A Chicken and Pig are making breakfast together. The Chicken lays eggs and makes fried eggs. The pig cuts its belly and makes bacon.
The question is, whoís more committed to making breakfast?
Some might say that the Chicken is more committed because itís contributing its future generation. Others might say that the pig is more committed because itís contributing its own body. On other hand, a chicken can always lay more eggs. The pig also has a pretty big belly. The argument can go both ways and itís an interesting way to discover and discuss peopleís values.
The story can also be used to illustrate the differences between US and Korea Entrepreneurs.
When it comes to starting technology companies, US Entrepreneurs are Chickens. They typically start multiple companies with the mindset that their companies are like their offspring. They grow their companies by bringing in the right team and then move on when the company has outgrown them.
Like all living things, companies thrive and prosper when theyíre part of a diverse ecosystem that provides the right infrastructure for sustained growth and development.
Internet and software ecosystems are interesting because they are usually formed around the initial success of a single company that emerges from a highly competitive environment. If this company can nurture and grow this initial ecosystem, they enjoy a significant competitive advantage that eventually leads to market domination.
For example, Microsoft became a monopoly due to their success with the Windows software ecosystem. Google is effectively a monopoly with their AdWords/AdSense SEO ecosystem enabled by their successful search engine algorithms. Weíre now starting to see companies like Facebook and Twitter parlay their initial success into the development of ecosystems around social applications.
Therefore, itís important for companies to pay attention to developing ecosystems instead of just focusing on improving their own products and services. When it comes to Internet ecosystems, there are Six Dís that have a big impact on the development and success of the ecosystem:
The recent fire sale of Helio by SK Telecom to Virgin Mobile for $39M has made me reflect on Korean technology companies in the United States.
Korea is one of the most advanced countries when it comes to technology, but on the international stage, most Korean technology companies are still struggling to expand beyond hardware. Everyone knows Samsung and their prowess in hardware manufacturing but there are no successful global Korean software/technology services companies.
The irony is that within Korea, software and technology services companies like SK Telecom, NHN, and NCSoft are actually very innovative companies that dominate the local market. These companies are all highly profitable and they're well managed companies that have emerged as leaders in a highly competitive local market. They also have the cash flow and resources to invest in international expansion.
So, the question is, why haven't they succeeded? SK Telecom poured almost $500M into Helio, yet they ended up selling Helio for $39M. I've read that this equates to $200+ per subscriber which is ridiculous when the ARPU for a Helio subscriber is $80 per month.
On the flip side, why is it that some of the most innovative and successful companies have a hard time finding success in Korea?
WalMart entered the Korean market and ended up pulling out because they couldn't compete with E-Mart. Google is still having a hard time moving beyond 2% of the search market and competing against NHN, which continues to increase their 60%+ market share.
Here's my 3 minute interview on Fox Business Network regarding Askpedia and the cease and desist from IAC.
Link to high res version
It has been a while since I posted on this blog. The primary reason is because most of my time has been consumed by Askpedia.
The hard work is starting to pay off. Askpedia recently crosses 100,000 registered users. It's an important milestone for us and things are looking good all around.
We also launched an Askpedia Facebook application which is also doing pretty well. Developing a Facebook application has been an interesting experience and it's something I'll have to write about in a future blog post.
After Alpha and Private Testing for a few months, I'm excited to announce that Askpedia.com is now in Open Beta.
Basically, this means that anybody can access the sign and ask/answer questions. All of the site functionality, including payments for questions and answers is working.
We already have a pretty vibrant community with close to 900 questions. Almost half of these questions are still open, so please go visit the sign and start asking/answering questions!
I'm pleased to announce that we have launched the Askpedia Alpha program.
After many months of hard work, it's gratifying to have other people use our service and provide valuable feedback. We know we still have a lot of work ahead of us, but it does feel good to reach this important milestone.
Right now, the Alpha program is limited to a few people, but we will gradually open up the program to more participants. We also plan on having contests and prizes during the Alpha program. If you're interested in participating, send an email to alpha at askpedia.com.
It has been a while since I posted anything on this blog. It's not because of a lack of topics. Over the last few months, there have been some pretty interesting developments in the whole Web 2.0 space. Instead of just thinking about it or writing about it, I have decided to be a part of the new developments unfolding in the Web 2.0 space.
In March, I founded a new company and incorporated the company in June. We're now busy working on the prototype and we hope to have an Alpha version out some time in early 2007.
We are still in stealth mode, but the company is in the knowledge sharing space. We are learning from the success of sites such as Naver's JiSikIn and Yahoo Answers and applying the knowledge sharing concept to a different market in a different way. If you are interested in tracking our progress, you can sign up to be on our mailing list by going to:
Needless to say, it has been pretty exciting so far and we're all looking forward to launching next year and making a difference in the knowledge sharing space.
The best business books have a profound yet easy to understand insight based on a simple observation. The Innovator's Dilemma is one of those books. It is also one of the best examples of why there is always hope for startups in the technology space, even when competing against market leading companies.
Clayton Christensen makes the observation that even when market leading companies do everything right, they eventually lose their leadership position due to some unforseen and disruptive product, technology, or business model. It's a form of corporate Darwinism where every company has its demise encoded into its DNA. Companies might be able to adapt to changing market conditions, but if you're a dinosaur that needs a lot of food for sustenance, you are not going to survive the Ice Age. You have to become a bird and compete with other smaller animals used to surviving on less food.
The observation is very simple but the interesting insight from the book is analyzing why leading companies have this predictable lifecycle. Essentially, the insight can be summarized in one simple graph:
It has been a while since I posted an entry to my blog.
The primary reason for not blogging over the last year and a half has been my position in the WebEx CTO Office. Given my role in investigating new technologies and developing business opportunities for WebEx, I felt that it would not have been appropriate for me to write about current technologies and trends.
Well, that's all changing now.
I have now made the decision to leave WebEx and I will be transitioning out of WebEx over the next few weeks. WebEx is a great company with a tremendous opportunity in the SaaS space and I'm grateful for having had the opportunity to work directly with Min (CTO) and Subrah (CEO) at WebEx. However, in the last year and a half, too many things have happened in the market and too many interesting companies and technologies have emerged for me to stay at a large, established company.
I will be taking some time off to develop my ideas and then go about assembling a team and launching a startup. I also hope to use this blog to discuss my ideas and interact with others who share similar interests and passion for technology.
Who knows? Maybe I'll meet my future co-founders/employees through blogging!