Archive for September, 2007
Kudos to Google (soon) and Facebook (already) for offering open APIs, empowering the development community to create interesting (and hopefully profitable) applications based on those APIs. Opening the APIs allow the developer community to develop interesting applications, and enrich everyone’s user experience. However, there is a basic limitation of the current notion of open API (unless it is an open source project) – the owner of the API gets to decide for the developers what is opened (i.e. what programmatic access is allowed), and what remains unavailable. Sometimes limitations are created on purpose – limiting what developers have access to for business, security or other reasons. It is clear the owner has the right to limit usage to protect their rights – but limiting access will just stifle creativity – especially if the APIs are too limiting. Also, in many cases the limitations are artificial – the owner just hasn’t had time to develop all the possible APIs, or haven’t through all the use cases (if that is even possible) leading to a limitation that stops somebody building some really useful new application.
The only way to get around this is to allow the developers to create APIs themselves, or make it possible for anyone to extend and change the APIs and submit it back to the community - not be reliant on the owners to develop it for them. This would lead to a rich evolving set of APIs maintained by the developer community. Until then – open APIs will never be truly open.
And about the owner’s rights - my guess is that this will need to be done contractually rather than programmatically.
I read with interest a whole set of blog posts about the age of successful entrepreneurs in the US (one of the better ones was by Marc Andreessen, you can find it here Age and the entrepreneur, part 1: Some data). In my opinion it was a debate over whether youth and enthusiasism trumped age and experience in the high-tech startup world. One thing that immediately jumps up at you is that most of the high-tech entrepreneurial super stars were young (e.g. Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin).
I was wondering whether anyone had done any real studies on how things worked in Israel. Even though the Israeli VC and start-up model is based on the US model, the culture, environment and people are different than in the US. Thigs work diffefrently here (and I think the Israeli VCs will need to change in order to adopt - but I’ll write more on that in a separate post). For example, most Israeli entrepreneurs go through maniditory army service - for three years or more (and many Israeli high tech companies started are based on teams that worked together during their Army service). I guess that is why Israeli work better in teams than Americans - and the list of differences go on and on (probably write a post on that too:)
That leads me to an article I read yesterday in the Marker (an Israeli business daily) that quotes a study by Dr. Eli Gimon (sp?). I would have put up a link but I couldn’t find the article on the web - and both the article and summary I found was only in hebrew….
I thought it was telling to see what he actually measured - whether a company that started in a high-tech incubator was around for at least seven years. That was his definition of success. I am not sure any VC would agree with that definition - but it does make sense in an Israeli context. While most US VCs (and Israeli too) are looking for the elusive “home-run” - Israeli produces very few of those. It mostly produces companies with innovative, solid technology - which is why so many Israeli companies are snapped up by overseas companies - they provide technology innovation, depth and skills. These companies get acquired for anywhere between $10M-$200M - where over $100M is rare and high-end. Very different than the US model…
Bottom line - what Dr. Gimon (sp?) found was that the most important ingredient to success for an Israeli start-up is management skill and experience - not age, sex, schooling or national origin of the founder. Also whether they built the company based on their own technology made a difference.
I imagine these findings are probably very different than in the US…
Gartner just put out a report on “Who’s Who in Enterprise Mashup Technologies” whcih contains all of the usual enterprise paltform companies and all the usual web mashup players . They gave some good, though standard advice that you should understand the problem, before you choose the technology (duh?) - but I thought it was interesting that they didn’t try to define a best practices architecture, or give some guidance on how to combine technologies or choose between them (see my post below).
One thing that was clear is that all of the Mashup Platforms are trying to be generic - allow users to build any type of mashup application. As always, being generic means being more abstract - and making it harder for people to easily build a mashup for a specific domain or vertical. This isn’t unusual for platform builders, since by building a generic tool they can capture the broadest audience of user. But I think that they might be making a mistake with respect to Mashup Platforms - the whole idea is to make it easy for anyone to build “situational applications” - that solve a specific need for information quickily, and that can be used by non-developers. For me, that means that platforms will have to be tailored to the domain of the user.
I am expecting that in the next wave of Mashup Platforms we’ll start seeing vertically oriented mashup platforms that will make it even easier to build a mashup for a specific vertical - from standard verticals like Finance, to more consumer vertical like advertisements.
Haven’t posted lately. Not sure why (the kid’s summer vacation didn’t help much), but just couldn’t find the time. I read a good article on Acquisition and Integration in the September edition of Harvard Business Review (Rules to Acquire By - Bruce Nolop) which gives insight into how Pitney Bowes does acquisitions. I especially liked the differentiation between “bolt-on” and “platform” acquisitions.
However, even though all the points were right on, but I thought it was interesting that for the most part focused on things that need to get done before an acquisition takes place (probably makes sense given his CFO perspective). I would like to see a similar article on “post-acquisition” since I have found that even if an acquision is made for all the right reasons - unless great care is taken for the first 12-24 months of the acquision to the integration process - the acquision will fail to live up to its promise (or just fail…)