This was a pleasant surprise to wake up to yesterday: Guy Kawasaki, the widely read startup guru whose top-ten lists of do’s and don’t for entrepreneurs are gospel here in the valley, posted a new top-ten list called “The Top Ten Stupid Ways to Hinder Market Adoption“. Number 8 caught my attention in particular:
8. Requirement to re-type email addresses. How about the patent-pending, curve-jumping, VC-funded Web 2.0 company that wants to you to share content but requires you to re-type the email addresses of your friends?
I have 7,703 email addresses in Entourage. I am not going to re-type them into the piece-of-shiitake, done-as-an-afterthought address book that companies build into their products. If nothing else, companies can use this cool tool from Plaxo or allow text imports into the aforementioned crappy address book. When do you suppose a standard format will emerge for transferring contacts?
Wow, Guy is telling startups that if they don’t use the widget I built for Plaxo, they’re stupidly hindering market adoption! He’s also selling it exactly the way I would–you already have an address book, so sites should let you use it rather than foisting their own half-baked version with none of your contacts on you.
On a personal note, Guy was one of the “industry thought leaders” I listened to at Stanford during the bubble who cemented my zeal for doing startups (ah, the euphoric pre-crash days of sitting in a packed Stanford auditorium on Friday afternoons for IE292 and listening to people like Mike McCue and Marc Andreesen explain convincingly why the tech sector was still vastly under-valued). Guy is a fun and charasmatic speaker and his delivery is always very punchy.
What I remember most vividly from his talk (now nearly 7 years ago) was his “Stanford Shopping Mall Test” for picking VCs–if you saw the VC across the way in the (large, open-air) Stanford shopping mall, would you (a) run over to see him, (b) say hi if you happened to bump into him, or (c) get in your car and drive to another mall. You should only pick VCs for whom you answer (a). I don’t know if it’s true, but it sure sounded good! I’ve since read his Art of the Start, which contained similarly memorable advice, such as “flow with the go”, meaning if/when people adopt your technology for some purpose other than you originally envisioned, embrace the change instead of resisting it.
Given the impact that Guy’s had on me and most of my cohort here in the valley, it was certainly a trip to see him evangelize something I worked on. I went into work with a little extra bounce in my (admittedly already quite bouncy) step.
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