Creating Value, Too
It's definitely been a crazy week thus far.
Interviewed Om Malik, dealing with some legal issues in business (regarding our web site), having some fun on BlogShares (where I've reached #8 on the Best Players list for September), launching a very cool fund raiser idea for some of the local sororities and their philanthropies...
Check it out... and add your comments below. But I must add that the story John gave the reporter about us driving cross-country was the least embarassing one he could have shared. So thanks, John!
I suppose this was all inevitable. But it seems that the wide world of blogging is beginning to take the shape of all other high-growth popular things in life. It looks as if there's a lot of money to be made with blogs (some real money, and some... well, not so real). And I'm not talking about blog hosting companies or those "evil" blog advertising people. I'm talking about blogs as businesses (to buy and sell) and some other cool creative ways to add value to your blog.
BlogShares is a site that I found the other day via a Google search. This may very well be one of the coolest sites I've ever been to by far. BlogShares is, according to the about page on the site, "a simulated, fantasy stock market for weblogs where players invest fictional money to buy stocks and bonds in an artificial economy where attention is the commodity and weblogs are the companies."
Each registered user gets an account with $500 of pretend money to start with and (if you have a blog) 1,000 shares of your own blog.
"Weblogs, or blogs for short, are valued by their incoming links from other known blogs. In effect, links become the business deals in the simulation and players speculate on the fortunes of thousands of blogs by buying and selling shares."
Apparently, this blog you're reading is currently valued just under $5,000 and is grossly undervalued. Good to know. Also, all the outgoing links on this site have a value of $843.23 each. So for those of you who have links on my site... I'll bill you. This site has a ton of cool features like charts and graphs (which I love) and also allows for LBO's and gifting for more advanced players in the game.
In other blog money news (although this time, real money), Jeremy Wright of Ensight, practically held an online bidding for the sell of said blog. Then on September 16, the bidding had officially closed. Sell price is believed to be as high as $10,000+ (unconfirmed and completely estimated). According to Mr. Wright, once it's sold, "all the details will be posted online."
Perhaps Wright should be holding out for more. BlogShares shows his blog trading at $224.10 a share (although listed as overpriced). Total valuation for the blog? $115,243.02 (fake money, of course). Is it overpriced? Perhaps. Maybe the fact that Jeremy Wright sold off 138,113 of his own shares for his own blog on September 15, the day before the announcement that the bidding for his blog was closed, could be a sign. But if this becomes the first blog to be sold for real money, I'm sure it will get a lot of publicity for it... which, of course, will drive up the price of those (not real) shares.
Sleepless In San Francisco
Om Malik couldn't sleep well Friday night. Despite what you would think, it wasn't writers block or some deal-gone-bad situation that was keeping him up, tossing and turning. You see, Om Malik, who is one of six Senior Writers at Business 2.0 magazine and author of the book Broadbandits, just watched his favorite baseball team - the often hated New York Yankees - give up a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning to the rivaled Boston Red Sox, who came within 2.5 games of the AL East with the win. And don't even think of calling this guy a bandwagon fan.
"I have loved the Yankees ever since I fell in love with baseball in the 90's, when they weren't winning," boasts Om.
My phone call to Om today (Saturday, September 18) interrupted an afternoon nap for him (perhaps sleep comes easier after a 14-4 Yankee romping of the Red Sox) and in which we got to chat about blogging, technology, venture capitalism, guilty pleasures, and why in the world I lived in Lubbock, TX. Here are some highlights of that conversation.
BJ: At what stage should companies begin seeking venture capital?
Om: Once you have a proven concept/technology and a strong revenue stream. This way, if you have a hard time finding capital, you can keep going without it.
BJ: What's the main lesson that we should have learned from the tech bubble that we seem to have ignored?
Om: People are still coming up with features and not creating markets. That was one of the big mistakes in the tech bubble. Companies were too busy coming up with a better mouse trap when they should have been looking to create new markets. Google is a great example of a company that created a new market. When you create a market, you create a long, sustainable business.
BJ: What's the most common mistake made in start-up companies?
Om: Not checking egos. It seems to be a rare and difficult thing to do these days. But in tech-based companies, some of the tech guys don't always make the best CEOs.
BJ: In your days working on the VC side, what was one of the main hurdles you faced?
Om: Balancing ambition and business was one of the hardest parts. Sometimes you have to put a value on a business that has been built by the founder's ambitions and it's tough to have to put a number on that. And I guess I liked writing more than I realized.
BJ: What are the top 3 business books you've read?
BJ: Anything else you'd like to add?
Om: For an entrepreneur, if you have an idea and you believe in it, you should pursue it and you shouldn't care what other people think. Then again, don't be stupid about it either. But too many people put too much weight on what other people think about their idea or business plan.
As stated above, Om Malik is a Senior Writer for Business 2.0 and author of Broadbandits: Inside the $750 billion telecom heist. He was also on the founding team of Forbes.com, is a former Senior Writer for Red Herring, and a former investment manager at Hambrecht & Quist Asia Pacific. His writings have also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Brandweek, and Crains' New York Business.
Om currently spends his days answering emails, reading blogs, writing for Business 2.0 and indulging in his self-proclaimed "guilty pleasure" of watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN. So I suppose that for the sake of his ability to get rest, we should all be routing the Yankees on.
Odd Man Out
I came to Dallas once again this week, but this time it was to attend an all-day seiminar/workshop on growing a business. As of the time I started writing this, I've sat through only one of the three keynote speakers, author and top negotiator Herb Cohen and am waiting for one of the "classes" to begin.
However, in the already-short amount of time I've spent at this seminar, I can already tell that I am sticking out like a sore thumb. I suppose it's not a bad thing and, in fact, is something I have grown very accustomed to over the years. But this time is seems even more deafening than ever. Here I am, among my "peers" and I don't see anyone who actually looks like a peer.
For those that know me, you know that I am not a suit and tie kind of guy. I don't mind suits, I just don't want to or have to wear them on a regular basis. I think the last time I wore one was at a wedding.
So here I am. Sitting here in this room and walking amongst the masses of "business types" and feeling completely left out. Feeling odd and awkward all at the same time. A majority of the people here are probably small business owners, I would imagine. Or at least middle- to upper-management of someone else's company. At best, they're wearing full-on suits and at worst, something a little more casual like slacks and a polo. Ironically, even the most casual people look a little stiff. And there's me. My very holy, yet somehow still expensive Abercrombie jeans, green Saucony shoes, a grey Gap ribbed T-shirt which is currently covered up by a Navy blue zip-up sweater (Hotel conference rooms are always set at 42 degrees!). Then of course there's my trusty incase computer case and my iPod that is always with me.
I'm still looking for people who are at least in my age group and then the ones that are in my age group who aren't all "businessed-out". I think I may be on my own on this one!
Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking the "suits". I just think it's not only ironic, but somehow unfortunate that despite what I do and what my interests are, that I have somehow missed the part where conformity was a part of the business development process. Then again, I have always gone against the grain and am often wanting to spit in the eye of conformity and traditionalism (which just makes it even harder to live where I do).
So I suppose the point is that I don't mind being different. I just tend to be on the other extreme of where everyone else is as opposed to a slight shift over. It's cool, I suppose, to be that much of an individual amongst a vast group of people who might not know the definition of such a word. Often times, though, it's lonely. Too bad I don't have any desire to play the part simply to fix that loneliness. I think I'd rather be authentic and lonely than fake with friends. And I understand the theory of dressing for success. But how do you do so when it makes you look like everyone else around you? Besides, who am I here to impress? And even if there were someone here I needed something from, wouldn't dressing a certain way present myself as something that I am not? Personally, I prefer the Steve Jobs style of dressing for success. No one does jeans and a turtleneck better!
Most of the time I attempt to write blog entries that would appeal to the masses or ones I think most people would at least identify with in some degree. I think this one may end that streak. But hopefully there's a few out there who know where I'm coming from.
[In other news, I started another blog devoted specifically to more art-based issues like music, film, and life in general. Check it out. It's fun.]