Thursday, July 12, 2007

For those coming from allthingsd.com: About Me

For those landing here because they read what I wrote about the new Nielsen/NetRatings measurements, here's a bit more on my background:

I have been a computer hobbyist/enthusiast since the early 1980s when I got my first modem. I launched Seidman’s Online Insider in September 1994 (though initially it was called ‘In, Around and Online’). My timing was good because the first launch of the Netscape beta was a couple of months later.

Then the following summer based largely it seemed on the success of Netscape's IPO there was suddenly huge interest in all things internet. For me personally it wound up being a very nice merging of avocation and vocation.

I am indebted both to Walt Mossberg and to Kara Swisher.

Because Walt wound up reading my newsletter and told other people to read it I wound up with both more readers and with more access to the companies and executives I wrote about. Microsoft, for example took a great interest in me. Initially I was naive enough to think it’s because Microsoft cared about what I thought, but I caught on pretty quickly that Microsoft is extremely smart about how it deals with “the press”. They probably did have some interest in what I thought, but really what interested Microsoft mostly was that Walt might wind up reading my thinking. Microsoft is very big on managing the influencers of the influencers. I did get more access as a result of Walt, and it certainly made some of what I wrote about better.

I already thought Mr. Mossberg was fabulous regardless because he is on a mission to truly make things easy to use and I believe he has made a difference and that things are easier to use. Walt is still at it though because things still aren’t as easy as they should be.

As for Kara, she provided me with one of the sweetest moments of my life. I wrote about AOL a lot because AOL was huge, and mostly I wrote about their ramp pre-web to acquiring Time Warner in 2000 (and then I didn’t really write at all until…now). Kara was one of a very small number of people who was as obsessed with AOL as I was. At one point I wrote something comparing AOL and CompuServe (which AOL ultimately acquired) and wrote something like that if the online services were the Mommas and the Poppas, AOL was Michelle Phillips and CompuServe was Momma Cass (based on the visual appeal of the software). Kara, who at the time was still writing for the Washington Post liked this comparison and wrote about it.

Although I was living in New York at the time, I am a Washington, DC native and spent most of my first 32 years in or in the suburbs of Our Nation’s Capitol, and it was pretty cool being written up in my hometown newspaper. But what was really cool was... A while after my grandmother died (just after turning 90), I saw my brother and he handed me an envelope and said, “This was in Nana’s wallet.” Inside the envelope, was the article Kara had written in the Post, my grandmother had clipped it out and stuck it in her wallet. It was very special to me.

My background for most of the 80s and early 90s was in telecommunications, but I switched to technology/product development in the early 90s (in addition to publishing an Internet newsletter). I worked for IBM for a while, and then I left to try to work for a publishing/media company (CMP Media) and then I had a little business with Mark Hurst of Creative Good fame, and then I wound up at Charles Schwab where I launched and ran Schwab’s outbound e-mail channel and ultimately was responsible for the “customer experience” for Schwab.com. I haven’t worked there (or anywhere else) since 2002 though, so I take no credit or blame for anything currently happening on that web site!

These days I am all about San Francisco and 72 degrees, sunny and beautiful in the middle of July. Oh sure by 8pm, I might be freezing, but I don’t miss the heat or the humidity and I don’t have to go very far at all if the goal is to be warmer.

I’m also all about the iPhone. I wouldn’t recommend it as-is to everyone, but it’s the dawn of truly portable computing and you can get a very good idea of the way things will progress regardless of the fact that it’s not currently perfect. I don’t buy into all the anti-hype hype. It’s the first generation, I didn’t expect it to be perfect. I believe Windows Vista is the 8th or 9th release of Windows, but it was the first one that I felt, “Wow, it finally more or less works exactly as it should!” The iPhone already mostly (60% of the way there) very efficiently combines phone, iPod and laptop into one device.

Finally, I’m all about (except for my little couple of week iPhone obsession) TVbytheNumbers.com, which won’t be available until September. I’m launching this with my good friend and former AOL exec., Bill Gorman who lives about 6 blocks from me in San Francisco.

We both have a love of numbers and analyzing them and we are both very much sometimes perplexed about what Bill calls “the drama of the inefficient auction” that takes place between television executives and advertising executives. About 2 months ago I was looking for some numbers and it occurred to me that the numbers (even those publicly available) about the television industry are spread out all over the place – there is not one central location. At one of our regular lunches I brought this “hole in the blogsphere” up with Bill and the offshoot of that is TVbytheNumbers.com. We won't just be aggregating numbers though, we’re going to help make some sense out of the numbers. This won’t make the auction any more efficient, but it will hopefully help people be more efficient in how they think about the drama. Stay tuned…

I can be reached at robert.seidman at gmail.com

1 comment:

Dotty Sanders said...

Windows Vista!
You had to mention it!
I just got a new HP computer and it uses Windows Vista ---- it may become a wonderful THING when it becomes compatible with more program.
It's not even compatible with Yahoo Toolbar.
Sure wish my old Windows Program would have stayed.
When they work out all the kinks, like constantly disconnecting from the net, or letting you download an update with out
disconnecting you... , right now, Vista is " a peace of Trash."