off in new markets. First, its CEO, Jeff Bezos is not concerned with short-term profits. His vision is what more CEOs need to reflect on: “We like to invent and do new things, and I know for sure that long term orientation is essential for invention because you’re going to have a lot of failures along the way.” Too many American companies seek just short-term profit, and don’t focus on more than 3 or 4 quarters. If Kindle, Amazon Web Services and Amazon Prime were required to show profits in their first 3 or 4 quarters, they would have never even gone to market.

True disruption comes from those that jump into a market not worried about cost. They usually go in with the lowest cost and quality offering and build from there. Ultimately, becoming a market Online Blackjack leader means that you have to continue to innovate and disrupt, or you become less a disruptor and just a profit-making machine. Consider the fate of Polaroid, Atari, RIM and Digital Equipment Corporation: all were once disruptors in their respective industries. Once they reached the top, they stumbled. They stumbled because they stopped innovating and disrupting. Amazon continues to discover new markets, innovate products and services, and is restless once they begin to make inroads into a new market. Apple and Google are the obvious candidates for finding it difficult to create market breakthroughs while servicing the markets they currently dominate.

Disruption is based on creating new and valuable products and services in an uncertain market. Once a company gets too comfortable in their market, they will eventually find it difficult to innovate and disrupt. The challenge is to foster a culture that values creativity and innovation and offers a process that encourages its people to ask questions, uncover new possibilities, and explore without being driven by profit only. Amazon has shown it’s willing and able to enter any market it thinks it can add value to. And then it works from within and continually innovates and disrupts. Companies like Apple, Google and even Microsoft should never forget what happened to the companies that lost their hunger for innovation. Maybe they should listen to Jeff a little more.

It’s been windy and rainy in the Texas capitol, but there’s still 24,000 people huddled together for SXSWi. Day One of Interactive (for me) was about mobile marketing. Tim Reis, the head of advertising for Google, kicked it off:

Mobile marketing/advertising is now about weaving into the consumer’s device. It’s about having a conversation with the consumer. The device is used for dialogue, and marketers now have to do more than just throw banner ads out there. The real opportunity is to learn how people use their devices and interact with them to build a relationship with them.

Mobile is the signature device of the 21st century. It will also interact with the device of the 20th century: the TV. The second screen experience is where your primary focus should be for mobile advertising.

What is mobility and context? New patterns are emerging as consumers integrate multiple screens into their day. Context used to mean placing an ad next to content. Now it means where the consumer is and what they’re doing, and what mood and mode they’re in. You need electronic cigarette usa to focus on how the consumer moves across multiple screens, and their ever-changing context is.

Consumers weave seamlessly through context, doing what they do at any given moment. Devices are blurry — phones are getting larger and acting like tablets, tablets are getting smaller. The device itself is no longer important. Context is what it’s all about. We used to think about intent. Intent is a powerful signal. Combine intent and context, and you see the direction we’re going in.

Five years ago marketers thought of social, local and mobile as buckets. As new tech emerges, we tend to box them into buckets we can understand. Consumers don’t see these buckets, however.

Contextual opportunities are the essence of mobile. Consumers take their digital life with them.

Friction is also key. Eliminating friction in the process empowers your connection to your consumer (stop asking someone for their city and state when you’re also asking them for their zip code). On a phone, that friction is big. Bigger than on a laptop. Think through the friction points. Erase friction.

Ikea announced today that they will partner with Marriott to create a new budget “hotel brand” based on their prefabricated furniture model. The hotels won’t include Ikea furniture, but instead will be built based on new construction methods that stress lower-cost materials. Prefabricated hotel rooms will be built in a central location and placed wherever needs arise. This is a similar model to what some retailers are doing with popup stores in areas that swarm with large groups of people for specific events. Kind of like what Apple did at SXSW during its iPad launch the electronic cigarettes — quickly create a popup store to sell items where people are gathered, and then take the store down after the event is over.

Popup hotels could be quickly assembled in areas where events bring large amounts of people together. Even here in Austin right now, it’s virtually impossible to get a hotel room, and if you do, it’s easily $400 a night. Popup hotels could offer some relief to the need for rooms, and will attract a younger, more budget-conscious traveler.

Ikea and Marriott will launch their first popup hotel in Milan this year.

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