Google Should Only Buy Groupon if…

December 1, 2010

They’re smart.

The biggest purchase in Google’s long history of acquisitions has yet to happen, but it’s about to.  It’s a $6 Billion plus offer that makes a lot of sense for both companies.

Having never met Groupon’s founders, or any members of the team other than a few phone calls with some of their sales reps, I cannot attest to the vision or goals of the company.  But to be acquired by Google can’t be too far down on anyone’s wish list.

As far as the huge valuation that Google has given them, I would warn that Groupon is worth every bit of it, and then some. In a field that is quickly becoming overcrowded with clones, Groupon has demonstrated an ability to stay relevant, and become even more relevant.  As the local coupon company that took a deal a day to the next level, as the company that today thousands try to imitate, Groupon has set themselves apart.  And through the right kind of marketing, and the right kind of positioning, they’ve built an army of potential consumers for every brand.

Here’s a hint that every potential business owner should take from Groupon: create a way for consumers to get deals on products that they most likely would have bought anyway at full price, and you’re bound to make anyone happy.  In a lot of ways, that was Walmart’s vision when they got Sam Walton got started back in the early 60’s.  Serve the under-served yes, but offer deals on products people need or want based on another company’s advertising.

In any case, am I surprised that Google didn’t try to create their own clone? Yes. Am I surprised they’re interested in Groupon’s business? No. It opens up new doors to Google’s plans to take control of the “local” business of mobile and web apps.  Using Groupon in conjunction with other Google services may prove Groupon to be the company’s most successful acquisition ever.


Most Bloggers are not Most Bloggers…

November 30, 2010

In fact, there is not one single blogger out there that I have ever heard of or come across that is most bloggers.  Everyone has their own individual voice, regardless of what it is you write about or write for.  I read a number of technology blogs, and just because a story is covered by both Mashable and TechCrunch, does not mean its only worth reading one or the other.  In fact, most times you will get a better view of the story if you read both.

So when I see headlines or surveys or reports that try to group bloggers into specific groups and note that there are only a few types of people who blog, it worries me that people still don’t really get it.  Blogging has been around for some time now.  It’s an established platform, not an emerging one.  People have used blogs to spread news, create buzz, sell products, tell stories, make friends, save people, raise money, and teach you how to blog.

Blogging is no longer new media.

Is it December Yet?

November 29, 2010

Don’t call it a comeback.  Innovation is never dead. And neither is this blog.

And now this, 50 Tips for Successful Innovation.

$10,000 for Innovation

January 13, 2010

Businesses all over the world ask themselves the same questions every day.  Or, if they don’t, they probably should.

“How can we make our company better? Run smoother? More efficient? Make more money?”

Often times we look outside the company for help or advice.  Sometimes we think that we know all the answers and we don’t need help from anyone.  And much of the time I am sure that we just expect things to get better without trying at all.

But take this new idea from the struggling publisher, Conde Nast.  They are offering their employees a $10,000 prize for whoever comes up with the best idea to improve the company.

Sure this is probably a sign of desperation more than anything else, but it still makes sense.  The reason companies hire people is to move forward.  In essence, you want every employee to not only do the job that they were hired for, but to bring new ideas forward and shake things up.  Every entrepreneur from an early point in their lives learns that you are suppose to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you to help you succeed.

Why don’t more companies look internally for help when looking to create a change?  And why don’t more companies have rewards in place (maybe not $10k) for employees that take on that challenge?

I am a strong believer that innovation most often comes from within.

Cash for Clunkers: A Job Well Done

July 31, 2009

cash-for-clunkersIf you can remember back to a time when I posted about Google’s 10^100 Contest, then you can see that I mentioned having put in a suggestion of my own.  And even though you may think that I am lying, my submission was almost word for word what the “Cash for Clunkers” program has become.

The original description of my idea looked something like this:

“Set up a program, backed by the government or some independent investors, that uses a pool of money to offer car buying vouchers for people that trade in older cars for newer, more fuel efficient vehicles.  This helps people in multiple ways.  It can increase the number of cars that are sold, giving a much needed boost to the economy.  And it can make the average fuel efficiency of cars in the country go up more than it would without this help.”

So, of course, when I saw the initial idea for Cash for Clunkers, I was very excited.  I backed the program, thinking that it would definitely help do exactly what it was designed to do; spur the struggling auto industry, and get more fuel efficient vehicles on the road.

And now, less than a week after the program was launched, it appears that the program was so successful that it ran out of the appropriated money that was supposed to last until November 1st.  For more information on exactly what the Cash for Clunkers program is, how you can take advantage, and how the government is adding more funds to help keep the program alive, check out this article from The Politico.

The Devil’s Advocate as a Godsend

June 29, 2009

i-want-you-speak-up-copyIn the workplace, there are a lot of tough decisions that get made every day.  Any project has turning points, any idea meets resistance, and any announcement will be taken differently by different people.  But some of the tougher decisions are made at the personal level, and they can affect the entire company.

One such decision is what I call the naysayer’s paradox.

Here is where this decision comes from: You are part of a team at work that is developing a new product or service, or even just a new strategy.  The boss is clearly looking to you for wisdom and insight, but wants to get this project moving forward sooner rather than later.  So an idea is developed and gets approved, but you are not a big fan of it.  Either you see some fundamental flaw that others have ignored or you think doing it a little differently could work better.  You know your boss just wants you to get behind the idea and push it along, but you feel the need to voice your “negative” opinion.  What do you do?

It’s a very difficult position to be in.  On the one hand, keeping quiet and getting the job done will put you in better standing with the team, with your boss, and with the company.  And though it may not be the best decision for the project, it might lead to higher morale, and maybe more money for you.

On the other hand, speaking up and playing the devil’s advocate might lead to a better product or service.  It might spark more discussion, iron out some of the flaws, or make the team more efficient.  But at the same time, it might not put you in the best position with the boss or the rest of the team.

In many ways, you may get rewarded for keeping your mouth shut, even though it means the project does not go as well as it could have.  This is an uncomfortable situation to be in.

But those people that do speak up are doing their company a service.
Though the short term affect may be negative, the long term impacts that getting the project done right will have far outweigh anything else.  Company’s benefit from opinionated employees who are looking out for the interest of the company as a whole instead of only their own career, even if the “bosses” can’t see that.

There is always a time to keep your mouth shut, but innovation happens when you open it.

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Heritage of Innovation Podcasts

June 25, 2009

HP-LogoThis morning, I was informed of a series of Podcasts entitled “The Heritage of Innovation“.  The podcasts will feature interviews with employees of Hewlett Packard discussing various innovations and creations from over the years.

The first in the series is an interview with Dave Cochran, the product manager of the groundbreaking HP-35 calculator.  This was the first calculator that could perform all the functions of a slide rule, and it could fit in a pocket – an achievement that was incomprehensible at its time. Dave shares a lot of experiences and anecdotes about his work with Bill Hewlett and David Packard, along with stories about other team members including Steve Wozniak.

Take a moment to check them out here.