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Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. His business interests include a diverse range of industries from manufacturing to property to technology. As a technology commentator he has a broad presence both in the traditional media and extensively online. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

More about Ben here.

6 responses to “Blackbox Republic – A Marketing Coup but Baseless Perhaps?”

  1. jeff nolan

    I thought about your question to me quite a bit last night. It’s impossible to answer whether or not Sam’s involvement is why I wrote about his new company because there are many variables, but I will point out that I get pitched things all the time and I’m just as likely to not write about something a friend is doing as I am.

    As it happened, Blackbox caught me as I was knee deep in research on social networks (specifically location based varieties) for affinity groups. Sam hit on several high notes that really connected with me, the trust factor in networks, the economic value of these communities, and most importantly how the generalized networks like Facebook simply are not working for affinity groups.

    On that last point, I am struggling with that as it relates to my nonprofit organization, we want to be in social media venues but the donors are not on Facebook and the limited branding capabilities present a real conundrum for us.

    Now that I have had an opportunity to air my thoughts on this issue let me turn it around and ask you a question… if Blackbox did not have the word “sex” in it’s description would you even question why people like me are writing about it?

  2. jeff nolan

    btw with regard to youcalc, on demand analytics is a tough sell. There are a ton of these companies out there and they all suffer from the same shortcomings… they are good at identifying an anomaly or trend, not so good at telling you what to do about it, and none of them get behind the firewall data very well.

    youcalc’s SFdC dashboard demonstrates this point rather well, there are all kinds of charts and visualizations about leads and opportunities but so what? This is a better version of Crystal Reports, it’s not an app that is telling me how to improve something I do.

  3. Ben Kepes

    Jeff – totally appreciate the reply – it’s great to have some reason rather than knee jerk attacks. Appreciate the honesty and, as you say it’s hard to know what any of us would do with a different subject matter or a different CEO. With the NFP example you gave, I can’t quite see that blackbox republic will solve “the donors aren’t on Facebook” conundrum – I would have thought that it’s easier to attract them to Facebook than it is to Blackbox – and if you can attract them to blackbox (ie your org is enough incentive for them to join a network) then surely they’d either join a Facebook group or alternatively a well branded, obviously above-board and professional ning page?

    Anyway – this isn’t an anti Blackbox tirade so back to your counter question (hey – it’s normally my religocultural group that answers a question with a question but hey!) – you have a point, IF blackbox wasn’t sex related and IF the big names hadn’t all come out so positive about it then no, I probably wouldn’t have posted about it. My perspective is primarily a “wow – did getting some of the big names in blogging to all post about a startup on day one of its release – that’s unusual” perspective and so my counter was framed in that way – if you guys hadn’t written there would hardly have been anything to write.

    Once again thanks heaps for your thoughts…

  4. Ben Kepes

    @Jeff – re your second point – it was a reply to Marshall’s justification for posting – he said;

    “Niche social network raises $1m, charges $25/mo & hits privacy hard? Yes I’d cover that!”

    to which I’d counter

    “Analytics company makes high level analytics available to SMBs, raises nearly $4m, wins tech awards and solves some nice data-warehousing issues? Yes I’d cover that!”

    Anyway – this isn’t about youcalc – they were just the (unlucky) handiest example I could find….

  5. marshallkirkpatrick

    re youcalc – analytics for sales and marketing stuff is a total snoozer in my book.

  6. Rasmus

    (Disclosure: I am CEO/founder of youcalc)

    Great to be mentioned in this blog, I wish youcalc were the main point of discussion though ..

    I won’t try to pitch youcalc here, we have not been able to communicate to bloggers yet why youcalc is “sexy”, that’s hardly anyone else’s fault. (We are of course sexy: we’re are building youtube for analytics apps: the world’s largest library of user generated shareable analytics apps for any imaginable purpose – open platform, open source, crowd-sourcing – all the “sexiest” web 2.0 concepts)

    Ben, you’re a fantastic blogger. Most of the “mainstream blogs” that you refer to have turned into massive news feeds that pump out any category of news, with very limited “crunching”. In “the old days” the big blogs would analyze, digest and put technology into perspective – today it seems they mainly compete on the amount and speed of news stories.

    Obviously they aim at expanding their audience to increase advertising revenue on the blog – unfortunately they are diluting their brand and quality. I used to read everything on e.g. TechCrunch because the guys gave me new perspectives and technology and the business models around it – now it feels like a massive spam feed (as I am writing this the headline on TechCrunch is that youtube will stop support for IE 6 …)

    When quality blogs turn into mainstream news feeds, the catchy/sexy titles, the famous founders, the amount of venture funding, etc. become crucial. And it becomes a lot harder for stories that require research, crunching and analysis to get attention .

    Rasmus Aaen Madsen