Archive for the ‘Start-ups’ Category

Dear Friends: I need your help and ask your advice. The product we’ve been building is a new way to approach travel. It’s got a simple interface which looks and works like a book. It’s a little like Myst, if you’re old enough to remember Myst, it has linking books. It has no scroll bars. It’s not quite a game, but it’s really a nice way to deal with information online. Anyway, we all felt that the right name for this product was Place Book. It is a book of places. It is for booking trips. It feels like a book. Your Place Book sits amongst other connected volumes: your Photo Book, Travel Book, Fitness Book, Eco Book and so on… the newest logos we came up with looked like this:

We felt the logo could give it a vaguely international flavor – it was for facilitating travel and exploration, after all. But there’s an issue of whether this name infringes on another companies trademark, and whether it would dilute the value of theirs and/or potentially confuse the public. I have heard the arguments, and I have my opinions; I think this is a cool and unique name and would be distinct – I also feel it is an “apt descriptor” as they say, of what we are.

But I’m too close to this matter, and the product we’re making is for the public –anyone who was reasonably frustrated with researching vacations, and booking trips online. I don’t want this name stuff to get in the way of the product, which is really all that matters.

So I want to know what you think. Should I drop the name? Do you think it infringes on other brand names?  Post or email your comments. I really want to know. Thanks.


There’s no money in business

Posted: June 25, 2010 in Start-ups

I really began learning about business when I was launching Petroglyph: writing business plans and talking to VCs… and I noticed something that really stuck over the years. No one uses the word “money” when talking about business. I’ve re-read a bunch of business plans, and I don’t know if they teach this is BSchool somewhere, but as far as I can tell, there is no money in business.

There’s Capital. Profit. Loss. Income. There’s Equity. Cash. Wealth. Funds. Earnings. Wages. Stock, of course. Sometimes even Currency. Notes.

You could go through a hundred business plans, and no one ever uses the “m” word.

It’s such a conspicuous absence, i wonder if it’s a joke. Maybe in my next plan I should push it. Start using other terms: wampum, greenbacks, dough, lettuce, moolah, bread, gelt, or, you know, scratch.

Anyway (and I really hope I’m wrong on this one) there is no money in business.

In one room in Menlo Park we do architecture and engineering all day, and it’s really fun. Around 3pm I had this observation:

Architecture is imagining something that isn’t – and describing it in such utter clarity that it can be made in physical form. Engineering is about taking that description and making it real. It involves figuring out how to break an object or process down into its functional components, building those pieces, and assembling them into the whole working structure.

Rahmal said this summed it up nicely for him.

Taking the day off tomorrow to attend the CFP Conference. Tonight I’ve been watching the videos they’ve posted on their wiki. Interesting to be diving into this world concurrent with all the hubub surrounding these open letters to and from facebook concerning privacy. An exciting time to be doing this work!

This has been fun. We’re starting to talk to people about what we’re doing, and everyone seems interested. We had over a thousand beta requests just over night, and it looks like around 1700 people watched (at least some) of Scoble’s interview here. Tonight we offer some more organized information, our first PlaceBook press release. Jon Pincus, the conference chair at the CFP event, was nice enough to not only be excited about what we were up to, but to give us a quotation for the release.

Here’s the PDF.

btw: I’m not sure there really is a “getting ready” for a conference like this. I believe you go and see what people are talking about, and when appropriate, offer some opinion. Or am I just rationalizing procrastination…


PlaceBook: A Holistic Location Service Focuses on Consumer Privacy
(San Jose, CA) – June 15, 2010 – At the opening of the ACM Conference on Computers,
Freedom & Privacy today, PublicEarth, Inc. announced the launch of a new consumer
website: PlaceBook, “your life, by location.” Using a user’s location data along with other
geographically-oriented content, the site safely aggregates the information and gives it back
to that consumer through a range of applications.
“We continue to be concerned that websites and products that utilize a person’s GPS data
do so in a pretty cavalier manner,” said Michael Rubin, CEO of PublicEarth. “All our work
has shown us that a person’s location information, particularly as GPS technology becomes
more accurate and more pervasive, is perhaps the most private of all an individual’s data; in
some ways more private than financial and medical data.” Rubin is speaking on a panel
Thursday at 1:30pm, along with leaders in the consumer privacy space.
PlaceBook collects member’s location data, and stores it in a personal data vault where it is
managed in secure layers and though various degrees of encryption. Says CTO Tom
DiGrazia, formerly of eBay; “Our commitment is to make location-related data useful to
consumers in a host of fantastic ways while still protecting individual privacy.”
When the site opens later this summer the initial applications will begin to demonstrate the
utility in personal GPS data with tools for weight loss and fitness, healthier living, and trip
planning. In addition to practical tools, the user experience will provide a novel way to
manage and organize map-based information. “Location is a hot segment online today, but
it’s mostly being treated as a game, or social data,” Says Rubin. “The buzzword has been
“Social-Geo,” but geo is not really the same as social. PlaceBook establishes a foundation
that is both secure and private; social is just one use-case in a larger landscape.”
Adds Rubin: “It’s not a secret that many popular websites that collect this data have proven
themselves somewhat unworthy stewards of personal privacy. We want to see this space
grow, and cannot imagine it doing so without first managing the privacy issue. This is
where PlaceBook comes in.”
CFP Conference Chair Jon Pincus added: “One of our goals bringing CFP to Silicon Valley
this year is to engage with the companies like PlaceBook that are on the cutting edge of
technology. There’s no substitute for building privacy protections in from the beginning.” is currently preparing to launch in private beta and then will increasingly
open the site to larger number of users throughout the summer.


It goes on for 30 minutes. I have nothing to add.