After a $500,000 Price Tag, Digg is no More

Digg- Sold
Digg- Sold

Article first published as After a $500,000 Price Tag, Digg is no More on Technorati.

After being born in 2004 as a very promising start up, and taking over $45 million dollars in rounds of investment, Digg has finally come to a halt. It has been sold for merely $500,000 by New York startup incubator Betaworks.

Betaworks reports Digg will go back to being a small start up with News.me building it back up. Mashable also reports that a series of troubles have hindered Digg as a company, going from poor traffic, changes in management and overall staff, including Kevin Rose’s departure back in 2011.
Digg was a great place for link building, news sharing and community creation. However, similar companies stepped in to make room for competition like Reddit. This is also the other side of the technological story: companies might grow exponentially, but they also can plummet with the same speed.

Today we have other social networks that focus more on visual aids and rich media rather than just text in order to succeed. Take Pinterest as an example: it has become the third most important social network almost overnight, all thanks to its image & video curation. Facebook has also taken upon itself to evolve into a more rich media related network by purchasing Instagram.

Some others have chosen niche markets in order to survive, just like MySpace. We can only hope that Digg does come back into something stronger.

Photo Marketing

Every day more and more you can notice small changes across the web. There’s no doubt exponential growth is here to stay and well… grow! It’s been a long time since Kotler’s 4 Ps are no longer the magic formula for marketers. Outbound marketing has been long dead.

Instead, consumers are savvier, hungrier and much more quality demanding. The level of information consumption is beyond doubt at its highest level in history. We’re surrounded by gadgets that filter information for us according to what we want to see — hence the phrase “you see only what the mind wants to see” has more meaning than ever before–.

Especially in the web, we are only pulled in to content that is image or video related. No wonder 9gag has been such a hit! In fact, attention span and the number of unique users increases dramatically when there’s rich (high quality) media involved. An infographic by MDG Advertising proves this detail by detail.

Photo Marketing
Photo Marketing

Personally I observe it’s especially true with social media. Every time media is posted on Facebook or Twitter, fans come flowing in with likes, RTs and sharing. Pinterest is the live example of media curation, ordered in such a way that it has become the third largest social network, just because of rich media!

Facebook noted this trend a while back, ergo coming up with the Timeline which features media in a higher quality. Furthermore, Instagram’s purchase was done in great time to further exploit and feed users’ hunger for images. What kind of marketing will be next? With so many developments, it’s hard to keep up!

Learning How to Code

There are several multimillion dollar industries around the world. Some more respectable than others of course. Technology and software development is one of them (the respectable ones that is). In fact, so many people from other fields have turned to look at software development because of its massive growth.

Of course every major company, whether it’s directly involved with software or not, is looking for programmers every day. You’d be amazed at the great shortage of programmers and software developers there is in this city alone. Not to mention Silicon Valley; filled with HR bilboards trying to convince Stanford students and other qualified talent to join the different companies in the Bay Area.

So, what to do if there’s great demand but low offer? Instead of depending on other people to be qualified in time and on top of that, choose you as their workplace, people are starting to learn how to code on their own. Of course it can’t be done overnight, nor can the learning process be as complete and thorough as in college. It’s a matter of picking your battles. Entrepreneurs and other non-engineer people are choosing the programming language of their preference (or rather convenience) and have started teaching themselves to do it.

Codecademy
Codecademy

But just how can one teach oneself how to program in a very technical language, from scratch? Take it from me, it’s no easy task. However, there are two very good ways to do it (both of which I’ve done): take a qualified online course, like the one offered by Codecademy or ask someone who is already majored in software development or programming to teach you step by step.

Like anything new, you have to practice and practice for it to become an excellent skill. You could almost build your own basic version of software, or a website, or an app. However, keep in mind you will always need to have an expert by your side.

Road MX 2012

It’s been said several times that Guadalajara is the Mexican Silicon Valley. During the mid 90’s this was just starting out to be a catch-phrase for foreign investment in the city. It was nicknamed so because large companies like IBM and HP had settled here instead of Mexico City. Still the phrase “Mexican Silicon Valley” was something that was out of reach for the majority of the people living in the city. It was just reserved for people working at any one of these large companies.

However, thanks to technology and of course fast pace investment, this phrase is now a reality to many people, reachable for anyone with an interest in the field. It is now also called the Start Up culture. Of course, the international mecca of start ups resides and will reside for time to come in Silicon Valley itself, in California. The whole of the Bay area is to thank for this lifestyle. Yes, I call it lifestyle because not only does it affect the work place, but your whole life in a very positive way.

Today, the Start up culture is on the rise in this city. So much so, that many more start ups based in California are setting up shop here. Even better, many of the start ups created here are setting shop in California! It’s a two way process. For example, OVIA [now Wowzer] was co founded by a group of former students from ITESO who started their HR company here and then established their commercial office in Mountain View, California.

These developments have created a community of Start up junkies here in the city. Which is why “Start ups on the Road MX” was created. It has had more and more visitors and participants thanks overtime. This year, it was held at the Hilton Hotel. Created by a non profit community called Suma Valley, the event had several important speakers like Bismarck Lepe from Ooyala, Gris Cuevas from Linked in and Rodrigo Martínez from Wowzer itself.

Community Management Done Right - by Gris Cuevas
Community Management Done Right – by Gris Cuevas

Gris Cuevas’ presentation in particular was of special interest to me. She spoke about the importance of every entrepreneur and business to be aware of their community and to tend to it. Thus, Community Management isn’t just about posting on Facebook and Twitter. It’s about so much more than that. [Ask me about her PDF presentation]

Interesting talks by interesting people in a very very interesting community. Good thing the Start up culture is on the rise.

Facebook’s App Center, Switzerland of Apps?

Facebook’s user volume presents so much opportunities, that a lot of them, perhaps even the Facebook staff or Zuckerberg himself haven’t discovered yet. One of these opportunities was app development and support. It has been done for quite some time now. However, Facebook had much more potential than that. It has now announced that it will become an App hub. This “App center” will be the app shopping mall to go to.

Fear not, Facebook is not in on it to become the new king and major competition to Apple, Google or any other app store out there. It rather is the place to go to no matter what device you have. Just like in a shopping mall you can find hundreds of different stores and brands, Facebook App Center will offer these options.

Once you enter the site, you can select the device you are handling and will automatically be redirected to its main app center; if you have an iPhone, you’ll be redirected to Apple’s App Store; if you have an Android device, you’ll be redirected to Android Market and so on. Not only is it a handier place to look for the latest trends and your favorite apps, but it is also a better place to compare prices (if any), ratings, quality and just how many people are actually using certain apps or not. It is a more critical, user friendly place in which you can better trust your friends’ judgement instead of the biased opinion of their developers.

Now, if Facebook’s App Center doesn’t charge users a penny extra, what does Facebook gain out of it? Just like regular Facebook apps like Farmville and the like, Facebook credits can come into play. Although this won’t mean an extra cost for users, it will mean a commission cut from manufacturers and developers. Impressive right? What will they think of monetizing next? Stay tuned.

What 1 Billion Represents for Instagram & Facebook

The number “One Billion” means two key things for both Instagram and Facebook. We’ve all seen how in the past days, a company that had no defined Business Model went from zero to a $1 Billion USD worth in under 18 months. This past sentence rises several questions, so let’s take one at a time.

  • How did Instagram survive 18 months without a monetized mobile business?
Instagram has had several rounds of funding that have fed the company and its multiple developments. This is the most basic piece of information according to Crunch Base. The company has had a rather small staff, and its product has been rather attractive to investors, SO MUCH that well, Facebook just bought it.
  • Why did Facebook pay $1 Billion dollars for a company that offers an entirely free service with no monetization?
After several valuations, the company has risen its value overtime. But it’s not just about what Instagram is worth alone, but how much Facebook can take advantage of. This price tag is really more about what Facebook can do with Instagram’s product. Although they have clarified that Instagram will remain as an independent app from Facebook, with separate functionality, Facebook is in for a gold mine of data.
To further grow its databases, Facebook can sell better advertisement placements and targeting with an expanded data base. Instagram can provide Facebook with particular tastes of niche users with very peculiar activities.
  • Where is Facebook standing in terms of number of users right now?

Facebook has 901 million users at the moment, with predictions of it reaching 1 billion users before the year ends. The largest social network is still at a growing stage definitely. More numbers, more power to them.

Overall, many have protested about Instagram’s purchase, threatening to close their accounts (or have closed them altogether). Which makes sense given that it’s human nature to reject change. However, Instagram also grew 40% in number of users in a period of 30 days, give or take. In any case, the world still spins, and two great companies now operate under the same umbrella.

Social Media vs Apps, or both?

We are living an era in which traditional media is not trusted nor is it profitable anymore. People don’t read the paper; they scan through their iPads or smartphones. People don’t watch TV, they watch TV shows or movies on multiple, Internet connected screens (although the movie theatre experience is a subject apart). People like to play and interact with their favorite brand, this cannot be done via traditional media.

For not so long now, people were starting to panic when they saw that their traditional marketing strategy was not delivering customers. “Is this company going down? Am I broke” many entrepreneurs might have thought. Those that were not early adopters or innovative minds, were being left behind on print.

It’s different today. Right now, log into your Facebook account, how many brands or companies have you “liked” on that network? How many of those have a Twitter account that you also follow? Even if companies and brands still publicize their product or service via traditional media, they’re using that to inform you that they have an app ready for you to use on your preferred device, or that they have a channel of communication in X social network.

Now, the question is, out of the new and innovative communication channels, who is winning the race: apps or social networks? Let’s break them down one by one.

Apps. They are everywhere. “There’s an app for that” started out as a joke, but now, it’s nothing but the truth. Anything you want to solve, you can do so via an app installed in your smartphone or any other smart device. Heck, my iPhone has apps I barely use but that have saved me from a lot of trouble. For instance, I installed the Flash Light app; yes, a flash light on mi iPhone! Spare time aside, there are plenty of useful interactive apps from famous brands that achieve direct access with their consumers.

Take Nike for example. They transformed the runner’s culture into a whole smart and connected community. You run, it syncs up with your favorite playlist, it tells you how many miles you ran, how many calories you burnt, etc. It changed the whole runners scheme. Sure, billboards and TV commercials are still up now and then, but this direct and customized experience cannot be achieved with traditional media.

Social Media. Facebook, Twitter and now Pinterest are the most effective social networks. Let’s skip the ones we’ve already been familiarized with for quite some time now and focus on Pinterest. To be perfectly honest, at the beginning I didn’t give this network any faith. I wrongly thought it would be just like any other social network and their 15 minutes of fame. However, Pinterest has achieved in images what Twitter has in text. This image collection is so simple to use, that Tech Crunch has pronounced it the third most important social network (I believe the first two are obvious) in so little time.

Pinterest is really more about the branding connection it can offer to companies rather than any other strategy, but nowadays branding per se takes a large piece of the strategy pie.

Now, as an entrepreneur or strategist, which do you prefer? Apps or Social Networks? Why not have both?