Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

"It's myspace now, facebook" - Myspace aquisition of iLike

Last week a curious thing happened. Newscorp-owned Myspace aquired social music application iLike. In itself this isn't too newsworthy, until you factor in that iLike is not only facebooks default music player but also one of their most trafficked applications, then things get very interesting.

The two points this incident raises is a) the future viability of facebook's application platform and b) the implications of myspace basically owning a large chunk of that platform.

Future viability of facebook's application platform

facebook is well within their legal rights to shutdown iLike in two ways. Either wiping it off the platform overnight in one king hit, execution style. Or cutting it off incrementally, effectively strangeling it out of existence by killing its visibility and usability through the platform over time.

Here's the kicker though. If facebook were to do something like the above, what sort of message is it sending out to the thousands of application developers on the platform who have poured their own money, time and resources into their own app's, hoping for a return? The message I would get is this - 'If you get too big (thus profitable), we'll either re-create you as a facebook owned app, or simply kill you off our platform one way or another - because we can'.

Bottom line - if they did kill off iLike now, they would effectively be killing off the trust of all third party facebook app developers, trust they desperately need to keep in check if facebook is to become the next google, which increasingly looks more and more plausible.

Implications of myspace owning one of the biggest applications on facebook

Rupert has played his cards well on this one. Now newscorp has a (floodgate sized) backdoor into its main rival and more importantly, its users. As explained above, I can't see that door closing anytime soon, so what is newscorp going to be able to acheive through this coup?

i) A constant finger on facebook's pulse - they now have a legitimate and qualified reason to pour alot of money into analyzing how facebook platform architecture works, as they are inside it.

ii) User data - With an app the size of iLike now under their control, they have access to deep analytics of the app's userbase. Which is effectively a snapshot of facebook's userbase. Data is key in social networking. By being able to combine their own myspace data and now a relatively solid grasp of facebooks user data they will be far more informed on trends than they have been previously.

iii) Links - Myspace can now pull users from facebook through to myspace via iLike. If a facebook user finds a song they like through iLike and then wants to buy it, how will they do that? Why, through myspace music of course.... enough said.

Will facebook kill iLike and thus its credibility?

Will myspace use this opportunity as the starting block for a much needed renaissance?

Fascinating times lie ahead for all us social media/networking fanboys in seeing how this one pans out.

For all those who just have a fleeting interest in this space, hopefully this gives you some watercooler ammo for the coming week.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

KFC's Cayan Grill O’Clock fb Campaign = FAIL

So I haven't blogged for a while and was concious of the fact that I needed to get back in the mix if I am to build a small but fledgling reputation for myself. But I didn't know what to write about.

This all changed when KFC dropped into my facebook world this morning via an inline fanning ad.

The ad said I could score a free chicken burger this afternoon. Salivating with anticipation I fanned the ad, then headed over to their page.

Page looks OK, sooo, whats the deal....

After closer inspection it turns out they are only giving the burgers away at one store each in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Seen as im at UNSW right now, the George street store is too far away, even for a free burger. But what is interesting here is that almost everyone else on the page is too far away too, and they're telling KFC about it.

Add to this the fact that they started spamming my newsfeed with two identical posts in 30 minutes and you have a marketing company that doesn't get social media.

Right now, in my opinion, KFC's facebook strategy is blowing up right in their faces.

How hard would it have been to issue a special code that all members of the page could've used at any KFC store nationwide during 1300-1400? Or even an application strategy ala whoppersacrifice?

Both these options would have left consumers a shit load happier than they are at the current minute. Don't agree? Click on the pic and tally the negative vs positive comments for me :|

Consider this an opportunity wasted, a brand trashed and tarnished and a lesson to all others of how a poorly executed social media strategy can get seriously fucked up.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Social Media In Australia - Talk is good, but is anyone actually doing anything?

Written By Michael Watkins for DigitalMinistry.com on Jan 19th 09

These past few months i have been actively following the emerging trends in the Australian social media market. What became clear to me is this. Australia has a very healthy scene of social media commentators, bloggers, twitterer's and evangelist's that do a great job of de-mystifying what social media is and how it works. What is harder to find, is actual working examples or case studies by Australian companies leveraging off social media effectively. There are benefits of talking up social media, but even bigger benefits if there is proof it can work for the commercial sector in Australia.

I keep hearing that social media is the second coming for the digital marketing and advertising space in Australia.  However to get proof of social media's effectiveness, I need to get data from the States or the UK.  I recently had a chat to one of Sydney's most well respected Digital marketers about this issue and the conclusions were interesting.

  • There is alot of talk, but not much doing.  
  • Everyones a social media strategist, complete with no personal case studies available to examine or personal track record available to inspect.
  • In order for big corporates to start using social media, they need proof it can work.
  • Once the market see's two or three large companies benefiting from a new media space, confidence in the space will grow quickly and SM will begin to be seen as a very viable advertising and marketing platform to leverage off.  

Talking up a scene is great, for the scene.  Doing is even better. 

Doing = Action

Action = Results

Results = Proof

Proof = Confidence

The market needs to be confident in SM before it invest's in it.  Confidence will only grow from proof.  Proof can only be displayed by results and results can only be generated from action. 

This is not a beatup on the the Social Media Scene in Australia, its a call to arms.  I love talking about SM as much as anyone working in the space, but big clients do not.  They love talking about results, results that proove a marketing platform can work for them.  They love talking about proof because it grows their confidence in the idea.  They love confidence because it gives them the backing needed to actually try something new. 

We all know how effective Social Media can be, so its high time we started talking about the results and proof that our campaigns generate.  The sooner this is done, the faster the scene will grow, the more clients we will all have, more jobs will become available and the healthier the scene will be as a whole.

I think this will be a very polarising post, with readers either agreeing wholeheartedly or disagreeing completely on the case I have presented.  This does not worry me, I urge that if you have a position, or if you have your own proof from previous campaigns, please leave them in the comments. This will be a start to understanding what is actually being done, versus what is being talked about.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The State of Australian Social Media 2009

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on 1st Jan 2009]

Happy New Year to all!

I thought I would start off 09 with a few predictions of how I think the Australian Social Media Scene will play out for the next 12 months.

  • There will be a big increase in Australian companies starting to really dip their toes into Social Media Marketing. This will be mainly due to the delicate economy and organizations wanting to get as much ROI on their marketing strategies as possible. As Social Media offers a highly targeted and measured approach and the fact that Social Media is currently cheaper than the alternatives, it will appear an attractive option to advertisers.
  • The Australian Startup and Social Media community will become much tighter and closer due to the increased recognition the sector will receive. New work spaces such as Pollenizer’s co-working space which is opening in March will serve to fill in the gaps of who’s who in the scene and ultimatley pull the community closer together still. The ramifications of this happening is huge, with a tighter scene, more people meet one another and share ideas, most of these idea’s are left as ideas. But some will make the jump from ideas to real startups, the more Startups there are, the bigger the entire scene becomes, which is what we all want!
  • With most other economies around the world in recession [or quickly heading that way] and Australias still in the black, it will give AU startups a healthy global platform to start from. There will be less global competition which will only help smart Australian startups grow faster globally. Think of it as a head start.
  • Lastly, Australia is yet to fully embrace the Twitter phenomenom that has gripped the US and some parts of Europe throughout 2008. 2009 will be the year that Twitter does start picking up serious traction in Australia. I realize most early adopters in Australia are avid Twitter users already, but I am looking more towards when Twitter goes mainstream and what implications the micro blogging site will create for us here.

These are only four quick thoughts for the Startup and Social Media scene in Australia in the coming year. I have many more, but these appear to be the most relevant at the moment.

If you have any thoughts or insights regarding the year ahead for Startups and Social Media in Australia, please leave them in the comments.

I hope you all, like me, are looking forward to an amazing 2009.

Facebook Redesign + App’s Program = App’s 2.0?

[Article published by Michael Watkins for News Ltd's 'Wires and Lights Blog' on Dec 1st 2008]

Facebook has announced that they will be introducing a ‘Verified App’s Program‘ early in ‘09. Applications will be evaluated on Facebooks three core principals, those being Respect, Transparency and Security. If all these principals are met, the application is deemed ‘Facebook Verified’.

The advantages of being an Facebook verified application will include more visibility in the news feed, higher ranking in the application directory and a big fat green tick next to your app when potential users are reviewing it. All good things.

All good things, if you are willing to pay a price. The price being $US375 a year…. recurring.

There has been a lot of talk regarding this move by Facebook, a lot of it critical. As the markets continue to tank, many see it as a blatant grab for cash, after all a ‘$US15B’ company wont be worth that for much longer in this climate, if it can’t pump out some steady revenue streams. Others claim that open-source on the platform is dead, as developers will have to pay to have their app formally ‘accepted’ by Facebook.

My thoughts are that this move is smart for Facebook and for serious application developers who have a vision to make serious money off the platform. Why?

In unison with the new site redesign, the program will help clear the backlog of useless and annoying app’s that clogged the news feeds which is what makes Facebook so useful
App’s as a whole got a bad wrap from the applications that just wasted your time or plain annoyed you. The new redesign changed all this. People said applications were dead due to the new design. I think they cleared the platform of all the shitty app’s that you don’t want or use and are gearing the platform to make way for credible app’s that actually solve real problems and have real revenue models. The program builds on this thinking and actually asks the real app developers who back themselves with a great idea, to come to the table and put there money where their mouth is.

Serious business ideas can be realized and be credible
In allowing the verified app access to more news feed exposure, notifications, invitations and emails, the program gives serous app developers an elevated platform to work off and the chance to prove that their app can work within a busy, highly exposed environment. Its like a head start, it gives the app more visibility above all the other unverified app’s. Lastly, since the app is officially verified, it will instill more confidence in the user to trust the app and therefore use it more.

It will provide a better user experience for users
With the crap, spammy, annoying app’s out and well built, designed and relevant app’s on the way through, users experience’s will inevitably begin to get better as time goes on.

It will usher in the next generation or ‘Web 2.0’ of app development
This is a big call on my behalf, feel free to abuse me in the comments… But I think we are seeing a small renaissance in application development being kicked off by Facebooks redesign and this program. Think back to Web 1.0, there was a massive rush of sites being created for no real purpose, other than to be seen, then the market died, along with all those websites… Then, technology got better, the masses became more comfortable online and smart people built sites that actually helped people solve real-world problems. The same trend appears to have happened with applications, I think over the last 18 months we’ve seen the rush of app’s that want to be seen. Now with proper guidelines and systems coming into place the platform is being set for a new wave. A wave of smart app’s that actually offer value, create money and solve real problems.

It is going to be fascinating to see how this pan’s out and if Facebook does start making real bucks off it. For now though, if I had built an app that I truly believed in, I would be one of the first to pay that $US375.

If you want to apply to get your app verified, visit here.

Feeding You Jobs In Realtime - Jobfeedr.com

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on Dec 16th 2008]

Sydney based garage startup Jobfeedr.com is on to something.

The site crawls all the worlds major IT jobs boards every few minutes, then automatically feeds these jobs to their homepage, your twitter channel or via RSS to your browser.

The service is one condusive to the times. Quoting co-founder Mike Nicholls -

More people [are] fighting for less jobs, more online job sites that need to be checked constantly for new jobs, job sites making candidates wade through 100s of screens to get through jobs just so they can show more ad impressions. Looking for jobs turns into a full time job.

In making this process automated, the Jobfeedr team just saved thousands of stressed out job hunters the hassle of wading through the irrelevant material that is pushed at them through the major jobs boards.

The setup process is dead simple. Head to Jobfeedr.com, set the specific fields you want for your feed then hit ok. A list of job’s will then appear below. Click on the twitter channel link of a chosen job, this will direct you to that job category’s twitter feed on twitter. Click follow and presto, all jobs found by jobfeedr relating to that specific job field will be automatically twittered to your feed.

Same goes with RSS. Click the RSS button and that stream will begin feeding into your browser.

I really do see some promise here. The idea is great, serves a real purpose and will save alot of time stretched people alot of time!

The global approach from launch is encouraging, the team is not just focusing on the smaller Australian or Australasian markets, they have San Francisco and New York City on the cards too - something we dont see enough of in the Aussie startup scene.

Mike Nicholls and Dale Hurley look like an experienced team who have the knowledge to keep pushing Jobfeedr forward.

Lastly and most importantly, although the look is currently very bare, the interface design and functionality is extremely simple, which is something alot of other twitter app and RSS app developers have yet to master.

Advert’s may come into play later down the track, with small ad’s being integrated into the twitter feed and possibly the RSS feeds. However for now, the team is focused on getting the core technology right, believing if they do this, users will pick up and advertising streams will follow.

Keep an eye on Jobfeedr in the future and if your looking for your next job, employ jobfeedr to do the work for you, saving you alot of time for other things during these xmas holidays.

Recessions Are Good News For Immature Aussie Startups

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on Dec 10th 2008]

With all the news around at the moment, indications are that they sky is falling and Aussie Tech Startups have little or no chance of surviving through the ever-widening financial quagmire that is the current world economy. I thought on this, felt sorry for myself and my own startup for 5 minutes, then decided to dig deeper into the effect economic downturns have had on small tech companies.

The results may encourage you ­

Talent Pool

When a market tanks, job cuts follow. When the market really tanks, lots of job cuts follow. The IT industry is one of the worst industries hit by layoffs, as companies prefer to keep on their core staff that provide the bread and butter applications for the company, then cut the rest of their roster. Most of the time it’s the young ones working on the cool new things the company had envisaged 6-12 months earlier, that get the chop.

Suddenly, almost overnight, the talent pool changed. The market is offering up brilliant young developers and designers that would have normally cost squillions an hour, to virtually nothing ­ all they want is to make their next rental payment.
If you had trouble finding good staff before, look now, in the right places and you will find them in abundance.

Less Competition

Remember reading about all those promising new tech startups that received bucket-loads of venture capital cash 12 months ago ­ and competed directly in your space -while you were busy writing your own business plan, in your makeshift office? Most of them will be out of business in the next 12 months, which gives you a clear start. VC backed companies usually have very aggressive business plans that are well suited to an aggressive market, once the market turns south, that business then chews through cash with a burn rate that would smoulder any page it was written on. Some will be smart and begin saving cash quickly, others won’t and will head down into the deadpool.

If your startup is compelling enough and you focus only on your primary proposition, you may find it easier and faster to grow in a lonely, lame marketplace than that of a busy, crowded marketplace. The time to jump in is now.

Perseverance and Money Management

If you thought juggling finances was hard 6 months ago, its gotten exponentially harder since. An economic downturn whittles out the companies that have bad revenue models and bad fiscal management, those companies simply deadpool. The ones that survive have solid revenue streams - no matter how much they make and strong fiscal management. So if you want to survive this, better start learning how to control, allocate and conserve money well, very well. If you come out the other end looking relatively bruised and battered, but all in all healthy, the market then has only one way to head and that’s up. If you take the lessons learned during a market fall and keep applying them to your business while in good times, it will only serve to make you as an entrepreneur and your company that much stronger when the next one comes.

Real VC’s

The time of the VC firm that had too much money is now over. VC’s will only invest in companies that they have researched to the point of lunacy, then they’ll research them some more. Its good news for startups because the wrong investors wont get involved with your company. Your business plan will only attract those VC’s or investors that know and connect with what you are trying to achieve. It will be harder to raise money, but know once you have raised it, you will be on board with an investor who truly understands you, your business and its future.


Apple and Microsoft were both conceived and then later founded during the tail-end of the 1973-74 stock market crash - supposedly one of the worst stock market downturns in modern history at the time, where did they end up?
They now have a current combined market cap of US$316.3B.

To sign off, here are some of my ideas - Go out now and build your dream team, the people you need probably have no job at the moment. Be frugal and smart with your companies money, if you get through this, there will be plenty on the other side. Take advantage of a desolate playground, market your brand in smart ways, get in customers faces while no one else is.

Raise money smartly, if your idea is compelling and growing, you’ll be 1 in 100, rather than 1 in 100,000, so you have more room to move - get the investor that sees your vision.

If you do come out the other side, you and your company would have been born in and persevered through one of the worst economic landscapes the world has ever known. You’ll probably have one of the strongest and smartest staff going around, have VC’s throw money at you and be in one of the best economic landscape the world has ever known.

Recession?? I think Progression.

Rapport – White Label Social Networking For Your Brand

[Published by Michael Watkins for technation on Nov 18th 2008]

Sydney company Cognitive Development have built one of the first white-label social networking platforms to focus on the sometimes forgotten Australian SME Tech scene. Named Rapport, the product allows companies with tighter budgets to capitalize on the social media movement by offering a pre-packaged but highly customizable social networking system for their brand or company.

“Our aim was to create a powerful marketing tool using social networking technology so that companies restricted by time or money can compete with their bigger competitors, particularly in a time of possible recession,” said Cognitive Development co-founder Stuart Inskip.

The reason it is so cheap relies on the fact that customers don’t have to pay for the entire development cost of the network. They use the existing Rapport architecture, then pick and choose which features they want within it. In cutting out development cost’s, it drastically drops the overall price of building a company focused social network.

This product could not come at a better time for SME’s struggling to get their brand out into a swamped and increasingly expensive market place.

The fact that a Sydney Based Company has been created to solely focus on social media for the Australian SME sector is a strong sign that the social media space in Australia is maturing and gaining commercial importance.

The cool thing is that each network can be tailored to fit the business it is being built for be it, Bars and Clubs, Open Learning, Retail or Fan Groups. In doing this it offers companies the chance to get maximum value out of their marketing and business objectives at a very competitive rate.

I am yet to see what the interface will look like or how it will act. A guess would be that it is something similar to Ning, but aimed at a more narrow, commercially focused demographic.

Rapport will definitely fill a niche for companies looking to capitalize on social networking within the baby-boomer or late Gen X demographics.

What will be interesting however is how companies focused on the Gen Y audience will use the Rapport platform to pull that demographic away from the big social networks like facebook. This audience is now so deeply entrenched within these social network that it will may prove a hard obstacle to achieve. If these SME’s don’t have an incredibly enticing value proposition for this generation, the jump maybe too difficult to make.

Monster + News Ltd = Seek Killer??

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on Nov 28th 2008]

Monster Worldwide has just struck a deal with News Ltd to buy 50% of CareerOne, News’s online jobs board.

The deal in short, allows CareerOne to employ Monsters search engine for more exacting search results.

Whats interesting here is why now? The market is tanking, job vacancies are evaporating and CareerOne’s Job numbers were down 10% from recent July levels. News CEO John Hartigan explains that the deal “signals an intensifying of our challenge to Seek“.

Possible benefit’s for News, if they are willing to spend the cash during the downturn, include promoting the CareerOne brand while Seek’s financials stall, which could result in more market share for the company next year when markets pick back up. Its a viable avenue to head down, but in order to gain more market share, there needs to be more jobs available and with current employment numbers dropping, that option isn’t looking attractive.

I’ve followed this story for the best part of 5 months now, ever since Monster announced they were heading back into the Australian market earlier in the year, after failing last time they were here. The question that still sticks out for me on this is, how can you realistically expect to be anything more than a distant second to Seek in the online Job’s board market in Australia.

The Bassett brothers company, which is now 26.7% owned by James Packers Consolidated Media Holdings, retains a staggering 60% of the Australian market. That is a colossal piece of market share, which Seek will aim to retain, tooth and nail.

There just doesn’t seem to be a financially attractive or strategically effective way to beat Seek in this sector.

I found that Fairfax Digital’s Jack Matthews’ remarks, sum up the move well,

“[we don't see] the benefit of bringing in a company that’s already tried and failed here. If we had a business that was really successful, we wouldn’t sell half of it.”

Seek has beaten Monster once before…and I can’t see a merger with CareerOne stopping that from happening again.

Seek Killer?? — We’ll wait and see.

ANZ wants to be your Money Manager

[Article written by Michael Watkins for technation on Oct 16th 2008]

ANZ launched MoneyManager today.

In a first for the Australian market, MoneyManager is a service that shows users all of their finances, from several different financial providers, in the one place.

MoneyManager imports account data from third party financial sites that a user would regularly use, then presents the information through a simple interface.

The site will make it easier for ANZ customers to effectively manage their finances without having the standard three to four browser tabs open simultaneously.

This will be welcome news to all who have been tracking their personal finances a little more cautiously recently given the current state of the globes financial sectors.

If you are an ANZ customer, you can sign up to use the site here.

QuickRosters - Painfully Simple Online Rostering

[Article written by Michael Watkins for technation on October 3rd 2008]

Quickrosters.com, recently launched into beta, allows business owners to easily and effectively manage their employee roster online.

The site is dead simple, as is the idea. It only took me 2-3 minutes to create a fake roster with 5 employees, set the times and dates of their shifts for the week and hypothetically email or SMS them off to staff.

What is fascinating is how simple the site actually is. Where the interface doesn’t score points in the good looks department, it makes up for in spades with its easy to use steps and instructions.

Founder and developer Chris Hulbert now needs to start licensing the software to SME’s in Australia. If Chris succeeds in doing this, he should be able to use the revenue gained to improve on the site and begin targeting bigger companies, as the issue he is addressing affects all businesses big and small.

This is one of those startup’s that came from a simple idea and was built correctly into a simple web site.

You can find and demo the Quickrosters site here.

Come hither to Clivir

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on Sept 23rd 2008]

Clivir is a recently launched tutorial based learning community that allows users to teach or be taught.

The Perth based startup focuses on giving users the tools and platform to actively teach other users about anything that interest’s them. Users can create lessons or classrooms, depending on the extent of knowledge or popularity of their teaching.

Example - John has extensive knowledge on photography. He sets up a lesson on basic photographic principle’s and has 3 clivir users attend his first lesson. The lesson goes well, the lessons attract more users and John is asked to expand on the topic further, so he sets up a classroom on Photography where users can share information and dissect the topic together in one space with John being the teacher.

After taking a few lessons myself, credit is due to Clivir for the clean, easy to use interface that beats most other competitors hands down.

It is also interesting to note that the site has no visible advertising to distract teachers or students. This suggests that the Clivir team really do want to help people learn rather than make a quick dollar, which is very noble indeed. However, as the site grows, a revenue model will have to be implemented and how they do that without disrupting the classroom will be interesting.

So far Clivir has been fun and I will continue to use it as the grows, both in a teacher and student capacity.

If you have an interest or hobby that you would like to share with, learn from or teach to others, give Clivir a try.

5 Questions - Anne Bartlett Bragg - MD Headshift Australia

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on Sept 25th 2008]

Global Social Media agency Headshift has recently set up shop here in Australia. I interviewed the Managing Director Anne Bartlett Bragg to find out more about Headshift and why they have decided to open an Office in Australia.


What is Headshift’s core business and what scope have you got in Australia currently?

“Headshift specialises in Social Software Development and Social Media Consultancy.”

With a move into the Australian Market, you are obviously anticipating significant growth in the social media and web 2.0 sectors. What indications or observations lead headshift to setup in Australia now?

“The UK and Europe experience has taught us to identify key indicators that point to a rise in popularity of Social Media. i) The interest in Social Media and Social Technologies has started to hit the mainstream media. When the mainstream media starts covering a once unfamiliar technology or way of thinking, suddenly that technology begins becomes justified and less scary in the mass market, leading to larger companies to begin testing the technology. ii) The language is out there. The market is beginning to talk about Social Media Technology in ways that can help their business reach new markets and new customers. Talking is the first step, implementing and using the technology is the next step. iii) Early adopters are seeing results from using Social Media. The few companies that are already using Social Media effectively are talking up the positive aspects of it, which gives other companies the confidence they need to step into this market.”

How does the social media/web 2.0 scene in Australia compare to that of the UK and Europe?

“Currently Australia is 2-3 years behind on a corporate basis, namely in implementation. As I mentioned before, alot of companies are now talking about it, but few are actually ‘doing’ it.”

What companies do you target and why?

We target three types of companies.

  1. Companies that have a high focus on internal communications - as they benefit greatly from internal social networks. These companies are largely knowledge workers that have a dispersed audience and need to share information with one another on a constant basis.
  2. Companies that want to reach their target market by leveraging off social media externally. This may involve building their brand through the larger social networks like facebook or building a network about their brand with platforms like Ning.
  3. Community projects are becoming more popular with us, as more people begin to realise the power of social media and how it can expand the reach and awareness of their cause very rapidly with little financial sacrifice.”

Where do you see the Australian web 2.0 and social media scenes in 2 years time?

“In 2 years I believe Australia would have caught up with the rest of the world. Being slow to adopt is not necessarily a bad thing, as the early adopters lay the groundwork for the rest of the market to springboard off. The result is that Australia will grow faster than the UK and Europe and has a real chance of possibly getting ahead of them in 2.5-3 years time. Australia is also far more dispersed, literally, in terms of landmass than that of the UK and Europe which will mean once Social Media Technologies become mainstream and the infrastructure is there to support them, people will use the technology as a primary source of communication as it is cheaper and far more effective than what they have currently.”

Headshift employs 2 people in Australia, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne, however the company is looking to expand its employee base in the coming months.

These are all promising signs for the Social Media and Web 2.0 sector in Australia, as big players are starting to plant roots here in the expectation that the market is growing and will keep growing significantly in the near future.


Thanks to Anne for the time taken for the interview. To find out more about Headshift visit the Headshift Australia website.

OurSwaps, The Game Of Swaps Has Changed.

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on Oct 17th 2008]

OurSwaps, the first project to come out of Geekdom, has announced a new feature that allows people to combine cash offers with the products they want to swap. This means users can effectively swap products that are not of equal value by adding a cash sweetener to the deal.

OurSwaps isn’t the only player in the swap-site game - there’s even another great Aussie swap site - SwapAce - but the ability to combine things and cash gives them a unique position in the market

Revenue is created by taking 5 credits (1 credit = USD20 cents) each time a swap is completed.

To date, the figures look good for OurSwaps. The site was soft launched in early April and they recently opened their doors to the public in early August. During this time they have built a base of over 3000 members, with between 50-100 new users signing up every day.

The interface is clean and well designed, with very similar architecture to that of most other online trading sites. The company is looking to ramp up its activities over summer with a global view in mind.

It seems OurSwaps is tapping into a part of aussie culture that has existed for decades, that being the fact that users have the option to barter a cash incentive over the top of the product being offered instead of just swapping the product at face value.

An Ebay killer? Time will tell.

Google Turns 10 And It Very Nearly Didn’t Happen.

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on Sep 8th 2008]

US Search giant Google turns 10 years old today.

In just under a decade two college maths geniuses grew an idea into a global monolith turning over US$16.5B a year. However the most poignant thing about the Google story is in the early days, before Google ‘The Search Engine’ even really existed.

Once they had written the original algorithms for the search engine Larry and Sergey actively went around Palo Alto and Menlo Park trying to sell the product to big VC firms and blue-chip companies. They were very quickly laughed out of the room. The big players thought portals like AOL and Yahoo were still the future of the internet and nobody would really have any use for a ‘backlinked’ search engine.

So after some thought, Larry and Sergey pushed ahead and launched the company anyway. The rest as im sure you all know is history.

The Google story re-iterates the point to any IT entrepreneur, Australian or overseas, that no matter how far out your idea is, no matter how often you get laughed out of a room, if you have the perserverance to stick with it, something will happen.

You may create the next pets.com, in which case you’ll have learnt alot from the experience to move forward with.

Or you may just create the next Google, in which case all you need to look at are the digits down the right hand side of this page

Happy Birthday Google!

iPhone To Be Sold On Pre-Pay, Gen-Y Thanks God.

[Article published by Michael Watkins for technation on June 12th 2008]

There has been a new development that I think is very important when considering how many iPhones will be sold in Australia following their release on July 11th.

Optus and Vodafone both announced yesterday that they will be launching the device on pre-paid plans, allowing customers to buy the phone outright without being tied into a contract.

Gen-Yer’s who struggle to keep control of their credit card and cash, which is, well, 90% of them, will have at least one war story to tell you of being burned by a fixed cellphone plan. Pre-pay plans suit this demographic a lot better as they have control over how much they spend and are immune to getting stung with a hefty bill at the end of each month.

A week ago the iPhone was out of my reach as i only ever use a cellphone on a pre-pay plan. Now, I’m looking forward to getting one.

I’m anticipating that the above will apply to most consumers sitting within the Gen-Y demographic as well.

If that’s the case, expected iPhone sales will be considerably higher than they would have been prior to yesterdays announcement. Its a very smart move from the telcos involved as one of the iPhones largest target markets will be the Young Professional, Uni Student or Tech Savvy Gen-Yer.

Get ready to see a lot more young iPhone users around the place in the coming months. The financially challenged just got let into the market….

Victoria Broadband Bid - “A Private Equity Bid Unlike Australia’s Ever Seen Before”

[article written by Michael Watkins for technation.com.au on June 15th 2008]

Details have emerged of who is behind the secretive Acacia syndicate that is planning to launch a bid for part of Kevin Rudd’s broadband network. The part in question will cover the state of Victoria with broadband, worth a reported $4.7 billion in taxpayer funds.

Investors in Acacia include Telstra Countrywide CEO Doug Campbell, directors at KPMG, Highpoint Property Group and Seek founders Paul and Andrew Bassett to name a few. A very high profile list in Australian business circles, with some referring to the group as the “Melbourne Mafia”.

Telstra, is of course nervous at the news as they will lose control of the broadband roll out if the new network is separated from Telstra’s existing fixed-line network. Telstra Chairman Donald McGauchie was quoted as saying “The Government needs to take this whole flawed, nonsensical concept of structural separation off the table”.

Telstra has every right to be nervous. I’m sure most consumers hanging out for faster broadband speeds in Australia will endorse a break from Telstra’s monotonous, slow moving structure to that of a fast, nimble provider who could roll out the new infrastructure at a faster pace.

The project looks set to be sold back to the government once the core infrastructure is put in place and the system is working fluidly, much the same as toll roads have worked in Australia.

I can only see this as a good thing for the countries Tech Industry. Telstra is a dinosaur that has failed the Australian Tech sector and consumer with 3rd-World broadband speeds.

Faster broadband speeds equals more breadth and depth for Tech startups to make realistic plays worldwide and actually stay in Australia whilst doing it.

Maybe I am jumping the gun on Telstra. I just think they have had long enough to make cheap, fast broadband accessible in Australia. If a batch of new syndicates can come in and offer the country what it needs to make it a realistic player in the worldwide tech industry and do it fast, I’m all for it.

Introducing Technation Writer Mike Watkins

[aricle published technation.com.au on June 11th 2008]

Time for everyone to meet another one of our writers - Mike Watkins.

Mike is a 22yo Kiwi whose background in Tech began in 2004 when he created findatraveller.com.

Findatraveller connected solo travellers around the world, the idea being no solo traveller had to travel alone if they didn’t want to.

In late 2005 a decision had to be made regarding the future of findatraveller, as traffic was low and growth was near non existent. He shut down the site in early 2006.

Here, in Mike’s words, is what happened next: -

For the next 18 months I analyzed the online backpacker industry intensely and made note of several new technology developments coming out, as well as what the backpacker really needed in a website. From this, gunnago.com was born.

Gunnago’s core centers around googlemaps technology and allows backpackers to find information quickly and easily as it is done geographically. The interface is unique and can display a large amount of rich media from within the one screen, without endless amounts of annoying page refreshes. The base design was completed in early 2007 and the first edition of the business plan completed by mid 2007.

After working through contacts he had met at Google, Mike was able to source an angel investor and gained seed capital funding for gunnago in late 2007. The site is weeks away from a beta testing phase and will be launched publicly in the latter half of 2008.

To quote Mike: -

I’m always interested in new ideas or thoughts in how to capitalize on the social and new media spaces and would welcome the chance to have a chat with people or companies willing explore the opportunities that this space is creating.

As I mentioned before, I will be putting up contact details for all our writers in the near future but, once again, in the meantime, feel free to welcome Mike in the comments