Monthly Archives: October 2007

the $10,007 referral reward for BD star

Rapleaf is a 12-person start-up in San Francisco. We’re building a portable identity and social graph and already have deep data on approaching 100 million people. Rapleaf allows companies, developers, and communities to build applications on top of this data.

We’re looking for a BD rock star.

Rapleaf is backed by some of Silicon Valley’s top investors and has an ourstanding engineering team. We’re hiring our first BD person (right now the CEO is the only outwardly facing person in the company) and this is an opportunity to build on a business that already has a significantly number of customers.

jobs@rapleaf.com

p.s. we are looking for the next Matt Cohler. If you know who Cohler is, you know we have extremely high standards.

why is email not encrypted

I got an email today from my lawyer. In the email was a ton of confidential information about Rapleaf. And, like almost all emails, it was sent in the clear. No encryption. Of all the emails I sent or received in the last ten years, a total of zero were encrypted. None.

Isn’t that nuts?

We are sending each other very private information through very public routers (including all those wifi routers, hotel internet stops, and more) where someone listening at the router could easily assemble our messages.

In college (I graduated in 1996), things were different. My friends and I would send each other emails using PGP encryption. Why? Well, we didn’t want people reading our mundane (mostly about class projects) missives.

Since then, no one has solved the casual email encryption problem. I mean, couldn’t gmail, yahoo, hotmail, and aol agree on a standard tomorrow?

Until then, I sit here sending my messages in the clear …

priceline for weddings

Priceline is a cool company. They appeal to a niche of people that are looking for a great deal and are not as discerning on exactly what airline they fly or when they fly. But priceline finds them good deals because the airlines often have open seats or last minute cancellations.

You can imagine the Priceline concept applying to many other verticals. One crazy idea would be priceline for weddings …

A certain percentage of weddings get cancelled within 2-4 weeks of the date (I’ve been invited to a couple that have been so cancelled). At that point, most of the wedding, the food, the help, the alcohol, and a while bunch of other things are already paid for. In fact, it is quite possible that 80% of the wedding is already covered.

In the event of a cancellation, usually the couple loses all of their deposit … or they might throw a party (I know … weird … but it does happen) to at least get something out of the large amount of money they put down.

Instead, they should be able to sell their option and maybe recoup 25% of the money they already put down to another couple. Then that new couple would face a fantabulous wedding (as long as they were not too discerning) for 40% of the price. A steal.

And while this is highly unlikely given that people have a high emotional attachment to weddings, you could imagine this type of aftermarket springing up for events. You might be willing to throw a party in two weeks, somewhere near your home city, if you got a great deal … (and I hope I’m invited if you do)

Book: The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It

Jonathan Zittrain gave me a an advanced copy of his new book book, The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It, to look over and comment on.

This is a fantastic book and it will be an important read for years to come. I’m not going to talk about it yet (as I donโ€™t think it is bloggable yet) but I will highlight one very interesting thing that I learned from the privacy chapter โ€ฆ

In 1973, the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare commission a blue-ribbon panel on computers and privacy. Their conclusions are still relevant 34 years later. They suggested five key points to follow to protect privacy:

– There must be no personal-data record-keeping systems whose very existence is secret.

– There must be a way for an individual, to find out what information about him is in a record and how it is used.

– There must be a way for an individual to prevent information about him obtained for one purpose from being used or made available for other purposes without his consent.

– There must be a way for an individual to correct or amend a record of identifiable information about him.

– Any organization creating, maintaining, using, or disseminating records of identifiable personal data must assure the reliability of the data for their intended use and must take reasonable precautions to prevent misuse of the data.

we all have time

The phrase I hate the most is “I don’t have time.” we all have time to do things — we just don’t have time to do EVERYTHING. So we prioritize. When you say — “I don’t have time to read” you actually mean “I don’t choose to prioritize reading over all my other activities including working, being with my family, playing golf, watching football, and poker.”

From now on, instead of saying “I don’t have time”, say “I don’t choose to do this.”

video killed the search star

Tod Sacerdoti reveals that video impressions will pass search in three months. Video on the web is one of those things that everyone knew was coming one day but nobody knew when. then, about two years ago, it came.

portable identity and social graphs (what Rapleaf is working on) is the same thing. it will be here … eventually (probably in 2008).

as an early-stage investor, it is easy to invest in obvious trends rather than focus on the non-obvious ones. when deciding whether to invest, one can make a simple calculation:
– will this market (like video) be big?
– and are the founders an A+ team?

I’m a shareholder in three video-related sites (though none are competitive): BrightRoll (Tod’s company). Blip.tv, and MesmoTV
… the common denominator is (a) they are all video; and (b) they all have great founders.

those crazy disclaimer messages on emails

I got an email today from a friend of mine that contained the message below.

[THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS E-MAIL MESSAGE IS INTENDED ONLY FOR THE USE OF THE INDIVIDUAL OR ENTITY NAMED ABOVE. IF THE READER OF THIS MESSAGE IS NOT THE INTENDED RECIPIENT, OR IS NOT THE EMPLOYEE OR AGENT RESPONSIBLE FOR DELIVERING IT TO THE INTENDED RECIPIENT, YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED THAT ANY DISSEMINATION, DISTRIBUTION OR COPYING OF THIS COMMUNICATION IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED THIS MESSAGE IN ERROR, PLEASE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY US BY TELEPHONE OR REPLY BY E-MAIL AND THEN PROMPTLY DELETE THE MESSAGE. THANK YOU.]

speaking at Stanford on Mon (Oct 15)

I’m a really big fan of the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School and honored they selected me to give a seminar there next Monday:

Portable Identities and Social Web Bill of Rights
speaker: Auren Hoffman
Start: Oct 15 2007 – 12:45pm
End: Oct 15 2007 – 2:00pm

Topic Description

The future world of portable identities, reputations, and social graphs has many pluses and concerns. These portable systems could make the benefits of personalization, once only relegated to science fiction, a reality. The Social Web Bill of Rights makes the claim that users have the right to portability. But there are privacy implications to take into account as well. We will discuss an opt-out vs. and opt-in approach on data collection, privacy, and portability.
Location

Stanford Law School- Room 280B
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA, 94305

more at: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/node/5562
(if you are in Palo Alto, feel free to stop by)

populism is on the rise in America (and that’s a bad thing)

American populists are ascendant … and I’m worried.

The Wall Street Journal recently reporter that Republicans are now opposed to free trade by a 2-1 margin. On the question “Is foreign trade good or bad for the U.S. economy?,” 59% of Republicans said it was bad while only 32% said it was good. When Republicans are jumping ship on free trade, this means that probably 3/4 of the country thinks it is bad. I recently saw a poll that said that for the first time in history, the majority of Americans that make over $100k/year are against free trade.

I’m worried.