Is this a name dropping post?

Check out this instructive video of Mike Maples, Jr. speaking at the Founder Institute. It is worth the time.

Mike Maples was a co-founder of Motive, where I spent 5 very productive years. Talk of “thunder lizards” is nothing new. His ability to communicate a technical vision is pretty amazing. Internally and externally, he can fire people up. I knew that when he left to head back to California that he would be one to watch. His track record for the last 5 years has been impressive: Digg, Twitter, Chegg, Spiceworks and a dozen others. Lately, Maples seems to be everywhere. From lean startup lectures at Cal to 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and here he is again below. Thanks Mike!

Mike Maples at the Founder Showcase from Adeo Ressi on Vimeo.

TechCrunch Mike Maples: “You Have to Be Willing to Throw it all away” [Video]

Amazon is introducing a new AWS service to extend to a virtual private cloud (VPC). Basically it offers the enterprise to extended an existing network via VPN to a logically isolated set of EC2 instances.

From my experience selling cloud-based services, this will play well with the enterprise. Security is critical for enterprises today, tomorrow and in the future. Cloud providers constantly have to get over the security hurdle — even AWS. VPC should be appealing to the enterprise since similar services are already established. Governments will also be interested.

Werner Vogel’s blog post: Seamlessly Extending the Data Center – Introducing Amazon Virtual Private Cloud

Coverage at TechCrunch: Amazon Eyes Big Enterprise Budgets With Virtual Private Cloud Service

So the big news from yesterday is Amazon buying Zappos. Cash and stock and all that. Congrats to two of my favorite online retailers. The financials are one thing and will be debated. I believe that this will be a great deal for both companies. Also, the notion that Zappos is fun and Amazon is not is irrelevant. The real question is: Why did a Zappos deal happen when a purchase of Netflix was rumored?

First, a deal with Netflix has been speculated for many years. The overlaps are obvious. I am sure the smart people at Amazon have investigated Netflix and determined if the addition would be a fit. To be sure, there were some synergies a few years ago. Netflix had a solid customer base and fulfillment. The advent of digital video and applications like Amazon Unbox and iTunes have shown that the digital video is for real. Netflix is nice, but likely not a growth segment. Today, Amazon would have interest in the fulfillment but knows the Netflix customer base is likely to get smaller not bigger. Plus the fulfillment model is great for envelopes not for packages.

Second, Zappos is strong where Amazon’s brand struggles. Sure Amazon is trying to compete with Endless.com, but have you shopped for shoes from Amazon? Most of the product is third-party and non-Prime. Being addicted to Prime, I really have to want a product to pay for shipping in addition to the Prime membership. Zappos does do apparel and sunglasses, but these products are not truly “core” Zappos. A shoe print is on the delivery box. I have been very happy with Zappos purchases and the return policy rocks. The customer experience is key to both Zappos and Amazon. Zappos gets the great customer experience like Amazon does. Is Netflix known for great customer experience?

Third, Zappos likely realized that if Amazon turned both barrels to better compete with them, they would likely lose in the long run. The venture, Sequoia and others, likely pointed this out in gentle soothing tones. Netflix has been feeling the heat of iTunes and Unbox and digital video. They have made attempts to be in that game, but it is really not their core. Living in Seattle, the public library provides a great alternative to Netflix and I enjoy a benefit of my tax dollars.

Fourth, based on my customer experience alone, I would bet that Zappos has an impressive fulfillment model that interested Amazon — more than the Kiva robots (See earlier post). Amazon’s core is retail. Online retail requires fulfillment. Amazon wins because they are always improving fulfillment, thus customer experience. More products on Prime, better experience.

    Questions:

  • Will Zappos offer Prime shipping?
  • Will Zappos UI improve? It could stand some improvement.
  • Will Amazon ever “surprise” me with free upgraded shipping?
  • Will those agencies that complained about Zappos (See earlier post) ever get any work from Amazon?

News Coverage of Amazon and Zappos:
TechCrunch: Amazon buys Zappos

TechFlash: Sequoia, Zappos and the secret to venture capital success

Thanks to Zappos for checking out the blog. You have pushed my readership to over two. Disclosure: The wife is employed by Amazon, but she does not read my blog.

Came across Bantam Live: The Ultimate Social, Real-Time CRM @ TechCrunch this morning and have been thinking on it all day. My take is that it offers watered down features of Gist with the workflow features of most CRM tools.

Is Social CRM important to the enterprise? Depends. If the customers are there, it is. Most enterprise customers are not there and likely will not be there ever. When I compare 90 second video of Bantam to a tool like Gist, it falls short. Gist offers a comprehensive, implicit way to track and monitor contacts and companies. This is important for Sales. All sales. Bantam falls into the enforcing rules and “sales accounting” dark side of CRM. User adoption does not occur in those scenarios. Be social all you want, but if Sales can avoid using you to fill the pipeline, sales will.

via TechCrunch: Why Chrome OS Now? Because Microsoft Office In The Cloud Comes Monday.

I have played around with the limited functionality of Office Live. It is good, not great, and about what I would expect from a beta. I had some formatting issues with some documents. Nothing major. Hopefully these quirks have been ironed out.

Supposedly, Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans will announce full Office in the Cloud on Monday. The enterprise/desktop application cloud space is getting interesting. Microsoft’s huge install base will be a tremendous advantage. Redmond needs to leverage that to the full. Yes, this development does make the Google OS interesting. If Microsoft leverages their huge install base well (i.e. Not pull another Vista), Google OS will likely not be much of a factor. Microsoft will have to spend some PR cycles on Google OS though. The word Monday puts the Mamas and Papas hit “Monday Monday” in to my head.

Monday Monday, so good to me,
Monday Monday, Office in the cloud was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn’t guarantee
That Monday evening you would have to still email that PowerPoint to me.

The Email Standards Project has started a proverbial avalanche for Microsoft via Twitter. Check TechCrunch: Microsoft, Outlook Is Broken, Says 6,000 Tweets (And Growing). Fix It.

Also check Microsoft to ignore web standards in Outlook 2010 – enough is enough at Email Standards Project.

To get in include the http://fixoutlook.org/ URL somewhere in your tweet.