Facebook podcast

I have come across some podcasts at iTunes U.  Look up the Oxford Internet Institute and under that a podcast with Bernie Hogan (Sociologist and Social Network Analyst) on “Facebook: The Strength of Weak Ties”.  It looks at and perhaps offers a different view of Facebook and the relationships we have there vs our other relationships.

Facebook is #1 in UK and Canada, MySpace is #1 in US, Orkut is #1 in Brazil and India.

He looks at what happens when people do not participate in FB (for example, within a family) who miss certain interactions because they are not engaged. He talks about how some people equate being online = not being social while others feel the are being social on the internet.

Issues of equality, context, and information overload are also addressed.  Enjoy!  Sharon

October 16, 2009   2 Comments

Wharton Africa Business Forum

This is an annual forum I came across, field trip anyone?


It has some interesting topics and is very pro-Africa as a place to invest.  Thoughts?


September 28, 2009   2 Comments

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone  is a second-language learning software which pairs a combination of images, text, and sound with new language vocabulary. This removes the ‘translation’ step and allows the learner to attach the new language to real objects rather than their native language words.  This approach more closely mimics how people learn their first language as children. The projected total revenue of $245.0 to $248.0 million of 2009 includes their recent (April 15, 2009) IPO on the NYSE under the symbol RST. (from www.RosettaStone.com)

Face 1 – Market Focus

Rosetta Stone claims to be “a leading provider of technology-based language learning solutions”. A large portion of their sales is to retail outlets for consumer training but they offer online versions and various bundling options for schools and corporations.

Face 2 –  Types of Offerings

Rosetta Stone offers pre-packaged content for second language learners starting with beginner levels up to common conversational.

Face 3 – Who is the Buyer?

Retail buyers are purchasing the products directly for their own use.  Schools and corporations purchase licenses for their students or employees.

Face 4 – Global Markets

Rosetta Stone’s products are sold in 150 countries, teaching over 30 languages.  It has an international focus and fills wired Anglophone countries, European countries with English language skills, European countries requiring translation, and Asian countries with quality internet.

Face 5 – Development of the Market

In the case of Rosetta Stone the “Market Supports Export Oriented Learning Technologies and Substitution of Imports” is the most representative.  Other companies can (and do) make language-learning software but Rosetta Stone is a leader in many markets.

Face 6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

As a prepackaged product, Rosetta Stone products are often a substitute for other forms of learning. In a school or corporate setting the technology may be used to support other systems of learning.

September 23, 2009   7 Comments

Law Blog

I found this blog interesting and locally based.



September 20, 2009   1 Comment

Article on Personal Ventures

This article has some practical views on starting a venture.  It’s focus is more on personal entrepreneurship.



September 18, 2009   1 Comment


Michelle Lamberson does not have a job I envy.  Balancing the needs and budgets of her office with the needs of UBC students, faculty and departments is a recipe for the adage. “you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.  There is no way to please everyone.

She is intelligent and obviously possesses the skills to balance all of the demands placed upon her and her office.  She gives the impression that she takes in multiple viewpoints and considers them all.  If I had any critique to offer, I would suggest she be more aware of her eye movement during the interview.  While very often intelligent people look away to form a thought it can be misinterpreted as evasiveness.  She is fully versed in her subject and would project this more clearly if she held her gaze more directly.  This small nuance falls into the credibility category.

In a short interview, deeply considered projects can appear to have been quick and easy judgments.  The decision to offer blogs and wikis to all students is almost presented as an experiment.  The endpoint or definition of success is unclear yet, I am not sure in this case it can be clear.  Decision-making within this paradigm is most challenging. An institution like UBC must be willing to try a few ‘experiments’ after intelligent consideration.

As for the question – would I invest in this enterprise? – I believe my tuition bill speaks for itself.

September 15, 2009   5 Comments

Recombo 2005

Brad McFee tries to make a compelling case for his company.  They seem to have gone through early growing pains about how to position themselves as a product or service company. He talks about a year of transition.  They seem to have a product which up until recently was not being purchased “off the rack” but is now being better represented to customers.  I would like to see more discussion of this boxed product and what they think it’s potential is as it stands, without customization.  It sounds as if Mind Leaders got a customized product. How much in sales have been attributed to their boxed software?

Mr. McFee proudly discusses their new, large partner – Lighthouse Publishing.  He seems very optimistic that they will share their 700+ customer base with them.  He is perhaps a bit too optimistic.  Will Lighthouse risk losing a customer of their own for a small incentive?  I worry that he underestimates the corporate change the doubling of a small workforce can bring.  An expansion from 12 to 22 in a few weeks is extremely rapid and it will not be seamless.  As the number of staff doubles there will be a friendly period where everyone sizes each other up followed by internal re-positioning struggle as old and new employees ‘stake their claim’ to areas of the business they deem important.  Hopefully, their HR department is adept at interviewing for ‘fit’ as well as qualifications.

Innovation in b2b programming is fleeting.  Unless Recombo can get a boxed product out which fits a needed business solution they will be customizing to prove the product works but not really producing a product that has a high enough sales potential.  Very quickly someone else can (and will) customize a single solution for each of the larger customers leaving the market shallow.  India and China are producing a generation of very savvy programmers who will be cutting into Recombo’s market with one off, customized solutions for less.

If  Recombo could show me a large customer base to sell boxed software into and could show me it would need little or no customization then I might consider investing.  I would have to make sure my exit strategy matched theirs or there may be issues about when to sell the company.

September 15, 2009   3 Comments