Monday, June 26, 2006

Top Ten Social Networking Sites (April 2006)

Two interconnected views of the world -

By volume and year-over-year growth, here

By stock price/gains, here

Quepasa (QPSA) is a latino-oriented version of MySpace, The Knot (KNOT) is a bridal/wedding planning site, WebMD (WBMD) is well...WebMD. Clearly a central message in these numbers is - if you want satisfied users, have the technology fit the need, not the other way round (as is all too often the case)

It's also worth taking note of the fact that there are some 2 billion teenagers in the world - that's 500 times the number of teenagers at the peak of the baby boom! Moreover, most of these teenagers are in Asia, South America and, to some degree Africa. If you are developing "english-only" sites or applications you need to get you head examined.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sweet Holy Moses - Kawasaki interview with Gasperini

The Bay Area is generally so full of overeager VC posers and one-shot-wonder doofuses that you develop a type of blindness to it after a while. But since I'm very concerned that the "bad" money surrounding MySpace, Facebook et al. will drive out whatever crumbs of "good" money there are for sane SNA projects, I try to stay in touch with the latest opinion drivers. When I clicked through to this interview posted on Guy Kawasaki's blog my finely tuned BS-o-matic immediately redlined - although in all fairness it is well worth a look; read both the body of the interview and the posted comments. In a nutshell Gasperini gives an overview of her analysis of "youth culture"...

And since it is Friday night, make sure to click through to MySpace the Movie...mentioned in the article.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Scale-free Networks

When I recommended a few books related to social networks recently Dan Keldsen of the Delphi Consulting Group suggested that I include two additional titles – “Linked” by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, and “Six Degrees” by Duncan Watts. Barabasi maintains a website with candid photographs of many of the great researchers in this space. Dan also pointed me towards some podcasts that he’s made available on his blog – paricularly a dialogue with Konstantin Guericke from LinkedIn – now three years old and probably one of the only pure-play social websites to actually turn a profit.

Although Barabasi and Watts are skilled numerical scientists there is an interesting lack of any mathematics in both texts – probably due to their publishers not wanting to frighten away too many potential readers! Math here

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

VC Social Networks II

These two images are examples of the types of maps available at LinkSV; as I described in an earlier post. I originally planned to attach them to the earlier post but for some reason it looks like the Blogger DB is going through some growing pains today and may be having a few problems!

The maps give an overview of Global Catalyst Partners -

LinkSV - very cool! Check it out.

Social Networks in Silicon Valley

In “The Silicon Valley Edge – A habitat for innovation and entrepreneurship” (Stanford University Press) there’s a great chapter – Social Networks in the Valley – by Castilla, Hwang, Granovetter and Granovetter. The regional economy of the peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose has proven to be a rich source of SNA investigation due in part to its spectacular growth and the dense interconnectedness of its business structures, but also because various writers and trade organizations have already attempted to track the genealogy of company founders and their boards. Of particular practical interest in these efforts is the role played by venture capitalists - widely viewed as the financial engine of the area.

One juicy quotation from the book – “Born in New York, nurtured in Boston, and almost smothered in Washington, venture capital did not really come of age until it moved to California and joined forces with the brash young technologists who were using bits of silicon to create an information revolution as profound as the industrial revolution a century earlier” (Wilson, 1985) Indeed, by most estimates half the venture capital firms in the United States are located here.

One might imagine therefore that an up-to-date Social Network Map of venture firms would be of particular value both in terms of understanding trends at a high level and to simply get plugged-in! With these ideas in mind I was astonished to find what must be one of the best kept secrets in this area – LinkSV.

LinkSV tracks companies, their founders, and their VCs and displays the relationships between them as a series of navigable maps. While the maps are created through a strategic relationship with GroupScope LinkSV can also connect to people via another key relationship with LinkedIn.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Trendwatch SNA "Profit potential laid bare in e-mail links"

Mark Newman from Morphix pointed me towards an article in The Times

Leaving aside for a moment the peculiar tone of this article (mostly stick with few carrots) it does point out several advantages for email as a basis for SNA/ONA.

  • E-mail is objective. Using email as a data source provides a reliable and statistically significant estimate of the way information is flowing through an organization. Moreover it avoids the biggest problems associated with traditional interview methods where results tend to reflect a "relationship" network rather than a "communication" network. Although both are important it is ultimately collaboration, communication, and information re-use that creates value.
  • E-mail is topic specific. Email creates real opportunities to isolate communication networks based on specific topics - for example, by product or activity. How often do we communicate between departments when we introduce a new product? Who are the main contributors with respect to the creation of the annual report?
  • Results are almost instantaneous. Here the advantage of email-based SNA is as a diagnostic. Imagine your group has just merged with another organization. Take a snap shot of the network during the first few weeks of collaboration, make some organizational changes, as seem necessary, and reexamine the network again in a few months time. This way you'll be able to gauge the relative level of improvement and look for areas for further improvement.

I expect to see a lot of email-based offerings enter this space in the near future.