Yee-hah! Charter Street Launches!


For the second time in as many months, am thrilled to announce that a new business blog is on the scene; this time it’s the Charter Street blog (“a blog about entrepreneurship, the internet, and the state of the software industry”) from Cerado customer Versai Technology. Charter Street is penned by industry vets Paul McNamara and Greg Olsen, with whom I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely over the last few months. Paul and Greg are jumping into the business blogosphere with both feet, and will be chronicling their new company through its birth, growth and eventual world domination*.

I’m not yet able to publicly say what Versai is going to be doing, but I can tell you it’s very, very cool and very much in line with our belief of where the technology industry is going.

Their first two posts are up as of last weekend, with Paul bringing us up to speed on what he’s been doing since leaving Red Hat in 2001 (hint: it’s a lot), and Greg laying the groundwork of his vision and explaining why “going bedouin” is the right choice for a startup in 2006.

The money ‘graphs from Paul:

As Mark Twain once said, rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. As some of you know, I left Red Hat in 2001 to join Hal Covert (another Red Hat alum) at SGI. 2001 was a year that saw lots of the early guys at Red Hat leave.

I have to say that most people think that moving from Red Hat to SGI was a dubious career move. But in truth I found it to be a really rich experience — there’s no better experience than a turn around. There are two really big lessons that I learned from the SGI experience. First, I grew to understand how and why SGI, once an extremely hot company, lost its way in the market. And second, I learned just how hard it is to remake a public company.

My advice to anyone trying to affect a major turn-around of a public company is simple: don’t. Take it private first.

…and some insight from the good Dr. Olsen:

Given peoples’ experience with telecommuting and distributed team projects from the open source community, a neo-Bedouin approach is not as hard to envision as it once may have been. The requirements for a neo-Bedouin business, however, go further and must include support for all business functions (such as sales, marketing, finance, engineering and customer support). A neo-Bedouin approach can be executed through a wide variety of specific choices. Here is a sample recipe:



* – Of course, the phase after “world domination” is typically an embarrasing VH-1 retrospective sometime in mid-2025, but hey, that’s the price for success.

The Social Customer Manifesto Podcast 27JAN2006

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Summary: Leif Chastaine and Christopher Carfi discuss the American Marketing Association’s “Ahead of the Curve” session in Chicago, the marketing challenge for RSS, taunts and tempts Siebel employees, launch of the “Healing Space” health and environment blog, and this week’s RIM/BlackBerry Supreme Court decision. (33:32)

Show notes for January 27, 2006

The audio file is available here (MP3, 32MB), or subscribe to our RSS feed to automatically have future shows downloaded to your MP3 player.

00:00 : Intro

01:10 : Recap of the AMA’s Ahead of the Curve session: High Tech Trends in Marketing

02:40 : What is RSS?

Google search for RSS metaphors (n.b. and yes, actually these are “similes” and not “metaphors,” we know, we know…)

“RSS is like an API for content”
“RSS is like selling dogfood over the internet”
“RSS is like Tivo for the web”
“Explaining RSS is like explaining sex. You just don’t get it until you do it.” (also here)
Dave Winer

11:45 : to Siebel employees: “No Future

19:30 : Healing Space health, wellness and environment blog launched

25:15 : Supremes won’t intervene in RIM BlackBerry / NTP dispute

33:50 : Wrapup


Bill Flitter, Stowe Boyd, Randy Moss, Michael Sevilla, TheCradle,, Siebel, Paul Greenberg, Todd Pesek, EarthHealers, Naturaleza Foundation, eco-tourism, Craig Williams, Howard Bashman, Research in Motion, BlackBerry, Ross Mayfield, Davos, BlackBerries a matter of national security

Business Blogging At IBM

Julie Alterio at The Journal News has a decent article up on the scope of blogging initiatives within Big Blue and other organizations. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM’s VP of technical strategy and innovation is quoted as saying:

“We absolutely recognize that blogging, just like the Internet, World Wide Web, Linux and open source, is a major initiative in the marketplace that we should be part of. This best way to be part of it is not to observe it passively but to do it actively.”

Sound advice.

And, although the article is primarily about the view on business blogging from within IBM and other large companies, Dave Sifry gets into the act as well. And NAILS his line. Way to go, Dave…

“In the world of the Internet, you don’t own your brand. Your customers and your users own your brand. You’re lucky if you get to shepherd it.”

Live From The Gleacher Center

In the session at Ahead of the Curve.

Stowe just finished up a great overview on blogs, blogging and podcasting, and now Bill Flitter is just finishing his presentation. The big take-away for me … RSS is still too complex. It’s too complex to explain … too complex to subscribe … too complex to “show” what an RSS feed is … too complex to communicate how and why it matters.

Once we get beyond the early-adopter crowd, what are the capabilities and metaphors that are needed to enable RSS to become so ubiquitous that we don’t need to go through the nitty-gritty details? (In other words…I don’t want to know how the internal combustion engine operates, I just want to reliably get to my destination.) Back in August, 2005, Chris Selland wrote:

“RSS is still very much the realm of early adopters (which is why only early-adopter-focused companies like Audible, Woot and HDNet are using it). But as RSS readers become more powerful and more ubiquitous – and particularly as they become more closely entwined with e-mail applications – expect the use of RSS to dramatically accelerate – much of it at the expense of e-mail.”

This is still on-target.

Randy Moss is now up presenting the first part of the social networking discussion, and talking about directed apophenia, and leading into a group exercise. Everyone in the room is up at the front of the room, showing their connections to the others in the room, via past experiences, hobbies, hometowns, schools, products/brands they are passionate about, and the like. (By the way, Randy’s book recommendation of the day: The Hidden Power of Social Networks by Rob Cross.)

A social network visualization exercise at the Chicago AMA (American Marketing Association) meeting

Randy: “It’s critical for organizations to host communities. If a company does this, they’re the good guy, they are the one who is providing the network for individuals to connect.” (bravo!)

Michael Sevilla from Umbria is now presenting a state of the blogosphere preso. Now moving into a discussion of promoters and detractors, and is highlighting the Qwest’s Terms of Service flap. (Michael was affected by it.)

VERY interesting. Now going through things that one can do with OpinMind. For example, blog sentiment of Microsoft and Apple. (N.B. Kind of a neat tool, but it does not seem to have a deep listing of sources. Hopefully it’ll grow more over time.)


(top photo: UChicago)

Thoughts For The Beginning Blogger

One of our clients is starting to charge full-force down the blogging path and asked for some feedback on the posts they were working on. Not going to get into the details of what they’re working on quite yet, but had some thoughts that I was sending over based on reading the initial bits that were being put together. About halfway through, realized that these items were fairly relevant across-the-board, so here they are. What would you add to this as far as suggestions for someone just starting down the blogging path?


First off … Every successful blog eventually has a voice and a corresponding “positioning” (sorry for the marketingspeak) that is applied to it by its readers. The voice of the blog will evolve and, just like positioning in the pure marketing sense, a “tone” of the blog will be applied to you by your subscribers. This will take some time, but if you have a feeling as to how you would *like* to be positioned, you can certainly help it along via the choice of name, categories, commonly-used phrases, etc. Think about what you want the blog’s mojo to be: is it an inside look at the tales of a startup? Is it a viewpoint and *the* reference on long-tail software, or perhaps SaaS? Something else?

Think about your blog’s tagline. (The tagline WILL be reproduced elsewhere, so try to make it capture the core of whatever theme you want to tie everything together.) If the theme is still evolving, it may take a couple of months for the right tagline to present itself…and it will probably uncerimoniously assault you in the shower in the pre-caffeinated hours one morning. But it will show up. Write it down and integrate it when it does.

The positioning and general mojo are ultimately critical…but short-term irrelevant. Just write. Then write some more. It’ll evolve, and don’t force it. It took about four months after inception for the Social Customer blog to find its voice.

Additionally, a well-conceived and executed “About” page is a must, as is a picture. A well-written post will trigger a click to the About page which will, if also well-executed, trigger a click back to the mothership. Make the About page personal. It’s you!

A couple of other general thoughts:

– More links to other blogs inlined in the text! As a result of the current state of measurement and search tools, bloggers are narcissistic link whores (it’s all about the Googlejuice, baby). The more links you throw out to others, (a) the more likely someone will come to your blog (since they saw your blog show up in their vanity feed in Technorati) and (b) they may even put a reciprocal link in one of their posts in the next week, pointing to “hey….here’s a cool article on *x*” that shows how you can use whatever they are pimping in doing *x*. If you can’t link to a blog, link to a news article. If you can’t link to a news article, link to a product site. But link! As Anthony Kiedis so eloquently put it…give it away, give it away, give it away now. (However, for the love of all that is good and right in the world, please refrain from experimenting with RHCP tube sock attire. ::shudder::)

Last, but certainly not least, make sure you have an RSS feed that can be subscribed to on Day 1. Get readers on the drip. First one’s free…


The Social Customer Manifesto Podcast 13JAN2006

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Summary: Leif Chastaine and Christopher Carfi discuss customer challenges in switching mobile phone plans, a blogging “contest” that may be backfiring on its sponsors, Sony’s rootkit fiasco, how Thomas Hawk dealt with an unscrupulous e-commerce vendor, and a recap of the current legal challenges facing Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the ubiquitous BlackBerry device. (37:45)

Show notes for January 13, 2006

The audio file is available here (MP3, 34MB), or subscribe to our RSS feed to automatically have future shows downloaded to your MP3 player.

00:00 : Intro
01:30 : Cell phone follies
05:45 : Everyday Hogwash
11:45 : “I just want to listen to this CD!” … Real-world experiences with Sony’s rootkit
19:40 : Thomas Hawk’s PriceRitePhoto vindication
28:45 : Troubled waters for Research in Motion and their BlackBerry device
36:30 : Wrapup

Cingular and AT&T Wireless, Everyday Hogwash, Steve Rubel, Andy Beal, Sony rootkit, Thomas Hawk, NYTimes, BlackBerry troubles

Explosive Growth

Was on a call regarding the upcoming AMA Hot Topic session in Chicago (gratuitous plug: you can still register here), and a startling point was made (paraphrased).

“The number of new bloggers is growing so rapidly that we’re seeing a net decrease in the typical individual’s understanding of blogging, since the number of newcomers is expanding so wildly.”

(I think it might have been Stowe who said this, but there were a bunch of folks on the call.)

Two questions:

  • Are other folks seeing this as well?
  • If this is correct, the implications are tectonic…we need tools, education, and support that are an order-of-magnitude better and EASIER than the ones we have now if the trend is to continue.

What’s everyone else seeing?

Business Podcasting Article In The Baltimore Sun

The key line: “In what amounts to a nationwide social experiment, corporate America is testing whether this cheap and quirky medium proves useful in the battle to reach the public, communicate meaningfully with employees and keep costs down.”

link: Corporations go off a-podcasting

(Disclosure: I’m quoted in the article. Also, a huge guffaw out to Social Customer reader Dave Ritter who has the best line in the article, which was pulled from the comments here.)

Thank You, SearchCRM Readers!

Wow. Just got the following email from Mia Shopis, Associate Editor,

Dear Christopher,

Congratulations! We’ve tallied the votes and we are pleased to announce that you have won’s Best CRM Blog Award. Our readers have chosen The Social Customer Manifesto based on four important criteria: Personality, usefulness, content and likelihood to encourage return visits. Not only does your personality shine through in each of your regular entries, but readers also find your commentary both useful and relevant to the demands and trends of CRM. In short, our readers rely on your blog for the latest in CRM.

I’ve attached a winner’s logo to display on your site. Let me again extend our congratulations to you.

Keep on bloggin’,
Mia Shopis
Associate Editor

A huge(!) thank you to the SearchCRM readers who voted, and congrats to co-winners Paul Greenberg and Mark Rittman.

The CEO Blogging Trail

Axel Schultze, CEO of BlueRoads, had the following answers to the questions I posed in this post. Schultze:

“Very good and valid questions. Some answers:

1) Also CEO’s are human beings and have peers. So executive blogging will find it’s peers.

2) The blog will not replace 1:1 connections and relations. But if a CEO like me has roughly 5,000 personal contacts and roughly 200,000 customer contacts, touching each and everybody in person every week is REALLY difficult.

3) Ghost-Written? No! While my press releases are prepared by PR agencies and news letters by marketing and other media by other people, at least my blog is my “normal voice” :-). And one can tell by my style, grammer and the little spelling errors here and there.


(n.b. Axel’s blog can be found here)

Point (2) is the gimme. And point (3) is spot-on.

Point (1), however, is the really interesting one. “Executive blogging will find its peers.” Hold that thought.

(context: I’m just off the plane, just back from Cambridge and Corante’s Symposium on Social Architecture. So, naturally, everything is getting filtered through that lens. More folks talking about CoranteSSA here.)

Blogs, of course, are social media. They let us connect, and converse, and interact in a human way.

Now, back to where we were. “Executive blogging will find its peers.” Hadn’t thought about the implication of that statement until I read Axel’s comment. When put through the “social” lens, what this means, to me at least, is that we’re going to start to see networks develop…visible networks…of executive bloggers. And what we’re going to see from there is the boardroom equivalent of the digital divide. One one side, we’ll see networks and clusters of interconnected executive bloggers (“peers”), who respect and challenge and publicly debate each others strategies, compliment and complement each others’ successes, and call each other out on their mis-steps.

On the flip side we’ll see the ossified companies, with their polished, impenetrable façades of business-as-usual.

Which side you think will be more successful in the long run?