Dear Zuck, Fuck!

From this weeks Economist – http://economist.com

I hope you don’t mind me calling you Zuck. We barely know each other, although I did once bump into you whilst walking in College Terrace in Palo Alto.

The thing is, Mark feels too familiar, and Mr Zuckerburg way too formal. Besides I am a veteran entrepreneur and you are way younger than me so Mr feels, you know, a bit much.

Zuck feels just about right, and the good thing is it rhymes with fuck! — which is really pertinent given what I am about to say.

Well, Zuck, it seems as if your Messenger team has been closely watching what I have been doing with chat.center. I mean, wow! watching isn’t even the word for it. Snooping, Spying, is more like it. And clearly they must have liked what they saw because they made a copy. It’s a big surprise because nobody there even told us how much it appealed to them.

In case you think me paranoid….here is a screenshot from the new web version of Messenger at http://m.me. It’s from my personal page.

 

Facebook’s http://m.me web app

And here is the screen shot from my chat.center page.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 7.06.36 PM

Now, Zuck, a fair person might say that it’s easy for two pages to look similar, especially if their goal is similar. the color schemes may just accidentally be the same. The 3 column layout also. And perhaps the message box at the bottom is just, you know, “obvious”. And I am a fair man, so I’ll give you that. But then it just gets plain spooky.

Here is a blurb from the chat.center web site.

Unique Chat URL — and Click-to-Chat button for everything else

So you can engage your customers everywhere, not just on your website.

Use your chat address on social profiles, social ad campaigns, direct mail, business cards, signage, restaurant menu, product packaging, brochures etc.

At our core we provide a unique URL that points to a person or a business. Mine is http://chat.center/keith.

And here is what you say at the Facebook page for Messenger:

Usernames help people find businesses on both Facebook and Messenger, so they can connect with and message the businesses they’re interested in more easily. Because each username is unique, they also help people to identify your exact business, even if you have a relatively common name.

Mine is http://m.me/kteare

Firstly, I want to thank your team for their embracing of our core concept. of course they can’t go as far as us. We have integrated our offering into the DNS (the domain name system), so anybody can create a unique chat ID using their domain name. My incubator, archimedes labs, has done this and so you can reach me at http://chat.archimedeslabs.com. Being FaceBook the team want to keep things in-house and so their offering is inevitably more limited. But that said, it’s close to an exact copy — even down to the idea.

But it doesn’t stop there,

Today we’re also introducing Messenger Links, which businesses can use to make it fast and easy for people to start a message thread with them. Messenger Links use a Page’s username to create a short and memorable link (m.me/username) that, when clicked, opens a conversation with the business in Messenger.

On our chat.center web page we show our business customers this exact functionality.

 

chat.center widget shown at http://chat.center

 

Linking a chat.center Unique chat ID from a web page to a mobile chat client

This is close to an exact idea copy… but again there is a difference. My Facebook Unique chat ID cannot be clicked on by a non-Facebook member. if a user clicks it they are asked to log in with their FaceBook ID — like this:

 

Facebook Messenger: Blocked unless you are a member

chat.center on the other hand allows anybody (or if this is a business, any customer) to click a chat link and be in a chat with a business owner or ID owner. Try it. Click here — http://chat.center/cc — and you will see this:

 

A live web chat with a chat.center ID owner

No request to log in at all. A truly open chat ID available to a customer no matter what their membership status. Of course we do ask for a name and email address on a first chat, but that is to enable communication in case the chat receiver cannot reply right away. And it is not a registration. It is simply temporary for that chat.

So apart from the non-support for the DNS (domain name system), and so a user’s own internet identities; and apart from the requirement to log in to FaceBook, both of which limit your offering, it feels like a total rip-off of our idea.

Don’t get me wrong, we are flattered. And I am a big fan of your fearless acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, which made Facebook relevant to the mobile era. We are not really concerned at a competitive level either. Open chat IDs are in many ways more attractive than Facebook ones for any self-respecting brand, and the DNS is clearly the right place to integrate this functionality. Besides, the version you copied dates back to April 2015. We are close to our next version and it is a significant step forward in this space. So this is not about the competition.

But, it would have been nice to chat ahead of time. We are a small team of 6, and I’m in Palo Alto and after all I’m only a click away at http://chat.center/keith. So, really Zuck. What the Fuck!

BTW if you read this and want your own chat ID head over to http://chat.center. Use the code “12MonthsFree” and start enjoying “Click to Chat” for yourself or your business.

M.dot joins Archimedes Labs

Archimedes Labs just announced that it has invested in the team at M.dot

M.dot is led by Dominik Balogh and Pavel Serbajlo.

As the piece on Archimedes web site states:

M.dot’s vision is that all businesses can be Mobile accessible and discoverable. The platform allows businesses to create, maintain and promote their mobile presence, all from a smart phone app. In many ways M.dot is similar to the web creation and hosting companies that have served individuals, small and medium businesses and other groups during the web’s growth era from the mid 1990s to today. M.dot’s difference is that it is completely mobile-first without any legacy complications and is entirely focused on providing a mobile presence and mobile specific features such as location awareness and “click-to-call” functionality to these same customer segments.

Big idea, mobile first, great engineering and UI skills in the founding team. Just the strengths Archimedes likes….

Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble, Meet Heckerty!

Broomstick Productions is Archimedes Labs latest portfolio company to launch into the world. Jan Ziff and Allan Davidson have a very special person in their life – Jan’s Mom. Or, because – like myself – Jan is from Yorkshire in the North of England, I should say Jan’s Mum…..

 

Jan’s Mum had the very special privilege of telling stories to the children of Prince Charles, either the future King of England or at the very least the father of the future King of England.

During her stint at that very unusual job she developed the character of Heckerty(TM) the Witch and her trusted sidekick, Zanzibar(TM) the cat. These stories have never been published before, and certainly never been animated. As Jan herself says:

 

When Princess Diana wanted to send her sons, Princes William and Harry, to weekly musical storytelling sessions as part of their education (click the links to see rare photos of the young princes), she chose my mother, Ann Rachlin.So when my mom asked Allan and me whether we were interested in bringing one of her favorite story characters to mobile devices, we jumped at the chance!
Stacks Image 622
Bringing Heckerty’s gentle, zany adventures to life for kids around the world was just too good to pass up! I had grown up with Heckerty’s magic and we both loved my mother’s many CDs and books (iTunesAmazon).

Today, they are available on the iPad, iPhone and on the Kindle Fire.

Meet Heckerty is the first of many stories to come and we feel sure that, Hollywood will soon be knocking on the door of Broomstick Productions seeking to take these adorable characters and stories to the big screen

Blurtt launches in the app store

I first met Jeanette Cajide early in 2011. She was a founder at Blurtt – a company that was then focused on delivering a web based photo-upload service, permitting users to send printed postcards of said photos to friends via mail.

A few things were quickly obvious.

 

1. Blurtt is a great name, but not for sending postcards.

2. Mobile is the right place to develop what Blurtt could be.

3. Blurtt should let people Blurtt things out…..

4. Combining images with text produces a very powerful means of communicating emotion-rich messages.

5. Jeanette is a force of nature and simply refuses to fail.

 

So, Blurtt became archimedes labs second acceleration company, after Tomer Kagan’s Quixey. The 12 months since have been great. Jeanette weathered many storms, and succeeded in building a set of relationships that allowed her to ship her product today, with significantly less than $100,000 spent. You can get it from the app store now.

I couldn’t be more thrilled for Jeanette, Laura, Kuba and the team at Dialexa in Texas…..Congrats

I know that the team is planning lots of new features. Can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.

 

 

 

Quixey adds Eric Schmidt’s Fund and Archimedes Ventures to investor line up

Yesterday, Bay Area start-up Quixey announced that Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors fund had invested in the company.

I’m pleased to say that along with my partners in Archimedes Ventures we have also joined the roster of investors in the company.

All the best to Tomer Kagan and his team as they execute. The technology they have built is state of the art. Their team is fabulous. The world is theirs to grab.

Exciting times.

Sign up for the beta here
TechCrunch story here
GigaOm story here.

Google launched Dbase, circa 1985, but with less functionality.

Google launched GoogleBase last night. What a disappointment. Whilst Google Reader clearly points to somebody at Google “getting” the importance of edge published content and real-time indexing, GoogleBase is a throw back. Basically a dumb flat-file database system for the world to throw content into. It’s actually embarrasing for the whole of Silicon Valley. I know insiders who desperately do not want their name associated with it. Can’t say I blame them.

Not to be abusive but why would millions of people who run web sites, and databases, and blogs, suddenly feed stuff into GoogleBase (an act of duplicating their already web based data into another database run by Google)? Maybe to get better search results. But this is an act of pure laziness from Google. The same results could be achieved in a manner far more consistent with the distributed data model that the world is currently flocking to. Google, just define a few extensions to RSS, make it easy to publish a feed with those extensions, and suck in the feeds. It works!

Oh well. Back to work 🙂

Update: well I guess the primary reason this is disappointing is that we expect Google to innovate. This just isn’t innovative. See Mike Arrington’s assessment on TechCrunch

An Awesome web 2.0 post

Fred Wilson has an awesome post covering what is novel and new about web 2.0. Posting, subscribing and tagging are all discussed. Fred’s views mirror entirely what Mike and myself are discussing at Archimedes Ventures, and a little in public at TechCrunch. We have also experimented a little at EarningsCast. Try a search for the tag “earningscast” at Technorati – here . We have a major project close to beta that embeds this philosophy deep within it’s genes. Fred, we love ya man!