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The Ribbit Rollercoaster: A Founder’s Story From Concept To $105M Exit

I met entrepreneur Crick Waters last year after hearing just a portion of his story and his road toward Ribbit’s $105 million exit during an event in Silicon Valley. Soon afterward, I felt confident that I could learn from him and that his experiences building Ribbit would be valuable for Vidquik and our team. I finally got a chance to interview Crick and hear his full story, so I thought I should share this with other entrepreneurs working to build world-class companies.

Bernard: How did the idea for Ribbit start?

Crick: Ribbit started out as IDP Communications in 2004, started doing business as Duality in 2005, and finally become Ribbit in 2006. It was mid-2004. I had noticed that companies needed phone features for individual, company-specific, use cases that couldn’t easily be met with traditional telco infrastructure. These features were inaccessible for three reasons: they required purchase of racked equipment and telecom connections, were sold in bundles at very high per seat prices, and they could not be triggered or accessed via web services.

I realized that if the features of telephony services could be disaggregated, hosted as a cloud service, and be made accessible via web services; then these phone features would become “software” to developers making possible a whole new market of high-value applications.

The first application was conceived of late in 2004 around the idea of “never miss that [buyer’s] call.” I put together a PowerPoint of the product idea, cold called several newspapers (this was, after all 2004 and people still used classifieds), and convinced the San Francisco Examiner to introduce “never miss the call” as a feature built into all of their classified online and offline ads. The Examiner would pay IDP Communications five dollars per ad. They loved the idea and a contract was drafted up and sent to Philip Anschutz’s CFO in Denver for approval. Read More >

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Mobile Industry Snapshots

With the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain this week along with TED in Long Beach, CA, it is timely that I just completed a wireless industry report for Pegasus Strategies LLC, an advisory firm that I work with occasionally. It is fitting with the TED conference since Pegasus Strategies was founded by Adrian Hong, who is a TED Senior Fellow.

Pegasus Strategies LLC is a strategic advisory firm that advises corporations government and NGOs, with a particular focus on emerging markets and areas in transition. It has a wide range of expertise in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia regions in particular.

Anyway, I hope you find this mobile industry “cheat sheet” useful. It provides a quick overview of the wireless world along with detailed profiles of public companies to trending startups.

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2012 Predictions: It’s Doom & Gloom for Amazon, RIM and Zynga

My 5th annual technology sector predictions is posted over at VentureBeat, a leading technology journal/blog in Silicon Valley.  An excerpt and full link below:

In hindsight and as an entrepreneur, I would say that I wasn’t risk-taking enough in my predictions. Now that I’m putting together predictions for 2012, there’s a global crisis looming, Europe is about to collapse, China’s real estate bubble is bursting and the U.S. is possibly being sucked deeper into the economic abyss, so what do I have to lose? Especially if the Mayan predictions come true, no one will be around to mock my predictions in 2013. So doom and gloom plus bold and big is the general theme for this 5th annual edition of my technology predictions. And here they are:

Mojo Shifts from Amazon to Big Box Retailers

Several states will lift their sales tax amnesties for online businesses in 2012. Those amnesties have provided huge competitive advantage to Amazon. How many shoppers do you know who check out items at brick and mortar stores and then buy them on Amazon? I believe those days are numbered and Amazon will take a big blow once the amnesties are lifted. The companies to gain the most from this are big box retailers (i.e. Walmart, Target, Best Buy) and possibly eBay.

The ecommerce space has become like a Hollywood fitness guru that presents the latest, hottest biz model every year. It went from flash sales to vertical flash sales to curated ecommerce to LoMo social commerce to LoMo SoMo OhNo and so on. While some sites are making a killing, I don’t see them growing big enough to benefit significantly from Amazon’s loss as much as the big box retailers. Most of these new ecommerce companies struggle with logistics, inventory management, customer acquisition and fighting to maintain healthy margins as they work on those other areas…


2012 Predictions: It’s Doom & Gloom for Amazon, RIM and Zynga

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Billion Dollar Brothers: Entrepreneurial Lessons From the Duo Behind ‘Guitar Hero’

Sharing my interview of the Huang brothers and their awesome story of how Red Octane and Guitar Hero was founded and launched. I loved their story, insights and passion. You can read it over at Mashable here:

Billion Dollar Brothers: Entrepreneurial Lessons From the Duo Behind ‘Guitar Hero’

You can also visit their Privy 5 San Francisco restaurant recommendations here:

Charles Huang

Kai Huang

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The Coming Ubiquity of Video Communications

Video Chat icons

Over the past decades, the promise of video as a standard form of communication has been presented to us through many mediums, from Star Trek to The Jetsons and even through my old Avengers comic books over 30 years ago. While corporations utilize video conferencing technology at a rapid rate, it hasn’t yet penetrated the daily habits of people across the globe but it will.

The core technology has been there for decades, but not the bandwidth and compression technology along with the hardware to make it an everyday utility. With the growth of Skype’s video chat, Google’s GTalk, Apple’s Facetime and other services, combined with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, video will become the standard form of communications versus SMS, voice only and even email in some situations within a few years. Drilling down further, here are a few trends that I see.

 

Video Will Replace SMS Communications

The days of text-based communications as a primary tool are reaching an end. SMS is slowly being replaced by mobile video chat services such as Facetime, Qik (acquired by Skype earlier this year) and Tango. Even just looking at Tango’s numbers reveals a rapidly changing landscape. Two months after their launch late last year, it hit over 4 million users and now boasts 23 million users. I can tell you that those users are SMSing less often these days. Read More >

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PRIVY 5 MAGAZINE

Privy Magazine is the savvy jetsetter's source for the latest lifestyle news, in-depth articles, member interviews, and notable luxury and destination reviews in Asia and the U.S. A magazine for those in the know