Monday, February 21, 2011
Foursquare has just crossed 7,000,000 user IDs, which should mean that the location-based social network will be hitting 7 million registered users in the coming week. As we learned from the Foursquare, user ID numbers don’t quite match up to the network’s actual number of user accounts, but in the past have been correlated as a sign that the network is fast approaching the milestone.
If Foursquare does in fact hit 7 million users in the next week or so, it would show that the startup is continuing to see steady growth, despite recent competition from Facebook’s location product Places. At the end of January, Foursquare announced 6 million users, and it took the location based social network a month and a half to add another million users from 5 million in early December. It should take a little over a month for Foursquare to hit 7 million users.
As Foursquare announced in January, the location based network grew 3400 percent in terms of check-ins and saw a total of 381,576,305 check-ins in 2010. In December, co-founder Dennis Crowley announced that Foursquare is seeing 2 million check-ins per day and adding 25K new users a day. Crowley also said that users split up geographically between 60% US and 40% international, and the average Foursquare user checks in 3-4 times day.
Twenty-five years ago today, an ambitious title was released in Japan that would, in time, become one of the biggest and most important franchises in video game history.
That game was The Legend of Zelda. While it may look crude now, it's easy to forget that, at the time of the game's release, it was the Oblivion of its day, its inter-connected worlds and dungeons being so huge relative to other titles that it would be the first NES game in the West to need its own internal battery so users could save their progress.
This scale and open-ended approach to game design - with players able to progress through the game in a non-linear fashion - made it a smash hit. By the time the original cartridges (or disks) were finally taken off store shelves, The Legend Of Zelda had sold over 8 million copies worldwide.
Including the original game's release on the Famicom Disk System in 1986 (for which it was a launch title), a total of 14 unique and "proper" Zelda games (excluding re-releases) have been published by Nintendo for the Famicom/NES, Game Boy, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, DS and Wii. A number of other Zelda games, some not made by Nintendo and others being spin-off titles, have also been released in that time, while the 15th game — Skyward Sword — is due later this year on the Wii.
With The Legend Of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time widely regarded as the greatest game ever made, and with the series as popular and iconic today as it was back in 1986, it retains a very special place in the heart of many gamers, and for the rest of this week we'll be celebrating that.
While Mario is the public face of Nintendo, Link is in many ways its spine, the star of the one series that, no matter how revolutionary the hardware or distracted the company's other franchises become, can always be counted on to deliver a truly epic adventure. After all, of all the thousands of video games I've played over the last three decades, my favourite to this day remains The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
For the rest of this week, Total Recall will be looking back on 25 years of Zelda, with a new piece published each day. Don't expect a straight reminisce about the major games in the series, though. We'll be looking at some of the paths less trodden by Link, Zelda and that sharp-dressed villain Ganon.
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.
[original image: Robert Leduc-Reasoner]
Women in tech. I hate to say it, but I am tired of hearing about women in tech.
As a female tech startup founder and angel investor, I am routinely asked how I feel about the lack of women in the technology sector. Frankly, I’m a bit tired of the question. It’s a topic worthy of discussion, but the conversation has grown far too narrow (as tends to happen in our Silicon Valley bubble).
While I have no doubt that the tech sector would benefit from more female founders, entrepreneurs and investors, we are missing a large part of the equation. Wishful thinking and arguing about female founders, entrepreneurs or gender roles is overriding recognition of the powerful role that the female consumer is already playing in technology.
Let’s talk not about women in tech. Let’s talk about women and tech. We need to shift the conversation and analyze how and why the female consumer is affecting technology innovation.
For starters, let’s focus our attention on the groundswell of female consumers impacting the web marketplace. If gender is at all an investment consideration, it is best utilized in conjunction with concrete market statistics:
• 3,330: the number of text messages the average teenage girl sends a month
• 67%: the percent of Gilt Groupe’s audience that are female
• 77%: the percent of Groupon subscription base that are female
• Your mother: the average social gamer (ok, it’s a 43 year old woman, but close enough)
A basic conclusion that one could draw here is that females are just as or even more enthusiastic than males about technology and the web. The difference is in the types of web products and services females embrace and how they put these to use in their daily lives. Here are a few more examples of female-driven web behavior and trends that represent rapid-growth market opportunities:
• Real World Bookmarking: Women have embraced bookmarking and sharing content, ideas and tips on the web. Services like Foodspotting appeal to the desire to bookmark a tangible item that we attach affinity to, then enable sharing with an extended network of online friends.
• Personal Relationship Management: Women have historically been attracted to online services that give them a productive platform for analyzing, discussing and improving their personal and romantic relationships. My own start-up, TheIceBreak (a game-like service that helps couples and singles create rewarding relationships), is planning to take full advantage of this demand.
• Self Analysis and Insights: Women are a strong driver of demand for the self-help book industry. Publishing has only begun its march into the nascent digital world and self-help will be a huge growth driver as more content is made available on the web.
• Families and Children: Women and men alike have begun to invest time and discretionary income in family-oriented technologies. Outgrown.it is a promising concept of an online exchange that lets parents trade outgrown children’s clothes or donate outgrown items to families in need.
I want to help women in technology, but a path to long-term success requires less charity (i.e. requiring at least one female on a founding team) and more common sense business practices. An excellent first step would be the creation of an investment fund or incubator program oriented around startups that target the female web consumer.
Please do not misunderstand me. I do not expect that creating a more attractive investment environment for female-targeted startups is the only answer for increasing female participation in technology. I do believe, however, that males and females alike are attracted to products and services familiar to them, and that addressing demand for female-oriented online products & services is an excellent step in motivating more women to take a step into the entrepreneurial arena.
It’s not charity to invest in a growing market with hard numbers. Let’s start there…
Cultural relativity is an amazing thing. While American parents worry about their kids being on Facebook, Egyptian parents are naming their kids “Facebook” to commemorate the events surrounding the #Jan25 revolution.
According to Al-Ahram (one of the most popular newspapers in Egypt) a twenty-something Egyptian man has named his first born daughter “Facebook” in tribute to the role the social media service played in organizing the protests in Tahrir Square and beyond.
Helmed by now-famous Googler Wael Ghonim, the “We Are Khaled Said” Facebook page showed up within 5 days of Said’s death in June and served as a hub for dissidence against Egyptian police brutality as well as a way to disseminate logistical information about the escalating anti-government protests until Mubarak’s resignation. Other activist pages like one actually called “Tahrir Square” cropped up shortly afterward.
A New Day
Man Names His Newborn Girl Facebook
A young man in his twenties wanted to express his gratitude about the victories the youth of 25th of January have achieved and chose to express it in the form of naming his firstborn girl “Facebook” Jamal Ibrahim (his name.) The girl’s family, friends, and neighbors in the Ibrahimya region gathered around the new born to express their continuing support for the revolution that started on Facebook. “Facebook” received many gifts from the youth who were overjoyed by her arrival and the new name. A name [Facebook] that shocked the entire world.
There are five million Facebook users in Egypt, more so than any other country in the Middle East/North Africa region. Facebook itself has reported an increase in Egyptian users in the past month, with 32,000 Facebook groups and 14,000 pages created in the two weeks after January 25th.
While the baby girl could just have easily been called “YouTube,” “Twitter” “Google” or even “Cellphone Camera,” it seems like Facebook has become the umbrella symbol for how social media can spread the message of freedom. There are countless manefestation of this, the above graffiti in Cairo, “Thank you Facebook” protest sign, and Wael Ghonim himself personally expressing his gratitude to Mark Zuckerberg on CNN.
I’m hearing that the temporary military government has begun using Facebook to reach out to Egyptian youth, even creating a Facebook Fan Page page (here). The Ministry of Interior, in attempt to repair the image of the state police, has set up multiple pages. And while my guess is that being a locus of political uprisings wasn’t the original intent of the American college campus-based social network, somewhere Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has got to be secretly proud.
The Internet as a whole should win the Nobel Peace Prize this year for all it’s done for democracy in the MENA region, but let’s not let this naming kids after websites get out of hand. I’d hate for little “Facebook” to have to share a classroom with a little “AOL,” or worse a little “Yahoo.” Even though you have to admit, a girl named “Quora” would be kind of pretty.
Jokes aside, click here for an excellent video of how young activists in Cairo documented the Egyptian protests despite the Internet blocks.
Thanks: Rami Taibah