Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Texts, Teens and a Tale of Two Twitters: a Second-Go at Group Messaging

In March 2008 the Paste team made its annual pilgrimage to SXSW. I was producing three days of concerts that year and was dreading the amount of coordination required. So when Paste's tech-savvy co-founder Tim Regan-Porter suggested we all sign-up for a service that would let us text each other in a group, I was intrigued.

The service was called Twitter.

I signed-up for Twitter that day and activated it so that I could send and receive "tweets" as texts. Everyone else on the Paste staff did the same. This would allow one of us to send out a tweet via text (ex: "I need help backstage! Anyone around the venue?") and quickly reach all 10 people on staff.

This is what I expected Twitter to become: a group texting service. Why else would anyone constrain a message to 140 characters, right?

We all know the rest of the story (and had understood how important brevity would be in the Twittersphere, I would not have picked a 15-character username).

But what about that group SMS function that got me to sign-up for Twitter in the first place? Why didn't that stick?

Well, a host of new start-ups are trying to resurrect that service... only they seem a few years late to a party that no one showed up to in the first place.

In 2006 Yahoo! tried its hand at group texting with Mixd, while Twitter, Dodgeball and Zemble were also identified as promising multi-purpose SMS services by Techcrunch. Those services were either shutdown or evolved past the group SMS piece of the business model.

So what makes this the time for companies like GroupMe and Rabbly to emerge?

There's the exclusivity piece of it. All friends and followers are not created equal, so as our social networks expand, something like selective group messaging could be a valuable way to post status-like updates to only a handful of people.

Then there are the teens. I'm no longer a teenage girl, but I could see how this would be helpful in keeping up with a clique. Nielsen reports that the average American teen sends nearly 3,400 text messages a month. This group of consumers also rely less on email than their 18 and over counterparts. Not a bad customer group to go after.

There's also international markets, where SMS usage is generally higher than it is in the US.

Still, with smartphone adoption growing, and phone plans becoming all encompassing (text, voice and data for one flat fee) it could be that the new Facebook Groups or good ol' email will serve the need for the group messaging just fine (at least amongst smartphone users).

Will group SMS be the next It Thing, or is it, like, so 2006?

Discuss below, my Blogosphere friends...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The London startup scene: Party like a rock star?

Too much funding and boozing? Not enough collaboration and execution?

Sounds like criticism reserved for troubled rock stars on the brink of a break-up, but Ben Colclough sees the same problems in the startup scene (specifically in London).
TechCrunch: The London startup scene: Too much funding, boozing and not enough collaboration and execution
Reminds me of a nice analogy drawn out by Shane Snow and referenced by Fred Wilson, which compares a Rock Band to a Tech Start-Up. I agree that the analogy is pretty spot on, except that it does not address what happens "if all goes wrong"... and chances are, it will.

Consider that in 2008, 106,000 new albums were released, but only 64 albums went Gold in 2009; meanwhile, 11,716 venture deals were struck between 2007 and 2009, but there were only 104 IPOs over that same time period (according to Thompson Reuters). Signing with a record label or a VC does not guarantee success, but sales sure will. I agree with Colclough that more time and attention needs to be paid to this piece of entrepreneurship.

Not that it should be all work and no play, though. Take Music Hackday London, which encourages collaboration and networking, but is centered around executing something quickly.

Work hard and have fun, but save the real celebration for later.

Read the full post at TechCrunch

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 Years After 9/11

On September 11, 2001, I was sitting through a calculus class that was too easy for me... and I knew it.

The class was taught in the early morning in a building at the very edge of Emory University's campus; yet I knew I would get an 'A' by the end of the semester and that seemed to matter more than the inconvenience. I was bleary-eyed and bored, measuring my life in its achievements, not in its moments.

That was my first full week of college in Atlanta, when I still felt very far from my home and from my dearest friends. Still, I was beginning to feel settled at Emory. Making new friends had not been as difficult as I thought it would be, and I could quickly overcome the homesickness by calling my family in Maryland.

I don't remember what was taught in class on that September day, yet I remember so many other strange things from the hours that followed: the cartoon drawn on the whiteboard in the entryway to my dorm; the busy signal I heard when I called my father's office near the Pentagon; the cheap candle wax that dripped on to my hand during the evening vigil on the quad; the call I made to my high school crush.

In the years that followed, I have been interested to learn what we -- as Americans -- choose to remember from 9/11. What once provided unity seems to have instead deepened our divisions. I've observed some people manipulate the facts for advantageous reasons, while others have simply dismissed those facts entirely... and I never know how to reconcile the two.

As one of my favorite Emory professors observed, this generation created a "divided America," one engaged in a ferocious struggle for power. Yet for a moment -- nine years ago -- we all shared in a common experience, one marked by confusion, sadness and disbelief. The cheap candles we clung to gave us reason to come together and allowed us to feel less alone on a day of immense tragedy. On that day we did not characterize ourselves by our economic, political or religious beliefs, but shared in our human condition. 9/11 reminded us how fragile our world is.

As I reflect on this September day, there are so many things I want to tell my younger self: take the harder calculus class; call your family every day; tell your crush how you feel; pray for the people you love.

Yet even now I forget those things and still feel like a freshman in the first week of classes. I hardly understand why there is so much hatred in the world and why we make love seem like such a difficult task.

But on this day I also remember that life is a blessing; every day, a blessing. That this is the lesson I take away from so much tragedy seems entirely unfair.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Caren Explains Facebook Places and the New Power Play

If you don't compulsively check your tweets or tech news, you might have missed today's announcement about
Facebook Places, which will allow you to "check in" to venues (like restaurants, airports and stores) and find friends who "happen to be at the same place at the same time."

Though similar services (like Foursquare and Gowalla) already exist for mobile phones, Facebook's reach and installed base of mobile users makes this a game changer. So does its large and established advertising platform, which should allow businesses to quickly send coupons, deals and messaging to customers.

It also means that over-sharing is only going to get worse (and more socially acceptable).

There are a handful of glaring concerns about Facebook Places: locational privacy, for one. Protection is another -- of data, identity and property (Please Rob Me anyone?). And the poor Hollywood screenwriters! Plots reliant on romantic, serendipitous run-ins will soon seem even less realistic!

Yet my biggest concern? Being constantly connected.

Yes, it's at geolocating times like this that I am reminded of a brilliant piece that Tom Chiarella wrote for Esquire in 2007. He's on to something, kids, now more than ever...

"The New Power Play."

By Tom Chiarella


There's this guy. Let's call him Bill. He's a star. He's bankable. And you can't get to him. Bill has no agent. He has no publicist. No office. You call a number, leave a message, and, if he's interested, he'll call you back. Otherwise, the answer is no.

This is the way of the future....

Read More

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

TLATW Take a Bad Song and Make it Better

Unless you were living under a rock in 2005, you've probably heard the song "Brighter than Sunshine" by Aqualung. It broke the Top 40, got lots of radio play and and was used in a number of movies, tv shows and commercials.

I like Aqualung, aka Matt Hales, and had a lovely time at his concert... but I don't like his hit single for one simple reason: it does not sound brighter than sunshine... it is slow, heavy and mournful instead of celebratory. If you are in love, you should want to shout, shout, shout it out!

Alternative Apparel is providing the chance for the song to be reincarnated, though, with its new Unsigned Artist competition. Musicians upload their versions of the song and compete for your attention.

One of those entries is from The Lighthouse and the Whaler and it actually sounds bright and sunny (xylophone FTW). This five-piece is pretty dang creative... just listen for yourself... and if you like it, click "Vote" on the bottom of the player [no registration necessary], or share it on your own social network.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Caren Explains Janelle Monae

Psst! Hey you! ... Yes, you! Come closer. I want to tell you a secret, but you don't have to keep it. In fact, tell everyone you know. See there's this gal you should know about: Janelle Monae--have you heard of her? ... well, she's about to blow up, so pay attention now and you can tell your kids you knew her back when...

This ArchAndroid is equal parts Andre 3000, Prince and Anita Baker. She is funky, focused and enchanting in an Audrey Hepburn sort of way. When I met Janelle in 2008 I remember how sincere she was when she said, "It's very nice to meet you." If she had instead said "How are you?" I'm sure she would have been genuinely interested in the reply, rather than treating it as a passing line as so many of us do.

Her debut full-length album -- with the second and third suites of her Metropolis project -- was released today by Bad Boy and it will be a hit of 2010. She already has some solid fans, like Big Boi, Of Montreal and Saul Williams, who are featured collaborators on the album.

In an era when mainstream artists rely on auto-tune and pump out singles, here's an album that should be consumed in its entirety. It moves from orchestral to brass-and-beat laden tracks, with a standout three-track sequence of "Locked Inside," "Sir Greenwood" and "Cold War" midway through the album.

So now you know. Go tell your friends... and it might be time for you to learn how to do the "Tightrope"...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Caren Explains Tree Cenergy, Copyrights and Being a Blacklisted Blogger

Today I received notification that someone is out to get me. I cannot tell you who, exactly, but they are already on the attack.

It started when I got a very longwinded, vague email from Blogger that said I have apparently infringed on the copyrights of someone involved in a blog post I wrote nearly six months ago. The post proclaimed the awesomeness of a hip band from Philadelphia whose name rhymes with "Tree Cenergy." [This band is growing very popular, by the way].

The blog post in question refers readers to two mp3 downloads that were made "legally" available on other sites. I wasn't hosting the files myself, and I made sure -- before posting the links -- to read up on the referring sites' download agreements. In doing so, I was assured that the referring sites (SPIN and Stereogum) had permission to post the mp3s. I even listed a disclaimer that said something to the effect of, "These sites have proof that these downloads are allowed."

Blogger advises that I remove the offending content and repost. But to be honest, I have no idea what I did wrong. Knowing this detail would be helpful to "prevent future violations." Instead, I'm going to be blacklisted on the DMCA clearinghouse. Super.

So let me stand on my soapbox for a second and make two different but tangental arguments.

First, I applaud you copyright holders for fighting for your rights. No one values content anymore and that needs to be remedied. The proliferation of mp3 blogs and aggregators has only perpetuated the notion that content should be free. Consumers feel entitled to get it. And if you take a stand and say it isn't allowed to be free, there are still plenty of places to stream it (Grooveshark, for one). If you treat the symptom, you don't ever cure the disease. So maybe I deserved a slap on the wrist.

But, if a musician values his copyrights he should make sure his business team is on the same page. When I was at Paste, I used to get tons of emails from publicists and labels encouraging us to post mp3s for our readers to download. These businessmen were treating mp3s as loss leaders for other revenue streams, like touring dollars and commercial licensing fees. Not that artists are always okay with that strategy.... In 2007 Band of Horses pulled out of a Wal-Mart commercial after going back and forth about the implications for its image.

That there is no industry agreement on mp3 sharing on music blogs has only further muddled the perceived value of content. If the majors say "No!" but the indies say "Yes!" what happens to when an indie band is upstreamed to a major label? My guess is the major suddenly go looking through archives to yank down files that the artist published as an indie; heck, the indie might even look through the archives once a band gets somewhat popular... it is certainly suspicious that this notice was issued six months after the blog publication...

Perhaps I trusted too much in SPIN and Stereogum's policies; or perhaps it isn't the mp3s that are the problem, but a picture I posted instead? I guess only The Man knows for sure.

You can bite the hand that feeds you, Music Industry, but at least give an explanation after you sink your teeth in.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Caren Explains Zeppelin, Springsteen and Strategic Marketing

Four years ago, I mistook John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin for a mandolin-totin' nobody... at best, I thought him a member of Widespread Panic.

It all happened when I was sitting in a tent backstage at Bonnaroo, sneezing incessantly and waiting for my allergy medicine to kick-in. It was hot and I was miserable. That's when Jones walked in. He politely and unassumingly introduced himself as "John" while I tried not to sneeze in his face. Then he walked into the other part of the tent to play the mandolin for a camera crew from CNN.

A handful of people rushed in to see this legend play his instrument, while others (like me) went about business as usual.


I recognized neither Jones' star power or musical prowess, despite the presence of CNN. I guess I just wasn't looking (or listening) hard enough.

I thought of this encounter during our last HBS session of Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries, when Professor Elberse challenged me and my classmates to predict whether people can identify true talent without marketing cues or signals. As an example, she referenced an experiment that took place in 2007:

What happens when world-renowned violinist, Joshua Bells, plays six difficult pieces on his $3m violin... at a DC Metro station during rush hour?

Some classmates guessed that there would be a mob (as did The Washington Post initially expected), whereas others said he would go unnoticed.

Here's what happened...

Talk about a humbling experience. Bell made $32.17 that day, whereas he normally earns $1,000 per minute for a performance.

The Jones and Bell examples hint at a question underlying the entertainment industry: Can people recognize quality without cues?

The contextual factors are certainly important, like time, day, location and competition. My classmate, Luis (a chart-topping musician in South America) also brought up accessibility. Pop songs are, not surprisingly, more recognizable than those crafted for the violin (or mandolin). When you have only a few seconds to catch someone's attention, this is especially critical.

To support Luis' point about accessibility, here is a video of Bruce Springsteen performing on a street in Copenhagen some twenty-odd years ago. While The Boss didn't cause near riots, he certainly drew more of a crowd than Bell did...

I think we would all prefer pure talent over manufactured fads -- the show without the business. But if Springsteen can't make it on the streets, who of us can?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Comcast Redemption: a case study about social networks and customer service

As you may have read last week, I was pretty frustrated with my Comcast customer service experience (or lack there of). After all, Comcast's mission statement promises:
We will deliver a superior experience to our customers every day. Our products will be the best and we will offer the most customer-friendly and reliable service in the market.
Yeah, you keep working on that....

But! as I suspected, Comcast's social media team was quick to sweep in and respond to my concerns. @ComcastBonnie found me on Twitter, Mark visited my blog and Boston's corporate center called me to solve the problem... all within 30 minutes.

No wonder Forbes gave Comcast a high-five for its "artful customer service" via Twitter.

My exchange with Comcast illustrates the importance of social networks for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Social media marketing requires that companies be social. If you are going to invade your customers' social networks, you have to be ready to engage with them. That means listening to them, responding to them, acknowledging them and rewarding them. Use the many search engines and aggregation tools out there to find your customers and save the day! Give your brand a personality and show that there are real people behind it!

At Paste one of the most successful marketing tactics I employed was having our hard-working marketing interns respond to each and every friend request on MySpace. They started leaving each friend/fan a personal comment, like "Great song choice for your page -- Thom Yorke is a genius." This took longer than clicking "Accept All Friend Requests" (and I'm sure my interns hated how tedious it was) but it gave Paste a truly viral presence: the comments were seen by other MySpace users, who then realized that Paste had a MySpace page and, in turn, sent their own friend requests. It also inspired public conversations with fans -- a trend that has continued now on Twitter, Facebook and Paste's own website.

A company that posts a Facebook page and measures its success based on the number of fans the page attract are missing the point. Use social networks as a way to bring your brand to life.

Thanks, Comcast, for coming through today. Now if we could only work on your 1-800 phone system...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Caren and Brad Explain Bieber's Five Forces

Over the past few days we haven't had a lot of case studies at HBS, so Brad and I decided to take a break from paper-writing to turn our attention to a business mystery: How did Justin Bieber happen?

Here's what we know about Justin "J-Biebz" Bieber:

- He is from Canada
- He is sixteen
- He was "discovered" on YouTube
- He likes to tweet (and 1.8million people like his tweets)

But is his fame sustainable? To explore this question, Brad and I offer you a Bieber's Five Forces analysis.

Let's crowd source this one -- go ahead and add your analysis + any suggestions to the Google Doc and we'll see if we can crack the case.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Management Lessons from Jeffery Tambor, i.e. George Bluth

Of all the management lessons I learned during my HBS career, I certainly didn't expect any to come from actor Jeffrey Tambor, probably because I associate him with one of his famous characters: George Bluth, CEO of the Bluth Company, who is always on the run from the SEC. Does this look like the kind of character you want to take business lessons from?

But let's divorce Tambor from Bluth, since one is real and the other is not....

Tambor led an acting workshop at SXSW that I was lucky to attend. During the workshop he had an actor and actress on stage to help him illustrate some lessons. The most interesting parts of the workshop -- for me at least -- were not acting lessons, though, but managerial ones.

The first thing I noticed about Tambor was that he was a coach who wasn't afraid to give out some tough love. In one instance he reminded the actor, 'It's a love scene, Romeo -- [don't play] some Camus existential motherf*cker.' But he also made a point to compliment the actors' strengths and push him to go further with his talents. It was almost like Tambor was a therapist up there and you could see the two actors really reacting to what he was saying (in a few moments they were moved to tears).

Tambor also made a point to tell the directors in the crowd not to critique their actors on-set. Instead he advised walking your actor over to the craft service table and having an honest conversation there, away from the set and the key grips, cameramen, best boys, etc, who were uninvolved. As a general manager, this makes sense, too. Why embarrass someone that needs coaching by criticizing them in front of peers or coworkers? Have important conversations in settings that allow you to be honest and helpful, not hurtful.

Here are some other things I took away from the session:

"We know that in the fifth act Oedipus is going to pluck out his eyes, but let's get there first." I thought about this in relation to our case studies... when we know the ending, it is easy to try and rush to it and work backwards... but there is a lot to learn in the stepping stones and chapters in between.

'Do not teach acting on the set. Take care of business.' This made me think about start-ups and why they are hesitant to hire people who can't work autonomously. You don't want to be teaching people how to do their job when it's time to perform. On this point, I also thought of what one case protagonist said at HBS: "If someone I hire fails at their job because they weren't ready for it, it's my fault -- not theirs." Teach during the read-thrus, not when the tape is rolling.

"You have to shatter the work to get it right. 'Is this good?' is wrong. You can always repair it. F*ck it up first."

"Be a pencil with an eraser at the end."

And my favorite...

"Losing the love is what is hard about being a human being. But we get to use it as art. It isn't about a scene; it is about our lives."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Are You There, Comcast? It's Me, Caren.

Dear Comcast,

I've encountered a lot of bad customer service operations in the past... but yours is by far the worst. As the former manager of a customer service team, I take this stuff pretty seriously -- so much so that I volunteered to leave you customer feedback before I realized how terrible at it you were. I'm not surprised that you forgot to patch me through to the survey at the end of my call...

Your customerCentral website is fatally flawed and your phone system isn't much better.
Why am I posting a blog about this? Because it's the only way I can get through to you. If your social media team is any better than your customer service team, you'll find this letter with no problem (and actually try to help me).

Let's run through what happened to me earlier this week, shall we?

1) I turn on TV and see that my cable is not working. I log-in to your site to see what's going on and learn that you have my account on hold. Hmm... three months ago I set-up ongoing payments with you, and in fact my account reflects this... it even says my "account is already set-up for recurring payments"... yet you aren't deducting those payments? The credit card is valid, the checking account is established... yet you've made me look like a delinquent, probably ruined my credit and cut me off from LOST this week. #fail.

2) I go to pay my bill online (since you forgot to do it for me these past months), but your site won't process my payment.

3) I try to pay with another card. Your site reported a "System Error" and asks that I not try to resubmit, in case I'm overcharged (unlikely, given your track record).

4) I pick up the phone and do the old fashion thing: I call your 1-800 number. And, yes, I have an Atlanta area code on my phone... but shouldn't your CRM solution be smart enough to recognize that my cable box is in Boston? That I'm calling from Boston? That you're feeding me content in Boston? That maybe I don't want to be patched through to Atlanta's customer service teams, only to be told I can't be helped?

5) Atlanta Rep #1 forwards my call to Boston... to a doctor's office answering machine. (The only good to come of this is that it reminded me that I'm overdue for a doctor's check-up).

6) I call your 1-800 number again and my call is once more forwarded to Atlanta. I am given a new Boston number to call... when I do so, you hang up on me, citing a "technical error" with the call.

7) Call #3 to Atlanta means I have to go through this all again. At the end of the menu options and customer service chat, I'm told the Boston office is open at 7am and I have to find a landline to call from, or else my calls will continue to go to Atlanta -- even if I dial the Boston office directly.

8) I resort to your online chat option through CustomerCentral. I wait in an imaginary queue to chat with a representative. I am #9 in the queue and my session times-out before your "representative" can get to me. #superfail

I spent over 45 minutes trying to pay you -- that's right, 45 minutes trying to give you money --with no success. But you know the worst part? Being told "Thank you for choosing Comcast" every time I interact with you... I didn't choose Comcast; you were the only provider in this zip code!

Next time I'm choosing Hulu, ABC.com and iTunes instead.


A Disgruntled Customer

Caren Explains 1997 and 1998 Mix Tapes

When I lived in Atlanta, my car was broken into twice. I didn't care so much about that; what REALLY bothered me is that the thieves took everything except my amazing collection of cassette tapes!

Really? You didn't want any of those? Not even Tiffany or NKOTB? REALLY?!?

When I was cleaning out this eleven-year-old car the other day I rediscovered a few of these cassettes, including some mix tapes I made in 1997 and 1998. Listening to them was like opening a time capsule, and I got a bit nostalgic for my tweenage years at Robert Frost Middle School and Wootton High School. Back then I spent at least an hour a night listening to 99.1 WHFS, trying to tape its nightly countdown onto cassette tapes. I would then edit them into mixes using my two-tape boom box. Yup... I was a dorky music geek even then.

Here are the songs on two of those mix tapes. Hope they take you on a trip down memory lane.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Caren Explains the Harbus Case Study

On Monday The Harbus released an HBS-like case study I penned called "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" which explores perceptions and opinions about student leadership at HBS. [I would link to it but The Harbus did not post it online]. The Harbus editor-in-chief has put out a call for reactions/case analysis, so I thought now would be a good time to provide some context to the case, too.

As explained in the footnote, the case is not intended to serve as an "endorsement, source of primary data or illustration of effective or ineffective leadership," but rather inspire conversation within the community around the case. Why? Well, because many similar conversations were already happening behind closed doors -- between both students and administrators. The impact of J-Term, the recession and social traditions were being called into question. I was also hearing complaints from both RCs and ECs about the state of student clubs, but there was no formal place to come together and talk about these concerns.

To form the case study, I solicited feedback from both RC and EC students across 20 interviews, including an EC-RC focus group. The students I interviewed included current and incoming club officers and SA presidents, student committee members and apathetic MBAs alike. I also compiled as much historic data as I could get my hands on about the demographics of the HBS community, which was harder than I thought it would be (thanks, WayBack Machine).

I very purposefully wrote this as a case study, not an editorial, for two reasons. First, because coming out with an editorial and saying "Ah-ha! I know what's going on!" would be both counterproductive and nearly impossible, especially because I'm not even sure this is a real problem. Second, as you see within the case, there are too many variables to prove definitive causation or correlation, especially across the more qualitative data. We can't even agree on what "leadership" means. Still, I think it an important issue to think about.

As one of my classmates said, MBAs are very good at "planting a stake in the ground and defending it." Think about how many different opinions are shared over the course of a case discussion in Aldrich Hall... if we all had the same viewpoints or opinions, we wouldn't learn anything. Just as with any case we study in the classroom, The Harbus staff and I hoped this "case" would cause you to think about and defend your own opinions.

It would not be an appropriate case discussion without true case analysis, though, so I would encourage ECs, RCs and faculty to share opinions by filling out this (secure and anonymous) poll to The Harbus Editor or simply having conversations with classmates.

What does "leadership" mean at HBS? I'm not sure... but this is how I choose to be a leader, and I hope the case study helps people think about what it means to them.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter, on Innovation, Internet and Entrepreneurship

There are no Managing Innovation (#HBSinnov8) or Founder's Dilemma (#fdhbs) classes the rest of the week, so I thought it a good time to type up my notes from SXSW Interactive. One of the more notable events of the week was the keynote address from Evan Williams, co-founder and CEO of Twitter (and recent HBS case protagonist in #fdhbs). As you may have heard, it was a bit lackluster and I would now say this tweet was indeed serendipitous...

(click the link above to see the picture)

When Williams announced Twitter's new @anywhere platform from the stage (to applause, but not cheers) it was clear that he is no Steve Jobs... but I stayed until the end of the Q&A and found his insight and reflections interesting nonetheless... here are the [paraphrased] pieces that stood out.

"Whatever you assume when you start out, you are wrong. Experimentation leads the creative process... Google started out thinking they were going to sell search products."

"We are still focused on how do we create the best experience for users and business... users are opting in to commercial messages all the time. We want to make that process better and faster."

"'What is Twitter?' has always been an iconically difficult question to answer. We think of it as an information network that helps [users] find out what is going on in the world around them, and share... First piece, you don't have to contribute... Value we are working on today is increasing signal to noise ratio and giving people more choices."

How does Twitter handle iteration? "We have awesome people that are doing what they think is best. Autonomous teams... go for it... give them the resources they need."

On his role as CEO: "I personally like to get involved in the product and strategy. Then the nitty gritty... half my time on that, then half of culture internally. How do we scale the company and adopt characteristics we want? ... Parallels between service and culture we want to create... openness and transparency... easy to say, harder to do..."

Re: Openness and transparency... "A window is transparent, a door is open... a window lets you see what is happening, a door lets you come in... openness is survival technique... being open to your probably being wrong... assume there are more smart people outside the company than inside..."

"There are 50 million tweets a day; most users see 100. Are those the best 100 for you to see? Probably not." Hinted at Microsoft and Google being able to help that within the network.

"We don't know the best use for this stuff... like the Internet... why limit it?... We are just realizing the value of the Internet. It is about democratization... we take that for granted. It is changing institutions today, it will changes institutions in the future."

Next wave? "Real businesses will be built on Twitter.... 'Twitter.com' is the consumer interface for the mainstream audience... we would love to see more focus on creating deep experiences that create value for audiences."

"We are sending cease and desist notices everyday to Twitter-follower-shot-gun-spammers... [we] need shepherding."

"SMS is still important in places where internet adoption is low. Twitter can help... strong growth in India, where it is SMS ubiquitous."

"Hard to define 'user' because you don't have to have an account to use Twitter... there's something on Twitter for everyone, but everyone does not know that."

"People have limited attention. We hope Twitter can better direct your attention."

#1 operating principle? "'Be a course for good'... open exchange of information has positive impact on the world. Another is 'pay attention.'... Our advantage will only work if everyone wins." Key to partnerships and why Evan says they haven't introduced revenue generating parts to Twitter yet...

"Dichotomy in traditional media and usage... it is an ecosystem and they get richer and pieces work together. It doesn't work for those who ignore the new species. For Twitter, it is even more clear to me that Twitter complements existing media."

Why be an entrepreneur? "For me, it's [about] creating things that didn't exist in the world before... your product should be the end of a sentence that starts, 'Wouldn't it be awesome if...?'"