Twitter killed the blog

lördag, januari 25, 2014

Presenting at the Digital Days

Just received this clip from presenting at the Digital Days of a large media company. Always impressed by companies that put that extra effort into also internal company meetings. Thanks Rikke, Niels, Mikkel & Co!

lördag, juli 30, 2011

Post Google Zeitgeist

It has been a great summer. After a great spring. After a few good years, as I wrote about a few months ago.

Upon return to the city life, I learnt that Google now have published the interviews and performances from Zeitgeist 2011, the one of its kind conference at the Grove in London, where I have been fortunate enough to have been invited over the past 3 years.

Below I wanted to point at some of the pieces that I enjoyed the most.

No 1: Google dare to bring up the difficult questions, putting together a panel with former extremists. Given recent developments this is an important discussion and was one of the real drop-of-a-needle-moments of the conference.



No 2: Jonathan Zittrain was back and I just love to listen to him both just purely as a speaker, but also from what he actually says:



No3: It was naturally also amazing to experience Stephen Hawking from front row:



As some of you might followed from @siwers, I also bambused the full speech here:



...but to be frank, the highlight version is good enough.

No 4: A star performance also came from Wahel Ghonim, the man behind the "Social media revolution" in Egypt. Impressive character, I suspect we will see big things coming out of this guy in the coming 20 years.



No 5: The CEO of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts, really live her brand. In this interview she speaks about a new world of non linear branding.



I was also myself captured on camera talking about the importance of being hungry, curios and not sleeping :-)



Or if you don't have the time, just watch the highlight video:



Thank you Google for an amazing - and important - experience.

lördag, mars 19, 2011

Match.com – my entrepreneurial love story

[This was published as a guest post for SIME]

Do we ever learn from history when it comes to business, a friend asked me recently.

I wanted to say yes, but then I thought a second time and realized that I very rarely neither look back nor make any attempt to summarize or analyze my own life and lessons learned in business.

Feeling slightly disappointed with myself, I decided to try to improve by taking on to look at the past 7,5 years when I have been running Match.com, and see what comes out of it. Realizing that time and stamina would be the main hurdle for a lazy 40+ executive, I decided to start my #recap of the past few years by twittering – that would make it doable wouldn’t it?

To my surprise, after pushing out a few tweets I started to group and structure my thoughts somewhat more, turning it into this blog post that I wanted to share with you: a blog testament of lessons learned after launching, growing and exiting a business.

- In 2003 I started looking at a small business that wanted to roll out in Europe. There was this US based company that wanted to make the transatlantic journey, after its initial success in the US. In Europe the category we talk about had just established itself, there was quite a large number of players, but there was no one investing/executing with a clear ambition to become the market leader, there were shaky and unpredictable business models as well as a significant stigma tied to the category. Having done my research, I prepared a business case assessment for the owners, concluding that this was a great business that was bound to explode. When I was asked to take on and also execute the plan, I was ridiculously excited and I was not overly hard to convince to run the roll out of match.com on behalf of InterActive Corp and Mr Barry Diller.

The starting point was:
- a category with dozens of local players, lacking scale, ambition and execution
- a highly stigmatized type of service, that needed to reshape one of the most basic aspects of human life: how to meet your partner
- a US company with a working economic engine, but lacking bandwidth to make a successful international roll out

What did we do?
- we built a bridge head in the 25 million populated Nordic region, being an internet savvy and e-commerce intense area, with among the highest ratios of single households in Europe
- we developed a network of partnerships with dominating players, local (Tv2 DK, SOL, Aftonbladet/Schibsted, Telia, Startsiden/Telenor, etc) as well as international (MSN, Yahoo, AOL)
- we configured a machinery for efficient customer acquisition within search, affiliation, display and every other available channel
- in parallel we grew a strong, passionate team on the ground, being able to handle e.g. product localization (in multiple geographies, languages, currencies, etc), PR, brand marketing, social media and customer care

What was the result?
- we built the dominating player, in terms of revenue, users and brand recognition - becoming the largest non English speaking region globally for the company in terms of revenue
- we were awarded Best E-commerce company (SIME), Campaign of the year (Media Week) and were proud to be celebrated for our success in building one of the more successful online businesses in the region
- we changed one of the most basic human aspects of life, where official data show that today 23% of relationships starts online (SIFO)
- we exited when merging match.com in Europe with French Meetic [MEET, listed at the Paris Stock Exchange], creating a dominant European player with a market capitalization of approx €400m.

So what were my lessons learnt?

FOCUS
* The effect of doing a few important things right is so much greater than doing many things in chaos
* Saying yes is easy, saying no requires character – dare to be brutally honest
* Don't do 'one offs', impact comes from coordinated efforts, thinking 360 degrees in everything you do

DATA & CELEBRATION DRIVEN
* If you can’t measure it, it does not exist
* Structure, control and understand your data
* Make your points of celebration holy – and measurable

PROVIDING VALUE
* Irrespective of short-term monetary considerations, you only win the end game by providing the end customer with most success
* In a transparent world, you can't fool people. In a fully transparent world you need to be true. True to what the purpose is in what you try to achieve

STORYTELLING
* Stories matter
* Stories give life. Stories turn random into to order
* Stories give meaning. Meaning create passion

NON-MONETARY GOALS
* Making money is not a business idea
* Few people are passionate about making someone else rich. Therefore egocentric goals cannot drive any business
* Earning money therefore becomes an irrelevant goal, for any business that wants to make a difference, and for any business that wants to be truly successful

TAKING ON CHANGE
* Very few people like change. Still change is the only thing that will be constant
* As a leader you are paid well to be agnostic to direction, as long it is the right thing for the business
* Be clear beforehand what metrics you want to impact initiating a change, so you can validate your change of direction over time

PEOPLE
* Passion beats seniority
* Ability to adapt to change beats analytical skills
* In an Internet company, traditional skills are only valuable if accompanied by an “Internet DNA”

FUN FACTOR
* It's important, but it is a job. It's important, but it is a game. It’s important but it's fun, so laugh at it. It's fun so enjoy.

And surely, I have enjoyed the past 7,5 years with Match.com immensely.

But now it’s time for a new chapter, even if I am sticking around as a grand old dad and advisor to the company and new owners.

This time I will make sure to recap more often and if you are curious of what I am up to, you find me on Twitter as @siwers using the hashtag #recap.

söndag, juli 25, 2010

Me and Boris Johnson having a bad hair day at Zeitgeist 2010

Google have released the "Think with Google" interviews from Zeitgeist 2010, you find more here. As you an see below, I was not the only one with a bad hair day :-).



My own contribution you find in the three clips below.



söndag, april 11, 2010

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

You have probably seen this speech by Steve Jobs already. If not, watch it. If you have, watch it again. If you have watched it again, return regularly to watch it yet one more time.

lördag, december 19, 2009

2010 och tredjevågens internetentreprenörer

Under hösten har jag snöat in på tredjevågens entreprenörskap inom internetrelaterad verksamhet. Detta hade också fångats i SvD, där jag hittade ett citat från mig:

"- Vi verkar vara på väg in i en ny era i Norden, tredjegångsentreprenörernas era. Det började med Jolt-generationen, representerade av till exempel Spray, som under mitten av 90-taletbyggde en industri från grunden, med bas i det nya Internetparadigmet. Sen kunde vi se en andra våg i efterdyningarna av den havererade "nya ekonomin" under 2001/2002, med Skype som den tidens guldkalv. Nu börjar vi se en tredje våg av erfarna och talangfulla team, som har driv och erfarenhet av att bygga lyckade (och mindre lyckade) bolag. När man bygger hus sägs det att man får det rätt tredje gången. Det tycks vara på samma sätt med tredje vågens online-entreprenörer, säger Johan Siwers, VD för Match.com Nordics"

Skulle kunna säga detta igen.

Kombinationen med fortsatt - sannolikt till och med förvärrade - lågkonjunktur, accelererande (ungdoms-) arbetslöshet och ovan gör att 2010 kan bli ett riktigt spännande år - för den som vill etablera verksamhet online.

Läser lite reflektioner på hur 2010 kommer att utvecklas, tex:

- Mark Anderson - SNS predictions for 2010
- och med lite mer tveksamhet Baba Vanga's spådomar: 2010 börjar tredje världskriget.

Min enda spådom är att kärlek i alla fall kommer vara viktigare än någonsin 2010.

torsdag, november 19, 2009

Real value is created during the Silent Years

A few weeks ago I was asked to guest blog for the SIME site and I thought I would post it here at my digital home as well.

"Below is a guest post written by Johan Siwers, Managing Director of Match.com Nordics. Johan Siwers is a seasoned online media executive with a passion for entrepreneurial game changing companies. Johan has over the past 15 years been involved in breaking ground for a wide range of media and online media ventures within companies like Kinnevik, Spray, Schibsted and InterActive Corp (IAC). Johan is also part of the SIME Awards jury.

I recently sat talking to some friends and fellow online veterans. We started talking about a number of companies that we remembered as the cool and hot media darlings of the online world only a few years ago, but that we lost track of. What had happened? Did the founders loose interest, did they scale down their business when they were about to run out of cash or did they simply go bust? What happened with Polar Rose – Technology pioneer at WEF 2008; and Table Finder – Seed camp winner 2007 or Rebtel – celebrated internationally and raised $20 million in 2006. What about Jaycut - Årets nykomling IW 2007?

We started to unwind 10-15 stories of these and similar hyped companies in a non academic way and found some interesting cases:

1) About a third of the companies had actually gone bust, sold or merged in a way that had left very little value remaining
2) Another third was still in business, but was just barely struggling to survive and had lost most of their visions
3) The last third had realized headlines in the media does not pay the bills. They had gone silent, worked on their business model and come out on the other side with a strong offering and business.

In the first category the “entrepreneur” could often be stereotyped into a financial entrepreneur, i.e. a person that put the monetary aspect of running a business first – "I want to become rich". The second category had entrepreneurs that lost the sparkle in their eyes. They often seem to have a problem accepting that they were not saluted success stories any longer – and as success junkies they lost their drive and momentum. The third category of entrepreneurs and companies kept working hard on their value proposition during Silent Years, learnt from their mistakes and step by step they created a strong and solid foundation for their business. The initial media attention gave them a kick start, but that was more coincidental than part of a plan or reason for being. Many times these entrepreneurs had tweaked and adjusted their initial idea quite drastically, and landed with an improved execution better adapted to reality. The improved execution did not always include the-sky-is-the-limit approach any longer, but all showed a sound profitable company.

The Silent Years showed that these entrepreneurs were never in it for the love of making money, not for the love of seeing them self in the news paper but for the passion of creating something out of a core idea or insight. Tetra Pak lost money the first 15 years. It took IKEA 15 years to start its first store out side of, it took H&M 17 years to do the same.

So, what would those stories tell us?
- If you want to get rich, don’t plan on getting rich
- If you have a calling, work with it, twist and turn, to get it to become a real business
- Most business ideas are not invented, they grown up hand in hand with passion and hard work over longer - often Silent - periods of time

- - -

So what did happen to the four companies mentioned in the beginning of the post? Tablefinder ended up in category 1 (while Swedish category companion Livebooking raised 16 million USD this summer). Jaycut? I had lunch with the founder @jonashombert the other day and Jaycut is clearly in the third category, working hard and successfully executing on their updated and improved business plan. For Polar Rose the jury still seem to be out on whether they will end up in category 2 or 3, but given the talent and track record of the entrepreneurs they will likely end up in the preferrred category number 3. Finally, Rebtel, that after some struggle have – as founder Hjalmar Winblad would say it – ”been digging in the dirt” (sv. ”grisat på”) and despite lack of very much public numbers it is evident that they are in category 3.

tisdag, oktober 27, 2009

Revisiting my RSS feed

Revisited my RSS feed today, haven't thought about my Google reader in ages these twitterdays. A few things stood out in the flow:

* Spotify CTO Andreas Ehn leaving, Spotify will continue their journey, supported by their massive momentum. I guess still tough for the Spotify team to loose such a valuable player in their line up
* Hasse Eriksson, former head of Myspace Nordic, to become CEO of Bambuser. Look forward to see if Mr Eriksson can make a business out of a great story
* My old boss Barry Diller sees no major acquisition coming up, which goes in line with a number of events happened last year around some of the people I know better
* More cuts across the board at Forbes - ouch, traditional media is suffering big time. No news
* Chinese search giant Baidu continues to grow, Q over Q sales were up 39% for Q3, to $187 million. Search is important, even in China
* Surprise visit by Sergey Brin at Web 2.0 Summit, hope he enjoys being a surprise visitor in the real world, still guess he would still like to start up something new, if he could

Flight to Copenhagen in a few hours, better get to bed.

onsdag, oktober 21, 2009

Great TED Talk about intangible values, royal potatoes and diamond Shreddies

I got a tip from Fredrik Härén on the clips below, from TED Global this summer.

Rory Sutherland is talking on intangible values and has loaded his talk with some great cases of marketing and brand building.

My favourite case is the example about Shreddies and the introduction of Diamond Shreddies, this is in the second half of the second clip.

The Talk is a just crowded with one liners and great quotes, watch it.

Part 1:


Part 2:

söndag, oktober 04, 2009

The third wave of Nordic Internet Entrepreneurship

I am just about to hand in my final SIME jury votes for the Mighty 36. And my excitement is growing by the minute about what is cooking in the Nordic entrepreneurial kitchen.

I am getting more and more confident that we are up for an unprecedented period in the Nordic online history where Skypes, Spotifies and Livebookings will pop up in numbers. Just like within the music industry where ABBA/Blue Swede/Europe/Roxette/etc created a cluster from which the Swedish music export wonder was built, we are heading for an era of the same kind within the online entrepreneurial world.

I wrote here more than a year ago about the "third Internet wave" and the forecast from back then is materialising more and more. When SIME asked me for a quote about the state of entrepreneurship in the Nordics, for their release about the SIME Awards nominees, I said something similar pointing at that we are seeing "the third time around entrepreneurs".

The comparison I made was that it is often commonly referred to that when you build your first house you make a lot of beginner mistakes. When you are on to build the second house you are avoiding making the same mistakes. The third attempt building a house is when you have a comfortable holistic view of the project at the same time as getting it right in the details.

In today's SvD there is an article presenting some of these promising companies and entrepreneurs. It is great to see how SvD is presenting Ted, Sorosh, Daniel, etc as the heroes they are and I am sure these kind of - well deserved - media attention is fuelling even more potential entrepreneurs to give their ideas and visions a shot.

Can't almost wait, it is going to be some fun years to come!