I, Cringely on Adobe’s Macromedia Acquisition

PBS | I, Cringely . June 23, 2005 – No Flash in the Pan

…Conventional wisdom says that Adobe needs this acquisition to bulk-up for the inevitable conflict to come with Microsoft. Conventional wisdom is occasionally wrong, however. I’m not saying that the acquisition makes no sense. Quite the contrary, I support it. But the lack of competition from Microsoft in Adobe’s traditional graphics markets comes down primarily to Bill Gates realizing that Microsoft simply hasn’t been in a position to compete with Adobe on a technology-for-technology basis. Gates tried to undercut Adobe’s PostScript with Microsoft’s TrueType fonts back in the late 1980s and was taken to the woodshed by Adobe. The professional graphics market wasn’t willing to give Microsoft the three tries it generally needs to get something right.

What’s changed is not the companies (brain-for-brain Adobe is still smarter in its niche), but the market. Microsoft’s endless quest for new revenue lines has settled on PDF as a target for its new Metro product, not just for graphics professionals, but for all of us.

The other thing that has changed is the mobile market, especially mobile phones — the PCs of tomorrow. Macromedia is making progress in the phone market and Adobe, for the most part, isn’t, hence the acquisition.

So it is a good deal all around, especially if Adobe can learn from Macromedia how to have fun.

But let’s get back to Flash for a moment, because I really do believe it is the key to this deal. What’s key about Flash is not just that it is installed on nearly every computer in the world, and that its influence is extending now into mobile phones. What’s key is that we all upgrade to the latest version of Flash as a matter of course, making it the ideal Trojan horse program of all time.

Let’s say Adobe/Macromedia had some little bit of code – a VoIP client, for example — they wanted to bring to market. Just make it part of the next version of Flash. Over the course of a few months and practically without effort, that little program would be installed and ready to go in hundreds of millions of computers. Then all Adobe would have to do is to announce it and the service could be up and running practically overnight. That’s the kind of market clout that not even Microsoft has. And that’s what makes Macromedia a bargain for Adobe even at $3.4 billion.

George W. Bush: “No nation can negotiate with terrorists.”

Whiskey Bar: Negotiating With Terrorists

No nation can negotiate with terrorists. For there is no way to make peace with those whose only goal is death.

George W. Bush
Remarks to Reporters
April 4, 2002

After weeks of delicate negotiation . . . a small group of insurgent commanders apparently came face to face with four American officials seeking to establish a dialogue with the men they regard as their enemies. The talks on June 3 were followed by a second encounter 10 days later, according to an Iraqi who said that he had attended both meetings . . . further talks are planned in the hope of negotiating an eventual breakthrough that might reduce the violence in Iraq.

The Sunday Times of London
US ‘in talks with Iraq rebels’
June 26, 2005

Wow. So our administration is now making a distinction between “insurgents” and “terrorists”? So “insurgents” who car bomb innocent civilians aren’t terrorists?


Illegal in America, Yet it Makes a Fortune From its People

At PartyGaming, Everything’s Wild – New York Times

A giant in the online gambling business, PartyGaming is an often-overlooked megasurvivor from the dot-com crash of the late 1990’s. As hundreds of profitless commercial sites disappeared into the digital ether, PartyGaming’s popular gambling sites – like PartyPoker.com – soared, with revenues and profits growing exponentially year after year.

This week, the company will go public in what is expected to be the largest offering in years on the London Stock Exchange, one that will make billionaires out of its ragtag assortment of founders and major stockholders – including a California lawyer who earned her first fortune in online pornography and phone-sex lines. All told, as much as $9 billion is expected to be raised, with all of the cash going to private shareholders selling portions of their stakes.

But there will be no Wall Street investment houses lapping up fees in the giant deal, no victory dances in the offices of American corporate lawyers. That is because PartyGaming, based in Gibraltar, has no assets in the United States, and its officers or directors could risk being served with a civil suit – or an arrest warrant – if they came to the United States on business.

The reason? The Justice Department and numerous state attorneys general maintain that providing the opportunity for online gambling is against the law in the United States – and PartyGaming does it anyway. Indeed, of its $600 million in revenue and $350 million in profit in 2004, almost 90 percent came from the wallets and bank accounts of American gamblers.

To justify this, PartyGaming walks a very thin line. Providing online gambling is not illegal per se in the United States, the company argues – federal prosecutors just say it is. The company has already received an e-mail message from the Louisiana attorney general demanding that it cease providing online gambling in that state; PartyGaming simply ignored the communication and waited for additional action that never came.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Relinquish Control

Peter adaptive path: Peter Merholz: how i learned to stop worrying and relinquish control:

…Again and again, the history of the Web shows us the value of relinquishing control. Amazon’s customer comments were originally thought foolish by those who believed negative reviews would hurt sales. Instead, they increased trust, which drove more transactions. eBay’s open marketplace eschews centralized control of buyers and sellers, instead favoring a distributed management system where individuals rate one another. Not coincidentally, Google, Amazon, and eBay have all made available their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) so that others can leverage their information in unforeseen and innovative ways.

Many designers find it remarkably difficult to relinquish control. As Jeff found out when judging an interactive design competition, designers will go to great lengths to control the user’s experience – popping up windows or resizing them, placing everything within Flash, cueing music. They get so caught up in controlling the superficial form of the product that they neglect to appreciate the context of the experience.

The Web’s lesson is that we have to let go, to exert as little control as necessary. What are the fewest necessary rules that we can provide to shape the experience? Where do people, tools, and content come together? How do we let go in a way that’s meaningful and relevant to our business?

…Relinquishing control is a scary prospect because it diminishes certainty. With control comes predictable outcomes that you can bank on. But in this increasingly complex, messy, and option-filled world, we must acknowledge that our customers hold the reins. Attempts to control their experience will lead to abandonment for the less onerous alternative. What we can do is provide the best tools and content that they can fit into their lives, and their ways.

Networking Is Something I Suck At (Too)

Jeneane Sessum reviews this guide to best practices at LinkedIn and shares that she doesn’t follow any of them. Me neither. I don’t even use LinkedIn. That last warning “If you are spending more than an hour a day doing LinkedIn-related activities, reread the above” is rather scary ain’t it?

I read some related words words at Dave Winer‘s today is pretty revealing: “The schmoozing at this conference has been excellent. World class. Lots of the right people in the room.”

Lots of the right people in the room.

I realize that “networking” is something that you need to pursue as an activity in this world where we are each is “brand of me” – but man…


Ya want to know the Karl Martino guide to networking? Probably not since I’m not an expert – but this works for me:

1. Be honest with friends, family and co-workers.

2. Be open with friends, family and co-workers.

3. Be honorable with them and the rest of the world.

4. Reach out, ask questions, and say thank you.

5. Keep in touch.

That’s it. But ya know – I’m not even a C-lister. So what do I know?