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Election Day: With Some Help from Facebook, Google, Quora, etc

It's election day. Go vote.And Facebook, Google, Quora and others are here to help how best they can. Three screenshots from those three companies because they have put together really great, on-brand and on-experience products to assist: 1. Facebook's social vote campaign. As only Facebook can do, encouraging voting in a social way.

2. Google's Election hub which is outstanding. Polling info. YouTube streams. Candidates information. It is really outstanding. As only Google can do, a robust search and content hub across Google's properties and the web.

3. Quora's election themed digest - as only Quora can do, delivering great Q&A relevant to the election.

Quora & Twitter's Weekly Digests via Email. When Does Facebook's Arrive?

I write a fair amount the 'findability' problem that results from vast amounts of content (yes: it is a first class problem!). Curation - social, declared and algorithmic - plays a key role. Nevertheless, users still swim in oceans of available, interesting and timely content from platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Quora, Pinterest, etc... and that doesn't include media sources like the New York Times. So why am I writing an intro paragraph that looks so similar to many of my other posts? Because Twitter and Quora are attacking content overload in a simple way: terrific weekly emails (simple to the user!). That's an ordinary concept and runs the risk of getting lost in my inbox of too many messages filled with too much marketing. But the emails are:

1. really good looking - and optimized for mobile... where much of my email is read 2. rooted in social connections - notice that every article is surrounded by people I am connected with 3. really, really great content that I almost-certainly would have missed without the email... meaning: I want to read these

How long before Facebook creates a similar email? How long before Facebook verticalizes that for photographs and for links and for statuses?

What mobile apps have been successful without a web component?

Continuing to post select Quora answers on my blogyou can view them here.

A few obvious themes and a couple apps associated with them:

- Gaming. Games make up the majority of the most successful paid applications. Examples: Angry Birds, Cut The Rope, Electronic Arts, etc. - Photos. There are numerous successful apps around photos - either as a network (Path (company), Instagram, etc) or around functionality (Hipstamatic, etc). They are improving a core utility around the device itself. Neither Path nor Instagram launched with web components. And Hipstamatic and others are entirely on the phone.

- Local & Device-Related Companies. Applications where location and/or the device are required components. Examples like FlightTrack, Uber (formerly UberCab), Shazam, etc.

- Messaging & Communication. Kik, Beluga, GroupMe, Tango, etc

Polaris Insights Google Chrome Extension - Download Now!

What sites and apps do I use on a daily basis? Quora, LinkedIn, Crunchbase and a slew of Google Chrome extensions (which I've written about before). So why not put all of them together and create a Chrome Extension that reveals: - Funding and company history (from Crunchbase) - Employees and your connections (from LinkedIn) - Topics, questions and answers (from Quora)

... And that's what I did. Along with Matt Basta and Rob Abbott, we built the Polaris Insights Chrome Extension.

- Read more on TechCrunch: Quora + CrunchBase + LinkedIn = Best Extension Ever?

- Read more on ReadWriteWeb: Check Out My New Favorite Browser Plug-In, Built by a Venture Capital Firm

- Download Polaris Insights

Where in the Bay Area should I live to be a part of the startup action?

Continuing to post select Quora answers on my blog - you can view them here.

Below is my answer to the Quora question "Where in the bay area should I live to be part of the startup action?" And below that is an interactive map put together by Garry Tan. It's terrific and has notes on each community in San Francisco, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Berkeley, etc. I hadn't seen it - but worth playing with. The two major hubs of entrepreneurial activity are: SOMA in San Francisco (5th street and north, Market street and east), and Downtown Palo Alto

If you want to be around "the startup action", find a place in either of these hubs. So many start-ups are based in these areas because the train is accessible, the areas are walkable, and it consequently helps with recruiting.

For what it's worth: I've lived in both areas. They are equally great.

View Garry's SF Guide to Where Your Startup Should Be in a larger map

What are the do's and don'ts when introducing game mechanics in a website?

What are the do's and don'ts when introducing game mechanics in a website? Note: this is my answer to a Quora question. I post them to my blog from time to time... which you can view here.

People can chime in with specific, tactical responses to the question... but my simplest response is probably the best: Game mechanics must be natural, rewarding and straightforward.

Think about classic examples of game mechanics: - eBay's feedback rating - Twitter followers - MySpace friends - Amazing Review counts - Quora answer votes - etc.

They share the same common characteristics: the mechanics fit clearly into the site experience and are unique to that environment. Furthermore, they are integrated deeply enough into the product / experience that they are never interpreted as 'game mechanics'.

Sites struggle when game mechanics become one of two things:

1) a superficial layer - ala creating a badge strategy that is neither rewarding nor core to the web experience.

and / or

2) too complicated - for instance, badges and rewards for a myriad of activities. Simpler is easier to digest and therefore easier to incentivize. This too is exacerbated by not being core to the experience.

Should slides in a deck have boring solid colored backgrounds or images/snazzy backgrounds?

Should slides in a deck have boring solid colored backgrounds or images/snazzy backgrounds? Very much depends on 1) your goal, and 2) your audience.

If you are speaking at a conference, big visuals and builds can be quite powerful as they are fun / captivating. For big audiences, the message is as important as its delivery.

If you are speaking to investors or partners, too much imagery can come across as too much 'fluff'. I read dozens of decks each week - as most investors do - and have seen a trend towards text and product screenshots.

I generally believe simpler is better. And I generally like to feel as though more care was put into the content than the colors. Just my two cents!

If you are an investor for an early stage company, do you place more value on 1MM unique visitor or the ability to convert at 5%+ but only 1000 customers?

Trying something new: posting my Quora answers to my blog through the new Wordpress integration... Question: If you are an investor for an early stage company, do you place more value on 1MM unique visitor or the ability to convert at 5%+ but only 1000 customers? My answer: Ryan Spoon, Investor: Polaris Venture Partners

Very much agree with Keith Rabois' answer... with a slight twist: those 1,000,000 users need to have some 'conversion' metric of their own. That does not need to be upgrade / purchase rate; instead, it could mean engagement of some sort (usage, return, etc). It needs to show that the audience is active and lasting.

For most properties, it is easier to optimize for conversion than it is to optimize for growth. Reaching 5% conversion rate is promising but not necessarily extraordinary. Reaching 1,000,000 uniques (or more impressively: users) distinguishes yourself as a major audience.

Must Read Quora Threads for Startups

For entrepreneurs, Quora has become the new Hacker News: the go-to-place to glean great, rich information related to startups - culture, technology, product, design, history, financing, etc. It's all there and much of it is outstanding. My goal is help build a list of must read Quora threads for entrepreneurs and startups. This is by no means a comprehensive list - so I encourage you to share threads that are important / helpful to you and I will supplement the list. In no particular order, here is a list of Quora threads that I think are critically important to startups. I have tried to include content relevant to all avenues of entrepreneurship: from hiring to product to financing... and everything in between. And enjoy spending the next hour getting lost on Qoura =)

Must read Quora threads for entrepreneurs

Building a Great Team

- What would the ideal web technology start-up team be composed of?

- How does one hire really good product managers?

- What are the best ways for gauging or assessing product "spidey sense" during an interview?

- What is the best way to evaluate a potential startup to work at (full-time)?


- Are there examples of good start up term sheets?

- What are the top 5-7 questions a start-up CEO should ask of an angel investor early on, to determine if they and you (& your project) are a potential fit?

- What are the top qualities to look for in angel investors?

Startup Culture

- What key values led to early PayPal's culture of entrepreneurship?

- What companies are the best examples of great corporate culture?

Miscellaneous Startup Advice

- What percentage equity should an "involved" advisor receive?

- How do you get TechCrunch to cover your startup?

- What are the most common mistakes first-time entrepreneurs make?

- What is the most useful, shortest and most generally applicable piece of wisdom you know?

- If you could today send a tweet to yourself back when you were graduating high school, what would you say?

find me on Quora