The battle for local

Lost Remote has a great description of the pending battle for local attention and advertising. It’s a great summary of the challenges and opportunities for each media outlet.

  • Television
  • Newspapers
  • Radio
  • “GYM” aka Google/Yahoo/Microsoft et al.
  • Craigslist and paid classifieds
  • Pure play locals
  • City guides
  • Yellow pages and other directories
  • Alt weeklies and local magazines
  • Outdoor

The local market is a huge opportunity. Just evaluating a single player in Canada shows the potential of building a strong advertising business based on helping people find things in their neighbourhood. The Yellow Pages Income Fund reported just over $879.9 million in gross operating profit in 2007 (that’s a total net income of over $527.7 million). The commitment to local focus has seen YPG re-zone their Toronto Yellow Pages to smaller areas to “improve searching and finding both locally and more broadly such as the addition of maps for high traffic retail areas”. YPG has done a great job building partnerships and relationships with regional phone companies and has a circulation of over 30 million copies of their phone directories with approximately 420,000 unique advertisers. There is a huge opportunity to continue to refine the space and services needed by local businesses.

Y Combinator has identified areas like: 12. Fix Advertsing; 20. Shopping Guides and 25. A Craigslist competitor, that they’d be interested in funding. It’s no surprise then to see a plethora of local startups that fit in a variety of the above categories:

I’d love to see an equivalent of EveryBlock for Canada. But until then the recommendations provided by GigPark are enough to help me find services in my neighbourhood.

Millennium Development Goals

The Mozilla Labs Concept Series seems to have really struck a chord with me. I like the idea of projects that help designers “get involved and share your ideas and expertise” to “collectively explore and design future directions for the web”. It is a different approach to the Imagine Cup which is a student technology competition. I appreciate the difference in focus of both projects, one is to “provoke thought, facilitate discussion and inspire future design directions”, the other “challenges students to explore their own creativity to solve what they consider to be challenging problems facing our global society”. Lofty goals for both projects, and I applaud both efforts.

The 2009 Imagine Cup is based using the UN’s Millennium Development Goals as inspiration for new technology design and creation. The eight goals are:

  1. End Poverty and Hunger
  2. Universal Education
  3. Gender Equality
  4. Child Health
  5. Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS
  7. Environmental Sustainability
  8. Global Partnership

The challenge for me is that I don’t immediately see technology solutions to many of these problems. Many of the problems are a result of the economic and geopolitical systems imposed by government agencies and corporations. Change seems routed in politics and not technology design.

Ushahidi.com is an interesting technology solution to the monitoring of acts of violence in Kenya. David Talbot describes Ushahidi is a “Web application that [can] receive citizen incidents reports via text message from any mobile phone in Kenya and display them as a Google Maps application”. The goal is to make it possible for anyone with a cell phone to become a node in the distributed network capable of gathering, distributing and visualizing citizen news feeds. Coupled with audio, video and text the application could quickly become a digital panopticon application enabling citizens and communities to police human rights and other violations. 

At GSMA Mobile World Congress (aka 3GSM) in Barcelona in 2007, a group of leading mobile phone companies and the US government announced the Phones for Health partnership to help fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. The program will allow health care workers in Africa to use a standard Motorola handset to enter health data. The Phones-for-Health system will then use either GPRS or SMS to upload the data into a centralized database which can be analyzed and made available to health officials for distribution of medicine and education programs. The SMS system can also be used to alert health workers, order medicine, download treatment guides, etc.

The UN Millennium Development Goals used in the Imagine Cup are idealistic and can present challenges as abstract design goals. But it’s possible to build interesting prototypes to solve real world problems.

Provoke thought and provide inspiration

mozilla-labs-concept-series

The Aurora project has always intrigued me, a successor to the famed SR-71 Blackbird (though I thought it was designated SR-75 and not SR-91). In a vain of building a next generation experience, the team at Adaptive Path and  Mozilla Labs have partnered to build the Aurora Concept, “a video presenting one possible future user experience for the web”. It’s the second time in recent history where I have been thoroughly impressed with the design process used by the Adaptive Path folks, check out my commentary on the book, Subject to Change, and the Charmr project. The work on the Aurora Concept is a fantastic way to design, prototype and explore future design directions for Firefox and Mozilla and how the web should be built for the next generation of uses.

Part 1 – Exploring shared experiences


Aurora (Part 1) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Part 2 – Exploring mobility


Aurora (Part 2) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Part 3 – Interacting with the physical world


Aurora (Part 3) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Video as a prototyping is not new. Video has been explored by the HCI and design researchers for a long time. In 1992 at Sun, Bruce Tognazzni created the Starfire design prototype. The team at Apple created the Knowledge Navigator in 1987 and Future Shock in 1988. Video is a compelling storytelling medium allowing designers to explore concepts and ideas without having to create functional environments. They are engaging spots that are designed to present a dream to a community in a digestible format.

My favourite part of the Concept Series is the call for participation. It is an open call to designers, developers and others from industry and higher education to get involved and design a vision for the future. The goal is to “bring even more people to the table and provoke thought, facilitate discussion, and inspire future design directions for Firefox, the Mozilla project, and the Web as a whole”.

Concepts may take the form of Ideas, Mockups or Prototypes.

  • Ideas
    It all begins with an idea. A sentence, paragraph, or even bullet-points kick-start the process. Ideas can be simple and non-technical. It should be easy for anyone and everyone to help shape the future of the Web. So throw your notions, inspirations, dreams and visions out to the community.
  • Mockups
    Turn your idea (or someone else’s) into an image, sketch or video. Words are great, but you know what they say about pictures. Mockups offer up a visual and communicate ideas in terms that are just a bit more polished and real. They draw the next person in, tempting them to pick up the concept and run with it.
  • Prototypes
    A prototype is interactive. Feel, touch and play with developing concepts. Prototypes get ideas across by showing off the moving parts. They aren’t always fully functional or pretty, but they’re more than a static image or two. They’re a dress rehearsal of sorts, with minimal programming. Make a prototype in HTML, Flash, or whatever puts things into action.

If I was a student designer looking for a design project to consider for my final year project I would think seriously about participating in the Concept Series or the Imagine Cup.

Hacking LanSchool

From Greg Wilson. Hopefully, someone like Rob or Michael (or one of Michael’s students) will step in and provide these kids some pro bono legal advice for dealing with a company looking to manage their online profile. LanSchool has requested that the Tony Targonski and Dan Servos remove the details of an exploit to an old version of their software be removed from the CompSci.ca wiki.

I suspect that someone from LanSchool’s marketing and public relations team is tired of seeing the YouTube post showing up so high for a product that they no longer sell, and for an issue that has been fixed in the next version of their product. The YouTube video showing how to disable the monitoring program, is number 3 in my search for LanSchool. And the compsci.ca forums and wiki are in the top 5 when searching for “lanschool hacks”. (Funny how the compsci.ca don’t even show up in Live.com search).

lanschool-search

It is amazing how close the LanSchool software is to the classroom monitoring tools described in Little Brother. It should come as no surprise that I’m for the publication of these exploits, just read my call to action against Bill C-61 as a result of reading Little Brother. Dan has used his programming skills and his brain to learn about how not to program networked computers. By publishing his understanding and knowledge he has shared a bad software design with the intent that others can learn and not make the same mistake. Good work Dan!

I’m sure from a traditional PR perspective this is a challenging situation. You have a product that has been updated to fix this bug among others while adding new features. The “community”, and this is a really funny term, has published a negative review and an exploit that shows vulnerabilities in your software platform. Perhaps the LanSchool marketing folks think that their software is unlike the rest of the world and has no bugs. Perhaps, they think it might be harder for kids to subvert their system if the exploit isn’t in the wild. It is an interesting PR case study, and unlike the Dell Hell experience and changes including IdeaStorm, I think this will just be another example of a large company doing bad PR.

Hopefully our courts will find similar to Dutch courts:

“But the court ruled that the university’s right to publish was part of freedom of speech and that the publication of scientific research on the chip’s faults could help to take appropriate countermeasures.” – InformationWeek July 18, 2008

The publishing of software exploits is a question of freedom of speech.

"Damage to NXP is not the result of the publication of the article but of the production and sale of a chip that appears to have shortcomings" – InformationWeek July 18, 2008

Hopefully we can keep kids like Dan and Tony doing intellectually stimulating things with technology. 

A Microsoft venture fund

Kevin Merritt has a great suggestion for creating a Microsoft venture fund. This is not new, I wrote about my displeasure with the proposed Yahoo! deal back. Kevin has thought about a YCombinator-esque microfunding model.
  • A three person team comprised of Ray Ozzie, Don Dodge and Dare Obasanjo would be the investment committee.
  • Anyone can submit a 10-slide business plan. No NDA protection, which is the norm in the VC industry.
  • Plans are reviewed once a quarter. Those that make it through the screening are invited to a 90-minute in person demo and pitch.
  • At the end of the 90-minute demo & pitch, the three-person Ozzie/Dodge/Obasanjo investment committee makes an immediate decision. It’s pass/fail. You’re in or you’re out. American Idol style. You’re going to Hollywood or you aren’t.
  • If you pass, here’s what you get: an investment of $100,000 cash plus $25,000 per founder, but never more than $175,000;  all the Microsoft software you need; unlimited, free use of Microsoft’s cloud computing infrastructure for 3 years; mandatory office space for up to 5 people for the first year in either the Redmond or Silicon Valley Campus; all the non-sense administrative support services that typically saps a startup, a collegial environment working with other Microsoft funded startups.
  • In exchange, Microsoft gets: 10% of the company in common stock with no special preferences or rights; your commitment to exclusively use Microsoft development software and operating systems for 3 years, other than with written exception by Microsoft; your commitment to deploy your software to Microsoft platforms first (i.e. if you build a mobile app, it has to run on Windows Mobile before iPhone).

That’s it. Quid pro quo. Startups need cash, tools, infrastructure and elimination of noise and distraction. Microsoft needs access to innovation and a future generation of folks building software with Microsoft development tools and to be run on Microsoft platforms. My bet is that Microsoft will flat out buy some of the companies during their year of incubation. And if you assume each startup will have 3 to 5 people, even the ones that fail will produce a good stream of folks who could easily become employees. Microsoft probably already spends $50,000 per hire anyway, so it’s not really costing them much if anything at all.

Oh, there’s one more important twist to help stem the tide of people leaving Microsoft to found companies or join startups. Microsoft employees in good standing having spent at least 2 years at Microsoft can quit their job and can be admitted into the incubator program with only a single approval from the investment committee. No business plan, pitch or demo are required. You’re in. Your prior contributions are your ticket. How many young entrepreneurs-to-be are willing to put in two good years at Microsoft just to get into the incubator program? I think more than a few. It’s a VC spin to the army college fund. It’s the Microsoft future entrepreneurs fund.

This is a great, well thought out plan for putting $25M to work. The biggest questions for me are: how does the model scale around the world? What are the implications with respect to existing anti-trust agreements and funding companies?  What are the areas, much like the Y Combinator 30 ideas, that are part of the initial investment thesis? It feels like without a clearly defined investment thesis that this is really a public relations campaign with entrepreneurial leaning technologists.

Dissident, Citizen

littlebrother-corydoctorow Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Thank you Cory for Little Brother. I can’t wait for my children to be old enough to read it. It has been a few years since I couldn’t put a book down and decided it was worth giving up sleep to finish. Cory has captured the feelings behind my mistrust of government and corporations. And the power they can exert over citizens, and the challenges when this power is abused.

You’ve inspired me to take action to protect my rights. The anti-circumvention provisions of the C-61 copyright amendment does more harm than good. It prevents crucial rights for citizens in a digital age. It prevents citizens from having the right to “use digital works without permission for research, private study, criticism or news reporting”. Michael Geist has posted 30  Things You Can Do to help reflect a consumer view of this amendment.

“The Industry Minister has time to meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, time to meet all the major telcos on the spectrum auction issue, yet hasn’t made time to meet with user community on copyright.”

Bill C-61 scares me. It represents a shift in public policy back towards corporations. It reminds of the acceptance of monopolies and oligopolies that Canadians accept as tradeoff for our geography. The bill makes it an infringement to circumvent digital locks to prevent copying and distribution. To make it worse this bill prevents the distribution of the tools that can be used to circumvent digital locks. This means that watching a European purchased Region 2 encoded disc, like the legal copy of The Future is Unwritten I purchased from Amazon.co.uk, in Canada is illegal under Bill C-61.

This kind of thinking is important no matter what side of security you’re on. If you’ve been hired to build a shoplift-proof store, you’d better know how to shoplift. If you’re designing a camera system that detects individual gaits, you’d better plan for people putting rocks in their shoes. Because if you don’t, you’re not going to design anything good.

Trading privacy for security is stupid enough; not getting any actual security in the bargain is even stupider. – Bruce Schneier

Help keep Canada free! Free as in freedom! We need to ensure we have the freedoms so that we can continue to think, explore, innovate, question and challenge authority and government in Canada.

Thank you Cory!

Little Brother
by Cory Doctorow
Read more about this book…

Happiness as Your Business Model

Patrick points to a presentation by Tara Hunt. I can’t wait for Tara’s new book. This is a fun evolution in thinking about people, communities, and building a better place.

There is the opportunity to make $$ making people happy – Tara Hunt

The Universals of Happiness

  • autonomy
  • competence
  • relatedness
  • self-esteem

The Powers Working Against Happiness

  • fear
  • confusion
  • loneliness
  • lack of control
  • struggle for survival

This is a presentation that should be a must read for entrepreneurs, designers, developers, and marketers. What are you doing to help your customers achieve autonomy? competence? relatedness? self-esteem? Or are you working to promote the powers working against happiness. Tara does a great job evaluating:

  • Zipcar
  • Southwest
  • Skype
  • Zappos
  • Twitter
  • WordPress

These are all great examples working to grow happiness. Thanks Tara!

Congratulations Bryce

Bryce JohnsonWow, Bryce and W.R. and Veronica and Sadie are all moving to Seattle. Bryce announed yesterday his big, exciting news. Bryce is joining the Microsoft Dynamics team as a User Experience Designer. This is phenominal and sad. As a Microsoft shareholder, the value of the company has increased. Bryce has done fantastic user experience design for enterprise software deployments for many years at Navantis. He has helped solve complex business rules and software conditions for clients like the City of Hamilton, Microsoft Canada, and others.Bryce will join a contingent of Canadians in Redmond including:

However, it is also a sad day. Bryce is leaving Toronto (Toron-o, watch the video for details). Bryce was one of the driving forces behind InteractionCamp and EnterpriseCampToronto. He is a co-conspirator with Kaleem, Matthew, Audrey, and me for the UXIrregulars.  Bryce has been a tireless support of the community efforts and a great friend to have a bourbon or two with.

Congratulations Bryce! Microsoft is lucky to have a designer of your calibre in their cadre.

FreshBooks – Bill me already

freshbooks Mike McDerment has helped kick the Toronto software entrepreneur community in the pants. It’s hard to believe that he’s been doing it for as long as he has been. Three Mesh conferences in the past 3 years, building FreshBooks and a number of successful and not-so-successful DemoCamp experiences. Mike has been documenting his lessons and advice for entrepreneurs on his blog, and .

Mike and the FreshBooks team have done a great job going after a under-served market with a product that solves a costly problem for a lot of small businesses. The FreshBooks product helps companies create and manage invoices. They quickly can show clients how much they can contribute to a companies bottom line. There are even rumors floating about the Interweb that FreshBooks has caused Intuit, the 800 pound gorilla, to change their marketing strategy for Quickbooks Simple Start. Why is FreshBooks a Toronto startup to watch?

Quick Analysis

Management Team

The FreshBooks executive team consists of a number of Mike McDerment, Joe Sawada, Levi Cooperman and Mitch Solway. Mike and Joe successfully built a web design professional services firm, Anicon, whose team includes 3 of the FreshBooks founders. The transition appears to be from a professional services firm doing web design and development professional services to a product company (whose name has changed from 2ndSite to FreshBooks). Mitch is an excellent senior marketer with experience of leading a marketing organization during the critical growth year. His LinkedIn profile indicates that Mitch managed a team of 26 people and grew sales from $3M to over $100M. Great acquisition to the FreshBooks team, a seasoned marketing veteran with experience driving traffic and growing sales.It’s a good team with personal experiences with the invoicing difficulties experienced by web design and development firms in managing the financial interactions with clients.

Market

The creator of Quickbooks, Ridgely Evers, has created a company to create a tool to solve business and financial management for smaller companies, he estimates the market size for the number of “True Small Businesses” at 5.1M in the United States. The business accounting market was estimated at $600M in 2005 with QuickBooks accounting for almost 87% market share. It’s obvious that companies need accounting and invoicing tools, and they are willing to pay for a solution that is aimed at enabling a better view into a business for small business owners instead of bookkeeping professionals.

Product

The focus on invoicing is a great strategy for FreshBooks. FreshBooks is a suite of tools that help customers get paid. This is a painkiller. FreshBooks has been aggressively filling in the product suite with tools for tracking time, expenses and estimates, these features help to refine the product offering beyond just invoicing into truly a financial management tool for service based organizations. FreshBooks has exposed most of their functionality through a developer API. The API offers a great way for external developers to integrate their applications to the provided services and for the FreshBooks team to build internal tools and user interfaces to consume and publish upon. Building on an API service, should help FreshBooks in extending the application going forward, adding features requires extending the API and building a browser based client to add to the FreshBooks web site.

The addition of roll up data analytics to provide customers with performance metrics and benchmarking shows that FreshBooks has been working on market leading features that have helped set companies like Mint apart from it’s peers.

Business Model

People pay FreshBooks to use their software. Check out their pricing. Mike McDerment has written about their experiences iterating through pricing models including the impact on conversion rates. But the business model is very simple get people to pay for your software. There are challenges related to the Freemium Pricing Model, where about 3% of registered users become paying customers. There are then 2 key metrics that the FreshBooks guys should be tracking: reach and conversion rate. Reach – how many people in their target market have had contact with FreshBooks advertising, at a conference, through customer evangelists, etc.? Conversion rate – how many registered users become paying users? Does pricing, features, adoption cycles, integration with other products, what are the pieces that drive the conversion to paying customer? The additional questions around customer retention exist, but lets assume that there is a high customer retention rate.

Strategic Relationships

FreshBooks has begun building some strategic relationships including:

Both of these relationships are a testament to the speed and flexibility of the FreshBooks offering. Sunir Shah blogged about the experience of integrating with Amazon FPS and compared it to PayPal and Google Checkout. Freshbooks will benefit in speed to market and additional early-adopter marketing once the FPS is generally available.The Authorize.Net Merchant Toolbox is very straight-forward, being on a list of 21 preferred vendors by a leading merchant account and credit card gateway, should help drive traffic and customers to FreshBooks.

One opportunity for FreshBooks is to seek a strategic relationship with third-party accounting and bookkeeping partners. Creating a referral or associates network for bookkeepers, including a set of offline tools that use the FreshBooks API, could help expand the reach of the product and build a strong indirect sales channel. 

Competition

Mike provides his thoughts on his competition in an interview with CenterNetworks

“I think there are two classes of competitors. There are traditional accounting software providers. The other group is other startups like BillingOrchard and BlinkSale.”

Crunchbase lists FreeAgentCentral as an additional competitor in the web-based accounting and money management tools for freelancers. Competition from traditional accounting software vendors including Intuit’s QuickBooks and NetSuite’s Accounting ERP solution. NetSuite is probably less of a competitor as it targets SME with an offering that is closer to small ERP than individual provider. QuickBooks is an interesting competitor because of the large ecosystem of accountants and bookkeepers that use QuickBooks to perform the accounting tasks for small businesses and freelancers. The same can be said for other competitors including: Sage; Peachtree; Microsoft Accounting; MYOB; etc.

BlinkSale and BillingOrchard are focused on invoicing. Where Freshbooks has evolved their offering to include many of financial functions that a small business needs including:  estimates, time tracking, and expenses. Freshbooks has built a suite of financial management tools for generating, managing and tracking invoices. A better competitor is NetBooks whose offering includes SaaS financial tools that include a wider set of ERP features including sales, invoicing, inventory, and costs. NetBooks appears to be focused on product-based businesses, where FreshBooks feels like it is optimized for services-based businesses.

Barriers to Entry

FreshBooks is a execution play. They have built a product that people want. It solves a very valuable problem. And they continue to add more value to the ecosystem than they take out. There is room for another larger, more established player to use their marketing might to box out FreshBoooks but it more likely that they might try to acquire FreshBooks and integrate it into their product offerings. Here’s what differentiates FreshBooks and provides barriers to entry in the market.

  • Intellectual property
    Just as discussed in the LearnHub analysis, there is nothing to indicate there is an intellectual property protection for FreshBooks. But as John Green points out in the commentary, intellectual property protections are not required to build success market play companies. The intellectual property protections may come in the understanding of the small market business owner and their financial practices and mindset. Having a process to quickly gather, assess, prototype and iterate on changing market conditions along with a easy to customize infrastructure should allow FreshBooks to have an advantage.
  • Customer loyalty
    Customer-centered design is in the DNA at FreshBooks. Adding conferences and generating support, while gathering feedback makes customers love FreshBooks. Check out the feedback on the RoadBurn tour. Understanding the needs, wants, desires and day-to-day lives of your customers lets you build solutions to their problems. It might help explain why FreshBooks had a 99% referral rate. I’m assuming that this means that 99% of existing customers sent a referral message to a potential new customer. I wonder what the conversion rate on referrals is for FreshBooks?
  • Advertising
    FreshBooks has not done a huge advertising spend, but they have been very effective in targeted advertising to the Web 2.0 service firms through placement on key sites (TechCrunch, The Deck, etc.) and by having a strong presence at key web design conferences: FOWA, Mesh and SxSW. The FreshBooks team has made very effective use of their marketing and PR budget to generate buzz and get on the radar of many of the Web 2.0 and startup media players.
  • Sunk costs
    Customers have sunk costs once their financial data has been entered into FreshBooks. However, with the FreshBooks API it is easy for a competitor to build a data migration tool and make an easy path for dissatisfied FreshBooks users to move off the platform.
  • Network effect
    The addition of the benchmarking service may help build additional network effect from participating in the FreshBooks ecosystem. However, billing and accounts receivable are a very individual company practice. There is some opportunity to gain improvements by implementing best practices, however, best practices are not network effects. Unless FreshBooks is able to negotiate lower transactional costs on merchant account transactions or leverage the behaviours of the crowd there is no network effect available.
  • Vertical integration
    This is potentially the most under investigated barrier to entry for FreshBooks. Building an integration with bookkeepers and accountants could offer FreshBooks an indirect sales channel and provide customers with both the tools and professional services.

Summary

FreshBooks is a company that is truly customer driven. You can see the commitment to the user experience with customer dinners when the FreshBooks team visits a city (San Francisco; the Roadburn and New York). They have build a great product that fills a gap in the offering by the 800 pound gorilla. They have assembled a star team of Toronto technology and marketing talent. They have built a successful business by adding value to their customers ecosystem. I have some questions around customer acquisition costs and the lifetime value of a customer including referrals, but it looks like a great business that needs some marketing muscle to grow to be a multi-hundred million dollar a year business.

FreshBooks is hiring and has openings for:

Anniversaries

Today is my 1 year anniversary at Microsoft Canada. I’m guessing there are a lot of unhappy gamblers in the pool. It’s been a fun year. May and June are always full of surprises and changes, fortunately this year the changes were much less scary and exciting. Less scary.  Anybody remember DemoCampToronto6? Unfortunately I don’t, it has been 2 years since the infamous BarCampER where I had the misfortune of having a heart attack. So I look forward to making it through May without any surprises.

And it’s been 1 year since I joined Microsoft. Can you believe it? Hopefully you didn’t loose too much money on the pool.

The Year in Review

SxSW 2008 - 148

I attended a lot of conferences and events this past year. It felt like I was on the road a lot.I had a great time meeting people, hearing about what you were building and your mixed reactions to Microsoft. Some very positive. Others much more negative. I shouldn’t be surprised at the distribution of reactions and responses, but I think I was most surprised by the positive. I hadn’t really expected to become the public face of Microsoft Canada at many of the events. And I’m pretty sure that providing real-time bourbon-fueled support wasn’t in my employment contract, but apparently if you buy me bourbon I’ll provide substandard support. I haven’t spent a lot of time in the Microsoft ecosystem but I’ve been introduced to great people like John Bristowe, Mack Male, Derek Hatchard, Colin Bowern, Mark Arteaga and others across Canada. I continued to meet folks in the *Camp sphere including Vincent & Phillipe, Patrick Lor, Cam Linke and others. And best of all, I keep getting to see my friends and acquaintances around the country (you know who you are).

Places to Go, People to See

Community Participation

Jon Udell asked that we hold off evaluating his joining Microsoft:

Wait until the evidence is in, then decide for yourself. I’ve been in this game for a long time. I think my record of pragmatism and agnosticism speaks for itself…

Well it’s now been a year. And I want to know what you think? Good? Bad? Otherwise?

What can I do to make the next year awesome for you? the community?