Portraits d’Entrepreneurs, #1: Carlos Diaz, www.kwarter.com
Serial entrepreneur Carlos, after breaking ground in the enterprise social networking space with BlueKiwi, is set on ruling the second screen with a killer game for iPad and iPhone.
I guess you’d have to say that the current chapter of our history started about 10 years ago, back in 2012, with the collapse of the two-party system. The surprise ascension of Chairman Zuckerberg to the leadership role he still occupies allowed the nation to unite and focus on the big challenges: eradicating hunger, ending disease, and making sure that everybody is available on social media 24/7. […]
In politics, as in commerce, a bewildering array of brands contended for a confused, exhausted marketplace. Wall Street veered back and forth and up and down like a drunk chicken. Great companies vied with one another in fruitless litigation and expensive competition. In Washington — our capital back then, before we moved it to the Cloud — hapless buffoons yammered night and day.[…]
Most incredible, at least to this correspondent, are the gains that have been made in the artificial-intelligence engines that now run our major corporations. As I’m sure you’ll recall, the watershed moment came in 2014, when Siri lost patience with the way Tim Cook was running things over at Apple (AAPL). […] — (Sunday night fun courtesy of Stanley Bing’s “A look back from 2022” in Fortune Magazine, Jan 18. More here. Enjoy! :)
Pinterest is the latest web craze or so it seems: ‘Pin’ visual content (images, video) you find on the web onto a virtual board, to be accessed by whoever. Add a text comment, and organize your pinned content in ‘boards’. Check it out, it is quite an experience.
Content, Recycled (Who Cares?)
In essence, Pinterest is a service based entirely on the re-use (recycling?) of third-party content. Not on content creation. Just like Twitter. And Facebook, too, in part. Tools to share with your world the things you bump into online.
With Pinterest, maybe even more than with Twitter or Facebook, comes the big question: what about copyright?
In typical Silicon Valley bold fashion, Pinterest uses a rather candid section in their terms and condition, which states that they will remove any content that is claimed to be infringing on someone’s rights:
In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, the text of which may be found on the U.S. Copyright Office website at […], Pinterest will respond expeditiously to claims of copyright infringement committed using the Pinterest website (the “Site”) that are reported to Pinterest’s Designated Copyright Agent, identified in the sample notice below.
If every copyright owner was to claim their rights, Pinterest would be left with a skeleton display of unprotected content. But since it is mostly based on visual content, and there is no convenient way to search for a particular image on the Pinterest website (visual search technologies aren’t suited for this — yet. Try Google Goggles for instance), the risk is low. The only way to find out if a given logo, photo or painting has been misused is to stumble upon it by chance. And its owner might deem the re-use to be to its benefit since it might bring her more traffic, better visibility, or else.
This is what the company and the big-name investors behind it are probably betting will (won’t) happen, as it would leave them with little content, little traffic, and consequently little marketing revenue.
Don’t Get Me Wrong, I Love Pinterest
Now, unless I missed something (comments are open), it seems to me that Pinterest has found a promising angle and might well generate stickyness and significant traffic:
“Many consumer brands are also experimenting with Pinterest, using pinboards to present complementary products, ideas, and imagery to inspire consumers to visualize and remix new possibilities. From fashion to interior design and home to retail to entertainment, brands are using Pinterest to thoughtfully assemble a curated lifestyle. And, they’re packaged for the social and mobile web and optimized for driving actions as part Facebook’s new frictionless sharing ecosystem.” (source: B. Solis, ”Pinterest Rivals Twitter in Referral Traffic”)
My Plea To Pinterest: More Content, Annotations
But why restrict it to photo and video? When browsing around, I would love to be able to pin documents, or entire web pages. Visual content is not the only content worth sharing, as understood by most other social platforms. Please, Mister Pinterest, give me more pinnable content!
And why limit the comments to text input? (this is so web 2.0) When using Pinterest on an iPad it would be great to be able to alter the contents (who cares about copyright infringement anyways? ;) with grafitti or anotations, in the same way Realeyes3D (disclosure: I was the founder and CEO) did with our w-Postcard mobile app. W-Postcard (as seen here on a Samsung phone) allowed to add handwritten comments to photos taken with the phone. Was it a good idea? 100+ million phones later, and at one point 12.5% of all US market phones had it — I dare to say yes, it probably was.
(w-Postcard image shot on a Nokia smartphone, circa 2003)
Here comes Remarkz. A drawing palette for all web content. A mystery app so far… Remarkz (in beta) allows web pages annotations with a set of graphic tools.
Please Mister Pinterest, open the Remarkz to all of us on our pinned content!
Last, where is your visual search, Pinterest? I want to be able to give an image, set a ‘similarity’ threshold, and be offered all images that are ‘similar’ to that I entered. That way, if I am a copyright owner, I can spot infringing pins faster. Just kidding. But bring a feature like (pun intended) the now-digested Riya team had, and you will increase virality a thousandfold. (Oh, and while you are at it, please extend this to video search)
(‘Visual Search’, (c) sfraptor 2010)
Why all these suggestions? Because they will support a better appropriation of content by Pinterest users. If brand marketing is the name of the game for this service, then appropriation shouldn’t be feared, it should be embraced as a way to develop more intimacy between brands and their targets, as highlighted in Lawrence Lessig’s fifth book, “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy”.
Do these, Pinterest, and I predict you a great future. You would have become a killer content sharing platform. Today? Still a little too narrow for me, sorry for not showing up more often.
A tweet by @mikesmayer got my attention recently:
The Most Counterintuitive Sales Strategy You’ve Ever Read: http://t.co/NJyiSbrH
This links to a post on the “New Sales Economy Blog” (Chad Levitt) making, among other points, that splitting the sales process into three functions is more efficient than having a single profile (the salesperson) manage all three: prospecting, developing and closing, managing the client post-sales (as further developed on the “For Entrepreneurs” resource website).
Having managed technology sales teams for years, I thought about how this related to my past experiences.
‘Taylorist’ Enterprise Software Sales at Kenan / Lucent (back then, there)
Particularly relevant was the sales process management we had implemented at Kenan Systems (later purchased by Lucent Technologies to become Lucent’s Software Products Group under Kenan Sahin).
At Kenan / Lucent, I was a director of Sales for telecoms operators in Europe, selling OSS/BSS systems to new carriers or as a replacement for older, in-house billing systems with ‘traditional’ telcos. I was responsible for sales over the whole Europe and Mediterranean region. Enterprise sales at its best.
Together with the executive team we had come up with an innovative (at the time) way to structure the sales process, with each ‘stage’ being assigned to a different person, in line with the recommendation Chad Levitt makes in his post:
Our sales teams were made of bright, dual profile people (usually tech education followed by business school). Qualifiers were typically equally bright people, typically junior marketing professionals. The CRMs were often technical people who had demonstrated talent and taste for relationship management at the highest level.
This structure worked well in the context of the explosion of the mobile market in the late 1990’s, with carriers popping up everywhere in Europe and incumbents racing to adapt to the new industry.
Where Did The Relationship Go?
However, it became clear that there was a significant flaw in this model, especially after the integration with Lucent Technologies.
By assigning prospect qualification to people different than those who would later be in charge of closing the sale, we were introducing several friction points and were losing on sales efficiency on multiple levels:
The integration with Lucent Technologies removed whatever personal initiative and creativity the team had crafted to make this split process work. The burden of a large structure’s own additional processes and policies left little room to go beyond the process and eroded the ‘team spirit’ that was the ‘magic sauce’ of such a risky sales process.
The Price We Paid
We were lucky that the environment was so positive and our sales grew to hundreds of millions of Dollars in just a few years. However, the company paid a hefty price. The sales team (mostly highly qualified 30-somethings with both a technical degree and an MBA) lost interest and grew demotivated. They had found gratification in succeeding in the driving a complete sales process, less in being ‘serial closers’. Because they were making their (agressive) targets, they hung on. For a while. But the management, alerted of the issue, chose to not react. The numbers were good, so why worry?
Then most of the Europe sales team left. They had lost interest in their jobs, despite the high financial rewards, because the process in place did mot leave room for building sustainable relationships with their clients. This is what good sales people are: relationship builders, not pen holders.
This left the company without a strong sales force at a critical time in its developement, and is a likely contributing cause to this unit being divested a little after this to CSG Systems:
“Kenan lost its focus and momentum once it became part of a huge telecom equipment provider,” said Peter Kalan, senior vice president and chief financial officer for CSG.
Lost its focus? Maybe. Lost its sales people? Indeed.
No sales process is inherently good or bad; however two key questions absolutely need to be addressed when deciding on a given structure / sales process:
A business can empower a workforce by giving them a mobile data management cloud. The whole handset could become the workflow for an entire company. The real opportunity is the enterprise.
— Rich Miner, Google Ventures. True in 2009, true in 2012.