Category Archives: biz

Jobs, jobs, jobs (are they created by politicians?)

This morning I created 150,000 jobs. I put into motion a plan to support small business and fix healthcare.

Don’t believe me?

It turns out you shouldn’t believe the politicians either.

It’s obvious that Obama is struggling with job creation. His main Republican opponents, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, are playing that against him.

Both claim they created 1,000s of jobs while in office and are even pinning their campaign on it. They directly state that they are responsible for job creation:

They are not alone. All politicians make this claim as if fixing potholes and firing teachers creates jobs. Of course, some of the best will try to convince you that cutting business taxes or creating a “friendly climate” is what it takes.

The team over at Planet Money called foul and dedicated an entire podcast to it. It turns out that they have no influence on jobs.

They are just lucky and happen to be in office when growth happens.

You can bet that this jobs nonsense will continue all the way to the 2012 Presidential Elections. Don’t let yourself be fooled!

Do young Americans want to work?

As in, get a job?

Despite all the haranguing on our economy and jobs market, why aren’t we talking more about the massive labor imbalance in our country?

A recent Rutgers University survey of 571 Americans who graduated from college between 2006 and 2010 found that only 53% held full-time jobs. And yet, it’s not hard to understand why. In 2009, of the 1,601,000 bachelor’s degrees conferred, the greatest numbers fell into the fields of business (348,000); social sciences and history (169,000) and health sciences (120,000).

I had to look up health science and found this description:

The health sciences are concerned with the development of knowledge and programs related to health and well being. Health science is also concerned with the study of leisure and cultural phenomena.

And just so we’re all on the same page, social sciences include: anthropology, archaeology, communication, criminology, political science, sociology and psychology.

I’m going to refrain from commenting on the social and health science and history majors and instead take a moment to focus on business majors. You would think having a prevalence of business majors would be a positive for our economy, but we first need people who can actually make something before we need the people to market, sell and manage it.

We are missing the makers (engineers and scientists), the people who have the skills and knowledge to create something.

The fact is, there are jobs in this country. According to the most recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over three million job opportunities are unfilled in the United States right now, the highest level in three years. And yet, in that same period we have produced the highest unemployment rate we’ve seen in over two decades.

I was at my alma mater (James Madison University) a few months ago and caught up with a former professor in the college of Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) ; she told me that enrollment numbers in ISAT were the lowest they’ve ever been, even though these students are the most desirable and in demand by employers. Given the current economy and jobs market, I was a little shocked.

I’ll be honest here and say that when I was 17, college and majors didn’t consume my thoughts nearly as much as boys and field hockey. I went to JMU because it had the best field hockey program in the country. And my parents essentially chose my major for me. I was pretty ambivalent about what I wanted to do. There was lots that interested me (minus Accounting). At one point it was Law, another time English, I even considered Business. But my parents reasoned that I was good at math and science and the world needed more women in STEM, so I said sure, why not.

When I graduated, I had 15 job offers. Looking back, I’m certain my collegiate experience would have been a lot easier if I majored in something that didn’t require me to spend so much time in computer and science labs, but in this tech-centric day and age, I’m glad I left knowing how to program and build a website, amongst other things.

How many young Americans today think about employability? If you look at the degrees that are most likely to land a person a job, there seems to be a disconnect with the majors students are pursuing the most. Case in point,  in 2009, degrees in “parks, recreation, and leisure studies” saw a 43 percent increase. Yep, the things with budgets first to get cut in a recession are what students are flocking to.

I’m not saying people should neglect their true callings in life. In fact, I think the world benefits the most from the people who vigorously pursue their passions, including social psychology majors (who have the highest unemployability rate). But for those who aren’t so sure what path to pursue, wouldn’t it make sense to take a look around, at the state of the country, and consider majoring in something employable?

Incidentally, it seems the United States isn’t alone in its labor gap. A recent report from the British Chambers of Commerce reveals small businesses are frustrated at the quality of applicants, who they say can barely concentrate or add up. The report warns: ‘Too many people [are] coming out with fairly useless degrees in non-serious subjects.’

1X57 Version 3.0: Focusing on the X Factor

1X57 has a new look, both in the logo and the design of the website.

We’re focusing on content, and our own unique perspectives and passions, which manifests as the X factor (the je ne sais quoi) of 1X57. The X is edgier and more prominent, and our home page now promotes a range of content.

You can see what 1X57 looked like in versions 1.0 and 2.0 here.

 

NOTE: A big thanks to Joshua Bauder for his skillful execution on our new logo. We wanted something a little edgier, focusing on the X, and he delivered. 

A Blogging Champion At Work: From 295 To Over 46,000 Monthly Views

Over the past several months, I’ve had the unique opportunity to watch my partner-in-crime focus on building 1X57 as a blog.

Starting in July, Steve began blogging full-time for 1X57, producing content on a daily basis, focusing on what he loves and finds interesting, which includes topics such as surfing, comics, big data, and more.

It’s been a fascinating process to witness, especially since it’s been more than just SEO or creating catchy titles. His focus has been on improving the quality of his writing, learning to be a journalist, mastering web publishing and connecting with audiences who care about the things he cares about. Not to mention growing his social media prowess.

And it’s working.

Back in November 2010, we had 295 unique monthly views. By August 2011, the site has grown to receive almost 47,000 monthly views, over 150x growth…

…which is significant for us, since the growth we experienced in our first two years (starting with our initial post in November 2008, through November 2010) increased from only the 10′s to the 100′s for monthly views.

If you’re interested in hearing more about @robotchampion‘s journey from zero to blog dominance, please vote for his SXSW 2012 talk, “Blogging isn’t dead, it just went professional.”

I promise you, he won’t disappoint.

NOTE: Voting ends tomorrow, Friday, September 2, 11:59 CDT.

Is Craigslist is done for? (nope)

This is part 2 and it messes everything up.

Part 1 was incredibly convincing and most of us bought the argument, hook-line and sinker.

We were ready to write-off Craigslist.

Now, I present the counter-argument. This piece will completely change your mind. It will challenge you to re-think everything and in my case, put Craigslist back on the map for good.

Enjoy.

PS – It works better if you read the original piece first: Is Craigslist done for? (yep)

From Quora

Josh Hannah argues that the premise of this question is false and that Craigslist “has been disrupted.” He mistakenly confuses “competition” with “disruption.”

Craigslist has not been disrupted.

Disruption means to “drastically alter or destroy the structure of (something).” By definition this means that disruption is easy to spot. Something new comes along and crushes an existing business model or technology or product.

Here are a few examples:

Business model disruption:

  • Craigslist disrupted classified advertising
  • CPA disrupted CPM
  • Free has disrupted numerous other industries (telecom, media, etc)

Technology disruption:

  • Cars disrupted horses
  • Downloadable media disrupted CD’s & DVD’s
  • Digital photography disrupted film

Product disruption:

  • Facebook disrupted MySpace
  • Google disrupted AltaVista & co

In every case:

  • The disruption happened suddenly (within a few years)
  • The disruptor’s value proposition was unambiguous
  • Usually a single replacement (business model, tech, product) filled the void

This is what disruption looks like with websites:

This is what disruption looks with offline businesses:

This is not disruption:

…Nor is this:

Josh argues that:

“Bad sites with network effects show much slower decay in use than they should based on their absolute quality. (think eBay.) Bad sites who price most of their product at free show incredibly slow decay in use. (think Craigslist).”

All of this is true, but this is precisely why Craigslist is not being disrupted: It already benefits from enormous network effects, which aren’t being replicated by its myriad competitors. Even if all the sites below shared the same audience as Craigslist (they’re not even close), these users would be split across 30 different sites:


Yes, plenty of people are picking apart categories and trying to improve upon the product, the UI, or the way the information is presented. This has been happening for years and many of these companies have gone under. If you think about it, these companies aren’t really competing directly with Craigslist because Craigslist–unlike every site above–is free.

To argue the image above is indicative of disruption is to misunderstand why Craigslist is successful. How many companies compete with Google in search, advertising, social, apps, mobile? Sheer volume of competition does not signal disruption.As I wrote previously, Craigslist benefits from a killer product/business model combo that protects it from the effects of these startups:

Craigslist = Simple + Free + Network effects + Anonymous

It’s very, very hard to compete with something that gets the job done well enough and is free.

People can criticize the product/UI/search all day long, but minor tweaking is not going to disrupt Craigslist–particularly if it happens across 30+ fragmented sites. Most people have a status quo bias…they must see substantial and compelling benefits to changing their behavior. They won’t learn about all the sites listed above just so they can get a slight UI improvement when they want to unload their couch or casually rent a hooker. (Frequent escort renters might disagree with me :).

Even if someone rolled all 30 of these sites into one competitor with better features, UI, search, etc it’s still unlikely to succeed because of the power of network effects. Craigslist has them. The other guy don’t. And no one can afford to buy these network effects unless they plan to charge for their services. And if they plan to charge then they’re back to square one.

In summary (and forgive me for mashing these answers together):

This is a winner take all business that’s supported by incredible network effects, great brand equity, a degree of trust and familiarity. No upstart is going to unseat Craigslist without a huge & foolish capital investment. The only way Craigslist will be disrupted is if consumer behavior shifts radically away from free, online, and anonymous.

Is Craigslist is done for? (yep)

This is part 1 of 2 which proves that Craigslist is already dead, or in the midst of a slow death.

From Quora

Craiglist has been disrupted, it’s just not obvious yet. And the world will be a better place for it.

Craigslist has fewer unique visitors today than it did at this time in 2009.

Bad sites with network effects show much slower decay in use than they should based on their absolute quality. (think eBay.) Bad sites who price most of their product at free show incredibly slow decay in use. (think Craigslist). But make no mistake, it is happening.

The evidence of their poor quality is so obvious it’s hardly worth stating. Suffice it to say, if I’m looking to rent an apartment, it would be nice not to see the same listing reposted every day, and having to re-read it and figure out if I’ve called them before. It might be even nicer to view them on a map, or god forbid have new and relevant listing emailed to me.

Sites like Oodle have tried to take it head on with a superior interface but have been unable to displace them. Sites like Kijiji have been launched by eBay, or OLX, which is distributed on other people’s platforms with large traffic, have tried to leverage other sources of traffic to combat the critical mass.

Generally speaking, Craigslist has been “good enough” to not be disrupted head-on. Nevertheless, the world moves on, and the gaps in their product (due to a stubborn obstinate refusal to invest in technology) grow wider and wider. As tablets, smartphones, etc disrupt, and craigslist doesn’t invest in those platforms, the feature gap grows wider.

The disruption that has happened has occurred on a category-by-category bases, as this graphic by Andrew Parker (http://thegongshow.tumblr.com/po…) shows:

StubhubAirbnbEtsy have built big businesses in some of these categories, and floods of new startups try to pry off pieces (TaskRabbit, many others).

I have derived a lot of utility out of Craigslist over the years, and it has all come free, so I am grateful for that. But the site reportedly pulls in more than $100M in revenue a year (What is Craigslist’s revenue?) , has only a few dozen employees, continually under-invests in technology and does not innovate. I don’t think Craig’s a bad guy, but he’s harvesting $50M a year into his pockets and not improving the site. In ten years I think Craigslist will be an afterthought, whereas if he reinvested half of those profits into technology and product, it would have a real shot to be a category leader.

Update: Do you think Craigslist is done for….if so Part 2 is now available and it will change your mind – Is Craigslist done for? (nope)

CPC is better than CPM

If you’ve ever wanted to know why CPC is better than CPM and CPA here is a great description why.

CPM – cost-per-thousand

CPA – cost-per-action

CPC – cost-per-click

Cost-per-thousand (CPM) was huge in the early days and very simple, get paid by the thousand viewers. But, it was it very limited in effectiveness. It placed all of the risk on the advertiser. They created the ad and made the payments, while all the website had to do was display the ad (often in the worst locations).

Then, cost-per-action (CPA) came into play where the website had to actually close a deal. The website didn’t get paid unless they got a viewer to buy something (or sign-up for something). This is the most common program used by the wide range of affiliate companies who offer high percentages (5%-15%) of the sale. But, this switches the game by placing all the risk on the website. The website places the ad and no matter how many views or clicks it receives they only get paid if the viewer commits the desired action. The advertiser receives all the free views and clicks with no impetus to create a compelling ad.

Finally, the balance came with cost-per-click (CPC). In this case the website gets paid for each click on the ad and it forces them to display it in the best possible spot. It also encourages the advertiser to create an interesting and relevant ad because they still need to convert the click into an action (purchase, sign-up).

For more information visit infolific: CPM vs CPA vs CPC.

You can reuse all new content on Quora

Quora is a fantastic resource for and I often want to share the info I find. With that in mind I found the following copyright rules on the site:

This is an official Quora policy that reflects the agreed upon conventions of the community

You can reuse all new content on Quora by publishing it anywhere on the web, as long as you link back to the original content on Quora. There are some more details to this specified at http://www.quora.com/about/tos. We wrote this with the interests of contributors in mind:

Subject to these Terms, Quora gives you a worldwide, royalty-free, non-assignable and non-exclusive license to re-post any of the Content on Quora anywhere on the rest of the web provided that the Content was added to the Service after April 22, 2010, and provided that the user who created the content has not explicitly marked the content as not for reproduction, and provided that you: (a) do not modify the Content; (b) attribute Quora with a human and machine-followable link (an A tag) linking back to the page displaying the original source of the content on quora.com; (c) upon request, either by Quora or a user, remove the user’s name from Content which the user has subsequently made anonymous; (d) upon request, either by Quora or by a user who contributed to the Content, make a reasonable effort to update a particular piece of Content to the latest version on quora.com; and (e) upon request, either by Quora or by a user who contributed to the Content, make a reasonable attempt to delete Content that has been deleted on quora.com.

Pretty cool.

I also learned that there is a feature authors can use if they want to keep their answers from being published elswhere:

Not for reproduction. The “Not for reproduction” option opts a user’s answer out of the normal reuse license that Quora grants to everyone. If you’re posting about an NFR answer there is not a restriction. However, if you’re copying the contents of an NFR answer to somewhere else on Quora or to anywhere else on the web, the author of the answer might be able to stop you under copyright law, depending on whether your use qualifies as fair use. We don’t police this; it’s the same as if you wrote a blog post that included the contents of someone else’s blog post.

Heading NXNW…TO THE FUTURE

This week, 1X57 is heading North by Northwest to Vancouver for the World Future Society‘s annual conference, World Future 2011, to kick off a new phenomenon we’ve co-produced, Futurists:BetaLaunch – an innovation showcase slash tech petting zoo featuring 12 ideas in beta that offer an exciting vision of the future.

Although this is 1X57′s first time to World Future and we’re not really sure what to expect, we’re pretty stoked. Earlier in the year, we were invited as guests of the World Future Society to an exclusive reception and screening of the Ray Kurzweil documentary, Transcendent Man, with uber-futurist Ray Kurzweil himself and the Director/Producer Barry Ptolemy. Hearing Ray speak in person was tantamount to doing mental crack.  He didn’t talk about common DC hot topics like LIvingSocial or big data (not that these are inherently unexciting) but for me, they pale in comparison to contemplating the bigger picture of what life will be like once we can physically achieve immortality or once AI surpasses human intelligence. These are gnarly questions that like it or not, we as a race are moving towards having to answer.

In our adventure, we’re bringing some friends – Tech Cocktail and Disruptathon – who will be adding an additional layer of awesomeness to F:BL. Disruptathon will be providing the platforms and the technology to collect real-time feedback from World Future attendees about each BetaLauncher and Tech Cocktail will be hosting an evening reception that will feature the BetaLaunchers alongside 12 local Vancouver start-ups.

We’re also looking forward to meeting two special guests, Dale Dougherty and Brian Wong. Dale is the co-Founder of O’Reilly Media and editor and publisher of MAKE magazine and will be doing a fireside chat on the maker revolution as a lead-in to the evening Tech Cocktail event. And Vancouver’s own Brian Wong, touted the next Mark Zuckerberg and the youngest entrepreneur to receive VC funding (for his brainchild Kiip) will be joining us on Saturday evening at Tech Cocktail to check out the innovations and start-ups.

Then there’s the content of the conference itself. Steve and I will be joined by our friend, Kirby Plessas, to discuss living content and how open communication and content platforms are molding the future. And there are several talks we’re looking forward to attending, including the Sunday keynote by scientist and Biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Gray on the Prospects for Defeating Aging.

With everything that will be going on, I think I’m most excited about being in an environment that contemplates the future and asks not can we get there, but how - because ultimately that is how the future is made.