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Archive for December 16th, 2008

Now is a Great Time to Join or Found a Startup

Posted by Bob Warfield on December 16, 2008

This is a great time to join or found a startup.  Why?  Because a bad recession is like a treadmill EKG for companies, and especially for small companies.  It puts everything under so much stress that when you see a consistent source of good news, you know that company is strong.  In good times, the rising tide lifts all ships.  How do you know whether that sock puppet selling dog food on the Internet is really a good idea, or just the product of the Bubble?  There are no sock puppet opportunities that do well in a bad economy.

The key question to ask yourself is whether you have enough visibility to tell whether a company is doing well.  This will vary based on the position you’re hiring for, but just the fact a company is hiring is a signal of some sort.  Another is that the company just raised money in this climate from a recognizable VC firm.  I’ve been keeping a list of those to monitor myself to see how the companies do.  In terms of founding a startup, the question is going to be how quickly you can get to an indicator in this economy.  You have to either raise money or sell something.  Only third party credibility will do.  If you’re hunkered down building software and living on canned goods, you have the benefit that there probably aren’t competitors being funded, but you don’t have the third part read on your own success.

I joined my last company Callidus software in November, 2001, right after 9/11.  That was a bad economy.  I saw a middle-stage startup that was able to sell multi-million dollar software to telcos.  At that time, everyone thought all the telcos were going bankrupt, and some did.  So I knew that if a troubled business like a telco couldn’t wait to buy a multi-million software license in those hard times, that company was a pretty good bet.  Sure enough, we went public in 2003, about 2 years after I joined. 

It was the best possible time to look for a job.

Posted in strategy, venture | 7 Comments »

Twitter Joins the Internet Single Sign On Fray. Sort Of.

Posted by Bob Warfield on December 16, 2008

Your Twitter credentials can now be used to log onto some services if you like.  For example, Google’s Friend Connect will now let you log in using your Twitter sign on.  Twitter joins Google, Yahoo, AIM, and OpenID on the list of ways to log onto Friend Connect.  To take advantage as a Twitter user, you must first have one of the other 4 types, logon with that type, and then associate your Twitter account with that logon.

This is what I mean by Twitter “sort of” joining the SSO fray.  They aren’t exactly a first class citizen, they’re piggybacking on Google (and Facebook as it turns out, and maybe even MySpace, but the latter is unclear).  That’s a smart strategy for them.  They’re not a big enough playerr to promulgate.

For Google’s part, this is also a great idea.  Twitter is a first class form of communication for its devotees, and Google makes it easy for them to go beyond just the logon credentials by doing other Twittery things.  For example, quickly Tweet about something cool you’ve found on the web.

What to make of all this activity?  Are we seeing the usual consolidation that happens after a period of “punctuated equilibrium” innovation?  Perhaps accelerated by the economy?


Web Single Sign On will be key to advertisers.  It means they know who you are wherever you go and can successfully collect information about you over a broader range of your web experience, hopefully to use that information for more targeted advertising.  The Social Advertising Race has begun.  We know that Google invests in things that drive greater Internet usage.  For them, the Internet is their walled garden, and so letting companies like Twitter plug into their SSO mechanism is very beneficial.  It’s a lot less clear for Facebook, which is tending its own Walled Garden what they should do.  For now they seem to be holding on to their place at the table by checking and not raising raising the bet.

Posted in strategy, Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »