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Posts from August 2007

Client WebDialogs Grabbed By IBM

In the last sixty days two of my agency clients, first GrandCentral and now WebDialogs have been bought by giants.

I couldn't be happier for Lou Guercia and his team at WebDialogs. I first met Lou at the Skype Developer's Conference in Las Vegas in early summer of 2006. A few months later we started to do some work with them and now less than a year later IBM grabs them.

Here we call that graduation. A very well done to Lou, Gershon, Susan, Rodger and Sri.


Leading From the Back

Ironically, I started on this post on Saturday, but being my wife's birthday weekend, I left this sit. It seems Om was thinking along the same line and penned his piece which I hear has a lot of the hedge fund types and Wall Street sharpies questioning eBay the same way in their minds.

When problems arise you can judge a company by who is out in front.

Companies with old school mentalities let their hired hands do their dirty work. Having silver tongued PR pros do their talking for them or hide behind the cloak of distance, usually citing "the lawyers" want us to do this when the crap hits the fan is one example.

New school companies tend to have leaders with Balls. They're willing to get out in front, even on their darkest of days and take their lumps. GizmoProject's Michael Robertson, who went through hell on more than one occasion is that type. This week GrandCentral founders Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet showed the same kind of mettle with their deft and upfront dealings with things.

On the other hand there's the eBay appointed leadership that is now running Skype. Instead of being out in front and taking the brunt of the communications with the highly influential media and blogger worlds, the have been silent. Niklas Zennstrom, Meg Whitman and as Om pointed out, even the silver tongued and well spoken Henry Gomez, who is really Meg's appointed day to day head of Skype operations and emissary to Zennstrom, have been silent throughout this disaster as far as I can tell. Funny, they have been the ones out in front of the "good news."

Here's the net-net. Skype built their user base being ballsy, with bravado and brashness. Now that things have hit the fan the once very free tongued types seem to have their tongues all tied.

I call this leading from the back of the pack. And in the 2.0 era that's exactly where people will end up if they don't change their habits and style and be true leaders.

Update-->Looks like Om and I are not alone in this view. Stuart has similar views. My prediction--changes at Skype will be forthcoming.


GrandCentral Numbers Post

As GrandCentral's agency on asymmetrical communications we've shared moments of joy, and felt the trials and tribulations one experiences with a high flying, highly successful service, sometimes forgetting, or almost not realizing, the service is really still in Beta because it works so well.

This is partially due to one of the great qualities about the team at GC we look or in clients. Their upfront, deal with issues head on style, that made them so hotly sought after, and likely contributing factors to why Google acquired GrandCentral.

That's why their post tonight is both rewarding to see and so refreshing in an era of spin and cover. The post is a come clean, tell it like it is account about a problem, and one more reason why I'm proud to have Craig and Vincent as friends and as my agency's client.

The fact that a supplier was unable to continue to supply numbers is unfortunate and yes, somewhat upsetting to those affected. The fact is though, that as a beta service, problems arise and as beta testers we help make the service better, even if you have some setbacks. In the 11 months of being around GrandCentral I would say this was the first real big issue, and really, the first issue that anyone noticed enough to really comment. That's pretty good in my book, and compared to the paid services like SunRocket that went away without warning, Vincent and Craig took the high road, shared the facts and looked after their users first, then let the world know what they did. Customer's first is a rapidly diminishing thought process, but not at GrandCentral..

And that's the right approach in my book!


Latest Skype Statement Regarding TheOutage

“On Thursday, 16th August 2007, the Skype peer-to-peer network became unstable and suffered a critical disruption. The disruption was triggered by a massive restart of our users’ computers across the globe within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update.”

“The high number of restarts affected Skype’s network resources. This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact.”

“Normally Skype’s peer-to-peer network has an inbuilt ability to self-heal, however, this event revealed a previously unseen software bug within the network resource allocation algorithm which prevented the self-healing function from working quickly. Regrettably, as a result of this disruption, Skype was unavailable to the majority of its users for approximately two days.”

“The issue has now been identified explicitly within Skype. We can confirm categorically that no malicious activities were attributed or that our users’ security was not, at any point, at risk.”

“This disruption was unprecedented in terms of its impact and scope. We would like to point out that very few technologies or communications networks today are guaranteed to operate without interruptions.”

“We are very proud that over the four years of its operation, Skype has provided a technically resilient communications tool to millions of people worldwide. Skype has now identified and already introduced a number of improvements to its software to ensure that our users will not be similarly affected in the unlikely possibility of this combination of events recurring.”

“The Skype community of users has been incredibly supportive and we are very grateful for all their good wishes.”

Should you have any further inquiries, please let me know.

Best,

Ryan Wallace

Kaplow for Skype


UK Business Slow To Adopt VoIP

In my view these stats about UK business VoIP adoption only mean one thing.

Future growth. I say that because BT is taking a lot of steps to make VoIP more a reality throughout the UK by enabling out of market numbers which will be a boon to call centers and small business that wants to appear larger without the hassles of rate centers and mileage. They are also doing more from what my ear to the ground sources tell me overall.


Reboot and LogIns Blamed By Skype

Skype is telling the world what caused the massive Skype Out (of service) last Wednesday and Thursday..While rumors persist that it was a hack job, no way would they admit that in my book.

Very few companies ever admit their services or software were hacked, especially when with Skype there wasn't much to steal yet. It just invites more hackers, but now that there is a Paypal tie in, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the hackers try.

My advice, avoid linking for now your PayPal and Skype.


But Does It Scale?

One of the questions always asked when a new business is launched is "But Does It Scale?"

Often times the question is thought to mean "will the service work as we add users" when in reality it really should mean "can the company support the number of users who come online." Support is more than a technical issue. It's also a matter of support.

In the past I've commented about the ridiculous hold times when calling T-Mobile as has pal Martin Geddes in the UK. Both of us fall easily into the category of "well informed business people" with the ability to do more than turn something on and off.

When folks the level of a Martin or me have to call support it usually means something has gone wrong, or we need help. That was the case today when I called Sprint PCS about my data card once again doing the "we won't let you stay on" jiggy that seems to happen whenever I move from city to city. The funny thing is I used it earlier in the day, but yet it seems to arise only when I travel or when I turn the card on in the San Diego area after a long dormant period.

At this point my call has been on hold after the system recognized me as a business customer (i.e. I have more devices, numbers and a bigger bill than John Q. Public) for over 31 minutes without a human even coming on board.

So, my question is, "does Sprint scale?"


Teleblend / Sun Rocket Saga With A Happy Ending

A Yahoo Blogger reports on the saga of yet another displaced SunRocket user who had connectivity hassles that were solved by the PR person, not support.

This story, thanks to PR pal Brian Lustig had a happy ending, but after what seems like a week of being jerked around and tugged by Teleblend one has to wonder why the customer is still sticking around with the Sun Rocket surrogate.