Friday, February 17, 2012

On the right Tracx

Yesterday, Tracx announced that it raised its first institutional venture round. Led by two quality venture firms with complementary experience; Flybridge and Revel Partners and joined by Crossbar and existing investors. Over the past twelve months, the company has literally come from the garage to securing more than 100 Enterprise and Agency customers.

Tracx has built a service which enables Enterprises, in real-time, to monitor what people are saying about their brands. Amongst its many attributes, it lets them identify sentiment (+/-), influencers, and trends. It helps firms filter the 'signal from the noise'. Looking at the market, here are the reasons why I am bullish about the opportunity:

  1. In an era of instant communications ranging from customer support, to sales, to marketing messages, all brands will need to have a component of their behavior to be like media companies. Today, they don't have the tools or experience to actively manage real-time communications involving millions of comments. Specifically, today I see; pent up demand, home grown patchwork systems, and many disparate point solutions cobbled together to address the growing issue. I've seen this happen before and know these quick solutions often don't scale and integrate well.
  2. Community management is going to be an essential part of the brand 
  3. The opportunity is Global and knows no geographic boundaries
  4. Technology can be a real differentiator when you need to scan hundreds of millions of conversations and categorize the data to present cogent information
  5. Enterprise web presence now extends beyond their web sites, beyond Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram etc. Brand content is everywhere, placed directly and re-purposed by the public and edited with a human element. There is no control over content, but there is a response to it.
  6. User generated and re-purposed content is not controlled by the brand, but it's essential they know it's there, who are the key positive and negative influencers, and the trends associate with their actions.
  7. Crisis Management. It's essential to get a handle on issues, when they are still small, and get insight into the one's which spiral (e.g. McDonalds and the spilled coffee scandal)
  8. John Wanamaker said that he knows that he wastes 50% of his marketing dollars, but he didn't know which 50%.  With real-time data, there is now no excuse for such a high ratio of wasted resources.
  9. Companies need a common framework to communicate progress, best practices and challenges across various divisions
Of course, the Management team, led by Eran Gilad, is a huge part of any investment. They see the potential to seize a market leading position through product innovation, which has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the competitive dynamic within this nascent, but potentially huge market. 

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Tim Cook on Apple core values

    • We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
    • We believe in the simple, not the complex.
    • We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
    • We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
    • We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
    • We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
    • We don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    For the greater good

    My buddy Robert is a proven CEO, an amateur historian, and keenly concerned about the political environment. Over lunch, he was lamenting that what's missing from today's political rancor is a sense that the candidates are really interested in the 'greater good' for us all. Instead, each seem to be archly tuned to their own interests and are unyielding in their approach to others.

    Sadly, sometimes I get the same feeling on boards where members, with good intent to execute their fiduciary duties, are overly concerned with protecting their own interests. Without balance, a board culture can rapidly devolve so much so, that members lose site of what's really building value for shareholders. Moreover, it places the CEO in a can't win position, sapping passion and obscuring the Company's direction....looking after the greater good would have been a good New Year's resolution; it fits for Valentine's Day too.