Work Life Balance

There have been a few stories that have came out over the last month or so that talk about - Work Life Balance.

The latest is from Reuters reporting on a study from ACNielsen, which found “Work-life balance tops global New Year wish list.”

Also a story in a recent issue of BusinessWeek talks about how Best Buy is breaking the conventional thinking of the corporate 9 to 5 world – one where people need to put in “face time” and where the person who stays the longest at the office wins. The fact of the matter is that hardly anyone works from just 9 – 5. Technologies like mobile phones, BlackBerries and the wireless Internet have extended the work day well before 9am and way past 5pm. Some people look at these technologies as a bad thing... but we (three-forty) believe used properly... they enable us to be not only more productive but more importantly they free us from the florescent lit, four walls that we sit in.

They give us the ability to avoid rush hour or they let us take a break from work to go for a mountain bike ride during the middle of the day. I am not saying that these mobile technologies give us a the chance to slack off (the article talks about this a bit too) but it allows us to be more available to the client without being tied to the desk. Yes – the office gives a chance to collaborate and focus on work and that’s why we have one but your desk shouldn’t prevent you from having a life. There will be work that needs to be done by 8am or more work to be finished after 8pm but with the right mix of company culture, ethics and mobile technologies – it is possible to stretch more out of life.

Phishing Scams getting more sophisticated


It's been a while since I even thought about phishing scams. But, today I got an email from Bank of America asking me to update my account. Luckily, I am not so naive to think that they really need me to do this and would actually email this to a whole list of "undisclosed recipients."
While the note looks somewhat legit, it is the next page that is pretty amazing. Here is the note:

As measures mesures of ensuring a safer and more secure Banking
environment,We have re-structured our Banking servers .

Hence, we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and account information is protected.

Please click on continue, to the verification process and ensure your Account information is entered correctly to get verified.

It is all about your security.


Thank you.


My favorite line of course, "It is all about your security." It then sends you to a page where you'd have to fill out your information, including social security number, mother's maiden name, account information, etc.

I an not sure if I am more informed on these scams because I've worked with VeriSign or other anti-spam or anti-phishing vendors, but they still scare me. I worry that my parents or grandparents may fall victim to this. So be warned! Any incoming email that wants your private information Don't give it out.

It's Different This Time

Josh Quittner outlines why he thinks this tech boom is different than that of the late 90’s. He has some good points – companies are trying to be profitable, the exuberance has not reached the levels it once had, and Bill Gates has become irrelevant to many start-ups.

I agree with *most* of his points and I would also add that entrepreneurs these days don’t want to become a legend of a tech bubble. The entrepreneurs we are working with truly believe they have a company that will be around for the long haul – boom or not.

The idea that the web has become increasingly democratized (ahem, YOU are Time’s Person of the Year), many more opportunities will open up. Not just in content creation, but how we receive the content we want, what device, from who, when and how we can use it to help our everyday lives. Quittner also points out that many people believe that tech booms go in four year cycles. I hope that we are just on the cusp of innovation and that three years from now we’ll be looking back realizing that the YouTube’s of the world were just scratching the surface.

Venice Project Opens Up

I've been hearing quite a bit about the Venice Project from some industry friends, so am curious to see what it's all about. The project is pretty ambitious and has several barriers for success, though if anyone can do it - these guys can. Hopefully, I'll be beta testing it soon.

Yahoo Taps Community

I think Yahoo is doing a great job of collecting the community’s feedback... starting with this memo "leak.” Sure they are going to have to wade through a bunch of useless posts and comments but there is definitely a lot of good input out there.

I think I will start working on my memo.

Happy Birthday three-forty

Wow. A full year has passed since three-forty opened its doors officially for business. We’ve come a long way in the past 12 months – in fact, I can’t even believe it has been a full year. I guess the saying is true, “time flies when you are having fun.”

When I think back about making the jump last fall, I realize that it wasn’t such a big one. The idea around three-forty had been percolating for a while. Both Rick and I had been talking about getting up and running, what would it take, what kind of clients we’d want to work with, what kind of company we’d want to build, etc. We decided last fall was the right time for several reasons:
-the market was heating up
-there were some REALLY interesting start-ups seeking PR
-the result of the market heating up meant that some of the best PR firms to work with start-ups had gotten really expensive for start-ups
-the world of traditional media and PR was changing and we could adapt quickly

So on November 1st, I made the jump, knowing Rick would be doing the same shortly.

Over the past year, we’ve had the honor and privilege to work with some great people and clients. We are still working with the clients that we opened our doors with – Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), meebo and Brondell. (When Rick joined, we expaned our roster with scanR and Orative) We’ve expanded our client roster to include some pretty interesting projects with Broadcom and MTI Micro. We’ve also been able to work with some of the most innovative companies in Valley. We are very grateful that we get to work with such smart, fun and genuinely good people.

In addition to having great clients, we are also lucky that we’ve found great people to work with. Since the beginning we’ve had some great contractors and in August, Michaela Wilkinson joined our team.

Another exciting milestone for three-forty was the office move. We recently moved out of the home office space, to Jackson Square. We found a great space in this neighborhood. Everyday since the move you can hear one of us say, “It’s so great to be so close to… (insert a great restaurant, place to run an errand, etc.)”

The past year has taught us a lot about who we are, what we want to be and a lot of what we don’t want to be. We like that our culture is about getting our clients good results and not about facetime in the office. We like that we can have dinner with our families or friends and that we find time to balance our hobbies – running, cooking, surfing, etc. We like that we enjoy going to work.

So, now that the first year is under our belt, we need to focus on the next phase of three-forty. First and foremost is growing our team. If you are interested in joining an agency that loves its clients, has fun and lets you have a life too, email or call us. hr at three-forty dot com (415) 367-4048.

And to everyone that has helped us through our first year, a sincere thank-you.

some assembly required

ah… the joys of moving into a new office…

Congratulations to Orative

Orative, one of the first clients to work with Three-Forty Communications, is to be acquired by Cisco. And any company with a mountaineer as a CEO is a good company.

New Space

We moved... well we are moving. We have the essentials... desks, a Wi-Fi connection and our mobile phones. Some other items need to be moved and set-up but starting tomorrow we will be at 649 Front Street in Jackson Square, SF – very cool space I may say.

Google News Archive Search

If you are in the business that we are in... then chances are you use Google News and Google News Alerts... rather often and almost obsessively. While the service doesn’t capture every piece of news out there – it is a great resource and the price is right (free). I have been using the new Google News Archive search and it is pretty useful. So far I have only been using it to search for specific names and companies but it has been providing very efficient and accurate results. The timeline option looks like it might have some quirks to it but all-in-all it is another great service from Google... plus it was getting boring just doing regular Googles on my own name ;-)

Tough Day

If you think you are having a tough day… just take a look at this story.

From Erika Brown's "The Thin Green Line" story



Last month, an executive at a cellular technology startup in Israel was called up for duty by the Israeli Reserve Army to defend the country against attacks from Hezbollah. He headed north to the border between Israel and Lebanon, also known as "The Thin Blue Line," where bombs and bullets were flying from both sides. Determined to not let the war get in the way of his business, he worked on a complex technology deal with a European equipment maker via his BlackBerry from the inside of a tank. (The soldier-slash-entrepreneur asked not to be identified because he feared his client would be angry to learn he was in battle.)

Coolest Websites

Congrats to Three-Forty clients meebo and Yelp for making Time’s 50 Coolest Website Lists.

Party Crasher...


The Journal reports that big media companies are buying up some college newspapers.

Big Media on Campus


The article goes on to talk about how these newspapers are bucking the trend and are having success in their markets. So... this begs the questions will Dean Wormer be a buzz kill.

In Vino Veritas?

“There is truth in wine.”

How often do we say things that we don’t mean when we’re not in the ‘right mind set.’ As a public figure, saying something ‘you don’t mean’ whether you're under the influence or not could cause you your career (umm Mel)—or at least a huge bludgeoning to your public image.

Can someone say or do something beyond the help of publicists? What can a public relations professional do to counter an explicit comment made toward another race, sex, religion, etc.?
Whether someone is under the influence or not, these remarks are damaging and most likely will drag that person’s reputation through the gutter a few times, and then straight down the drain.

How long does it take the public to forgive, or will they? Here are some recent examples of some high-profile public mishaps, both sober and under the influence:

-Brandon Davis and his bashing of Lindsay Lohan
-Afformentioned Mel Gibson and his tirade after his drunk and driving arrest
-Cristal Champagne’s owner and his remarks in an Economist article to which Jay-Z (rap star) took offense
-Google and CEO Eric Schmidt's PR blunder

Question here—are we, as a public bloodthirsty for these types of stories? What can one do to reverse such a downward spiral of events? Does the public really care—or is it the media who just wants to keep stirring the pot—and will it last?

meebo us


Congrats to meebo – a client of ours, who announced a pretty cool release today. This is pretty significant for meebo as well as the IM world… meebo now enables you, me or anyone with a web page, a social networking page, a commerce page, etc. to put meebo into that page and engage in real-time, no-software required IM. Also, for the page owners, you can now track who is visiting your site. You can get it here: http://www.meebome.com/. Happy meebo me-ing. :)

Been meaning to get to this - VC investing

I was on the road last week and didn’t have a chance to get to this. The NVCA came out with the latest venture investing numbers. The good news is that there are investments being made, the bad news (if you are an entrepreneur) is that most of the investing is going to the later stage deals.

I find this very interesting. I hear from a lot of VCs that the early deals are the most interesting, it’s just that finding the right ones or getting in at the right time is proving to be trickier these days. It takes a lot less money to create a start-up right now and it’s easier for entrepreneurs to show some traction and growth on pennies before pulling down a big funding round. The entrepreneurs starting these companies now either have an established network, or don’t want to take on a first round from a VC. What typically ends up happening is that the next time they go to raise a round of funding, they’ve proven themselves, have more customers or users and their valuation is higher. This makes it more expensive for the VCs to get in and then the deal becomes less interesting or too expensive. So while it’s easy to blame Sarbanes Oxley, etc. but I think that valuations are playing a pretty big role in early stage financing – or lack thereof.

Pirate Radio (with the Church Lady)

Everyone has a “Meet-up” these days. (well at least out here in The Valley). I went down to the Third Thursday PR Meet-up to listen to a discussion about podcasts (not sure why they didn’t do it via a podcast? I guess it kind of defeats the purpose of the “meet-up” …)

Anyway, it was pretty interesting to listen to two of the woman who have podcasts and how/why they got started. One was from Palo Alto and seems to resemble my mom (in even more of Church-Lady sort of way and I mean that in the nicest way possible...) while the other was a younger woman from Fresno but both are pretty much doing the same thing. Their podcasts fill a void that traditional broadcast media can’t fill – in depth local issues. The issues aren’t necessarily “huge” like Korea pointing a nuke at me type-of-issues… but none the less, it serves a purpose – an alternative to what currently exists.

There are all sorts of flavors of podcasts that help lengthen the “Tail” but to me local seems interesting. Radio is still very much a local medium but just like everything else it is either getting swallowed up by the big guys or local stations are having a tough time keeping the lights on and the signal broadcasting. At some point when we have IP-based radios that can stream or store podcasts directly to our cars – it’s good to know that there will still be a place to listen for the local spin on things… and more importantly the opportunity to have multiple choices for the local spin.

Seeing Sound

This is just amazing. No matter how big/small, fast/smart a computer/gadget we can build the human body and brain still shows us how advance and adaptable it can be. This is a story about boy who can “See Sound.”

Another Sign of the Times



No pun intended… The New York Times is reducing the size of it’s paper and closing a print factory. The size reduction will take away about 5% of the space the paper devotes to news coverage. Earlier this year, the New York Times did a major facelift as well as added some necessary RSS feeds, blogging features, etc., in an effort to pursue a more strategic online strategy.

In a time where more and more people turn to the web for their news, traditional media sources *MUST* find a way to compete and adapt their business models. Always interesting watching these cycles evolve.

Do I really sound like this?

This is why I won't be doing too many podcasts or radio talk shows. This is from a recent interview with Lazlow. I started listening to Lazlow on the now defunct WDRE back in Philadelphia, almost 14 years ago (yikes). Lazlow probably had one of the first syndicated Consumer Tech Radio shows - you can now find his podcasts on his site and hear him on XM Radio.

New York



I am in New York this week. I am always amazed at how much energy this city has. I love it. I can't help but think of an article I read last week about NY regaining it's crown as the capital of capital...

According to Patrick McGeehan of the New York Times, "...In the past several years, New York has regained its magnetic force and is re-establishing its claim as the city of big bosses. The number of corporate headquarters and subsidiaries in Manhattan has more than doubled since 1990, according to the US Department of Labour. In the past few years, the number of Fortune 500 companies based in the city has been inching upwards, reversing a long, steep decline that accelerated during the financial crisis of the early 1970's."

I enjoy my trips to NY, they are often very productive, very busy and I sleep very well when I return back to San Francisco.

Slow Posting this week

We've been a bit behind in posting this week. I think we are either catching-up from the holiday or still in holiday mode. Either way, we'll be back with more next week.

NBC Gets It



AP has a story on NBC putting show promos on YouTube. This is a great move for NBC. Why? Because NBC will be able to promote shows to a captive audience and lure them into watching that program. It makes so much sense. It’s a commercial, but cheaper and much easier to measure. It’s great to see NBC taking the step to do this. I hope more content companies realize the power of these sites and what it can do to build awareness, viewer acquisition and more advertising dollars.

Ice Cream Truck

I heard the melody of the ice cream truck rolling by our house for the first time this year.... besides bringing up some very interesting memories... (like the time the ice cream truck driver when psychotic and chased us down the street, threatening my brother’s life – I hope they do background checks now a days)... it got me thinking about how that’s got to be a tough business with gas prices soaring so high. I am thinking a good gimmick would be the “Green Ice Cream Truck” - an electric powered machine. This would definitely be a hit in a place like San Francisco... but if you know what the summers are like in San Francisco – ice cream may not be the business.

Let's Go Racing

For those of you who know my husband and me, we’ve become big NASCAR fans. I am not quite sure how it happened, but we join the 75 million other fans that are dedicated to the Race for the Cup. So, this was our big weekend, our first NASCAR Race as Infineon Speedway in Petaluma, CA.

Our day began at 4:30 a.m. (yes, you read that correctly). The gates open at 6:00 a.m. and we heard that you see the best things early in the a.m. So we were out the door by 5:15 and on our way up to the racetrack.

It was a little chilly when we arrived and we were surprised at how many other people had our same plan. We were also surprised at how many people were camping out.

We walked around the whole race track. There were lots of corporate events being set-up and everything had a sponsor -- including the garbage cans. The sun started rising as we were walking so it was warming up. We thought about having a beer, after all, the car next to us cracked a Bud as soon as they arrived that morning around 6 as well, but I needed more caffeine before alcohol. (In fact, I was too tired to drink beer at all that day. Diet Coke was my beverage of choice -- 4:30 a.m. is too early to get up AND drink all day.)

The fans were all types – from us, to the hard core Dale Sr. fans and everything in between. This is a sport loyal to its drivers and supports them openly. Lines were 10 deep at some merchandise booths.

What has always fascinated me about NASCAR is how unapologetic it is about the commercialization of the sport. Hey, it’s an expensive sport, so they’ve done what they can to make it happen. Also, the drivers are some of the most-messaged spokespeople and at the same time are talking trash about the other drivers.

So it’s no surprise that Sprint/Nextel has come up with more ways to capitalize on the sport and the fan interest. We got the Fan View, which allowed us to listen to the drivers on their radios in their car. That was pretty cool, especially when there was a caution.

Overall the race was interesting. A road course is not the most common of racing these drivers do in the cup. It’s a different type of racing than Daytona or a short-track. While we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, we couldn’t see the whole course. We think our next race will be a short track where we can see the whole race.

Jeff Gordon won the race. The whole experience was very cool though. It was amazing to see how the whole operation works too. It’s a logistics nightmare. I couldn’t even imagine planning something on this level.

We’ve already got plans for next year, which includes camping. Who is in?

Here are some of our pictures from the day: http://www.flickr.com/photos/69038113@N00/

Here’s one of the videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udd6CbvPcpw
I’ll upload more later.

All in the Name

We often get asked, “How did you come up with the name Three-Forty?” So I’ll take a minute to explain here.

We believe that the world of communicating with consumers, partners, the press, anyone for that matter, is changing. Today there many ways to reach your customers and some are more powerful than others.
So when we started to think about the communications firm we wanted to be, we knew we needed to be different and understand these new mediums, which were more effective and which were the most powerful and which were the most efficient. And of course, which mediums were/are best for our clients.

So we came up with Three-Forty. Why? Because it’s the speed of sound (at sea level).

Outage

Ugh. I am a big Yahoo! fan, but this morning, I wasn't.

I was part of the outage that occurred this morning. I was hoping to get some work done early this a.m. (6:15 am) only to find that my email wasn't working. Ugh. Oh well. Up and running now. I still wonder how people worked before email. Much more slowly, I guess.

Ride A Wave


I am going to borrow from a post I did last year on one of my favorite things, Ride A Wave, because this weekend I was able to get down to Santa Cruz to help out.

Although there is some element of truth (and even idyllic quality) to the stereo type - there is definitely more to surfing then the Spicoli-esque version. Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about a nonprofit that I work with called Ride A Wave. The last couple of years I have only made a couple of the camps... but it is something that I have been doing for 5 years now and hope to continue to do for many more.

"Smartest" Cities

This story from the SF Business Journal says that San Francisco and Austin are tied for 2nd as the smartest city in the US. We are 2nd to Seattle. I guess what makes you smart, acc. to the survey is the how many residents hold a bachelor's degree. According to the article, "Forty-seven percent of Seattle's adults hold bachelor's degrees, the strongest proportion of college-educated residents in any big city. It's nearly double the U.S. average of 24.4 percent. "

Hmm... Does book smart = smart? And if you got a college degree does that make you smarter than someone else who didn't? I am not so sure. I knew my fair share of idiots at college. I also know that there are some very smart and successful folks that didn't get a college education.

Exceptions to every rule, I guess. However, I still don't think this survey is one that cities should be bragging about.

I'll Take a Boy for $20,000

Wow. Just read an article on affluent couples coming to the US so that they can choose the sex of their child. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I am... Takes the spontaneity out of it as well.

I can just see the commercial now: Roundtrip Airline tickets for 2: $3000, Hotel Stay: $500, Doctor bills $20,000; 99.9% Certainty your bloodline will be carried through: Priceless.

Congrats to Om

If you haven't seen the news - he's leaving Business 2.0 to focus full-time on GigaOm. Good Luck and I look forward to reading more on GigaOm.

Read more here: http://gigaom.com/

Three-Forty Mascot

Check out Ditka the Wonder Dog

This is Three-Forty's Mascot:

New Yahoo! Homepage

Great stuff from Yahoo! on the new homepage. I have to admit, I use Yahoo! for almost everything except my local information -- and they've truly made a great product better.

I love you nano nuch

I just got the iPod Nano, and I have to admit, I am in utter awe of the sleek design. Steve Jobs, how do you do it? Now my runs will be more fun and light. Thank you nano.

Here's To You Steven Colbert

Why do I feel like there should be one of those Bud Light commercials that salutes a select group of people i.e. wingmen, the person who thought up the corndog, etc. You know the ones that start out – “Here’s to you, Mr. Wingman…”

I can just hear it now, “Here’s to you Stephen Colbert, for being either so foolish or so ballsy to stand up in front of the President and satirize his Presidency. In the background you can hear the guy going, “how big are your cajones?”

If you missed it, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcIRXur61II&search=Colbert%20CSPAN%20

Weekends

There have been loads of events to attend these days for people in tech. It seems like every night of the week there’s something to go see. And now it’s trickling into the weekends. There was Start-up school on Saturday, The E27 event on Sunday. Am I the only one left that truly believes to be effective at work, I need at least one day a week to clear my head? I too run a start-up, but I believe in controlled growth, balance and not burning me or my co-workers out. I rarely get 2 days off, but need at least one to make sure I can get through the next week. I sincerely hope that these weekend events were an exception not a norm.

Why I still love playing soccer

I’ve been playing soccer since I was five years old. I feel so lucky that after so many years I still have an opportunity to play. Soccer season (finally!) started last night. I love this time of year. From now until August, each week I’ll get to spend time outside doing one of my favorite pastimes. Over the years though, soccer has developed into SO much more than just a hobby.

Yeah, so I know the whole team sport analogy is over played, but I don’t care. When the first whistle blows, I think about nothing except soccer and the bigger result – winning. And that’s also what the team is thinking about – all of us are working to win. There aren’t any politics, there is only a focus to achieve the end result. It’s a good lesson to take back to the office when you start getting bogged down with logistics details, day-to-day items, etc. It never hurts to take a step back and think what is the ultimate result we want? Does this move it forward and is it the best way?

Another thing I love about soccer is that while I am on the field I think about nothing else. There are very few things that enable me to block out all of the things that I have to do for work, or at home. It’s like a mind spa.

There are also the physical benefits of playing soccer. It’s great exercise and while the league is recreational, some games get a little more physical than others.

Finally, I love the team aspect. It’s fun to see how each part of the team works together and how we cheer and push each other to do our best.

So, enough of my over-played analogies. But if you are looking for me on Thursday nights, chances are I’m playing soccer.

Forget the Wallet...

I wonder when my phone will be able to start my car… That’s all I really need to make my life a bit better. Seriously, with a camera built in I can thumb through and show off pics and video of my son and with mobile commerce technologies like those from PayPal, I can use my phone to pay for things. Heck companies like Atrua have finger print recognition technologies to make the phone more secure then carrying around a wallet packed with credit cards… So – pretty soon I can forget my Costanza and just bring my phone. Which leads me to wonder and wish – when will I be able to eliminate the daily search for my keys.

Congrats to NVP

Congrats to (client) Norwest Venture Partners for closing its tenth fund – NVP X. The fund, NVP’s largest to date, will focus on disruptive technologies in the US and abroad.

Also a congrats is in order to Bob Abbott, Jeff Crowe, Vab Goel, Jim Lussier and Venkat Mohan. – the five new general partners. The team, which also includes Promod Haque and Matt Howard, is optimistic about emerging growth opportunities on a global scale.

The fund was announced yesterday.

History Lesson - Thanks to Om

Om has a fun post about what’s old is new again. Some great comments too. The only thing he left out from Mr. Money Maker’s column – Mark Cuban’s investment in Brondell. (Disclosure – Brondell is a Three-Forty client).

Cam phones and blogging

Another CTIA... this year it was in Vegas... always rough. I wanted to check out the new camera phones that are currently out or are about ready to come out (i.e. w/in the next 3 months) Right now I am really interested in the camera quality. Why... as camera phones start to improve the amount of content that will be generated for the web will increase greatly.

With a decent camera phone (2.0 – 3.0 megapixel) you can start producing a web quality picture or video clip. (in my opinion most of the camera phones under 1.3 megapixel are good for the Gee Whiz factor or sending to another mobile phone but the image is still pretty bad when it is posted on a website or even sent via email).

....and with the amount of new services that make it easy to post directly from a mobile device to your own blog or website of choice...( i.e. not needing to go back to a computer and upload the video/picture, or only being able to post the video/picture to a specific community site.) it will be easier to quickly generate content for your blog, website, etc...

Stirr Event in Palo Alto

I attended the Stirr Event in Palo Alto last night. It was a good turnout. I was in the back and my short stature didn't allow me to see all of the presentations, but I did stop by and talk to one of the presenting companies, PlaceSite. Sean Savage, PlaceSite's CEO told me about the way they were working to bridge the online and offline worlds. PlaceSite helps you determiner what's going on in the community relative to where you are. If they secure some strong partnerships, they could do some interesting things.

I guess the next Stirr Event will be held in May. The organizers may need a bigger venue, because this was packed.

The not-so-first-entry

I've been trying to evaluate which blog service was going to be the best for me and Blogger wins. So I should be posting more now.