Category Archives: Technology

Ad blocking, advertising, and the web

Yesterday, I posted about the content monetization model of advertising.  I see it coming under threat (it’s been under threat for a while) as users are currently winning with their clicks – installing software like ad blockers and beyond.  You should read the piece here.

There is some innovation happening in this space and I wanted to highlight a few of the folks you should probably start following if you have not already.  Note, this list is not comprehensive nor did these people ask me to post about them.  They actually have no clue that they are being listed here.

Dr. Augustine Fou – an independent ad fraud researcher.  I’ve been following Dr. Fou for years when he was on the agency side and have watched him transition into ad fraud.  He’s consistently posting to Twitter and creating presentations around non-human traffic, bots, ad block, etc.

Sean Blanchfield – started and runs a company called PageFair which is an independent ad network that shows non-intrusive ads to people using ad blockers.

Ben Williams – one of the key guys at Eyeo, better known as AdBlock Plus.

Laurie Sullivan – over the years, Laurie has covered this space quite a bit for MediaPost.  Per her recent pieces, she’s continuing.

Ben Barokas – he’s up to something.. again.  watch him.

Who else should be listed or should I be following?

What we’re working on at Mozilla

I just released a post on Advancing Content (our Mozilla blog) that talks about what we’re up to and why.  I think it’s a pretty important piece for the ad, content, and tech industry to read so I hope you do.  And if you find the piece interesting, please re-tweet/share.  The more people who read the piece and understand our mission, the better.

And so when I hear privacy advocates saying that it is the role of the browser to deliver tools for the user to protect their privacy, I agree.  And when I hear Randall Rothenberg saying that browser vendors have a responsibility to our culture and to our economy, I agree.  I do not believe that these aims are in direct conflict.  We need advertising experiences that work for advertisers and publishers, but that also respect the wishes – the agency – of the user.  The user needs to be at the center of the experience, and their desires must be respected in the value exchange.

The above is a snippet from the piece.  Read the whole thing here.

Come work on the most differentiated product vision in advertising technology

It’s the beginning of the year and many companies are hiring.  So are we (Mozilla).  But why should you consider the job opportunities at Mozilla versus many of the super hot pre-IPO companies that also offer good opportunities?

If you are into advertising and marketing technology, I’d like to think that we offer one of the few truly differentiated value propositions in the ecosystem…  and delivering against this is a huge engineering, product, product-market, and account management challenge.  We truly put the user first – and give them complete control.  In our world, it’s not just what the brand wants… it’s also what the user wants.  We’ve begun to assemble a passionate group of folks who “get” the ad tech space – so there is no lack of intelligent conversations.  We are looking to add to this group of folks, affectionately called Content Services.

Below are three areas that we’re hiring for – right now.  If you are interested in any of these or know someone who is, please reach out thru the contact form on this blog.

Prior to reaching out however, please do the following:

Program Manager
We are hiring for a Program Manager to function between engineering, product, product marketing, business development, account management, data science, and partnerships.  The Program Manager should have 4-8 years of experience of managing multi-thread processes at a scaled technology company but one who still acts as a startup.  What counts?  Details.  Proactivity.  Rallying the troops.  Execution.  Accountability  Getting things done.  Sound interesting?  We have a more robust job-spec ready for those who are interested.  Contact here.

Content Partnerships (agency, brand, publisher)
We are hiring Content Partnerships team members.  In many organizations, these would be considered “sales” or “business development” roles*.  We are looking for people to evangelize our products to agencies and brands and build partnerships that are beneficial to not just the advertiser but to the user (most important) and Mozilla.  What counts?  Pro-activity.  Empathy and judgement for the user.  Understanding our values and not just bringing in a dollar where you can find it.  Creativity.  Accountability.  Sound interesting?  We have a more robust job-spec ready for those who are interested.  Contact here.

Partnership Success Team
I’m not sold on the name of the team yet but we’re looking to build out our success function to our content partnerships.  These roles would generally be labeled as “Account Management” and such – making sure the campaigns and clients are having a successful experience working with Mozilla.  What counts?  Details.  Pro-activity.  Being able to think on your feet.  Resourceful.  Polished.  People-person.  Friendly.  Humorous.  Humble.  Sound interesting?  We have a more robust job-spec ready for those who are interested.  Contact here.

Ideally, you are based in New York, Chicago, Mountain View or San Francisco but willing to consider exquisite candidates in most locations.



* My friend Jon discusses the name change here.


My 2015 Conference Lineup: IAB, Programmatic I/O, Cannes, Dmexco and more

I’ve received some notes from folks asking which conferences I’ll be attending in 2015.  Here is my committed lineup (i.e. hotels booked, flights locked-in) but always subject to change.  Some of these I’m speaking at… and others, not (yet).

IAB Annual Leadership Meeting:  Content and the Kingmakers (February 8-10, Arizona USA)
Programmatic I/O:  AdExchanger (April 16, San Francisco USA)
Digital Media Summit:  Luma Partners (timing TBD)
Cannes Festival (June 21-25, Cannes, France)
Dmexco (Sept 16-17, Cologne, Germany)

* Due to timing issues with other travel, I cannot attend the AdExchanger Industry Preview Conference but I bet it’ll be pretty fantastic.

Looking at the schedule, it’s going to be a busy first half of the year!  If you are heading to IAB Leadership meeting and want to get together, definitely reach out.

Also, if I left a conference out that you think I should attend, please let me know.

2015 Technology, Advertising, and Digital Prediction List

Over the years, I have curated and posted an technology, marketing, advertising, and media trend prediction list on this blog.  This year is no different, I’m going to do it again.  This is a good list to bookmark and reference as you create your presentations throughout the year.

I’ll keep this updated – but I’m not perfect.  Email me if you would like me to include your list (send me blog link and #1 prediction) here.

Predictions for 2015: Uber, Beacons, AdTech, and More (John Battelle)
Thinking about 2015:  Payments, Content Creation, and more
(Darren Herman)
What’s Going to Happen (Fred Wilson)
My 5 Predictions for 2015 and Beyond (Don Dodge)
Mobile Tech Predictions: Android, Amazon, Windows, etc (ZDNet/@jkendrick)
Three Seismic Threats to Marketers (AdAge/@dberkowitz)
The State of Bitcoin and Crytpocurrencies (A16z/@pmarca)
Eight Seismic Changes to the Hispanic Market (MediaPost/Jose Villa)World Economic Forum Predictions: Digital (WEF/Sven Denecken)
What’s Next in Wireless (John Legere)
Tech Predictions:  What Does the Future Hold? (Gary Newe)
20 Questions for 2015 (Benedict Evans)
20 E-Commerce Trends and Predictions for 2015 (eConsultancy)
Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2015 (Adobe/John Watton)
The Future of Digital Media in 2015 (TechCrunch/@pcsathy)
4 Cloud Predictions for 2015 (GigaOm/Barb Darrow)
API Predictions (Steven Willmott)
Predictions for 2015:  There Will be Blood (Valleywag/Dan Lyons)
2015 Tech Predictions (Hany Rashwan)
10 Predictions for Content Marketing (Mashable/Shafqat Islam)
What To Look Out for in Tech 2015 (BI Intelligence)


Thinking About 2015: payments, home security, video content, and content consumption

I am up in Manchester, VT where my family and I like to spend our free time in the winters and I have been reflecting on what’s to come this year.  Innovation in payments, home security, video content, and content consumption are areas that I’ll be paying attention to in 2015.

Many of my friends are writing very insightful future pieces and I thought I’d pile on. In years past, I aggregated all of the predictions on this blog and maybe I’ll do that again this year in a latest post.

While I spend most of my time thinking about content and advertising in my day job, much of this post will be outside of that.

Lets begin.

Payments(1). I’ve been fortunate to travel a fair bit across the world – mainly Africa and Europe. In 2015, I’ll be spending some time in Asia but I expect that market to act similar to Europe. Our consumer payments mechanisms here in the USA is much behind pretty much everywhere else. Why in the world do we give our credit cards to a restaurant waiter and have them disappear with our credit card to an unknown place and come back with it processed? I have absolutely zero trust in the waiter and I’m supposed to think that they aren’t going to steal my credit card number? This is 2015… I believe we can do much better…. especially when in most European countries, I process my bill at the table with the waiter- my credit card doesn’t disappear.

I was in New York City with my wife a  week ago doing some shopping and we were at a high-end jacket store in Soho. When it came time to pay, we gave our credit card to the nice lady who was helping us and she disappeared into the back of the store for about 10 minutes. She came back with a shopping bag with our jacket nicely wrapped and our credit card sheet to sign. I joked that she could easily steal our credit card number and low-and-behold, just yesterday my wife’s credit card was compromised and the only place we can track it back to is this upscale jacket store… I’m expecting the payments space to evolve in 2015, or at least want it to.

Home Security:  I’ve got multiple dropcams, nest, and a bunch of other electronic gizmo’s in my home.  I’m getting a bit worried that they could get compromised.  I’m unsure of the destruction that this could lead to (I guess someone can turn off my heat, take pictures with the dropcam, etc) but it’s real and a threat.  I pay an “alarm company” to monitor my home thru traditional methods but this does not cover the network of electronics that pretty much anyone with an internet connection could compromise.  The same way I used to install Norton Antivirus, what will I install on my system to protect me and my gizmos? Some kind of firewall?  I have yet to install electronic locks on my doors as I imagine these are super easy to hack.

Video Content: The more that I watch my kids and their content consumption habits, I keep going long on video content.  I short the traditional networks and long YouTube.  I have to imagine however that the next “YouTube” is on it’s way.  I do not seeing video content being a winner-take-all market.  I have written about in the past and recently about studying content consumption.  More and more content will be created for digital means first – and I’m going to be consuming a bunch of it in 2015.  You should check out @GaryVee’s latest video series if you want to see low-cost video done right.

Content Consumption:  I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about content consumption and it’s evolution.  Instead of focusing on video content and the production capacity as above, I’m thinking more innovation around filters and curation tools.  I use Nuzzle today similarly to how I used Summify (though I still miss Summify!).  I want more tools to help me comb thru the vast world of content and point me in the right direction of what to consume.    Why 2015?  Because we’ve seen success in some of these tools over the past few years and with the prevalence of apps on everyone’s smart phones, we’ll see more tools being downloaded.  There have also been a bunch of companies who have gone down the content consumption path and a lot of talent/people who have led experiments and hypothesis.  The time is ripe.

I’m interested in all of these areas.  If you’re an entrepreneur or investor in these areas, I’d love to hear from you.


(1) Payments:  I know that payments is an insanely broad topic with multiple forks.  I am specifically looking at the last mile – where the consumer interacts with a person or point-of-sale to initiate and complete a transaction.

First Week with Surface Pro 3

Some people say advertising doesn’t work… but it worked on me.  After seeing countless ads for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and watching how that keyboard “clicks” into the tablet, I decided to go to the local Microsoft Store (in Westchester Mall in New York) and see what all the fuss was about.  And apparently once the NBA season starts, we’ll be seeing all the announcers using these tablets.  Good job to whoever does the media buying for Microsoft!

MySurfacePro3I have a Macbook Air for work and a Nexus 7 tablet for travel.   I am on plenty of airplanes – almost every other week is either a cross country flight or a global one… so having a device that has solid battery life is a must.  My wife and I recently went away on holiday and I only brought my Nexus Tablet… I absolutely loved having such a light device but I didn’t like the input function… typing on the small screen.

My rationale for the Surface Pro 3 was that the device has better input:  the keyboard. I won’t bore you with the in-store experience but it was actually better than I had anticipated (I still talk to one of the guys as he gave me his business card)  and I have had the computer now for over a week.

After the first 2 days, I told my wife and my colleagues that I was going to return it.  I figured that it wasn’t a tablet.  It’s not.  As much as Microsoft calls this device a tablet…it just isn’t.  It’s too damn heavy.  I think it weighs just under a Macbook Air… if you try holding that for a prolonged period of time, it just weighs too much.  No beach reading with it in my future.  I don’t know why it’s considered a tablet other than for business reasons.

So I was going to return the tablet and luckily had 30 days to do so for my full money back.

Then I realized that I actually liked the experience of the machine.  I like the Windows tiles.  I like being able to multi-task and have up to three windows/programs open on the device.  I like that Firefox works on this device unlike current iOS devices.  And the battery life is pretty good.  Oh, and it has additional monitor support so I’m actually typing this post on the Surface but looking at my desk monitor while typing.

This thing is a desktop or laptop replacement.  The Surface Pro 3 will be my home “laptop” so I don’t need to lug my work computer home each night.  For travel, I bought a Logitech keyboard that pairs with my Nexus tablet (Firefox add-on Invisible Hand got me $30 off!).

I’m enjoying it…. just thinking of it as a tablet was incorrect.  This thing is too big.  But pretty cool at the same time.  And btw – I’ve not owned nor recommended a Microsoft device in over a decade.  Should you buy one?  That’s up to you but at least consider one if you’re in the market for a new laptop or desktop.

FWIW, I can see this being the ideal college computer.

Net Neutrality & FCC

Please take a minute today and head over to DearFCC or any other site about #netneutrality and send the FCC your thoughts as the official comment period is coming to a close soon.  Note, I’m not endorsing DearFCC but I saw this tweet by my buddy Mark and if he’s recommending, I’ll do so as well:

If you are reading this, chances are you earn your living and/or get inspired by the Internet in one way, shape, or form.  What we have collectively been building for the past 20 or so years might change in its commercial intentions which benefit a small number of people.  This is not good for the world at large.

I rarely get political but for something that I’ve been a part of since it’s inception, I care deeply.


Why The Self Driving Car Might Actually Work

This week, the inaugural Code Conference took place on the West Coast and much of the buzz was about Google’s self driving car.  Google co-founder Sergey Brin unveiled the car and showed at least one video of a driver-less car which pretty much looks like a gondola.

(image from recode)

I’ve been thinking about self-driving cars for a little while now.  As you might (or might not) know, I enjoy cars.  I’ve blogged about the automotive industry a bit, I got to work on multiple automotive pitches on the agency side, and over the years frequent the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance to enjoy the culture of automobiles.  I’ve also owned my fair share of cars:  some that go fast and some that go slow.

I have a relationship with my cars.   Some cars I care about more than others.  But if I’m leasing, that relationship ends every 36, 39, or 48 months.  I’m onto my next car.   If I own a car, I’m looking at where I’ll achieve maximum value for my sale/trade-in and look to optimize for that.  Note, history tells us that the longer you hold onto an owned car, the more value you get out of it.   For me, value is not correlated to happiness- there might be a slight correlation, but I look to switch my cars more frequently than the typical American of 11.4 years.

As Google showcases it’s self-driving car, the definition of a car doesn’t change, but the value and utility it brings is very different.  Instead of having to worry about driving – and basically concentrating on the road, you now get [potentially] substantial time back in your day.

For me, I am in my car for about 30 mins each weekday.  15 mins to and from the train station.   While those 15 mins each way are not significant, when you add them up over a week, that’s roughly 2.5 hours that I’m sacrificing of my time to drive to the train.  Instead of buying cars that hug the road, sit low, and have 510hp, I can focus on the cabin of the car and basically ride in an office or living room on wheels.  Cars will have more Bentley interior amenities than Ferrari* amenities (though Ferrari is getting Apple’s CarPlay).

I digress.

My relationship is with technology when it comes to cars.  At the end of the day, a car is a set of wheels, an engine, and a lot of modern day computers. Cars today just work….. and for the most part they do.  I noticed my wife had a day-time-running light that was not working today… but that didn’t stress me out.  The car worked fine; when we have a free moment, we’ll bring it back to the dealership and have them fix the light.   Cars have become very utilitarian.

This used to not be the case.  If you ask your pops, your grandmother, or anyone else older than you, you’ll see that they had stronger relationships with cars.  Why?  Because cars used to be a lot more temperamental and they’d break.  They were also newer.  They were to the left on the gartner hype cycle.  When a car had issues, you put on your old jeans and you crawled under your car and fixed it.   You build a relationship with your car.  You might have even named your car.  Or kissed it.  My father named his old Land Rover, Sunny.  That name stuck with me.The self-driving car might actually catch on because replacing your car today is less emotional than ever (IMHO).  For most people**, your car is a utility and you are looking to maximize your efficiency in the day.  If you could check your email or text messages on the way to taking your kids to their soccer game, I’m sure you’d chose that over than actually driving the vehicle.

When we do adopt the self-driving car, the actual car itself will be commoditized (if not already) and will move to the fabric of life.  We won’t think about the car, we’ll think about everything we can do while in the car.


* If you’ve ever been in a Ferrari, you’ll be amazed at how little is in the car.  It’s about the driving experience, not the cabin experience.

** Not everyone falls into this bucket.  I’d personally want to keep a car that I could drive.  I get a lot of enjoyment out of driving and taking control of the road.




Some Good Reading for This Week

Been a super busy couple of weeks but wanted to highlight some posts/articles that have been getting my attention as of late:

The Internet of Things by Benedict Evans.  This man is smart and gets me thinking.  Great post.  Fred Wilson posts a follow-up this morning.

The NYC b2b list via Bowery Capital.  A major plus since the list has been open-sourced.

Economics of a Small VC by Charlie O’donnell.  Great recap of how a small VC operates and is a great primer for entrepreneurs to understand how that side of the ecosystem operates.

Who Will Fight for your Digital Rights?  by Andrew Parker.  Short but sweet post making you think about who will stand up for your rights/identity online.  Very Mozilla.

#codecon  Sorta upset (at myself) that I forgot to get a ticket and book my travel.  This conference flew under my radar.  Looking forward to attending next year.

Zero to One.  Blake sent me an advanced copy of his new book with Peter Thiel.  Excited to read it.

Fubnub.  Excited to check out this new project by uberhacker Kevin Marshall.  Should be a better way to take notes.  Also, Amol has a new co that’s focused on note-taking (which pushes email’s boundaries) as well called Knotable.  Check that out.

Any good posts I’ve missed?