Thursday, November 08, 2007


Listening to Matt from Wordpress talk about bloggers. He had one
great line. Blogging is one big padded room.

I laughed when I heard it, but it's very true.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Salty Pig Parts

I saw this and said, I'd like to try that. My wife said, yuck.

Do you think it's good marketing?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Baby Safety

I started putting together a few Hubs on examples of baby safety for things like wifi and wireless baby monitors and the best baby gates.

I'm thinking of doing tips on outlet covers, child safe drawer locks and baby thermometers. All of it is good preparation for our new baby coming soon!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Georgia Rides Her Bycicle

Georgia rode her bycicle to Mitchell's for an ice cream this afternoon.

Monday, October 29, 2007


This weekend at the pumpkin patch, the girls went for a pony ride.
Here they are sitting. Waiting. Together.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kids Cut Their Hair

I know I cut my own hair as a child. Georgia gave her self a little
hair cut today. There's a good dent in the side, but she likes it!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Julia Eats a Donut

Julia just eats the frosting, but Georgia puts the whole thing away.
I'm wondering if this sugar rush will send them through the roof.
Maybe they'll burn it off on the walk home.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Driving To SF

After spending the weekend with our folks, we drove back to San
Francisco. My wife snapped this from the car just a little outside
Paso Robles.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Georgia Climbs a Tree

Georgia climbed her first tree today.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Avila Beach

It's a gorgeous day in Avila Beach, Ca. Having lunch here today with
my family.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Cake At A Birthday Party

I've never seen kids pay attention like they so when they are watching
a birthday cake cut.

Baby Hair-Do

My wife isn't very happy with Julia's hair-do this morning. I slicked
it back and put it in a ponytail. Then used a little hairspray to
give it a little hold.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Golden Gate Bridge Photo

I've been trying to get a good photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. With
a little more light, this would have been a nice picture.

Fleet Week San Francisco

The girls are watching the Blue Angels fly their jets at Crissy Field.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Family Walk

Taking the family to Walter Haus Park.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dress Code

In case you missed the memo. The dress code is goggles and rain boots.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

California St

Heading down California Street in San Francisco.

Bomb Sniffing Dogs

I've noticed that there is frequently a german shepherd in BART that
is sniffing for bombs.

I asked the policeman handling the dog about it and all he would
whisper is that he is a bomb sniffing dog.

I've also seen more of them at the airports like the one photoed
below. I snapped his picture at the Ontario Airport last night.

I've always enjoyed seeing animals work. Only if the Iphone had a
video camera, then I could have captured this one on the job.

It's a Boy!

After two girls, I heard somewhere that it is an 80 percent chance
that third baby is girl as well. It looks like we bucked the odds.
It's a boy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When Can You Charge for Listings

This is continuation on classifieds. In order to charge for listings
the site has to have one of two compoments - that are really one
thing. Buyers.

People pay to list on eBay, even though there are a zillion free
places to post because eBay has an enormous community of buyers and
the likelyhood of selling your item is good. With the exception of
craigslist, there are few places that offer this.

So, if your sites new or lacks an established traffic flow of buyers,
then it's nearly impossible to sell listings. Unless the listing fee
is used to attract buyers.

If I was going to try and start a paid classified website, I'd try and
build a community first. Microsoft tried to launch a free classified
website on the strength of its funnel. I doubt that this service has
the stregth to take on craigslist. However, Facebook launched a
classified site on top of its community. I think this has a good
chance of becoming the dominant classified site.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Craigslist turned local classifieds for newspapers upside down.
Cutting prices to the low cost of free for most types of listings.
This has caused a serious financial issue for newspapers.

Today I learned that a large piece of the online ad spend growth is
expected to come from online classifieds in four big categories. Jobs,
autos, misc and real estate.

eBay has been succesful with the pay per listing model, but I'm not
sure that this market isn't headed towards free.

Also, the trend is heading for decentralization of the listings. Sort
of like YouTube for classifieds.

The killer solution seems like an API that accepts listings and a
service that pushes it everywhere you would like it to be posted. For
example, I want to fill out one form, post it to ebay craigslist etc,
have an option to post it to PPC search engines and gives me a widget
to post it anywhere.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pets on Muni

I don't know if pets are allowed on Muni in San Francisco, but I see a
lot more of them these days. Yesterday, there was a giant lizard, but
I couldn't get a picture.

This little dog joined us for the morning commute.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Messaging on a website is communicating benefits, highlighting a new
feature, providing help and alerting a person to other important

The key to messaging is providing it at the right time. As products
add features the messaging becomes increasingly complex which makes
delivering the right message more difficult.

The interesting thing is its hard to find a website that consistently
delivers messaging across the site that is effective. On HubPages we
have used a right hand nav that highlights as you change boxes. We
have placed the answers to the top customer support issues in the
boxes. However, it hasn't cut down the inquiries. I wonder if the
best messaging is simply a big button with a phone number that is
answered quickly and answers questions accurately.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fundamentals and Innovation

If the 80/20 rule holds for creating a viral website I'd say it's 80
percent fundamentals and 20 percent innovation.

Fundamentals are the core skills of running a site like customer
support, and making the app scale. Don't underestimate fundamentals.

Innovation is what makes your site standout. It differentiates you
from the noise. And its what people talk about when they describe
your site.

My advice is to innovate, but remember that successful innovations are
built on top of fundamentals. If Magic Johnson couldn't two hand chest
pass, he'd never be able to throw a 92 ft no look behind the back
bounce pass through a defenders legs and over the next persons head
for a perfect alley-oop

Beating Costco

I drove by this tire shop in Mountain View yesterday and there's this
BIG sign that says we "We Beat Costco."

What I didn't get in the picture is a we're hiring for $10/hr sign
right next to it.

See, Costco pays higher wages and that attracts talent that is
knowledgable about tires. Plus they have the best return policy around.

It takes a lot more than cheap prices to beat Costco.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Viral Website Part Four: Natural Search Engine Optimization

This is a huge way to leverage content into traffic. Don't do
anything blackhat or you will eventually get caught and killed.

Just organize the site well. And follow fundamental SEO rules. It's
best to start this from the beginning.

Ok. That's it for the series.

Viral Website Part Three: Give Them Something to Talk About

This has two meanings.

First, create something unique. If one person loves it, the chances
are good someone else will as well. People that love something tell

Second. Let users communicate on the site. Comments, forums, chat,
and email are ways to do it. This makes a site sticky and keeps
people coming back.

Viral Website Part Two: Contribution

Once you have lots of people signing up, people need to get value to
continue to use it.

When it's new, there isn't that much there, so it must be easy for
people to contribute. Digg lets users submit stories, which is easy,
but even easier is to leave a comment and even easier than that is a
one click Digg vote.

The key is to figure out how people will contribute and to make sure
there is something very easy that anyone can do to add value.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Components of a Viral Website: Signup

If you learn by seeing what is successful, what do the large social
networks have in common? It's a well integrated signup process that
connects you at the beginning with people in your address book that
are already using the service as well makes it seamless to invite

The downside is this technique has been criticized for being spammy.
So make sure users can opt out of sending emails.

The upside can be tremendous with thousands of people signing up
daily. The experience for each new user is also enhanced when they
are connected with more people they know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trading Up Problems

I try to be aware of the type of problems I'm dealing with daily. I
have two buckets. Good and bad.

Bad problems are ones that should have been prevented. I screwed up
and now it's biting me in the ass. Like a bug. Or a legal issue where
you're at fault. Or even worse, you lose customers.

Good problems are trying to decide which features to build. How to
scale because more people are using your service. Or where to invest
because your business is throwing off so much cash.

The key is to understand the type of problems you have. Then you'll
have a picture of where your business is heading.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Picking a Better Name

Don't you think they could have picked a better name for their thrift

This store is located smack downtown Ventura.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Losing Weight

I've been thinking of trying weight watchers to see if I can lose 20 lbs by Christmas. That would put me at about 210 lbs. One thing I like about Weight Watchers is the point system. If you're not sure what it is you can read about Weight Watchers Points and tell me what you think.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nice Day in Noe Valley

A very comfortable day in our neighborhood. Perfect for sitting on a

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dry Ice

Someone left dry ice outside our office. Good thing nobody stepped on
it with bare feet or picked it up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

When Do You Hit The Gas

If you read other bloggers in the VC area there has been a lot of talk
about time. The short of it is that things don't work out as quickly
as we would like, but if you can hang in there long enough, you will
make it.

There is a spend to grow formula and a save cash until you figure it
out formula. The big question for new companies is what are the signs
that it is time to switch from figuring it out to spend to grow.

Probably the worst mistake you can make is thinking you have it
figured out when you don't because it usually means increased spending
which takes away time.

In the end it's time that matters.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Guadalupe California

I snapped this picture coming down Division Street out of Nipomo on
our way to the Far Western.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Brothers Arm wrestling

Family arm wresting championships tonight.

San Luis Obispo County Free Cigarettes

General Hospital in San Luis Obispo has a sign posted that says the
county is nolonger providing free cigarettes. Shocking.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Google Power on Public Markets

For the most part, when Google updates it's algorithm it's a million little webmasters that hunker down and discuss it in forums such as webmasterworld. They talk back and forth and try to understand the changes. When an algorithm change goes against you, it can mean that you lose a substantial portion of your income.

Public companies like - owned by the NY Times, and have a huge dependency on Google traffic as well. Last week Google tweaked it's algorithm and just like that, Answers is down 28%. Ouch. Also, last week Associated Content announced a $10 Million round of funding for a site that lives on Google traffic. Venture Beat calls it a bold strategy. And, just to be clear, Google is by far the biggest source of traffic for HubPages.

When it's a million little webmasters that feel this pain it goes fairly unnoticed in the main stream press. When it's a big company that screams it could be different. It may also be different because Google has the ability to change the value of a public company with a very small tweak. is down 11% today. Think it has another 17% to go?

Customer Problems

When you have a new site that is growing there are pain points in the
administration. It could be things like deploying new builds or
simply moderating the site.

Most people defer the infrastructure work until it feels like a
nagging two year old and can't be ignored.

One thing to be cautious of is that there is probably something that
is just as painful for your customers that use the site everyday.

Fix your customers problems before you fix your own.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Making Progress

Through the last year we have continually worked to improve the
Hubpages website and monetization. Progress, measured by monetizable
traffic has come in big steps that doesn't line up with new features
or improvements.

The biggest gains in traffic have been where few things change for a
longer period of time. While the biggest step backwards has been
after our most major changes.

However, after each major update the site does recover and hit new

A good thing to keep in mind when updating the site is can you
pinpoint causality for traffic changes and adjust quickly for unwanted
side effects.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Patxi's Pizza

Patxi's Chicago Pizza is located in Hayes Valley in San Francisco.
This has been one of my wife's cravings since she's been pregnant.
Not bad at all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The J Stinks

It's packed, slow and terrible. At least the air-conditioning works

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Movie Dummy

Someone is shooting a movie outside our office. It looks like there
was an accident, but it was actually a dummy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Good Kinds of Arguments

In general, I don't like arguments. However, there are good types of arguments in a startup. Things like which feature should we build next. Or should we add a feature or improve what we have. Should we change our Terms of Service. Should we remove a feature. Should we hire this person or get a contractor. What's a bigger opportunity for the business. Should we raise money, should we sell.

These are important discussions to have. If your startup is debating these issues. Good for you. You're developing healthy habits and having good arguments.

On the flip side. Be worried if nobody cares or if everybody just takes your word.

Tartine for Breakfast

Taking the girls to the bakery for breakfast. Yum!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Decorating Tonight

Georgia and I are playing with stamps and pens. The end, a
beautifully decorated sheet of paper.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mitchells Ice Cream Run

I love Mitchells. But, could they scoop ice cream any slower.
Anyway. I'm waiting for my shake.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rough Day

With several calls today, a new partner going live and several action
items from yesterday's board meeting, my computer gets a virus.
Mgrs.exe is a nasty sucker. It makes your computer unusable. I tried
cleaning it with spy hunter. No luck. Mcafee next. No luck and $100
spent. Damn. Finally. I rolled back to a two day old check point.
Back in business. James and I ate sushi. Now. Back to work.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kill the Snake

I was reading Brad's blog about his wife finding a rattlesnake on their patio. I'm deathly afraid of snakes. I know it's not rational. I once caught a Kenya Sand Boa in Santa Clara. Apparently, they live there now. I thought, I'm going to get over this fear of snakes. I bought it a cage, a heat rock, and water dish. I brought it home and tried to go to sleep. But. I coudn't sleep. I was so damn afraid that the snake was going to escape and bite me. After several days of bad dreams and soaking my sheets in sweat. I gave the snake away.

I'd have to kill the snake. Just to sleep. No doubt I'm going to have nightmares tonight about getting bit by a rattlesnake

George Washington

I've been listening to an audio book of His Excellency: George Washington on my iPhone. It's very good and worth a read/listen. I love audio books.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Oso Flaco Lake

Just south of Arroyo Grande, off of Highway 1, you can find Oso Flaco
Lake. It's one of the jewels of the central coast. Just follow the
very nice path across the lake, through the dunes, and end up at the
beach. Great bird watching in an ecological wonder. Beautiful.

Rope Swing

My mom picked up two used kid swings for $5. I tied them up to an oak
tree in their backyard. Julia loved it.


I'm going to take the girls swimming this afternoon at my folk's place.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Swinging Bridge

If you ever come to Arroyo Grande, go see the swinging bridge and eat
dinner at Ginas.

The Things Kids Say

Georgia looks at my mom and says, "Do the cracks in your face mean
you're old?"

Refinished Hardwood Floors

We replaced the carpet by having the hardwood floors refinished. I
think it will save us money in the long run. The floors turned out
great. I hope our new tenants like them.

Driving to SLO

We drove to San Luis Obispo last night. Traffic was fine, accept for
the small fire on the side of the road. See the picture. We ate
lousy Mexican food in Salinas and made it in about 11 am. Now back to
work on my board package.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Who Taught Julia

Julia loves to play with my phone. She knows how to activate the
screen, unlock it, and dial. I want to know, who taught her how to do

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Startup Energy

When you have a startup it takes an enormous effort to get it going at
a velocity to make it in a market.

I've had to learn to avoid the energy sucker. Worry. Nothing does
less for yourself or your company.

Note to self. Apply all energy to opportunity and progress.

(waiting for the J)

Exchange Push Email with iPhone

The iPhone is missing push email integration with Exchange for the business user BIG time. If it had this, I'd really, really like my iPhone. Until then, it's a good consumer device, but not ready for the business all-in-one user.

Believe the Hype at

This is a little plug for my brothers style blog. HypeFly rocks. I'm the first to admit, I'm not the coolest guy around, but they have twice nailed just what I was looking for. I got tired of being told that my fashion faux pas of a crew neck under a dress shirt, so I was in the market for some V necks.

Also, I was just thinking, I need some new loafers. Mine are a bit worn out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thinking Time

Riding the J muni is a good place to think and blog. Today, I'm
listening to "His Excellency" the biography of George Washington on my
iPhone and thinking about the best way to allocate our resources at
HubPages for our near term objectives.

And wondering where we'll find our next engineer to hire.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Parental Help

My wife is eight weeks pregnant and a bit tired. So we called in my
folks to come help us out for the week as Robin gets through the
morning sickness period.

What a tremendous help!

Startup Planning

One of the advantages of a startup is speed. When it comes to
planning and specs, they can take valuable time from development. So
we opt for broad work-items, and rely on the lead engineer to figure
out the details. This optimizes for speed.

I have also learned to put fewer items in the next release. My
suggestion is to try and shoot for monthly releases. If it takes a bit
longer, you're still OK.

Summary: Plan the strategic work at a high level. Trust engineers
to do a good job and constrain development cycles to a month.

Monday, July 09, 2007

HubPages Designer

My little brother, James, has come to intern this summer at HubPages.
I'm hoping he'll get the opportunity to improve the usability of some
of our features.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

HubPages Fights Poor Content

HubPages has had to develop lots of technology to slow spam down (GigaOM). I left a similar comment on Jason's blog that if you want to prevent SEO spam, then the best thing to do is to stop the benefits. In SEO language, noindex the page (prevents google, yahoo, msn and other search bots from including the page in their index) and nofollow outbound links. SEO guys love link juice. They want a high quality link and any traffic is just a bonus.

HubPages uses a scoring system called HubScore to apply this type of system to the content. The scoring system includes direct inputs (thumbs up/thumbs down and others) and many algorithmic inputs as well. It's improving all the time, but it still represents a challenging question for open publishing systems on the best way to be open, fair, and accept the differences in the wide range of content that people want to publish.

HubPages allows all types of content to be published. Mature content is much less visible and all of the content is marked with nofollow meta tags. We also don't display mature content on all the interlinked pages that have correlated tags (you may have to browse HubPages to understand this - click one of the green tag links), but you can find it in search if you are looking for it. We thought this was the right user experience. Since we implemented it, we received many positive comments from the HubPages community.

When Squidoo allows a spam page to be visible to search engines they are allowing the search engine to decide if the page should or should not rank for search terms. If the domain becomes too polluted, the risk is that Google or any other search engine will simply stop ranking pages from the domain so all traffic is effectively cut off.

Paul Edmondson

No Parking Sign

I think I understand what coach Durant meant when he said, "There are
football players and there are football players, and he is a football
player," after I saw a no parking sign today.

In similar words of coach Durant "There are no parking signs and there
are no parking signs, and this is a no parking sign."

I'm never going to stop telling on you

Today my daughter let me know, "I'm never going to stop telling on
you, even when I'm a grown-up." Somehow, I believe her.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hayes Valley Patricia's Green

Wakeup Call

Who needs a 6 am wakeup call, when you have one of these?

Friday, July 06, 2007