Happy Sholidays

Published: 11/27/2007 9:55:12 PM, comments: 0

Happy Shopping Holidays - "Sholidays." 

When I was young, even in high school or college, the first stories of the holiday season were not about shopping.  They were about the stories of the holidays, about people doing good samaritan-type deeds, etc.  The television was filled with the classic movies throughout the season.  Maybe there wasn't as much "reality" on the airwaves, but at least it wasn't all about shopping.

These days, the holiday season starts with a huge buildup to Black Friday, followed by a newsworthy Cyber Monday.  News outlets parse the latest news about how the unfolding holiday shopping numbers compare to last year's numbers, and what that means for financial stocks, the future of the economy, interest rates and consumer sentiment.  They talk about how the retailers are faring, and how the biggest shopping day of the year is the Saturday before Christmas. 

Then, as Christmas approaches, news organizations begin to talk about how the best deals are usually found in the after-Christmas sales, which are then stretched into New Year's sales events to squeeze as much cash and credit out of the world's economic engine as possible.

It all seems to add up to one big shopping season.  News outlets, devoid of finding much human meaning in the season, turn to the only apparent quantifiable measurement, shopping, in order to determine how it all went.  In the end, a percentage number is issued that compares sales growth to the previous year, reducing the entire season to almost nothing more than a single number.

I hope to make the holidays about something more than shopping.

Don Jones


Top 20 Worst Venture Capital Investments

Published: 11/21/2007 10:49:47 AM, comments: 2

There are a few competing "top 20 worst VC investment lists" floating around the web, with differing views based on access to investment data.

I'm sure the VC community doesn't like to see this.  Why?  Very few VCs ever publish information about their failures, even though most of their investments failed.

I suppose there's ego involved and a desire to put your best foot forward as well as not wanting to embarrass your former portfolio company personnel.

I would like to see them publish the reasons why their companies failed.  For example, in the non-profit world, the Hewlett Foundation publishes these types of reports so that other foundations can learn what works and what doesn't.  It's a way of giving back and improving the world.

IF VCs are out to do good by doing well, they could help immensely by sharing the knowledge and experience they've gained the hard way.

Don Jones


Think Like A Virus

Published: 11/12/2007 11:21:45 PM, comments: 0

I went to a viral marketing talk yesterday by the CEO of  I've been to several viral seminars by others and they've all been disappointing - they haven't illuminated much - sort of like a faint, annoying light bulb that isn't bright enough to allow you to read.

The talk I just went to was a little better.  A few interesting points were the ideas of:

1.  Making something that will entertain, delight or shock people
2.  Making it easy for people to pass it along - using email, RSS or recommendation engines such as Digg and
3.  Make it simple.

Another concept is tying the thought virus to the main differentiator of your product or service and then getting into the "mental space" of your target users.  How do you get into someone else's mental space?  The last understanding the needs and behaviors of your target market.

All of this isn't easy to put together, but I hope it provides a little more light on the matter.

Don Jones


A New Concept Of Branding?

Published: 11/6/2007 1:54:40 PM, comments: 0

I read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about the changing concept of company branding in the online world.

The gist of the article was that with the fragmentation of searcher's entry into a company's web site, the concept of branding is being diluted since visitors simply see a slice of a company's website, and usually don't enter via the front page where the message is more tightly packaged and branded.

I tend to agree with the changing concept of brand, though for a different reason.  I believe that branding is now what your customers assign to your company, which is a result of the sum total of your company's actions, images, services and execution with your customers.

In other words, brand is no longer about promises per se - it is about what your company delivers to your customers and how those customers assign value to what you've delivered to them.  It is a more customer-centric notion - more bottom's up to use the WSJ article's terminology, rather than a top down imposition of brand.

What do you think?

Don Jones


Don Jones
CEO, VentureDeal

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