Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Style

These are dark times. Thus the new background and colour scheme. In today's recessionary global economy, payment has never been so important. You simply must contact to improve your cash flow and bottom line asap. Satisfaction guaranteed. Or your money back.



The Growing Ex-Amazon Club and Why It’s a Good Thing
Om Malik | Friday, November 21, 2008 | 5:30 PM PT | 2 comments

Call it a coincidence, but over the past few days I have spent a lot of time with folks who used to work for Amazon but are now out doing new things. It all started with Jason Kilar, the CEO of Hulu, who was a keynote speaker at our NewTeeVee Live conference. Then last night I met with Dave Schapell, founder and CEO of TeachStreet, an e-marketplace for teachers. And this morning I had coffee with Jeff Lawson, co-founder of Twilo.

My buddy Dave McClure was the one who pointed out that they are all part of the Ex-Amazon club. Just like the rising number of ex-Google entrepreneurs I wrote about last year, these guys are leaving top jobs at one of the best technology companies in the U.S. Here is a list of just some of those names, their current companies and their previous positions at the e-tailer:

Jeff Holden, CEO and co-founder, Pelago (Amazon consumer web sites)
Michael Sha, co-founder, WikInvest (Amazon Payments)
Dave Schappell, CEO and founder, TeachStreet (Misc.)
Vikas Gupta, co-founder, Jambool (Amazon Flexible Payment Systems)
Reza Hussein, co-founder, Jambool (Mechanical Turk)
Jeff Lawson, co-founder, Twilio (Amazon Web Services)
Keith Schorsch, CEO and founder, Trusera (Misc.)
Plus Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu (Amazon Marketplace)

Now this isn’t even a comprehensive list, and slowly and surely, it is expanding. The easy availability of capital in Seattle certainly helps, but more importantly it speaks to the amount of top-quality talent that Amazon has been able to attract over the years. Lawson, who stopped by for a cup of tea this morning to pitch his company, Twilio, said that one of Amazon’s biggest strengths has always been its ability to recruit and hire great minds. It is because of this hiring policy that the company has not only stayed ahead of the technology curve, but established itself as the leader in Web 2.0 innovation. That’s in stark contrast to other tech giants such as Yahoo and Google, which have instead taken their cues from small startups. For talented people, the allure of working with Jeff Bezos can be what clinches the deal, according to Schappell of TeachStreet, which counts Bezos Expeditions as one of its investors. His company has essentially developed a place where you can go to find things like a French teacher, or someone to give you trombone lessons. I like to call it the Yellow Pages with brains, and it’s the kind of service a company like eBay should have launched instead of mucking around with things like Skype.

Those who know Bezos well say that he isn’t afraid of losing and wants to win big — and that means making big bets. This “nothing-in-the-middle” attitude is particularly attractive to folks with an entrepreneurial gene. Of course, it also has its downside. Bezos’ big-play approach frustrates those who want to unleash small ideas, and nurture them over a period of time. Eventually some great people couldn’t live within the corporate structure of Amazon and went on to do their own thing. Like Lawson, who until recently was the CTO of Stubhub before starting Twilio, a company that has developed an easy way for web application developers to add voice capabilities to their offerings using standard web-programming techniques. Should Amazon be worried about this brain drain? Absolutely not, for the company continues to attract talent the way lights attracts moths. I’ve often wondered what Amazon would do next, and I have a few ideas as to where I think they’re going. Someday I’ll blog about that, too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Eric Krangel Formerly Eric Reuters Disses Second Life

The only surprise is it took him a year and a half to figure this out? Or was "playing SL" for a living just too good a gig for Eric Krangel ala Eric Reuters to squelch. It seems he would be happy to continue running the Reuters Virtual News Desk from Second Life but unfortunately Reuters Management asked the obvious "What the hell is the point of this charade?" and pulled the plug on this virtual news experiment ala Wagner James Au.

After 18 months of predominantly positive press from ER inworld, most surprising was this comment from Krangel reporting from the Real World; "For all its bugs, Second Life is tolerable as a playground, but enterprise users will never and should never use it for business." What an ungrateful prick! Just PG's opinion... Anyway, here is Eric Reuters, I mean Eric Kaegen's advice to Linden Management. Wonder if they will listen? Cheers!

The Register is reporting the Reuters Second Life bureau has closed, and adds about the embedded reporter there:

Reports of a marketing evac team swooping in a virtual huey to snatch Eric Reuters from the firm's Sadville bureau - while harried by squadrons of flying penises and pursued by crazed locals bent on acts of bestial sexual brutality - could not be confirmed.

I can add details: For a year and a half, I reported under the byline "Eric Reuters" in Second Life, before settling in at my new home here at SAI.

So what happened? Is Second Life dying? No, but the buzz is gone. For all the sound and fury over recent price hikes and layoffs at Linden Lab, Second Life has a community of fanatically loyal users. Since Linden Lab derives its revenue from user fees, not advertisements, Second Life is much more likely to survive the Web 2.0 shakeout than most other startups.

It's hard to say what, if anything, Linden Lab can do to make Second Life appeal to a general audience. The very things that most appeal to Second Life's hardcore enthusiasts are either boring or creepy for most people: Spending hundreds of hours of effort to make insignificant amounts of money selling virtual clothes, experimenting with changing your gender or species, getting into random conversations with strangers from around the world, or having pseudo-nonymous sex (and let's not kid ourselves, sex is a huge draw into Second Life). As part of walking my "beat," I'd get invited by sources to virtual nightclubs, where I'd right-click the dancefloor to send my avatar gyrating as I sat at home at my computer. It was about as fun as watching paint dry.

But here's how Linden Lab can make Second Life more fun and a better business:

1. Build good newbie-oriented content. Linden has always taken the position they're in the 3D platform business, and can't be expected to build anything with their own tools or even know what others are doing in Second Life. That argument didn't fly when the gambling scandal broke and it doesn't work now. Second Life has a monster learning curve, and Linden Lab needs to hold new users' hands through every step of their first five or six hours. A big content push isn't even that expensive: the company has proven it can pay Second Lifers $10/hr to do these things and have skilled content creators begging for the job.
2. Acknowledge that Second Life's reputation is now a liability. This isn't the worst thing in the world, but it does mean Second Life can't sit back and hope word-of-mouth brings in hordes of new users like it did back in 2006. Second Life needs to advertise, and the ads need to be hip. New CEO Mark Kingdon has an ad background and should have the right résumé to pull off a makeover.
3. Radically simplify the user interface. The Second Life UI is a mess, and there's been no major changes to it in Second Life's 5+ years. Making the Second Life experience easy-to-use, even graceful, isn't a nice-to-have, it's a business imperative.
4. Abandon the idea that Second Life is a business app. I wasn't in Second Life to play, I was there on assignment for Reuters. The login server would crash. I'd try to reach sources, but Second Life's IM window would hang on "waiting" all day when trying to figure out who was online. "Teleports" -- the ability to move from point to point anywhere in Second Life -- would stop working and I'd get locked out of my own office. These weren't one-offs, they were my daily, first-hand, happens-all-the-time experiences. For all its bugs, Second Life is tolerable as a playground, but enterprise users will never and should never use it for business. Re-focus on the core mission: Keeping the hobbyists happy and converting potential recruits into hardcore (read: fees-paying) users. None of these things will make Second Life palatable to the general public, but it will draw new traffic and keep a lot more potential users with the right temperment for Second Life from quitting in frustration on their first day. That might be enough for the next year or two. There's an incredible depth, passion, and camaraderie to the Second Life community that more popular online experiences like MySpace or World of Warcraft can't match. And while I didn't find it compelling, there really is something awesome about buying be able to "buy" a grid of blank 3D space, mold it like clay into an elven forest, a futuristic space station, or a bdsm dungeon, and then invite your friends to hang out.

PaymentGuy's Hero of the Week - Barclays' Roger Jenkins

Mr. Jenkins is this week's winner of the coveted PG Hero of the Week Award, awarded to the dude best able to get paid in this recessionary global economy! And his wife is hot, smart and connected. Better yet, he is 51 and she is 36, a perfect age gap between uber-payment-dude husband and global-glamor-babe-socialite-business-Goddess wife. They have 2 young boys also. What a role model! Mr. Jenkins, kind Sir., will you be my mentor please, pretty please? You may contact me at My calls to your Wife's fax machine went unanswered for some strange reason ... here is what NYT reports on his latest triumph: "Mr. Jenkins will not discuss his compensation and the bank discloses pay details only of its four executive directors. But his looming reward, perhaps more than £30 million (almost $45 million), underscores how much cash-constrained institutions must reward the deal makers crucial to their survival — even at a time of austerity and caution in international banking."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sulake North American GM Quits HABBO & Joins OutSpark

A great hire for Outspark! Another key loss for Sulake ...

Former ClickandBuy CTO Launches Stock Alert Service

And he uses the former ClickandBuy PR agent, Stuart Ginsberg for the PR. Good luck!

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today Strateer, a financial services startup, announced the launch of Alerts4all (, an easy-to-use stock market alert tool that brings institution grade investment technology to individual investors. With Alerts4all investors benefit from advanced investment alerts that can be easily setup in minutes to automatically monitor the stock market and protect investors’ portfolios. Individual investors often miss the right time to buy or to sell because they are too busy to actively monitor the stock market. This leads to frustration and bad investment performance. Alerts4all was created to solve this problem and help individual investors to find the right time to buy and sell. In today’s economic climate individual investors keep being hit in the current markets, and ultimately will need better tools and methods to get on their feet again. Alerts4all was created by successful entrepreneur Fabian Siegel, who co-founded the world’s 2nd largest Internet Payment Service ClickandBuy, and Matthieu Labour, a Wall Street technology veteran.

10 of My Favourite Payment Partners

1. Onebip

Marko Maras and his team at Onebip are doing amazing things making it easy for merchants like virtual world operators, mmo's ... to quickly deploy, scale and manage an international payment infrastructure. Onebip is simply the fastest, easiest, most economical and thus best way PG knows to start offering mobile payments. Their customers include: Ijji, Aeriagames, Habbo Hotel, Gameforge, Bigpoint, Travian, Roliana…. So if you want to start making mobile money, contact Marko at Onebip!

2. Fast£rpay - This is likely the best online banking payment method currently offered in the UK. It is awesome in that it allows customers to pay online via all the major British banks If you currently have customers in the UK or want paying customers in the UK for your MMO or Virtual World but do not offer FasterPay, you should ASAP. Otherwise, you are losing money! Contact Paul Fargus, Managing Director

3. Netgiro -
Netgiro is great and was recently aquired by Digital River. Good knowledge of online and internet bank payments and nice guys.

4. GlobalCollect - VP Shane Happach knows the needs of virtual world operators and can keep even Linden Lab's CFO happy:

5. Ericsson IPX - excellent people, excellent service, excellent technology

and backed by SonyEricsson unlike the other start-up and small cap SMS billing companies.

6. Adyen -
With transparent pricing, this is a breath of fresh air.

7. UKash - Excellent coverage for this prepaid (cash to virtual credits / subscriptions) retail-based payment solutions vendor

Currently issued in the UK, Ireland, Spain and Germany, Ukash is now available for the millions of consumers in 16 additional countries across Europe who don't have or don't wish to use credit or debit cards online. Now cash consumers in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Slovakia and Sweden can get Ukash at their nearest bank branch by completing a simple paying-in slip. They will then receive an email or SMS message with their unique and secure 19-digit Ukash voucher number. This voucher number is used when they are asked to pay at any of the hundreds of web sites that accept Ukash.

8. Todito Card - this prepaid card is simply a must for the Hispanic demo

9. Cyclelogic - best connectivity pan Latin America with CEO Miguel Ordonez a great guy to work with and truly one of the most knowledgeable experts in the mobile payment industry and knows the Latin American / Hispanic internet business landscape inside out;

10. PayByCash UGC - Hardworking Kevin Higgins has finally struck gold with his prepaid card concept. The Ultimate Game Card™ is all across the USA and also now available in Canadian stores

Nokia Foundation Awards the Founders of Habbo Virtual World

Congrats Aapo and Sampo!

HELSINKI, November 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Nokia Foundation (NYSE:NOK) has granted its 2008 award to Aapo Kyrola and Sampo Karjalainen, thefounders of Sulake Corporation Inc., which is best known for its Habbovirtual world and online community.

The EUR 10 000 award was presented at the foundation's scholarship awards ceremony on November 18, 2008, an event at which the foundation also celebrated its 14th anniversary. "Aapo Kyrola and Sampo Karjalainen have been chosen for this award because of their contributions to collaborative media and social networking.The Habbo virtual world is loved by teenagers all over the world as an easy way to meet new people and keep in touch with friends. The design of the virtual characters is unique, and the constantly evolving features of the collaborative game have driven innovation in an area where competition is tough," said Henry Tirri, Head of Nokia Research Center. Since Sulake was founded in May 2000, over 100 million users have registered with the Habbo service. The Habbo virtual world and online community attracts close to 10 million unique visitors each month. Sulake has offices in 18 countries across five continents and employs over 300 people.

Is Sulake Planning HABBO 3D?

This guy already did it!

Sulake's General Manager North America Quits HABBO

Recently, one of PG's contacts got an auto reply mail after emailing the SUlake North American General Manager Paul Thind; "“Hey All, My last day at Sulake Inc. was October 31st, 2008 ….Blah blah blah….” PG just confirmed this.

Anyone now what is up? Where oh where has the real brains of Sulake USA gone? Thind was typically known as the hardworking practical no-nonsense manager who kept the HABBO USA ship floating while the other ex-pat Finnish EVP's, SVP's, etc... enjoyed LA. Thind is still profiled on the Sulake Careers page - typically Sulake-PR-weird
Paul Thind, General Manager, Sulake USA
“ Sulake is energetic, creative and fast paced!”

“Sulake is one of those special companies that continues to innovate at breakneck speed, yet maintains a great deal of attention to our users' experience. We continuously learn a lot about working in different countries with different business cultures and business situations. If it hasn't been implemented yet, it will be. That's what we do!

Running the operations in North America is incredibly challenging and equally as rewarding. I like working on expanding the business and building the brand through strategic partnerships and new relationships. I also enjoy working with the 'rapid fire' teams in our Headquarters who passionately care about our business and want to help the country offices succeed as much as possible.

Due to Sulake’s extensive international presence, unique and forward thinking billing systems, and Habbo – one of the best community oriented websites on the planet, I can strongly recommend Sulake as a working place! Sulake is global and local at the same time. The company has identified a way to produce a safe and fun experience in the bleeding edge social networking and casual gaming space and have done it the 'Sulake way'. Best practices are implemented through to the countries where local management can integrate them. The smaller country offices have the entrepreneurial vibe to make quick decisions and are trusted to do so.

Sulake is for those who are looking for a company that listens, that acts, and executes. Sulake continues to innovate because the people who make the company genuinely care and are passionate about it. It's a great feeling to be around that kind of energy!”

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Juniper Research: Promotional coupons sent via mobile phones to exceed 200 million users by 2013

According to a new Juniper Research’s study, coupons delivered and redeemed via mobile phones are forecast to be used by some 200 million mobile subscribers globally by 2013. At the moment, mobile coupons market is most advanced in Japan and Korea, but USA and Europe are slowly catching up and mobile coupons have started appearing at all the main retail sectors including restaurants, entertainment, shopping and grocery. The developed nations of the Far East, North America and Western Europe are forecast to account for the major part of the market by 2013. Report author Howard Wilcox argues that even though today the overwhelming majority of coupons are paper-based, the mobile phone is the ultimate individual marketing device and mobile coupon pilots have shown greatly increased redemption rates - often double digit percentages. On the downside, though, Juniper identified some significant hurdles, including the lack of suitable point of sale (POS) infrastructure at the supermarket checkout allowing for the quick and easy redemption of coupons, which is critical to the consumer shopping experience. Technology is also a factor, with most mobile coupons today delivered by a (bar) code and SMS. In future, NFC will become popular in this application. More information about Juniper Research’s study “Mobile Coupons: Strategies & Forecasts 2008-2013″ is available from their website.