Archive for July, 2008

Security Analyst Sausage Machine Firms Quash Innovation

July 10th, 2008 15 comments

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will watch the watchers?

Short and sweet and perhaps a grumpy statement of the obvious: Security Analyst Sausage Machine Firms quash innovation in vendors’ development cycles and in many cases prevent the consumer — their customers — from receiving actual solutions to real problems because of the stranglehold they maintain on what defines and categorizes a "solution."

What do I mean?

If you’re a vendor — emerging or established — and create a solution that is fantastic and solves real business problems but doesn’t fit neatly within an existing "quadrant," "cycle," "scope," or "square," you’re SCREWED.  You may sell a handful of your widgets to early adopters, but your product isn’t real unless an analyst says it is and you still have money in the bank after a few years to deliver it.

If you’re a customer, you may never see that product develop and see the light of day and you’re the ones who pay your membership dues to the same analyst firms to advise you on what to do!

I know that we’ve all basically dropped trow and given in to the fact that we’ve got to follow the analyst hazing rituals, but that doesn’t make it right.  It really sucks monkey balls.

What’s funny to me is that we have these huge lawsuits filed against corporations for anti-trust and unfair business practices, and there’s nobody who contests this oligopoly from the sausage machine analysts — except for other former analysts who form their own analyst firms to do battle with their former employers…but in a kindler, gentler, "advisory" capacity, of course…

Speaking of which, some of these folks who lead these practices often times have never used, deployed, tested, or sometimes even seen the products they take money for and advise their clients on.  Oh, and objectivity?  Yeah, right.  If an analyst doesn’t like your idea, your product, your philosophy, your choice in clothing or you, you’re done.

This crappy system stifles innovation, it grinds real solutions into the dirt such that small startups that really could be "the next big thing" often are now forced to be born as seed technology starters for larger companies to buy for M&A pennies so they can slow-roll the IP into the roadmaps over a long time and smooth the curve once markets are "mature."

Guess who defines them as being "mature?"  Right.

Crossing the chasm?  Reaching the tipping point?  How much of that even matters anymore?

Ah, the innovator’s dilemma…

If you have a product that well and truly does X, Y and Z, where X is a feature that conforms and fits into a defined category but Y and Z — while truly differentiating and powerful — do not, you’re forced to focus on, develop around and hype X, label your product as being X, and not invest as much in Y and Z.

If you miss the market timing and can’t afford to schmooze effectively and don’t look forward enough with a business model that allows for flexibility, you may make the world’s best X, but when X commoditizes and Y and Z are now the hottest "new" square, chances are you won’t matter anymore, even if you’ve had it for years.

The product managers, marketing directors and salesfolk are forced to
fit a product within an analyst’s arbitrary product definition or risk
not getting traction, miss competitive analysis/comparisons or even get
funding; ever try to convince a VC that they should fund you when
you’re the "only one" in the space and there’s no analyst recognition
of a "market?"


A vendor’s excellent solution can simply wither and die on the vine in
a battle of market definition attrition because the vendor is forced to
conform and neuter a product in order to make a buck and can’t actually
differentiate or focus on the things that truly make it a better

Who wins here? 

Not the vendors.  Not the customers. The analysts do. 

The vendor pays them a shitload of kowtowing and money for the privilege to show up in a box so they get recognized — and not necessarily for the things that truly matter — until the same analyst changes his/her mind and recognizes that perhaps Y and Z are "real" or creates category W, and the vicious cycle starts anew.

So while you’re a vendor struggling to make a great solution or a customer trying to solve real business problems, who watches the watchers?


Poetic Security Review

July 10th, 2008 1 comment

The InterWeb’s broken!
Oy, vadda mess!
Kaminsky tells all
Patch your damned DNS!

VMware’s Greene has gone virtual,
where will she land?
Maritz is the new boss,
since Diane got canned

Speaking of virtual
Ballmer’s jumpin’ with glee,
for twenty-eight bucks
you can own Hyper-V!

Oh the Senate just gave us
a shitty surprise-a,
those spineless rat bastards
just re-voted in FISA

Hear that sound in the background?
That’s the ACLU crying
The telcos and Intel
get rewarded for spying!

That’s right they can wiretap
your comms with impunity
Our elected officials
just gave them immunity!

The new iPhone this Friday,
faster speeds, GPS
If only they’d fix
AT&T’s coverage mess

Poor Jerry Yang
and his Yahoo-stacked board
If Carl gets his way
Yang will fall on his sword

Matasano’s first product
took a while to cook
Many firewalls?  Hard to Manage?
Give Playbook a look.

As a wrap-up this time
I’ll pull the guilt lever
Read this post on my charity
and donate to Kiva!

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Pay-It-Forward: I’m collecting donations for my Kiva Micro-loans Security Pro Funding Pool…

July 2nd, 2008 2 comments

…everyone who wants to make a difference should just go ahead and get
their own foreign policy and stop waiting on change from above."– Thomas Barnett

Inspired by my friend Gunnar Peterson, I’ve committed to begin funding Kiva Micro-loans in the next 30 days with a goal to fund up to $1,000 by year end.

What does Kiva do and what is a micro-loan?

Kiva is focused on serving the working poor

Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website,
empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the
developing world. The people you see on Kiva’s site are real
individuals in need of funding – not marketing material.

When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose
someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person
make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for
themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of
the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates
and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can
relend to someone else in need.

Here’s a snippet from Gunnar’s posting which describes his experience with Kiva:

About a year ago, we signed up for Kiva, which is a microlender. One of our first loans went to Sith Saron, who lives in Siem Reap Province in Cambodia. She needed a $1,000 for a cow, seeds, and a motorcycle for her farm.

Sith Saron is 37 years old and the mother of 7 children. She sells Khmer traditional cakes such as Num Korm, Num Bot, and Num Krouk to the people in her community and usually earns up to $4 each day. Her husband, meanwhile, works in his rice paddy growing crops as well as several kinds of vegetables. Two of her children are employed at a hotel, but the others are students.

The loan had a 18 month pay back date, and just a couple of weeks ago (about 10 months after taking out the loan), she paid the loan in full

If you are interested in helping me — and thus others — with contributing to the micro-loan movement, either sign-up to donate directly yourself, or feel free to donate via gift certificate to my pool and we can make an even bigger difference!

If you want to send a Kiva certificate, you can do so through the PayPal-enabled link above and use my email addy as the target recipient: choff [@]

At my birthday BBQ bash this weekend, in lieu of gifts I’ve asked for folks to donate to my pool for this year to fund multiple loans.

My family of three young girls and my lovely wife are all very excited about being able to participate in this process both domestically and internationally. 

In fact, all three of my kids are invested in giving up material goods and gifts in exchange for donations to Kiva.  How cool is that? 

Thanks to Gunnar again for the motivation and Thomas Barnett for his inspiring words.


Update: Within 3 minutes of posting this, my bud Zach already donated!  Fantastic!

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