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Speaking Of Facebook – It Needs Change Management of Customer Service

There has been some discussion today of Facebook’s business model.

Forget about monetization, can Facebook survive without any useful customer service improvements? While 98% of the service works great on autopilot, there is absolutely zero customer service for the things where you do need help. I don’t mean bad customer service, I mean there is absolutely no customer service for certain issues. Continue reading Speaking Of Facebook – It Needs Change Management of Customer Service

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As an alumnus of DePaul University and a member of DePaul’s New Venture Challenge judging team since inception, I’m pleased to see this ranking!!!

However, high rankings on entrepreneurship education alone is not sufficient, the next steps are:
1) To build a transparent, quick and efficient marketplace for entrepreneurs, experienced and passionate management teams and startup capital.

2) Modify the focus toward commercialization of businesses in the model outlined above, ultimately success is measured by the number and quantity of companies that they’ve enabled to scalable, not just lifestyle growth curves. I look forward to participating in this journey.

Here’s the full announcement…

DePaul University’s entrepreneurship program opened the new academic year on a high note Sept. 10 with news that it has again been recognized among the finest in the United States in Entrepreneur magazine/Princeton Review’s annual “Best Schools for Entrepreneurs” ranking.

DePaul moved up three places to second on the list of best rated graduate entrepreneur programs in the national rankings, which are posted on Entrepreneur’s Web site and will appear in the October issue of the magazine. The university placed seventh in the undergraduate entrepreneur education category and was the only Illinois university ranked in that category.

“DePaul offers students exposure to thousands of successful entrepreneurs in a large urban setting with sophisticated financing services available,” the magazine noted. “Entrepreneurial supporters are extremely active in sharing knowledge, resources, contacts and expertise. The program provides very supportive administration and infrastructure through the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center.”

Entrepreneur partnered with the Princeton Review, a leading educational services provider, to solicit surveys from 2,300 undergraduate and graduate program administrators to determine the rankings. The survey covered three areas: academic offerings and requirements; student enrollment and faculty quality; and “outside the classroom,” which examined student organization, mentorship and scholarship opportunities. An advisory board of entrepreneurship educators also provided evaluations of the surveyed programs. Based on the data and review, a total of 50 programs (25 undergraduate and 25 graduate programs) made the list of the best.

“DePaul’s rankings are a tribute to the academic excellence of our program and the quality of our faculty,” said Harold Welsch, Coleman Entrepreneurship Chair at DePaul, who founded the program. “Using their education and start-up experiences, faculty members help students look to the future and identify viable business opportunities. They share their experiences with the students willingly and with great enthusiasm.”

Founded in 1982 at the College of Commerce, DePaul’s entrepreneurship program has grown to encompass 12 undergraduate and graduate courses taught by 16 faculty members. The faculty represents a mix of distinguished scholars of entrepreneurship and successful entrepreneurs.

Courses cover business plan development, entrepreneurial strategy and management, new venture financing, business growth, creativity, innovation and technological change, among other topics. More than 600 students take undergraduate and graduate courses in the program annually. Students have opportunities to participate in a number of mentorship and internship programs, as well as entrepreneur organizations, including Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, MBA Entrepreneurs Club, Social Entrepreneurship Club and Students for Entrepreneurs.

The program is supported by the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, which manages education and outreach programs designed to stimulate the start-up and growth of entrepreneurial firms. The center also sponsors Launch DePaul, an annual year-long business plan competition that awards cash prizes and business start-up services for the most promising business plans submitted by students and alumni.

“We believe that today’s students need practical learning opportunities that extend beyond the classroom,” said Raman Chadha, director of the center and a member of the entrepreneurship program faculty. “The Coleman Center creates these opportunities by working with faculty to connect DePaul students with successful entrepreneurs, help them launch ventures and provide real-world experiences. Students are able to immediately apply what they learn in the classroom, acquiring wisdom that only comes with these opportunities. The entrepreneurial spirit at DePaul has never been stronger.”

The magazine’s “Best Schools for Entrepreneurs” top 10 graduate programs were:

1. Babson College
2. DePaul University
3. University of Southern California
4. The University of Arizona
5. University of South Florida
6. University of Illinois, Chicago
7. University of California, Los Angeles 8. Drexel University 9. Chapman University 10. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The top undergraduate entrepreneur programs were:

1. University of Houston
2. Babson College
3. Drexel University
4. University of Dayton
5. University of Arizona
6. Temple University
7. DePaul University
8. University of Oklahoma
9. University of Southern California
10. Chapman University

To view the full rankings, go to:

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How To Reorganize Management For Social Media, Search Marketing and Internet Advertising

Every once in a while Robert Scoble puts down the camera and writes an amazingly thought provoking blog post. Not a perfect post, but one that makes you think about the state of things. Scoble’s comparison of certain VCs to big companies struck a chord with me due a speech I’m working on. I’d like to redefine the problem as a “lack of confidence and/or vision in revenue models” so that it applies to iphone application startups to big companies.

Let’s start an exploration of these issues in more detail:

There is an almost total lack of imagination regarding potential emerging revenue streams – When I attend search engine conferences, I hear over and over how “63% of transactions occur offline after an online search (comScore 2006).” Tying together that transaction with it’s higher relevancy holds the key to a revenue stream potentially larger than Google’s Adwords product. Having once spent 6 months of my life trying to raise capital for a search advertising concept, I have to agree with Robert that there is lack of willingness to engage in serious funding conversations of this type – until half a dozen other people do it…that’s messed up!

In large businesses, there is an obsession with basing business cases on expense savings rather than the potential for new revenue streams– Going back to that example above, financial services institutions could play a large role in this. However due to the lack of risk management processes that caused the housing crisis, they are risk adverse at this moment and risk removing themselves from this once in a lifetime opportunity. I saw 4 companies give presentations on their business cases on mobile retail banking and they all focused on the reduction of call center costs! Think about that a second, moving things from a PC to a phone will reduce call center volumes? Highly questionable at best form cost savings perspective, certainly missing the revenue opportunities completely.

Everything in the world is converging, yet most companies have silos and are hiring specialists (set up for failure) – When banks are trying to become relevant in mobile and mobile is trying to get into advertising and payments, can you afford to hire people with one dimensional skill sets? The answer is no, not if you want to win.

With increasingly rapid cycle times in technology, competitive benchmarking is becoming less useful – If none of your competitors has made a tough decision to reorganize a department, shift financial resources to new ways of doing things in marketing or customer service, how can you improve via benchmarking? Stated a different way, if your process is broken and all of your competitor’s processes are broken, you can’t possibly create market leadership by benchmarking. You have to hire the best and most brilliant people who hold little if any limiting beliefs and give them the authority to innovate based on what customers want. Serving those needs in the Peter Drucker fashion is the only way to create true market leadership. This does not mean that competitive analysis is dead. It does mean that the benchmarks you need to pay attention to are the breakthroughs regardless of industry.

Existing legacy cost centers in large corporations are creating barriers to innovation and efficiency both internally and externally – These cost centers prevent reallocation of budgets to adopting usage of superior and more efficient technology or Internet/mobile advertising due to their all or nothing nature – smooth and frequent shifting to most economical resources is the unfortunate rarity. There is a large number of reasons for this and this topic is worthy of a post of it’s own (please submit suggestions). Cost centers make the silo problem worse and hard to solve.

Traditional management consulting needs to acknowledge proprietary technology and data models as strategic and gain an implementation focus – If you come in for 6 months and never implement anything and nobody does any of the suggestions, your net present value is actually negative.

We need to take back control of companies to focus on the customer as priority #1 – 5 year plans with a stack of initiatives in year 4 are interesting, but no longer practical. Notice I say take back control. This is the way the world used to work before endless Powerpoint and overly large bureaucracy like 18 month committee approval cycles. In fact Tom Peters stated on February 3, 1998 on Charlie Rose show as saying “I got tired of the McKinsey bureaucracy”

C-level management and boards of directors treat social media, search marketing and Internet advertising like an island instead of integrating it into one’s culture and redesigning processes from scratch to support it – This is disruptive to companies using these products and companies that provide these products alike due to the lack of growth and monetization. But guess what? You can’t redesign these processes without bringing in people with a combination of skills that include both traditional management and the new tools. Right now we have people at the extremes. This doesn’t work. 🙂

Carolyn Shelby and I will be giving a talk to c-level executives on these an other related subjects this Wednesday at the Gleacher Center in Chicago. You may RSVP here. It is my first in a series of talks I hope to engage the world in over the coming years as we embrace this great challenge together! I need everyone’s help to help shape this vision and create this reality and maybe some famous quotes around the way. It is the furthering of a conversation that started with my appearance discussing these issues on SEO 101 – it starts at the 13:30 mark. Brian Mark said he’d love to see a Search Engine Strategies session on this, we are still working on fulfilling Brian Mark’s dream (24 minute mark).

I’d like to hear others like John Furrier, Fred Wilson, Dick Costolo and Don Dodge to chime in on this issues first chapter…

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The Future Yahoo! CEO Nominee Discussion…

OK, Kara Swisher started this discussion(I’m not saying it’s going to happen), but I question her fundamental assertion that Jerry Yang is the person calling the shots. The memo regarding Jeff Weiner’s departure came from Sue as does most of the primary communication messaging. Many think Sue is the one that is in charge for this reason.

I’d acknowledge the relevancy of Sara’s nomination of Dan Rosenweig but will dismiss Marc Cuban as he’s more focused on acquiring the Chicago Cubs at present.

I’d like to nominate my own slate of nominees all would bring dramatic culture change and growth rather than an expense cutting mantra and I’d enjoy being a part of their team if asked:

Dick Costolo – Yahoo! arguably has the world’s largest mountain of content. Dick is one of the world’s thought leaders on distributing and monetizing content. He is also well qualified to build a culture of customer responsiveness. He also might have played a lead role in the recent Yahoo!/Google monetization deal.

Rich Skrenta – His knowledge of search is highly regarded. His new startup could also be lifted out to build a new company to replace many parts of the old one.

Brad Garlinghouse – Many would argue he understands and communicated the challenges to execution that Yahoo! faces better than anyone and is willing to make his case about it as he did in the peanut butter memo.

Jim Lanzone – If given the chance, it would be fascinating to see him have the resources to execute some of the lofty things he tried at Ask on a shoestring budget.

Those come to mind first, am I missing anyone? I’m certain I’ve missed some people out west that should be considered.

I’ll Tag:

Fred Wilson

Michael Arrington (via Crunchnotes)

John Battelle

Carl Icahn (please give me a shout if you read this)

UPDATE: Michael correctly points out that he’s already written this post…my bad…

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ebaydevcon08 – eBay Future Product Roadmap Session

The following is my live and raw blogging of Adam Trachtenberg’s session:

New Ebay API Calls released today
– most watched items
– deals
– related category items
– top-selling products

This uses eBay’s New Services Framework! This is an API upgrade…

Cross Merchandising
– sell products using the brand
– promote contextually relevant market

Merchandising in Action at – Buyer behavior, interests are now creating personalization based on past purchase behavior

Visit for access to tools…

SDK upgrades and SDK/JDK for Java…

Many Large Seller Improvements
– Batch upgrades
– Easier variant listing
– Feedback automation
– ASQ: Redirection to CS email
– Invoices: Invoices to A/P email

Making eBay Better
– Create a first-class buyer experience
– Create a trusted marketplace

Improving Buyer Experience:
– Number of recent policy changes improve buyer experience
– Mandating “critical item information”
– Previously optional items, will be mandatory

– All items must specify at least one domestic shipping service
– Suggest passing, weight info to auction, suggest passing tracking info back for my eBay…

Return Policy Needs to be Transparent

Paymentsb – Paypal required in most countries…Paypal only in limited markets

Anonymous Member Email Address:
– Anonymous until sale is complete
– Protect buyers from fraud during eBay purchase

New Links Policy:
– Generally speaking, no link off eBay, whether or not an item is being for sale on that site
– Not a comprehensive list, more specifics to come…

Verification of new sellers is occurring

Trusted Selling With Identity Confirmation

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TECH cocktail CONFERENCE Chicago – Creating Change For The Future

Wow! That was tiring, I stepped on the L at 7:30AM and didn’t get home until 1:30AM the next morning! 18 hours of pure madness! Most people noticed the great speeches by Gary Vee from Wine Library TV and Dick Costolo (aka ask the wizard) and others. But what I really appreciated was the other things that the day brought to me. When Frank Gruber and Eric started TECH cocktail, one of the goals was to enable the interaction of people and removing barriers between entrepreneurs, funding sources and removing the boundaries between Chicago and the rest of the world.

When I sit at the first TECH cocktail CONFERENCE Chicago watching great speeches and meeting people from startups from both the east and west coasts while talking, playfully joking about Internet concepts and trading ideas with a local Chicago angel investor in the back of the room for hours on end – it’s at that moment one can clearly perceive a vision is starting to become reality…

For a first conference, it was very well run. There were those little things with a venue that didn’t go quite right with the elevators and not having enough power outlets (but you could say that about any conference) but those were out of their direct control. You could see that Eric and Frank went out of their way to challenge the audience about topics that too often go ignored at startups, like how to set up a corporate entity properly, partnerships and most of these challenges and experiments went well.

So what’s next? I’d like to challenge each and every person in TECH cocktail community to take things to the next level by taking the following actions:

1. Follow Up – People need to work to get to know each other better and learn to leverage each person’s special gifts and talents and realize that 1 + 1 > 2 when we behave in this manner. For me, I know that creating new business partners while listening to help iterate the product, data model or service is my area of strength.

2. Change TECH cocktail from an event to an everyday process on your own – a three month cycle time is not sufficient to build relationships to the next level – it’s everyone’s responsibility to make an hour here and there to sit down with someone, learn about what they are doing, give them a fresh perspective and potential assistance. Don’t wait for the next TECH cocktail event. If this means you need to organize your contact info, make that important time investment.

3. Listen to what Dick Costolo had to say about Internet company NDAs and then change your behavior accordingly (where is the video of that speech anyway?)Stop sending people NDAs that serve no purpose other than to destroy your access to people who are the most qualified to help you. Ideas are a dime a dozen, assembling the right people with the current knowledge and future potential to create that reality is what matters.

4. Go beyond lurking, participate!!! During the conference, I had at least 10 people talk to me about a blog post of mine in detail, yet they’ve never left a comment on my blog. That’s sad. Leaving a comment leaves you a hyperlink back to your business or blog and allows distribution of one’s business network organically removing them as the bottleneck, please use this viral tool.

5. Learn to hire people for their current knowledge, network, blogs and future potential – not legacy job titles and brands – this takes work, research and being involved in the community, but it is how you’ll find the breakthrough thought leaders and future superstars.

6. Become an ambassador to expanding the understanding of the tools we all use and expand our base of understanding to new people outside our core – If you have a client or operate a service do they understand what Internet advertising, blogs, rss, social media, twitter, etc do? If they do is their organizational culture and structure set up to handle it to serve a customer’s needs? Many people know there is a problem but do not know where to start to fix it – I want to help those people as it will ease the adoption and enhance demand for disruptive new Internet services. I’m planning a series of future posts on this important, yet highly untouched topic. If you have examples of success stories or learnings in this area, I’d love to hear from you.

What else would you add to this list? I look forward to your contributions.