Facebook’s IPO Part 2: Another one bites the dust.

Facebook shares have fallen in early trading on Wall StreetA few days ago I wrote an article about what the injection of funds to Facebook investors will mean for the startup community. Well, just a few days later, Facebook’s IPO stock price is falling and everyone is pointing fingers.

The initial investors have a nice payout, they walk away happy, but at what cost? Some blame Morgan Stanley others blame Facebook for the hype. Investment funds around the world are claiming to have been mislead and lied to. They were told that Facebook was oversubscribed, and that they would be lucky to get any stocks at all.

“Some investors say they felt misled by the underwriters. According to one London-based fund manager who asked not to be named, bankers indicated demand was so strong that he placed a bigger order than he thought he would get, leaving him with 40 per cent more Facebook shares than anticipated. He sold most of that stock on the first day of trading.” The Star.

So what does this mean for future startups looking to launch an IPO? It means three things.

1. If a tech startup raises their stock value a week before their IPO, expect distrust.

2. If a tech startup releases 25% more investor shares after raising their stock value, expect distrust.

3. If a tech startup claims over subscription, expect skepticism.

Facebook still has a big future, it is the largest Social Media site on the web (700,000,000 users). It’s future has little to do with the stock price. Unfortunately, however, due to their size and influence Facebook’s greed has probably tarnished the investors trust of most other technology startups looking to enter the stock market in the future, making it that much harder for the next one.

Facebook’s epic IPO – Another one bites the dust.

Facebook IPO officially went live a few minutes ago. Astonishingly, when businesses around the world are struggling to find financing, Facebook continues to soar, and people everywhere are talking about it. You can’t buy the kind of media attention and PR Facebook gets.

What does this mean for the rest of the tech community?

More investments

A lot of Facebook investors just got really rich. Apparently Bono is supposed to make more money on his investment in Facebook than on his entire music career. (I haven’t double checked that, but it does sound too good). Investors love to invest. So startups expect more capital to be available very soon.

More opportunities

A lot of companies slow down on innovation after releasing their IPO. Facebook has beat the odds so many times before, I predict they will beat the odds again and remain successful. However, they have already announced to world that they are ready to acquire apps that fit into their growth and revenue strategy. They just purchased Instagram for $1 billion. So there is an opportunity for startups to solve the problems Facebook has, with a great possibility of being acquired.

Increased competition

It is likely Facebook will have more competition and it is likely there will be more startups starting up. The trend is that when one startup gets massive traction and success, others are quickly to try to follow.

What to do?

If you are already a startup company, the best thing to do is to ignore the hype and buzz. You know your space, you know your business, keep doing what you are doing. Focus on solving the problems you know best.

5 reasons blogging is the best way to improve your SEO

The following is an exerpt on a talk I gave about using blogging to increase your Organic SEO.

Quoted from: http://www.designworklife.com/2011/10/19/karshhagan-social-animals/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20designworklife/dwl%20(design%20work%20life)

SEO which means Search Engine Optimization, is critical to rank well on Search Engines like Google. You probably already knew that, but do you know how search engines actually index content? It may surprise you. Search engines want to give their users the very best information possible, so they use a formula to determine the most relevant content to display on the top search results. They look at keywords, links, site authority, social media links, domain authority, and the load time of your site. You may be wondering, “Where should I focus my time?”. If you are new to search engine optimization, and are looking for a strategy, focus on blogging. Fortunately writing articles on blogs targets nearly all of the major SEO variables at once.

1. Keywords

Search engines love keywords. But not just random keywords, they like phrases and sentences too. When writing a blog post some words will be used over and over again. For example, if you write a blog about a vacation destination, it is likely that the word “vacation” will be used multiple times. These words are known as keywords. Search engines calculate the number of times keywords are used within content as part of their page ranking algorithm. They also look at the surrounding content and sentences used near the keywords to ensure that the words are used naturally. (Important note here. Don’t stuff your article with way too many keywords. Spammy sites do this and search engines are aware of this technique and punish sites for it.)

2. Relevance

Search engines want to provide the most relevant information to their users. In many cases, such as news feeds or topical information, they use the date the blog post was written to calculate its relevance. Often a day or two after posting a blog post you will see it ranking at the top of the search results, and then its rank will start to fall again. Blog posts help get websites on the top results when people are looking for the latest articles.

3. Authority

Site and Page Authority are calculated in a couple of ways. Firstly search engines look at how old a domain is. If it is newly registered then it won’t have the same age authority as an older domain. They also look at how many inbound links are pointing to the website. Blogging is a great way to increase inbound links. By providing valuable information, people will often link to your blog posts from their own websites or from Facebook and Twitter. It is generally agreed among SEO experts that direct links from other websites are ranked higher than links from social media sites.

4. Meta tags are dying

This is something that may surprise many people. It used to be that search engines relied heavily on meta tags in the top of your website’s html to index page results. Search engines still use them today, but not in the same way. Search engines rely on content within your site to index page results and then use meta tags to confirm the site’s purpose. Blog posts without any meta tags can still rank at the top of search results. While including meta tags is considered good practice, they have become secondary to site content.

5. More landing pages

Every time you write a post, a new page is created on your site. If you think of your website as a fishing net, every time you write a new post, the net gets bigger. Search engines index each blog as a unique page. Blogging also helps keep people on your site longer. By including links within your blog posts to similar older posts on your website, people are likely to click on the links and stay on your website longer. Search engines also use those internal links in calculating the articles relevance.

The Outcome

If good SEO is important to you, then writing blog posts is the best way to improve it. If you write just one new blog article a week, at the end of the year your website will have 52 new keyword rich, authority building, SEO haven web pages.

Building on a reputation of success

There is so much buzz in the startup community about the successes of some of the new titans; Facebook, Groupon and now Instagram. We are looking at these billion dollar valuations and hoping that our startups will achieve that type of success. It is more likely however, that these are the anomalies and that steady to fast growth is the norm for most startups. How do we focus on maximizing the success of our business without being distracted by the noise around us?

building a business on success

I recently heard a great talk on capitalizing opportunities. The main point of the talk was that we need to reverse our way of viewing opportunities. Instead of looking around the startup room and asking, “Hey, why did that guy get more, or bigger, opportunities than me?” Instead ask, “What am I doing with the opportunities that I have? Am I maximizing them?” After the talk, and as I reflected on the successes of our business, I had an epiphany. Perhaps the way of maximizing our success is by focusing on maximizing our clients’ success.

Our company is in a growth season and each month I can see that the single biggest reason for that is because our clients are either recommending our business to others or they are choosing to trust us because they can see what we are doing. When an individual or business decides to use your product or service, they are entrusting you with their time and money. They value your product or expertise and require it to perform their needed tasks.

It’s easy for that reality to be lost when looking at the success of the giants. We can lose sight of the privilege we’ve been given and may be tempted by shortcuts that appear to offer more, faster. For example, when the workload gets demanding we may choose to build a less than perfect product or service to accelerate deployment times. However, that is where success will end. In business, we are no more than our reputation. If we fail to produce amazing products, we will become known for just that, producing subpar products. Likewise, if we continue to produce amazing products, despite the work, we will become known for producing great products.

Steve Jobs knew this well. He was fanatical about building great products every time, often at the expense of release dates (Lean Startup is cringing at the thought). I too believe we need to be fanatical about the quality of the products and services that we produce in our companies. Figuratively speaking, at our business when I look back at our work I want to see straight rows and beautiful hedges, not half weeded flower beds and mostly planted gardens.

Overtime, the opportunities that we are given will grow, our bottom line will increase, and our customers will demand more because we were diligent with what we have now. This is the greatest marketing we can give ourselves. It will further help all our future marketing efforts because all marketing takes existing truths or promises and emphasizes them. By focusing on building a reputation of success your marketing efforts will bring that to light. And when potential customers ask existing ones, they will confirm it. At our company our success is counted now by the quality of work we provide to our clients. If we solved their problems to the very best of our ability, then we have done our job… well.

Business lessons from Steve Jobs

Recently I read the book Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. As I was reading I found myself taking notes, jotting down some of the thoughts, quotes and actions that really struck me as interesting. Other than his enormous ego and insensitivity, one of the things that stood out to me was how Steve Jobs really engaged with many so many different elements and levels of business and life and didn’t spend much time separating the two. For Steve design, ethics, self, peace, success and spirituality really needed to be understood together to be understood at all.

Steve JobsThere are few people who have ever achieved the dramatic successes Steve Jobs did. It’s probably a good idea then, if you are building a company, to studying some of the insights Steve understood naturally. Some of these were his own thoughts, others he garnered from his mentors.

Want to build a great company? Focus on the basics and do them really well. Great products, great marketing, great distribution.

Steve’s dream was to build a lasting company. Something he learned from Hewlett Packard was that lasting companies know how to reinvent themselves. To remain successful a company must be flexible and creative, not afraid of change.

When coming back to Apple he had a massive task ahead of him. Rebuild a failing behemoth. The chance of success was extremely narrow. Looking at all the products the different teams were building he saw their problem. There was no focus. He simplified the product line.

The way a company is organized is important. Both in structure and in the physical layout. At Pixar he created one large space with all the offices joining onto it. The space helped create community and collaboration. People from different departments who would otherwise never meet, bumped into another in the shared space. As Steve Jobs said, “The best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company

Steve understood that for an innovative company to succeed it had to communicate, connect, with customers. The iPod was successful because it could communicate an understandable message, “A thousand songs in your pocket.” Steve spent hours labouring over the message behind the product. Steve argued, “You can’t win on innovation unless you have a way to communicate to customers.”

Steve also understood that great design was essential for great marketing. From his early mentor Mike Markkula Jobs was taught that “people do judge a book by its cover. ” Apple created the packaging of their products to signal that there was a beautiful gem inside. By creating a ritual of unpacking the product feels special.

But for Steve Jobs, good design didn’t end with the packaging. Right from his earliest days with Apple he was incessant about the design of their products. Even the way the circuit boards were designed. They were building excellent products that were well crafted from the inside out. The engineering and design needed to be excellent. This contributed to Apple’s culture of excellence.

There was another reason that Steve laboured over product design as well. He understood something the majority of technology companies miss. Human nature. As Jony Ive said, “Why do we assume that simple is good? Because with physical products we have to feel we can dominate them. As you bring order to complexity, you find a way to make the product defer to you.” As we simplify objects, especially technology, they become less intimidating to users and perceived to be more accessible, more conquerable.

Steve understood the basic principle that for his company to create the best, to be the best, it must be filled with the best. He was passionate about only hiring the best and brightest, “A players”. He believed that the best and brightest get annoyed working with anything less, so they in turn hire the best and the brightest. There is a natural quality control that takes place. However, B and C players have a feeling of inadequacy and therefore hire C and D employees to ensure that they look better. So Steve filled Apple with A players and frequently challenged his employees to ensure they remained A players.

Finally, Steve understood that for a company to be successful, its leaders must see the big picture, but be passionate about the details and products. He accounted this as his failure when hiring, John Sculley, as Apple’s CEO. John got the big picture but didn’t care much about the products the company was creating. However, Steve Jobs praised members of his team that did. “He get’s the big picture as well as the most infintesimal details about each product. And he understands that Apple is a product company.” Steve Jobs said about Jony Ive.

Steve was a brilliant man, and we will miss him. But fortunately because of books like Steve Jobs, by walter Isaacson, many of his thoughts live on.

If you are interested, an article I wrote about Steve Jobs’ view of Passion and Business is here. It continues to be the most read article on this blog.

Also, here are some great Steve Jobs quotes.

Copyright 101

The laws not the bandSo recently I have been put in a situation where I am forced to think about copyrights (the law not the band). Despite my personal resistance to the field it’s probably a good thing to have a good grasp of. Here is an overview of some general principles worth knowing.

Who owns the copyright?

Generally speaking, the person the work is attributed to owns the copyright. This applies to anybody who created the work (self-publishers, contractors etc) with exception to employees. In the case of an employee, the company they work for owns the copyright of any work done while working at the company.

What is shared copyright ownership?

Multiple people can own a copyright. Unless otherwise specified in writing any work contributed collaboratively is owned equally by all who contributed regardless of the amount they contributed. For example all the members of band collectively working on a song own equal shares to that song’s copyright. Generally speaking shared copyrights usually share equally in profits from any sales of the work. We see this all the time in the music industry.

What is copyleft?

Copyleft is a term originally coined by Richard Stallman and is used to describe copyright laws that ensure the right of individuals to modify, share and distribute copyrighted material, and to ensure that future versions of work be free to modify, share and distribute as well.

Are all copyright licenses compatible with each other?

No. There are many licenses that are incompatible with each other. It is a good idea to do some research before choosing a copyright license for any work you do. Some people prefer licenses that protect the work, and other people prefer licenses that protect the end users’ rights to access, modify and redistribute the work (aka copyleft licenses). Broadly speaking those two kinds of licenses are incompatible with one another.

There are also licenses like the GNU GPL that are copyleft licenses but are incompatible with many other copyleft licenses as it imposes the restriction that all resulting copies be bound by the GNU GPL license.

Final thoughts

There are many streams of philosophy and ideals surrounding copyright law that are good to take into consideration when choosing your copyright practices. If you are only just starting to learn copyright law it can seem a bit overwhelming. However, there are a lot of great resources that help to explain a lot of the different concepts. If you are an expert in the field and have something you want to add please post it in the comments.

For further reading.

Wikipedia article on copyright http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright

Wikipedia article on BSD License  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_licenses

Creative Commons License choosing tool http://creativecommons.org/choose/

GNU free copyright philosophy http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/philosophy.html

 

Life lesson #2: Passion is not a luxury.

Steve Jobs quote

My first post for this blog was about inspiration and why I believed it was necessary for success in business. The other day I was watching some videos of Steve Jobs on You Tube talking about business success. In the interview he stated that passion was the ingredient that sustained successful people until they had success.

Achieving success is hard. Ask anyone who has played sport competitively, or tried to change the minds of people in a team or politics. It takes a lot of work and a lot of perseverance, and often times, in business it seems like it takes more perseverance simply because the goal is new and untried.

So passion is not a luxury anymore if you are an entrepreneur and you want to succeed. I’ve often believed that its good to love what you do, but haven’t really taken much time to think about the implications of loving what you do. It means that when the hurdles and challenges come, you have more than will-power motivating you to continue. It means that when your big sale fell through and you can’t pay yourself for a second time in two months you have more than will-power motivating you to continue. It means that when you can’t see the crest of the hill but believe in what you are doing you have more than will-power motivating you to continue.

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” Steve Jobs

I don’t know what challenges you might be facing in your business, but I hope that you will persevere. If anyone is reading this and has a story about perseverance please leave it in the comments below. I would love to hear it. 

If you are interested, here are some great Steve Jobs quotes.

Life lesson #1: What do you need to do to succeed in business? You need to be inspired.

I wrote this article a couple years ago and thought it was worth posting as my first post on this blog because I still find this very relevant to my success in business.

Not that long ago I learnt an important lesson: know what inspires you. With regards to business there are a lot of books on the topic of motivation, but not too many on inspiration. When starting a clothing company a few years back I began reading lots and lots on business. I read books on leadership, economics, small business, marketing etc. Being the keen student I was I began to follow the rules to success religiously (as they were outlined by the numerous books on the topic). Obediently I developed product workflow, marketed my products, studied my customer, found a niche, and developed the brand. As the sole designer for the clothing company its identity and ‘edge’ was hinged on my design ideas. And then one day, out of the blue, the ideas stopped. I worked harder to come up with new ideas, but it felt like I was squeezing water from a stone. WHAT HAPPENED? I had done everything right hadn’t I?

In short I had lost my inspiration. As I was personally funding the company I began to shop less, focused on redirecting any income I had back into building the company. Shopping less meant I wasn’t buying as many clothes for myself. For me buying clothes inspired me, I would look for a shirt and then start thinking, ‘Oh if only they made it this way, or with a different design’. Ironically the thing that I had stopped doing was the very life blood of the ideas that spurned on the company.

I began to refocus the direction for the company as my ideas for new designs had all but disappeared. During this process I took some time off and started shopping more. Then a lightbulb came on. Ideas began flowing quickly again and I realized what had happened. Fast forward to the present, I have since moved on from the clothing industry, and am working on a few internet related businesses. I have come to the conclusion that for myself inspiration is as important for every business endeavor I work on as is the motivation that keeps driving them. For this reason I am somewhat surprised that there isn’t more written on this topic.

In summary I have learnt that for me to remain successful and creative I must find what inspires me. And then using this knowledge, create situations where I am inspired. For some that might mean taking more time to walk in a forest and for others it could mean simply reading a book or a magazine, whatever it is, find what inspires you and make a point of doing it, it may mean the difference between success and burnout.