Dawn takes on TechCrunch

Dawn Douglass of MyFridj

That’s Dawn Douglass, in her booth at TechCrunch 40.

She takes on TechCrunch in a scathing post.

Writes “But I think TechCrunch is vulnerable as a company. Why? Because Arrington is abusing that power.”

Among other things.

She also notes “As a startup, isn’t it shooting yourself in the foot to openly, much less publicly, criticize the one who can create positive or negative buzz about something that you have poured your heart, soul and financial security into? ”

I know both Dawn and Mike. Dawn is the softest person you might imagine. I find her a breath of fresh air when it comes to entrepreneurs who are trying to get people to pay attention to their efforts. But now I know she speaks softly and carries a big stick!

As to the DemoPit. There was one thing I really hated about the DemoPit: The signage totally sucked. I walked around and couldn’t tell what any company did. That meant I’d need to go up to them and ask. Which guaranteed a four-minute pitch. Most of the time when I did that it was with companies I really didn’t care about. Please, Mike and Jason, next time you do that include a sign that has a sentence about what the company does. That’ll greatly increase the number of vendors I’ll go up to and engage with.

What do you think?

UPDATE: in defense of Jason and Mike, doing a 1.0 conference on the scale of TechCrunch 40 is really pretty awesome. Most of our industry conferences have had quite a few years to get to the place that TechCrunch got on the first one. Back in the 1990s I used to help plan conferences and they aren’t easy to do and rarely do they go completely how you plan. I remember seeing Mike a few days before TechCrunch 40 and he hadn’t slept, obviously was pouring his entire being into this. That’s something to be defended as well.


The 10 rules of Twitter (and how I break every one)

If you follow the talk over on Twitter you’ll see that there are some unwritten “rules” and that I am breaking lots of those rules and pissing lots of people off.

I break the rules so you don’t have to. πŸ™‚

So, what are they?

1. Never send more than 140 characters. I break this rule all the time because what I have to say simply doesn’t fit into 140 characters. So, why not just say it on my blog? Easy. I’m reacting to something someone said to me on Twitter. What happens on Twitter should stay in Twitter.
2. Never Tweet more than five times a day. First, a “Tweet” is a Twitter message. So, why no more than five times a day? Because if you post more than that you are in danger of pushing other people’s messages off of the home page of your follower’s Twitter. Last night one guy complained that all he saw on his Twitter account was my messages.
3. Never follow more than 300 people. Why is this a rule? Because if you follow 5,700 people, like I do, then you’ll be tempted to answer lots of those Tweets, which will put you in danger of breaking #2. See next rule.
4. Never follow anyone who isn’t your “real” friend. This will help you keep your friends’ list down to less than 300, which will keep you from breaking rule #2.
5. Don’t assume other people are having the same experience you are. My experience with Twitter? I get 20 new Tweets inbound EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY. It’s like a 24/7 chat room for me. But for you? Most of you only follow 30 people, so to you it’s more akin to instant messaging with just your friends. If you subscribe to a noisy jerk, like me, you’ll get overrun. Me? I just tell my friends who complain that they don’t have enough friends. πŸ™‚
6. Don’t post thoughts across multiple Tweets (see #1). I do this often and it pisses people off. They think that the 140 character limit was there for a reason. The real reason is that SMS can’t handle more than 140 characters.
7. The Twitter question is “what are we doing?” It’s NOT “what do you think about XXXX?” I break this rule all the time cause, well, I have opinions and Twitter is my way of sharing short opinions with the world. Sue me.
8. Follow one person for every 10 who follows you. Me? I follow EVERY person who follows me, as Dave Winer points out. Why? Cause I believe that anyone who follows me is a friend and is someone I should listen to. Other people think it’s just a publishing mechanism for posting their URLs and other stuff to the world.
9. If other people are telling you you’re spamming, you should listen to them. Me? I tell them to screw off. Why? Because if I’m being too noisy then there’s a little button called “unfollow.” Why should I change my behavior to suit others? Many other people tell me they like my noisy behavior. One thing I like about Twitter is that you don’t need to follow people you think are jerks.
10. Don’t put things into Twitter that aren’t designed for Twitter like photos, audio, etc. Me? I use TwitterGram and am playing with Flickr embeds too. Why not push it around?

Anyway, are there other rules I don’t know about? I’d like to break those, too.

Why doesn’t Microsoft get the love?

Let’s leave Halo 3 out of this, for now.

Yesterday Hugh Macleod wrote up his thoughts on Microsoft.

He puts out a theory that Microsoft would be more loved if it told a better story.

I’ve been studying my own reactions to Microsoft lately and I think it’s a lot deeper than that.

I have a REASON to love Microsoft. It propelled my career into a whole nother level. But lately even that hasn’t been enough.

I’ve been asking myself why?

To me it comes down to expectations. Microsoft is like the genius child who has rich and smart parents. Society holds huge expections for such people. If they don’t succeed the story is it’s a child who hasn’t lived up to his/her potential.

Microsoft is much the same way.

We see Google having fun with docs and spreadsheets.

We see Facebook and Plaxo and LinkedIn (not to mention Ning and Broadband Mechanics) having fun with social networking.

We see Flickr, Zooomr (one developer!), SmugMug, Photobucket, and a raft of others having fun with photography.

We see Apple having fun with all sorts of stuff.

We see Amazon having fun with datacenters.

And on, and on.

But where is the kid who has rich and smart parents? Yeah, Microsoft brought us the “Demo of the Year” last year: Photosynth. But what you didn’t read on TechCrunch is that it takes up to nine hours to process one set of images so, while it is a killer demo, it won’t be a product you and I can use anytime soon.

This week we learned that Google is struggling to stay relevant to the new conversation: one that was taken over this year by Facebook. But what is Microsoft doing to stay relevant? It’s like Microsoft has decided to go and spend the inheritance and not do any more work to stay on the bleeding edge. This is a much less interesting Microsoft than it was back in the 1990s, where it seemed every week Microsoft would announce something new and interesting. I remember being a subscriber to eWeek and other trade magazines and it was a rare week that Microsoft didn’t have the most important story. (TechMeme has taken over that role, and this summer how often have we seen Microsoft at the top of TechMeme? Not very often.

This week I learned another Microsoft employee is leaving to start his own company. This guy has asked me to keep it quiet until he can let all his managers know, but he’s someone who is liked and trusted both in Silicon Valley and up in Redmond. He’s a connector. An innovator. A guy who wants to SHIP innovative products.

These kinds of people keep leaving Microsoft because they see it isn’t living up to its potential and is frustrating to work inside of. It’s more fun to go join a small startup, or even one that’s fairly well along its path, like Facebook (everytime I go to Facebook I see more of the people I used to work with).

It’s been more than a year now since I left Microsoft. I really expected Ray Ozzie to come out and do lots of cool stuff for the Internet. But what did we get? A new design on live.com? Please.

The interesting thing is that Microsoft’s bench is so deep that even with the people they’ve lost over the years there still are huge numbers of amazing people working there and they still have advantages that no other company has. Deep, deep pockets. Massive numbers of customers. Profits that keep arriving everyday. A salesforce that’s well run and has its fingers in almost every country in the world.

So, back to Hugh’s post. Microsoft needs a new story. If I were on the management team I’d be looking hard at the Bungie team, the folks who brought us Halo 3.

What did they do right?

1. They stayed away from Microsoft’s politics. They work in a small ex-hardware store in Kirkland, Washington, USA. About 10 miles from the main campus.
2. They kept their own identity. They have their own security. No Microsoft signs outside. A very different feel internally (much more akin to Facebook than how the Office team works together). Each team works in open seating, focused around little pods where everyone can see everyone else and work with them.
3. They put their artists and designers front and center and obviously listen to them. The Windows team, however, fights with their artists and designers.
4. They keep the story up front and center. They work across the group to make sure they deliver that story everywhere. Translation: employees know what the story is, how to communicate it (or when not to), and they have great PR teams who work to make sure that story is shared with everyone.
5. The product thrills almost on every level. Hey, sounds like an iPhone!

The problem is that Bungie is a small exception in a sea of Microsoft.

Changing this company’s public story is going to prove very difficult. Maybe that’s why Hugh drew Microsoft a “Blue Monster” instead of something a little more friendly.

I’m sure some of my friends at Microsoft will misread this and think I’m “a hater.” You can think that if you want. It is intellectually lazy, though.

It’s interesting that since leaving Microsoft only Kevin Schofield (he’s one of the great connectors the company has over in Microsoft Research) has really done a good job of reaching out to me and tried to tell me a “new Microsoft” story.

One thing I did at Microsoft was reach out to the haters and see if I could tell them a new story.

So, I’m game. On Monday night I’ll be at the Halo 3 launch party. I’ll be looking to show my video camera a new Microsoft story.

But until I find it so far it just seems like that rich and smart kid who hasn’t lived up to the potential that we all see in her.

Am I missing something?