Category Archives: Products

How to Select Vendors: look for rate of improvement in the product

When selecting software vendors, besides for just doing the usual (feature analysis, price, compatibility, ease-of-use, etc.) look for one core x-factor: rate of improvement of the product.

The faster the product has been improving in the last year, the more likely it will improve in the coming years.

Look for products that get better quickly. Look for products that fix bugs and performance issues quickly. Look for products that add new features. Look for products that keep delighting customers.

One way to do this is note your evaluation of the product when you first see it and then in subsequent times that you see it.

Look for companies that publish change logs

Reward companies that publish clear change logs on their product and show how the product is getting better over time (which means they are honest about past bugs). We’ve been experimenting with publishing change logs at SafeGraph and it has significantly helped our sales cycle and ability to gain customer trust. In addition, it is helpful for current customers to keep track of our ongoing changes. We would love for other companies to copy us.

Summation: a great way to chose a vendor is to look for the rate their product is improving.

Photo by Christina Morillo on

Better World Books

BwbBetter World Books is one of my favorite book-sellers of used books. They give a big portion of their profit to support worldwide literacy causes (there is little more important for world peace then to get people to read).

And they also have a great Rapleaf reputation.

I’m not sure if I am allowed to tell anyone about it, but they’re doing a friends and family discount code of 10% off for the rest of 2006. All you have to do is enter BETTERWORLD_FRIENDS at checkout. And they also have free shipping in the US, $2.97 worldwide. Pretty cool — check them out.

losing weight will be easier in the future

Astro_picBodymedia recently launched the Bodybugg which monitors how many calories you’ve burned everyday (it kind of a pedometer and heart-rate monitor on steroids). Accompanied with the hardware is web-based system that allows you to log your food so you have a good idea of your calorie intake. And as the bodybugg web site says:

weight loss is simple. you just need to burn more calories than you take in. it’s that easy.

Astro Teller and the BodyMedia gang are on to something. This system will truly get people to better understand their calories going in verses what they are burning.

Now this system will only be used by early adopters now … now … but I expect that this will have great appeal as the systems become even more user friendly. Certainly this is a lot more practical than Atkins.

As society invents more and more ways to get obese, it will also invent greater and greater ways to beat obesity and stay trim. So eat another Big Mac — that’s only three hours extra on the treadmill …

Samsung A920

like a lot of bloggers, Sprint sent me the new Samsung A920 to use with free service and free downloads  (unlimited music, tv, games, etc) for six months.   

quick update (i will write more later):

i really like it.

thus far i have been using the phone and it is great quality.   the phone itself works great as a phone.   also — music download is really easy and understandable.  i downloaded so many tunes so quickly that my 128 MB card got filled up.   and though $2.99/song is a little pricey — it is definitely the thing you might do while you happen to be on the road and you just "need" to listen to a song.  the sound quality is good (which is a big surprise — the speaker is quite loud given this is such a small device)

and the TV works great.  i watched a bunch of different shows — they have a ton of different choices.   

on Sprint’s marketing strategy: i think it is really smart.  i’m a big fan of this ground-level marketing.   

Plantronics Voyager 510SL and Aliph Jawbone PC Edition

V510sThere are two products that I want to praise — both of which go in your ear.   

the first is the Plantronics Voyager 510SL Bluetooth headset.   this is the best Bluetooth headset i’ve ever user.   it is extremely lightweight, long talk time, good sound, and good volume.   it connects directly with my Treo 650 (and any other bluetooth compatible cell phone) and it has an adapter that connects directly with your office phone … so you only need one headset for both phones.  it is really cool.   (note that this was a Silicon Valley 100 product and I got it for free).

The second product is the new Aliph Jawbone PC Edition.   it is not out on the market yet but it is a terrific headset for travelers that want to make skype calls.   Hosain Rahman, Aliph’s CEO, gave me the product minutes before catching my plane to Chile.   it is a great product that really made my trip better (i’ve been using skype a lot when traveling internationally and the lightweight Jawbone made my travels much easier).   plus, the sound quality is really good.

Norpro Egg Rite Egg Timer

B00004ue7501_scmzzzzzzz_i love this thing … the Norpro Egg Rite Egg Timer.

ok … i am a sucker for soft boiled eggs and this thing makes it really easy to make the perrrrrrfect soft boiler. just through this into the water and wham!, it changes color to indicate what stage the egg is at. for $7, you’ll always now get perfect eggs.

thank you to Bree Humphries for getting this for me as a gag gift (that turned out to be a gift i really like and use).

Akimbo is cool

LogoAkimbo is the newest SV100 company …

Akimbo is cool. It is real IP TV. No cable necessary … just add wifi. Akimbo is a Kleiner/DFJ/Sprout/Zone company. I’ve been using it for about a month now … although it still has not convinced me to watch TV, if I did watch TV, I’d use Akimbo…

Tivo = 1999. Akimbo = 2006

Here’s how it works: you connect the Akimbo Player to your TV and the Internet, and you have access to a collection of over 5,000 video programs, and it’s all available on demand. You can check out shows from National Geographic, History Channel, FitnessOnDemandTV, BBC, CNN, Turner Classic Movies, anime, great Chinese films … all on demand. The one drawback is the catalog is a little eccentric … they don’t yet have many of the mainstream shows (but Akimbo’s founder promises they’ll have that soon).


The Disc Hub is a great way to store your CDs and DVDs. and it is the newest Silicon Valley 100 product.

Do you still have CDs? OK … I know most of you might think CDs are almost as useful as 8-tracks, but we all still have a lot of them lying around and I even use them (very occasionally) for music listening…

I love these DiscHubs … they’re my favorite way of storing and displaying CDs (and perfect for those of you who subscribe to services like GameFly or NetFlix so those packages don’t end up on your floor). And they look so cool.

MacWorld’s review of DiscHub was super:

Not only was the discHub a good idea, but that the company got the implementation right: The neoprene membranes lining each slot did a good job of holding the discs securely without scratching them, while the staggered slots themselves made it easy to see and grab any disc. One of those things I never knew I needed until I used it. 4 out of 5 mice.

And DiscHub is locally based (in San Francisco) with a great eye for design.

Reactrix partners w McDonald’s

See very interesting PR release on Reactrix‘s coup:

Reactrix Creates Unique, Fun ‘Interactive Tables’ for Dine-In McDonald’s Customers at the New 50th Anniversary Restaurant

I’ve been working with the guys from Reactrix for the last few months now. Companies like McDonald’s, Sam Goody, AMC Theaters, and others have been deploying Reactrix’s systems to enhance their customer experience and also to promote products.

Brondell in the SJ MErcury News

Brondell — the bidet toilet seat that is taking America by storm, got a great write-up in the Mercury News this week:

“We want to be No. 1 in the No. 2 business.”

There is a rumor that the Brondell Swash recently got picked up by Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond. This is an extraordinary amount of success for a company that just started selling units a few months ago.

i have a particular interest in Brondell as they were the first Silicon Valley 100 product we sent out. Their incredible recent success has really helped the influence marketing industry.