Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

I watched the Borat Movie over the weekend and it was hilarious. I was surprised to see a lot of young kids at the theater. A couple of scenes were way out there!!

The government of Kazakhstan is suing Sacha Baren Cohen for negatively portraying their country. Here is Boart’s response:

Chinese Pod

If you are trying to learn Chinese, this website is for you:
You can listen to the podcasts for free, but you will have to register and pay for the service if you want a written record of the conversation and access to a vocabulary database. The free service is still very useful and I like the site a lot. This is the first language teaching service that uses tags, blogs, podcasts, and a community around their offering.

Bug Me Not

Have you been referred to a site and wanted to check something quickly but they required you to register? The answer is yes, if you are still trying to remember. It is annoying. I do not mind registering if I am going to use the service on frequent basis, buf if I just wanted to check something, I do not want to waste a minute typing up my data. I usually use a bogus email for these things anyway.

Well, worry no more, because BugMeNot is at your service. Just go there, type the site address and it will give you user names and passwords for many sites. They even have a firefox extension!!

Building Critical Mass for online companies

This session was facilitated by Clint Korver founder of The contents of this post are based on the wiki notes of the startupcamp session and some of my comments on the topic. This post applies makes the most sense for companies that rely on contributors generating content. I hate using the word user generated content.

What does it mean to achieve critical mass for an online company?

  • Number of users (obviously!)
  • Reaching a milestone that meets funding criteria (the number of users is big enough to attract advertisers)
  • Market awareness (basically people know that you exist)

Questions about Critical Mass:

  • How do you get the first 10k users?
  • How do you get the first 300k users?
  • What are the metrics that you can measure this by? How sticky is your site?
    • How many people are creating content?
    • How many people are searching you straight out from Google?
    • How many people are doing straight URL type ins?

You must take advantage of Network effects. The site has to make it easy for others to get involved. Have an “invite a friend” button. Have a “digg this” button or have a “email this to a friend” link. Anything that make it easy to spread the word.

Your service has to be useful enough for a user to make them come back. You want your users to get involved. Have users compete for fame or something. User self-interest should drive the marketing of your site by word of mouth and invitations.

You have to ensure that the content added by your viewers is compelling enough for people to visit the site.

Case Studies:

  • Wikipedia: Seeded with 20k articles. Semi-professional people did it. Started with some PhDs that was going to vet everything, but they realized that this wouldn’t scale, so they just used them to write articles.
  • Friendster: Being maintained pretty much only by New York gay dating scene.
  • Hepatitis C Support Group: Running on a PHP BB, with 10k users. All stages of life.

It really comes down to building an easy to use website with interesting content. Make it easy for the users to share their creations with others. Grow your community slowly and listen to their requests. It took youtube many months before they became popular. Once they added the HTML link ability, people were using them on myspace like crazy.

Startup Camp

Startup Camp

Today I attended the Startup Camp in the Mountain View computer history musemum. My guess that more than 200 people attended today. Entrepreneurs, attorneys, a couple of VCs, a couple of angel investors, and a lot of big companies representatives were there. Sun Microsystems was the master mind behind the camp. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft had a strong presence.

The camp was an unconference, where people decided on the spot what they wanted to discuss. I attended many sessions through out the day and I will write about them in a series of posts.