Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

The Rise of DiggNation

Yesterday evening after I got a call from Jeremiah, we decided to head over to the DIGG party in San Francisco, which was held to launch a new series of lifestyle online video shows. The event was quite successful, had over 300 signed up and most of them seemed to have showed up. Quite an interesting bunch of people, who all had the common objective of having a good time — and a good time they had.

I had a chance to meet web2.0 party-goers Thomas Hawk (featured in ScobleShow’s 1st Episode), Gabe Rivera (TechMeme), Daniela Barbosa (Factiva), Jeremy Pepper (the PR2.0 guy),  Kevin Burton (TailRank) and James Gross (Federated Media). But I digress, the event was to launch Digg’s new series of lifestyle online video shows. Kind of like MTV meets MySpace, although they apparently thought not.

Here’s a 4-part Evolution of Digg:

1. Digg Launch:
It all started off, with the launch of Digg in November 2004 by Kevin Rose, Owen Byrne, Ron Gorodetzky, and Jay Adelson (who serves as CEO), all of whom currently play an active role in the management of the site:

Digg is a news website with an emphasis on technology and science articles. It combines social bookmarking, blogging, and syndication with a form of non-hierarchical, democratic editorial control. News stories and websites are submitted by users, and then promoted to the front page through a user-based ranking system.

2. The Rise of Digg:
As of July 2006, there were over 400,000 registered Digg users. This represented substantial growth from one year earlier, when in July 2005 membership had just reached 17,000. The popularity and success of Digg culminated in Kevin Rose, making it to the cover of Business Week recently.

3. Diggnation Podcast:
Digg parlays the immense success of Digg to start a podcast series Diggnation podcast featuring Kevin Rose, and Alex Albrecht.

For lack of a better analogy, Diggnation resembles a geek-star version of Wayne’s World. The internet podcast show garners a sizable web fan following among the hipper, early-adopter, tech obsessed youth demographic. Well, here is why their audiences digg it so much.

4. Revving Success:
The success of Diggnation has now led to the launch of a series of videocasts around a common brand called Rev3. Check out Jeremiah’s post, which gives an in-depth overview of the nitty-gritties of the new web channel.

Smart move by the founders of Digg; I must add. If the party is any indicator, then the launch of Rev3 makes a lot of sense. As Daniela rightly pointed out; TV killed the radio and the web may just end up killing TV. Thomas has an awesome take on the future of TV.

What may the future hold?
I believe that television is slowly-but-surely morphing into web based TV and the lines between the two are already blurring. Imagine the immediate future populated with two kinds of conversion products:

1. TV to PC: Example — SlingBox
2. PC to TV: Example — iTv

The long-term future will definitely see the necessity for a central repository/database for ALL multi-media content that you enjoy and that entertain you most: Music, Movies, Pictures, Ads, Videos, Web, DVD, HD-DVD and that device will probably be some sort of storage device (like your hard-drive). All that’s remaining in the puzzle is one large monitor, a 82-inch flat screen TV — your central source for all of the following:

1. normal TV (standard & cable)
2. internet based shows (downloaded to your 1Tb hard-drive:)
3. browser based shows (maybe the browser will dissapear)
4. user-created content: pictures, your music, dvd, etc…

And when that happens the success of internet based TV shows like the ScobleShow, Diggnation is more than guaranteed.

Have a great rest-of-the-week!

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Scoby-Doo & Gang

Quick Update: Post-mortem of ScobleShow by Scoble. As I’d mentioned in this post, he agrees that RSS feeds was one of the things that needed to be corrected and has remedied that situation (RSS feed – Scoble Show).

He also solicits inputs for tech luminaries who could be interviewed on his show. I think Guy Kawasaki would be the ultimate choice from a marketing/Bay Area perspective.

I’ve been looking forward to the imminent release of Scoble’s new show – The ScobleShow, ever since Jeremiah mentioned it and voila — here it is.

I know the challenges inherent in creating a podcast, and more so for a vlog, so I’m just going to stick with the basics and highlight the good. Here’s my take:

i) The Good: Production Quality, broken down into parts, the interview w/ Thomas Hawk.

ii) The Not-So-Good: too long, more editing, hidden RSS feeds?, confusing homepage navigation, lack of a production schedule is a tad confusing,

iii) What iLike to see: OK, here’s what I’d love to see more, since I’m a marketing fanatic, I’d love to see interviews w/ marketing pioneers like Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin. Maybe have a recurring piece on the new-wave of tech marketers/bloggers like Tara, Jeremiah, Damon, Eric, etc… Wouldn’t that be cool?

Imagine Guy, Scoble, and Godin discuss the evolution of tech marketing.

Enough said, here’s Scoble’s intro to the show. I love the fact that he’s eager to get feedback and make it even better. Way to go, Scoble! Can’t wait to follow the show’s evolution.

Check out the trailer below and as marketers what do YOU think of the show?

(Source:;, Trailor Editors:Ryanne and Jay)

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In search of Tecca

Tech+Mecca = Tecca (get it?). Hehe.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, but I’ve a fascination for everything Silicon Valley. I’m enamored of its technological history, the luminaries who continue to make history from within its confines and the “geeks 2.0” who populate the landscape, attempting to re-write history. I still can’t forget the day when I moved to San Jose after graduation, filled in wonder at a bevy of Fortune 500 high-tech companies that call Silicon Valley, home.

Many have attempted to decipher the secret of the Silicon Valley. But, what is the spirit of the Silicon Valley? The answer may come to us in the form of a new DVD-movie called “In Search of the Valley” that chronicles the personal journey/pilgrimage of three friends into the psyche of Silicon Valley through a series of interviews with the geek-gods themselves (via Richard MacManus’ blog – Read/WriteWeb). Check out trailer below.

Cast: Apple’s Steve Wozniak, Adobe’s John Warnock, and Craig Newmark of The film also features Apple alumni Guy Kawasaki, Sandy Miranda, Andy Hertzfeld, Dan Kottke, and the late Jef Raskin, as well as the computer pioneer Lee Felsenstein, Tim O’Reilly and Marc Canter.

Trailer: In Search of the Valley (Purchase movie here)

From Real to Reel
The above movie reminds me of another made-for-dvd/tv-movie that I saw recently : “Pirates of the Silicon Valley” (1999). An unauthorized docudrama that draws the contours of the Steve Jobs/Bill Gates battle for tech supremacy in the heady days of the Macintosh. Starring Noah Wyle (of ER fame) who bears an uncanny resemblance to the young Steve Jobs, the movie is told through the eyes of their lieutenants Steve Ballmer and Steve Wozniak and is surely worth renting.

Trailer: Pirates of the Silicon Valley (Rent movie here)

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“Podcast” Naming Debate – Part Deux

What’s up with the podcast name debate. It keeps raging on, in different forms… If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed my coverage of a similar debate a few months ago that was initiated by Mark Ramsey’s comments. Here’s a snapshot of what transpired then:

Step 1: Mark Ramsey (of Hear2.0) contends that podcasting is bad naming because of 3 reasons — (i) low recognition of the term, (ii) very low usage, (iii) ambigous usage of the term

Step 2: Seth Godin disagrees w/ Mark since he believes podcasting is brave and imaginative and ergo a great name

Step 3: I disagree w/ Seth since I believe being accurate and imaginative is the hallmark of a great brand name and since the term “podcasting” is misleading, it fails on that count.

And, now here’s the sequel:

Step 4: Apple orders Podcast Ready to cease and desist from using the terms “Podcast Ready” and “myPodder” since they infringe on Apple’s trademarks, and that they cause confusion among consumers. (Remember the web 2.0 furore)

Step 5: Leo Laporte from stirs the pot further with cries of “Can’t we come up with a better word for what we do?”, further echoing Mark’s sentiments from the debate – Part Uno. His name suggestion: Net Cast

Step 6: Scoble wonders if will be next in line, and starts taking in suggestions for a podcast name change. Reader suggestions range from audcast to vidcast to my favorite, iCast.

Step 7: Jason Calacanis summarizes web user sentiments in his own inimitable style.

My Take: According to Webster’s New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Podcasting is

the Web-based broadcast of music which works with software that automatically detects new files and is accessed by subscription

Things have gotten a bit more blurry, now that the newer iPods have video too. I believe, vlogs will probably become the dominant mode of web broadcasts in the future. So, yes, I don’t think changing the term “podcasting” is feasible — for numerous reasons (in spite of it’s ambiguity it has brand recognition), but this is just an intermediary step before we move onto bigger & better modes of streaming multimedia.

The future will see audio & video being streamed across in much the same way as television functions today. The ascendancy of tv over radio will be mirrored on the web as well (think YouTube times ZeFrank). So why don’t we set our sights higher at defining what will be the future of web broadcasts – video AND audio.

How about TVcasting — the Web-based broadcast of music, movies and tv which works with software that automatically detects new files and is accessed by subscription.

Or does Apple’s yet-to-be-released iTv prevent us all from using the term TV as well!?

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// event to savor

Well, I always thought that my blogger friends are divided into 2 categories the EC & WC bloggers…you know like the east coast and west coast hip-hop artists! Just kidding…

And I have always wondered what’d happen when “the twain did meet”. Last week, our friends from the Bay Area — Jeremiah Owyang and Robert Scoble, travelled to Chicago for the Ragan PR conference and hung out with very our own marketing bloggers David Armano and Chris Thilk.

What’s better; they actually thought very highly of each other. Here’s Scoble:

Well, tonight I met a bunch of great people, including David Armano who has the very fine Logic+Emotion blog (it was featured in Business Week this week). Now, I’m far more likely to remember David because he made a deep impression on me when meeting face-to-face (he looks a lot like Vic Gundotra, actually) and now that I’m reading his blog I see that it’s an awesome look at design, among other things. Subscribed.

Maybe we should have an Annual Marketing Bloggers Convention. That would give us all a chance to meet each other. Also, Congratulations to David for making it onto Business Week. He shares the stage with Jim Carrol, TED Blog, and the Innovation Tools Blog as one of Four Sources for Trends & Ideas. Way to go, David!

// party at Yahoo! HQ

While on the topic of events, It looks like the whole of the bay area will be at next week’s event at Yahoo! HQ. So if you haven’t RSVP’d yet, go to the link above and confirm.

Why are we having the party?

It’s apparently an excuse to party but the “real” reason is that has made it 3 years running and that’s good enough of a reason to party for us. So if you’re from the Bay Area. Be there. RSVP.

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It’s Podcastic!

A lot has been happening in the world of vlogging and podcasts and I haven’t been talking about them as much as I want to. One of the most interesting articles I read recently on podcasting was by Gregory Galant, CEO of Radio Tail (blog), where he attempts to debunk 5 myths that plague our understanding of podcasts.

Here’s my take. Those where I believe the myth is true are marked “True“; else marked “False“. Simple!

Myth #1: There’s a huge incentive to fast forward ads (True)

RadioTail being the podcasting advertiser they are, the first myth Greg attempts to debunk, is essentially behind the very nature of podcast advertising. Would listeners skip ads? Gregory makes a valid point that it’s inconvenient to skipping ads on a podcast since unlike TiVo, podcasting is not about using a remote control, rather it is about an ad/podcast running in the background while you carry out other primary activities — like jogging or working out.

Myth #2: You can’t know the profile of a podcast’s listeners or viewers (False)

I think marketers have a valid point when they feel they don’t have the control and flexibility to run research on podcast usage. To an extent, it’s true. Market Researchers DO NOT have the depth of data that they normally require to slice-and-dice information as they normally do. The only stats you can glean from your RSS feed are (i) subscription numbers & (ii) download numbers. Let us not forget that one of the biggest benefits for users is the anonymity that RSS/podcasting provides and they aren’t going to give it up anytime soon by providing you more info.

However, let’s look at this from another strategic point-of-view. Direct Marketing/Email Marketing is about SELLING, while RSS Marketing/Podcasting is about EVANGELIZING. You start a blog/podcast to basically share your knowledge, which may or may not translate to a sale, but the fact is your target audience will TRUST you more and that may lead them to ENGAGE in a conversation rather than with your competitors. So when they have questions about a product/service, whom do they turn to? The product experts a.k.a the podcasters, a.k.a YOU.

And, that alone is reason enough for marketers to engage in podcasting.

Myth #3: There are an abundance of phantom downloaders inflating statistics

I’m not sure about this one, but as I said in my previous point — It is possible to check how many RSS subscribers actually download and listen to your podcast, so there ought to be no concerns about inflated stats when it comes to actual listenership. I’m with Greg on this one.

Myth #4: Creating an effective podcast is cheap and easy (False)

Of course creating a podcast is easy. But I guess the point Greg makes here, is how effective will that be. I’m of two minds here. One of the basic benefits of podcasting is that it empowers the common man to start pontificating on his favorite topics and if he’s as good as these (Top 25 Podcasts by hits) the show’ll definitely be a hit. I don’t think the equipment impacts the content quality of a podcast and so I’d have to differ with Greg on this one too. Creating an effective podcast IS easy AND cheap.

Myth #5: You need to do distribution deals for a podcast (True)

Greg’s right; there are no distribution deals for podcasts – yet. All you need is simple content creation tools and the delivery mechanism for all to use is RSS. So jump into the studio and start creating your own podcasts.

Feel free to differ with me or with Greg by posting your comments down below. You can also check out the entire iMedia article here.

If you want to know more about podcasting in general, check out my earlier posts here, here and here. Most importantly, Podcasting 101.

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Take 5: More Videos

You’ve got to forgive me, readers, I’m on an uncontrollable video viewing spree and to give YouTube’s competitors some blog-time as well, I browsed the archives of Google Video, AOL Video to unearth a few Marketing and Tech pearls of wisdom for your viewing pleasure. But these are extremely long and educative, so they are probably a weekend task.

#1: The Macintosh Marketing Story

For all Mac Lovers and marketing geeks, here’s the Macintosh Marketing story told through the eyes of the Mac team, via a panel discussion at the Computer History Museum. It’s a tad long (2 hours!), but if you love technology and marketing, it may be totally worth your while.

Will you watch it if I tell you it has Mike Murray, Andy Hertzfeld, Joanna Hoffman, Mike Boich, Guy Kawasaki and other Mac luminaries in it?

#2: Listen to Godin

Two speeches given by Seth Godin in recent times, one at Google and the other at the Gel Conference

The speech at Google and the Gel Conference video

#3: Microsoft hires Ricky Gervais?

Two faux training videos for Microsoft UK employees featuring Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in their roles from the BBC version of The Office

Part 1 and Part 2

#4: Jeremiah rocks

Here’s a video synopsis on the latest incarnation of Lunch 2.0, organized by my good friend Jeremiah at Hitachi Data Systems.

#5: Guy talk

The first video is an assortment of Guy Kawasaki speeches (Stanford to Ernst & Young) and the second video is his recent speech at TieCon on “the Art of the Start”, which Guy himself calls one of his best.

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Top 10 YouTube Videos

What you’re going to find below is a mix of some of the most popular YouTube (YT) videos (user created) as well as regular TV clips hosted on YT that have entertained us over the past few months enumerated in order of my preference. However be warned some of the videos are addictive & LONG so you may want to check it out after work.

Here goes:

Comedy (4 clips)

#10: “The Office” Bloopers (07:42)

#9: Crossfire with Jon Stewart (14:13)

#8: Colbert analyzes Wikipedia (04:14)

#7: What we are (03:53)

Tech & Marketing (3 clips)

#6: Through the years with Microsoft (09:15)

#5: Microsoft redesigns the iPod packaging (02:55)

#4: Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford (14:33)

Viral Success (3 clips – user generated)

#3: The Lonely Girl Reality Show (series of clips)

Originally thought to be real, lonelygirl15, achieved massive popularity with her fictional vlog on YouTube. But soon viewers began to question the reality of the videos, and the character was soon exposed as ficticious, being played by New Zealand actress Jessica Rose. (Source: Wikipedia)

#2: The OK Go Music Video (03:04)

On July 31, 2006 the band released a video in a similar vein for “Here It Goes Again” featuring an elaborately choreographed dance on treadmills. The video was viewed by over 1 million people on the media site YouTube in the first 6 days. As of September 5, 2006, the single has reached #11 and the album #2 on the iTunes Music Store. (Source: Wikipedia)

#1: The Mentos-Diet Coke Experiment (02:57)

What happens when you combine 200 liters of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos mints? The first part of this video demonstrates a simple geyser, and the second part shows just how extreme it can get. Over one hundred jets of soda fly into the air in less than three minutes. 6 million downloads. (Source: EepyBird)

As you can see from the above three examples user-generated content has crossed-over into the three key areas of reality tv, music and advertising. As opposed to trying to force-feed your target audience a broad swathe of useless ads, we are seeing a shift towards the consumer pulling content when he/she’s interested.

YouTube together with TiVo helps facilitate that transformation and signals the end of an era and the start of truly On-Demand TV. Or, is Mark Cuban right when he asks, is it just Napster 2.0?

Do you have a favorite YouTube video?

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What is a Web 2.0 Brand?

From among the thousands of information technology companies how do you identify the great brands. This is a question that obviously bedevils all of us marketers, including Michael Krauss, veteran strategic matter, whose column “Tech Matters” appears in the Chicago Sun Times.

In his latest article in Marketing News – AMA’s monthly magazine, Michael contemplates the very definition of a great brand. What makes a brand great? He then identifies great brands by putting them through the Primal Code – a set of 7 criteria, put forth by Patrick Hanlon (check out his blog here) in his recent book.

All belief systems have seven pieces of code that work together to make them believable — the creation story, the creed, the icons, the rituals, the pagans, the sacred words, and the leader.

I thought it’d be enlightening for us to evaluate a sampling of Web 2.0 companies to figure out which of these companies have the attributes of a great brand based on the Primal Code.

Recently, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, shared his list of web 2.0 winners (recent web 2.0 startups, all of whom have been acquired) and I thought it may be a good idea to validate the Primal Code by comparing the most prominent among them:

1. MySpace
The creation story: two students Tom Anderson & Chris DeWolfe start MySpace in 2003, The creed: “a place for friends“, The icons: old logo, the rituals, the pagans: music industry, and the leader: MySpace Tom

2. YouTube
The creation story: YouTube, Inc. was founded by early employees of PayPal, The creed: “Broadcast yourself“, The icons, The rituals: none, The pagans: music & movie industry (however this just in — Warner to license music in YouTube videos!, The sacred words: none, and the leader: no singular presence

3. Flickr
The creation story: Flickr was founded by husband-wife team Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield, The creed: “the best way to store, search, sort and share photos“, The icons, The rituals: online community tools that enable photo-tagging, The pagans: traditional photo sites, The sacred words: none, and the leader: no singular presence

Will MySpace & YouTube join the elite club of recent technology brands — Yahoo! and Google, both sharing similar creation stories?

What in your opinion is the quintessential primal brand? Feel free to comment.

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Into the Hundreds…

I’m glad to be writing Marketing Nirvana’s 100th Blog Post, as we move into the fifth month since inception. I’m also super-excited about the blog retaining its position within Viral Garden’s Top 25 Marketing Blogs. Woohoo!

On a different note, here are a couple of articles that caught my eye over the past few days:

1. Success 2.0

Jeremiah brought together around 200 technophobes for the latest installment of Lunch 2.0. Way to go, buddy! Too bad I couldn’t make it but I was more than present as I read so many different blogs chronicle the event’s spectacular success.

Here are a few snippets and here are a few pics.

2. The evolution of media

I know that our friend, Mack Collier, will definitely agree with Scott Karp on the evolution of media into marketing services. Scott even brings up the Fiskateers campaign (which Mack has blogged about earlier) as an example of the future of advertising.

In Summary:

“While the business of traditional paid media advertising placements is headed into a death spire, there is a very bright future for marketing services”

3 Kinds of Marketing Services.

A. Help companies create compelling content that will be a destination unto itself.
B. Help companies create value for prospective consumers once they actually land on the company’s site.
C. Help companies understand the communities (the group of people formerly known as “the audience”) they want to connect with for viral marketing.

For a more complete picture, check out Scott’s entire forecast and his proof.

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