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Inspiration is the best rocket fuel

Posted on 19 June 2014 by JasonK

Last night Matt Mullenweg told the story of WordPress and how it had all happened. It was a kind of a one man solo theatre performance with a stream of anecdotes counterpointing each step along the journey.

I have been lucky enough to hear Matt speak a few times over the past 6 years and even though I knew most of the story there were still plenty of insights to be had.

The event was held in a school theatre and it was the right setting for a no frills telling of the motivations and the reasons why WordPress is still relevant and exciting today after 10.5 years.

Here are some tweets and posts that captured some of the magic moments. It was great to meets some tweeps in person and to see so many new faces as well as some old favourites.

In the first snap below I was talking with @billbennettnz and unknowingly photo bombed the shot.

In shot: Megan @Madicattt and Laura @lozalock with Matt.

Megan wrote a great post on the evening WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg in Auckland

Potaua & Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule run an awesome local news project in Rotorua. They came up especially to say hi. They also very kindly bought Matt a ponamu pendant seen in the photo below.

The moment when Potaua presented the gift he leaned in for a hongi which was a new concept for Matt. Anyway it was a beautiful moment, spontaneous and unscripted and delightfully funny all at the same time.

During the Q & A many of those who asked questions thanked Matt for co-creating WordPress and giving many of us fulfilling work as part of the WP community.

Grant Furley over on his blog got to the essence of the evening in Conversation with WordPress founder beats Awards night

Matt’s presentation was the antithesis of a corporate computing event – no PowerPoint slides, no fancy lighting or sound, no slick media personality as MC*. Just Matt speaking from the heart about the product he develops (WordPress) and the company he founded (Automattic) that provides complementary blog services like hosting and spam protection.

What made the evening so inspiring was his commitment to open source and to his mission of “democratizing publishing”. Matt shared his philosophy and the story of how WordPress grew to the point where today it powers a staggering 22% of all the world’s websites. Rather than speak about “how” or “what” his organisation does, or show any software, he talked about “why” WordPress exists and why it has succeeded in a very tough market. Not only did this resonate strongly with the audience, but it also left you feeling “I want to be part of this”. And it’s that community loyalty that is the backbone of WordPress’ success.

There is much more I could say but Grant has captured most of it including the 4 qualities that Matt looks for when hiring. (*) it was me as the non-slick MC ha :)

Integrity
Work ethic
Taste
Curiosity

Matts final note was an encouragement for everyone to keep giving back to the community and how that creates even more for us all.

Inspiration really is the best rocket fuel. It is comparatively easy to manage a company but leading from the heart and inspiring others to become leaders – now that is an idea worth spreading.

Thanks to Matt for including Auckland and Wellington in the 10 city loop for this trip. The WordPress community has grown hugely in the last 5 years and all signs for the future are green for go just like the beautiful pounamu in the photo below.

Another post worth checking out is Opening up the secret sauce. Open sourcing Bucky Box

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Is Equity based Crowdfunding the New new thing?

Posted on 28 February 2014 by JasonK

A week ago, Israeli equity crowd funding platform was released in Australia. It is aimed at investors who have more than $10k to put in and the tech sector. Founder Jon Medved says:

“crowdfunding models are emerging for real estate and other ventures, but OurCrowd is focused specifically on technology start-ups. The company is seeking deals where the company or product has some traction, other investors and the potential market is huge. Australian start-ups would qualify if they are planning to sell to a global market.”

Essentially is is focussed on accelerating product to market type strategies and that will be very welcome news to many Australian startups and hopefully a few NZ ones as well.

OurCrowd is an equity based crowd funder who is diffeent from the pledge based ones that we already know about such as Kickstarter, Pozible, Pledgeme and IndieGoGo.

However with shareholding scenarios comes the need for financial regulations and other shareholding accountability such as the need to vote.

“One criticism of equity crowdfunding is that entrepreneurs then have to deal with thousands of smaller investors and chase them for signatures and votes in order to make decisions on the company. The OurCrowd model gets around that by aggregating the investment into one voting equity with board representation.”

OurCrowd joins two other equity based platforms in Australia. These are ASSOB which has been operating since 2005 and has raised $A138m and newcomer VentureCrowd @v_crowd.

ASSOB CEO Paul Niederer says

“Equity crowdfunding will lift the crowdfunding industry to a new level. Pre-sales and patronage only work for some products and services. Not everyone can market their opportunity or product on the basis of pre-orders. Many opportunities and companies need money in the operational entity and usually it is a lot more money than can generally be achieved by pledge or reward crowdfunding.

These opportunities will attract their own tribe of people looking for a meaningful use of their funds and often a strong emotional connection to the people who are going to be the custodians of their hard-earned dollars. This is not the area for a gatekeeper to make the decision for them.

However, equity crowdfunding is not just about diversified portfolios. Which means there will be a place for people managing “diversified portfolios” where the more analytical can decide the best place for, say, 2 per cent of someone’s investment portfolio in a high-risk, early stage venture. But, you can’t write human nature off.

Many people invest because they have a natural affinity to support causes they believe in. They will be friends, family, fans, followers, where they passionately love the technology, people, geographical location or the general buzz. For these people, a diversified portfolio is not their definition of equity crowdfunding.”

Crowdfunding

In New Zealand we have only recently got Kickstarter for local projects.

Pledgeme is the main home grown platform and only now are we starting to see signs of equity based crowdfunding platforms becoming available.

Pledge based systems work best for presale type products – where the reward can be a version of the funded product as a presales special. But for many businesses that is not going to scale.

Like other peer to peer funding projects before ( and these are 10+ years old now Zopa, Prosper and others) part of the hold up has been financial regulations catching up with the technology of the collaborative economy. In New Zealand The Snowball Effect @snowballnz is about to launch on April the 1st.

“We have a vision: a New Zealand economy, fuelled by emerging businesses, backed by everyday kiwi investors.

Through Snowball Effect, New Zealanders can support and share in the success of our country’s emerging businesses, while providing them with a new funding option for growth.

This process, known as equity crowdfunding, is growing in momentum worldwide. From April 2014, proposed regulatory changes will make this a reality here in New Zealand.”

Here is hoping that the change of regulations will see more projects investigate equity based crowdfunding.

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Digital Trends in NZ – Research

Posted on 23 September 2013 by JasonK

Last week Roy Morgan Research published a slideshow about the Digital Universe in NZ and Australia. It is always great to see local research.  Australian and NZ cultures adapt to a changing media mix and digital environment in similar but different ways than the U.S.

The first slide that was of interest to me was the way in which twitter is still growing in NZ and the youth skew on the YouTube numbers. All of these numbers have implications for media and other content producers.

What is also interesting- is what has been left out of this research. I don’t see pinterest anywhere in the numbers* but some days that seems like my most active social account although all of the traffic comes from the U.S ( *slide 42 at 6%)

Increasingly we all have websites and at some level, we are both producers and consumers of online content.

YT-NZroymorgan-siide10

Here are some other selected slides and my brief comments. This next one should have commercial TV people brushing up their cvs. The age of broadcast TV is over.

slide15-YT

And print publishers also have some work to do. For “remains stable” my read is “asleep at the wheel.” The comments about noticing advertising have a wistful and hopeful tone to them. Tolerated is more like it.

slide17media

Here is another key metric for TV centric businesses. ( Advertisers I’m looking at you.) As New Zealand is still part way through a digital TV switchover I expect “internet capable” TV’s will increase hugely as will takeup of AppleTV and similar decoder type devices.

Once ultra fast broadband reaches more neighbourhoods and data caps are increased dramatically these numbers will change very quickly.

slide22-tv

This research on online shopping caught my eye. I’m an online worker and I view everything online first. If you want to offer a product or service and you don’t have a website don’t call me.

On the other hand if you have an offline business I will probably still check you out online but I may buy offline. It’s a trust and verify thing. Price comparisons are a driver here as it has become much easier to find the best pricing online.

research

And here is the final media slide. I’m surprised radio in NZ is so high and at the differences with Australia.

papers-slide43

Here is the full slide show – all 43 of them. What are your thoughts?

Thanks Roy Morgan.

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