It’s Not Just the Size of the Data but How You Use It

Last night we hosted the first DC Big Data meetup.  At Clearspring, when it comes to Big Data we process it.  9M domains, over 1B Unique Users per month and over 1 Petabyte of data per year.  You can check out the entire presentation Matt gave last night.  A lot of companies talk about Big Data, but in the end its all about how you use the data that matters.  Check out the presentation below.

Why Microsoft Had an $8.5B Over-Reaction with Skype

Many people have covered ad nauseum the Microsoft purchase of Skype yesterday and what it means to Microsoft and Skype.  I wanted an evening to think about it and what it means to the real time communication space.  I kept returning to the same question, why did Microsoft need Skype, forgetting the billions it cost them.

Microsoft Was Worried About Facebook
Microsoft’s Live Messenger team has been looking for ways to combat the damage that Facebook started inflicting to their network’s health in Western Europe.  They started acknowledging the issue a year ago when Microsoft added a bunch of Facebook integration into Live Services.  The issue is that, as I knew would happen with AIM, was that is like putting a band-aid on a giant leak.

Microsoft Needs a Distribution Platform for Communication Tools
I have an issue with this theory as well. Microsoft has a great consumer platform for real time communication in XBox360, they have the enterprise space, and a potential mobile solution with the Nokia relationship.

Microsoft Needs Help with Improving Video Technology
This is plausible until you consider that Microsoft is part of the patent pool for H.264 and the Skype acquisition does not give them technology like browser based video (though Skype has been working on it). Skype might be able to help them on mobile platforms but Skype’s architecture may end up hurting Microsoft more than help them with enterprise customers.

Microsoft Needs a Strong Consumer Brand
This is the best reason I can think Microsoft executives talked themselves into buying Skype. Is Microsoft now saying the consumer internet space is once again important to the company? If you go simply by the balance sheet that can’t be right. Skype is a verb, and that alone is always worth considering when buying a brand.

For Skype, I wonder if this will be any different than when EBay acquired them? It’s hard to integrate a real time communication platform into a company with an existing strategy. I do know that the acquisition worked beautifully for the investors. As for Microsoft, time will tell if they over paid, but after 24 hours to me it still feels like an over-reaction.

The Plight of University of Maryland Basketball

Gary Williams sudden retirement last week from a basketball program he lead for over 20 years put the spotlight back on those who question how good a coach he really was.  I was never a Gary Williams fan, and while he was a winner, he also was tough to work with and work for.  Gary’s dealings with former Athletic Director Debbie Yow are a perfect example where he publicly bashed her numerous times especially in 2008 when he did not get his way recruiting two individuals.

Many will point to his 2001-02 NCAA Basketball title and his other Final Four appearance, but it came at a time when top programs like Duke, Kansas, and UCLA were not getting top talent because high school kids were jumping straight to the NBA.  Maryland beat a weak Indiana team that had one marginal pro in the championship game.

What saddens me the most as a University of Maryland fan is that Gary never developed a strong coaching tree where he had a natural successor.  Rick Barnes, who was an assistant when Gary was at Ohio State, is by far the most notable.  The rest of the list is weak at best, especially for a coach that was at the same place for 22 years.  Compare that to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse or Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, both programs Maryland fans like to compare themselves to, where multiple natural successors are in place already, with former assistants lined up around the block if any of the successors don’t work out.  When Gary left, not one mention was made of trying to bring back someone who played at Maryland or coached at Maryland to take over.

Now we have a new coach in town in Mark Turgeon, who ironically enough comes from the Dean Smith coaching tree at UNC via Larry Brown at Kansas.  So while Gary’s legacy is a winning program and a 2002 NCAA Title, Gary also managed an 8% graduation rate and never developed a successor to the program.  Maryland is not a top 10 coaching job and it never was, and that we can thank Gary for.