Twitter ends white-listing. Becomes greedy fiefdom

In a move that makes perfect sense (if you’re evil) Twitter has ended white-listing of applications. To those who don’t know what white-listing is, Twitter has an API that allows developers like me to make more requests than allowed by default. Say 20,000 verses 75 an hour. Twitter implemented rate limits as a way to stay on top of it’s massive scalability issues, but for data hungry applications such as those that analyze large sets of tweets to draw trends will no longer be able to do this for free. Instead, these applications will need to pay for data.

While this may not sound evil outright, twitter knows what the net affect of this move will be. No more competition from scrappy little startups who provide better applications and value than twitter can itself. This gives twitter some room to breathe while it sorts out it’s own revenue model. You can read more about this move and how’s bad for business here: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/twitter_kills_the_api_whitelist_what_it_means_for.php

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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

I wonder how many seemingly large businesses are actually mom and pops with no people and no money. My brief introduction to consulting has shown me that most consulting firms are exactly that. Some enterprising individual or two venture out to start consulting and grow from there. I’m not sure if any consulting firm starts as a venture with capital or investors. They are all decidedly bootstrapped and consulting more than any other business is bootstrap compatible.

That said, what makes a consulting business successful? How do the one or two founders go from doing all the work themselves, scrapping together a living, and enduring the long lag between payments to a multi-million dollar enterprise?

I think there are some core tenants of success in consulting.

1. Have funds available! Be it a line of credit, money in the bank, or credit cards. That’s the number one message I would tell anyone. When you start out, things will be slow. Be ready for it. Minimize expenses to a bare minimum. Sell everything you don’t own outright. Even if it’s upside down sell it and make up the difference in cash. You’re not going to need anything when you are on the road 100% of the time anyways. If you have a house, rent it out for the top dollar you can get. Let your clients pay for your accommodations in hotels, while you are working for them. Rent some hole in the wall while you’re in-between clients.

2. Partner! In the beginning it is a lot easier to partner with a growing consulting business or two or ten then to find new clients on your own. These consulting partners can help you pay the bills while you look for new clients. Keep in mind, that you are not going to get your preferred rate while subcontracting. Your partner is going to take somewhere between 10 and 50% off the top of the rate they sell you at anyways.

Another more valuable way to partner is to partner up with product companies in your industry. These guys will get leads to services work all the time that they can’t do anything with other than hand off to their services partner. This is a great way to start getting the kind of work that pays enough to enable the next point.

3. Grow very slowly! When you start landing well paying work, you may be tempted to hire and hand it off. FOOL! Let me show you an example. You just landed a $1 million dollar gig with XYZ corp. XYZ knew you were small, but they liked you personally and felt like you could really give them the personal service they expect so you look at the PO and decided I need 2 or 3 or 10 people now. So you start hiring.

You learn immediately that few people are up to your caliber. The people you want, don’t want to work for you so that leaves only the chaff. So you start hiring the chaff and place them with the client. Of course this chaff screws stuff up and you have to answer for it. After a while XYZ gets pissed off and fires you or worse, sues you.

Now you have no money and lots of expenses. Now you have to learn how to fire people and the time you wasted throughout all this has now ensured you can’t find enough new clients to weather the storm.

What you should have done instead is hire high caliber contractors. Your peers. The folks in your industry that you trust. The ones you know can do the work. Yeah, they will cost more and your piece of the million dollar pie goes way down, but in the end your client will be happy and you’ll be freed up to keep finding more business.

 

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Yammer plans to spend $25 million on Engineering!

TechCrunch has posted a TechCrunchTV video interview of David Sacks, the CEO of Yammer, talking about how he will spend their recent round of $25 million on engineering and expansions into Asia and Europe.

Asia and Europe. Based on the conversation around the hiring difficulties in Silicon Valley and the joke about speaking Chinese, I assume that Yammer plans to hire a load of cheap Chinese devs. Good luck with that!

TechCrunch uses the time wisely, by asking for better mobile clients and confirms their near reliance on the tool. I guess if you are a small disconnected shop like TechCrunch, Yammer makes a lot of sense. It’s a great, platform neutral way to communicate with your team no matter where you are and is less tedious than email. (More on that later)

Personally, I have my on feature requests for Yammer, but I rather build them into SnapWorkSocial, a much more enterprise worthy application.

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Yammer Scores $25 Bazillion Dollars

Both CMSWire and TechCrunch broke news today that Yammer, the enterprise social platform, has received $25 Million in additional funding, presumably to take over the world. Why else would you need so much money. That aside, what was really interesting to me was who Yammer thinks its competition is.

CMSWire reported Yammer’s CEO,  David Sacks, as saying “The fact that Salesforce has to copy Yammer even though it has 2,000 sales reps is like Goliath dropping his sword and armor and chasing after David with a sling-shot,” said  of Yammer. “This funding will make sure they don’t catch up to us.”

Right. Its some ego to suggest that chatter is a copy of Yammer. Chatter is an obvious social capability added to an already robust and purpose-driven application. Yammer is social activity with no context. No purpose.

What’s most surprising is that Yammer didn’t start it. Salesforce did, or at least a Salesforce investor,  according to CMSWire.

“In any case, the competition is taking notice. Emergence Capital partner and investor in both Yammer and Salesforce, Kevin Spain, called on the CRM company to offer Chatter (another honorable mention) for free in order to successfully compete with Yammer.

So both companies are thinking about each other. It makes me wonder if Salesforce is working on a broader social engine and if Yammer is working on a more targeted CRM platform.

One thing is for sure, this space is hot, and can’t wait to be a part of it.

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Coming out of the closet in a turkey suit

It’s been a while since I blogged. I used to get a lot out of it. I started a popular SharePoint blog over at http://blogs.msdn.com/mikewat and then again at http://www.sharepointmadscientist.com after I left Microsoft. When blogging became too much I started microblogging on twitter as mikewat and created quite the following. However, I got pigeon-holed as a SharePoint guy, and worst yet, a SharePoint infrastructure guy.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that and it did me well for many years, but that lies so far from my true passions that it wasn’t enough for me to simply start writing about the topics I loved. I had to completely destroy my image and start over.

So here I am. Reinvented…..sort of. I’m still the same, just on my own terms. I’m tempted to say enjoy, but this time, I’m not writing with you in mind. I’m not some philanthropist trying to spread my love around. I don’t really give a shit about the audience anymore. I’m writing for myself now and I don’t care who or if anyone listens.

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