Sunday, May 20, 2007

and now, a brief pause

One of our BD guys, Pooj Preena, called me tonight. He and I are tight and talk quite often, so it's not unexpected to get a call from him on Monday at 7 a.m. or Saturday at noon. I love talking to him.

This time, I ignored his call. My hands were elbow-deep in dishwater, getting ready for a weekend food foray. A few minutes later, I called him back.

He has a spare ticket for the Prince concert tonight. His wife isn't up to par, and he, Michael, and Michael's wife are headed out soon to the party.

I look over at my daughter -- all sassy, smart, and sometimes-still-clingy 12 years of her -- and for one half-second consider the sitter.

This is the girl who's endured me as I've worked every night for months. This is the girl who hints at her desire for my company by simply saying, from the other room, "Hey, a new show is on!" This is the girl who is fast becoming a young woman, the baby who threw up down my tie 11 years ago, the toddler to whom I gave a horrible, slanted hair cut with dull scissors when she was three and we were just starting out together by ourselves.

"I can't go, Pooj -- no way I can get a sitter on this short of notice."

That was true.

Equally true is that fact that there's no way I would've wanted to hire one.

Instead, she and I laughed and cuddled and had fun like it was 1999, watching bad TV re-runs.

Thanks, Poojay -- hope you guys had fun, too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

here, there, everywhere with jangl

And you thought I died.


  • Jangl was today named as one of 12 "Connected Innovators" at Supernova 2007, Kevin Werbach's and Michael Arrington's huge deal in late June in SF. Classy guys. (Thanks to them for hearing out "what Jangl is now" versus "what we'll be in a few weeks." We are truly honored and looking forward to the mixer next week, too, so hit us up if you want to talk.
  • Jangl was awarded as a Red Herring 100 winner last month. Again, we're pleased to be part of the crowd, and part of the legacy overall. Michael went to Monterey and it sucked I couldn't join, because I love that place.
  • The Tagged and TypePad deals have been amazing for us -- numbers through the roof. Both groups have been a total pleasure to work with -- it still fascinates me to see how other internal teams operate, myself having spent so long on the agency end. But these guys were great. Kudos to Rudy and Ginger.
  • And another deal of which I cannot speak yet -- but keep your ears tuned.
  • And in the run-up to a pending launch, CEOs and CTOs and everyone else wanting answers, directions, guidance, background, pictures, spreadsheets, phone numbers. . .did I mention I freaking love this job? Too many interviews to count.
Now you want the grist, right?
  • I used to thrive on personal connections with bloggers in particular, but I don't have the hours to do this properly anymore. Help! We've always prided ourselves on"touching" each personally, because that's the way it oughta be done. Logistics are starting to preclude that.
  • One blogger in particular continues to "accidentally" violate NDAs. Cmon, folks. I'm only asking that everyone be put on fair, equal ground. I don't want to hear excuses. Play fair, or don't play at all. Cool?
  • I guess, when I was agency-side, I sent some "vendor emails." I'd like to think they were constructive and concise and relevant. Tell you what: on the "in-house" side, the deluge is stunning. Even more so, the ramrod, slipshod, "no, i-have-no-clue-what-your-company-does" approach is rampant. Ninety-nine percent of vendors kill themselves with the very first contact. Delete.
One last thing: there's a FNG at Jangl (although not so new): Aaron Burcell, who comes most recently from Podshow and, before that Stata Labs (think Bloomba). One of the best and brightest, and a guy who "gets" corp comm and PR. Hallelujah. He's been nailing stuff up ever since he joined.

Train's moving fast. I'll try to keep up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Extra Extra: Check Out the New Jangl Widget and Call Me?

Jangl's looking for folks to try our new widget, give us feedback, and talk to us about what's coming in the next few weeks.

Where can you find the new widget? Look over to the right and plop in your cell phone number, then hit "Go." Then call the number that appears.

With the stuff we have coming between now and June, I'm looking at getting people up to speed again, after weeks of being heads-down at work. If you've chatted with us before, Jangl me with the widget or drop me a note. Otherwise, trust that I'll be in touch very, very soon.

In the near-term, we'll try to use your feedback to improve the widget before we announce some new stuff next month and beyond. At the same time, we want to give you the whole story, too, because the widget makes more sense that way.

If you haven't chatted with us before, but want to, the same applies. Our doors are open 24x7.

And if you happen to be around Pulver's Spring VON in San Jose this week, Michael Cerda is presenting at the Solutions Theater (Booth 1431) Wednesday at 2:15 p.m., and again on a panel at 1 p.m. on Thursday. We hope to have some video up as early as tomorrow night. I'll update here.

Update: If you want to get your own widget, you need to go here and sign-up (don't worry, it's easy and -- for now -- free). If you simply want more info about the widget, go here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Love Food Network? Hate Food Network?

Either way, this is hysterical.

Foodie author Michael Ruhlman let former Food TV chef Anthony Bourdain guest-blog a while back, and here's what Tony had to say about the current state of FoodTV.

The buzz around this is terrific.

I'm personally hoping Sandra Lee shaves her head and goes into rehab.

Been Away Too Long

I knew this day was gonna come.

I knew, when I started this blog, that there were going to be times I just wanted to spill the beans about what's to come at Jangl.

And I know what you're thinking: "Of course he says that. He's a Jangl evangelist."

But seriously.

I mean it.

Today was finally a day to decompress a bit, hang with Daughter, sample a very cool NY-style pizza place right down the boulevard, and replenish the closet at the daunting Valley Fair.

But all of this came after a week of messaging, planning, watching engineering unveil some very cool new stuff, hearing MC closing new deals just a few feet from my cube, and getting down into the trenches with my new boss (yes, it's likely you've heard of him -- but more on that another time).

Lots of work to do. Lots. Despite this, I'll be better about staying in touch here.

For now, however, this past week was like the relentless click-clack-click of a roller-coaster slowly going uphill. It seems slow and easy, but it's pure effort, and all the real fun is on the other side.

Wanna come along? Subscribe. If you don't, well, then don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Roam4Free is Getting a Makeover

My friend Pat runs Roam4Free and recently put out the call for help with his website, promising a pocket PC to the person with the best advice. The winner was Richard Hearne, an SEO, SEM and internet marketing consultant with Red Cardinal.

I don't know Richard, but I read his winning advice to Pat, and it's a great read.

V2V: Text for Wine

Though a foodie, I'm not much of a wine conniseu. . .conno. . .I'm not much of a wino.

But when I read Ted's post about a new "wine meets phone" deal, I had to try it out, so I texted "vino 2002 gallo" to 44636. The response, courtesy of 4INFO? "2002 Gallo of Sonoma, Chardonnay Sonoma County Reserve, V2V-79 (corky, musty)." In talking with Ted, I learned that V2V-79 is not a new bird flu variant but rather a "wine score" -- not too super, in this case, which is further explained by adjectives like "corky" and "musty." Later, I texted "vino 2001 sangiovese" and received multiples options, with my friends Corky and Musty nowhere to be found.

Wouldn't it be cool if a wine-moron like me could somehow crunch a recipe into a box, click "Go," and have the recipe intelligently analyzed, with wine recommendations coming out the other side? Heck, I'd settle for easily browsing my recipe collection from my phone -- a virtual shopping list for those moments when inspiration hits only after I've arrived at the produce section.

What's cool is that Jangl will, over time, be doing a lot of very nifty SMS functions that will essentially allow you to really personalize your phone experience. So say tuned for that.

In the meantime, text for wine. It's the coolest little "wine tool" since. . .um. . .me.

To Andy Abramson

A couple of months ago, I made a snarky comment about a guy who deserves more respect than that -- Andy Abramson. Basically, I posted a comment on a thread that put Andy in a bad light. It was a stupid comment to make -- I knew it when I wrote it, but my emotions got the best of me. And it's honestly been gnawing at me ever since I posted it.

Just a few nights ago, I finally felt I had to approach Andy about it. I apologized as best as one can over IM, and Andy was a total gentleman about it. We hashed it through and, I hope, buried the hatchet.

Even though this might be "inside baseball" to some, I'm posting this apology here online because my comment was made online as well -- fair is fair, in my book.

Thank you for what you do, and thank you for being willing to hear me out, Andy.

I truly apologize.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Love is in the Air. . .In 36 Days

Say what you want about Valentine's Day, but Spring is really the season of love, is it not? So what the hell -- we're going to have some fun with this before Spring comes along.

Let me explain.

One of the cool things that Jangl does is to let two people talk on the phone without ever giving out their private phone number. That is, your real phone, not some head-set or other gizmo. Right now, it's free, and works on any U.S. phone.

This comes in handy in lots of different ways -- if you're buying or selling something, if you're posting your resume online, if you blog or keep a social networking profile and want other people to connect to you via your phone instead of IM or endless emails.

But the most obvious use is dating, whether using or out clubbing. That's why Match actually uses Jangl to let its subscribers connect via phone, securely (though its free and easy to get Jangl directly without being a Match member).

Why is this important? If you're emailing or chatting online, you want a secondary step -- before the in-person meeting -- that lets you better judge your potential mate. If you're out and want to stay in touch with a new acquaintance, it's probably better to give them your Jangl ID instead of a phone, simply to avoid being phalked (phone + stalked).

So. . .in honor of the unattached Valentine's Day haters still seeking that special someone, we're gonna throw a little party.

I need your best tips on how to have a good phone conversation.

You see, I was never really good at it. Most conversations of my youth went like this:

Me: "Hi."
Her: "Hi."
Me: "So. What are you doing?"
Her: "Not much. What are you doing?"

That won't work here. This is, in fact, largely responsible for my still being single.

The whole point of being able to talk without giving your real number is that you can be yourself. And being yourself involves being a good conversationalist, so people can see the real you -- and so you can see the real "them."

Some tips:

Pair up with a friend -- opposite sex or same sex -- and think this through. Then, have one of you submit a comment as a team.

Be original. A Google search turns up a lot of advice skewed toward players, a little that's more-or-less neutral, and some that is downright retro and office-oriented. If you're going to repurpose something, then give credit and put your own, personal spin on it.
Think about you on the phone, with a new "somebody." How would you get over a little awkwardness? How would you share yourself, and what would you want to hear from the other person?
Want to try it first? Look over in my sidebar for the "Jangl Me" widget. Click it. Call me. I'll never get your real number, and you'll never get mine (an even better widget is coming soon).
If you're really shy, email me with your tip(s) here.
The top 10 tips will be posted here on March 11 -- just in time for Spring. You may win something very cool. Maybe you'll just get really smart about phone conversations. We'll see.

So go tell someone and send me your ideas already!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Edwards Made "Common Sense" Blunder with Marcotte

So Amanda Marcotte resigned from the John Edwards campaign, and this is actually relevant for anyone in communications.

As much as I feel that this country needs to head in an entirely different direction, this Marcotte/Edwards issue has nothing to do with right wing vs. left wing, conservative vs. liberal, or free speech.

It's only peripherally related to blogging.

It has a lot more to do with common sense.

When any employer makes a hire, that employer hires the whole package -- work history, yes, but increasingly (right or wrong) credit reports, health history, and more. In American politics, the picture becomes even fuzzier. In that arena, association is everything: association with every person you've encountered, with every decision you've made.

And when one is asked to vote for someone -- for President of the U.S., no less -- anyone with common sense not only looks at the candidate him/herself, but those decisions that he or she has made, directly or by association. That's called evaluating judgement, which is probably (in my humble view anyway) the single greatest criterion to consider when deciding on a candidate.

Edwards showed extraordinarily bad judgement. He made it ridiculously easy for his opponents, irrespective of the transient, hollow nature of their arguments.

As for Marcotte? She just proves the point that is endlessly (and patronizingly) taught with wagging fingers to the younger crowd these days: in a nutshell, be careful what you blog about, because it might hurt your chances for employment later.

(My bet? Marcotte survives this better than Edwards.)

So how does this relate to PR and corp comm? More often than not, corporate communications needs to have some input on a wide range of business decisions. That includes hiring. Sometimes it's not just about "work history" but about the horse to which you hitch your wagon.

Edwards' comm folks should've had some input here. Or maybe they did?

If so, it didn't show.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Markus, Mark and Jangl @ Community Next

One more quick Community Next snapshot, very specific to Jangl, was Plentyoffish founder Markus Frind hanging out all morning with dating site analyst Mark Brooks, who also represents several vendors, including Vumber (note claims made in that post, and my comments following).

Ironically, Mark also has a nice interview with CEO Jim Safka, in which Safka talks about how popular the matchTalk service [powered by Jangl] has been.

Today, there are some interesting thoughts going on over at Markus' blog about social networking vs. dating sites.

But. . .based on Saturday alone. . .how long until Plentyoffish users have to use Vumber?

C'mon, Markus (or any Plentyoffish customer). Jangl us. My widget is over in the sidebar.


The Police Quiz: Can You Rank Them?

In honor of The Police reuniting for tonight's Grammy Awards and -- fingers crossed -- possibly touring this year, we're going to play a little game.

Below are five songs by The Police, in no particular order. Your mission is to rank them, from top hit to lesser hit, according to how they once ranked on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. (It is assumed that nobody here will use any resource other than their brain -- play fair!)

First correct reply wins $25 from Amazon.

- Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

- Don't Stand So Close to Me

- Every Breath You Take

- Roxanne

- Spirits in the Material World

Have fun and enjoy the show!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Thoughts on Community Next

I spent the day at Community Next at Stanford on a grey, drizzly Saturday. Jangl had sponsored, and thus had a table there and a five minute presentation by Michael.

Woke at 6 a.m. and roused my daughter. She was okay with spending the day at her cousin's house, but not thrilled with the early wake-up. Just like Dad.

Hug and smooch and we said our goodbyes. She threw her arm around my neck and hugged me -- that was nice.

Our table was pretty jammed up all day -- that's a good thing, of course. A long, fluoro-lit hallway, with offshoots to the main auditorium and the "masticating room," deemed such by the young and insanely optomistic CN organizers. The room was loaded with bagels and coffee and other beverages of all sorts. Noah and his massive crew wore bright orange shirts and were everywhere. Everywhere. At one point, I went to the restroom and half-expected an orange shirt to be standing there saying, "Was that okay? Do you feel better?" Amazing hosts in all the right ways.


Threadless: Jeffrey and Jake talking about their Four Commandments. (Your Project is Not Good Enough)

Noah's morning routine, waking everyone up. "I had a girlfriend in high school -- she cheated on me several times. . .she was apparently VERY interested in community/people."

Josh and Aaron, of Spear Creative Group and Brandplay, respectively. Bordered on too-cute sometimes, but ended up being damned nice. Congrats and thank you.

Mark Jacobstein of loopt -- nice job, nice app. Seems like a killer fit for Jangl, too.

Top thing? Meeting tons of Great People (communitizing?). Folks like AOL, ActiveVibe, Meetro, WSJ, grad students doing amazing things, and many more. Thanks to Jeremy for all of the intros to the people I'm too stupid to know already.


Honestly? Tara Hunt was nearly incoherent. Several walked out, including me. I heard from at least 10 people later that day that she was, umm. Whatever. I don't like people who overpromote when they can't deliver -- and she's apparently talking a lot these days. But, Gross Domestic Product in her presentation? Right. I'm sure to incite flames here, since she's the speaker du jour.

Catered lunch by Hukilau was great, but the line was wayyyy long. I ditched it only to find that Tresidder (student cafeteria) was already overloaded with a bunch of high school debate team members queued up at two Subways. Texted my daughter, who'd been with a sitter all day -- "You okay? I love ya." No response. Returned to Community Next buffet in the drizzle -- cold Hawaiian bbq -- yum.

A rainy, gloomy day with tons of life exploding inside Annenberg Auditorium. The vibe was extraordinarily positive, friendly, and collaborative. You get the sense that many of these folks are thinking Big Thoughts, and that a few will succeed spectacularly.

Drove home in the rain and dusk, missing my daughter but utterly fired up about what I'd witnessed today. Fielded about five phone calls on the way home. Made about eight.

And then decompressed with my girl over dinner. I'd picked her up and she was craving sushi. As I'd neglected her all day, I granted her wish, of course. We were watching little boats go round and round. The Community Next cocktail hour was in progress, 20 miles north, but Jangl had it covered, and the day was almost done.

"Did your day go okay?" she asked, grabbing a shrimp tempura.

"It did, sweetie. Thank you for asking."

"Did you talk in front of a bunch of people again?"

She equates this with "stardom," of course. I'm obviously no star -- my job is to do that for others.

"I talked to a ton of great people, but no, not in front of a crowd. I just did my thing. It was a good day. But tell me more about yours. . ."

She sighed a little. Maybe it was just my paranoia that heard it. Is Dad boring?

She threw her arm around my neck and smooched my cheek.

And then she told me more about her day.

Just like I've told you about mine.

Thanks, Noah and team and everyone.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Former MobileCrunch Writer Oliver Starr -- New Blog?

Andy and Christine are two big bloggers who covered the fact that Oliver Starr -- the mobile guru formerly of Michael Arrington's Crunch properties over at MobileCrunch -- is joining Chris Shipley's Guidewire Group.

So with way too much time on my hands, I did some digging. If you check out a WHOIS filed for mobilestarr (dot) com, you see Oliver himself, filed just a few days ago.

I haven't had a chance yet to confirm this with Oliver directly, but it certainly appears that he is ready to spread his wings again -- and not just with Guidewire.

Another source confirms he's staying at Foldera, too.

Kudos to Oliver. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Q&A: Noah Kagan and Community Next

Since joining Jangl in July, I've had the good fortune to meet a lot of very smart and very kind folks, and I hope to write about as many as possible in the coming months. But this time around, the spotlight is on Noah Kagan, who is not only very smart and kind, but uber-creative, tireless, funny, optomistic and inspiring, as well.

Noah formerly worked at Facebook and Intel in product management and marketing roles, and currently consults with online personal finance site MyMint. His blog is rife with juicy, random marketing ideas and thoughts on having meaningful conversations, but also serves as a shared pulpit for those who want to get and give advice. This blog truly does have a community feel, and it is a helluva fun read. (Noah also likes burritos, which means he needs to see my post below, even though he's a good ol' South Bay native like yours truly.)

But first and foremost these days, Noah is spearheading one of Silicon Valley's most-anticipated events, the Community Next gathering in Palo Alto this Friday and Saturday. When Jangl caught wind of the event, it was an utter no-brainer that we were there, so we jumped onboard as a sponsor immediately. Michael will be joining the VIP dinner at Il Fornaio on Friday night, and taking the stage at the event on Saturday shortly after lunch (tent.). We're fortunate to be in good company, with folks like Guy Kawasaki, Tara Hunt, and Markus Frind, and companies like Offermatica, Slide, VideoEgg, and Pat and team's Roam4Free.

But Community Next wouldn't be happening without Noah Kagan, and he was kind enough to talk with us a little bit despite his crazed schedule.

TJ: You must be slammed right now. What's your typical day/night been like in the last few weeks? (Stream of consciousness permitted!)

NK: I wake up around 10 a.m. Go to work at MyMint. They know I am doing the conference and are extremely supportive so during the day I make calls (to you), coordinate things and get the work I promised them I would do. Leave the office around 8 - 9 p.m. and go to the gym for my marathon training (Mar 4, Napa Valley Marathon). Leave around 11 p.m. and then go home and work on the conference until 3:30 - 5 a.m. It is early at 2:15 a.m. today but won't sleep until later. :)

TJ: You once wrote that Facebook was one of the top 9 companies it was cool to say you worked for. Is it cooler now to say you used to work for them?

NK: I think it always cool to say you work(ed) at Facebook. They are more respected now which is nice for me. I think to work there might be different now with so many people and more policies to follow.

TJ: At VentureBeat last year, you advised community "stewards" to think about two things. 1) Are you involving or considering your community members when you move forward with your business and 2) Are you making an effort to strengthen, empower and/or possibly create your community?" Do you have any examples of folks who are doing the best jobs in those two areas right now?

NK: Wow. Deep stuff. I wouldn't say I am a community expert and anyone who does I would question. I think a lot about community is authenticity and just knowing your personal and communal needs. I think Meebo has done a great job. Ted (Rheingold) from Dogster (ed: also a Community Next sponsor) is great at keeping people updated, listening to his user and acting on it. I don't think enough sites empower their audience. This is giving them tools to promote, the right tools for their needs (running log for a running community, measurements for a clothing community, etc.). It is late so my answers could be incomprehensible but I would stick to what I said.

TJ: Community Next succeeds beyond your wildest dreams -- what exactly does that look like?

NK: What it looks like now! It has really blown me away at this point, the waiting list for tickets, sponsor involvement and everyone chipping in. My ultimate goal is that everyone has fun and we have a high percentage of attendees/sponsors who want to come back next year.

TJ: Any tricks up your sleeve after Community Next? WNFN (What's next for Noah?)

NK: Just working on MyMint and seeing if me and the crew are going to plan another shindig. I am going to keep training for my marathon March 4 and rest for a bit after that. And by resting I mean a day or two. :)

Nice job, Noah Kagan and team. Looking forward to Saturday!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Wrong Lyrics

When I was in kindergarten, for weeks our class rehearsed songs for a Mother's Day tribute, a huge deal which would be attended by (surprise) everyone's mother. One of the tunes was, "Mother's Make a Home."

All the while during rehearsals, I sang the line, "Mother's may go home," completely confused why we'd even bother inviting them if we were, in fact, sending them back home.

I think I finally decided that it was our closing number.

A few years later, I couldn't understand why The Eagles' Desperado was "painting his hunger."

Years later, a buddy of mine related how, when he was a kid, his parents were a little freaked to hear him singing a Madonna hit: "Gonna dress you up in nylons. . .all over, all over."

Just a few years ago, my daughter heard The Corrs' "Breathless" on the radio, and promptly went around for weeks singing, "Go on, go on, come on, leave a breathmint."

(Yes, the fact that she was even exposed to this is horrible -- I'm a lousy parent.)

What songs did you botch? C'mon. Be honest.

New York, iPods & Clueless in for a Street Fight

New York State Senator Carl Kruger is set to propose legislation that would ban the use of iPods, mobile phones, and similar devices while crossing streets in New York.

I took a look for the proposed legislation here, but it's not up yet.

But I have three fundamental questions:

1) Tactically. . .what if you're wearing the headphones or the Bluetooth, but the volume is down? Should we also police hats pulled down over the ears?

2) Is the point here to protect the talker/listener, or those who might run into them? I imagine that the politically-correct answer is "everyone," but there's probably more concern here (and rightly so) for the lives of citizens than a traffic delay or a cracked windshield.

3) But at the risk of sounding like a jerk, do we really need another attempt to legislate against stupidity? Seriously, if you cannot figure out that you should be paying extreme attention while crossing a street in Manhattan (or elsewhere), you'll probably find yourself a different, early off-ramp anyway. How many other things are we not paying attention to, while we concern ourselves with preserving the clueless?

What Would Darwin Say?

Monday, February 5, 2007

Update: Turner and Interference to Pay $2M

The story is here.

"Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner Inc., and Interference Inc. also will issue a public statement accepting full responsibility and apologizing for the incident."

Hopefully, they're just read the statement and not go posting it under freeway overcrossings.

Sunday, February 4, 2007



With some pecorino or parm, even more bliss.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Boston Bomb Scare: What About Interference?

So Turner Broadcasting and Cartoon Network and a few idiots hooked up to terrorize Boston in the name of marketing. Turner has agreed to pay. The two guys who hung the signs were arrested the other day.

My question is: how come the agency involved isn't being held accountable?

Sure, Interference has probably been fired by Turner/Cartoon Network. But is that punishment enough?

Right now, they have this on their site.

PR meets guerrilla marketing, I suppose.

The idiot who advocated this at Interference ought to be ponying up, too. It galls me that some anonymous "creative director" can stir the pot while Turner pays and two hired contractors get arrested.

Where's Interference? Well, no management names on their site right now.

If you go to, you'll see Sam Travis Ewen, CEO, 212-995-8553,, as of late 2004, before their site got all glommed up.

Tried to phone him last night -- it went right to voicemail.