Archive for the ‘paper’ tag
Paper by FiftyThree is one of the most beautiful digital products on the market today.
The immersive drawing app for tablets has won Apple’s Design Award, a Crunchie, and was most recently honored at Time Inc.’s 10 NYC Startups To Watch party. So how do you build on that kind of success?
Well, according to the founders, Paper is but the first product in a series of creative tools. The team is thinking pretty seriously about what comes next, and it seems as though a stylus is where things are headed.
“The human hand has evolved to use tools,” said co-founder Georg Petchnigg. “You have wrists to do fine-detailed work, so the idea of a stylus is really interesting to us. It’s something that we’re thinking about because we want to deliver the best creation experience on tablets, so a stylus is right at the forefront of that.”
Currently, FiftyThree recommends customers on its website buy a stylus, linking to an Amazon stylus page as well as promoting the Pogo Connect.
But new products aren’t the only concern at FiftyThree. The team is also constantly thinking about how to reach a broader audience. As co-founder Julian Walker put it, “everyone out there is creative.”
That said, the company recently launched a new stream of content called Made With Paper, to help users get inspiration from other works created in the app. This is just a first step in building out more social, community-based features that will not only attract new users but keep loyal ones engaged.
Here’s the Real (and Real Silly) Dunder Mifflin Ad Airing Tonight on the Series Finale of The Office
Looking forward to the series finale of The Office tonight? Here's something else to look forward to. The real Dunder Mifflin ad below—for the defictionalized paper brand whose products you can actually buy at Quill.com—will air in five Dunder Mifflin "branch" markets (Scranton, Pa., Akron, Ohio, and Utica, Albany and Syracuse, N.Y.) as well as Chicago (the home market of Lincolnshire-based Quill) during tonight's telecast. Just as the NBC show winds down, Dunder Mifflin paper is ramping up its advertising. (It's already among the best-selling brands in the office-supply category.) Its slogan, "Limitless paper in a paperless world," is what drives this spot, which is all about a guy who can turn anything he touches into Dunder Mifflin paper. Of course, he immediately uses his power to prank his co-workers the same way Jim pranks Dwight. The Midas touch is a well-worn theme in advertising, and they're not really challenging any conventions. But let's face it. This is as good as paper advertising gets.
That’s one of the shocking conclusions of a little-known paper released earlier this year in Stanford Technology Law Review. The authors, professors Robin Feldman and Tom Ewing, argue that the “mass aggregator” business model of amassing huge numbers of patents is an entirely new species of company … and one that has helped the biggest example of this new type of company collect at least $2 billion in licensing deals.
Intellectual Ventures is generally considered a patent troll … a company that acquires patents for the sole purpose of licensing them to others, with no intention to actually create and sell products. Patent trolls cost the U.S. economy alone almost $30 billion annually.
The issue came back to the forefront just this past week as IV announced plans to hire a “VP of Global Good.” Mocked by writer Jeff Roberts (“it’s like Darth Vader doing charity work”), Myrvold fired back, claiming IV was a force for good and was helping to rid the world of malaria.
(In other words: It’s all for the kids. Cue violins.)
IV has spent over $1.2 billion on at least 1000 patent acquisitions, reportedly buying patents for an average of $40,000 each from companies, individuals, and up to 50 universities, including CalTech, Duke, Clemson, Brigham Young, Rutgers, and my alma mater, the University of British Columbia.
These patents are then held in a tangled web of shell companies, which includes over 1200 patent holding companies, 51 shell companies that simply manage assets, and 24 executive and investment shells.
Myrvold is convinced he’s creating value and doing the right thing, saying “we invest in invention.”
One has to wonder, then, why IV has “gone to great lengths to maintain secrecy,” according to Feldman and Ewing. And why IV holds its intellection property in hundreds of shell companies.
Image credit: Hellen Grig
Everywhere I look, I see B2B marketing that spouts "join the conversation," "get in the conversation," and other references to the word that skew it's meaning into the equivalent of "talk to the hand."
In my last post, I wrote about debunking the B2B buzzword, engagement. In the same vein, I'm wondering what the heck happened to the art of conversation? Have we become so numb by the ability to publish whatever we want that we've forgotten how to be human?
The words dialogue and conversation are also interchanged without thought but, in online marketing, they have different criterion:
Conversation: an interchange of thought, information actively shared between/among people. (Requires 2 or more people)
Dialogue: an exchange of information (Only requires one person)
The difference here is that a conversation is an active exchange of information between people where a dialogue (as an exchange of information) could be between a person and a website, blog, video, etc. without the need for two active (human) participants.
I think this is an important distinction. I do not think the two are interchangeable.
Let's look at some examples of what a conversation is NOT:
- A push email – even if the recipient clicks
- A Tweet with no commentary (title and link and handle)
- A blog post with comments from readers, but no response from the author (This does, however, change if readers are commenting in response to each other.)
- A white paper download
- Viewing a video
Examples of what transforms dialogue into conversation is response.
- I receive an email, click the link, and forward the email on to a colleague who responds back to me with comment about the content I shared. We may exchange several more emails in discussion about the content.
- I receive a comment on my blog, respond back and ask a follow-on question and the person comes back to answer the question. Or another reader jumps in and answers the question I asked and I respond to them.
- Someone posts a question to a LinkedIn group and provides a link to a blog post or article on the topic. Group members respond by leaving comments and referencing perspectives of others – discussion ensues.
If I had just clicked the link and read the information in the first example, there is no conversation. It's the act of involving others and adding my commentary that turns the dialogue into a conversation. There must be back and forth between people for a conversation to form.
The evolution is that we don't need oral communication to have a conversation. As long as two people are involved, a conversation can be facilitated by a variety of technology platforms, from email to communities to social media and beyond.
But, it's only dialogue if technology is carrying on half of the conversation.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge proponent of marketing automation. Use your technology to establish a dialogue that engages people through contextual information they want and need, GO YOU! But it's not a conversation until another person gets involved. This is because the "dialogue" is dependent on the behavior of the single participant, not both.
[If I visit this webpage, the system sends me a link to content A. If I visit a landing page and download a white paper, the system sends me content B. Etc. In a dialoge scenario, there's not a possiblity that it could veer off to content X.]
This is even more important when you consider social media. I see so many exchanges where someone is looking for help, only to be told to call an 800 number. Really? That's the best you can do? Although that fits the criterion for a conversation (2 or more people), there's also a difference between a valuable conversation and a crappy excuse for one.
So, when you think about "conversation" in marketing terms – what are you doing to make it more human?
And for those of you thinking "Wait. I get thousands of responses to my nurturing program! I can't possibly deal with this…" I would point you to buying stages and personas and battening down your lead scoring schema to get to intelligence that's useful. It's all in your approach to prioritization.
Don't let conversation become a meaningless buzzword. With a little art and science we can make marketing human, approachable, and definitely more social.
Co-founder and CEO Pat McCarty announced the deal in a blog post that also recounts some of Fantuition’s history and discusses McCarty’s feelings about being acqui-hired (or, as he spells it, “acqhired”, because no one can agree on the spelling of this awkward, awkward word) — in other words, getting acquired by another company just so that they can hire your team, while your product gets shut down.
McCarty says the terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, though he does answer the question, “Did anyone get rich?” in the following way: “The answer for almost every acqhire deal we’ve seen in the tech space over the last few years is ‘No, at least not yet.’” That last caveat is thrown in because the deals usually include equity, which could turn out to be very valuable down the line.
The Fantuition website, meanwhile, uses some blunt language to announce that the service has been shut down: “Your slow climb up the leaderboards truncated. Your records and trophies nullified. Your prediction results erased. Game over.” (That’s a softened a bit by the next sentence: “Thanks for playing and we appreciate your support.”)
As described by McCarty, Fantuition is a pivot from an earlier local recommendation startup called GuideMe. McCarty and co-founder Michael Walrath both worked at online ad company Right Media (Walrath was CEO), which was acquired by Yahoo, where they then held executive positions. GuideMe/Fantuition raised money from WGI Group (where Walrath is a manager), SV Angel’s David Lee, Marker LLC’s Richard Scanlon, Yext CEO Howard Lerman, and AppNexus CEO Brian O’Kelley, who was previously CTO at Right Media.
In explaining the rationale behind the deal, McCarty says that the startup’s momentum had “stalled”, though it still “had enough cash left to consider a bunch of options,” such as building an iPhone version. At the same time, O’Kelley suggested an acqui-hire, and while McCarty was initially skeptical, he eventually came around: “I wanted to be a part of something bigger. I wanted to change the game like we did with Right Media, but to do it on a bigger scale and in new ways.”
Reflecting on the deal, McCarty doesn’t take the bland, celebratory route of most acqui-hire announcements. Instead, he admits that there’s a “bittersweet” feeling among the team and the investors, concluding:
Even though it is painful to shut down our product, I’m extremely pleased to be joining one of the best technology companies in the world while also managing to continue to work with our team and live up to our investors’ expectations.
Consider this a story to be continued…
Researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered that what looks like junk may actually open the doors to a treasure of solar energy.
Using an electric field, semiconductors such as metal oxides (as you can see above, this amounts to rust) can be made usable for solar panels. The electric field gives the materials the high-quality p-n junctions (the electro-chemical building blocks of solar panels) they need to capture energy from the sun’s rays.
Creating the p-n junctions needed is a process called doping. The Berkeley researchers’ paper is called Screening-engineered Field-effect Solar Cells, and it states that any semiconductive material, including cheap metal oxides, sulfides, and phosphides, can be successfully doped using an electric field.
For example, cuprous oxide (Cu2O) is, the paper says, “a highly abundant but hard-to-dope semiconductor. … We have demonstrated a 60% relative efficiency increase with Cu2O.”
“It’s time we put bad materials to good use,” said physicist Alex Zettl one of the researchers who produced the paper.
“Our technology allows us to sidestep the difficulty in chemically tailoring many earth abundant, non-toxic semiconductors and instead tailor these materials simply by applying an electric field.”
Image courtesy Zettl Research Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley
Filed under: green
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This morning, I saw a woman reading words on printed paper.
This is the most disruptive thing since Dalton Caldwell’s last bowel movement.
I saw her a few rows ahead of me and was shocked. She was reading this incredibly thin paper that seemed to offer both informative and entertaining content. From what I could see, the paper had obituaries, local news, even comic strips!
I immediately conducted a highly scientific survey of my train neighbors and saw three people on iPhones, two on iPads and two on Macbooks. Two were sleeping—I think. One actually might have been dead.
[Trolls, you can’t get mad that I only saw Apple products BECAUSE IT’S SCIENCE.]
But this maverick was flaunting her paper like nobody’s business. Can you imagine all the applications for this that we haven’t thought of?
Finally, I can read weather and local sports scores in the bathtub with no fear of electrocution from dropping my 17 inch Macbook Pro.
If we all read our news on these printed products, which would obviously be delayed from Internet and TV news, we wouldn’t have to worry about having the Olympics spoiled for us. Since when did Breaking News become so great anyway?
And the fun wouldn’t stop once you’re done reading the words. Think about all the paper mache you’re missing out on—boom! Newspaper to the rescue. Out of toilet paper in your apartment? Family Circus has got ya covered. You could even ball up the pages with your cubicle mates and have summer snowball fights.
Point of sale: much better than the Apple Store.
Competition? I don’t know…Gutenberg? No one currently in the market prints words on paper and distributes it.
Monetization? Child please—these papers will have more targeted ads than Facebook. Imagine, a whole targeted ads section where anyone can buy space and offer to exchange goods or services for money. Some people might even be willing to pay subscriptions for premium versions!
Mobile? Uh, hello? Anybody home? Think McFly! The whole thing is mobile. Carry this with you anywhere it folds right up…Web 12.0, bitches.
All right, that’s my pitch. Now I need some cash. Raise your hand if you invested in Groupon…
The couponing industry is 125 years old, and in that time it hasn’t changed that much. Users are forced to go through a laborious process to save just a bit of money on groceries and other products. Well, Endorse is coming to consumers with a simpler way to get discounts on everyday products, with a set of mobile apps that will allow them to get money back on everyday items like soft drinks, snacks, and toilet paper.
We first wrote about Endorse when it raised $4.25 million from Accel Ventures and SV Angel in January. When it first launched, it was a web-only experience, with users choosing items to buy from Endorse.com and then mailing receipts in to receive credit from their purchases. (!!!) Not long after, it launched iPhone and Android mobile apps in a closed beta test. Now the startup is opening those apps up to anyone who wishes to use them, enabling users to save between 10 percent and 100 percent on purchases.
The apps work like this: You go to a local store and open up the app, and it’ll offer up discounts on various products like soft drinks, snacks, and toilet paper. You purchase the items you want, and after you’ve paid you take a photo of your receipt. Endorse then makes note of the items, and credits your account with whatever discount should be applied. Once the account has reached $25, Endorse will cut you a check — although it’s looking into quicker means of payment, like through PayPal, issuing reloadable debit cards, or automatically crediting the account you paid with.
The whole thing turns the 125-year old coupon industry on its head. For consumers, the app eliminates the need to clip coupons, many of which can only be used in specific stores. They can get discounts on products featured in Endorse, regardless of where they were purchased — whether it be in their ultra supermarket, local corner store, or the gas station’s Qwik-E-Mart while on the road.
For brands, the app provides better targeting and analytics. Consumer brands spend some $5 billion in coupons every year, but only 1 percent of all coupons are actually redeemed, according to Endorse founder and CEO Steven Carpenter. Even worse, once redeemed, the brands have no information about who actually used the coupon.
Instead of spending billions of dollars on mailers and coupons run in the newspaper and having no idea who is using them, Endorse provides brands with detailed data about where purchases were made, and data around who’s made purchases with the discounts. Endorse connects with Facebook, so it can provide aggregate demographics data about its users.
That means it could also better target users with discounts, rather than blinding issuing coupons to the general population. The whole thing creates a better feedback loop between consumers and brands. As a result, it’s already drawing interest from some big consumer brands. Carpenter wouldn’t comment on the companies that it is working with, but a quick glance through the app shows brands from consumer goods companies like PepsiCo and General Mills.
Carpenter incubated the startup as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Accel, after selling Cake financial to Etrade in 2010. Early employees to Endorse come from YouTube and PayPal, and have been building both the back end platform for brands to promote their products, as well as the apps that consumers use.
The company now has 12 employees, and is already generating revenue, as it gets a cut for purchases made thanks to the discounts it offers. While it’s being used mainly for groceries today, Endorse could spread to other product categories as time goes on. That could mean more discounts for consumers, and for brands, it could mean a better way to reach their customers.