Mark Slater’s Weblog

Musings about work, life, and all things in between

Consumer unrest at bank bonuses

This is hilarious. the dutch consumer has reacted to the bonuses being paid out to bankers organizing through social media and threatening a “run” on those who have OK’d such bonuses.

“Politicians have voted to implement a 100% retrospective tax on all bonuses paid to executives at institutions that received state aid as a result of the financial crisis. In other words, no banker should get a bonus until the debt is cleared, and they should return payments made since 2008”

i am reminder of the great banks in Hong Kong that james Clavelle used to write about.

Could this be heading our way?

Filed under: Uncategorized



we are almost there…..

Filed under: social media, Uncategorized

A beautiful day

Stellas birthday and my wedding anniversary

Filed under: Uncategorized,

At the intersection of location, time and purchase

We’ve seen two distinct trends emerge over the last 2 years or so. your phone knows where you are (location) and depending upon the action you take (checking in etc) can timestamp this position. But this is truly where these services stop. The gulf between the location/timestamp combination and the purchase goal is vast. Its vast because these services have misunderstood that both location and time are a ‘means’ to an end, and not the end.

take Foursquare. They overlay a location instance with a rather neat timestamping tool called checking in. the reason i refer to this as a timestamp rather than some other description is that it is the the combination of time and location, that aims to drive the world of opportunity associated with the service. Some might argue that their is value in this social graph – the accumulation of time/location check ins has some derived cumulative value in the form of a virtual currency ( in their instance a badge) but i place this firmly in the fad bucket and this is why.

the “end” as opposed to the “means” to all of this in my view is a purchase of something. i want to be able to say i am hear at this location at this time and i am looking for XXXXX. Not, i am here at this location at this time and i am interested in where you are, what this place is like, and how big my crown is. Because i have already discovered my city, and i really don’t care for a badge. you see if i want to know about a place – i tap in to the curated web. there are milliions of ways for me to do this today. If i want to know where my friends are i can call them, and do i really need to go somewhere because it looks really popular or crowded? these are all nice pieces of information – but they are really a means to something as my primary concern is that i have decided to do something or buy something and i want to engage with the appropriate selling universe in real-time so that i can make my decision.

i am looking to eat italian tonight with 3 friends
i need a baby sitter
i want to go clubbing, or golfing or on and on and on with examples

and i want an audience of merchants to respond to me in 140 characters and tell me why i should buy from them, and why i should tell my friends that i bought from them.

i dont want curated discovery and review – or even curated recommendation – i want to find out whats in it for me to do what i want to do – and i want a real merchant to tell me so.

i want responses from real people, who want my business – not from a proxy of stored coupons. I want to control my universe of merchants so that i can build relationships – i only want to consider others if a friend reccomends and so on….

See this is the “end” and not the “means”. and i know that merchants will pay for my custom. they’ll pay all day. they can get new business using 140 characters and they can get new customers within minutes – and only pay when they do.

UPDATE: it turns out that some others are thinking of this and are coining the phrase THE INTEREST GRAPH

Getabl has the opportunity to be the onramp to this graph. =- very exciting.

Filed under: Geolocation and RFID, going out in boston, social media, Uncategorized

EBay’s board and the fraud story

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I had dinner with our good friends Dade and Rebecca this weekend and listened to a wonderful story about the power of the feedback loop. My friends are the proprietors and operators of a wonderful business called the white aisle. For anyone out there getting ready to take the walk, i highly recommend that you visit with them, they provide a wonderful service.

White aisle also happens to use the paypal payment platform along with millions of other online businesses. So it came as some surprise when their order book was hit with 10 orders in very quick succession, for product worth roughly $8 per order, and shipped to 10 different locations. The product ordered was pretty obscure and given that 90% of white aisle customers are – you guessed it – brides to be – the anomaly was amplified as all new orders came from males.

With the fraud sirens beginning to be heard, a closer look at the names of the individuals ordering really sealed the deal. It turns out that these fraudsters were using the names of some of America’s most prominent business people. Pierre Omidyar, William Ford Jnr, Fred Anderson, Scott Cook, and Marc Andreessen.. These people actually had the “nads” to use some of Ebay‘s(paypals owners) board members!

Fast forward an hour, and the fraud claim has now been submitted with PayPal’s Indian support center, who frankly don’t know what to do about it. Team White Aisle, now having spent a good 90 minutes of futility with Customer care decide to contact the culprits directly through the email addresses submitted with the orders…..

A somewhat perplexing response comes back from one of the culprits claiming that they are in fact “who they say they are” – and that the board of directors were being taken through a demonstration of the payment platform and were using an active partner – White Aisle for the demo. Rebecca of course calls bullshit on this and demands that they call her if they are who they say they are…….

the phone rings……..its the chief of staff of something or other from Ebay – calling on behalf of the members above and apologizing profusely for the inconvenience caused – in fact the board are having a ‘good old chuckle” at how this must have looked from whiteaisle’s point of view. Of course they are also somewhat perplexed at the 90 minutes spent on the phone with India – and as emails begin to trickle in from various corners of the planet in total panic, it begins to become clear that this outlandish “Ruse” may just be true, and the likes of Ford, Jnr, and marc Andreessen are ordering 8 wedding thank you cards!

Update: The story gets better – the good folks on the board of ebay have given White aisle some amazing ad placements as a token gesture for the inconvenience caused. D ade and Rebecca have been ‘amazed’ at how this has all been handled once it became apparent to the board that there was a “flustered customer” on the other end of their test.

Read Dade’s account of the events – complete with the emails here

Filed under: Uncategorized

apple is flawed – reason 2-X

i read a blog called both sides of the table written by a guy called Mark Suster. He thoroughly examines the Iphone App ecosystem in this post – its worth a read.

I appreciate folks like him who take the time to write so extensively on issues that give the readership such value. Not to mention the conversation on the comments that always follows.

Filed under: Uncategorized

why apple is flawed (reason 1)

i cant transfer a song list (set of songs i bought in itunes) from itunes to my phone.

i bought this music.

the biggest most enormous and massive F***k you apple.

lesson to apple – be open, the rest will follow. that or read umair haque because he has pretty much outlined and predicted your demise.

my generation is open. you design an amazing device and then you totally and utterly fuk up the consumer relationship.

(call) no one is available to help me (customer service) – i guess i paid for my music and you own it now right?


Filed under: Uncategorized

Umair Haque’s post on the future of media

i have been a keen reader of Umair’s for 5 years now. I have a mostly silent obsession with the disintermediation of existing business constucts – and how the web (mainly) is exploding them (think music and media – next up TV and movies).

this guy never fails to capture the essence of these shifts and these battles brilliantly. if you have an interest in this subject i highly reccomend following him

his article on google

Filed under: Uncategorized – spamming microformats?

I have been having a back and fourth with several readers over at a VC’s website as this particular VC was shingling his new investment. this particular company as far as i can see – inserts micro messages or ads in to someones micro format so that the followers receive a product reccomendation or endorsement from a ‘valid’ source. here is what they say they do enables Twitter publishers to make money from the content they produce on Twitter by sending one Tweet every day from advertisers that they approve. In order to ensure authenticity, every Tweet is explicitly approved by the Twitter publisher. The publishers are able to set the price they want advertisers to pay and can optionally donate part or all of their earnings to charity.

this is a horrible model.

its taking old world rules and applying them to a new world way of communicating. all you need to do is read a little of this guy and you will understand how un-awsome this business really is.

its a strategic error to build a business based on yesterdays rules being applied to todays innovations. And its companies like this that could drag twitter down the spam drain if its not careful.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Commented on “Both Sides of the Table”

so why then not build against the consumers explicit action? after all this is where we are headed from a control point of view. If the hypotheses is to push (whether authentic, transparent or not) its an action that has not been explicitly asked for and therefore will logically be made redundant as control continues to crash towards the consumer.

your third paragraph i completely disagree with. being exposed to the ads will be triggered by an action – it wont and cant be any other way down the road. I am not following the user so that he she or it can stream me ads – thats fake authenticity – thats like saying – you know me and we are friends so here is an ad for a bagel place.

I’ll tell you whats authentic (and this is what we have built)
I text in an implicit command to my “butler” – the service then notifies relevant merchants of my ‘intent’ VIA text) and other pieces of meta associated with my profile or my social exhaust – and some type of marketing interaction results.

i get to build a great virtual real time butler, the merchant gets to take action on hot leads instantly and cost effectively.

Originally posted as a comment
by markslater
on Both Sides of the Table using DISQUS.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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August 2020

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