Hong Kong Taxi Driver Economics

• Cost to have a Hong Kong taxi license (per car): HKD$1.5M, usually held by corporation, not individual drivers
• Cost to driver to rent taxi: HKD$650 for 24 hours (drivers usually work 12 hours per day – sometimes illegally letting a friend use their taxi while they sleep)
• Drivers take home everything above the $650, usually about HKD$350-400 on weekdays (that’s ~USD$50) and up to HKD$1,000 on weekends (~USD$120)
• Drivers generally work 6 days a week (Ours had two kids. Hong Kong is not a cheap city.)

Quick Idea: Google Alerts to RSS to About-Me Page

I’ve always liked the idea of http://claimid.com. “On your claimID page, you can create a profile of all the sites that comprise your identity.” Michelle Greer puts it’s nicely on her page, “ClaimID lets me show you who I am and what I’ve done versus just telling you. That’s why I like it.”

Michelle’s page for example has links to posts related to marketing campaigns she’s worked on, articles she’s been quoted in, articles that talk about her specifically, etc.

ClaimID never took off. Michelle could be doing the same thing on her blog with just a page and some bulleted lists.

There are lots of nifty things that ClaimID does that I won’t get into. I’ve never used the service much because it doesn’t solve any real pain points for me. Externally the site is just a place for users to have bulleted lists.

ClaimID got me thinking about this several years ago; and some recent work has brought it up again.

Not sure if the mock-up is legible. The key is: track things (in this case about yourself), then as they come in, toss them into buckets, display some on a claimID style page, burry others or mark them as not relevant.

The future of advertising – TweetUp from my perspective

Okay, so what are these two things? Well, the first one is something I mocked up in mid ’09*, and the other is a screenshot of TweetUp which appears in the TechCrunch sidebar, and perhaps many other blogs (actually I’ve never seen it anywhere else). I took the screenshot about 5th months ago when it first came out. I’m not posting this to say that I came up with the idea of TweetUp. This layout has always existed, in fact I used something that used to appear in Mashable’s sidebar as my basic template. (Oh, and I know Nova’s Twitter bio doesn’t actually say that. That’s my bio. I was just using it as filler.)

I thought of mocking this up after reading the following from John Battelle:

What I do know is that Google is testing a Twitter-related ad product through its AdSense network. That one you can take to the bank.  It’s not particularly innovative* – it lets brands run a Twitter feed through their Adsense buy, from what I’ve heard, but at least it shows Google sees Twitter as worthy of grokking.

This made so much sense to me I made this mockup and sent it to my friend Dusty who had just started a site called FeaturedUsers.com. I was so excited about this idea. So excited. There was, and still is, a story around it.

If I was CEO of TweetUp, if I was Bill Gross, I would do a campaign about the future of advertising, the future of interacting with brands. More and more we will Follow and Like the brands we associate with, so long as they continue to know how to speak to us. TweetUp should be saying: This is the future. The future is in connecting directly with brands you like, adding them to your profile. Perhaps being more public about the way the brands and people we follow makeup who we are. Before it was only information known by a few big data mining company, now we voluntarily share. Target me. No problem. Maybe I do want to buy what you are selling. I would position my company as being there to help people find the brands or individuals they associate with. Now on Twitter and later on other services, wherever that might be.

Back to reality. TweetUp still isn’t distinguishing between sponsored and regular results. I wonder why?

Let’s relate the value of TweetUp in another way, pain points: I’m reading content that I’m engaged with, say a blog post about the semantic web. I determine I want to continue my learning, my following of the growth of the semantic web. I realize this after reading an article and at that point want make sure that there will be some info about the semantic web coming my way. In the old day (not really) perhaps I would signup for a newsletter, add a blog to my Google Reader, etc., now I just click follow. Liking is different that Following. Liking adds it to your list, but it doesn’t mean that the brand can now contact you. It’s doesn’t have much depth. At this point. (Btw, I’m not talking about Liking and Following only as they relate to Facebook and Twitter, though they are leading their respective actions/buttons, I’m talking on a conceptual level of what Like or Follow mean when you see them on any social site.)

Now, the product has to be good at two things. 1.) helping to solve this pain point by creating a search engine–a la Google–where the best Twitter accounts (be it brands, blogs, people, whatever) related to what I’m reading show up in an accessible way. So you need a PageRank type system to elevate quality and a way to analyze what the user is reading or looking at so you can feed your PageRank-type system the most accurate information. It seems the PageRank system for Twitter would have to involve verified profiles. Say we apply a high value rank to them, then the people they follow get some of that juice, etc. etc. If you are followed by several verified profiles perhaps your quality could even excede that of a verified user. From there it’s about analyzing their  Tweets to get a sense of what they actually talk about. Also if you know who they actually are, their real names, etc., then you can buy/connect to other sources of information to make things more accurate. Anyhow, ProfileRank and content analysis those would be your goals. Like a recommendation engine, just recommending to follow. But think of the value of that as a brand or as a person. You get to talk to people who genuinely have an interest in you and you get to do it all day long because they are subscribed to you. If people stop following you, then you can look at collective data about them, what commonalities they might share (based on an analysis of their Twitter stream, etc.). Perhaps they were people you wanted to alianate, perhaps they weren’t and you need to look at the story and the culture you are expressing via these channels.

The 2nd to be good at: Connecting. Say for example, there are lots of people who are experts in their field, but maybe they are late to get on to Twitter or only a small faction know about them, etc. Same goes for brands. Well, now you can give them the opportunity to connect with people who are reading, searching, whatever, for what they are an expert in, what they are selling, etc. This is the Google AdSense model that Battelle was talking about.

This is just a little thing, but to me it is a sign of what is to come. Society’s collective mindset, specifically that of the Millennials in the West, and how business reacts to it and shapes to it.

Update: Looks like TweetUp just changed their name to PostUp. Funny that there was a post about TweetUp while I was writing about them. Smart move not to just rely on Twitter. Really I think it should be a product of another larger company that can talk about a larger vision. On other thing I wanted to mention was why I originally thought of this today. I was looking at how many people follow http://ubuyibuy.com (Hong Kong most popular group buying site) on Facebook: over 100,000 thousand. That’s more than TechCrunch. I think it’s a sign of how people will interact with media in the future. That or the guys promoting uBuyiBuy are just really good and mixed with that is the fact that Hong Kong has the most Facebook users per-capita (don’t quote me on that).

*If you are still confused about what this is: It’s a blog plugin or java script that suggests Twitter users to follow based on what you are reading. In my example on the left you’re reading about the semantic web and it’s making recommendations, the people at the top paid the most in an auction to be there, a-la Google AdSense. There is a rev share with blogs who use the plugin.

Thinking differently about work, as a Millennial

I realize there is a difference between the way I think and the way, it seems, others think. This is specifically related to business relationships and personal brands. Is it generational? Perhaps it’s only really related to technological adoption? Regardless…

People might say, Twitter and Facebook are toys people use to keep up with friends and family. Updating things like Facebook take too much time.

To me, the people I work with should be my Facebook friends. If they use Twitter, I hope to follow them there too. I don’t see such a thick seperation between “life” and work.

I have a personal brand that I maintain. I have a domain (think27.com) where things that shape that personal brand feed into. This includes quick, short updates about my life from Twitter and/or Facebook, my resume from LinkedIn, and long form thoughts/posts from my blog. I might also include links to my photos from Flickr or Facebook, or videos I’ve uploaded to YouTube (generally these have been captured with my phone).

Regardless of the company I work for, I have my own personal vision, mission statement, and ethics. While they may not be as sculpted as a corporate mission statement, I’ve developed these and thought about these since college. I hope to have a personal brand that is so strong, and enough connections, or friends, that people will want to work with me even as an individual, should I become unemployed. To me, working for a corporation or firm means they are so good, that I will learn so much from working there, so much I could never learn on my own, that I commit completely and passionately to to that company. I expect a company to want and expect me to have a personal brand. A personal brand that I will humbly place under their larger brand. I expect to feel apart of that larger brand, a part of a larger team, working for a larger purpose. I expect the company I work for to use it’s size and strength to effect positive change or give back in some way to the world; and I expect the company to offer me opportunities to participate in their philanthropic efforts.

My verbiage is often “the company I work with” as opposed to “…work for.”

An iPhone app I want to make that helps people make sentences in Chinese

Several time per day I look up Chinese words using the http://dianhuadictionary.com/ app on my iPhone. Often my goal is a sentence. I look up several words at a time that I will need for saying or text-messaging a sentence in Chinese. I usually know the correct way to say it and all the small connecting words, it’s the nouns I forget. For sentences, tools like Google Translate are generally not accurate beyond the most simple phrase, also they require an internet connection which can be spotty or too slow to bother with in mainland China. Searching the dictionary one word at a time is not an efficient way to create a sentence either.

So, I mocked this up. Write English words. Search. Select the proper characters/Chinese words to form your sentence. If words or phases are in the wrong order, drag up or down to correct them. Copy and paste, save, or just read aloud.

Perhaps a later version would have some simple Chinese grammar structures the user could drag in and place words into.

I’ll also say, Chinese dictionaries could benefit from cross referencing their search results with a Chinese character/word frequency lists such as: http://lingua.mtsu.edu/chinese-computing/statistics/char/list.php?Which=MO This way, when I lookup a word I don’t know, the most frequently used corresponding Chinese word appears at the top. (I know this would not work in all cases, but definitely most.) Since cross-referencing would likely decrease search speed, I suggest only showing the top 3 or 4 results and allow the user to press “show more” if need be. I’d also love to be able to mark words with tags, remove them from search results, and add example sentences. All this could even be synced back up to a main source or http://cc-cedict.org to help everyone.

A (illegitimate) strategy for Groupon clones

Is http://ubuyibuy.com slowing down? Or do Hongkongers just not care for Italian food? Their current (at the time of this writing) deal has been up more than half the day already and has only sold 35 coupons — low considering their first several daily deals were consistently around 200, with one from AMC Threatre selling 1500.

Something else different with this deal is the deal timer, which currently reads 60 hours remaining. Is this a three day deal? This multi-day or week long strategy is what other sites like http://funshare.com (which I learned of bc they tweeted me after my last post) and http://twangoo.com are doing to make up for having a smaller audience. But I’ve heard of another strategy.

When I was in Shanghai a couple months ago for the World Expo I met the founders of another Groupon clone, http://cooltuan.com. With them there was some joking about these clone sites just buying all the coupons themselves and giving them away to their large extended families and friends. There was also some suggesting that other mainland knockoffs were absolutely using this strategy, especially at first.

For all these sites, the real Groupon included, you can’t NOT sell all the coupons. The base number doesn’t function as a real minimum anymore, it just has to be set high enough to encourage early, excited deal seekers to send it to a couple of friends. And, what it’s really about, especially when you’re a clone site hoping to stand out from the other 200 on the block and be purchased for hundreds of millions, is showing off how far ABOVE the minimum you’re selling.

As the plan goes, once you get some press for that, then hopefully the bandwagon effect will have worked and you can slowly phase to over to all genuine buys.

I’m not saying http://ubuyibuy.com is doing this, I think the fact they now have over 40,000 Facebook fans is proof they are legit. Nevertheless, seeing their numbers drop a little bit, and now the extended time makes me think perhaps something is up. Their Taiwan site is also showing 60 hours remaining on it’s current deal.

Anyhow. It’s raining in Seoul.