Some people seem to think that the current business/legal environment deters entrepreneurial growth. (TechCrunch comments)
Given the Dozens of questions i have received via E-mail in the last weeks about what was of The Widget Interview. i feel obliged to clear out that the segment is not dead. it was just in a coma. i do have read and i do read every single request i get. to most i reply but if your Startup is not a Widget Startup. as much as i would like to please you and make interviews to all that requests one. it would make no sense for it to be called â€œThe Widget Interviewâ€ if i did so.
But let me give some additional pointers:
1.-I am interested in Widget Startups only
Please. stop requesting me to interview your non widget related start up that don`t even offers a widget to begin with. for it to appear in Widgets Lab!!!.
2.-The Widget Interview is 10 question long most of the time. one less or one more.
That means i don`t do 3 question interviews. that is because it is fishy and dumb those who dare to call such things interviews.
3.-I am interested in the CEO`s in the case of this series.
Nothing to add here.
4.-I cannot interview you if you are not on the market yet
This is the same reason why i don`t post about the lots and lots of private beta widgets or alpha state widgets i stumble with. if people cannot access it yet. and the Widget Startup has not launched anything. then you are pretty much asking to pitch me. it will not be much of a interview.
While it is tempting to do a series on that. i don`t plan on it yet because it would be too time consuming for me to do right now.
5.-I don`t do paid or sponsored interviews
I have nothing against making money. but that is not the right way to do it. much less if your widgets or widget startup are/isâ€¦â€¦not good.
There. i hope the basic guidelines are clearer now.
The plan is to start with TWI #2 next Monday or the Monday after next and then have one interview EVERY WEEK in a non stop fashion until i run out of Widget Startups. lets see how it goes this time around.
I wanted to make some new post series in Widgets Lab and a good way to break the ice after having covered much if not all of the big picture in the widget market is to do quick interviews to the CEOÂ´s behind the companies . our theme is of course widget Startups and these quick interview will be focused in clearing up the story and profile of those companies.
The Modern Musestorm started with the so called â€œMuseStorm Engagement Platformâ€ .not only talking about user engagement as the direct force that should connect development and delivery.
Or how they call it:
â€œOur technology advantage is the result of the MuseStorm Engagement Platform. Inside youâ€™ll find not only the MuseStorm Widget Studio but also modules for Total Analytics and for Intelligent Delivery. The MuseStorm Engagement Platform is mature technology that has been tested on live deployments with agencies, brand marketers, and entertainment companies. The platform itself meets or exceeds enterprise standards for reliability and scalability. Agencies and brand marketers trust MuseStorm to run their campaigns based on widgets and social applications with an expected reach of 5 million to 100 million users.â€
A widget editor where to develop the widget
Management tools to wrap up the widget in tracking analytics
3.-High Spread Sharing
Capacity to port the widget developed to different platform without having to Redo any code.
Of course that the magic is in between those lines. it may not sound that impressive at this stage of 2008 but that is because now the other have also improved the offering to be at the same level.
: So you got a widget startup can do every thing for you:
= â€œA Widget Agencyâ€
And that is what begs the questions:
"What is the difference?â€ , â€œwhy should i care?â€
Ori Soen, Founder and CEO of MuseStorm
â€œOri Soen founded MuseStorm in 2005. Apart from managing day-to-day operations, as CEO, he is focused on business development, sales, and building customer acceptance for MuseStorm as the professional way to widget. A serial entrepreneur, prior to co-founding MuseStorm, Mr. Soen held executive positions at Mercury Interactive before and after its acquisition by HP. Prior to that, he was involved in building two mobile companies: Followap (acquired by NeuStar) and MobileSpear. Ori holds degrees in Computer Science and Business from Hebrew University. A citizen of Israel, he now makes his home in Sunnyvale, CA with his wife and two daughters.â€
When Widgets Lab started to cover news about Musestorm back in 2006. musestorm direction was in close path to what now it is Widgetbox. What essentially changed while developing the company to divert from that and engage into making musestorm a "Widget Agency" instead?
Well, "widget agency" is how you characterize us … Starting in late 2006, it became apparent that the climate was changing and that companies without explicit business models were not going to succeed. At that point in time, we shifted from a company focused on consumers and their self-expression needs – in other words, a business to consumer play – to one that is focused on the needs of professional marketers – a business to business play. Our focus on marketers and agencies has been paying off.
A lot of the background in Musestorm core team is experience in the mobile world, starting with you. however musestorm didnâ€™t tried to set into covering mobiles while it grew, and why start with the iphone?.
Our extensive experience in the mobile space is exactly the reason why we havenâ€™t invested heavily in mobile widgets before the iPhone. We are really focused on the user experience and until recently we did not believe mobile platforms provided the functionality we were looking for. iPhone has changed the game and will lead to a powerful revolution in mobile handset design and functionality – which is great.
We had more and more customers interested in support for the iPhone, so it was a natural step to extend the platform to support it.
It is obvious, that the Mobile web is the greener land to conquer. now that there are a lot of Widget Companies and where pretty much your only competition in the same level is Plusmo. is there any Road Map, even if tentative on what comes after the iphone for musestorm?.
Generally, we plan to extend our iPhone support and are working on prototypes for a couple of other mobile platforms. Unfortunately as this space is competitive and other widget companies have the habit of copying everything we do, I canâ€™t go into specifics. I can, however, tell you that we are listening carefully to our customers and what they want and are also working closely with mobile platform owners to rolls out some very cool functionality.
Plusmo, by the way, is focused on consumers while we are focused on marketers, agencies and entertainment companies, so we really donâ€™t consider them competitors.
We already know that the Desktop is blurring with the web thanks to the new RIA scenarios. while Musestorm is not focused into High End Widgets. what is your posture on the possible outcomes of RIA Widgets?
We are keeping a close eye on both Adobe AIR and Microsoft Silverlight, the two technologies that are leading the charge of â€œblurring the web and the desktop.â€ You have to keep in mind that both technologies require users to download a plug-in and are not commonplace today. So while they hold a lot of promise, itâ€™s still going to be a while before these technologies have mass reach.
Widget Metrics is what has been powering the whole push of Widget Advertising and Marketing that really made Widgets truly stand out the past year. the combinations of those 3 elements and how to manage them is part of the dilemma widgets now face. how musestorm helps in this and how does this compare to gigya and the new clearspring initiatives?
Great question. Let me see if I can drill down more and focus in on what you’re really asking. Today, I distinguish between widgets as part of a distributed branding strategy and widgets which are yet-another-vehicle-for advertising. As I suspect you can tell, I don’t believe that widgets as YAVF advertising are very compelling unless or until you build a widget that has compelling functionality you can’t get elsewhere on the web. In other words, make your widget a mini-application or provide exclusive content and then and only then can you use that widget as a carrier for advertising. Most of the time, it makes more sense to craft your widget around the brand assets you already have, but do so in a way that your consumer will find engaging. The only way to figure out whether your consumer is engaging with the content inside the widget is to get out of what I call "black box" mode and understand how consumers are engaging with the various parts of your widget, piece by piece. This is where MuseStorm excels.
Our platform – the MuseStorm Engagement Platform – was built from the ground up to give professional marketers the power to see into the guts of the widget and understand exactly how consumers are engaging with the widget, what content turns them on, what content turns them off, to trend that data over time. Clients like CBS Mobile/CBS Interactive are using this analytics that we provide to manage their widgets to maximize the viral velocity of their campaigns. They can immediately tell when a particular video is starting to wear out and know when it’s time to introduce a new episode. This is powerful stuff and enables customers to essentially establish an ongoing relationship with the consumer through the widget.
In short, MuseStorm believes that widget analytics, widget-based marketing, and campaign management are intertwined. We empower our clients to understand what’s going on inside the widget and to iterate very quickly so as to optimize results in real time.
I had a question/opinion in the comments in a previous musestorm post for you, that would be interesting to know your take on. even if Marcia already had a go at it:
"honestly, would like to hear your take from a cost/benefit perspective.I know its difficult to comparatively review these platforms,but who are they really geared towards?No one I know wants to use utilities like sprout which try to cannibalizegood development, it offends larger clients and agencies and puts a reallyimpersonal message out there.MuseStorm is very interesting in terms of self publishing(tested beta 2 days ago) for those who are just testing the waters,in very short campaigns â€” really lacks scalability due to limits of theirplatform.Maybe this is a fundamental platform argument.. "
Widget Platforms are geared towards professional marketers who need to field multiple widget-based campaigns. The cost/benefit derives from both time and money saved.
Time – because the companies we work with can create widgets and social applications more quickly using a platform than they can by building each widget as a "one off."
Money – because of what you get with a platform – analytics, drag-and-drop components, cross-platform implementation and support. When you spend money on a platform, you do not need to hire outside developers to do the following:
– build custom analytics and multiple report sets and then evolve those analytics overtime to keep up with changes in the market
– build back-end functionality necessary to power drag-and-drop components such as comments. For example, MuseStorm provides a component that allows consumers to comment within a widget or social application. On the back end, we do moderation and language filtering … functionality our customers would have to invest in custom programming. There are numerous examples like this.
– integration into each and every social networking or mobile platform. For example, to develop a true Facebook application, you need to hire programmers skilled in FBML. We take care of this for our customers, enabling them to focus their time and money on the creative work product versus on the technology heavy lifting.
In terms of our business model, we agree that Sprout and some of the other low-end competitors probably will not make it, in the sense that they are trying to cannibalize what agencies already offer.
In terms of making tools available for consumers as opposed to companies, what one commenter referred to as "tools for self publishing" – that’s not our focus. The only tool we make available on a free or trial basis is for the iPhone, to develop a widget for this platform ONLY. We did this for a very specific reason … which is to give professional marketers an opportunity to go hands-on with the MuseStorm Engagement Platform in a fast and easy way. We’re not certain if this is an initiative we want or need to continue with because the message is confusing – we’re not in the consumer business and we don’t want to confuse the waters by making offers that might be construed in a way that suggests we are.
Just 6 months ago, explaining what Musestorm did was a lot easier than it is now and there was no Gigya or Sprout visible in the scene either. Many seem confused by the latest widget companies, so i want you to take the opportunity to clear out what are the differences of musestorm with the rest?
What makes us different and better than our competition is four simple things:
Widgets that go more places for maximum reach.
Cross-Platform Widgets. With MuseStorm, agencies and marketers can create a widget once and then morph that widget across platforms (including true Facebook application) as needed to maximize your reach and the overall performance of your viral marketing campaign. In contrast, ClearSpring, Gigya and Sprout only support Flash-based widgets.
Accountability with detailed reporting on all touchpoints.
Engagement Matters. Go beyond distribution metrics and understand how people are interacting with your widget or social application. Essential to ensure your campaign reaches viral velocity and to avoid wear out. With other solutions you have to actually program your own interaction events tracking.
Convenience + Control right down to the pixel.
MuseStorm Widget Studio is a complete production environment. The environment looks and feels a lot like PowerPoint and is designed to give you complete, pixel-perfect control over how your widget looks, feels, and behaves. All from the privacy and convenience of your desktop, 24 x 7.
Proven by blue-chip marketers.
Since 2005, MuseStorm has been partnering with brands like CBS Mobile, DefJam Recording, Disturbing tha Peace records, Island Records, Simon & Schuster and many agencies. Companies choose MuseStorm to handle all the technology heavy lifting involved in producing, managing, analyzing, and delivering widgets to viral- and social-networking environments.
If constant change is a landmark of the technology sector. Widgets should be the niche in the web that has changed the most. from being in the background, from being a mere Aid or decoration to being true utilities, services and sources of revenue.
The fragmentation of the business of Widgets is already very visible and that is supposed to be where you guys come into. why do any developer or media outlet should consider widgets?. what can they provide that you cannot find on other elements in the web?.
Here at MuseStorm, we believe that widgets and social applications are the backbone of any marketers’ distributed branding strategy. As such, it’s not so much that widgets deliver "new functionality" you can’t get elsewhere – but the fact that widgets deliver that functionality where the target audience resides when online. The fact of the matter is that many people do not start or end their days staring at a Google start page or Yahoo’s home page any longer. They start and end their days on Facebook, MySpace, or on their iPhones or other mobile phone. That changes the marketing equation. Smart marketers know they have to bring the brand to where their customers are… which is what widgets and social applications do better than any other medium.
To finish up. what is the most exciting new development in widgets for you?. what do you see as the next big thing for widgets?
We love the new developments in the mobile space. iPhone, Google Android, Nokia initiatives, Yahoo! Mobile widgets, Opera mini widgets and more. The mobile widget space is going to explode and we are looking to be a major force there!
To learn more about MuseStorm and the MuseStorm Engagement Platform please go to our site at http://www.musestorm.com
A little nice of perspective and context does not hurt anybody so i want to thank Ori Soen for the graciousness, This was our first edition of the â€œThe Widget Interviewâ€ . something you should expect to read here at widgets lab on fairly regular schedule.
If you want to read some of the news highlights from newstorm covered before at WidgetsLab you only got to take a look at these:
*If you would like to be profiled in The Widget Interview, just write to me and let me know*