Jul 27, 2008

Ever Heard of a Social Network for Shopping?

Me neither, until I talked with Kaboodle at TechCrunch (also see my last blog post). Kaboodle is a Web 2.0 site that targets teen shoppers. As a parent of a teenage daughter, I fully understand the power (monetary and influence) of this demographic! If all those teenagers stopped spending, I think W's economy would take an even faster nosedive.

Now Kaboodle is different in that it doesn't sell anything. It's not an e-tailer, and it's not a web presence for a bricks-and-mortar site. I think of Kaboodle as digg for shopping, even though thefolks at Kaboodle didn't like my analogy.

For this to make sense, think of yourself as a young shopper-- a teen or twenty-something. As you surf around the internet, you can basically tag items (shoes, blouses, skirts, pants, pursues, you get the picture) and these to the collective catalog on kaboodle. From Kaboodle, you can put together different outfits, and you can also rate different items. Kaboodle shows you where you can buy these outfits, and off you go to these other sites to purchase your items!

Kaboodle's revenue model is advertising (just like every other Web 2.0 site). I thought it was a creative way to apply a Web 2.0 model to shopping. From a technology perspective, Kaboodle is implemented with JSP, Servlets, and Apache Spring, and it runs on Tomcat.

I don't know if I'm going to shop there, and I'm not sure I'll pass on their url to my daughter. But, who knows? Maybe she's already been kaboodling!

Jul 26, 2008

The TechCrunch Party at August Capital

It could almost pass for a college party. A bunch of twenty-somethings milling about with drink in hand. But wait, some thing's amiss. There's a new Tesla parked outside, with the owner proudly chatting up the passersby. A limo pulls up and a somewhat awkward-looking techie emerges with a model on his arm. He's a VC who's flown from LA for the event. Although we're walking distance from Stanford, this ain't no college keg party. This is Sand Hill road, and we're at the TechCrunch party hosted by August Capital. The host, David Hornik from August Capital, is also one of our Board members. Jane and I met our gracious host in the lobby, and chatted with him about some of the things we're cooking up for the next board meeting.

The event was attended by over 1000 entrepreneurs, techies, and VC's. And there was a healthy distribution of established tech companies, mid-sized start-ups, and brand new start-ups. Web 2.0 was definitely in the air.

I attended with Jane Willis from PayCycle, and we ran across several colleagues from our pasts. I ran across Milton Howard, a former colleague from Cassatt, who was attending with Michelle Fisher, CEO of Blaze Mobile. Michelle's 18-person start-up has developed a platform that allows folks to pay for services using their mobile phone. Milton and Michelle (who are flanking Jane in the picture) were attending to chat up VC's who might become Series A investors. Good luck, Michelle! As it turns out, Milton has been a loyal PayCycle customer for many years. He uses PayCycle's household payroll product to pay for his nanny.

After another hour of navigating through the crowd, Jane and I decided to find a quieter area on the patio, someplace away from the music and crowd. While we were chatting, two gentlemen greeted us and let us know how happy they were with the PayCycle product. Ike Eze and Tuyen Vo are serial entrepreneurs, and they've just started their third start-up, Centrro. They must have done okay from the sales of their previous start-ups, because they're self-financed and not actively seeking VC money. With their latest start-up, Ike and Tuyen have developed a platform for brokering credit card applications and loan applications on behalf of financial institutions. They have just a few employees and many contractors, and they're very pleased with the PayCycle product. They did have some suggestions and product ideas for me and Jane, which we'll talk over with our teams when we return to the office.

I did run into a few other folks during the event, including a potential business partner we had met with earlier that week. It was a perfect summer evening in Menlo Park, and I had a health sampling of samosa, spring rolls, and weissbier. I decided to call it a night around 8:30pm so I could head home and start the weekend with the family. It was my first TechCrunch party, and it was definitely a great event. I look forward to the next one.

Jul 13, 2008

The Next Chapter Has Begun

I just completed my second week at PayCycle, where I joined as the VP of Product Development. In my new role, I've now moved to the other side of the table. In my prior roles at Cassatt and Sun, I was a producer of enterprise technology. Now, I'm a consumer of enterprise technology and a producer of a consumer web property. My new responsibilities include development, QA, and IT.

PayCycle provides an online payroll service for small business, and they have 75,000 customers. In fact, three of my former colleagues are customers. PayCycle is a SaaS implementation that's implemented as a J2EE application, sans EJB.

My new workplace is located in Palo Alto, just a few doors down from Fry's. I've been good so far, with regards to purchases from Fry's. I have "window shopped" for Sharp's new 65" LCD hi-def TV. "How much is that TV in the window?" you may ask. Well, at a current stick price of $4500, I'll wait another year and pick it up for 3 grand. For now, all I've purchased during business hours is a Hershey's bar and some gum. The wife is really proud of me, and I'm a little surprised myself, to be quite honest.

I'll still continue to blog about enterprise software, but now with the end-user's perspective. Over the next several posts, I'll talk about our development environment, how we're using virtualization, and talk about some new initiatives. So keep reading, and if you're ever at Fry's, stop by for a visit.