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Archive for July, 2007

Israel Web 2.0Many of my RSS feeds and blogs I read there is technology and innovation coming out of Israel in a big way. It’s difficult to keep up with the reports on technologies, acquisitions and new startup companies that seem to happen there weekly. What’s the deal? I did a little research to look behind the scenes and try and understand the incredible start-up success rate in this country.

Here’s a bit of info on technology in Israel:

  • Motorola’s commercial cell phone was developed in Israel. Motorola has its largest development center in Israel
  • Intel has four major development centers in Israel.
  • Israel has one of the highest percentages of computers and cell phones per capita in the world.
  • Israeli Universities are known worldwide for their extraordinary professionalism in science and engineering fields.
  • In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the US (3,500 hi-tech companies).
  • Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies.
  • Microsoft has one of its three “strategic development centers” outside the US in Israel. It is based on several startup companies that Microsoft has acquired in Israel, which are now part of this development center. Most of Windows NT technology was developed in Israel.
  • SAP AG, the enterprise software leader, has its larger development center outside Germany in Raanana, Israel. This center, called “SAP Labs Israel”, is also based on several startup companies that SAP acquired in Israel.
  • Checkpoint, the world’s leader in internet security and firewalls is an Israeli company.
  • Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the US.
  • Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship – and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 – in the world.
  • Voice mail technology was developed in Israel by Comverse.
  • The AOL Instant Messenger was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.
  • Given Imaging, an Israeli company, developed the first ingestible pill-sized video camera, used for medical diagnostic without the need of an invasive operation.
  • The Israeli company M-Systems developed the USB-Flash Drives, used for portable storage all over the world. The company was recently bought by SanDisk, an American company, the world’s leader in the flash storage market, established by an Israeli.
  • IBM, Kodak, Cisco, HP, Google, Novell and many others, also have large scale research and development centers in Israel.
  • Israel is a major player in the high tech world. The R&D centers and talent have produced some amazing technological achievements…more than any other place in the world with the exception of Silicon Valley.

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    When it comes to real estate technology, you are helped out by mashups everyday and may not even realize it. What’s a mashup? Basically, it’s a combination of Web applications that are “mashed” together to do something totally different. In the real estate industry, mashups are most prominent in map form, such as integrating housing databases and MLS listings with maps. One of the original examples of this in the real estate industry is HousingMaps.com.

    Real estate mashups not only make agents more attractive to clients, but they can also help your business, allowing to streamline functions and work more efficiently. Now comes mashups with social networks like Facebook.

    Facebook:
    * Adds over 100,000 users per day
    * Currently >1130 discrete apps on the F8 Platform which was release in May 2007 (~95 apps a week!).
    * Current user base over 24 Million (growing at a rate of 3% per week since opening network to the public in fall 2006)
    * Expected to reach 50 Million active users by end of 2007
    * 50% of users not in college, by end of year estimated to be 75% not in college
    * 25 and older is the fastest growing demographic
    * 50% of users use Facebook everyday (including yours truly)
    * Recently passed eBay in daily traffic, and working on passing Google
    * Number one photo sharing application on the ‘Net despite lacking features of others like Photobucket
    * Facebook’s Events application more used than Evite
    * Significant growth, but as yet has not rolled out a serious monetization model beyond simple ads-page.

    If you’re in the real estate biz you look at this “pool” of potential candidates and drool because some of those 24M active users are likely interested in renting, buying or selling a home, right? With the new F8 platform Facebook opened up an opportunity for developers to take advantage of powerful social media and the software distribution model of the social network.

    The first Real Estate application called Neighborhoods byPoint2 NLS just released a new application that allows you to identify the neighborhood you live in and see others that live around you. You can also upload community announcements and photos of your area and see all of the Point2 listings in your neighborhood, city or area.

    Who is Point2 Technologies Inc.? They create software for the heavy equipment and real estate industries. They operate the internet real estate listing marketplace organized by neighborhood, Point2 Homes. They’ve developed applications that help real estate agents use the web effectively to solicit, sell and buy property in your neighborhood.

    The Point2 Neighborhoods application shows you who lives close to you, what they’re up to, and what is happening in your neighborhood. In scary detail I might add so, make sure you’ve got our privacy settings appropriately set and get to know your neighbors.

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    FlippingPads

    Flippingpad_LogoRan across a new social network for those involved in real estate, at pretty much every level of involvement. Called the Flipping Pad.

    In this community are areas to post properties for sale or others that are of commercial interest in one way or another. You can create a user profile, find other members to conduct business with, or join in a forums discussion to share thoughts about the industry.

    The listings seem to be the key elements of the site, and comments and ratings are left for each listing. The “pads” listed have accompanying icons indicating if the property is a case study listing, if it’s looking for partners, if it’s a potential bargain, and if it’s actively for sale.

    As you might imagine, a large amount of the user interaction takes place around these listings.

    User profiles will also display their listings as well as their forums comments, and in the forums, there is the ability to subscribe to a particular user’s thread if you’d like to keep up with them. There’s no way to send direct messages between users, or add them as friends.

    The Flipping Pad founders have a blog on the site, which is a good overlay of editorial content, sometimes even good advice for others in the industry.

    There’s no way, however, to subscribe to this via RSS yet.

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    The academic research on the topic states that “invention” is defined as the creation of new things. “Innovation” happens when these new things are delivered to the marketplace for the benefit of consumers/society.

    Facebook F8 LogoFacebook is an example of an innovative networking tool that connects users of all ages from all parts of the globe. But challenge Facebook’s legitimacy as a copyrighted website, or its intellectual patents and the legal wrath of Lisa Greenwald-Swire of HellerEhrman LLP kicks into gear. Don’t believe it? Then talk to Jeff Magee about his parody of Facebook in creating a site that was aesthetically similar to Facebook but connected users through disinterests, rather than friends and mutual interests only to be shut down by HellerEhrman. Don’t all social network sites just perform similar functions, only with a different color scheme?

    Mark Zuckerberg, (Facebook founder) has his own legal issues from a 3 year-old lawsuit where he is accused of stealing the business model, source code and idea for the social networking site from three of his Harvard classmates.

    What do you think?

    1) What matters more, the idea (HarvardConnection) or the innovation of the idea (Facebook)?

    2) What would you rather be known for – the idea, or the innovation?

    3) Should ideas and innovations have equal value, theoretically and monetarily?

    4) Is competition and even mockery only elements of a healthy market?

    5) Do claiming rights to a “look and feel,” debilitate competitors by accusing them of stealing and rob consumers of their right to choose?

    Even if Zuckerberg didn’t have the original vision – he may have to pay sometime – Facebook should get credit with adjusting to the changing business landscape faster than the team at ConnectU.

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    SPAM: Opt-In Email?

    bargraph

    At work early. Coffee, check. Bran muffin, check. Open Parallels then Outlook…will it work on the first try, check. Whoa, what’s this? A half-dozen “business proposals” from London and several people in South Africa who I don’t know are waiting for my “urgent reply” with my bank account number… I hate SPAM!

    It got me to thinking about what day of the month is best to send an opt-in email message or newsletter? Opt-in isn’t SPAM…it’s “permission based marketing” using email!

    I’ve done a little research on the topic and what I’ve learned is that most opt-in emails are sent out on the 16th of the month. However, most are opened on the 25th and then the 27th. Most emails are sent on Tuesdays… but emails are most often read on Sundays (followed by Mondays and Wednesdays). It’s also interesting to note that the data shows most emails are opened around 11:00 p.m. at night – huh?!

    I was curious how gender impacts opt-in behavior? Studies have shown that men are more likely to unsubscribe or just delete newsletters they deem as “too frequent”. In fact, 60% more likely than women. If the content is solid, women will respond better to more frequent contacts – weekly as opposed to monthly. Whereas, men respond better if the contact is monthly.

    So how do the various Industries compare at opening those opt-in emails?
    – Education = 62%
    – Networking Orgs. = 59.7%
    – Insurance = 55.3%
    – Nonprofits = 53.4%
    – Travel = 48.5%
    – Com. Real Estate = 46.8%
    – Business Consulting = 46.7%
    – Sports = 46%
    – Manufacturing = 40.5%
    – Training = 38.2%
    – Res. Real Estate = 36.5%
    – Software/IT = 30.8%
    – Ad/PR = 30.7%
    – Medical = 30.4%
    – Food Service = 23.9%
    – Law = 20.4%

    How is this data known? Thanks to those technical programming teams we’ve made significant advances in email tracking functions. It’s called “Visitor Paths” — it creates a comprehensive matrix of starting and destination pages on your websites. These tracking functions were specifically developed for clients who are world-wide marketing companies.

    Why? Email marketing is second only to search marketing as the most effective online marketing tactic. I don’t like it, but companies want to raise the open rates on those opt-in emails.

    The opt-in and email security products business is large. IT is faced with the monumental task of managing and protecting our mission-critical networks from Internet threats while at the same time making “reputation filters” which allow opt-in mail and block spam by scrutinizing a sender’s record.

    Not convinced? In January, Cisco Systems Inc. purchased IronPort Systems Inc. for $830 million. IronPort are pioneers in Internet messaging. They focused on unique technologies such as SenderBase and AsyncOS and have a large technical staff from companies such as Hotmail, eGroups, ListBot, and Yahoo! The company that routes our packets is now in the business of managing the “reputation filter”…isn’t that the equivalent of the fox in the chicken coop?!

    So, the next time you open that Cancer Foundation email/newsletter or RSS web feed…who is tracking who?

    Sources:
    CAUCE – Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email
    The CAN-SPAM Act – Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act
    Wikipedia – Email marketing
    IronPort – Security and defending solutions
    CoolerEmail – Opt-in messaging solutions

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    Logic Puzzles

    American Flag

    It’s closing in on Independence Day, my elected representatives are on vacation and I have some thoughts on Logic Puzzles…yeah, I need a day off work!

    Many of the leading nonprofits leverage the internet to mobilize us and advocate on important public policy issues. Literacy-tests to vote were abolished long ago, but members of Congress don’t want you to contact them now without taking a quiz!

    What’s a Logic Puzzle? Example: If x is 1 and y is 2. What is x? Which of the following numbers is largest: 53, 52 or 05? Get the answer wrong three times in a row and you’re blocked from sending an email to your elected government representative!

    You may not be aware, but there are an alarming number of Congressional offices implementing technology that adds a step to the process for you (constituents) who want to communicate with your state or federal legislators. The new technology, commonly known as a logic puzzle, requires human interaction and is intended to prevent automated and repeated mass use of Web site functions such as sending emails — actions not initiated by real people. You may have seen similar puzzles on other Web sites, particularly when creating a new account or email address.

    What’s behind Congressional adoption of logic puzzles? It’s the result of several factors: growing use of email by advocacy organizations and their constituents; lack of adequate Congressional staff to handle rising email volumes; and pervasive distrust of form letters on Capitol Hill. Access is everything in politics. The Internet, especially email, provides the average Joe the access to our elected representatives and the ability to reach politicians. We often use “form” communications to reach Congress — letters with identical content, but from different senders. Form letters are, very efficient for nonprofits or activist groups conducting advocacy campaigns and it’s also convenient for us.

    Not surprisingly, in the last 10 years individual communications to Congress increased four-fold (300 million messages/year) due to electronic communications, according to a study by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that helps Congress become more productive and effective through better management. However, Congressional office staffing has not grown at a pace to support, and the study states that approximately 3/4 of all Congressional offices do not trust the legitimacy of form letters.

    Where do you sit on this debate? Is it reasonable to ask, in this age of mass communication, that a real human be behind the letters that your representatives receive? Do you care if this means that nonprofits or activists are going to have to do a little more work? Does copying a six- or eight-digit number or answering a question bother you, or do you see this as just another step of the “overhead” process in the new digital democracy?

    Happy 4th of July America.

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