Monday, July 07, 2008

Test the Group Blogging feature of

OK. See it works. or Google Blog allows :

Your blog can have up to 100 authors.

Cool thing.

But the only limitation is, quite obviously, that every of those 100 authors must have a google account to be able to login.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

How Net-Temps can improve its CrossRoads career newsletter

Though hasn't find much Product Manager opening I am looking for, or at least Indeed search engine hasn't any from it, it does send weekly "Crossroads Jobseeker News" email with many interesting articles (even though mainly serving the advertising purpose for many recruiting consultants and firms).

Since I am searching opening as Product Manager, I've found a few things Net-Temps can improve its Email Product:

1. Change the title of each article from default "Crossroads Newsletter and Career Development Center" to the ACTUAL title of each article. This will not only help reader like me to search previous article from Firefox History much easier (from usability perspective) but also improve search engine ranking (from SEM/SEO perspective) and better ROI for its consultant customers so a higher fee or more customer may sign up (from Revenue perspective).

click the following two links and you know what I mean:

2.  Increase the integration with consultant customer's website

Take this article for example, "How to Avoid Laundry List Resumes". Like many other articles from Net-Temps, at the end of article, it will display a link to consultant's website and a brief intro of the service.

It's OK but why doesn't make it better? At the end of this article, it reads:

Heather Eagar is a former professional resume writer who provides job seekers with current, reliable and effective job search tools and information. Compare top resume writing services to find the best one for you at

Cool but I may only become Heather's client if I do click the link to her website. But why should I click the link? Because I am searching job? That's a too-naive assumption. Rather, maybe Net-Temps can display a simplified version of the comparison chart at the end of this article. Just like a free trial, if a reader can see what it is, the chance to click will be greatly increased. How much %? Not sure but that's also part of Product Manager's job, is it? Creating a series test to see the best approach.

3. Shorten steps to acquire a potential customer/buyer

At this article, Soaring On Your Strengths Lands the BIG Job ,Robin Ryan is trying to sell his newest book "Soaring on Your Strengths.". And at the end of this article, his personal website,, is logically provided. So the purpose of this article is really to bring potential buyer of his book to there. I didn't visit his website at all but could imagine some marketing practices may be adopted there such as offering a chapter to dowload for free (too bad if he doesn't)... But if the possibility for a visitor to buy his book is highly correlated to the dowload of the free chapter, then why not offer the download link directly here at the bottom of this Net-Temps article? After all, the purpose is to SELL the book but NOT adding one more visitor.

There are a few more areas I think can be improved but I have to stop my creative mind here as a Product manager but back to the process of searching a Product Manager role. Sadly, after checking current opening at Net-temps corporation, there is no Product Manager opening...

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

2008 Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference at UNC Chapel Hill

Seems most posts after graduation here are recovering things happened earlier. Nonetheless, this one is talk about the 2008 Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference at UNC Chapel Hill from 06/03 to 06/07 this year.

My fellowship professors at Babson College, Bill Bygrave and Julian Lange, are kind enough to put my name at a research paper that I've worked for as a research fellow at Blank Center of Babson College.

It's a very unique conference. First of the kind to me. Definitely I was the only one there with a master degree but not in a Ph.D program.  There are a large turn out of Chinese scholar and Ph.D students. Surprisingly, female was in a dominant position of Ph.D student, percentage wise. The only male Chinese Ph.D student is from Syracuse University who is originally from Taiwan with startup experience.

My biggest surprise is how far from or how little interest many academic researchers have from the real entrepreneurship activities, or connect with the real startup world. Bplan related research is one of the biggest example for it.

For those of you haven't been such a conference before, here is a list of materials from the conference:

2008 BCERC-1- UNC Schedule.pdf 

2008 BCERC-2- UNC Doctoral Consortium.pdf

2008 BCERC-3- UNC Conference Summaries.pdf

2008 BCERC-5- UNC Conference Directory.pdf  

2008 BCERC-4- UNC Authors & Titles.pdf

This conference is sponsored by Kauffman Foundation and UNC at Chapel Hill

Btw, I also think BCERC could use a service like to store/distribute above pdf files without bothering with CD. Less cost. Less waste. But may not be good for Mixonic I've interviewed at SF.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Trip planning for 2nd California interview trip and Micro-Economy thought deriviated from it

Just spent about 2 hours to figure out how to take public transportation in San Jose area using, Google Transit, and The trip planner offered by 511 Transit for Bay area.
Why? because I was shocked that Car rental companies want to charge me for $150 for a 2-day rental while I only paid $171 in total for an one-week rental just two weeks ago. Rip me off, eh?

But finally, I've figured out how to do so, to travel between San Jose Airport and My friend's place in Cupertino, as well as between my friend's place in Cupertino and Redwood Shore that my 2nd round interview will be held.

What's the ROI? So assume a typical hourly rate for a recent MBA graduate like me is $25/hour (can also be $0 since I dont have a job yet), so 2 hour is $50 and the public expense is by caltrain is about $5.75x2=$11.5 + bus fare so about $70 in total which gives me a 30% saving.

Then, will it be good to get the same result from people living in the Bay area? Yahoo! Answers is cool but not real time and  you don't know what you will get since it's a free service. Calling friend is another option but not helpful as most are driving. Ideally, there should be  marketplace of micro-economy that serving those small needs. I am happy to pay $5 to get a detailed How-To for my need, which is very much like what Marin had described before as an idea. (He is smart!)

Anyway, get ready to go back to California for the 2nd time in

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Trip in the Valley -05/26

(some posts I want to write way earlier but almost no time during my trip in the Silicon Valley two weeks ago. so tired everyday after meeting 3 to 5 people then got K's place at 9 something...But it's a great memory so I am rebuilding my trip with the  help of my Google Calendar)

So I am in the Silicon Valley now. Sitting in the starbucks at Cupertino for its paid wireless service. Ironically, I cannot find a free wifi from my friend's neighbourhood after the Verizon technican accidentanlly disabled his phone and DSL service though he is just asking for disabeling the phone service so that he can switch to 100% IP phone service. So how much productivity I am loosing because of that? I could be an amazing number if we add from all the other people facing similiar problem. Maybe that'd be big enough to persuade city hall to push forward the free citi-wifi program but it also may be the reason for carriers such as Verizon to use to defend their hostile against those program internally. If the city hall understand how important it is, they should do it definitely. I am also wondering if every other region wants to duplicate a similar or something close to Silicon Valley's success, they should focus on building a world-class infrastructure service first. Wifi/WiMax everywhere. waive tax on "enabler" devices (or more accurately, platform devices) such as iPhone or XBOX 360/PS 3 game console. Why? Because those devices can create a enough demand for a new starutp. It's stupid to treat those as treating dumb electronics such as microwave or toast. How much new service can 100,000 microwave generate? But 100,000 iPhone may be good enough to support a iPhone game company to develop something...

Anyway, today's plan is to meet Su from HP and Zhu who had own startup in the Bay area. I am having lunch with Su's family and it's a very nice thing. He is happy to refer me to some opening position at HP and I very appreciated. (Update: I do receive email from HP HR division for a follow up talk but my first reply seems missed the point. anyway, back to this later when I blog about my lunch with Kent from Pond Ventures). Zhu is also looking for good opportunities to monetize his patent in the mobile video area and checking possibility to do it in China. My comment is maybe can do something to improve user experience with his patent.

(Two meeting today but then later on you and me will realize it's  a very "light" day!)

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Trip in the Valley - 05/25

Starbucks at Cupertino Village is just too crowd so I have to sit outside in my rented car around Starbucks to continue using the Tmobile Internet we just paid. Sitting inside my car with two laptops on mademes me feel like two hackers trying to crack the starbucks wifi here.

Then I strongly wish that Clearwire/Spring can make the pan-US WiMax network happen asap, esp. after they got $1B funding from Google, Intel and etc. That's such a nice move and will help every such strategic investor to gain significant leverage in the market. The WiMax will just make B2C wifi device manufactures such as NetGear, LinkSys etc an irrelevant player because no wireless router needed at every home. No need to search/pay for wifi network like what we are doing. No need to buy/install/download various wifi USB adapors. Wow. The get-rid-of-linksys reminds me a cool saying I read from Paul Graham's post: Startup redefine the problem to make status quo irrelevant. So this will also make Qualcomm irrelevant so Nokia etc may integrate Intel's WiMax chips into mobile directly.

WiMax aside, yesterday I'd met two (group) of people in this Cupertino Village. J is talking about an investment opportunity in China and I wish him the best luck. He also talked about the missed opportunity for him to help EA exploring the online game market. Every opportunity has a window and the fast pacing just make every window smaller and smaller. Less and Less time for all of us to wait for a "better" time which usually means less risk.  There are always people want to take more risk than us such as younger, or single (vs. married), linving in rented place (vs. on mortgage) etc. Wait is ok but if the wait will not create any additional value for the opportunity, we lost the opportunity.

Z and G are a team trying to explore the opportunity in the wirelees space. We talked a lot about the most reasonable path to get started for a pure engineer team like them. Three typical risks need to be addressed regardless from investor's or entrepreneur's point of view are technology risk, market risk and management risk which I list in a series of importance for such an engineer team. (Again, entrepreneur and investor like VC are no difference. Entrepreneur invests time and opportunity cost such as resigning from current job. VCs invest in money and network/experience. No one wants to waste time on a bad idea. Pardon the ego.) Alwayse focus on the point where a founding team can demonstrate the most strengthen/value. So an engineer team should not (IMHO) focus on write biz plan, building financial forecast etc. Why? because at the end, the financial forecast will be very likely laughable since you may never have the experience to do so before. And that won't be the point VC may want to check either. Rather, an engineer team may focus on developing a demo to address the technical challenge they identified. Then using own contact in the industry to validate the market need which is the MOST important here for the investors. VCs may not understand the technology but they clearly see the business opportunity when the potential customer, say Verizon here, said yes we are having this difficulty that affects $100M worth revenue and would like to give this technology a try.

Looking forward to meeting more people in my calendar!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Notes taken from Boston Harbor Angels

I was sitting in the monthly meeting of Boston Harbor Angels, a leading angel group at Boston area that hosts monthly meeting at Babson College. The meeting is invitation-only but they give guests invited by Babson or other members opportunity to audit the meeting twice. For those of you from Babson that wants to enter VC industry then remember the managing director of BHA is a Babson MBA alum, Aleksandar Mollov.



So during the meeting I had talked with couple of angels about the current status of angel investment in China and their take for investment opportunities there. Feedbacks are:


Candida Brush, Director of Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College

- Usually angels invest around $20K-$50K of this group, how much money you want to raise from agenl investors may bring a lot of investors to deal with

- Should talk to Professor

Jeffrey E. Sohlis Director of the Center for Venture Research and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Decision Sciences at the Whittemore School of Business at University of New Hamphsire
Ben Littauer, Founder, President, and CTO of Baranof Software 1990 – 1997. Self-funded, profitable from year two. Sold to Tally Systems.
- Angels want to be close with their portfolios to be actively involved so China is too far away
- Angels want to leverage their knowledge/network for their portfolios but few angels have intl. experience
- Regulation risks? For US foreigners invest in oversea and in China?
- Your advisory board will be as attractive as the fund and GPs
Others I'd talked to include:
Ronald Murphy, VP of STDMED, rmurphy at stdmed com
- We are raising a $50-$100M venture fund now with in-house research & development & manufacture capacity to fund ideas in the life science field
Andrew Stern, astern911 at comcast net
- "An agressive angel investor"
Martin Lowenthal, martin.lowenthal yahoo com
- the angel member with the most international experience and background
Update of 2008 ACA Summit at San Diego, CA hosted by Angel Capital Association
- Angel investors can only succeed with a portfolio including certain number of companies. less than 8 is very likely to loose money, 8-10 is reasonable return, for spectectular return need to be around 25 or more
- Angel investors in the US may not be the right group to approach but US angels in China could be the best target

Also seems the Boston Harbor Angels is strengthening the tie with Babson. In the meeting, I see a team of 7 first-year Babson MBA student from the VC/PE club is auditing the meeting and will help pre-screening bplans received.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Three Upgrades, Two results: Ubuntu, Virtual Box and Firefox

Recently I had made two significant upgrade for my laptop. One is to upgrade Ubuntu Linux from 7.10 to 8.04 and the other is upgrade Firefox 2 to Firefox 3. Since I almost spent 99% of my time on those two piece of software, it's very significant. Turn out to be very different experience.

Firefox 3 even though still in beta stage, it works perfect. Firefox 2 is a memory hog  and I tried to switch to Opera browser but weren't satisified so have to stick with Firefox 2. Now the firefox 3 is a great product. It's not only much faster but also has a much improved user interface and experience. One thing I love the most is even though sometimes I have to power off my laptop abruptively, Firefox 3 can remember any text I'd input in an unsaved web form. You will be very grateful as I do if you know what I am talkinga bout.

On the other hand, Ubuntu 8.04 is quite disappoining. Namely, it sometimes cannot resume after  I hibernate the laptop. It just hang there after I power up so I have to power off and reboot. What a joke!

At last my upgrade of the virtulization software, Virtual Box from Sun (originally Innotek a Germany company), from 1.5.6 to 1.6 is another bad experience. It cannot enter full screen mode and has difficult to recorgnize my USB keyboard and Mouse.

I understand there maybe some solution to play around with whatever configuration files which is an essential experience with Linux but Ubuntu 7.10 overall is much better a product than 8.0.4.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Where is plugin for Firefox 3?

I am using Firefox 3 beta for a few weeks and still cannot see updated plugin from yahoo for Firefox 3. Why? Everyone including developers is pay attention to who will be the next buyer of Yahoo?

It's so sad to see that it's someone else but NOT Yahoo! developed the newest plugin for Firefox 3. Is this what Usmair called death of innovation after promising startups acquired by big guys?

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Advertising opportunity in China and more

This is my reply to a recent email from the SVCEF (Silicon Valley Chinese Entrepreneur Forum) mailing list and thought someone may like to read it here. The topic is about advertising opportunities in China.

I would only want to convince all advertisers using AllYes (one of the largest ad network in China, imagine its ) now to my platform if my startup can bring clea additinal value to those advertisers. Or put this way, I'd only want to start a company if I am sure this company can bring additional value to advertisers than what AllYes/DoubleClick can offer today. That value should include switch cost for advertisers etc so at the end if my startup can save advertiser $1M per year for the same result by using Allyes or additionally $1M sales by investing same amount of ad $, then I would feel confident to charge a percentage of whatever $1M - 2 x switch cost that equal to.

Behavioral targeting technology, IMHO, is ultimately the data play. Baidu/Google keyword ad is already behavioral targeting technology. Because it display relevant ad based on our behavior (search keyword or URL we are visiting). Their advantage is the huge amount of data that they can run millions of statistics model analysis like using SPSS/SAS which any startup will find very difficult to compete with in terms of efficiency.

That's why Google want to digitalize all books/magazines whatever offline. Because without having those data, Google is just a F22 on the ground running out of fuel. And that's where the opportunity is in terms of offline.

Nokia finally wakes up to formalize its mobile strategy to reinvent itself to be a mobile-centric Google. Google never could get those billiosn of SMS data from China Mobile/Verizon/BT etc but Nokia etc could. Regardless privacy concern, Nokia can easily tap into this Mobile Adword market.

So where is Data? then there is the opportunity.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How seriously assumption can impact your life, career and business

Reading a nice HBS paper, "The Real Reason People Won't Change",The Real Reason People Won't Change", for my last Negotiation class with Prof. Landry. It's about the psychologic reason why people are not making changes that they committed to. I found out it's very interesting to read it would apply to any startup/entrepreneur very well. The article said:



But competing commitments should not be seen as

weaknesses. They represent some version of self-protection,

a perfectly natural and reasonable human impulse.

The question is, if competing commitments are a form of

self-protection, what are people protecting themselves

from? The answers usually lie in what we call their big

assumptions - deeply rooted beliefs about themselves and

the world around them. These assumptions put an order

to the world and at the same time suggest ways in which

the world can go out of order. Competing commitments

arise from these assumptions, driving behaviors unwittingly

designed to keep the picture intact.

People rarely realize they hold big assumptions because,

quite simply, they accept them as reality. Often formed long

ago and seldom, if ever, critically examined, big assumptions

are woven into the very fabric of people's existence.


And that's why many times people are passing great opportunities for a startup. Because they accept the reality without thinking the possibility to chance it and the potential outcome that change may bring. Actually, this is also why people call successful startup "disruptive". It's not that disruptive in terms of business/service but disruptive because it changed many people's assumption: oh, I have to pay for expensive telephone service to make international phone call. Then with Skype, you do not.


This has the same meaning but just in a different way to explain my belief of "take nothing for granted". If you don't think this way, you may never be able to start a company.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Funding Raising for NGO 2.0

Found this very interesting presentation about fund raising. Not for venture funding for but NGO. Even so, worth a reading.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Advice for MBA 2nd year study

Time flies and we will finish two-year MBA studyat Babson College this May. Well many first year MBAs will start worrying about intern, job and elective classes in second year, following are two-cents from myself and other 2ndyear classmate at Babson College:

- You can drop any class after taking the first one without any penalty.
I strongly encourage you to drop a class if your instinct tells you it sucks. The 1st class is also a chance for the professor to sell his/her course to you. If the professor shows no passion to have you on board, then drop it.

- You can audit many good classes for free
Depends on the professors, some classes you can audit for free though some will say No to you. Typically Adjunct professors are more willing to do so. People I know that allow you to audit are Dhebar(marketing guru), Caspe(adjunct professor, entrepreneur), Charm(finance expert)and Mulvaney(IB expert, formerly VP at CSFB).

- Choose a strategy with focus
If you want to change career, I'd suggest you focus on one industry the whole semester. Then once you learned you don't like it, then you still have one semster to focus on another one. If you decided to go Finance, then better take all financial classes so to give yourself a better picture about how terrible the life is with numbers everyday (right, Jenny...:)

- Your last chance to be crazy
So you still have one wacky idea, now  your last chance. If you have a startup dream or trying switch from engineering to consulting, do it in the first semester of 2nd year

- Skills vs. Industry
If you aren't sure what industry to go, best to learn some skills can be applied to anywhere such as data analysis/SPSS

- Job-oriented
Start reading job spec of positions you want to apply right now, then see what you are short of and focus on bridging the gap during 2nd year. A real example is someone wants to go video game from finance so did two independent research with professors on video gaming industry.

- Misc
Independent study is best if you take it as 1.5 credit so you can still enjoy 5 courses along the freedom to do something on your own. Then the key is to choose the right faculty advisor.

It's both good and bad sitting in the class with evening/part-time MBAs. Good for networking through group project. Bad for a poor class participation from those guys (imaging they drive to Babson after office hours..)

Most resources you can have by studying at Babson is OUTSIDE Babson. Harvard/MIT has many great events so never miss that.

If your career goal is difficult to come true, stick to it.  Every human being appreciates persistence, courage and creativity. Be it American or Chinese, Faculty or recruiter.



For internship: Do not worry about internship too much ( I know that’s your current status). You can find one in second year very easily. So, maybe a reverse strategy, I mean take some classes in summer and do an internship in fall, is an idea you can consider.

2.       For job hunting: lift your ass above chair. Go out and network with anyone who work in your target companies.

3.       For study(finance role),

·         hard skill is still more important than soft skill in entry and middle level. So, you have to fight with numbers.

·         If you take more than 15 credits class in one semester, it’s tough to prepare CFA at the same time (except IB background).



Btw, there are my 2 cents about job hunting:
1. Get started ASAP, don't wait until the last semester. It will be too late for international students.
2. Talk to as many people as possible about your interview, and practice as much as possible (CCD will be helpful only if you are well-prepared).
3. Try to join all CWLevents to get more networking opportunities, especially MBA mentoring program.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

The tipping point of twitter?

Twitter may already pass its tipping point in the west coast but I am not sure in the West coast. For example, when I first added Twitter app on Facebook last Nov (I started using Nov '07), I remember none(?) of my classmate at Babson is aware of it. Then things start changing:

growth of new followers at Twitter

so if you look at this traffic analysis of Twitter, you see the jump of my followers and overall user of twitter is along the same line.

growth of twitter overall from

More interestingly, I am not that actively twittering recently since school will end in one month and tons of things to be done such as final paper, job etc etc, the follower still trippled. That could be another sign that the overall user base of Twitter is increasing significantly so even for less active twitters can draw attraction. Tides rise all boats...

What's next for twitter? I'd a discussion with David the other day about the fact we are in the self-marketing age. Why I am using Twitter and blog etc? Because being a capable person isn't enough anymore. You also need to let people know you ARE. That's why Gooogle becomes so powerful. If you can make the best wine in the world (suppose you want to do a business), then it's useless if no one knows. Instead of letting people guessing or trust 3rd party information about me, I feel it's for my best interest to publish my information out first. It's my twitter, my linkedin, my blog and so on.

Then of course, all those data publishing service (twitter/blogger/linkedin/Spock) is booming as well as data discovery servicec (Google/Linkedin/Spock).

Any opportunity here?

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Re: [svcef] How to make 3 Million$ in 5 years ?

Following is an interesting discussion regarding "How you can make $3M in 5 years" from the SVCEF mailing list.

On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 10:43 AM, Li Hong <> wrote:
There are a few questions to be clarified. Or, put in a more intuitive way, what's the definition of "$3M"? I will not take it as a "why $3M instead of happiness" question but how you can identify opportunity, build blocks and monetize it effectively?

First of all, the key question is how much are you willing to challenge your own comfortable zone. 99% of the time, your current comfortable zone is unlikely bring you $3M, be it an engineer or researcher or an ordinary office folks. Some suggestions here, like trading stocks, have slimiest chance IMHO because you are not leaving your comfortable zone enjoying today. Talk is always talk but walk is  more difficult. Y!Combinator founders get it and so do those student entrepreneurs applying. Say you found an idea here to make $3M? So what? I challenge your courage to actually give it a try, human being!

Secondly, are you talking about $3M in cash or something equivalent else? For example, does publishing an article in Science worth $3M? Maybe that will land you a great job in an early life science venture. Does the fact you know Steve Jobs or Jintao Hu (China president) personally worth $3M? Does the fact you get into Stanford or Harvard CS/MBA program worth $3M? It all depends on how you can effectively monetize those resources. Ethically, if you will.

At last, I think there are many many ways to make $3M. The catch is most people just don't have enough patience to work for 5 years, assuming you have the courage to try it for 6 months. Oh, forget about 5 years, say 2 years. It's almost irrelevant about what your idea is and/or what industry are you win.

So let me give you some alternative way in 5 yrs:

- focus on helping highschool students implement their biz ideas for 2 years as a volunteer=>start investing some 2-grand-check for interesting ideas in 2 years and start following up=>see if can harvest in 5th year. (for those who believe balance of life/work is good and want social responsibilities...)

- writing blog to discuss opportunities about localizing Silicon Valley ideas in China context for 2 years=>start being invited to be panelist in some local or China conference as a domain expert in yr 3 and start writing your 1st book=>publish yr book in yr 5/being hired as VP/GM in China for SV companies (for those who cannot leave current job but still speak Chinese well. You can also copy this to other countries if u speak local language.)

- Working hard at current job (assuming many are at good high-tech companies in California), always asking yourself does your work worth the paycheck you got, proactively making extra contribution for the company (extra mile is always appreciated, esp. when it's free for the benefactor, a.k.a, your employer/boss) for 1 years=> as many people just live in a 9-5 life, you should be able to stand out now and being promoted to lead something and your reputation is start circling around in year 2/3=> you become a star employee and  new start up start knocking at your door to have you on bard as the No3  employee in year 4=> choose the  right one, well-funded or most promising. Regardless your stock option, the fact you are VP at a top VC funded startup may already bring $3M.

On Wed, Apr 16, 2008 at 12:38 PM, ieeestd802 <> wrote:

I would like to kick a serious discussion.

For an average (smart and hardworking) person, what are some
practical ways to make 3 Million$ in 5 years ?

For practical, I means, with probability > 10%

The following are some of ways I can think of, please add your lists:
1. Start a company, hopefully, it will have a good exit in 5 years
2. Join the ¡°next Google¡± either as an early employee
3. Switch career to investment banking industry, make money on Wall
4. Become a senior VP or CEO of some companies (not every one is
qualified for this, but I listed it here anyway).
5. Go back to China and get into its real estate business (not sure if it
is too later)

This is for a serious discussion. I am sure many people are thinking
about the same question (how to reach financial freedom in reasonable
time frame). We can discuss different options, and pick the best routes
suitable for ourselves.

Please, add your comments.

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Li Hong
MBA Class of 2008 Candidate
Babson College

Li Hong
MBA Class of 2008 Candidate
Babson College

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fwd: [Entrepreneurs] Fwd: How did you raise your very first round of financing?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tiffany Thalassa Niver
Date: Apr 16, 2008 3:10 PM
Subject: [Entrepreneurs] Fwd: How did you raise your very first round of financing?

thought this was interesting!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Fabrice Grinda
Date: Wed, Apr 16, 2008 at 2:28 PM
Subject: How did you raise your very first round of financing?
To: Fabrice Grinda


Greg Galant at Venture Voice just started a new series where he asks former show guests a question. You can find my answer to his first question below and on Venture Voice.


The first time I had to raise money was for Aucland, a copy of eBay for Southern Europe which was my first Internet startup. I was lucky not to have to raise seed money. While in college at Princeton, I built a company exporting high end computer equipment to Europe (motherboards, memory, CPUs, hard drives, etc.). Given its profits, I left Princeton in June 1996 with $50,000 in cash.


When I joined the McKinsey New York office as a consultant in September 1996, I ran a sophisticated real estate rent versus buy model. The model and my rule of thumb analysis (see Rent … unless you want to buy) were screaming BUY! I bought a large 1 bedroom apartment on 54th and 2nd for $115,000, putting $25,000 down.


With the other $25,000, I bought 4 stocks: Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon and Intel. When I decided to create Aucland in July 1998, I sold the 1 bedroom apartment for $185,000. I sold all the stock I owned. After taxes, I was left with around $300,000 in cash. I invested 100% of it in Aucland.


The seed money was used to assemble the core team, build the product, launch the site and start marketing the product. During that entire process, I was aware that given our ambitions and the competitive market we were in we would need a lot more capital. The problem was that I knew nothing of raising money. I knew what VCs were – I had read about them in Forbes and Fortune, but that was about it. I searched online and most sites suggested writing a business plan and provided a few samples. Being an over-achieving former consultant, I promptly put together an 80 page business plan with an extremely sophisticated financial model. I dug out the phone number and email addresses of numerous VCs and started emailing them the business plan and calling to get meetings.


I did not get a single reply to my emails. Finally, a French VC took my call. We had a great rapport. He loved the idea and seemed to love the team, but was distraught by the size of our ambitions. He had never heard of a French entrepreneur wanting to raise $9 million. I knew American VCs did $5-15 million series A rounds. This VC (and the French VCs I met afterwards) did not want to invest more than $1 million. They wanted us to focus on the French market and the valuation they offered was ridiculously low.


As I had met all the major French VCs at that point and was getting nowhere, I decided to focus on execution. Our competitors were mostly run by tech people who did not have a clear sales and marketing strategy. I duplicated eBay's organization structure creating category managers for the main categories who convinced stamp dealers, wine collectors, etc. to list their items on Aucland. As a result we launched with more items on auction than all of our competitors.


Simultaneously, we started promoting Aucland in the press. Our press launch was poorly attended. No one wanted to hear an inexperienced 24 year old speak about an Internet company. Many doubted the Internet would ever take off in France given the prevalence of the Minitel. However, I was convinced we had a great story to tell. I called dozens of journalists, none of whom wanted to meet me. I told them I just wanted 5 minutes of their time and that I would go to their office. This was relatively unheard of in France where journalists were usually not treated well by companies. As I suspected, the story of a young Frenchman going to the US to pursue his education and learn the ropes of business only to come back to France to bring entrepreneurship and the Internet was extremely compelling. Each 5 minute interview became a 1 hour interview which in turn led to a glowing article in the press. Each time a journalist sent me a question about the auction market, I would send them an entire article back within minutes. Because of the word of mouth effect in the journalistic markets, I rapidly became the go to entrepreneur for questions on the Internet auction market at first and then for the Internet market as a whole.


As we started getting traction on the site and attracting amazing buzz and PR, the Internet bubble suddenly inflated in the French market. In the spring of 1999, we started being approached by American VCs and newly created French venture funds. I had a fantastic rapport with one of the American VCs. I liked them, they understood our business and I was leaning towards closing a deal with them. At that point, in June 1999, I received a call from Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, on my cell phone who invited visit him at the LVHM office.


As I sat down in his office he told me: "Mr. Grinda: You have a unique opportunity to create the eBay of the rest of the world. We will give you the human, financial and industrial resources to guarantee your success. In order to show you our commitment to your project, we will offer you twice the valuation and twice the investment that you have received to date. However, to show to the world that this is a strategic project for us we want 51% of your company."


I had already met his team from Europ@Web, the venture fund he had created, and I had hated them. I actually really liked Arnault, but hated his minions. They struck me as petty and jealous with no fundamental understanding of the Web or of the business we were in. For a few days, I thought long and hard whether to choose the American VC or Arnault. My instinct told me to go with the Americans. Logic seemed to dictate to go with Arnault given that he offered much more money and that had resources in Europe to help us.


In the end, I chose to raise $18 million from Europ@Web, a decision that was eventually our undoing, especially when combined with all the mistakes we made as first time entrepreneurs. At the time, it was the largest raise in the history of French venture capital.


The times were very different from the way they are today. Things had become so crazy that around the time of the closing we started receiving unsolicited term sheets by fax from VCs I had never even talked to! Today, I know that VCs don't read 80 page business plans, they just don't have the time, and that a 10-15 page Powerpoint is the norm (see Fund Raising 101). I also realize that the Europ@Web model of taking 51% of the companies they invested in makes no sense. It creates too many conflicts of interests between the investors and the entrepreneurs. Today, if anyone wants the majority of my company, I have the good sense of cashing out a part of my shares and making sure there are clearly defined scenarios for an exit.


Despite the eventual outcome, all in all, it was a fantastic experience. I am extremely grateful to have been at the right time, at the place with the right skills to have been able to live through it all – the ups, the downs and all their lessons!

135 Adams Mail Center
Cambridge, MA 02138

Harvard College Entrepreneurship Forum

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this mailing list, visit

Li Hong
MBA Class of 2008 Candidate
Babson College

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Forrester - Required Registration Lowers Online Conversion Rate

Not something new but may find some data interesting. The basic point is the more steps customers need to do to finish purchase, the less sales (or any final result) you may have.

Now this recent Forrester research report  provides additional data to help you calculate the negative impact on your bottomo line of every extra step:

1. Figure 1: Almost One-Quarter Of Web Site Visitors Abandon When Required To Register

Figure 1: Almost One-Quarter Of Web Site Visitors Abandon When Required To Register

2. Figure 2: Abandonment Caused By Required Registration Can Mean Millions In Lost Revenue

Figure 2: Abandonment Caused By Required Registration Can Mean Millions In Lost Revenue

3. Figure 3: Seniors And Older Boomers Are Less Likely To Complete Required Registration

Figure 3: Seniors And Older Boomers Are Less Likely To Complete Required Registration

4. Figure 4: Consumers Are Most Willing To Trade Personal Information For Greater Discounts

Figure 4: Consumers Are Most Willing To Trade Personal Information For Greater Discounts

5.Figure 5: Seniors And Older Boomers Are Least Willing To Share Personal Data

Figure 5: Seniors And Older Boomers Are Least Willing To Share Personal Data

At last, Forrester recommend you:

itemMake registration optional. Shoppers may not want to establish an ongoing relationship with every company they buy from on the first visit. By requiring registration, firms will drive these customers off the site and into the hands of competitors. Making registration optional allows firms to close as many sales as possible online but still offer incentives and a streamlined ordering process to customers who are ready to step up their level of engagement with the firm.

itemExplain the benefits of site registration upfront. To persuade customers to register, firms should describe in detail the benefits that come with an online account. Conduct primary research with target user groups to align registered-user features with the things those specific customers find most valuable. For example, lets visitors know that if they register, they'll be able to join virtual running challenges, visualize their runs, and track their progress toward long-term running goals.

itemReassure customers that their data is safe. Customers want to know — before they provide personal information — that the data will be protected.(see endnote 1) Firms should include a short description of both their privacy and security policies at each step of the registration process that asks for personally identifiable information.(see endnote 2)

If you are on Internet business, you should definitely subscribe to Forrester!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Fwd: *CIMS May 8, 2008 Workshop*

The Center for Information Management Studies (CIMS) at Babson College cordially invites you to our next workshop on

Thursday, May 8, 2008, entitled Emerging Technologies – Follow the Money.


More details can be found at the following link or copy and paste the URL into your browser:


To register, please call the CIMS office at 781-239-4531, or email 

We are online at


We look forward to seeing you!



Cathy Schaus, Administrative Assistant

Center for Information Management Studies (CIMS)

Babson College, Babson Park, MA   02457-0310

phone-781-239-4716  fax- 781-239-6416

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oh the Places You will Go - Dr Seuss

Professors of our CAPTSTONE class always put some poem in the first page of our class assignment. Never paid much attention to it but when I start preparing the last paper, I noticed there is a quite nice one:

“You have brains in your head. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
You have feet in your shoes. And never mix up your right foot with the
You can steer yourself left.
any direction you choose.
And will you succeed?
You’re on your own.
Yes! You will, indeed!
And you know what you know.
(98 and 3⁄4 percent guaranteed.)
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide
where to go.
So ...
You’ll get mixed up, of course,
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
as you already know.
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’ll get mixed up
you’re off to Great Places!
with many strange birds as you go.
Today is your day!
So be sure when you step.
Your mountain is waiting.
Step with great care and tact
So ... get on your way!”
and remember that Life’s
– Dr. Seuss. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Here are a few youtube videos about this great poem as well. Enjoy!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Fwd: Survey to win Beijing Olympic Gifts


Please take a moment to complete the survey on "Leisure Travel Market" for our Marketing course project. This survey is designed to understand the trip planning process of your leisure travel to overseas destinations. So while answering the questions below, please focus on only leisure oversea travel.

To thank you for your time, we will enter all survey participant into a raffle to win Beijing Olympic gifts. We will notify winners via email if you are one of the lucky winners.


Please click the link below to start the survey:

Thank you again for your kind support!

Rilik Research Team

Li, Eason, Tina, Ying.

Babson College

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Babson Library Rocks and Scribd works finally.

Being student is good and having a great university is powerful. So when I was search for things about How to raise a venture capital fund, I got this link:

First-Time Venture Fund Raising: Challenges and Best Practices 

Not free, Duh!

Then I go to our Babson library, such through EBSCO, got it.

So another thing about document. Scribd finally works fine on my Ubuntu desktop after I installed newer version of Adobe flash player for Linux. It works smooth as before. So I'd uploaded a few great files sitting on my desktop for a while:

- Revenue A | Razorfish Digital OutLook Report 2008
- The Digital Economy Fact Book NINTH EDITION sponsoed by the Progress&Freedom Foundation, 2007
and more...

Even though, I'd given eDocr a try as I said earlier. Here are my points.

1. They use Amazon S3 storage service
2. They use HTML upload but its as fast as Scribd's flash uploader
3. The processing time takes longer than Scribd.

I didn't see much differentiation between Scribd and eDocr. So Scribd has some advantage since I have a switch cost here. Now I do have a great idea to improve adoption for both of them, since ZOHO and Google Doc aren't implementing this feature (they did but the solution, Zoho QuickRead sucks and Google Docs only works with Gmail). The idea is to develop a plugin that works seamlessly with browser. So anytime I see a good file I want to save for later review, right click the URL, select menu "upload to Scribd/eDocr". done. So Scribd/EDocr can download the file much faster from their server side directly. Now I won't need to download/upload...Waste of my time, right?

So even though the switch cost is high, if eDocr comes up with this feature, I'd like to switch...

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Scribd does not work on Ubuntu so hurt my whole online experience

I am such a big fan of scribd and that's why I am so disappointed that  I cannot upload file after I switch from Windows Vista to Ubuntu Linux as my desktop environment.

I love scribd because it is a key part of my "smooth online experience of documentation". For editable document, I use Zoho writer alll the time. For any file comes in as an email attachment, I use Google Docs because Gmail is my default web email (byebye hotmail,yahoo mail! and sina mail). For uneditable files, I upload important/personal files to the free account (1G for free), I upload really old achieves to, then I upload files in public domain to so that I dont need to store any file in my local drive. In a way, I think I am already in the "always-on" mode describd by Mark Kvamme@Sequoia Capital.
Check his podcast interview below:

Here is a quick summary of Kevin's talk:

- Vertical Search is interesting
- Broad Band adoption (>500kps) in the States is a key trend to watch since it will bring a always-on way to use Internet and it may dramatically change the online world
- Adoption of new media, video/picture etc, is still growing and sharing is key
- Content creation is expensive and will hit newspaper/magazine badly. Local newspaper will die first

Kevin is a sharp guy so you may want to listen to other talk he had given at PodTech here.

So you see how critical scribd is being part of my online/offline seamless experience. So scribd guys, please...

I am runnign Ubuntu 7.10, Firefox and Flash 9. Scribd not only does not allow me to upload file (forever 0% completed) but also crash my Opera browser as well...

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Presentation from Ben Holmes, Index Ventures

Come across this nice presentation from Ben Holmes, a partner at Index Fund. Enjoy

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Forward-Looking Job recommendation

So as a student in school, my resume had been made publicly available not only in school resume bank but also in a few other websites suchas Monster, CareerBuilder etc. Then as many other classmates did, I got email like the following regularly:

Hi Hong,

I noticed your background and thought you may be interested in finding out more about our new job opening, which is pasted below for your review. 

The position is for a Web Developer in Cambridge, MA. 

For more details or to apply simply visit our website:

Cool but no thank you. Clearly this email from some website/software doing keyword matching then send email to people who may did a few things before that meet a few opening position. The above job is about a Java programmer which was what I did about 10 years ago as my first job in 1998 but I never did a line of java coding after 1999. So how helpful this type of software is? almost nothing. It's largely built on the theory that if someone did something beforfe then he or she would be more likely to do something again. But clearly those technique cannot read people's mind. They cannot and wont be able to understand how I am going to develop my career path. They don't understand aftering doing A, I am towards B. It's called contextual, is it?

If a job site can clearly read people's mind by analyzing their resume (past employeement history), industry change ( enterprise software is declining, web 2.0 is booming for example or recent subprime loan crisis), personal fact (getting married/get MBA/), then it will definitely be a huge success.

Any job website is on this track? Could be a Monster/CareerBuilder killer for sure.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

24 hour working process?

I cannot believe I have not blogged in the last few days. It's a bad feeling when you have much to say but cannot find a time to do it...So this blog is also talking about time. I had a talk with K, my roommate, last week about how 24 hours working really mean for everyone, from big companies such as IBM to small mom-papa shops. I know it's not a new topic but let me give some scenarios we had discussed so that you may have a new understanding.

Take a look at those companies don't directly facing consumers. Say MacMillan publishing. Their busienss is to find good book draft then publish as books and sell through channels such as Amazon and B&N. So bascially it has two core parts business: book draft collection and distribution.

For book draft collection, it needs first to have a channel to collect drafts from successful authors such as Stephen King or from unknow but with high potential authors. Since MacMillan is famous so I am sure their editors are receiving enough book drafts. So do they need people physically in their NYC headquarter to review all those drafts? Not really. They can clearly put people in different timezone to do those geo-independent tasks. Then for distribution wise, they also don't need be physically in the States to talk to Amazon etc.

You get my point. Then why waste millions of dollars on expensive office space in NYC? How much does a business really need that type of physical  location? for prestige? for fame? I know it's a big challenge to recruit people in other timezone but what if MacMillan invests all savings from becoming a headquarter-less company into HR development?

it's also quite scary if you thinking from competition perspective. Say if a headquarter-less startup A operates in both India and in Boston and its competitor B is solely based in NYC. If the decision making process setup right, A can make a decision in Monday afternoon at India office then UI design team in Boston pick up the task Tuesday morning  etc. Now how B can compete/react faster than that? Almost impossible. Then what if A spreads its operation in 3 location with 8 hour time difference between each so that virtually A has a team that can work 24 hours a day while B can only work 8 hours a day (as an established company) or 12 hours a day (as a startup). So bascially A can achieve 2 times or 3 times than B, with even a lower cost structure? IBM's CEO palmson had an itnerview with Financial Times before talking about this vision. He said Fortune 500 cannot run oversea office like UK running a colony anymore: decision making at headquarter in home country then execution worldwide. I think he is right on.

I'd love to see more company take this route seriously. Willing to go beyond the barrier of language, race etc. What does this mean? a quick thought created following ideas:

- Buy Cisco stock. Who else makes equipment to have worldwide people connected?
- If eBay does sell Skype to Google, buy Google. Short all other phone companies because less people in NYC will use international call from Verozon
- Buy every public company offering HR service.
- Buy translation service
- Buy business travel service.

ok, will add more later..

And sorry, MacMillan if it's a real company then I dont mean to pick you guys up for this blog.

Run for a meeting so I will update this post with more links to posts such as Palmson's interview etc later.

PS: I had saved quite some idea for blogging. Next one will be Google Canilizabion.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Everything about Tibet

OK, so tibet is a hot topic so I will weigh in my opinion as a Chinese. My point is very simple. I honor everything that is fact based. It's totally OK to report things if Chinese government did kill protesters in Tibet and shame on Chinese government. But it's also a shame for media companies to 1) create story based on assumption rather than fact; 2)find evidence to support the assumption rather than fact; and 3) "innovatively" create evidence to support the assumption if cannot find real one.

So for the 1989 Tiananmen square, the fact is Chinese government did kill students there and western media etc did have people there in the venue to report. No problem. But it's very problematic for the Germany TV station to using photo about a fight between Nepal police and Tibet protester in Nepal as an evidance as if the photo was taken in Lasa, Tibet. Put Chinese aside. Are those guys try to fool ordinary Germany people as well?

I think this is a big warning for the overall media industry. And I think that's why there was a article in the US talking about the loosing of public responsbility of American publishing industry. Everyone is wooing eyeball, clicks and advertising...

No wonder the circulation is decling.

Generalization is dangerous.
Assumption is dangerous.
Taking things for granted is dangerous.

Not only dangerous for entrepreneur but also for every single human being.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Social Network Analysis Class by Salvatore Parise

Finally had my last elective course started today at 9am in such a sunshine Saturday morning...The course is Knowledge Management taught by Prof. Salvatore Parise. KM is nothing sexy and actually bit misleading here. Sal's class is more about social network analysis. Much more sexy, is it? Sal had taken my point to rename it to Social Network Analysis and upgrade to be a 3-credit class for next semester.

This class has a surprisingly "large" class, about 24 people or so. We will have two face-to-face classes and three online classes. It's really a hand-on class. In the first class today, we learned the Ucinet software developed by Borgatti, Everett, and Freeman.

It's an amazing software that can generate maps to display connected nodes. The line and the arrows between nodes can tell a lot of stories such as which person is most critical for informal communication in an organization and who could be a bottleneck to hurt the collaboration efficiency etc. You can basically design a survey to collect data by asking questions such as:

- Whom I will talk to when I try to learn X topic?
- For Y topic, who had contacted me for information?

The most exciting thing, however, is from the potential it can analyze income/outcoming links of any social network such as blog/comments and friend profies on Myspace. Not sure had Google try to display banner ad with highest price on myspace user who has most friend connection? Same thing can be applied at Facebook.

I am also wondering, since people with more connection may be more, at least perceived, trustworthy. Thus, will online advertising companies take this into account? This also reminds me the recent Y!combinator startup XOBNI that using software to analyze your inbox email to tell you what new email you should process first etc based on your interaction pattern with the sender.

At last, here is the key part of our syllabus:

Course Objective
Many organizations are now interested in capturing, distributing and applying the knowledge of their employees for business benefit. These practices--often supported with technology and called "knowledge management"---are a good idea, but firms also need to improve the fundamental knowledge work strategies and processes where knowledge is generate and used. In this course we will discuss the current state of the knowledge management movement. We will also discuss emerging issues in the management of knowledge and of knowledge work, including understanding social networks and communities of practice, managing the organizations in which knowledge and knowledge workers are the most important assets, and measuring the impacts of knowledge management investments to individuals, groups, and the organization as a whole.

My objective for this course is to get you excited about knowledge management (KM), to acquaint you with some of the key issues around the topic, and to get you to think about your own jobs and organizations in knowledge management terms. The course will consist of lecture material, discussion of real-world case studies, and interactive group exercises. Another objective is to introduce you to some KM tools and practices, such as social network analysis, that you may be able to incorporate into your own organizations. The course is not enough education for you to become a full-fledged knowledge manager, but it could provide a good foundation for more study if that is your goal.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Traffic surging causing problem for Google Reader?

So NYT said that the web traffic generated from mobile devices is surging for Google. No surprise, if considering the fact everyday I am reading 20-50 RSS feeds at Google Reader via my Dell PDA. Even though it's smaller screen compare to may laptop, it's more efficient. No other website distraction since IE 4.0 on mobile doesn't support Tab browsing. I can simly mark the feed I like with "star" in Google Reader so that I can follow up later. But is this traffic surging also create troubles? I always got "Page Error" while clicking next feed link in Google Reader throughout this week. But the error was gone if I reload the page. So google doesn't have enough server for handling traffic from mobile? You know Google renders every web page into a mobile-friendly version if you access it from your mobile device.

Any here also had this problem? Not  a big deal but annoying..

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

From Web 2.o to Enterprise 2.0

Been an interesting event this morning at Babson College. It's called "From Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0", co-hosted by CIMS center at Babson and MassNetCOMM. It has a great speaker, Thornton May (whom, frankly speaking, is like a lost twin of Prof. Marty Anderson! both the look and the way they talk), to throw in interesting things to challenge peole's conventional thinking. Then a presentation of MITRE's (MITRE manages Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) for the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, and Internal Revenue Service.) application of web 2.0 things in its corporate environment etc.

We had been asked to form some small groups to talk about our understanding of web 2.0 and I represented my team with the following:

- Free. yes, everything is free.
- Re-definition of Expert/Authority. I said "We don't count on NYT bestseler column to look for new book to read. We go to Amazon to check the  highest rated book. then go to Google to search for free PDF version of it."

Some other cool things from other teams:

- Option becomes fact/Face&Option are getting similar/Difficult to get consesus
- Trust drives everything
- The chaos created by UGC/web 2.0 etc actually is organizing information more like a human's brain:networked, non-linear...

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