Twitter Update from Chirp

Twitter held their annual developer conference called Chirp on April 14-15th, and it gathered quite a crowd. I recently came across a great summary of Twitter’s latest stats, collected and published by Ben Lorica, a Senior Analyst in the Research Group at O’Reilly Media. Thanks Ben!

Here are some of the key take-aways:

1. Number of registered users: 105,779,710 (1,500% growth over the last three years.)

2. Number of new sign-ups per day: ~ 300,000 (More recently, 60% of new accounts were from outside the U.S.)

3. Number of new tweets per day: 55 million

4. Number of unique daily visitors to the site ~ 180 million. (That’s actually dwarfed by the traffic that flows through twitter’s API — 75% of traffic is through the API.)

5. Number of API requests per day: 3 billion

6. Number of registered apps: 100,000 (from 50,000 in Dec/2009)

7. Number of search queries per day: 600 milion

8. Twitter’s instance, of their recently open-sourced graph database (FlockDB), has 13 billion edges and handles 100,000 reads per second.

9. Number of servers: “… in the hundreds”

10. BlackBerry’s just released twitter app accounted for 7% of new sign-ups over the last few days

11. A NY Times story gets tweeted every 4 seconds.

Social Media Revolution

Socialnomics put together a great video that demonstrates the growing marketing power for companies that use and learn to master social media tools, social networks and content optimized for mobile devices.

The video has a ton of very powerful stats on targeting and communicating effectively and honestly with consumers and show consumer trends that have only continued to accelerate in the direction indicated by the video.

“Over 96% of Generation Y-ers have joined a social network.”

“Social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the web.”

“1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media.”

“Facebook added over 100 million users in less than 9 months”

“iPod application downloads hit 1 billion in 9 months”

“If Facebook were a country, it would be the 4th largest.”

“80% of companies use LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees.”

“The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females.”

“>80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices — people update anytime, anywhere.”

“YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.”

“Wikipedia has over 13 million articles – studies show it’s more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica.”

“There are over 200,000,000 blogs. 54% of bloggers post content or Tweet daily.”

“25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content.”

“34% of bloggers post opinions of products & brands.”

“People care more about how their social graph ranks products and services than how Google ranks them.”

“78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 14% trust advertisements.”

“Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI.”

“25% of Americans in the past month said they watched a short video … on their phone.”

“35% of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle.”

“24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation.”

“More than 1.5 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook daily.”

Still think social media is a fad?

Update: Disqus Replaces IntenseDebate for Comments

Apologies to all my readers for being unable to post comments over the last couple weeks. I tried to get the IntenseDebate system online (customer service was helpful and easily reached via Twitter/email); however, although it seemed that comments were being accepted by the commenting system, they were mysterious vanishing into the Internet abyss.

I made the switch to Disqus and I couldn’t be happier. Not only does it have a much easier integration process, but it also has a richer set of tools and options for commenting, sharing/social and UI/UX elements.

Once again, if you had tried to post a comment in the past (but were unable to do so), please take this opportunity. You can now easily sign-in through Facebook Connect, Twitter, OpenID, Yahoo!, Disqus or as a Guest.

Leaving Comments Just Got Easier!

For as long as I have had this blog online, one of my strongest concerns was the friction (caused by WordPress and anti-spam tools) preventing my readers from easily leaving comments on my blog.

Now, thanks to an excellent plug-in called IntenseDebate, anybody can now leave comments by signing in through Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, WordPress or IntenseDebate. The plug-in also has some great sidebar tools that dynamically generate a list of the most popular blog posts (ranked by number of comments received) and recent comments received.

If there had been a comment that you wanted to make in response to a previous article, but were turned off by the process involved, I now invite you to participate in those discussions.

To my readers: Thank you all for subscribing and I’m looking forward to the additional conversations that result from these changes. Have a great weekend!

ExtremeU Pitch Day

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend ExtremeU Pitch Day, put on by Extreme Venture Partners (EVP). The attendance was filled with VCs, Angels, media and members of the EVP team to listen to pitches from the 3 graduates of their first class at Extreme University. Those graduates were Assetize, Uken Games and Locationary.

ExtremeU was a summer technology start-up program that focuses on industry networking, technology mentoring and delivering a product to potential investors after only 12 weeks. The intensive program was led by Farhan Thawar (Dean of ExtremeU), who is also the VP Engineering at Xtreme Labs.


Assetize helps Twitter users monetize their content stream by displaying ads from Google AdSense and other ad networks into your Twitter stream. They are hoping to be the AdSense of blogs, but on Twitter. Assetize will share revenue with content publishers (content publishers receive 60%). The company has a content analysis and targeting algorithm as well as an ad-matching algorithm that helps advertisers reach targeted audiences. Since they began coding 3 months ago, Assetize already publishes 15,000 messages per day across all channels and has published approximately 56 million ads to-date. Some early competitors in this space include Sponsored Tweets, and Magpie.

Uken Games

Uken Games, founded by Chris Ye and Mark Lampert, creates social games. Their first game is called SuperHeroes Alliance and is based on the Facebook platform, they have also recently launched an iPhone version of the application (with data synced on the server-side so that you can play the same game across platforms). Since their launch in March 2009, they have amassed 130,000 total users and over 50,000 monthly active users (MAUs). Even in their early days, they have found that people will pay for virtual goods for a whole host of reasons, and that a couple of users even spent over $2,000 to compete against others in the system. So far, they have been working hard to build their “Adaptive Game Engine” and they plan to use this the churn out more game in more verticals (that will remain nameless due to confidentiality). Look out for some more interesting games from Uken.


Locationary is an interesting and massive undertaking, taken-on by Grant Ritchie, to create “The World’s Place Database … Created by You.” Essentially, the company is trying to create the Wikipedia of the YellowPages by crowdsourcing the information and subsequent updates and generating incentive through game mechanics and point-scoring systems.  So far the company has cataloged over 100,000 places. Locationary has ambitious goals (I like to see that) of having 15 million placed indexed within the next 12 months and 100 million places indexed within 2 years. This is a very difficult space and I wish the company good luck in getting the public to be their puppeteer!

Geeks Love Halloween

The rumors are true. Technology geeks do have a thing for Halloween. Mashable scoured the web and found some great pumpkin carvings well representing the current state of web technology and social media. The Twitter Fail-Whale (below) is great and there’s a fantastic carving of Diggnation hosts Alex Albrecht and Kevin Rose.
See more at: 12 Awesome Social Media Halloween Pumpkin Carvings.


Source: Scott B. on Flickr via Mashable!

The iPhone App Store is also cashing-in on the Halloween frenzy. The App Store is promoting its “Halloween Apps & Games” section where you can carve virtual pumpkins with “iCarve” and play Halloween-themed games.


One notable oddity, a game called Attack Of The Zombie Bikini Babes From Outer Space was launched in the App Store two days ago. Smort (rumored to be Smule’s Evil-Twin by Techcrunch) launched the game. As TechCrunch puts it, Smort looked at common themes popular within App Store games, and generated a list: Bikini Babes, Zombies, Bombs, and Bloodshed. This game is the result of that (innovative? smart? creative?) thinking. What are your thoughts? (see video below)

Personally, I think this is really smart. Now, although this game doesn’t necessarily look that compelling, I think that Smort has the right thesis: Research. Build. Launch. Iterate. Repeat. App Store trends are constantly changing. Therefore, monitoring user behavior and download trends can lead to new learnings about your target audience.

My advice: If you’re a startup/entrepreneur, go research your market (do a quick market survey if you wish), build your app and launch it! Review your analytics/metrics, iterate and launch again quickly. There are some app-hungry consumers out there.

Me: Rebranded

RIM just recently launched BlackBerry Messenger 5.0 (or BBM 5.0). In doing so, they have given each person a “trendy” new way to identify one another. Here’s my new identity:

It’s a QR Code, or a 2D-bar code, for those of you getting acquainted with the technology. Fairly new to North America, it’s actually been around since 1994, first developed in Japan, and quickly adopted by South Korea.
It’s actually very smart. By using this technology, RIM has developed buzz. Instead of having to be a computer science major, anyone can now add each other to the BBM community. Hold up your BlackBerry and scan a QR Code, and viola, you’ve just added a contact. Nice!
People are excited about these foreign images and are eager to upload, scan, share and discuss the process with their friends. The only problem is if you have too many friends: Kevin from posted this to Twitter … 2 hours later, he had over 10,000 requests and his BlackBerry became unusable. Who said popularity was a good thing?

Facebook 3.0 on iPhone Review

After waiting for the Apple App Store to load … and it took a while … I finally updated my Facebook application for my iPhone. I’m sure Apple was getting slammed by everyone itching for the Facebook 3.0 upgrade.
I am tough on companies when it comes to developing a sexy UI/UX and I am super-impressed with the new Facebook 3.0 application for iPhone. I heard the hype and it was all right. Facebook has gone Twitter-esque, boasting a very easy to use and navigate news feed that drops pictures, videos, links, comments and basically anything else, right into view. Shown below is a screenshot of the first page you see when logged into the application. very easy and intuitive to navigate downward, flip to the main menu (by clicking the top-left icon), update your status or even click the camera button to upload (or take) a picture or VIDEO!

Here is the new MENU screen (below). Simplicity is king and Facebook nailed it. Each feature seems to work well and I didn’t encounter any errors or bugs in my testing thus far.
A while ago Facebook added the functionality of adding your own phone numbers to your contact information. Here you can really see that “phonebook” feature paying off. Facebook leverages this information by allowing you to simply tap a contact and choose a phone number that you’d like to dial. Simple as that. Enjoy your new phonebook, everyone.
I’m really looking forward to push notifications. That’ll really jazz up this rich(er) iPhone app.

Business and Military Strategy

I have been reading the book Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, and it has inspired a concept/theory on developing competitive online and mobile businesses that I am going to pursue further in my work with our portfolio companies.

At one point in the book, Diamond discusses the invent and adoption of guns by a number of countries. At the time, guns were the most powerful weapon. Countries that failed to adopt and manufacture guns for military use (the reason did not matter, whether cultural, tactical or lack of know-how), eventually succumbed to their neighbors or other invading troops in possession of such advanced weaponry.
A parallel can be drawn to online or mobile businesses in today’s world that have a product, but are not leveraging the necessary tools (or “weaponry”) to compete aggressively. Consider a small, vulnerable startup without “guns” taking-on larger industry giants with “guns.” The startup needs to get on level footing before any shift in market share or significant user adoption takes place. Another way to view this is to ensure your product has at least the same level of core functionality as your most significant competitors, and then innovate on top of that base. Note: There are obvious exceptions and I am being general in my statement.
Right now, there is an unprecedented number of free tools that allow business to increase the virality, social interaction, visibility and overall stickiness and competitiveness of a product or service. These can and should be leveraged to topple giants.
Virality and Social Interaction: I am referring to the use of Facebook Connect and Twitter/OAuth to increase social interaction, sharing of links, and recommendations to a user’s social network. The websites that have adopted the use of Facebook Connect have seen massive increases in hits to their website; laggards and late-adopters are suffering, and those who adopted early are reaping the benefit. Use Facebook Connect. Virality can be spread many other ways; remember content is still king — create a company/product blog and start a Twitter feed to inform your followers about industry trends and product updates; also make sure to address any concerns that users voice about your product. By using Twitter, companies can stop bad press before it starts, which could save startups one of their nine lives so to speak.
Stickiness: Give users a reason to return to your website or mobile application. Can you think of way to demonstrate continuous value to users of your site? If you can, you may enjoy more frequent visits from users. A user’s return could be influenced by social pressures (responding to a request driven/initiated by a friend), self-interest (check alert / view an update), curiosity and general need. Make use of different technologies to stay in touch with users, according to the preferences they like — allow them to select options including email, SMS (may be costly), Facebook, Twitter or through other widgets that may integrate with iGoogle or other portals.
I am going to continue to develop this theory. The next book on my reading list is Art of War by Sun Tzu; I hope that will be a good catalyst for a good follow-up post.
As always, I invite you all to contribute your thoughts below. Can you draw any other parallels between military strategies and business?

Viral Marketing Whitepaper

Viral marketing can be a huge asset to the launch and sustained growth and success of any product or business.

I am in the process of creating a whitepaper that brings in proven strategies as well as specific case studies of successful viral marketing efforts. The whitepaper will also cover more specific strategies centered around mobile App Stores and effective utilization of Facebook Connect and Facebook application pages. Lastly, it will contain a bible of social media strategies.

I kindly ask all of you to share any viral strategies that you have used to-date, along with key dates and timelines, screenshots, verbiage used in messaging, and key metrics (user growth, #downloads, etc…) achieved from the strategy.

Please leave comments below, or DM/@ me on Twitter with links to your story, my username is @jsookman. I will be tracking posts with the #UbiquitousVC hashtag, so please use it!