Many companies have tried to solve local, applying technological solutions to the problems facing local business promotion and discovery. Unfortunately, the local problem has proved to be extremely challenging. This is partly due to the businesses themselves, because they have enough day-to-day issues to worry about and aren’t very tech savvy. But the bigger reason is that selling to local business is very expensive. Even the tech IPO darling OpenTable has spent years and millions of dollars to get to 15,000 restaurants, and still has to fight to make a meager $2.6 million per quarter. The difference in the mobile + location internet age is that there is a potential to crowdsource the local business data (e.g. Yelp and Foursquare), and also make the onboarding process for local businesses much more seamless, potentially as simple as a smartphone app. Results may end up being as simple as geo-coupons, but I think we’ll see much more interesting things that that in this space.
The Four Internet Ages
1 – The Early Internet
The Product vs Distribution Framework
The Product-Distribution Framework
I have written before about how email is still the killer app. There are lots of new dedicated applications to serve specific needs, but often I find myself reverting back to the trusty email. But one area that I have a love-hate relationship with is the massive email thread.
Introduction: Why I’m writing this
There are many post-mortems from failed startups out there, mainly because there are a lot of failed startups, and the people that start them tend to be very introspective and public about their successes and failures. I’m no different. This post-mortem will serve to get things off my chest, organize my thoughts, get the most out of the experience, and share my experience with others.
I’m also writing this to be able to point to a single, detailed, lengthy answer to the inevitable questions I’ll be getting from friends and colleagues about what happened with YouCastr. Now people can read to their heart’s content.
As I write about my experiences, people who know startups will see many common themes. Most of the conclusions here are consistent with Paul Graham’s analysis and understanding of startups, what’s challenging, and why they fail (if you’re planning on starting a company, especially in tech, read every single one of his essays). But no matter how many times you read or hear certain lessons, you have to do it yourself to really understand. Here are my specific and personal experiences to add color to that advice.
A Brief History
YouCastr is Born
The idea for YouCastr was hatched about three and a half years ago, during a car ride down from Jay Peak with my good friend Jeff Dwyer. Throughout the entire ride we were throwing ideas back and forth about cool companies, fun ideas, and stuff that bothered us. One in particular stuck with me, which was the idea of bringing Mystery Science Theater 3000 to the modern age, and let anyone provide their own comments. After exploring this some more, I ended up settling on sports as the logical market. This would mean the commentary would have to be live, because otherwise it would have been just a podcast platform, which was not very interesting technologically. A couple of days later I shared the idea with my soon to be co-founder Jeff Hebert, and we continued thinking about it. Within a few months we put together a team of 4, created our initial plans, and began building an alpha version.
As we were getting off the ground, three of the four founders (including myself) were mainly working on building the actual product, since we couldn’t do much of anything without that. We learned Ruby on Rails, did our own designing, worked nights and weekend on the startup as a complement to our management consulting day-jobs, and clawed our way to our initial alpha and private beta.
Building the company
We then spent the next three years building the company, quitting our jobs, raising money, opening our office, hiring people, firing people, going back to bootstrap mode, and finally, pulling the plug.
Startups are all about pivoting. It’s like a word game where you start with HURT, change one letter at a time, then end with LOVE, with many other four-letter words along the way (btw, you really can do that in 6 moves). In our case, we started as a virtual sports bar where people could chime in audio commentary and ended up as a do-it-yourself pay-per-view video platform. Seems like a radical change, but each pivot was the equivalent of changing one letter.
Our first pivot was to focus on live audio sports broadcasting of games that weren’t being televised (instead of adding commentary to nationally televised games), in response to what customers were doing. Then we added video broadcasting to that same market, focusing on broadcasting sports that weren’t covered (primarily high school and college). And finally we expanded beyond sports, mainly by de-emphasizing the sports branding on our platform, and adding a few features more geared towards video producers than to schools and teams. All of these were natural pivots, not jumps.
Shutting Down – The Reasons and Need
1 – Ran out of cash
The single biggest reason we are closing down (a common one) is running out of cash. Despite putting the company in an EXTREMELY lean position, generating revenue, and holding out as long as we could, we didn’t have the cash to keep going. The next few reasons shed more light as to why we chose to shut down instead of finding more cash.
2 – The market was not there
The thesis of our current business model (startups are all about testing theses) was that there was a need for video producers and content owners to make money from their videos, and that they could do that by charging their audience. We found both sides of that equation didn’t really work. I validated this in my conversations with companies with more market reach than us, that had tried similar products (ppv video platform), but pulled the plug because they didn’t see the demand for it.
Video producers are afraid of charging for content, because they don’t think people will pay. And they’re largely right. Consumers still don’t like paying for stuff, period. We did find some specific industry verticals where the model works (some high schools, some boxing and mixed martial arts events, some exclusive conferences), but not enough to warrant a large market and an independent company.
3 – The team was ready to move on
The core team of 5 of us has already made significant personal, financial, and emotional investment over the past three years. We have had our share of tough breaks, not to mention almost two years without salary.
4 – No light at the end of the tunnel
Given the industry trends we were seeing, we just didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel worth surviving for. This market may get slightly better, but it’s not going to be a big company.
5 – We need to put a stake in the ground
We’re survivors. We hate giving up, and have tenaciously survived for a long time. We survived the worst economic environment in generations (during which we also tried to raise money), and knew how not to die. But it was time to shut down and move on.
A Retrospective – Why we failed
In most of the following points I say we, but as CEO, many of the mistakes below can be placed directly on my shoulders, which I will take as a valuable experience as I move on.
Didn’t pivot fast enough
We did a pretty good job of pivoting, but we didn’t make the hard choices quickly enough. Our first pivot, towards broadcasting of original sports content, took us 6 months. We had legacy users and web traffic that we were afraid of losing. We had a brand in one area. We had a story for investors, customers, and the community. All of that made it harder for us to quickly change our focus and apply all resources to the new area, which we knew was the long term future. We iterated our product quickly, but didn’t pivot fast enough.
Didn’t love it
We started the company because we liked the idea and wanted to do something entrepreneurial. We weren’t in love with the idea or market we were going after, and weren’t core users of our product. We worked really hard getting it off the ground despite this, but it made it more difficult to sustain the energy and to understand the best product choices.
Made hiring mistakes
Hire slow, fire fast. That’s how the saying goes. We made a mistake when hiring. We hired too early (before product-market fit), and we rushed into it by foolishly setting an internal deadline to make the hiring decision, which drove us to ignore some gut reactions by some of the core team members. Eric Ries has a great overview of how not to make these mistakes in his Lean Hiring Tips post.
Spent too much time raising money
Almost immediately after our private beta we started trying to raise money, and saw many of the typical challenges when raising money for the first time. This was late 2007 remember, when plenty of Web 2.0 companies were getting funded, and we got caught up in the spirit. We spent 6 months raising our angel round, and finally closed it after launching our public beta in February 2008. We raised less than we should have (Chris Dixon notes that the worst thing a seed-stage company can do is raise too little money and only reach part way to a milestone, which is great advice). We spent 3 months getting ready for raising our next round, then 6 months beating our head against a wall trying to raise money during the financial collapse. Finally we regrouped, but had serious short term cash issues that we had to resolve with additional investment from current investors and cutting of costs. We then focused on the product and made some solid progress, with the plan on giving it another go. By the time we got there, though, we realized we didn’t have the metrics we wanted, so pulled back our fundraising efforts and decided to go back to bootstrap mode.
Never quite figured out customer acquisition
We never seriously figured out customer acquisition, and had trouble growing throughout our various pivots. Customer acquisition is hard and more expensive than most people realize when starting a company. There has been a lot of good analysis, including Andrew Chen’s overview of calculating cost per customer acquisition and David Skok’s warning about how it can be a startup killer, but it takes firsthand experience to understand that.
Too many founders
We started the company with four co-founders. I believe Dharmesh Shah nailed it in his analysis of the optimal number of co-founders. In our case, the advantage of having 4 co-founders was that had more people and resources willing to work for sweat equity. But it also presented challenges, including slowing down decisions, as everyone naturally wants to chime in with their opinion. As CEO, a lot of this falls on me, as I should have been stronger in making decisions. I tend to be a consensus builder, but in my next startup I will have to improve my ability to make bold unpopular decisions while still motivating everyone and building consensus after the decision is made. On the plus side, the entire founding team was incredibly committed through the entire time, and we never had any of the fundamental founder issues that many people complain about become a major problem.
Counted on big partnerships to close (when they didn’t) and to help more than they did
We initiated some very interesting high level partnership and business development discussions with large companies. We put some hope into these deals, but large companies move much slower than startups, and every deal took much longer than we needed. Marc Andreesen even draws a parallel that going after large partnerships is like chasing Moby Dick.
We put too much stock and hope into closing some of these. And for the ones we did close, we expected more results than we got. It’s an interesting dilemma, because partners are often the best acquirers, but the downfalls can even lead people to suggest to NOT partner with big and powerful companies.
What I Learned and some of the positives
I’m an optimist by nature, which you have to be to start a company given the odds and challenges. Given that, it’s good to look back and think about the positives of the entire experience. It’s incredibly satisfying to create a revenue-generating company that is flirting with cash-flow positive, especially having started with a crazy idea. The experience of building a company and tasting success was incredible, and though we didn’t quite get over the hump, we have tasted it, and it will only motivate me more to get there again, through all the hardships.
On a personal level, I’ve learned more about business, people, life, and myself over the past three years than I ever have. I have made life-long friends with whom I can share these experiences with. I have come closer to understanding how to reach my limits, which is one of my fundamentals goals in life. Startups let you try and find those limits in a way that most jobs wouldn’t, and I’ll keep pushing. And best of all, I have realized that my true passion is entrepreneurship. I have a very addictive personality, and therefore only do things where I am comfortable with the extreme case, like starting companies or running ultra-marathons.
We built a great culture, including some great parties for the local tech-scene, competitive ping-pong matches, and late night coding sessions with house music blasting. We converted three lifelong PC people to Mac, all of whom are happier for it. And most satisfying, we helped kick start two young and promising careers, those of our designer and community manager.
My long term goal is to continue starting companies. There’s no question I’m in a better position now to start another company than I was when I first started YouCastr. It’s almost like thinking back at how much more fun high school would have been had you known what you knew when you graduated back when you started. Practically speaking, though, after having gone almost 2 years without a salary, I’m not in a financial position to bootstrap another company, which is the way I would really want to start a company.
In the short term I’m working on various projects for my consulting company, Scenario4. We are working with some great people on some fun projects across the tech world. I am also pursuing several side projects, including the recently launched BooksforBits, a non-profit company designed to help accelerate the transition to ebooks while getting books to communities in need.
It’s an incredibly exciting time in technology. We are on the cusp of the post-pc era, which includes a revolution in the mobile space, and in how we interact with and perceive computers. We are in a world where startups can be more capital efficient than ever before. And most interestingly for me, as a society we are going to be facing challenges unlike any we have ever seen.
With every ending is a new beginning, and I’m excited about what lies ahead.
1 – To Build a Strong(er) Network
2 – To Change Career
3 – To Learn a NEW and Complementary Skill (that you want to use down the road)
4 – If it’s required for your desired career path
I’m excited to see that HP has made a move to acquire Palm. As I wrote before, Palm has created a solid mobile OS, and someone needed to buy that to keep it going and continue to put pressure on iPhone and Android.
As I continue to organize thoughts around some general motivational posts, I’m still fascinated by technology and recently the iPad, the newest addition to my tech library.
- Coaches – even professional coaches use clipboards, often the mini-whiteboards with an outline of the field, imagine a simple app that you could draw plays on and pull up “template” plays to then expound on.
- Inventory Management – anything in a warehouse where people are on the go, but need to check back on orders and current stock levels.
- Hospitals – A no-bariner, people are writing about the benefits for nurses and other healthcare professionals.
- Club VIP Lists – Real time updated and easier to manage than the current print-out list with a checklist
- Wedding Planner – We’ve all seen these, frantically checking off stuff and planning to make sure things go off smoothly.
- Construction Management – Especially on-site, lots going on
Somebody Please Buy Palm (cough, cough Nokia)
In light of Apple’s finally confirmed event next week about their “new creation”, I wanted to capture my expectations. I got a little carried away on the details, but the headers will give you a good idea of what I’m thinking.
Aiming to Redefine Portable Computing
In general, I agree with John Gruber’s thoughtful post on the Tablet (well worth a read) and I don’t think this will be designed as a single focused device, e.g. an eReader or big iPhone. They are aiming to redefine laptops and portable computing, not to make a pretty interface for e-reading and movie browsing.
Thoughts on OS and Usability
Completely redefined Finder / File Browsing
Presumably on a computer of the rumored size and power there will be some more robust file structure than on an iPhone. Although file structure is fading away with cloud based services and Apple’s own push to make files meaningless in their iLife sweet, they are still here for now. However it’s easy to imagine what it could look like by using the CoverFlow viewer on the Mac Finder.
Full Screen Applications
Most people don’t understand the current paradigm of “Applications” and when you’re “in” an application. I think computing in general will move away from the floating windows to a full screen application. It’s hard to realize this until you have to explain to non-savvy users what an “Application” is, how to tell if they’re in one (“Mom, look up at the top left and what does it say, no the really top left). Every time I have to explain to
No iPhone App “Widgets”
Many people have been speculating that the Tablet will have the ability to either scale up iPhone apps, or enable them as widgets. I disagree because that would be the easy way out, and Apple doesn’t do that. They will make developers re-write their apps completely, to take advantage of the larger screen real estate, new gestures, background processing, and perhaps other goodies. The App Store has proven that developers are extremely willing to write new apps, and Apple will leverage this to make them create new versions and not give them the easy way out of letting exiting apps exist on the tablet.
Thoughts on the Steve’s Keynote
In typical Steve Jobs style, he will come on stage and make fun of current Tablet PCs including insults on usability (most require pens and have terrible UIs), aesthetics (I don’t need to elaborate), and usage cases (what do you do on them other than scribble illegible notes?). This will set the stage for him to focus on the usage cases that make the Tablet different. For Steve, it’s all about the product and how it’s used.
I can also see a similar type of introduction to Steve Jobs’ iPhone introduction, which they positioned as a “a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod, and a breakthrough Internet device.” Perhaps a world-class eReader, a full size media center, and a breakthrough tablet computer. It’s worth watching the original iPhone keynote, which was 3 years ago. Steve wasn’t too far off with his prognostication that the phone was 5 years ahead of others, it took Google and the entire industry to come up with the closest bet to the original iPhone – 3 years later.
Core Usage Cases and Product Features
Productivity – Touch-ready iWork
One thing that really excites me that hasn’t been talked about in all this hoopla is the ability for a truly innovative productivity suite. Microsoft Office has not changed its fundamental structure in 15 years, other than questionable UI changes (i.e. the “Ribbons”). But Apple can leverage their internal iWork (already a much better office suite, except for Numbers vs. Excel 2003 for Windows) to create a dedicated version that leverages the strengths of a tablet. Admittedly this is more relevant and exciting for Keynote, for creating, editing or reviewing presentations, but is also relevant for Pages and Numbers, though not for heavy lifting. I think there already exists a UI framework that would make sense, similar to iPhoto full screen editing, with an auto-hiding browser on top and auto-hiding tool bar on the bottom.
Hub of Digital Life – Touch-ready iLife
Another core software suite will be porting iLife as a touch-ready application. iPhoto would probably be the most useful, but there might be new applications.
Even though Steve Jobs said that “nobody reads anymore”, it’s impossible to ignore that reading on a laptop / computer is a major usage case, just not necessarily books, as he was referring to. When I’m reading blogs, PDFs, or newspapers online, I’d certainly prefer a tablet form factor. And if it was good enough, I’d much rather have that to view my magazines (Wired, The Week and Popular Science) instead of the paper version. I also imagine Apple will be working with publishers (newspapers, magazines, books) to make the buying experience easier and get them excited about eReaders, which are here to stay. Again, this won’t be a dedicated device, but I’d be surprised if this is not laid out as a core usage.
Full iChat including Video Chat
The Tablet would certainly have the horsepower, and a front mounted built in iSight would make video converations incredibly simple and elegant.
As more and more video consumption moves online and onto computers, it makes sense for a device that will essentially be just a screen to have a core and elegant video viewing interface. Apple also has strategic reasons to continue to push to centralize how people purchase and watch video. Watching a movie on a 10” screen is certainly more doable than on a 3.5” screen.
Areas that will NOT be core usage cases
Apple is allegedly not happy with the fact that the iPod Touch and iPhone have become such game centered devices, but I think it makes sense on a device that size. The entire device is a great controller that offers unique handheld gaming abilities. A 10” devices does not lend itself to that type of gaming, and if you’re going to need a controller, then you might as well have a game console. I disagree with AppleInsider on this one.
Music, which has been the center of the iPod revolution and was a core feature on the iPhone, will play a primary role on this device. iPod market penetration is already near saturated, and people want music portability, which a 10” tablet won’t offer.
Apple doesn’t go low end, they are not trying to compete with netbooks directly, especially at launch. They will try to create the best tablet computer ever created, and then potentially have it move down market to compete with netbooks, but don’t hold your breath (I’ve been waiting for a $299-399 Mac Mini for years and full expected they would come that low, but instead the base price increased from $499 to $599). Even at that price, you better believe people will be lining up around the block to buy one when they come out. I myself will be one of them (I bought the original iPhone at $599).
Doubtful but feasible and would be cool
True Docking Ability
If you take the keyboard off of the MacBook Air, and fold the screen down onto it, you can imagine a pretty thin tablet style computer. Now add 2 years of technology innovation on top of that, and you can see a tablet that should be just as powerful as a MacBook Air. When you think that a MacBook Air can run a 30” monitor with its video card and support a full array of USB connections, it’s easy to envision a tablet with a dock that gives it power, USB, and a display connection, through either USB, MagSafe, and MiniDisplayPort, or an iPod like connector. This way, when you’re at home or the office, you simply dock it in and have your main computer there, with an external screen, keyboard and mouse for full desktop computing.
Either way, I’m excited to see what Apple and Steve Jobs unveil. My guess is this will be as significant as the original iPhone announcement three years ago. Can’t wait.
Earlier today I read an interesting post from Venture Hacks about how disruptive innovation will continue in the near term. Their analogy was about how computers are evolving and accelerating. We all know the evolution from mainframes to personal computers to laptops. This is common knowledge.
The technically adept also are very well aware about how mobile phones are the next phase, and will replace personal computers in the near future. This analysis reminded me of a post by John Gruber of Daring Fireball, who a year ago wrote about how the iPhone has as much computer as the top of the line Desktop computer from just 10 years ago. This is really fascinating and eye opening, and really supports Naval’s point.
It gets even more interesting when you start thinking another 10 or 20 or 40 years from now, and look at that type of innovation and acceleration in technology. I had a couple of beers with Matt Hodgson and Moe Kelley this evening, and we got into some very interesting discussions about the future, and business, which builds on the previous points (but in all reality deserves its own post, but since I’m bad about blogging, I thought I’d just throw it all in here)
Our discussion ranged from general technological advancement, to the companies that will die as a result of that advancement (think book publishers, newspapers, and “value-add” content distributers that are really dumb pipes), to the long term implications of this technological advancement. And that’s where things got really interesting. So we thought about a framework to capture this evolution, which I’ll roughly lay out here.
Phase 1: Today’s Reality – The $200 Billion Technological Revolution
Let’s face it, as much as we’re all excited about the companies that are changing the world today (Google) and the companies that will change the world in the coming months or years (Facebook), a lot of it really comes down to the shift in dollars from traditional advertising (TV, print, radio) to Internet and new media advertising. Google has already shown how profitable this can be, and many others are well positioned to take advantage of the remaining advertising dollars that have not shifted to the Internet, but inevitably will (really, it’s inevitable, just a matter of time). Yet even as exciting as that is, it’s still just 3-5% of our economy.
Phase 2: Augmented Reality – The Next Technological Revolution
There is a lot of talk among technology circles about Augmented Reality. Simple and known versions of this are location based services that tell you where your friends are (e.g. Loopt), or great local deals through coupons. More advanced augmented reality includes the ability to layer on information into any real world setting (e.g. Layar), which nearly infinite uses and benefits. In terms of economic benefits, I find it difficult to quantify the impact. It’s probably broader than advertising (think services, transactions, shopping, etc.).
Phase 3: Parallel Reality – The $2 Trillion Technological Revolution
The real mind bender is when you start looking at “Parallel Reality” (which given by the dearth and inconsistency of the Google search results isn’t even a broad concept). I define “Parallel Reality” as the third stage, where the real world continues to exist, but a “parallel reality” exists along side it. This is Second Life taken to a whole new level of realism, where things try feel, smell, and seem real. In this world, you still live your normal life, but might plug in (or something else) to a parallel reality where you can enjoy things you might not otherwise be able to do. This could mean things you could not afford (luxurious trips), things you couldn’t physically accomplish (climbing Mt. Everest for the physically able but not quite fit, or going for a jog for the physically incapable), or things that would be physically impossible (being in Tokyo for breakfast and Paris for lunch) or difficult (walking around Mars).
The reason I call this a $2 Trillion revolution is that it has the potential to impact fundamental industries such as travel, tourism, entertainment, restaurants, alcohol, etc. Basically anything that costs money to do in order to provide a mental or even physical stimulation that can be replaced in a virtual world is no longer safe from disruption the way it currently is.
Phase 4: Post Reality – All Bets are Off
Finally, at some point of technological evolution, we move past the physical world and even the virtual portrayal of the physical world. Fans of Ray Kurzweil will realize I’m treading into his territory. But once we move into a “world” where the virtual is more real and satisfying than the real, all bets are off. Government, the economy, society, are all irrelevant as they are defined today. Even if we’re all digital, enjoying immortality in a utopian “Matrix”, how do we physically keep the power on for all of our virtual brains and selves? I can go on, but I mainly wanted to illustrate how irrelevant everything we know is once we cross that chasm.
Before you write this off as sheer lunacy or even too far in the future for you to worry about, consider how fast technology is improving:
By the year 2020, your $1,000 personal computer will have the processing power of the human brain-20 million billion calculations per second (100 billion neurons times 1,000 connections per neuron times 200 calculations per second per connection). By 2030, it will take a village of human brains to match a $1,000 computer. By 2050, $1,000 worth of computing will equal the processing power of all human brains on earth.
That excerpt is from an article by Ray Kurzweil, and is worth a full read if you’re interested. But it’s clear that the computational power will be able to recreate worlds, recreate human brains, and recreate intelligence in the foreseeable future.
Back to Real Reality
Now bringing this all back to earth, there are lots of real opportunities in the short, medium, long, and real long term. I’m excited about all of them, and will be continuing to think and work in all realms. But every now and then it’s really interesting to step back and think about what the current technology revolution really means beyond the business models. Even more interesting is to think about what the world will be like when I’m really old dying (or not).
There has been a lot of buzz recently about Twitter. Just a few months ago, it was a techie network that was difficult to explain to an existing user, let alone anyone that had never heard of it. Not, it’s a mainstream phenomenon that everyone is talking about. This came to head with all the ridiculous Ashton vs. CNN race to a million users (Ashton won), and Oprah’s first tweet. The explosive growth is a result of reaching a critical mass of users, getting celebrities started, and having a wide range of support tools (e.g. TweetDeck, Nambu).
As a result of this growth, Facebook has been reacting, or possibly over-reacting, as evidenced with their recent redesign. The controversial redesign is trying to focus more on status updates, and copied a lot of Twitter (and FriendFeed) features. Given the explosive growth, Facebook is certainly justified in their fears.
Facebook is worried about the Lead Users, the early adopters. Among my tech friends, we all are spending more time interacting with Twitter than we are with Facebook. I do this is mainly because it’s much easier to actually interact with Twitter (with the tools I referenced earlier, my favorite is Nambu). And on top of that, I’ve found that Twitter is more useful and relevant for what I need.
Chasing the Wrong Problem
Twitter is winning the status update wars. But that’s ok. Facebook is caught up in this because it thought that status messages were such an important part to it’s value proposition, right from it’s initial conception, inspired partly by AIM status messages. (On a side note, other sites need to get over the status update issue and stop trying to force users to update their status, yes I’m talking to you Plaxo and LinkedIn).
Facebook = Identity
Facebook right now is so much more than a fancy way to update your status message. It’s your IDENTITY. Facebook is trying to win back status messages and real time conversation. Instead, it should just realize it’s about identity, and focus on that. Facebook Connect is important, and if they neglect that, it won’t become what I hope it becomes.
Twitter = Communication
Twitter is leading in real time communication. Ironically, it’s also going back into the era of random user names that I was hoping Facebook has ended. That’s not as bad as it once was because there are more ways to map the random names to names that make sense to you, i.e. real names. But the implication of Twitter’s usernames is that it makes it much less likely to become a standard login protocol (as TechCrunch is implying).
Facebook’s use of real names and validation makes it well suited for a global identify management, and Twitter’s open standards make it well suited for real time public conversation. I don’t mind some overlap, as long as they each don’t lose focus on what makes them valuable.