The Myth of the $1 Billion Camera

Why would you pay a billion dollars for a lens filter? That’s the question being posed right now in the wake of Facebook’s recent $1 billion acquisition of Instagram. For those of you unfamiliar with Instagram, it’s a social network that allows users to upload pictures they have taken using relatively unique lens filters, that make pictures look as though they were taken a quarter century ago. While this might sound like moving backwards, it really does allow its users to became relatively proficient amateur photographers. Instagram has a huge number of users, approaching 10 million, and as they’ve grown to that size in an incredibly short period of time (2 years), it seems like a good business for Facebook to buy, except that they have never generated a single dollar of revenue.

So why the purchase? Well, venture capitalists around the world have begun speculation on a variety of theories as to why they’ve done this. Perhaps Facebook has finally realized that they can’t simulate the sort of natural evolution that companies Ike Instagram seems to represent. In the past, Facebook has looked at companies like this and said “if 13 employees can build this, we can too”. For the most part, they failed in those endeavors because they didn’t understand that you can’t recreate a phenomenon using a formula. So maybe they’ve finally figured out that if you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em? But I don’t think that’s it.

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What’s In A (Domain) Name

A lot. It is, in fact, an entire industry. But first, what’s a domain name?

Your domain name is your address on the web. It contains, usually, two parts. The first is the name and the second is the extension. Both of these parts are equally important, although one of them is often overlooked. Let’s start with the name itself.

IBM, Nike, Apple. None of these companies likely had much discussion about what they were going to use for a domain name because each of those companies had 2 things going for them. First, each had a recognizable name. Second, each of them had a very short and simple name. So, you have to ask yourself, when coming up with your domain name… do either of these apply to me?

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Gmail is NSFW

NSFW means not safe for work. It’s an acronym typically used to describe racy pictures or politically incorrect cartoons found in about 78% of the internet. But in this context, we’re talking about email. If you run a business and your email address that you use to communicate with customers, suppliers etc ends in hotmail.com or gmail.com or yahoo.com or any other widely available free email service, you’re doing it wrong. The last time we talked it was all about emptying your inbox. Well today’s diatribe is mostly about how to try to fill it.

Everyone needs email. I repeat, everyone needs email. Every business in existence needs an email address. Web presence, including email is no longer something you can afford to do without. People are cancelling their white and yellow page subscriptions and turning to Google for answers. If Google doesn’t find it, it doesn’t exist. This is the way you should be thinking about things. So, we’re in agreement. You have to have email. But why not Gmail?

Let’s say you’re going to see a heart surgeon. Let’s say that the surgeons’ office emails you a few days before your appointment to provide you with some additional paperwork you need to fill out and the name that pops up in your inbox is doctorheartsteve@gmail.com. Doesn’t have a very professional ring to it, does it? How likely are you to keep that appointment. I know what you’re thinking. Well, I’m not a heart surgeon so it doesn’t matter. The fact is it does matter. Your field is irrelevant. Gmail, Hotmail and the ilk are not professional. There’s nothing wrong with using them for your personal communication but when it comes time to represent yourself, you want  people to think you have a real business, because you do.