Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

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

Wanna get Xinged or LinkedIn?!

Quick update: Carsten, thanks for your comments.

I tried once again to post a comment on Search Engine Journal and it gave me the same error:

Sorry, but your comment has been flagged by the spam filter running on this blog: this might be an error, in which case all apologies. Your comment will be presented to the blog admin who will be able to restore it immediately.
You may want to contact the blog admin via e-mail to notify him.

Let me know if I need to register at your site and if so feel free to send me the link. I look forward to continuing the conversation. Now, back to my original post…

As web 2.0 heats up, you see a lot of start ups from across the globe creating business networking sites. One such company is, which has been getting some recent press owing to its similarity to, one of my favorite web 2.0/business networking sites (access my LinkedIn profile link in the “About” box to your right). I recently read a well-crafted essay by Carsten Cumbrowski over at Search Engine Journal comparing Xing and

Given below are a few snippets from Carsten’s post and my observations:

1. Free Service:

Both offer free accounts where I have to say that Xing offers a lot more than LinkedIn – Carsten Cumbrowski

I guess user satisfaction stems from what you’d like to accomplish with the service. Personally, for over 2.5 years, I’ve benefited from the free LinkedIn service in the three areas of jobs, business development and networking. LinkedIn has helped me generate & qualify valuable leads towards the completion of business deals. I recently tried, but was turned off by the fact that I couldn’t view any member profile without becoming a premium member.

2. Paid Service (Apples vs. Oranges?)

I paid my LinkedIn Business Account for one year in advance, paying $199.50. I just purchased my annual premium membership at Xing for 71.40 EUR which included a 13th month for free and less than half than the LinkedIn Business Membership and more than 20 times less than a Pro Membership would have cost me – Carsten Cumbrowski

In my opinion, the primary value-add in services of this nature is accessibility to an extensive, well-qualified network. So, the larger the network is, the more value ought to be attached to accessing it.

So, while its ~$95.00 USD at Xing vs. $199.00 USD at LinkedIn for premium access, with LinkedIn, you can probably access over 5 times the the number of business users (1.45 million members at Xing vs. 8 million members at Of course, with LinkedIn you can also choose to pay more, for greater access, with two other membership categories — Business & Pro.

Another important issue to consider is Xing’s German centricity as evinced by user comments on TechCrunch & /Message.

It definitely will be interesting to watch further developments from social networking sites as they evolve. What do you guys think of business networking sites? How has your experience with them been?

Once again, thanks to Carsten for a thought-provoking post. He’s also mentioned that he’d be posting Part II of his analysis shortly. I look forward to a continued blog conversation.

Also, Carsten, despite 3 attempts to post a comment on your blog, the system kept kicking me out (Both IE & Firefox). I guess it thought I was spam! 😦

Just a heads-up. I’m not sure if other readers faced a similar problem?

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Questions… More Questions…

Just some random questions around our community and marketing. Feel free to post your answers…

1. What’s up with Dead 2.0?

Is Dead 2.0 really dead? For those of you following silicon valley blogs, you may recognize dead 2.0 as the eternal skeptic, posting about all things web 2.0, bubble and otherwise. However, ever since Nic Cubrilovic outed the anonymity of Dead 2.0, the site has gone down with a tentative “we’ll be back” sign.

Given the fact that the blog provided some juicy gossip mixed with some hard hitting analysis, too bad that investigative journalism got in the way of my daily cuppa tech valley gossip!

2. What does Mack think of Jason’s new Alexa test?

I know that Mack Collier, swears by the Alexa ranking for Viral Garden’s Top 25 Marketing Blogs. I’ve had that discussion w/ Mack myself and understand his position when it comes to why he considers Alexa more reliable.

However, Jason Calacanis has thrown a spoke in the wheels of Alexa’s credibility by proving that it’s possible to game the Alexa ranking with just 3 computers. What do you think, Mack? Still an Alexa fan?

3. Am I an Insular Blogger?

Do you sometimes “post content to your blog never linking to or talking about other bloggers, blogs or websites”. Oops…

Sometimes in the past, I may have neglected a more active participation (via comments) in fellow bloggers blogs. Here’s an interesting year-end conversation on David’s blog.

4. Can you create the SuperBowl ad of the year?

The Super Bowl. The Holy Grail for American advertising has been bitten by the social media bug. Blame it on YouTube. The NFL is one of three other corporate conglomerates asking users to create commercials that (if selected) will air during the game.

Here’s more in-depth commentary by Donna Bogatin at Zdnet Blogs.

News Update:

1. Mplanet starts tomorrow with blogger coverage provided by our very good friends, Ann Handley and Eric Kintz. Here are other marketing bloggers covering the event: Linda, CoolZor, Rootly, Robert Kingston, Kim Klaver.

Are there any other marketing bloggers attending?

2. My good friend, Jeremiah, started his stint at Podtech as Director of Media Strategy shifting gears from Fortune 500 mode to startup mode.

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Is MySpace the next WalMart? AMA thinks so…

I know. The post title is misleading. But, now that I’ve got your attention: In a recent survey commissioned by the American Marketing Association (AMA), it is suggested that visitors to social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, etc… would be interested in purchasing products recommended by friends directly on these sites. Here are the stats:

* 47% would visit these sites to search out and discuss holiday gift ideas
* 29% would buy products there
* 51% would be willing to go to a social-networking site this holiday season to find out about store sales — or download coupons. (Source: USA Today & Mashable)

The goal is to create an online WalMart where you can buy products that your friend/s recommend/s – definitely the holy grail of shopping. Imagine strolling into WalMart and being directed to products that your friends have bought recently. AMA’s survey suggests sites like MySpace can leverage the vast pool of intelligence they’ve gathered around social communities and leverage that to sell stuff! (correct me if I’m wrong). In my opinion, it’s like selling Dominos Pizza at Thanksgiving Dinner or an Xbox at your next Christmas party!

I think the survey may actually work for service recommendations that a few social networking sites (such as LinkedIn and are already experimenting with., a recent entrant into the social networking space has done a stellar job of gathering a ton of reviews on services ranging from food to beauty and shopping — all built around user communities. But are we ready for product sales on Yelp? Would the community be fine with it? I know it seems inevitable, but it just doesn’t feel right to me. Here’s what Pete Cashmore from Mashable thinks on product sales:

But real world products create real world problems that these companies aren’t equipped to deal with, so they’d inevitably end up partnering. (Source: Mashable)

So, will MySpace become the next WalMart? I don’t think so… but a partnership with Amazon seems so enticing in this brave New World of online social marketing.

My question to you: “Would you buy a product/service because I recommend it?”

: I belong to the board of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA). The above survey was “done ahead of a discussion of social networking at an AMA forum on new media next week in Orlando called Mplanet 2006.”

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MPlanet Update

Well, not all plans work out perfectly!

It looks like I won’t be able to attend Mplanet after all. I’d like to thank Paul & Nicole at my agency for seriously considering the opportunity to attend.

Ann, Eric — I can’t wait to read, hear, and see your coverage of the event. Also, I think it’d be great to hear Toby’s comments (Diva Marketing) on Mplanet as well, because not only does she belong to the AMA but also runs a fantabulous blog! I hope Toby can make it to the event?

Let me take this opportunity to thank Rachelle Lacroix at Fleishman-Hillard who was extremely helpful and understanding. I’m trying to interview (via email) some of the panelists at Mplanet, the questions I would have asked them if I met them in person. I think that’d make a great Mplanet – iDea series?

Thanks also to Jim Lenskold, Allecia Vermillion (Res Publica Group), Christopher Martin (GBC), Corey Lewis (NewsGator), Cece Lee (ON24), Christian Sullivan (Cross Roads PR), and a bunch of other marketers for your gracious invites to parties. I’m sure our paths will cross sometime in the future.

It looks like Mplanet is going to be one heckuva marketing party! Happy Schmoozing!

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A great year for giving Thanks!

The past year has truly been a roller coaster in my life – both professional and personal. The one reason I was able to take the sweet with the sour was the support of family & friends who time and again stepped up during trying circumstances, thereby reminding me how important their contribution has been both in my success and happiness.

Here are some of the friends who have really made a difference in my life this past year:

* The community of bloggers who have helped me grow as a marketer, showing me new opportunities and better ways to work as a marketer:

Ann, CK, Mack, David, Eric, Paul, Damon and the entire community of marketing bloggers whose participation & blog conversations mean a lot to me.

* Most especially, my good friends: David, Jeremiah, Peggy, and John, for being the very definition of friendship, when I needed support and encouragement the most.

* Of course, this post would be incomplete without the mention of my Dad, Mom and Sis, who have always been there for me, helping me overcome the challenges in my life.

This truly is a day of Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving 2006!

Filed under: About Mario Sundar

Heard your inner “Marketing Voices”?

Well, I had a chance to chat with Jeremiah‘s future colleague and fellow “Podtech”nologist — Jennifer Jones, earlier today. For those of you, who haven’t heard, Jennifer runs Podtech’s Marketing Podcast Series titled “Marketing Voices“. It’s a unique blend of marketing speak with podcast interviews of a broad range of marketers (corporate and otherwise).

As a marketing blogger focused on corporate marketing, I’ve always felt that Jennifer’s podcast talks to marketing audiences in much the same way as Marketing Nirvana does. I’m sure that everyone who reads my blog will definitely enjoy the podcasts crafted by Jennifer and team.

My favorite marketing podcasts from Jennifer are her interviews with Steve Rubel, Debbie Weil, and James Druckrey (explaining Seagate’s Social Media Strategy).

Some of my suggestions to Jennifer were to:

1. Start a Blog
2. Transition to video blogging
3. Interview my favorite marketers. Here’s the first set (there are so many more…)

* Guy Kawasaki (Marketing/Evangelism)
* Seth Godin (Internet Marketing)
* Eric Kintz (Corporate Marketing)
* David Armano (Advertising)
* Ann Handley (Marketing Journalism)

Actually, this is a great segue to Ann’s last post on podcasting “Podcasting as Child’s Play“, which she ends with:

I guess my take-away from the West El podcast was that voice has the capacity to stir the soul and engage an audience to a far greater degree than even I realized. And if organizations can find a way to harness the power of the podcast (that makes sense, given their marketing goals), they should consider it.

Jennifer definitely makes Podcasting seem like Child’s Play. I eagerly await her entry into the marketing blogosphere and the community!

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If Elephants can dance, so can Yahoo!

The Yahoo! memo outage brought up a flurry of discussions within the blogosphere. I thought it may be interesting to address a few view blog posts on the topic:

John Furrier at Podtech says:

Personally I think that it’s a ‘dead man walking’ memo – he must be one step out the door to write that piece.It felt nothing like leadership or innovation to me.

To actually implement massive change is difficult for large companies.

Well, I’d agree that it is difficult to implement change in large companies, but it has been done before and the difference is in the kind of leader the company has. Yahoo! is not bigger than GE nor IBM, both of which effected a turnaround due to amazing leadership from Jack Welch and Lou Gerstner, respectively.

Asked about the challenges he faced in driving that kind of performance at GE, Welch noted that the early 1980s represented a stormy time for the company, in part because GE was buffeted by competition from Japanese companies.

Too many managers avoid making hard choices and hurt not only their companies but, in the long run, the employees whom they are trying to protect, he argued.

I don’t see any difference between the situation Welch was talking about and the predicament Yahoo! seems to be in now (just replace Japanese companies, with Google and web 2.0 companies) and I notice the immense similarity between what Brad writes today and what Welch said then:

Welch felt like a swine when the Wall Street Journal wrote a spate of front-page stories on the Kidder Peabody scandal. Amid the bad publicity, he and others at GE were called “crooks and jokes.” “Your career isn’t always linear,” he said. “But what matters is how well you get back on the horse.”

Somebody has been reading the Wharton archives!? 🙂

Here’s Zdnet’s Donna, questionning WSJ’s editorial policies:

How can its readers “discriminate” if the WSJ does not disclose how it came into possession of the Yahoo “document,” why Garlinghouse wrote it and who were its intended recipients?

Lisa Whelan at Vox questions if this will have an impact on Yahoo!’s social media acquisitions:

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the internal reaction to this memo does to Yahoo’s social media plans.

I believe it most definitely will. The companies they have acquired (Bix, Kenetworks) and are in the process of acquiring (MyBlogLog) just cost millions but what Brad’s memo underlines is the larger scale strategy that seems to be missing under these challenging times.

It’d be interesting to see if this blog chatter brings out a stronger response from Yahoo!’s CEO Terry Semel, the changes that everybody is waiting for, will Brad be the first change — because the way a large company conducts itself in challenging situations defines its brand image and its longevity.

Here’s my original post on the “Peanut Butter” memo

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Heads must roll at Yahoo! – Says who?

Blow up the Matrix.Catch the balls.Kill the redundancies.

And stop eating peanut butter

(Source: Yahoo!’s Peanut Butter Manifesto — No kiddin!)

Huh! I’m quoting verbatim from a Yahoo! wide internal memo leaked yesterday to WSJ yesterday that has the whole blogosphere abuzz. That it comes from Senior VP, Brad Garlinghouse, is all the more interesting. Thanks to Jeremiah for the heads-up.

Brad has just sent out a clarion call to all of Yahoo! with regards to important measures to turnaround the company and its lethargy. What Brad highlights is a certain level of chaos in the company and ends on a positive remedial note that sounds very much like the Jack Welch mantra.

Here are some of his assertions:

* We have an identity crisis (“Flickr vs. Yahoo! Photos, vs. Yahoo! myweb, Social media vs. 360 and Groups“)

* We’re spread too thin (thus the peanut butter analogy, I guess!)

* We’ re too fat (“We must reduce our headcount by 15-20%“)

* We don’t have good leaders (nah, just kidding! but I wonder what this means

–“leaders make decisions, the rest of the company supports those decisions, and the leaders ultimately live/die by the results of those decisions“. Hmm? Interesting?)

As much as I don’t see a difference between Google acquiring YouTube after having an internal product Google Videos, I think this memo was necessitated by the fact that there seems to be a certain uncertainty — a lack of an internal sense of direction, purpose and clarity within Yahoo!

From a marketing/PR perspective this is pure PR chaos. How did the memo leak and if so, how would you as a PR team respond? What about the confusion over whether they have indeed purchased MyBlogLog or not (another PR fiasco).

Shouldn’t these be blog posts on Yahoo! Anecdotal! 🙂 What do you think about covering such controversial topics on the corporate blog? Is that a good way to negate such negative buzz?

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Nothing to “Laughing Squid” about!

I couldn’t make it for the event, but seems like I missed a ton of fun. Here’s Jeremiah’s coverage of the party.

Jeremiah reminded me of this month’s “event-de-resistance” – Laughing Squid‘s HUGE 11th Anniversary party this weekend (Sat | 11/18/06) in San Francisco.

For those of you, wondering who/what is the Laughing Squid. Here’s a primer:

Laughing Squid, run by primary tentacle Scott Beale, focuses on art, culture and technology from San Francisco and beyond.

Scott is a phenomenal photographer (check pics here) and along with Thomas Hawk, add glitz and glamor to geek events, with their phenomenal photograpy. As a matter of fact, Scott will beam thousands of his pictures during the event.

Here’s a complete description of the event. Buy tickets here. It’s $8.00 until Sat morning.

Karl, this may be a great chance to meet?

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Are you a Shish-Kebab or Steak Blogger?

He he…Couldn’t resist quoting my friend Jeremiah…Thanks, buddy!

Jeremiah and I had a nice discussion earlier today about the different types of blogging and it was a great segue into my woes of not being able to find time to blog. Yes, I was struggling over the last two days to get my stuff in order since I spend an inordinate amount of time crafting each blog post. It took me over 3 hours to craft my Borat piece that’s now on the Daily Fix .

Jeremiah and I then got into discussing the styles of blogging, when he mentioned these great quotable quotes:

It’s a conversation, not a speech
It’s a coffee shop, not a podium
It’s Shish-Kebab, not Steak

So, let’s define Shish-Kebab bloggers as those who are capable of writing several pithy posts a day that grab your attention and incite debate, while Steak bloggers are those (who like me) write an essay a day and there is conversation but less of a debate.

Here’s a breakdown with examples:

Shish-Kebab bloggers


Karl Long

Read the rest of this entry »

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