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Ian McAlist
Stay humble. Laugh at myself.
Stay humble. Laugh at myself.

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Be more geeker 
Why Silicon Valley is better than the rest of the places I've visited

Gizmodo tries its best to bring Google's geeks back down to earth

But that's exactly why Silicon Valley is the center of the technology world and why it isn't, say, New York.

See, back in 1968 one guy, Douglas Engelbart, showed us a world that none of us would "get" until 1984. is the video of that. The Mother of All Demos.

He didn't have any social skills. In fact, he had so few social skills that he got kicked out of his own research lab in the 1970s.

See, Silicon Valley is always pushing over the freaky line. This is what folks don't get. Only a few geeks get the bleeding edge. Silicon Valley does NOT have social skills and I hope it never gets them.

Why? Because if Silicon Valley ever tried to slow down to make sure that people understood it we'd never get to the future. 

The future is scary.

The future has things that steal our privacy. The future takes away our joy of controlling our cars. The future has things crawling around in our bodies. The future knows that you want to eat a Big Mac before you even really know that.

Silicon Valley -- at its best -- IS anti-social!

Google is awesome BECAUSE it doesn't have social skills.

The thing Gawker forgets is that the world changes to fit in with the geeks.

I remember when people used to tell me that no "normal person" would use a personal computer. 

What happened ? Did Silicon Valley change to be social? No. The world changed to be more geeky.

And, so, Google, I hope you are more geeky, not more social.

That said, I hope the geeks at Google bring me noise controls for my social streams. THAT doesn't mean Google gets more social, just that the geeks write us some algorithms that matter.

Gawker is off the reservation. It will sell more ads by appealing to the common person who hates change but it's wrong. Google should push even harder against the common person and should bring us the future even faster.

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Zaarly's founder is someone every entrepreneur should meet (and the service is awesome too!)

+Bo Fishback CEO and founder of +Zaarly , is one of the most impressive entrepreneurs I've ever met. Listen to his pitch, passion, and strategy. More here:


Zaarly is altering the way people outsource simple errands and tasks. The site works by letting people post requests for an item or service, and then lets other people, businesses and companies bid to fulfill those needs. Once an agreement is met, Zaarly connects the two parties so they can complete the deal. People can either pay in cash when the service is complete, or through Zaarly's payment system.

In March 2011 during SXSWi in Austin, Texas, Zaarly was beta-tested and introduced nationally in early May of the same year. Since then, the company has attracted over 100,000 users and acquired an additional $14.1 million in financing along with Meg Whitman, the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and the former chief executive of eBay, as a board member.

"Zaarly is a hyper-local marketplace that is driven by buyers. If you have the app or go to the website, you can ask for anything you want," says Bo Fishback, founder and CEO of Zaarly. "All I think about is building this company. We built a great product and make our users happy. If you don't take building the company as seriously as you take building the product, it's really hard to build a lasting thing that matters. And we're not playing for an acquisition. We are actually trying to build a multibillion dollar company that will be generational."

With Zaarly, you can ask for anything and get offers from local people you trust.

Zaarly URL:
Zaarly on Twitter:!/zaarly
Zaarly on Facebook:
Zaarly on CrunchBase:

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Digging into Facebook hate

I just saw this post on +Vic Gundotra's account about +Tim O'Reilly and his fascination with Google+.

Glad to see other smart people joining Google+. I was getting tired of people on Twitter assuming that it was only me excited about Google+.

But for the past month I've really been ignoring Google+ and Twitter and spending a lot of time on Facebook. What did I do there? I rebuilt my social graph. I added more than 3,000 likes. I built new interest lists. And I spent every possible minute there.

Why? Because on Google+ there was so much Facebook hate that I thought it would be interesting to really dig in and see if the hate had any basis and also see what would happen if I really did put a lot more data about myself into Facebook.

Yesterday I was talking with Rackspace exec +Lew Moorman about Facebook. He is one of those who just doesn't see the value in Facebook. Even Tim O'Reilly and I have had a little debate about Facebook, too. He wants to keep Facebook to just close friends and family so he can see their pictures and not miss anything and also he doesn't want to overwhelm his friends and family with tech industry posts. That's what Google+ and Twitter are for, he told me.

I can't disagree. But I'll be honest, I'm getting a lot more engagement over on Facebook simply because I am using it for stuff that most people aren't.

Here's some things I've learned about Facebook and Google+ in this process:

1. The more you give Facebook about yourself the better the content (and ads) get.

2. The more you build lists the more you'll see that Facebook has a real shot at taking away Twitter's air supply.

3. Facebook's machine learning is years ahead of that on Twitter and Google+. Start a new list, for instance, of, say, venture capitalists. Put three or four on that list. Then watch as it recommends other venture capitalists to add to the list. This is way ahead of anything on Twitter or Google+. Google+, for instance, still suggests people to me who never have posted here.

4. Facebook's usage model is confusing and its UI is overly complex. This is where Twitter and Google+ (Google+ especially) is way ahead. As Zuckerberg tries to push Facebook into new places its UI and usage model has gotten weak. If I hate something about Facebook it is here.

5. Privacy is not the problem. Addiction is. I have been dealing with some issues in my marriage lately and talking to lots of other couples. You would be shocked how many marriages are stressed out because one or both partners are staring at their screens all night. Another example of addiction? Texting while driving. I even feel this pull while driving and I am constantly fighting it. I think the privacy debate in this country has taken the media oxygen away from this far more dangerous problem. Let's be honest, you aren't going to write anything really criminal on Facebook anyway. Is the government going to get you because of what you put on social media? Probably not. Yeah, there are examples where this happens, but, seriously, far less often than you'll see stuff like this crash, due to texting and driving:

6. I like the "flow" on Google+ and Twitter (if you use the Mac app) a lot better than the "need to refresh the page to see new stuff" way that Facebook works. Moving items show me something new has arrived.

7. Facebook's noise controls are getting dramatically better and are way ahead of anything on Google+ and Twitter. That said, they are imperfect. For instance, on my family list I don't want to see items about my brother's bar (the Tim O'Reilly problem we talked about). I have no control of that. I also can't block some lame things, like all the birthday messages going around. Really, if I cared about your birthday I'd send you a private note, or, even better, a gift from Karma.

8. Facebook's API is years ahead of Twitter or Google+. Cool apps come out every day, like Karma, for gift reminders, or Highlight, for seeing people near you, that use Facebook. These apps are simply impossible to build on any other system and the problem will get worse over time. Pinterest could not have started on Google+ or Twitter, but it did on Facebook. Social Cam and Viddy are getting white hot right now because of how they integrate with Facebook (while they are overly aggressive I've noticed that Facebook has tweaked the noise protections to quiet these things down a lot).

9. Facebook's ads are starting to make sense to me. Including friends' names who have liked a brand makes ads much more interesting. Plus, I can see that the ads are better targeted at specific demographics than anything I've seen on Google or Twitter. There's a reason why Facebook's IPO is largely expected to be near $100 billion valuation and this is it. Google should really be freaked out by just how good the demographic data is over on Facebook and how narrowly ads can be targetted.

10. Facebook's mobile apps still suck, but, then, so do those from Twitter and Google+. So, the industry has opportunity ahead of it here. I wouldn't be shocked if a totally mobile social network sprung up. Oh, wait, one already did: Instagram. Social Cam is another example that I'm really enjoying, too. But Facebook's web page is actually pretty nice for iPhone and iPad users (so is Google+). I find I am using the web browser 95% of the time on all of these. Twitter is one exception. The third-party apps for that really rock. That puts Twitter ahead of the pack, and is one reason why Twitter is seeing content flows that the other social networks can't touch (one billion tweets every two or three days).

11. Facebook users are more addicted than Google+. I see this in my engagement numbers, but others see it in traffic numbers. Facebook users are spending more time on site and are more likely to respond and push things along.

12. Most people have turned on too much privacy on Facebook. Lots of people want to friend me, but when I look at their profile I can't even see who they are or why I might want to friend them. This is a real problem because Facebook has freaked out much of its user base. Google and Twitter, on the other hand, don't have that problem so it's easier to find people on those two services. Not to mention that Google+ and Twitter have a more defacto public stance or affordance. Facebook, since you probably got on it just to share photos with your close friends, is far more closed feeling even though you can be totally public on Facebook too.

12b. Facebook hasn't earned the trust of many of its users. I think this really is where the core of the Google+ hate of Facebook comes from. People are freaked out by Facebook's mission, which is to know everything about you so it can serve you better media. Google+ has the same mission, actually, but is coming in later after everyone's freaky line has been shoved by Zuckerberg, and also is way behind on machine learning and app integration, so doesn't look so freaky to most people. I guarantee you that Google will be just as freaky in five years. Why? It will have to be or else Facebook will just run off with advertisers in huge droves.

13. There are lots of little things I like better over on Facebook. For instance, I can post a YouTube video to a comment. That is so cool.

14. Facebook messaging is way ahead of Google+. I miss messages all the time that people leave for me here. Why? Because messages aren't separate from all the other notifications. So, I can't see them if it's an active day here. I've really started hating how Google Circles and messages work here and how badly designed the notifications are. That said, Facebook messages aren't perfect. Email is still better for 65% of what I get sent on Facebook. If Google integrates Gmail in a elegant way then Google+ could really fly by Facebook in this respect.

15. Facebook's search sucks. Er, is almost non-existent. I so miss Google+ when I want to find other articles over on Facebook on a specific topic. Even Twitter search is 100x better than Facebook and that's saying something because Twitter search has huge holes in it.

16. Facebook brings far less noise into my view than Google+ and especially Twitter. People who hate Facebook's filters simply haven't taken the time to play around with them. They are very well thought out and I hope Google+ really brings us much better noise control soon. Funny enough Google is a great search engine for Facebook's public items. That's how I found these tips I wrote up for you

17. Photos still look better on Google+ in the feed but once you click on them the full-screen views on Facebook are slightly sharper, at least in tests with my Canon 5D MKIII. That said, overall I like how photos are treated here better, although only by a slight amount (used to be much better, but Facebook dramatically improved its photos since Google+ came on the scene).

18. Flipboard remains my favorite way to read the news. Facebook and Twitter are stunningly displayed in that tool. Google+ is non-existent. That really bums me out. Hey, Vic, can you fix that by getting them an API and working with them to get Google+ in there?

So, to wrap this up. Is Facebook hatred that I've seen on Google+ justified? Yes, some of it. The company mistreated its users many times over the past few years and earned some of the angst it's now seeing. But, on the other hand, I think much of it is misplaced and demonstrates that people just aren't willing to put the time into making these things work well and aren't going to reevaluate their positions even after new features come out. This is working against Google+ too as many people think it's a ghost town or that there's no reason to use it instead of Facebook or Twitter.

How about you? Do you hate Facebook? Why? Has your usage of it changed a lot since the new features like Timeline, Ticker, Interest Lists, and Subscriptions have come out?

Do you agree with or disagree with my findings?

That said, I'm now going to redistribute my social media time back to Google+ and blogging a bit.

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Throughout our evolution, from privately held start-up to large, publicly listed company, we have managed Google for the long term — enjoying tremendous success as a result, especially since our IPO in 2004. Sergey and I hoped, though we did not expect, that Google would have such significant impact, and this progress has made us even more impatient to do important things that matter in the world. Our enduring love for Google comes from a strong desire to create technology products that enrich millions of people’s lives in deep and meaningful ways. To fulfill these dreams, we need to ensure that Google remains a successful, growing business that can generate significant returns for everyone involved.

Corporate Structure

When we went public, we created a dual-class voting structure. Our goal was to maintain the freedom to focus on the long term by ensuring that the management team, in particular Eric, Sergey and I, retained control over Google’s destiny. As we explained in our first founders’ letter:

“We are creating a corporate structure that is designed for stability over long time horizons. By investing in Google, you are placing an unusual long term bet on the team, especially Sergey and me, and on our innovative approach...

We want Google to become an important and significant institution. That takes time, stability and independence...

In the transition to public ownership, we have set up a corporate structure that will make it harder for outside parties to take over or influence Google. This structure will also make it easier for our management team to follow the long term, innovative approach emphasized earlier...

The main effect of this structure is likely to leave our team, especially Sergey and me, with increasingly significant control over the company's decisions and fate, as Google shares change hands...

New investors will fully share in Google's long term economic future but will have little ability to influence its strategic decisions through their voting rights...

Our colleagues will be able to trust that they themselves and their labors of hard work, love and creativity will be well cared for by a company focused on stability and the long term...

As an investor, you are placing a potentially risky long term bet on the team, especially Sergey and me. …. Sergey and I are committed to Google for the long term.”

I wanted to quote all that because these were the clear, well-publicized expectations we established for investors in 2004. While this decision was controversial at the time, we believe with hindsight it was absolutely the right thing to do. Eight years later, these statements are still remarkably accurate, and everyone involved has realized tremendous benefits as a result. Given Google’s success, it’s unsurprising that this type of dual-class governance structure is now somewhat standard among newer technology companies.

In our experience, success is more likely if you concentrate on the long term. Technology products often require significant investment over many years to fulfill their potential. For example, it took over three years just to ship our first Android handset, and then another three years on top of that before the operating system truly reached critical mass. These kinds of investments are not for the faint-hearted.

We have protected Google from outside pressures and the temptation to sacrifice future opportunities to meet short-term demands. Long-term product investments, like Chrome and YouTube, which now enjoy
phenomenal usage, were made with a significant degree of independence.

We have a structure that prevents outside parties from taking over or unduly influencing our management decisions. However, day-to-day dilution from routine equity-based employee compensation and other possible dilution, such as stock-based acquisitions, will likely undermine this dual-class structure and our aspirations for Google over the very long term. We have put our hearts into Google and hope to do so for many more years to come. So we want to ensure that our corporate structure can sustain these efforts and our desire to improve the world.

Effectively a Stock Split: And a New Class of Stock

Today we announced plans to create a new class of non-voting capital stock, which will be listed on NASDAQ. These shares will be distributed via a stock dividend to all existing stockholders: the owner of each existing share will receive one new share of the non-voting stock, giving investors twice the number of shares they had before. It’s effectively a two-for-one stock split — something many of our investors have long asked us for. These non-voting shares will be available for corporate uses, like equity-based employee compensation, that might otherwise dilute our governance structure.

We recognize that some people, particularly those who opposed this structure at the start, won’t support this change — and we understand that other companies have been very successful with more traditional
governance models. But after careful consideration with our board of directors, we have decided that maintaining this founder-led approach is in the best interests of Google, our shareholders and our users. Having the flexibility to use stock without diluting our structure will help ensure we are set up for success for decades to come.

In November 2009, Sergey and I published plans to sell a modest percentage of our overall stock, ending in 2015. We are currently halfway through those plans and we don’t expect any changes to that, certainly not as the result of this new potential class. We both remain very much committed to Google for the long term.

It’s important to bear in mind that this proposal will only have an effect on governance over the very long term. In fact, there’s no particular urgency to make these changes now — we don’t have an unusually big acquisition planned, in case you were wondering. It’s just that since we know what we want to do, there’s no reason to delay the decision. Also note that there will be no immediate change in votes, because everyone will still have the same number. In addition, Eric, Sergey and I have all agreed to “stapling” arrangements so that, above set thresholds, if our economic interest in Google were to decline, our votes would as well. We also have provisions to ensure all shareholders are treated fairly from an economic perspective.

For more details on all of this, please see the postscript below from our Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, and the preliminary proxy statement we will file with the SEC next week.


We have always managed Google for the long term, investing heavily in the big bets we hope will make a significant difference in the world. Some of these bets have been tremendous, funding our activities and generating significant gains for our shareholders. Others have been less successful. But the ability to take these kinds of risks has been crucial to Google’s overall success and we aim to maintain this pioneering culture going forward.

The proposal we announced today is consistent with the governance philosophy we articulated when we took the company public, as well as the trend for newer technology companies to adopt strong dual-class
structures. We believe that it will provide great competitive strength — insulating Google from short-term pressures, whatever the source, for a long time to come, while also giving us more flexibility around equity grants.

Investors and others have always taken a big bet on us, the founders, and that bet will likely last longer as a result of these changes. We are honored that so many of you have put your trust in us and we recognize the tremendous responsibility that rests on our shoulders. We think this is a good thing because users rely on Google to produce and operate amazing technology products and to safely and responsibly store their data. This is our passion.

Sergey and I share a profound belief in the potential for technology to improve people’s lives and we are enormously excited about what lies ahead. I couldn’t write a better conclusion to this founder’s letter than what we wrote in 2004... so here goes: “We have a strong commitment to our users worldwide, their communities, the web sites in our network, our advertisers, our investors, and of course our employees. Sergey and I, and the team will do our best to make Google a long term success and the world a better place.”

Larry Page
CEO and Co-founder

Sergey Brin

April 2012

Postscript from David Drummond, Chief Legal Officer, Google Inc.

This is not the usual yada yada... so please read on.

Although we’ll be filing a comprehensive proxy statement soon, I wanted to share some details about today’s proposal to create a new class of stock and the process our board of directors followed to approve it.

As Larry and Sergey note above, the stock dividend we are announcing today will have the basic effect of a two-for-one stock split. Each holder of a share of Class A or Class B common stock will receive one share of the new non-voting Class C capital stock. So after the dividend, a stockholder who currently owns one Class A share with a single vote will continue to own that share plus one Class C share without a vote.

The Class A shares will continue to trade under the “GOOG” ticker symbol, while the Class C shares will trade under a different ticker symbol, so stockholders will be able to trade these shares, just as they can with Class A shares today. Except for voting rights, the Class C shares will have the same rights as the existing Class A and Class B shares. As is typically the case with stock splits, the Class C stock dividend will be tax-free.

One thing to keep in mind is that immediately after the Class C dividend, all stockholders, including Larry, Sergey and Eric, will retain the same voting interest they hold prior to the dividend. In addition, Larry, Sergey and Eric have agreed to subject their shares to a Transfer Restriction Agreement. This agreement will maintain the same link between their voting and economic interests that exists today, even if they sell some of their non-voting Class C shares. If the founders or Eric wish to sell or transfer their non-voting Class C shares, a “stapling” provision in the agreement requires them to either sell an equal number of Class B shares, or convert an equal number of Class B shares into Class A shares. No other stockholders
will be subject to these restrictions upon the transfer or sale of their shares. The stapling requirement will terminate as to the founders when their collective ownership falls below a certain threshold, and as to Eric when his ownership falls below a certain threshold. Further details of the Transfer Restriction Agreement will be included in our proxy, but it’s important to note that the stapling provision is designed so that, subject to the thresholds, the votes held by the founders and Eric will be reduced proportionally as their economic interest in the company declines.

Our board of directors carefully considered this proposal to create a new class of stock before reaching a decision. In January 2011, the board established a special committee, comprised of independent, non-management board members to consider a new class of stock, or other alternatives. This committee retained its own financial and legal advisers to assist with its deliberations, and met on numerous occasions over the 15 months that the special committee considered the proposal separately from the board. The committee recommended, and the board unanimously approved, today’s proposal.

The proposal is subject to the approval of a majority of the voting power of Google’s common stock, voting together as a single class, at our annual meeting on June 21, 2012. Given that Larry, Sergey, and Eric control the majority of voting power and support this proposal, we expect it to pass. The Board of Directors has not set a record date for the issuance of the Class C dividend and currently expects to set the date following the annual meeting.

Next week, we’ll file a preliminary proxy statement with the SEC, which will contain further details regarding today’s proposal.

David Drummond
Chief Legal Officer, Google Inc.

April 2012

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There’s been a lot of I’m excited to officially introduce Google Drive. We have really focused here on letting users create & share with others and this is a natural evolution of Google Docs. It’s not just storage, it’s about helping you live and work in the cloud and making sure your data is seamlessly available everywhere. You can use it across platforms -- Mac, PC, Android, iOS (coming soon) -- and you can use it with many third party applications - we’re working with many developers to expand the Drive ecosystem.

So, between the Loch Ness Monster and Google Drive, looks like you’ll have to keep looking for Nessie.

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Me? I really dig the new layout as does my little friend below.

#googleplusupdate #whitespace
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