So, I am supposed to be on vacation tonight after traveling 13 hours to Maui to celebrate my 10-year anniversary with my wife, Debra. But I am having trouble sleeping (it is 3:15am CT, 10:15pm Maui time) after reading some exciting articles. And both wife and child are asleep…

First, a friend of mine that works at Yahoo! sent me a BusinessWeek article put out yesterday, Web 2.0 Has Corporate America Spinning. If you have read "The Cluetrain Manifesto", this article will lead you to believe that companies are finally hopping on the train. It continues to amaze me how visionary that book really was. If it wasn't for the tech market bubble bursting right after it came out, more people would cite it today.

As usual, BusinessWeek has an insightful and practical view on the subject, instead of the typical hype-laden fluff. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

  • Companies are starting to take a page from MySpace, Facebook, and other social-networking services. The reason: As appealing as that social aspect is for teens and anyone else who wants to stay in closer touch with friends, it's even more useful in business. After all, businesses in one sense are social networks formed to make or sell something. [Comment: Why reporters don't mention "The Cluetrain Manifesto" when they write sentences like this boggles my mind.]
  • But the payoff can be substantial, if hard to quantify. Genial Microsoft (MSFT) blogger Robert Scoble, for instance, is credited by many Redmond watchers with doing more to improve the company's image than millions of dollars in public relations. In no small part that's because he has shown a willingness to criticize his company at times. [Side note: I am speaking with Robert Scoble at the Supernova conferencein San Francisco in two weeks.]
  • But the upside can be a brand to which people feel a stronger emotional tie. Says Forrester Research analyst Chris Charron: "In the end, the brand is owned not just by the people who create it, but by the people who use it."
  • All that's going to require more than slick technology. Executives, long used to ruling from the top of the corporate hierarchy, will have to learn a new skill: humility. "Companies that are extremely hierarchical have trouble adapting," says Tim O'Reilly, CEO of tech book publisher O'Reilly Media, which runs the annual Web 2.0 Conference "They'll be outperformed by companies that don't work that way." Ultimately, taking full advantage of Web 2.0 may require — get ready — Management 2.0.

Second, Netflix was profiled in BusinessWeek's June 5th issue for their "top 100 hot growth companies" feature story.  This reminded me of my blog post back in February. The subtitle of the BusinessWeek article is "the mail-order movie house that clobbered Blockbuster." If that doesn't sum it up in a few words, I'm not sure what would. Read my blog post to get a different perspective on why this is happening and what it has to do with word of mouth.

Third, I was happy to see Ed Keller's new company, Keller Fay Group, prominently mentioned in the same June 5th issue of BusinessWeek on page 12. Keller Fay is producing some really groundbreaking research.  Sam Decker blogged about some of it earlier this month, highlighting research that 62% of word of mouth is positive. Ed is answering questions that have been perplexing us for some time.

Fourth, congratulations to Ed Keller (and Bazaarvoice) on him joining our Board of Directors (as our first independent member) as well as WOMMA's Board of Directors (in their first elected Board).  Ed has the perfect profile for our Board as well as WOMMA's. He has fantastic operational experience (as the former CEO of Roper) and deep industry experience (27+ years in marketing research, including co-authoring "The Influentials", a truly amazing book that helped launch the recent word-of-mouth movement). I feel flattered that Ed joined our Board and look forward to working with him for years to come.

And fifth, congratulations to Chris Pacitti of Austin Ventures. Throughout my entrepreneurial career, I have had the fortune of working with some truly great venture capitalists. It is an amazing achievement for two of the companies that Chris serves on the board of, Bazaarvoice and Pluck, to be the only Texas-based companies in North America to be selected for Red Herring's Top 100 list.  We are very fortunate to be working with him. With Chris and Ed on our Board, we have a very powerful combination of resources.

One Response to “Five Updates: BusinessWeek articles, Red Herring 100, and Ed Keller”

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