Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Death of the Goodbye Email

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Since today was the last day of my school-year internship at DFJ Gotham Ventures, I performed all the typical last day tasks like cleaning out my desk and wrapping up open projects.  One thing I didn’t do, however, was send everyone my contact information.  Maybe I’m old school, but not sending it felt a little strange…

Wow, this was cheesy even by 2005 standards - what was I thinking?

Yet, when I thought about it, emailing around my info didn’t make much sense since I’m already connected with everyone through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  In fact, the “here’s how to reach me” email shown to the right from 2005 was outdated within a month of its sending because I had to change my mobile number for my new job (though I suppose that email address still works).  Nonetheless, it’s obvious that in the five years since this goodbye note, social media has radically transformed the way we interact with one another.

Sure, I was on Facebook then, but that was still 15 months before the company’s introduction of the news feed or status update.  Fast forward to today and I’ll stay abreast of what’s happening at DFJ on a day-by-day basis through the different platforms where we’re already connected.  When someone wants to contact me personally they’ll instinctively turn to places such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or maybe even this website (?!?!) – well, definitely the first two.

Online Advertising Is No Longer Experimental

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

I know this isn’t news to some people and is really boring to others, but I spent some time comparing the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s recently released 2009 full-year report (it came out just a few weeks ago) to its 2008 full-year report and found some confirmatory trends.  Maybe this isn’t “blog worthy” but I always find it reassuring when research data supports my gut-feeling.

Non-Internet advertising spend declined 17% while Internet-based mediums remained virtually flat (in $ million)

Anyway, it wasn’t surprising that in the wake of a significant economic crisis, firms cut back on their advertising expenditures from 2008 to 2009.  Not adjusting for inflation, this amounted to a 3.4% decrease year-over-year.  However, when I reorganized the IAB data by type of media, it was comforting to see how relatively insulated Internet-based advertising has been from the recession.  As shown in the graph to the left (this is all IAB data, but I’ve reformatted it), expenditures on Internet marketing remained nearly constant despite a huge 17% decline in non-Internet formats.

In other words, firms cut back their overall ad budgets, but didn’t touch the amount they spent on the Internet.  Furthermore, it’s not a big leap to infer that Internet advertising is a critical component of companies’ overall strategies, and when times are tough, other formats (e.g. radio, newspapers, magazines, out-of-home) are slashed to maintain spending on the Internet.

As a percentage of all advertising expenditures, Internet captured 2% more of the tota

This stability in Internet advertising despite the chaos in other sectors manifests itself in the Internet’s stealing of marketshare (see chart to the right).  From 2008 to 2009, the Internet captured an additional 2% of total advertising revenue, and most projections have this share growing further over the next several years.

Within overall Internet marketing, my former company, Conductor, has done some great research on how search engine optimization is becoming a pillar – and essential component – of the larger marketing ecosystem (and no, they don’t pay me to say that!).  Customers increasingly turn to sites like Google and Bing for information so organizing websites in a way that enables search engines to crawl and index data is becoming increasingly important.  Check out Conductor’s SEO Research Center which highlights specific trends within the S&P 500, and also how the need to measure (i.e. justify) expenditures is driving the Internet’s success.

Regardless, this recession has proven what many already thought: online advertising isn’t just an experiment any more, but rather a real marketing strategy that is here to stay.

Hot or Not?: Technology Entrepreneurship in New York City

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 8.40.36 PMAs I’ve mentioned previously, I’m in a great Venture Capital Seminar class, and below are some of the salient excerpts from my final paper. I wrote this piece because for the past six months, prominent players in the New York City technology community have loudly – and increasingly – asserted that NYC is “hot,” or “exploding,” or “insert any other dramatic adjective here.” The individuals making these claims are as smart as they are savvy, and are astutely aware of the value of increased attention on the blogosphere. Although provocative, these declarations have generally lacked hard evidence and usually have been inspired by biased anecdotes from a select few.

As a result, this paper initially set out to go beyond one-off observations by analyzing concrete macroeconomic data about technology entrepreneurship in NYC. As part of this process, I conducted 35 interviews with local investors, start-up founders, and government officials. It might be a long list of some of the who’s-who of New York, but it is unfortunately far from exhaustive. Additionally, macroeconomic data at the city-level is expensive and time-consuming for local governments to generate. Thus, the most recent information does not include the very robust entrepreneurial periods of 2009 and 2010.

These logistical issues, coupled with the confines of an academic environment (i.e. deadlines and page limits), prohibited me from painting the complete picture of what is happening in New York City as I originally intended. Instead, this is a start, and I look forward to further exploring this analysis and discussion for many years to come on this blog.

NYC History: Fur Traders to Rap Stars

New York City has always been this continent’s leader in commercial activity; after all, before New York was New York, it was New Amsterdam. New Amsterdam was among the first European settlements in the Americas and was founded exclusively for Dutch fur trading in 1613. By the end of the eighteenth century, entrepreneurial immigrants in America were in control of Lower Manhattan and built the New York Stock Exchange, established the country’s first commercial zoning laws, and figured out a way to effectively transport its growing population. This industrious group of early New Yorkers instilled an enviable work ethic as well as unwavering optimism throughout the “land of opportunity.”

By the twentieth century, media and publishing joined finance as some of the city’s largest and most influential sectors. This helped maintain optimism in New York and even inspired Frank Sinatra to famously sing “if I make there, I’ll make it anywhere.” This optimism continues today through rapper Jay-Z whose #1 single states NYC is “where dreams of made of, there’s nothing you can’t do in New York.”

New York is also home to immigrants from every nation of the world, and more languages are spoken here than anywhere else on the planet. As Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, once said to President Bill Clinton, “the U.N. isn’t just in New York City, New York City is the U.N.”

If the lifeblood of an innovative environment lies in that community’s optimism, eagerness to defy odds, and diversity, New Yorkers have entrepreneurship wired into their DNA. However, other variables such as (i) the amount of capital available for investment, (ii) the ability to attract and retain employees, and (iii) leadership in several subsectors to foster a community, are essential to turning ideas into thriving companies.

Early Dollars: Vibrancy of the Startup Investment Community

Angels and Seed Funds

In terms of investors, New York has a plethora of seed funds, micro venture capitalists, and wealthy individuals to financially help companies at the most embryonic stages. The Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit that studies the overall health of New York City, estimates that these angel investors and their associated funds have “$250-500 million available for investment” over the next decade. Assuming an average angel/seed investment of $250,000 (which is conservative), this current aggregate pool of capital will fund somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 companies in NYC. Of note is that most of these funds are small and tend to diversify risk by co-investing with other angels. This practice increases overall activity, and hopefully speeds the rate at which this pool is deployed.

However, getting funding is only part of a thriving technology startup community; entrepreneurs need advice and guidance as much as they need money. In this area, New York appears to only have a nascent, albeit growing, network of experienced early-stage investors. In the words of outspoken entrepreneur, Matt Mireless of SpeakerText, “good luck finding angels in NYC who understand early-stage tech investing. Technically, they’re out there somewhere… But I haven’t seen them.”

Mireless also scolds the tight knit nature of the angel community in New York because although it enables easy collaboration amongst investors, it also means entrepreneurs do not have as many chances to impress this group. Mireless says there is “no learning on the job; you better wow them right out of the gate” or they will talk to each other and the company will never get funding. Although many in the community would disagree with him (or at least say they’re over the top), the crux of Mireless’s thesis appears true. In short, the money is out there for young companies in New York City, but the community needs more seasoned very early-stage investment professionals and outlets for mentorship.

Traditional “Series A” Venture Capitalists

Once startups pass the initial funding hurdle and build a proof of concept, many will require more substantial capital from a VC. For businesses competing in sectors common to NYC (see the below section analyzing the leading technology areas in New York), these investment sizes tend to creep into the low seven digit range, and the active VC firms in NYC often form syndicates of two to three firms per deal. Unlike other hotbeds of entrepreneurship – such as Silicon Valley, Boston, or the Research Triangle – venture capitalists in New York are reasonably accessible. This accessibility means that even entrepreneurs with poor social networks – but exceptional products – can still get meetings with investors.

Conversely, many entrepreneurs complain there are not enough investors in NYC capable of writing “real” Series A checks. The evidence suggests they are probably right (see below), but many non-NYC based firms have slowly crept into the five boroughs to fill this investing gap. Some Boston VCs that are active in New York include Matrix Partners, Spark Capital, Polaris (through Dog Patch Labs), Softbank, and General Catalyst (far from a complete list). Silicon Valley investors are also increasing their time in New York with Battery Ventures being particularly active. Finally, other tri-state area firms such as Edison and Updata, both of New Jersey, have enriched the entrepreneurial community of New York by investing here for many years.

Despite this interest from firms based outside the Big Apple, it is difficult to determine what percentage of these non-NYC firms have earmarked assets for investments in New York. Confounding this ambiguity further are firms like Bessemer which are based locally but have offices around the globe. Consequently, to assess how much “pure” New York VC money exists, I assembled the following table:

Large VC Funds in NYC (last two vintages)

This is back-of-the-envelope; don’t forget to read this disclaimers to this data!

As mentioned in the caption, this data is simply a back-of-the-envelope analysis using public sources.  In fact, I previously worked/interned for two of these firms and back then loved laughing at how wrong outsiders could be when trying to draw conclusions from fuzzy private information.  I would never reveal confidential data, but I think this analysis – although likely extremely incorrect – provides some interesting insights.

With that said, this data comes from Capital IQ and details the two most recent funds for venture capital firms that meet the following three requirements: (1) the most recent fund exceeds $100 million, (2) the firm’s primary offices are in New York City, and (3) the firm has a bias to invest in NYC above other regions. In the far right column, I also attempted to estimate the capital that remains from the most recent fund (note: assumes half of the fund is reserved for follow-on investments, fees, etc. and the remainder is invested equally over five years. This equal allocation clearly happens infrequently in reality and five years is likely too long, but I tried to estimate variables that seemed consistent with trends in NYC).

As shown, all but one New York VC will need to raise a new fund in the next few years, and the aggregate estimated Series A capital available for investments in new startups is $197 million. Considering VCs have likely delayed deploying capital through the economic crisis, there is a respectable amount of dry powder remaining. Also, capital will increase further once fundraising returns to traditional levels. Interestingly, the data suggests the sum of NYC venture capital funding closely approximates the sum of angel/seed capital available (although this ignores entry by non-native firms as mentioned above and the creation of new vehicles such as AOL Ventures).

Scaling Headcount: Educational Support & Finding Talent

Perhaps even more difficult for startups than finding helpful investors is attracting and retaining talented employees. New York has the largest consolidated workforce in the country, yet, like any other city, has challenges matching candidates with companies that can fully leverage employees’ skills. Also, Silicon Valley has long been a draw for the best engineering talent because that is where the startups were. However, as Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures likes to half-joke, “nobody graduating in the top of his or her class from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, or Columbia actually wants to move into the California suburbs at age 22, buy a car, and commute every day to a nondescript office park. These kids would much rather enjoy the New York lifestyle of living in Williamsburg and hopping on the subway to code in an airy loft/office in SoHo.” As a result, the tide of this “westward migration” of technical talent is starting to turn due in large part to changing practices at New York’s schools as well as altered attitudes about the financial services sector.

Powerhouse Academic Institutions

In my chat with Mayor Bloomberg, he pressed that NYC’s universities have created “legendary inventions with no real companies.” Although this represents some hyperbole, Columbia, NYU, Pratt, Parsons, SVA, etc. are poor incubators for commercial enterprises. For example, in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available, the Center for an Urban Future noted that “NYU was number one among all U.S. universities with $791 million in royalties, while Columbia was number two, with $135 million. No other university topped $100 million.” Further investigation by the CUF suggests New York schools are unwilling to “swing for the fences” like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT do. This is a fundamental problem for New York – both inside and outside of schools – and an issue discussed in more detail in the below conclusion.

The Curse of Wall Street

Thousands of high-quality engineers and computer scientists might graduate from New York’s world class schools every year, but “these individuals have historically flocked to write algorithms for hedge funds rather than work on manipulating open APIs,” says David Lerner of Columbia University’s Technology Ventures Lab. With these Wall Street jobs come high wages and annual cash bonuses and the top talent is not accustomed to being paid in stock options. This is a hindrance for New York because founders make significantly below market salaries until they have a successful exit, and although the long run financial benefit might be on the side of founders, the difference in the interim is so stark (i.e. the dramatic change in lifestyle) that few technologists are willing to take the plunge. The collapse of the financial community has changed this slightly with so many “quants” out of work, but the attitude is still pervasive in NYC.

Technology Leadership: Finance and Media + 5 Exciting New Sectors

New York has always been a center for finance and media, but from these two behemoth industries have emerged five sectors where New York is currently leading the technology world:

1) Advertising Technology. Google acquired NYC-based DoubleClick for its superior ability to match advertisers and publishers down the long tail of the curve. Out of this firm, a number of other companies like ContextWeb and MediaMath have been spawned or encouraged. Additionally, New York businesses outside of technology spend huge portions of their budgets on advertising and web promotions so it is not coincidental that the leading search marketing firms (such as Conductor, Altruik, and Clickable) are also based in Manhattan.

2) Advancements in Finance. Maybe Goldman Sachs’ innovation of credit default swaps is not a praise-worth advancement in recent news, but New York is home to the most innovative “fintech” firms in the world. SecondMarket, an online portal for shares in private companies, is the first of its kind to scale and is now experiencing significant network effects. Fynanz (a private student loan platform) and ProtEquity (a firm focused on creating downside protection tools for homeowners) both could not be born anywhere else.

3) Next Generation E-Commerce. New Yorkers have always needed to be creative to survive, so serving as home to the next generation of e-commerce is a perfect fit. Gilt Groupe, Etsy, VillageVines, Kickstarter, Quirky, etc. are redefining how transactions are sourced and executed in our changing economy.

4) Creative Content. In addition to finance, media is the second logical strength of New York. NYC is home to the cutting edge of what some have coined “Creative Content 2.0,” with Gawker, The Huffington Post, Daily Candy, Thrillist, LearnVest, JauntSetter, and countless others are eroding marketshare daily from “old school” media.

5) Collaboration & “Real” Social Interactions. New York City’s diverse neighborhoods, bustling restaurants, and crowded bars are examples of how the city’s residents crave social interaction. Maybe people like to get out because the apartments are so small, but NYC is the ideal playground for entrepreneurs developing tools that enable individuals to collaborate. FourSquare, Hot Potato, and Meetup all embody New York’s leadership in this sector.

Moving Forward: New York’s Key Areas for Improvement & Potential Solutions

Mentorship & Employee Development

To support younger and less experienced entrepreneurs, programs like Silicon Valley’s Y-Combinator and TechStars need to take hold in New York. I would like to see the Mayor’s office fund these initiatives, but VC firms should consider financing them too. These efforts will attract more entrepreneurs to NYC (and keep the ones we have) while providing tools vital startup success.

Also, the gap between new and seasoned entrepreneurs seems unfathomably wide in NYC. We need to close this. The Columbia Venture Community has already started formal mentorship programs, but opportunities for informal meetings and hands-on learning need to be more commonplace. Perhaps the Ace Hotel or Tom & Jerry’s can play the role of Buck’s of Woodside in Silicon Valley to facilitate this.

Need to Swing for the Fences

The most common remark shared by all three groups of people I interviewed was that New York needs, in the words of Joe Einhorn (CEO of Thingd), an “ecosystem for a few runaway successes.” As California has seen with the “PayPal Mafia,” and more recently with Google and Facebook, big successes lead to the next generation of new startups when employees leave and start new companies. These departing employees can tap an established network to avoid “reinventing the wheel” and also offer an opportunity for creative talent to remain in the economy and not get bored or retire to a desert island.

DoubleClick was a homerun, but it would be phenomenal for New York City to see other thriving businesses such as FourSquare, RecycleBank, Etsy, Gilt Groupe, and SecondMarket go public or be acquired for multiple hundreds of millions of dollars. These exits are the essential next step in furthering the community.

Crowd-Sourcing Will Go Mainstream

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

A few days ago, I finished reading “Game Change” which is John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s controversial account of the 2008 U.S. presidential race. This book has become fairly popular amongst political junkies of all stripes (it’s been on The New York Times bestseller list since its publication and The Huffington Post lamented how difficult it was to find a copy when it first came out).

Frankly, the authors seem most concerned with revealing the alleged – but certainly provocative – thoughts and statements of the different candidates’ inner circles, but I enjoyed the tome for the implicit argument that “crowd-raising” and “crowd-sourcing” have fundamentally changed the way our society functions.

Not every supporter of Barack Obama in the 2008 election could give $2,000 at once, but millions of people gave $20 multiple times. Linked together, over a period of time, small donations had a massive impact. This pooling example provides insight into how capital and knowledge can be similarly harnessed to create powerful change in other areas. Specifically, if tools existed to link people with spare time and suitable skills to projects that benefit from their contribution, society and business may be able to cumulatively make advancements using resources we already have.

Americans, in particular, are busy. However, even in the most hectic of days, there are free moments found in blocks of just a few minutes. Aggregated, this spare time can have enormous social or commercial impact. Sitting in an airport (like I am right now), waiting in a doctor’s office, riding the subway, etc., are all opportunities for harnessing the “crowd.”

I’ve come across a number of interesting companies developing different types of models in this space so drop me an email if you want to discuss this sector further. Some of the great ideas include models to help struggling bands record their first albums as well as new product development forums that allow contributors to participate in the financial upside. The revenue models for nearly all of this field still need to be proven, but it’s an exciting sector to follow nonetheless.

My First Three Days with the iPad

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010
MikeKatz.com on the iPad

Screenshot of MikeKatz.com on iPad

With the iPad’s release on Saturday, there has not been a shortage of reviews of the much anticipated – and heavily scrutinized – new product.  Apple gave some media folks (mostly big, old media company writers who love to write nice things) the product a week early and several of them published mostly positive overviews including David Pogue at The New York Times, Walt Mossberg at The Wall Street Journal, and Edward Baig at USA TodayTom Gideon at PC Mag and Joshua Topolsky at Engadget have also written widely circulated critiques.  Despite this plethora of other commentary on the web, I thought I’d throw in my two cents (well, actually $499) since there are a few key areas that are either off-base or ignored by other writers.

KEYBOARD

First of all, the keyboard has gotten a ton of unfair flack.  Sure, it’s not great for any typing you have to do which is number or character heavy, but for standard old typing (like this blog post) it’s fine.  In fact, I’m writing all of the text for this post on the iPad and I’d estimate I’m significantly faster than on my iPhone, but definitely slower than a real computer keyboard.  This touchscreen is great, but still doesn’t solve the problem of not being able to “feel” when you’ve made a mistake.  With that said, it’s only been three days so it’s likely I will improve speed and accuracy with this thing.  Overall, however, it’s much better than anyone out there is claiming (especially when it’s used in “laptop position” with two free hands).

APP STORE

This is by far the biggest disappointment for me.  Amazon’s Kindle and the Pandora apps are both amazing (I’ll elaborate more on that further down), but very few of the most popular free iPhone applications have been re-written for the iPad (at least not yet).  As a result, when one clicks on Skype, ESPN’s ScoreCenter, Yelp, etc. a small screen-within-a-screen the size of an iPhone loads.  One can double the size of this display on the iPad which helps some, but that comes at the cost of stretched out pixels like old-school Mario Bros.   I understand sites like ESPN and Yelp might think iPad users will just use regular Safari to visit their pages, and although this might be true, the BBC iPad app is so slick that other content providers should consider following suit.  BBC has really thought about the screen size, how articles should sort for easy viewing, shrinking sizes of pictures in text, and on and on.   It’s impressive.

As for the Kindle and Pandora apps, these are the two best free apps I found and they are both fantastic.   I prefer Pandora on the iPad to both the iPhone and internet versions because they have created a very unique experience and leveraged the strengths of the iPad hardware.  Pandora on the iPad shows more info than on an iPhone, and because the exact screen size of the iPad is known (unlike a computer monitor), everything fits neatly as opposed to some issues I tend to have on the web-version.  I already listen to a fair amount of radio on my AppleTV and iPhone, but the Pandora app will displace both of those because it’s so easy.

As for Kindle, I should likely devote an entire blog post rather than this measly paragraph to the ramifications of the iPad for Amazon, but before I get around to that, here are my quick thoughts.  I predict Amazon stops selling the physical Kindle device in the next 18 months because of the iPad.  They might keep making the white reading devices and give them away for free to get people buying electronic books, but the Kindle doesn’t hold a candle to the Kindle app on the iPad (sorry, bad pun).  Being able actually type for search (Kindle’s keyboard is a joke), bookmark and highlight more closely to how one would with physical book, and “flip” around pages are features where the Kindle iPad app dominates its physical Kindle predecessor.  Apple isn’t going to beat Amazon any time soon in available book content because Apple’s e-bookstore is a fraction of Amazon’s, but Apple has certainly won the hardware battle (and the commitment by Amazon to make a great iPad app is likely a nod that they’ve been defeated).

LIMITATIONS ON THE WEB

I thought that not having Flash was going to be a major downside, but it’s actually okay.  I can’t speak for others, but I actually visit sites with Flash less often than I ever realized (side note: this is likely because Flash is falling out of favor with developers since it’s bad for SEO, but that’s another post in-and-of-itself).  Anyway, no Flash means no NCAA basketball games on CBS or any of Hulu’s content, but even when the iPad does get Flash, I’m sure Steve Jobs will block this and force people into the iTunes store for this type of content so it likely doesn’t matter much.

One big surprise on the web which has flown under the radar in other reviews is how bad all of Google’s features are on the iPad.   Google has really dropped the ball here.  For example, they haven’t yet adjusted their code to recognize the iPad as a “desktop” device as opposed to a “mobile” device.  As a result, you have to click on “Desktop” at the bottom of every page in order to see your Gmail normally (otherwise you’re stuck with some sort of funky mobile version which is tough to navigate on the iPad).  Also, it’s currently not possible to edit anything in Google docs (yep, view-only) and Google Reader looks better in any other format (iPhone included).   I’m not sure if this is intentional by Google or some sort of shenanigans Apple is pulling, but it’s a major bummer.

SUMMARY THOUGHTS

Overall, the iPad is great, but it’s still a “nice to have” not a “need to have.”  Getting it made sense for me because it replaces an aging five-year-old computer that was on it’s last legs and previously was used exclusively for surfing and writing short emails.  For the extra couple hundred bucks over a new netbook, the iPad was worth it.

One other side gripe I have is that I don’t understand why the device needs to use a wire to sync content to other devices.   It uses WiFi to do everything else so why isn’t there a setting to passively cull content from my laptop and AppleTV?  Sure, it might be faster via a wire and won’t kill the battery as fast, but at least give the user the option!   I would love this feature.

P.S.  The most recent reports show that Apple has sold 300,000 units as of the publishing of this post which equates to more than 78 units sold per minute.  Not too shabby, but nowhere near the iPhone numbers.  The jury is clearly still out on this “category.”

Falling Like a Domino

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Even though Dee has lived for several years in a city with some of the best pizza on the planet, she still occasionally insists on ordering a Domino’s thin crust with jalapeños.  I think she’s crazy, but I usually acquiesce since (1) I know better than to cross her when she’s in search of her beloved pizza, and (2) because Domino’s actually has a really cool website which the nerdy tech side of me appreciates.  The site enables users to order online and then track their pie through the preparation and delivery process with impressive precision.  Despite the fact I generally shy away from giant chains that produce meals involving entirely defrosted ingredients, I have to confess that the 30 minute delivery and $12 cost are tough to beat.

However, Domino’s unfortunately isn’t receiving too many other complimentary comments on the Internet these days.  As many sources reported over the last week, videos that depicted two Domino’s employees in North Carolina tampering with customer food were uploaded to YouTube.  Through a plethora of channels, the videos moved like a hurricane across blogs, Twitter, and other online media, leaving a path of PR destruction for Domino’s.  This is yet another example of the vulnerability brands face today, but what was perhaps most interesting was how the company combated the adverse publicity.

Domino’s created a Twitter account and directly addressed the issue.  They then added content to the company’s Facebook page, and ultimately posted a sincere apology from Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s USA on YouTube.  They are also aggressively pursuing legal measures against the two employees and broadcasting updates about the arrests online.

The jury is still out on how Domino’s image has recovered since the fiasco, but social media has also been shaping major political issues.  These social media outlets received heightened coverage during the U.S. election season, but last week the movement want decisively global.  In Moldova, a crowd of more than 10,000 citizens materialized seemingly out of nowhere to protest against Moldova’s Communist leadership.  In the process, they ransacked government buildings and clashed with the police.  The protesters skirted detection while organizing their uprising by enlisting the very tools Domino’s used to combat its problem: text-messaging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I don’t condone the destruction, but I am interested in the increasing trend – although it’s certainly not a new one.  Emerging media technologies have been especially important to me ever since I studied abroad in São Paulo.  There, I witnessed Brazilian farmers organize themselves via cell phone to improve their representation in local government.  They passed along a simple text message with the summons for protest: “Go 2 Paulista Ave.  Wear white.”  The thousands of similarly dressed farmers were an inspiring sight and illustrated to me the versatility of media technologies beyond mere entertainment.

Going forward, I’ll add additional major business and political movements spurred by digital media to this blog, and please let me know of others you encounter so I can document them.