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L008: A Dozen Launches with our Signature Blunt--and Sometimes Brutal--Analysis of Actual Products

We love analyzing these launches, and we love that you love what we're doing. With the LAUNCH Conference just 10 days away, though, we'll be focusing on that and be back atcha after the 24th. See us there or miss us much till then!



L008.1: A Dozen Launches with our Signature Blunt--and Sometimes Brutal--Analysis of Actual Products (for the week of Feb. 7 to Feb. 11)

    1.    Asana: Nothing unique but expect relentless iterations.
    2.    500 Startups accelerator program: Dave McClure is PO'd about YC deal.
    3.    HP TouchPad tablet: Thankfully, a competitor for Apple.
    4.    Yahoo Livestand: Not gonna change the world, but we have an idea...
    5. Nice business, just give up the domain name.
    6. Bloody brilliant, mate.
    7.    Instapaper: A clever solution for making $$.
    8.    Chirply: Stick it to Hallmark and Evite.
    9.    Crowdbeacon: Good luck banging your head against the wall.
    10.    RippleFunction: We don't want to be in this dogfight.
    11.    Twitpic: Soon to be toast.
    12.    Convore: Elegantly designed Yammer/SocialCast for casual convos.

1. Asana [ ]
LAUNCHERS:  Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein 

WHAT: First public demo of platform for collaborative working from the guys who helped bring you Facebook. [ see ]

WHEN/WHERE: Monday in San Francisco.

WHY: It's been two years since Justin and Dustin abandoned the Facebook mothership -- and no one really knew what they were doing. Turns out they're trying to solve one of the "big-boy" software problems: real-time collaboration for businesses (f.k.a. groupware).  

LAUNCH Analysis: AFAP Alert! AFAP Alert! Yes, it's "Another Facebook Alumni Project" for all of us to fawn over alongside the socially-special Quora and Path. This product is going to feel very, very familiar to anyone who has used PivotalTracker, a tool for managing an "agile" or "scrum" project. The basic idea is you put tasks into a Yammer, Facebook or Twitter-like interface and people put in quick updates to it.

On a surface level there is nothing unique about Asana's approach, but like Quora and Path we expect to see relentless product iteration and focus. Those who studied under young Master Zuck seem to have a perverse confidence that is only outmatched by their desire for power and success. It warms our capitalist hearts to see these kids break the cry-baby, when-do-I-get-my-participation-trophy Gen-Y loser stereotype. XOXOXOX! *Swoon*.  

ONE MORE THING: Every startup and units of bigger companies will embrace this stuff over the next couple of years, and you only have to look at the massive business Yammer and SocialCast have built around "social task management" to understand that bottom up -- or "emergent" as the fancy pants folks like to call it -- systems by-the-people-for-the-people are going to explode over the coming years. Ray Ozzie started building this stuff in the early 1990s while David Sacks was in high school and Dustin was moving from diapers to big-boy undies. Don't worry Ray (and Mitch Kapor), we remember the ground work you laid with Iris and Notes.

AND ONE MORE THING: Is it odd that our dream is to smoke a bowl, eat some froyo with organic honey and dates, and then listen to Mitch and Ray talk about PLATO, Iris and Groove while Steve Gillmor moderates? Can you imagine they start pulling out screen shots like this one:

AND ONE MORE THING: If it takes you more than 11 minutes to show your product in your first demo, we're really worried. In Asana's demo they spend a ton of time explaining the context of what they're doing and how they think -- that's the ultimate tell that your product is either too complex or not that good. Steve Jobs doesn't tell you what's amazing about the iPhone or iPad in his keynotes -- he shows you.

Remember the #1 LAUNCH rule of launching: Show don't tell (L009 will feature the other 13 rules of launching -- wait for it!).

Walker Corporate Law Group is proud to sponsor LAUNCH
Walker specializes in the representation of entrepreneurs.

2. 500 Startups [ ]
LAUNCHER: Dave McClure [!/davemcclure ]

WHAT: Invite-only accelerator program + the first batch of companies (12 in all, 11 announced and one in stealth).

WHEN/WHERE: Thursday in Mountain View.

WHY:  Accelerators are hot, and the U.S. could use more top-notch ones like Y Combinator and TechStars.

LAUNCH Analysis: Angels like Dave are feeling heat from Ron Conway and Yuri Milner's powerplay to buy up the latest Y Combinator class and are dropping bombs like this. Certainly this was in the works before the YC announcement, but the general feeling that the YC-funding game is rigged (see L006) is leading folks to "roll their own."

ONE MORE THING: YC founder Paul Graham has angered a lot of angels and VCs by endorsing Yuri and Ron's investment. Most saw that blind funding as unnecessary, unfair and even anti-competitive. That one move will ultimately inspire a dozen legitimate competitors, like this one, by qualified investors. These investors will offer better terms and more services, putting pressure on Paul's ability to draw the best founders. Paul's Lesson: If you let folks buy out the fruit stand, don't be surprised if people start opening their own orchards.

AND ONE MORE THING: Ron Conway hates Dave McClure, using words like unprofessional and classless when describing his blog posts during the fabricated-at-best "angel gate" story (published by the blog whose name will not be spoken). Given this cold war, we wonder if a startup accepts Dave's invite to his accelerator, is it automatically "soft disqualified" from getting an investment from Ron Conway? This balkanization of investor groups is what the YC deal has created, leaving many to wonder why didn't Yuri and Ron just wait until demo day like everyone else and invest in the companies they liked best?  


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L008.2: Complete List of Judges & Grand Jury Members at LAUNCH

We don't like to drop names, but we will to get you to buy a ticket to LAUNCH. :-)

We're shocked and humbled that these killers actually said yes and are coming to LAUNCH on Feb. 23rd and 24th in San Francisco!

[ ]

Aaron Batalion
Roelof Botha
Matt Coffin
Dave Goldberg
Kevin Hartz
Mike Jones
Dan'l Lewin
Ted Maidenberg
Dave McClure
Dave Morin
Niel Robertson
Aaron Patzer
Sean Parker
Kevin Pollak
David Sacks
Greg Tseng
Aarron Walter
Josh Williams
David Young
George Zachary
Andrea Zurek

Harvey Allison
Brian Alvey
Ryan Block
Jose Caballer
Don Dodge
Marshall Kirkpatrick
Bill Lee
Alfred Lin
Shervin Pishevar
Adeo Ressi
Robert Scoble
Bill Warner

Buy your ticket NOW.


LAUNCH Media covers and celebrates new products, services and technology in two ways: an email newsletter and an in-person conference. LAUNCH was founded by a serial entrepreneur, former journalist and now angel investor who we're tired of promoting.

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References (7)

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