Courseware & Insight at the Intersection of Tech & Strategy by Prof. John Gallaugher, Carroll School of Management, Boston College

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The Week in Geek™ – July 24, 2010

NOTE: The Week in Geek will publish less regularly, as I’m on sabbatical until January 2011, and I’m currently recovering from an arm injury.

Version 1.1–Information Systems A Managers Guide To Harnessing Technology
fwkimageThe latest version of my textbook is out, free online, and it just $29.95 in print. The new version contains updates to all chapters, extensive additions to the Social Media chapter, a new introduction chapter, chapters on Information Security, Understanding the Internet and Telecommunications, and more. Over 100 faculty have adopted the text in just the first year, including those at top business school programs CMU, Emory, Maryland, Michigan, Texas, USC, and more. Thanks to all who have shared this work with our colleagues! Faculty can request a free, print desk copy from Flat World Knowledge. Print copies can be ordered online.

Twitter, Twitter, Little Stars
twitterlogoBusinessWeek reports that there are more positions open for social media professionals then there are people to fill them. There are also a lot of snake oil salesman, and B.S. practitioners. Consider the bonehead move by a Ketchem PR exec speaking at FedEx headquarters in Memphis, who, during his visit, tweeted under his Twitter handle @keyinfluencer, “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say ‘I would die if I had to live here.’” Needless to say someone at FedEx caught the tweet and the incident blew up in a media firestorm, requiring an embarrassing apology from this “professional”. The rules of social media engagement are broadly stated as “amplify the affection, creatively disarm the reasonably disgruntled, ignore the unhinged.” But getting beyond platitudes requires a mix of art and professional skill. Those looking for a good primer should check out the chapter “Peer Production, Social Media, and Web 2.0” in the new edition of my book, especially the section on “Get S.M.A.R.T.”, Creating the Social Media Awareness and Response Team. Social Media professionals should also be aware that Twitter has launched a new promotional tool, where ad partners can send promotions through the @EarlyBird account. First adopter? Disney in two-for-one promos for the film The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

Google Stays in China, And Baidu Keeps on Winning
googleLooks like Google has struck a compromise with the Chinese government. Now those who visit are presented with an additional link for, the firm’s Hong Kong site. Although Hong Kong is now technically China, the “One Country, Two Systems”, policy means Hong Kong firms aren’t subject to Beijing’s censorship rules.  Still, Google has a way to go before it catches up with Baidu, the dominant search engine in China. Baidu has a 64% share of the Chinese search market, more than double the share of second-place Google. Baidu’s stock is also up 82% this year, compared with a 21% drop in GOOG, and a 19% drop in the value of shares of Chinese portal Overall, Baidu is still much smaller than Google, but the Chinese search giant does expect nearly half a billion in profit this year on sales of $1.2 billion, an 84% increase over last year’s take.

Some more Googley tidbits that may be helpful for those teaching with our Google Chapter.  The PPC Blog offers a neat InfoGraphic on How Google Works (The Gory Detail).  And after the failure of Buzz and Orkut to make much of a dent in social, there are persistent rumors that Google is preparing its own Facebook clone.

Reminder. Facebook is Really, Really Big
FacebookReuters and AllThingsD: report that Facebook’s 2009 revenue was higher than most prior estimates, pegging the figure at between $700 million and $800 million, with a solid net profit, in the tens of millions of dollars.  There’s a lot of buzz about this Fall’s Facebook movie, “The Social Network”.  However, the work it’s based on “Accidental Billionaires” by “Bringing Down the House” author Ben Mezrich, has been widely criticized for being over fictionalized.  I’ve read it and had difficulty getting past what were obviously large blocks of dialog that was either made-up outright or could not have been relayed word-for-word.  I did, however, greatly enjoy the Facebook accounts in Sarah Lacy’s  great 2008 book “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good”, and I hope to soon get into David Kirkpatrick’s “The Facebook Effect”, which I’ve posted an excerpt to, in an earlier WiG

Cisco CEO John Chambers Speaks at BC’s CEO Club
We’re hugely honored that the head of the world’s largest networking firm spoke at the Boston College Chief Executive Club.  The link above is to a summary and video of the event. Cisco continues to expand in Massachusetts, with Boxborough its hub for mobile tech.

Some, Like Netflix, Like It Hot
netflix Our Netflix Case is a student favorite, and here’s some updated data: Netflix continues to be a competition crusher.  It’s iPad app is on fire, it’s iPhone app will be out, soon, subscribers are up to 15 million, and profits rose 34% in the prior quarter. 61% of customers are streaming.  That said, Wall Street is deeply divided on the future of the stock, if not the firm, and there’s likely a good case to be made that the stock (which has more than doubled this year)  is overvalued. Meanwhile the news is grim at Blockbuster (the CEO remained upbeat in an interview with FastCompany).  When shareholders refused measures to lift the stock price above $1 per share (the NYSE minimum), BBI was delistedBlockbuster has also missed some $42.4 million in debt payments. Looks like the video store chain is circling the drain.

Grumby – A Fun Summer Read
All-Star Hedge Fund Manager and frequent WSJ contributor Andy Kessler has spoken with my students many times in the past, and I’ve assigned his business books as required reading in my courses. Kessler’s business books are excellent, and I am a huge fan of his first work of fiction, the Silicon Valley Startup tale, Grumby. It’s great summer reading. Below is the review I wrote for Amazon. Grumby is available for Kindle and the iPad, and should be out in hardcover, soon. Congrats, Andy, on another great book!

“Grumby is the best novel about startups since Douglas Coupland’s Microserfs – a funny, crackling tale with real business and tech industry insider knowledge. A must read for the “TechCrunch” crowd, you’ll find yourself hunting to match up many of the novel’s characters with their real-world counterparts in a way that a prior generation did while reading “Bonfire of the Vanities”.

Kessler’s business books and columns pop with humor and rich story telling and fans will find the best traits preserved in his first fiction book. Dialog-driven, and tech-centric, the book strikes the perfect and tough-to-achieve balance of geek-speak and business jargon without alienating those who can’t sling code or read a balance sheet.

Grumby also provides a rollicking speculation on where key tech industry trends – Moore’s law, the cloud, offshore labor, open source, peer-produced content, and others – might lead. While I often find business books and business novels a disappointment, Grumby is that rare, satisfying gem and is a must-read for anyone interested in a vicarious rocket-ride through the startup, tech, VC space.”

Morgan Stanley’s TechTrends
I always enjoy Mary Meeker’s stats-rich Internet Trends reports.  Here’s the latest 53-slide opus from the June 2010 CM Summit.

Our App Happy World
Another fun Infographic from OnlineMBA.

Kindle Now Outselling Hard Covers
Amazon says that Kindle books have outsold hard covers for more than a quarter, and during the last month Kindle sold 9 Kindle titles for ever 5 hardcover books.  Tipping point or fuzzy math?  I don’t see the trend contracting any time soon.


Risk It When You’re Young
BC Alums Bill Clerico & Rich Aberman continue to knock ‘em dead at WePay.  They are the go-to guys for Entrepreneur Magazine’s advice for would-be collegiate startup moguls.  And they also got a shoutout in the Bucks Blog of the New York Times.  Way to go, guys!  The site really is astonishingly elegant – if you collect money from a group (roommates, your kid’s soccer team, for a club, office party), you really need WePay.  Spread the word!

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