March 2010 Archives
With my body still recoiling from the sleep deprivation obtained during the recent product launch I feel the need to divulge more about the industry Heyzap has entered. It's worth $1Bn and no-one has noticed it exists. Well, to be honest, when I say no-one, everyone in the Valley is talking about it but I never appreciated its potential until I arrived.
I'm referring to Social Games, those procrastination tools on facebook such as Farmville and Mafia Wars. Behind these innocent looking distractions lurks an industry worth $650M in 2009.
However, the truly remarkable aspect of this industry is its sheer growth, with revenues looking to hit over $1Bn in 2010. The shining light in this field is Zynga, makers of Farmville and Texas HoldEm Poker. It was only founded in 2007 but has already reached predicted revenues of $480M for 2010, in addition to a potential $3Bn valuation. Although this may sound like a rather steep estimate the true value can't be too far off, mainly due to an impressive expansion from 10M to 230M players in a mere 10 months!
So, the next time you buy a virtual tractor just remember the sheer revenue potential of 230M people doing the same thing.
Stuart McLean smiled and joked his way through the set of pictures.
The shots were taken in the the hi-tech training room (complete with fancy electrical blinds) at the Edinburgh headquarters of the till system design firm.
Below are a selection of the pictures which weren't printed in Business7.
Thanks go to photographer Lesley Martin from the Daily Record.
First off a confession as this blog entry may be slightly skewed by my rose-tinted personal experience.
You see I was one of thousands of primary school children taught to ski at the Midlothian Snow Sports Centre - known as Hillend to everyone - in Midlothian so have some quite fond memories of it.
Learning to snowplow, trying to grab the button tow properly, hurtling down the main slope with carefree abandon and laughing hysterically as friends fell over and hit the mat are all part of my childhood.
I'm not alone in having fond memories as a Facebook campaign with more than 26,000 members is dedicated to saving the facility.
Hillend's future, or lack of, has been on the agenda for the past few months with Midlothian Council struggling to subsidise what is now a loss making venture.
It seems a particularly relevant week to be talking about the multiple steps in our design process to have led Safetray to the stage it is at now.
If rumours are to be believed, our design process involved me scribbling down some sketches of an adapted food and drinks tray, sending them over to Fearsomengine and, BINGO, we had ourselves a revolutionary product.
How I wish it was that simple.
Fearsomengine were involved very early on in the design process. They wanted to have a look at a variety ways of stabilising trays before committing with certainty to my original idea of having some sort of solid retractable device that would slide in-between the fingers of service staff to provide the required support.
They say what happens in the United States eventually filters through to the UK.
So the evidence given by the United States Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke to the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C on February 10 makes for interesting reading.
In his written submission to the committee on the Federal Reserve's exit strategy from what he describes as the "extraordinary lending and monetary policies that it implemented to combat the financial crisis and support economic activity" he adds an interesting footnote.
He states: "The Federal Reserve believes it is possible that, ultimately, its operating framework will allow the elimination of minimum reserve requirements, which impose costs and distortions on the banking system."
The full text of Mr Bernanke's evidence to the committee can be read here
I have often wondered, when reading articles about such occurrences as housewives inventing devices for monitoring domestic energy consumption, how it is that somebody with absolutely no background in design or engineering can simply come up with an idea, have it manufactured and then bring it to market with lucrative rewards to follow.
Over the next few months I will be writing this diary to explain the ways in which I became that 'somebody' and to outline some of the pains and gains I experience along the way.
Perhaps at this point I should introduce myself. My name is Alison Grieve, a 32 year old single mother of twin boys living in Edinburgh.
After ten years of clocking up sales and marketing experience in Manchester, Australia and London, working for companies such as the QS Network and Lexis Nexis, I returned home to have my boys in 2004.
As you can imagine with an office in Silicon Valley that has a 50 per cent British workforce, the conversation can very often circulate around visas.
Generally this consists of trading techniques in avoiding deportation, spliced with random letters of the alphabet in reference to document types (J1, H1B, O1,etc). To any outsiders it must sound rather odd.
Recently there has been a sense of urgency about these chats due to changes in legislation.
THE news Scottish banks have been "unfair and aggressive" towards their most vulnerable retail customers will come as little surprise to their business customers.
The Scottish affairs select committee, made up of a panel of MPs, has found the taxpayer supported banks have been using what it described as "unsavoury practices" against its most vulnerable customers.
Examples provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau made for grim reading, with some customers complaining they were forced into taking loans to avoid defaulting on non-related financial products, excessive charges for overdraft extensions and rate hikes on credit cards - to name but a few.
Colin Borland, public affairs manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland said he welcomed the views expressed by committee.
He said the FSB in Scotland has for the last 18-months been highlighting similar "unfair and aggressive" practices levelled at small business customers by their lenders.
Rather than jump in with a kneejerk reaction I have taken a full 24 hours to consider my thoughts about the new logo for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The background, reasoning and blurb about the £95,000 design can be found here.
From a patriotic point of view it was nice Marque Creative beat more than 60 other competitors to win the design brief.
It's not really a surprise the logo has sparked a reaction with grumbles about how people preferred the original bid design to just not being very convinced by the update.
Apart from my duties at Heyzap, the last week has been taken up shadowing the top 20 U.K Cleantech entrepreneurs around the Valley.
UKTI, with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Polecat, was running its annual mission that takes the fastest growing businesses from a specific sector out to Silicon Valley for a week of wining and dining. This year it was the turn of the Cleantech sector.
Apart from forcing down fantastic food and drink at the evening celebrations (one such event took place at Michael Birch's house, founder of the social networking site bebo.com) it was a truly fantastic week.
I got the opportunity to meet an enlightening group of entrepreneurs who were truly on top of their game, developing and researching a broad range of products from Axial Flux Motors (Evo Electric), and it's not the same device used in the Back to the Future movie as I asked, to home energy monitors (DIY Kyoto). However, as always, things have to be put into perspective, these represent the top entrepreneurs, not the average!
A tip of the cap really has to be given to UKTI, the TSB and Polecat. It takes a lot for an organisation, especially in the U.K, to realise they aren't the best at something, in this case entrepreneurship and venture funding, and then act on it. UKTI did just this....how refreshing.
However, remembering back to my previous post that discussed the prospect of the U.K's best entrepreneurs moving out to Silicon Valley, especially with the possibility of the start-up visa. There was no answer from the TSB to the question I posed about talent drain. After all, there must be a fairly strong reason that one of the shining lights of U.K entrepreneurship, Michael Birch, now lives in San Francisco!
I must admit I was really shocked to hear reports that Steven Purcell planned to resign as leader of Glasgow city council.
I interviewed him for a feature on the economy of Glasgow in this month's Insider magazine a few weeks ago and he appeared to be very relaxed and on top of his game.
It sounds like the SPT controversy has taken its toll on Purcell which is a huge shame for Glasgow. He has done tremendous work with Glasgow city council and hopefully after taking a bit of a rest we will see him back playing a prominent role in Scottish politics.
I am currently researching a feature on the state of the Edinburgh's economy. Despite the credit crunch the city appears to be holding up quite well. However I would be glad to hear the views of Edinburgh businesses about how the city is doing and what needs to be done to make sure it retains its strengths. Please feel free to send me your views to firstname.lastname@example.org