Friday, January 20, 2012

Facebook's IPO

UPDATE: The site Pnosker reported today (Jan. 27th) that Facebook will file its IPO next week. Monday? Tuesday? No one knows for sure. The IPO announcement comes after the publication of the post below, which presumes the announcement would come in May.

Facebook is making serious moves in 2012, which is essentially a continuation of changes it made to it's site in the second half of 2011 - both in style and substance. I wrote a post on it last September. Interestingly, the site Paid Content reported that it is looking to replace YouTube as the host for Vevo, a premium service for music videos. Upgrades, enhancements, improvements. Why so many? To be clear, there is no one thing driving it.

But, Facebook's initial public offering of stock (IPO), which many believe is coming in May, may have more to do with the changes than anything. It is expected to be the biggest IPO in history. Even bigger than Google's. The Wall Street Journal Q&A video above provides great context of the anticipation around what will likely be a perpetual conversation piece in both tech and finance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Phenomenal Jeff Pulver

This is the latest post in our series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. It was co-written by Amy Neumann and Mark Horvath. It was also cross-posted in the Huffington Post Technology Section.

No matter who you are, or where you are from, every member of humanity is inspired by the extraordinary stories of ordinary people in social media. Great stories re-awaken and rejuvenate us, and are retold, re-imagined, re-invented, and, retweeted. Who among us isn't impressed by the tech insights of Jazz Baker and Kathy Meyer; the global adventures of Paul Steele and JD Andrews; and the goodwill of Lotay Yang and Ryan Hodgson? They tell their stories: passionately and consistently. As Madeline Ostrander keenly observes:
There is strength that comes from knowing one another's stories. Personal stories remind us that others face the same difficulties and vulnerabilities we do. We discover our own power when we realize we aren't alone and recognize humanity all around us.
Jeff Pulver, one of the most accomplished social figures of our time, is a master in this space. He brilliantly uses technology to "connect" all areas of the globe, so it's easy to see why his 140 Conference, which launched in 2009, has become an institution and a must-attend global event. Everyone it seems has a seat at the table, and is drawn to the speakers who come to share their thoughts. When you present the storied history of social media, its important to "honor the source", meaning you highlight the industry trailblazers behind decades of groundbreaking concepts. The men and women who laid the foundation. But, you also give voice to a new generation of leaders advancing the conversation, and elevating the medium. Connecting those dots is the genius of Jeff Pulver.

All of the writers on this post have met Pulver. We believe there is something impressive about an accomplished visionary who remains humble, and works vigilantly to keep the social media door of opportunity wide open for others. So we were excited when he agreed to an interview. His own story of innovation, entrepreneurship and philanthropy is impressive by any standard. He believes in the old saying: "You don't shine by putting out someone else's light." This is why he remains both successful and relevant.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Pulver
As a co-founder of Vonage back in 2001, you have an eye for the future of technology. What trends are you spotting from meeting all the social media "characters" at your 140 Conferences?

I helped pioneer the VoIP industry back with work I did starting in 1995, the founding of the VON Coalition in 1996, the launch of the VON conference in 1997 and the passing of the Pulver Order in 2004. My work with VoIP continues to this day. Vonage came out of another company I started back in 1998. You could say that I have been exploring the future edge of technology for awhile. The one trend which is consistent is the return and rise of humanity. A mega trend which will become more obvious in the months and years ahead.  

Your 140 Character conferences are hugely popular, #140conf on Twitter, where you bring in "characters" for 10-minute sessions on a wide range of social media-related topics. You feature many social good panelists. What types of social good do you find yourself most drawn to?

It should be noted that #140conf is not a conference about Twitter. It is a conference which explores "The State of NOW" and the effects the real-time web is having on both business and on individuals. #140conf is just the hashtag that we use to promote the conference and the underlying conversations amongst our worldwide community. In terms of social good, I find myself drawn to the people who are discovering their new found ability to bring about positive change by leveraging the social web and their voice or passion. Whether it is building schools in third world countries, raising money for those affected by natural disasters, sharing love with those who need it the most, or sharing my voice to help raise awareness of something which needs attention, as long as it something positive and good, I am happy to help. I look for those people whose passion you can feel and whose track record shows that they know how to take an idea and a vision and morph it into something with meaningful results.  

At the Los Angeles #140conf in October last year, you introduced a brilliant singer with a guitar that you heard on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and loved. That guy, Andy Grammer, is now a wildly popular national artist. Do you have other similar stories, anyone you'd like to highlight?

Serendipity and music are continued themes at the 140 Conference. At the first Tel Aviv #140conf in December 2009, music artist Yoni Bloch shared the platform which was the basis of his new startup Interlude. It was used to create the interactive music video which S-Curve Records used to launch Andy Grammer. This video won MTV's 2010 Interactive Video award. I make a small cameo. Back at the first #140conf in June 2009 in New York City, Diane Birch was introduced to the #140conf community and performed at the same event where Wyclef and Jim Jones spoke at. She gave a great performance.  

What new social media projects are you excited about?

One of my own personal pet projects is JustCoz. It is a platform for social good, where we offer the ability for people to donate a tweet to causes which they wish to support. I also have a new stealth-mode startup which is playing in the social communications space.  

How would you define yourself in 140 characters?
Entrepreneur; Disruptor; Early-Stage Seed Investor; Dad; story teller; Purple; Soulful; Photographer; DJ; Poker Player; Producer of #140conf
To find out more about Jeff Pulver's exciting projects and future 140 Conference events, follow him on Twitter, like his Facebook page, and circle him on GooglePlus.  

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 23 of the series: Maz Nadjm on the Power of Twitter.

Jordan Knight Offers A Fascinating Peek Into the Male Mind (Guest Post)

Mandy Hale. Photo Courtesy
of Mandy Hale

Mandy Hale is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, author, and the force behind the popular and insightful The Single Woman twitter feed. Like many of us, she is fascinated by human behavior. One of the most inspirational people online anywhere in the world, she is an astute observers of relationships and cultural shifts. She understands their power, value, and how they shape attitudes and behaviors. Her interview with legendary singer Jordan Knight (below) confirms this. It is a pleasure to have any of her work - celebrity interviews or motivational posts - on my blog. Enjoy!

BY: Mandy Hale, “The Single Woman”

Jordan Knight.

He’s mysterious. He’s a bit of an enigma. We think we have him figured out one minute, and the next, we’re just trying to keep up. He sings passionate love songs…yet we rarely hear much about his personal life. He’s a firecracker on stage…yet sometimes shy and reserved face-to-face. He’s the object of desire for legions of women across the world…but he’s happily married. And he laughs when you call him a romantic…swears he’s not, even…but the very next minute he’s telling you a story about the song he wrote about a girl he used to see on the subway at age 14 who he fell in love with from afar but never quite got the nerve to talk to.   

Just who IS Jordan Knight?

A few days ago, I asked my readers and followers to submit their most burning questions they wanted the male perspective on…without telling them that Jordan would be the male perspective.

Since the only thing possibly MORE mysterious than Jordan is the male mind itself, it seemed to make sense that by asking Jordan to weigh in on some of things that puzzle women most about men, perhaps the other mystery – Jordan himself – would be solved.

Sometimes you peek behind the curtain of a magic show, or a band, or even a person or a relationship…and you’re disappointed.

But every once in awhile, you peek behind the curtain, and the person you see standing there shines just as bright with the spotlight nowhere in sight.

That person is Jordan Knight.

Jordan Knight. Courtesy
of Star Pulse

*  *   *  *  *  *

My phone rings promptly at the time Jordan and I had agreed upon for the interview (a rarity in the business.) It’s snowing in Boston, he says. “My son thinks he made it snow,” he continues. “He told me this morning, ‘Daddy, I wished for snow last night and it snowed!’” He laughs, sounding less like the lead singer of one of the most successful boybands of all time and platinum solo artist and more like a proud papa.

He’s on his way to rehearsal for his upcoming solo tour, “Jordan Knight: Live & Unfinished,” which will be hitting a series of handpicked cities across North America over the next couple of months. After a wildly successful summer tour with NKOTB, where they teamed up with Backstreet Boys to create supergroup NKOTBSB, Jordan says as much as he loves his band of brothers, he’s excited, if a little nervous, to fly solo again.

“With solo shows, there’s a self satisfaction,” he explains. “You feel really accomplished, like ‘Man, I’m doing this by myself!’ With a group, you feel like you’re part of something a lot bigger. It feels like a brotherhood. For me, both are necessary.”

With an overwhelmingly female audience, it’s not unusual to think that Jordan might have picked up a word of wisdom or two along the way for the fairer sex. What is unusual was the candor and genuineness with which he spoke. Within minutes I felt like I was getting advice from one of my guy friends rather than interviewing Jordan Knight.

The popularity of the book and the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” (which Jordan hasn’t seen but is familiar with the concept) has left many a woman scratching her head, wondering: Are relationships and love REALLY as black and white as they seem?

It was time to find out.

TheSW: As women, society and our moms and friends and the movies always teach us that guys only “pick on girls they like.” Is this true, or is it actually the opposite?

JK: I think there’s truth to that. Sometimes when two people are fighting, it’s kind of like there’s some kind of tension there. Why would somebody really even care to fight with you or pick on you if they didn’t care? I think if they didn’t pick at you, it means they’re not interested in you. Sometimes you try to get a person’s attention by being an irritant.

TheSW: Well, then, that aside…how does a girl know if a guy is REALLY into her?

JK: Little things. Like, is he asking about your life? Is he in tune with your life? Does he really genuinely take time to talk about your life? If you’re spending time trying to make him care, then he isn’t into you. He’s into himself. I think all ladies need to know the secret, though. The way to make somebody into you is to stop trying to get them to be into you. If they’re not into you, do your own thing. Hang out with your friends. Everybody wants what they can’t get.

TheSW: So there’s truth to the whole “hard to get” theory. Men like it when women play hard to get?

JK: If you’re always trying to pull something out of the guy, you create exactly what you don’t want. You’re going to get exactly what you see wrong with that person. It’s human nature. Women don’t like guys who do that, either. If a guy’s always nagging you or being jealous or checking in on you and acting insecure, you’re not gonna want anything to do with that guy. You want a guy who has his own thing going on. It’s not a man or woman thing. It’s a human thing. We all want what we can’t get. Don’t want what you can’t get. Let the other person want what he CAN’T get. Be ungettable and you shall get.

TheSW: That said, who should be the one to initiate the date – the man or the woman? Do men like it when a woman asks them out, or does it take away the “thrill of the case?”

JK: I think it’s great when a girl asks a guy out. I don’t see any problem with that. I don’t think guys do, either. Women think “I could never do that. He might think I’m too forward.” But I think a girl can ask a guy out, as long as you’re not overly serious about it, like “It has to happen. There has to be a positive outcome.” Don’t be too hung up on the outcome. Don’t be serious with it. If it’s you just casually calling “Hey, I’m gonna be here with some friends. Join us if you want.” Keep it light and you can initiate the meet-up.

TheSW: Speaking of “the thrill of the case,” why does it seem like as soon as a guy “catches” a girl, he loses interest?

JK: It goes back to everybody wants what they can’t get. You should always make yourself a little unattainable. Of course, at some point that has to come to an end. But if you think love and a man is going to provide you with everlasting happiness, that’s not the greatest attitude. If a man sees that without him, you’re gonna be fine and you’re gonna live a happy life, I think that’s attractive. Don’t just sit at home waiting for the guy. You have to have your own thing going on, not wait on somebody else to provide you happiness in your life. You’ve gotta provide happiness for yourself first, and then other people are going to want to join the party.

TheSW: So what’s sexier for the woman to wear to the party? Jeans and a t-shirt, or a LBD?

JK: Both. Don’t be looking ragged ladies, don’t do it! (Laughs) Men like women who are put together. No doubt about that. But you can still have it going on and have it together in a t-shirt and jeans. That is very sexy. If you can rock both, that’s great.

TheSW: So let’s say at this party, a guy asks for a girl’s number but never calls. What does this mean?

JK: He could have lost the number, he could have been interested at the time but now he’s distracted…there are many different things. Maybe he’s scared or nervous to call. Or he could be just not that into you. There is truth to the “just not that into you” phenomenon. The more you accept that, the better off you are. Move on. Don’t think of striking out as a failure, or somebody not calling you as a failure…it’s just another step in finding somebody. Don’t fear rejection. Don’t put so much emphasis on it. It just may not be the right time or the right person. So what?

TheSW: What about the serial texters, who never call, but always text?

JK: If a guy’s into you, I would think he would wanna hear your voice and enjoy talking to you. You can only get so much out of texting. Plus, is he only texting you at 2:30 in the morning on a Friday night? If you’re only getting booty calls, you have to decide if that’s enough for you.

TheSW: Is chivalry dead?

JK: I don’t think chivalry is dead. I do think you teach people how to treat you. You carry yourself in a certain way, people are going to treat you a certain way. Holding a door for a woman, little things like that…I don’t think that’s dead. I like doing that kind of stuff just because it makes me feel good, and it shows my wife that I love her.   

TheSW: A lot of ladies asked “How do you know when you’ve met The One?” How did you know?

JK: It’s kinda like…you just know. It’s almost like if you have to ask the question, maybe you haven’t met the one. In my case, I just felt like I could be myself. I felt like I didn’t have to worry about down the road…does this person like me for frivolous reasons or because I have money or because I’m famous? I didn’t have to worry about all of that. It’s just an intuition…how do you feel around that person? I felt calm and safe. If you’re always on edge and you’re always worried, then that’s probably a good sign that it’s not ‘The One.’

TheSW: Do you believe in love at first sight?

JK: I believe in love at first sight, sure…but love over time has to be nurtured. You have to grow with that person, you have to grow yourself, and your love will grow. It’s not as easy as love at first sight if you wanna go long term. It’s not gonna be as easy as ‘The Honeymoon Stage’ for the rest of your life. There are gonna be challenges for sure. There is no eternal bliss in love. To have a long-lasting loving relationship, you have to look at yourself and you have to see where you’re going wrong instead of trying to change the other person. I think that’s the only way to have a relationship. Don’t overestimate your ability to change another person and don’t underestimate your ability to change yourself. If you’re always focusing on changing yourself, the relationship will keep getting better. If you’re focusing on changing the other person, the relationship will stay stuck.

TheSW: Well, let’s say the couple doesn’t make it past the Honeymoon Stage. In that case, do you think it’s possible to be friends with an ex?

JK: I guess anything’s possible, but ask yourself the question: Why are you trying to be friends with your ex? Let’s be honest, folks. Are you just trying to get the ex back? Let’s not lie to ourselves. If you have a boyfriend and you’re telling your boyfriend “My ex is just my friend,” just make a choice between the two and go one way or the other. (Laughing) Why torture all of us?

TheSW: That begs the question: Can men and women ever be “just friends”?

JK: I don’t think so. I think to a certain degree, yes, but when there’s a guy and a girl saying, “No, we’re just friend, we’re just friends,” one of the two is interested in the other one. They guy might be saying “We’re just friends” but the girl might be hoping it’s more than that, or vice versa.  Any time any of my friends say “I’m just friends with that girl,” I’m thinking “Well, YOU may think so.” (Laughs)

TheSW: Women dream of the perfect “fairytale ending.” Do men have similar thoughts about love?

JK: If you think of a “fairytale wedding”…it’s really just a moment in time. It’s like getting an award and thinking: “My life will be perfect once I get this award.” There’s so much more than just that one little moment in life. You have to live your LIFE. Once you hit that moment, it’s not going to make you happy for the rest of your life. Happiness is in everyday life. That’s why I titled my album “Unfinished.” It’s not about the end. It’s about the process. Did you do it the best way you knew how at the time? Don’t just think about the platinum award hanging on your wall. Think about whether or not you had fun doing it. Life is a work in progress and people are a work in progress. It’s a journey, not a destination.

TheSW: Any final words of wisdom for single women?

JK: When I was in the 8th grade, I would take the train to school, and for the whole school year, there was a girl that got off the train before I did…so I would see her on the train for like 4 stops. I always thought she was really gorgeous. I would fantasize about us being on the train alone and talking, lovey dovey kind of fantasies. I never got up the courage to talk to her. I wrote a song about it called “I Wish.” So there are guys who are shy. Don’t be afraid to initiate. It’s a scary thing because we all fear rejection…but you can take the rejection. It’s not the worst thing in the world. You can’t worry about what the other person is going to think of you, how nervous you are, or if you’ll look like a fool. It’s better to make a fool of yourself than to always wonder. Bottom line, if you love and respect yourself, love’s gonna chase you. It’s gonna follow you. Loving and accepting yourself comes first. Men will see that and know it instinctively, and they’ll wanna be a part of that. They’ll wanna be a part of that party.

*  *   *  *  *  *

Jordan Knight is currently touring the U.S. on his “Live & Unfinished” tour. To learn more about the man behind the answers and to see if he’s coming to a city near you, visit

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bill Gates as Non-Profit Role Model (INFOGRAPHIC)

When you consider the scope and depth of what billionaire Bill Gates has done with his fortune, it is literally astonishing. Since 2007, he has given away $28 billion to charities worldwide. That comes to about 48% of his net-worth. Wow.

The Gates Foundation, which he runs with his wife Melinda Gates, is a giant in international philanthropy. It continues ground-breaking work to end malaria, and, to expand education where it meets the 21st Century needs of a booming global population.

This infographic does justice to the legacy of a true pioneer and thought-leader.

Infographic Courtesy of The Next Web

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Huffington Post Launches "Good News"

This is an interesting idea. Reporting on the "feel good, positive, inspiring, uplifting" things that often go unnoticed, or under-reported. Broadcast and print journalism have attempted variations of this in the past. According to many in the media, many viewers and readers say that want a more positive take on the issues of the day, but, unfortunately, the most negative reporting often gets the higher ratings, or the most hits. So much of the "good news" reporting has been discontinued.

But, like Arianna Huffington, who wrote a blogpost on the new vertical, I strongly believe this new section can work. The last few years in social media have taught me many things, including this important point: no matter what people go though in their daily lives, people still want to be inspired. On Twitter, which I regard as "the heartbeat of social media", quotes are among the most retweeted. From continent to continent, people are looking to add some meaning to their lives, and to connect with something extraordinary.

So count me in as someone rooting for the massive success of Huffington Post Good News.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Maz Nadjm On The Power Of Twitter

This is my new Huffington Post piece! It's the second anniversary post in our series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. It was written with series co-founder Yasamin Beitollahi, and published in the Huffington Post Tech Section.

"Twitter's arrival as a cultural force happened by steps, not a single breakthrough event." When co-founder Biz Stone uttered those words to the Financial Post, we couldn't have agreed more. From its big splash at SXSW in 2007 to the first off-Earth tweet from the International Space Station, the success has been exciting. But, there is no doubt that the use of Twitter during protests against Iran's Presidential Election in 2009 was a huge turning point for the site.

As NPR's Terri Gross points out,
[Biz] Stone says he first realized that Twitter could be used as a global organizing tool in April 2008, when American graduate student James Buck was arrested while covering anti-government protests in Egypt. On his way to the police station, Buck tweeted one word -- "arrested" -- to his friends, who were able to call the consulate and Egyptian authorities and help secure his release.

Fourteen months later, when the U.S. State Department asked Twitter to delay a planned network upgrade to help safeguard the rights of Iranians voicing their dissatisfaction over the 2009 presidential election in Iran, condemning both the process and outcome of the election, it was the beginning of what Stone had envisioned. It was a moment Maz Nadjm, a leader and respected member of London's social media scene, fully embraced the popular social networking site and began to broadcast messages and images to the world in solidarity with the freedom fighters in Iran.


You've been on Twitter for a number of years and witnessed a number of changes. What are your thoughts on where the site is headed?

Well what I do love about Twitter is that it's disruptive in a number of ways. As founders of the service have admitted nobody really expected the turnout. Twitter has changed the way many of us communicate, engage with each other, how we find new people and topics to talk about. We see brands and celebrities on the site trying to harness the daily and fast 140 character conversations.

One area that stands out for me is the speed of news breaking out on Twitter. After the Mumbai incidents many news organisations amplified their social media approach, mainly Twitter engagement. As they realised they were behind and simply not fast enough compared to Twitter breaking that event. Second biggest and groundbreaking event was the Iran Election, globally known as the Twitter revolution. Twitter, due to its simplicity and mass audience, allowed the news of repression and horrible violence against peaceful demonstrators to come out from Iran. Suddenly the whole world knew exactly what was happening in that country. Recently we've seen the ArabSpring; how revolutions and demonstrations are being organised and communicated through social sites like Twitter.

As a member of the education and digital communities, how do you use Twitter to connect with your audience?

I've found Twitter extremely beneficial for my professional and personal growth. It is much easier to get in contact with key people. You can now have a one to one chat with anybody on Twitter; it definitely beats any type of cold calling! Another benefit is that you can find like-minded people much quicker, no matter what business or profession you are in. 

Thanks to events and speaker opportunities I get to travel a bit. I always end up meeting people I've engaged with on Twitter. Recently I was in Dublin, Ireland, and met a lot of twitter friends for the first time face to face. I also organise tweetups and dinners through Twitter giving me the opportunity to meet fantastic people and making new friends.

Talk a little bit about TSL Education. People love how it's impacting lives on a global scale.

Basically it's about changing the world. Improving education changes kids' lives, and in turn it changes society for the better. TSL has proven that pooling knowledge leads to radically better lessons, while saving teachers prep time.

We believe by leveling the playing field early in a child's education you can fundamentally alter their education experience, career prospects and future quality of life. Key to TSL's vision are teachers, we provide online space where they can share their vast knowledge and maximise learning for greater good.

What's next for you?

I consider myself lucky as I got into social media back in 2003. I started one of the first social networks in the UK and created one of the first social media agencies in the UK in 2006. I've advised a number of large companies like Sky News International, Star TV, Chelsea FC and Ogilvy Group UK with global clients. But I always consider myself a student; I'm an avid reader and love to learn. Being a mentor at universities, advisor at start-ups and attending events helps me to keep myself up to date.

I'm currently fascinated by the topic collaborative consumption. It describes old world behaviours, such as lending, exchange, swapping and bartering that are now able to operate at scale, across geographic boundaries enabled by technology. The term was coined by Rachel Botsman whose work has brought together thousands of global innovators and entrepreneurs - all using technology and human ingenuity to develop new ways of sharing, lending and exchanging time, skills and resources.

How would you define yourself in 140 characters?
Passionate, early adopter, helper, connector, good listener, advisor, mentor and learner.

To find out more about Maz Nadjm and his new projects, subscribe to his blog, follow him on Twitter, add him on GooglePlus, and friend him on Facebook.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 22 of the series: Passionistas