Cloud Four’s Web Site Launches

Tonight we launched Tomorrow we pick up the keys to our new office. Friday we start painting and assembling furniture. If all goes well, we’ll open doors on Monday and start planning our office warming party.

We’re overwhelmed, excited, and anxious. What a remarkable thing it is to start a company. There is really nothing that compares.

So why another web development company? Here’s why.

First, my co-founders and I have spent the last several years doing very similar work, but for a very specific market. In some ways, we’re just continuing what we’ve always been doing, but with a larger public presence and in a different location.

Second, we’re see new opportunities in spaces outside of the niche market we worked in. We see opportunities to:

We’ve also got some exciting side projects. More on that later. ;-)

Finally, we’re thrilled by the idea of building a business and a culture together, continuing to work closely with our former colleagues, and meeting new people tackling interesting challenges.

It’s been three fast months since Guy Kawasaki’s video kept me awake with the realization that I wanted to start my own company. I’m proud to be working with such an amazing group of co-founders, and I’m pleased that we’re all sharing equaling in the creation of the company. We have an all-star team. If this was a pick-up basketball game, I’d feel guilty for having so much talent on one squad.

Most importantly, I find myself going back to what inspired me about that video and what compelled me to choose a different, more risky direction. I believe we have a chance to make meaning—to make an impact—in the lives of others. That means a lot to me.

So that’s what Cloud Four is about. We’ll have more to discuss in the coming months. If you know of someone who can use our services, we would appreciate you pointing them in our direction.

I’m a Zero

I got very excited today over the news via Truemors that Google is going to start offering location-based services using cell towers to determine the location.

According to the news reports, you press zero on your mobile phone while using Google Maps to find your approximate location using cell towers. The iPhone lacks GPS so this new service sounds like a winner.

Except you can’t press zero on your iPhone. There is no zero key to press. There are no keys at all on the iPhone.

Here is where my foolishness comes in. I decided to use Google Maps on my iPhone and search for zero. Amazingly, it worked. It put a dot on the map just a few blocks from my house.

I couldn’t wait to share my discovery with my coworkers. It was only when one of them said searching for zero returned a location in South Carolina that I realized the error.

Turns out there is a business near our house with the name “0 1 All Day 24 Hour 1 Locksmith.” Searching for zero didn’t find my current location. My current location just happens to be near the top result starting with a zero.

And that’s how I ended up being today’s zero.

links for 2007-11-23

Brand Affinity and Brand Fans

Everywhere I turn lately, there has been a discussion about brands and our relationship to them. One of the co-founders of Cloud Four, Lyza, wrote about Brand Affinity recently. My ex-coworker Chris Higgins picked up the theme on Mental Floss. Finally, Facebook’s recently unveiled its big advertising push with an emphasis on “Brand Fans” and “Fan-sumers.”

When Lyza and Chris write about their brand preferences, I find myself thinking that, yes, I indeed follow brands and buy brands. However, when I first read about Facebook’s new advertising plan relying on me declaring myself a fan of a brand, I laughed aloud. Yeah right, how many people are going to take the time to sign up to become a fan of Coke.

But if you read Jeremiah’s article on Facebook, he provides some convincing supporting data in support of Facebook’s brand pages. In particular, he points out that people trust the recommendations of friends and acquaintances more than any other source of information. Because of this fact, having your friends endorse a brand on Facebook would make a big difference in your decision-making.

The data is right. The conclusion is wrong.

Few people have blind loyalty when it comes to brands. I generally like Apple products (as do both Chris and Lyza), but I would never buy nor recommend that anyone buy an iTV. Because I generally like Apple products, I will look at their new products, but I don’t purchase them blindly.

And when I like something, I evangelize specific products, not the brand itself. I think this is true of most people whether we talk about Apple or Coca-Cola. People like specific products created by companies, not everything the company has ever done.

This is why I think Facebook is on the right track, but misguided in a fundamental way. They have taken a marketer’s approach to creating a relationship with brands when the real value comes from recommendations at the product or service level.

TinyURL’s Outage: Conspiracy Theories

Last night I pooh poohed a Slashdot article talking about the frailty caused by relying on TinyURL.

Less than 12 hours after I wrote my post, started returning 404 errors prompting real concern from netizens.

Steve Rubel wrote, “The thought of an evaporating TinyURL…is all more than a little bit frightening, yet fascinating.” Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote about the dangers of using TinyURL and then jokingly harassed people on twitter who used TinyURL.

Everyone is missing the boat on this story. Less than 24 hours after a Slashdot article raising the alarm, the service that has been reliable for years goes down? Sounds like conspiracy to me.

Could it be that someone felt it necessary to prove a point about the dangers of TinyURL by taking the service to its knees? Or has the most unprobable outcome occurred and the long forgotten Slashdot effect finally returned? :-)

links for 2007-11-20

Mirroring the Past

“There was a day when Web development was in a sad state of affairs. The majority of developers laughed at JavaScript, and were focusing on a killer new server-side web framework, or a new ORM library. The consensus was that that browser was dumb. The modern TN3270 if you will…

…We finally feel that the time has come for mobile phones to be the major device that users have for accessing their data and getting things done. You only have to travel around the world to see that already happening. Now, with the iPhone, a decent Java system, and more, we see the toolkits that will allow developers to build fantastic applications on the phone.”


What’s Next: Cloud Four

As many of you may know, I recently left my job of over seven years. In today’s world, it is an amazing thing to stay find a place to work that you believe in and feel passionate about. The first two years I worked at Kavi, I had two bad days. Who else can say that?

I have been incredibly blessed during my time at Kavi. I’m very proud of what the company has become, of the impact it has in the world (just try to buy a computer that doesn’t include a standard being developed on Kavi’s servers), and of the direction the company is headed. I have such admiration, respect, and affection for the people I worked with.

And like most things that have happened since I found Kavi, even my departure has been a good thing. We’re leaving on amicable terms. Kavi has been very supportive of our new venture, and we’re already working together on projects.

So what’s next? Three of my co-workers and I have formed a new company called Cloud Four. We’re going to continue to do web site development and expand our services into areas of interest like performance, analytics, and mobile devices.

I’ll have much more to talk about regarding Cloud Four soon. :-)