Steve Grossman


Information in the information age

People + Questions = Social Media

Despite their status as a pseudo-competitor to my sister company (how’s that for an opening line?), I have to hand it to for a new feature that perfectly explains “Social Media” and why most explanations are wrong. reports that “ rolled out a new sharing tool that basically can
push out potential vehicle selections through Facebook and Twitter.”

“”Before making a purchase, car buyers often turn to the people they
trust most to help them with this important decision. We wanted to make
it easy for shoppers to share cars of interest with their friends and
family,” explained Bill Swislow,’s senior vice president of

Why the “perfectly explains” comment? Because there’s no mystery to social media – it is and will ALWAYS be people interacting. Anything that encourages or empowers interaction will succeed and the opposite is true as well.  In this case there are people who want help to turn to their friends for help with the important question of “should I buy this car?” Nothing new about that.

Filed under: Life_technology, Social_media, Trends

Questions + Seth Godin = WOW!

I’m posting a link to this Untemplater video interview of Seth Godin on all my blogs today for two reasons.

1.) It’s brilliant and I’m not exaggerating. If you are wondering what’s going on the world today – financially, socially, etc., etc., – this interview covers most all of it thoroughly and insight-FULLY in ways you will not find anywhere else. Not only does Seth see the big pictures, but he puts them in dead-simple terms that will impact your life. At least I hope they will. Two quotes:
– “The future will not be like the past only shinier”
– The current economic template “was invented by people who owned factories”

I cannot oversell the importance of watching this video and paying attention to what’s said.

2.) From a web interconnected, new business model perspective – which is largely what this blog is about – relevant information does not come better than this.


Filed under: Business_models, Society, Trends

Too much stuff = confusion = opportunity

More evidence found today about what I believe we’ll see next online – acquisitions, mergers and convergence. Why? There’s too much information in the world, and it’s growing everyday. As Steve Rubel says here, “more information will be created in 2009 than all prior years.” Not prior years online, or prior years in your life, ALL PRIOR YEARS.

So how are you keeping up? You’re not.

But don’t worry, no one else is either and the need will bring the next wave of opportunity online.

The Steve Rubel post correctly describes one of the growing trends dealing with this overload: curation. He sites several examples of sites that are designed to find, sort and deliver relevant information to interested niches. Give it time, there will be niches of every sort and variety.

Social Media
And then there’s the six trends in the Social Media space described by David Armano. The two that stand out to me are his take on “serious play” – game based services that reward participants – and the growth of mobile. Both of these will sort and filter content: “games” will give us what other people in our network deem relevant and mobile will, by it’s nature, deliver information filtered by proximity.

But these will only be steps towards where we’re going as long as all the services remain disconnected and focused on THEIR interests. For example: I’m interested in Marketing, Social Media, the music business, auto industry (mostly wholesale) and my friends in TN and across the world. Some of my friends are on Facebook, others are on MySpace and still others are on LinkedIn. American Express’ Open Forum covers many of the business topics I mentioned and so does BusinessWeek. The problem is they also cover all other aspects of business and industry. So on any given day I have to sort through these curators to find what I want as well as the three Social Network sites named above.

It’s doable, but how much am I missing? Lots.

The coming years will see the acquisitions, mergers and convergences of all these services into hubs. Hubs that will be customizable and powerful in the way they’ll pull (and push) information based on detailed preferences.

What do you think? Would that help your life?

Filed under: Business_models, Life_technology, Social_media, Society, Trends

Unrelated stories = future

Three unrelated BusinessWeek stories caught my eye today that pointed to a future I’ve written about here and here.

First, a report on Microsoft’s decision to give external programs access to Outlook’s e-mail, calendar and contacts. It is an unusual move for them, but one that clearly speaks to the move towards fewer walls and more data integration despite software programs and web domains. It’s a smart move.

Next is a story about Jaguar jumping to “Google Mail and other cloud software – saving millions of pounds.” The story outlines the difficulty in making the switch, but also mentions that it is a strategy “of simplification, standardisation and modernisation”. Um, yeah. It’ll also give them access to integrations and mashups that haven’t even been invented yet.

Last, a report on Twitter’s Business Model. No really. David L. Smith presents the best article on the subject I’ve read as he presents a number of possible revenue streams for the micro-blogging site. The one that stood out was this one:

Network marketing

The larger Twitter grows, the more the connectivity between users benefits all. But there is gold beyond the conversations that are going on. The pure connectivity in itself is valuable. While Twitter may not run advertising, many companies would love to license the right to target people using what is called “birds of a feather” targeting: identifying a group of people with a common interest and then expanding that target by finding others with similar interests. A number of companies are doing this right now, while honoring privacy; they don’t have to know who the people are.”

Though I’d not thought of it in terms of Network Marketing before, this is exactly where I believe we’re heading and I don’t believe Twitter will be the only one. We’re about to see a huge movement towards consolidations and acquisitions and the beginning of scalable revenue streams. One of them will be co-branding between users and companies.

Think I’m right or wrong?

Filed under: Business_models, Life_technology, Society, Trends, Work_technology

Blog Action Day + Climate Change = No Worries

Today I am writing in tandum with thousands of bloggers around the world taking part in blogactionday, an annual event powered by I don’t agree with everything they do, but like the opportunity to discuss this years topic, Climate Change, and why I’m not worried about it.

I’m not worried about Climate Change because people smarter than I are inventing things like these:

– Vehicles: Suzuki, for example, will preview three fuel cell concepts at the upcoming 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. The vehicles themselves are interesting, but the neatest thing is they each represent a different technology. There’s a plug-in electric car with a small generator motor for longer distances. A hydrogen fuel cell powered scooter and a sort of wheelchair like “personal mobility vehicle” that uses replaceable methanol fuel cell cartridges.

Yeah, I know we’re a ways away from sustainable alternatives to gas engines, but they’re coming.

– In the mean time, there are companies like Zipcar and, two companies in the growing short term rental industry. I’m particularly impressed with Gettaround because it seeks to repurpose existing vehicles that would normally sit dormant during the day (meaning it facilitates the short term rental of YOUR car. And yes, you share in the revenue).

– On a completely different note, Slate brings our attention to garbage in the form of the BigBelly solar-powered trash compactor. It runs off the sun, provides a 5-to-1 reduction in volume which translates to less frequent pickups – saving fuel and labor costs in the process. And oh yeah, it can send a txt message when full, eliminating wasted trips.

And finally, my favorite:

– London’s Club4Climate disco features an electricity generating dance floor. And while the linked article only talks about the club, other places under consideration for the technology include airports and malls.

So I’m not worried because people much smarter than I are figuring out how to make zero-emission, zero fuel vehicles that will get us to malls, offices, schools and airports powered by our foot traffic.

What a wonderful world it will be.

Filed under: Life_technology, Smart_technology, Society

This video = the future of business

I saw the video below today thanks to Chris Brogan. Click here if you can’t view.

SOUR ‘日々の音色 (Hibi no neiro)’

At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss this as another example of the young people of today wasting time online. And perhaps there’s truth to that too. The video doesn’t actually DO anything, right? It’s not selling anything or espousing a message, nor making money directly or indirectly. But I see the future of business.

A future that must have vision, technology and expression.

This video represents the willing and joyful participation of people all over the world. People engaged in the experience of collaborating to make something bigger than themselves. Something that couldn’t happen without the technology and the participation. Participation that allowed them to be fully themselves while contributing to the whole.

And the result is a powerful video. And Linux. Firefox. The Ap store.

And the future of business.

Filed under: Business_models, Society, Trends

Microsoft = Kidding? = No

Thanks to my Pastor, I was introduced to this blog post about something I had not heard about: Microsoft Windows 7 Launch Parties.

No really. Here’s Microsoft’s instructional video.

Thankfully I don’t have to say anything humorous about the fact that Microsoft has the worst marketing of any company on the planet, it’s already been said:

From Wired magazine: “The “House Party” video is part of their training. Training for throwing a party: how very Microsoft.”

From CNBC: ““I’m beginning to think that no one involved with Microsoft’s advertising has ever left the house or spoken to a real person,” Ian Douglas” and “About the only real moment was when, in a nod to Microsoft’s patch-y past, hipster white guy advises party hosts to “Play with Windows 7 before the party.”

Even they know it’ll likely crash during the party. Amazing.

Which is Microsoft’s way of admitting Ryan Stemkoski question is a real possibility: “Of those (parties that actually occur) what percentage do you think will be interrupted by a frozen Windows 7 machine?”

For more laughs, do a Google search and make sure to read the comments too.

As CNBC mentions: “one Washington Post reader wrote: “If Microsoft had been put in charge of marketing sex, the human race would have ended long ago, because no one would be caught dead doing something that uncool.””


Filed under: Business_models, Marketing

Manheim + Training = Award

I’m proud to have an opportunity today to brag on my company and several of my associates. Under the guidance and vision of Tabetha Taylor and Tony Ocasio, my company’s training department created an online training module for our 1200 plus vehicle inspectors that work at our locations throughout North America. This module was entered into the Web Marketing Associations annual WebAward Competition and it won the Employment Standard of Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development.

Read about it here.

The website offers a comprehensive and immersive learning experience covering the basics of vehicle imaging and inspecting. It’s an important part of the training philosophy that seeks to engage our employees in multiple ways. New hires are invited to participate in the training as a part of their initial onboarding. This provides a foundation on which the local certified trainer (at least one at every location) can build. In addition, members of the National Training team make periodic visits to all locations to conduct specialized training and certification testing.

I’m proud to be a part of a company that is embracing technology as a means to train and engage its workforce. Winning this award makes it all the better. Tabetha and Tony have had the vision for online training for years and I’m thrilled to see their efforts rewarded. My congrats to them, their team and web developers. 

Filed under: Trends, Work_technology

Product + Me = Success for Them So Pay Me

Mashable reports the possibility that iTunes 9 might integrate with Facebook, Twitter, etc. From Apple’s Social Media Strategy = iTunes? “At the heart of the supposed features is the ability to broadcast what you’re listening to…”

They go onto to discuss including short links to the music, movies, tv shows etc and how “that would directly translate to additional revenue for Apple. I couldn’t agree more.

I also think this is the tip of the iceberg as companies create better and better ways to piggyback on our online activities. And why wouldn’t they? At the heart of this trend is the fact that personal recommendations are the biggest factor in consumers decision making. Especially recommendations from friends. At the heart of this potential feature is a recommendation engine powered by you and me!

So where’s our take?

It’s the right question and I suspect we’ll see it answered in the coming years as the “everything’s free” model catches up with reality. There are costs involved in services like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The hype that is driving the free mania will die off and there will be bills to pay – with Advertising being the likely revenue source. But not blind spending like today. The advertising model will only succeed if it’s affective. And I beleive that will mean paying individuals their share too.

Here’s what I mean. As I said here, “We will someday pay for a service that assists us in living our lives and we will do it one of two ways: literally paying or by merging our interests with sponsorship. Sure some will pay, but the majority will be a part of the “influence economy” we’re already seeing develop. Countless studies are showing that the number 1 factor in purchasing decisions is the opinion of a friend. Couple that with the fact that people are excited to include brand support in their personal profiles (Facebook fan pages) and I beleive we’ll soon see personal sponsorship arrangements paying for online services.”

There will come a day when your Social Networking Hub – your online desktop – will be paid for by sponsors you LOVE that pay you to simply be you. And your friends won’t mind the advertising because they will know it reflects you and your tastes. It’s a win/win.

What are your thoughts? Would you pay for a service you love online by allowing a beloved brand to piggyback on your activities?

Filed under: Social_media, Trends

Pro Journalists + Reputation + Internet = Newspapers

According to this Wall Street Journal Market Watch post Newspaper web sites attracted 36% of all internet users in June – about 70.3 million unique visitors.

I find this fascinating. Fascinating because on the surface, newspapers are in massive trouble. Readerships are down, revenues are down and the future looks bleak. And there are truths to this perspective. The internet is systematically – organized or not – dismantling the business model of newspapers (and TV news too) and replacing it with an always on news source with up to the second alerts. Example? News of January’s airliner landing on the Hudson was broken on Twitter with a guy and a cell phone.

Yet despite these changes, 36% of the people using the internet are using it to visit Newspaper sites. Oh sure they’re visiting blogs, YouTube, Facebook and all the other stuff, but most have simply moved their reading habits online. Or, the internet has created a whole new audience for newspapers. My guess is it’s a little of both and I think it’s because of professional writing. The fans – old or new – of these sites have found that newspapers are still the best source for in depth reporting.

It reminds me of the music industry. Despite all you hear about the demise of the industry, the reality is that it’s exploding. Sure, CD sales are down, but. Well, so? People are not abandoning music, their abandoning a delivery method – just like with newspapers.

This is all symptomatic of the dawn of the information age. And I find it fascinating and exciting. I hope you do too.

Filed under: Society, Trends