Embedded tweets with photos are hot

If your embedded tweet has an image in it, that image shows up at the top of the embedded tweet.

Compare a screen shot of one of my tweets on twitter.com with the embedded version of the tweet here on my site.

On Twitter:

That is one fine looking embed!

As I recall, older versions had the photos below the text. Or maybe I’ve only ever seen photo tweets on other sites via screenshots taken from twitter.com. Either way, I love how the photos are prominently displayed at the top. Can’t you tell?

Here are more options for embedded tweets — allowing you to turn off the conversations, hide the data cards, show related headlines and customize the design and alignment.

UPDATE: The photos moved to the top just a few months ago. I was worried it had been that way for years and I was late to discover the change.

The Contently Show: How Nimble Publishers Survive

I met the Contently founders a long, long time ago when I was co-hosting the NYC Open Angel Forum. Of all the companies who pitched our audience of investors over Shake Shack burgers and beer, I think they’ve gone the farthest. I mean furthest.

Anyway, they’re a great NYC startup success story and they interviewed me for their show about the future of publishing.

I had a blast. I hope you enjoy it too.

Entrepreneur’s 10 Questions on Mobile

Kim LaChance Shandrow, a great writer I worked with in the early Crowd Fusion days, is now writing for Entrepreneur.com. She interviewed me about building mobile web sites.

Some of my answers were too long to make it in:

Invoca is a cloud-based service for tracking inbound call activity. When I first saw them years ago, they were called RingRevenue and they were pushing businesses to show phone numbers in Google search ads. Now they’ve got 3,000 customers and have raised a ton of money. They’re here to stay.

Never forget that a customer who is checking out your business on their phone … is holding a phone.

I’m glad they kept that last line. I’ll be using that again the next time I give a talk on mobile.

Another recommendation that didn’t make the cut:

If you want to get a deeper understanding of the challenges and strategies for conquering mobile, visit A Book Apart. They have brief, laser-focused books written by industry experts. Mobile First and Content Strategy for Mobile are both incredible resources whether you are building mobile sites yourself or managing designers who are creating your mobile site.

Luckily, they kept another one of my favorite pieces of mobile development advice:

Make sure that you test your mobile site on as many devices as possible, not just the one your team or your CEO uses. Fortunately, most cities have a free mobile testing lab. It’s called Best Buy.


CNN Money: How to survive a merger

Mergers are risky, and the chance for failure is high: Two-thirds of corporate marriages fail to produce enough financial gains to justify their cost.

There’s some good advice from CNN Money on successful mergers today and it has quotes from Ceros CEO Simon Berg.

When I talked to Simon about acquiring Ceros in early 2012, he had already done four acquisitions himself. The one that worked out the best was the one where they aligned the companies in advance of the deal. Ones that didn’t go well hadn’t begun merging until the contract was signed.

So naturally, Simon moved from London to NYC in March and we worked together as if we were one big team long before our June deal.

Continue reading “CNN Money: How to survive a merger”

LinkedIn recommendations

Writing LinkedIn recommendations is like eating Lay’s potato chips. You can’t stop after just one. I think the process releases endorphins or something. Maybe it’s just the karma, but it makes me feel really good.

The first one I wrote today was because one of my friends suggested I recommend another friend. It was long overdue and it was really easy to write.

Then I thought about the other people who have helped me get to where I am in my career and I ended up writing another five recommendations.

I’m not talking about LinkedIn’s silly skill endorsements like “Brian is good at cloud.” I mean a good old fashioned four paragraph Yelp-style review of someone who was a pleasure to work with.

Maybe I’ll do a few more before I head into NYC today.

I have worked with some amazing people.

Launching The Daily

Although I described a fantasy scenario where Steve Jobs used his iPad 6 on the way to unveil the first ever iPad, we know that wasn’t the true story of the iPhone’s launch.

Jobs wasn’t playing with a future model iPhone on his way to demo the first iPhone. They barely had a working first generation iPhone. They hardcoded the signal indicator to show five bars. They had to use the apps in a certain order or they were guaranteed to crash. But Jobs insisted on live presentations.

Grignon had been part of the iPhone rehearsal team at Apple and later at the presentation site in San Francisco’s Moscone Center. He had rarely seen Jobs make it all the way through his 90-minute show without a glitch. Jobs had been practicing for five days, yet even on the last day of rehearsals the iPhone was still randomly dropping calls, losing its Internet connection, freezing or simply shutting down.

It’s an amazing story.

Continue reading “Launching The Daily”

The burden of a startup CEO’s roadmap

One of the best things about talking to the startup CEOs I advise is that they often remind me of stories or good advice that I’ve forgotten to share on my blog.

A few weeks ago I was talking to one of my favorite entrepreneurs. He was venting about some of the personality conflicts on his company’s dev team and I knew he needed to switch to a positive perspective. So I had him step back and look at how far his team had come in very little time. I explained that a startup’s roadmap can be defeating, but it’s because you’re on the inside. The outside world sees the three amazing products you’ve released, but entrepreneurs see the next seven they have yet to build — or even start. It can be difficult to pitch customers and investors when you have all those missing pieces cluttering your mind.

I told him that I have a trick to help me switch perspectives.

Continue reading “The burden of a startup CEO’s roadmap”

Hack attack!

“Get to the product demo faster.”

“No one cares where you used to work or what you’ve built before.”

“Save the business model part for the Q&A with the judges.”

The secret to making a great startup competition is the rehearsals. I’ve seen some poor presentations from startups at industry events. Event producers figure they can shove a bunch of startup CEOs on stage and magic will happen. It doesn’t work that way. The reason TechCrunch50 companies — including mine — were interesting was that Jason and Tyler went through several rounds of preparation with all of us. I gave the same advice when I co-hosted the NYC Open Angel Forum and I’ve watched Jason groom hundreds of new companies at his LAUNCH Festivals. As a judge or even as an audience member, it’s great that 100% of the presentations are solid. No one is wasting your time.

The biggest surprise at the LAUNCH Festival was that Jason had applied the same rules to his hackathon. The vetting process was strict. Companies couldn’t just send their HR team into the hackathon to buy everyone beer and do recruiting — unless their HR team had been really active on GitHub!

Continue reading “Hack attack!”

The speed of code

The Ceros product team continues to be on fire. Ceros 5.10 added autoplay for background videos, theming for video controls, animated videos, copy and paste between browser windows and faster loading. The decreased loading time is especially impressive.

The way browsers work, you can either load content or have smooth animations. You can’t do both. If you are continuing to load content while showing animations, the animations can stutter and leave little white lines on the screen. Brands use Ceros to create highly interactive content and they pack a ton of images into their marketing pieces.

Let’s say each page in your 10-page experience has 3 seconds worth of images to load. Our Ceros player has three options:

  1. Load the images for every single page before showing the first page. This means waiting 30 full seconds before your customers see page one. A 30-second loading spinner is death for brand content!
  2. Show the first page as soon as the images it needs are loaded and continue loading images for the other nine pages. This gives you only a 3-second wait before page one appears, but if anything on your opening page is animated the animations will stutter while the browser loads those other images.
  3. Show the first page as soon as its images are loaded and continue loading the other images without causing animations to stutter.

Obviously, the most desirable option is number three, but it’s also the hardest one to pull off.

Fortunately, the Ceros product team is clever and the performance results they achieve are amazing.

If it seems like they are pushing new feature-packed Ceros releases faster than I can blog about them, it’s because they are:

The art of interviewing

Back in 2001, I was working for my friend Jason Calacanis at his company Rising Tide Studios as CTO. The dotcom crash was hitting our magazine and conferences business pretty hard. It was tough to put out a monthly magazine with two-page spreads showing hot NYC startups when they were rapidly vanishing. With them gone, who would advertise in your magazine and sponsor your events — or even show up at your events?

So Jason switched gears. (That’s what we called “pivoting” back in the day.) He stopped doing the thousand attendee $1,000 ticket events and he did more focused little summits with 100 CEOs discussing trends and markets that were still being invested in like security, healthcare and wireless. His 100-CEO events were the inspiration for my Meet The Makers events in 2002, partly because I liked the model of qualified free attendees drawing paying sponsors and partly because of my ego. I felt like I was at least as smart as Jason and if he could interview a bunch of people on stage for a living, then so could I.

But my events would feature the people actually doing the work, CTOs, not the people taking the credit for all the hard work, CEOs. Again, in my head it was a direct response to Jason’s events. I even partnered with Jason on the events, which was a smart move. If I’d done them on my own, I would have surely lost money. Splitting the revenue in half with Jason, I actually made money in a brutal year where major conference businesses were dropping like flies.

I did three Meet The Makers events in NYC and SF in 2002 and in 2003 after my son was born I did nearly a dozen more online interviews. I love interviewing people and I appreciate great interviewers like Alec Baldwin and Howard Stern.

Recently, when I was figuring out what to do after Ceros, I considered starting Meet The Makers up again. I felt like I could start with online interviews this time and work my way up to live events. It seemed like a good way to help move Ceros forward from the outside, again avoiding Shared Command.

When I mentioned this to a bunch of people who had seen MTM, the first reaction from all of them was that they enjoyed my interviews, that I was a good interviewer. That felt great.

But I have to say that I no longer have that same conceit that I’m a better interviewer than Jason. After seeing him on stage at the LAUNCH Festival in March and at LAUNCH Mobile in September, he has clearly taken his interviewing game to the next level. He doesn’t seem to have a list of questions in hand. He listens to answers and asks smart follow up questions. And he knows when to end an interview — which is crucial.

I guess doing nearly 400 startup interview shows is great practice.