Since I’ve blocked out communications from Fast Company ever since their linkbait Influence Project started a couple of months ago, I didn’t see this below email sent to all “participants” of the project signaling its close (thanks Danny Sullivan!).

The Influence Project’s basic goal was to get people click on Fast Company links — the more links you personally got people to click on, the bigger your “influence.”

Blogger Jeremy Schoemaker heroically got enough people to do it, beating out Internet biggies like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, video blogger iJustine and even our own Michael Arrington in online influence according to the Fast Company rules.

iJustine did get her place in the Fast Company sun however, in a sprawling six page photo piece called “The New Faces of Social Media,” which actually included none of the top Influence Project influencers. (A much shorter article about those guys here).

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan points out the discrepancy between the two sets.

Online influencers according to The Influence Project

1. Jeremy Schoemaker
2. Shefqet Avdullau
3. Tod Sacerdoti
4. Cory Boatright
5. Greg Clement
6. Frank Kovacs
7. Sebastian Saldarriaga
8. James Dunn
9. Richard Lee
10. Pace Lattin

Online influencers according to the Mark Borden “The New Faces of Social Media” piece

1. Justine Ezarik
2. Jill Fletcher
3. Gary Vaynerchuk
4. Christopher Poole
5. Greg Allan
6. Jonah Peretti

Truth be told, it’s taken tl:dr.it about 20 minutes to summarize “The New Faces Of Social Media” so I haven’t actually read it, but the very fact that it’s paginated probably means that there’s nothing in it you as TechCrunch readers don’t already know.

Key takeaway: Instead of an article of any substance or a spot on the cover, non- web celebrity participants in the project got the following letter …

Bob Safian here, the editor of Fast Company.

I want to personally thank you for participating in our online experiment, The Influence Project, last summer. More than 30,000 people signed up, and more than 1.5 million individuals came to the site to show their support.

We promised to highlight all participants who submitted photos in the November issue of the magazine; that issue is now rolling out on newsstands across the country. (The cover image is of Lance Armstrong.) You can also view the final results of The Influence Project–and zoom in on specific photographs–at www.fastcompany.com/influence.

I hope you found The Influence Project a worthwhile experience.

Thanks again,

Bob Safian
Editor
Fast Company

Well, no Bob, as a participant, I most certainly did not find The Influence Project a worthwhile experience, not in the slightest. First of all you all but ignored the guy who actually won and picked your own winners, presumably because an opening picture of iJustine will drive more traffic to your website than a profile of the virtually unknown outside of the tech industry Jeremy Schoemaker.

And then, to add insult to injury, and despite your previous promises of this thing actually having some real world impact (a.k.a influence), you end up putting cyclist Lance Armstrong on the cover of what was vaguely designated as your Fast Company “Influence Project” issue because what? Oh, that’s right, while they may generate traffic, online influencers (even your self-designated “New Faces Of Social Media”) don’t necessarily sell hard copy magazines.

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 ‘Fast Company’ Influence Project Proves Online Influencers Have No...

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In one of those wonderful ironies of scheduling that make columnists weep with joy, Larry Dignan spent yesterday at a Yahoo! hack day in New York.

This is the same Larry Dignan who is Editor in Chief of ZDNet, which is the same ZDNet that yesterday published a blog post accusing Yahoo of passing the names and email addresses of thousands – sorry, hundreds of thousands -  of bloggers to the Iranian authorities during the country’s recent election.

Poor old Larry. One can only imagine the warmth with which he was greeted when he arrived at Yahoo’s event. “Hey Larry!” his hosts may perhaps have said “go fuck yourself.” And their suggestion wouldn’t be entirely unfair, given that the story – written by ‘lawyer and technology writer’ Richard Koman, was a steaming pile of horseshit.

How much horseshit? Let’s break it down, just for giggles. Koman’s unnamed source for the story was a guy who had translated an Iranian blog post written in Farsi. The post – which, let’s say it again, was written in Farsi, which Koman doesn’t speak – was published on the blog of an avowedly anti-government Iranian student group. In the original post, which Koman quoted without a secondary source or an independent translation, it was claimed that Yahoo’s Malaysian subsidiary had passed on the information after access to their Iranian site was blocked by Tehran. Yahoo doesn’t have an Iranian site, nor does it have a base of operations in Malaysia. Neither Koman nor anyone else at ZDNet bothered to put the allegations to Yahoo before publishing a story which Koman admitted he hadn’t got entirely “buttoned down”.

I emailed Larry to find out what on earth went wrong. Is there even a jot of editorial oversight on ZDNet’s blogs? I asked him. Didn’t the fact that the sole source for the story was someone who had translated an avowedly biased blog written in Farsi by students in opposition to the Iranian government give him or any other ZDNet editor pause?

In response, Larry was candid in the way that only a man who has spent the day at a hack day organised by people he’d accused of sentencing two hundred thousand Iranians to death can be….

“Our bloggers publish on their own schedule and post themselves. We backread posts and sometimes read them in advance, but generally we trust our bloggers will follow journalistic principles.  And many of them have years of experience and are experts in their fields. In five years of ZDNet blogging we have had few issues of shoddy journalism within our blog network. We trust the bloggers we select to use good judgment and alert us to any potential problems. This was an gross error from a seasoned blogger, and we should have been more on top of it.”

Kudos, Larry. And kudos for publishing a such a prompt and detailed retraction. But yes, you should have been more on top of it. Here’s why…

Earlier this year TechCrunch published a story titled ‘Did Last.fm just hand over listener data to the RIAA?‘ (Spoiler alert: no). In the story, we – by which I mean, not me – quoted an apparently rock solid (and English speaking) source who claimed that Last had been tricked by parent-company CBS into passing on a whole bunch of listener information to the recording industry. An outcry promptly ensued, especially after TechCrunch’s source disappeared without trace and both Last.fm and CBS issued categorical denials. A source at CBS was quoted by Ars Technica describing our – which is to say not my – story as “irresponsible journalism” while Last’s Richard Jones went even further in a blog post headed ‘Techcrunch are full of shit.’

Despite doing our best to verify the story, including roping in additional sources, we – which is to say, not me – were left with some egg on our faces. At the time, I was still writing for the Guardian where I wrote a couple of brilliantly insightful columns about the incident, including one in which I lectured TechCrunch – and by extension all bloggers – on how writing on a blog doesn’t excuse you from the rules of journalism 101.

Specifically I offered some lessons that professional blogs might want to carry over from old media. Stop allowing bloggers to post their own stories without passing them first through an editor. Don’t publish a story accusing a company of malpractice without first giving them a chance to deny it. That kind of thing. And yet, eight months on, ZDNet still operates a policy – as does TechCrunch (mostly), as did the Telegraph when I wrote for them – where ‘trusted’ bloggers can post stories without so much as a gramme of editorial oversight, and without anyone ensuring that the subject of the story has been contacted for comment.

Enough.

Trusting the common sense  of your writers is all well and good – but when it comes to breaking news, where journalistic adrenaline is at its highest and everyone is paranoid about being scooped by a competitor, that common sense can too easily become the first casualty. Journalists get caught up in the moment; we get excited and we post stupid crap from a foreign language student blog and call it news. And then within half a minute – bloggers being what they are – the news gets repeated and repeated until it becomes fact. Fact that can affect share prices or ruin lives. This is the reality of the blogosphere, where Churchill’s remark: that “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” is more true, and more potentially damaging, than at any time in history.

I was going to reply with all of this to Larry, to tell him about our – which is to say not my – run in with CBS and to sympathise with him over how easy it is for this kind of thing to happen. He’d had a bad day after all, and he didn’t need anyone making it worse. But then I clicked ‘reply’, saw Larry’s email address and experienced one of those wonderful moments of serendipity that make columnists weep with joy. Because seeing Larry’s email address reminded me which company owns ZDNet. That company…?

CBS.

Did CBS just accuse Yahoo of handing over user data to the Iranians? Oh yes they fucking did. Thank you baby Jesus.

I thought for a moment whether it was mean to gloat. Whether it was unfair to write a post reminding CBS of their “irresponsible journalism” remark. Wouldn’t that just be mean? Shouldn’t I at least give Larry a chance to respond to the irony? Perhaps I should check with my editor before posting – yunno, make sure I’ve got everything buttoned down.

And then I remembered. I’m a blogger. And that’s just not how we do things.

Click.

Post.

Crunch Network: CrunchBase the free database of technology companies, people, and investors

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 WITN?: Yahoo didn’t sentence 200,000 Iranians to death, and other...

tomtom garmin hope Garmin and TomTom cling to profits, hope

As everyone knows, Garmin and TomTom have their backs against the ropes in a fight to remain relevant in an age of free GPS turn-by-turn navigation on smartphones (thanks Google and Nokia). While dedicated personal navigators are almost always superior to their converged competition, the gap has certainly narrowed such that it's become difficult to justify another device when an increasing number of people already carry a fine navigation device in their pockets. But that's just gut instinct talking, where's the hard evidence? Certainly not speculative stock prices. A good place to start is in forward-looking financial statements like the one Garmin, the leading navigation device maker in the US, just issued. Gamin says that it expects competition to cause prices to decline by about 10% in the personal navigation device (PND) industry putting pressure on margins, and thus profits, in 2010. It also see flat or slightly declining revenue over the same period. Fortunately for Garmin, it has a diversified product offering that includes the Nuvifone. However, so far Garmin admits to being disappointed by sales of the handset that "won" our Editor's Choice award for Worst Gadget of the Year.

Things aren't all doom and gloom, though. Garmin has a pair of Nuvifones in the chute including the Android-powered A50. And its Q4 results of $1.43 per share easily beat analyst expectations of 95 cents a share. Even TomTom surprised many last week with a 1% increase in Q4 revenue and net profit of €75 million compared to a €989 million loss a year ago. So there's some hope left for the dedicated PND market... but not much.

Garmin and TomTom cling to profits, hope originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 25 Feb 2010 02:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  post label source Garmin and TomTom cling to profits, hopeFT (TomTom), Reuters (Garmin)  | Email this | Comments

There were two surreal moments for me at Disrupt last week. The first was during the SV Angels Party when Hammer was dancing. It wasn’t just because MC-Freaking-Hammer was doing to Hammer dance in a tux and nerd glasses in front of me. It was because the CEO and founder of the media company I work for were on stage looking awkward and white, but dancing none the less. It was because I’ve hung out with Hammer at parties and conferences like the Lobby– two unlikely people sucked in to the Web 2.0 vortex. It was because I ran into the founders of Digg, separately and in different rooms at the party. They were like brothers the first time I met them, and now– no matter what they politely say on stage– they were estranged, with one ousted and the other trying to turn the once-hot company that helped start the Web 2.0 wave around. It was a feeling that something was ending.

The feeling was echoed the next day watching Kevin Rose and Michael Arrington on stage. For my corner of the Web 2.0 world these were two of the most seminal figures. I put Rose on the cover of BusinessWeek at the beginning of the wave, an article that got me a book deal that ensured I’d spend the next year surrounded by people like Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg and others. And Arrington was the only other reporter I knew back then who wasn’t a total cynic about Web 2.0 companies’ chances. Eventually I’d find we were so like-minded that I wanted to work with Mike– finally leaving my old-media roots behind. One word has summed both of these guys for a while now: Tired.

The first wave of Web companies never got here, most grew so fast they went public or raised an unsustainable amount of money, hiring an unsustainable amount of employees and when the spigot of free capital was gone they had no choice but to implode. But that didn’t happen in Web 2.0– precisely because it had happened so recently in the late 1990s. People like Kevin and Mike were cautious. They ran their businesses at break even, raised money cautiously, and outsourced business processes– like ad sales and even some underlying technology– that weren’t core to the business. For all the talk about a second Web bubble, most of the companies on covers of magazines were pretty conservatively run. As a result they had plenty of money in the bank when the recession hit. Sure there were employees cut here or there, but most of that was to get rid of people who were underperforming or make a show of belt tightening for investors.

But it was still a wave, an unsustainable ride of hope, big dreams, a feeling of invincibility that had to crash– and for me, mostly ended last week when TechCrunch was sold. But the recession didn’t crash this one– exhaustion did. Building media companies– which is what most Web 2.0 businesses are– is a grind. You can’t build a huge business with less than 20 million monthly uniques and getting there is a brutal day-in, day-out grind of producing great work, making the site as intuitive as possible and continually finding reasons to remind people you are worth 5 minutes of their day everyday. This is the part of the story we don’t tell enough on TechCrunch. We make startups sound easier and more glamorous than they are. Everyone in the game knows that–but we probably do a disservice to people who think all they need is a Super Angel and in two years they’ll get a deal from Google.

On stage Mike asked Kevin what the most amount of money he’d walked away from was and he said $80 million. Mike asked if Kevin regretted not taking it, and he didn’t really answer the question. It was clear from his body language that at least part of him did. In that moment, they looked like two men both slightly jealous of each other– one because the other said yes and one because the other said no.

In any Silicon Valley wave there are the clear huge winners– Facebook and likely Twitter and Zynga. There are a few clear huge businesses, and I’d argue LinkedIn is in that category. And loads of companies that are clever-but-doomed. And then there are a bunch where we just don’t know. They are clearly worth something, in the case of Slide or TechCrunch and, hopefully, Digg they’re worth enough that the founders who worked so hard for so long make a life-changing amount of money. But in some ways, when these founders finally succumb to the grind, it’s almost sadder for those of us who were along on the journey– whether investors, employees, friends or just users of their sites.

I remember the day when the Industry Standard– the magazine that chronicled the 1990s bubble and held weekly rooftop parties– went out of business. I covered the news for the tiny weekly business journal I wrote for back then, and drove up to San Francisco as employees were forlornly cleaning out their offices– all of them. It reminded me of the last day at college, when everyone takes every scrap of their life out of a dormroom never to return. I did an interview with the Editor that made me feel like an ambulance chaser. His dream was in shambles all around him and his staff of hundreds were out of jobs. Media people are impossible at faking how they feel. I couldn’t do it when TechCrunch announced it was selling, and this guy couldn’t do it now. One of his star writers told me it was like that scene in Goodfellas where the crew feels on top of the world like they own a town– and then they get sloppy and everything goes to hell.

Back at the Hammer party, it was my Goodfellas moment, albeit a far less dramatic one. I didn’t have an office to pack up and we all still have jobs, but I couldn’t help feeling like it was all over. Not TechCrunch or Digg or Facebook or the other companies we associate with the wave, but the wave itself. It has crashed on a beach of exhaustion, and people who said they’d never sell for less than $1 billion doing just that. More of it is coming.

TechCrunch has been unlike any other media organization for which I’ve worked– whether newsweekly, magazine, television, or big media portal. We could all leave in three years and start another one but it won’t be the same, Web companies are organic things shaped by a million little small decisions and dozens of people who pass through that companies life every day. There’s a magic that catches or doesn’t. Business professors and journalists can later dissect what companies did right, but frequently at the time pivotal decisions were a fluke.

There’s an endless debate about the good and bad of selling a company that’s still growing in the Valley right now. There’s the obvious macro-economic answer: Everyone selling too early is bad, because no new tech giants are created. There’s the obvious micro-answer: A few million dollars is life changing for most people, and those entrepreneurs deserve to make a life-changing amount of money. In a lot of ways, Disrupt was in the middle of that debate all week. The same Michael Arrington who called out investors who just fund “dipshit $40 million companies” sold his company for a reportedly similar figure the next day. Like most people, I find both arguments compelling. But the important thing to know is this: You can do it again, but you will never create the same company twice.

At that Hammer party I ran into a friend who has built several successful companies– and always refused to sell at their headiest point. He asked me what I thought of the AOL deal. I asked what he thought. He laughed and said, “You’re talking to someone who has managed to evade seven successful exits, don’t ask me.” Yeah. That sums up the end of the Web 2.0 era angst.

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 If Web 1.0’s Kryptonite Was the Bust, Web 2.0 Kryptonite Was the...
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 If Web 1.0’s Kryptonite Was the Bust, Web 2.0 Kryptonite Was the...

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