Tag Archives: Plaxo

Minh Nguyen: The Co-Founder Who Wasn’t

A person relatively unknown until a few days ago has rocketed to infamy for (allegedly) walking into his ex-wife’s home last Thursday evening and shooting her new husband to death. While such an awful crime would, of course, make news, this particular story is getting enormous attention, running everywhere from CNN to TechCrunch – and even to People Magazine. Why such broad uptake?

Because the story is framed as the shocking and tragic fall of a highly successful tech entrepreneur “best known for co-founding Plaxo with billionaire Sean Parker”. There’s just one problem with that narrative: Minh Nguyen did not co-found Plaxo.

Minh Nguyen

How would I know that?

I was Plaxo’s head of marketing (from 2006 through 2009), and I worked with and became good friends with the people who were there at the beginning of the company. And all of them agree that Minh was not a co-founder of the company.

Then, how do they remember Minh Nguyen?

Well, since Minh never set foot inside the doors of Plaxo, nor did a single day of work there, most of them, somewhat surprisingly, have actually never met him. To them, he’s just “that guy who keeps editing the Wikipedia page for Plaxo,” listing himself as co-founder, despite it not being true. Every attempt to set the record straight over the years has been met with a rapid re-edit by Minh.

Who are the actual co-founders of Plaxo?

On November 12, 2002, the company launched the beta version of its cloud-based address book service. In the last paragraph of the press release that went out on the wire that day, we can see that, “The company was founded by Sean Parker, also co-founder of Napster, and two Stanford engineers, Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring.” No Minh.

Why would Minh Nguyen claim to be a “co-founder of Plaxo”?

The best I’ve been able to piece together is that he and Sean may have talked about the idea of a smarter address book, and somehow in Minh’s mind that made him a co-founder. Here’s why that claim is wildly off the mark.

If the term “co-founder” is to have any meaning, the following must be true:

  • The person has to actually be a part of the founding of the company. “Thoughts” or “talk” in the weeks or months before a company is founded are not sufficient; to be a co-founder, the person must participate in the actual founding of the company.
  • By definition, co-founding is teamwork. If the other co-founders, for whatever reason, don’t agree that a person is a co-founder, that person is not. Simply put, there’s no such thing as a “lone wolf” co-founder.
  • Becoming a co-founder takes an act of courage. A co-founder quits whatever else they’re doing, puts their reputation on the line, and goes all-in. A co-founder knowingly embraces the risk of failure of the new enterprise and their employment by it. There are no co-founders on the sidelines.
  • Co-founding is not something you can do for just a few days or a few weeks. Genuine co-founders throw their heart and soul into the new venture, with the hope that years of hard work can create something great.

Minh’s claim to co-founder status for Plaxo fails on all counts:

  • When the company that would be called Plaxo was formed by Sean, Todd, and Cam, Minh was not present. He played no role whatsoever in the creation of the company.
  • The actual co-founders of Plaxo that I have spoken with on the topic have always definitively rejected the notion that Minh is a co-founder and expressed deep frustration at having to battle against his claim.
  • Minh was not there when Sean, Todd, and Cam got turned down by one venture capital firm after another (in the post-Bubble “nuclear winter” of 2001). Minh was not there for the successful pitch to Sequoia Capital’s Mike Moritz. Minh was not there for the hard work of building the product, launching the service, and scrambling to rapidly scale up the operation. Simply put, he was never an employee of the company. (Not even for a single day.) His claim on LinkedIn to have worked there from January 2001 to October 2002 (screenshot below) is completely false.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 9.45.57 AM

Of course, it is possible that Minh may have been in some way a “muse” for Sean, and he may have even received a few shares in the company from Sean1. But there is one thing Minh never was: a co-founder of Plaxo.

As you can imagine, for everyone who did actually go “all in,” who took the risk and did the hard work to build Plaxo, seeing all of these disturbing news stories now about a murder supposedly committed by a “co-founder of Plaxo” (or in some headlines, just “Plaxo founder”) is quite troubling. We’re all getting emails from family, friends, and colleagues asking, “Did you know him?” And we’re all trying to explain the mystery of how, no, we actually don’t know who this guy is – or why or how he’s gotten away with his false claim for so long.

For even more on this story, I recommend Galen Moore’s well-researched piece in DCInno, entitled “Minh Nguyen Never Worked at Plaxo, Sources Say”. Among other things, it details Minh’s repeated editing of Wikipedia over the years.

In closing, I hope this post has added a small amount of clarity to a situation that is both confusing and terribly tragic. For all of us even remotely involved, our hearts go out to the survivors, the family of Minh’s ex-wife, Denise Mattison. For anyone who would like to help, please consider contributing to the Go Fund Me campaign for the Denise Mattison family.

Denise Mattison Family

1Not uncommon for outsiders to receive early shares from startups. For example, David Choe, a graffiti artist, was paid in stock by Sean Parker for spray-painting Facebook’s first office. Of course, that did not make him a co-founder (though it did make him rich).

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Where I’ve Landed

After a wonderfully restorative break, it is now time for me to jump back into startup land…

I am pleased to announce that I’m re-uniting with another legendary Plaxo alum, Blake Commagere, and joining his startup, MediaSpike, as the company’s COO. We’re building a revolutionary new advertising platform for digital product placement in social and mobile games. The company is aligned with the inevitable future of advertising, which will be less about interruption and distraction and more about encounters between people and brands that are contextual, digital, and interactive – and when done correctly, loved.

Here’s recent coverage of MediaSpike in TechCrunch. Our awesome backers include Google Ventures, Raptor Ventures, 500 Startups, and Team Downey (Robert Downey Jr.’s production company), and more.

For those wondering how big an opportunity this is, consider how dramatically the media landscape is changing and what that means for marketers:

  • Gaming is on the rise (at the cost of other media), with humans now spending over 3 billion hours a week playing video games.
  • In the digital world, attention is shifting at an accelerating pace from the desktop to smartphones and tablets (in the process, threatening established forms of online advertising, especially banner ads).
  • Spurred by the continued rise in DVR-based time-shifting and commercial-skipping, brand advertisers are shifting more and more of their spend toward product placement (with paid product placement projected to top $6 billion in 2014).
  • Despite concerns about how best to do mobile advertising, it is already huge ($2.6 billion in U.S. and $6.4 billion worldwide) and expected to grow rapidly (reaching $11.9 billion in U.S. and $23.6 billion worldwide by 2016).

Bottom line: the attention economy is undergoing a tectonic shift away from traditional media and the desktop and toward smartphones, tablets, and interactive digital content. Advertising needs to be reinvented for this new world, and the folks who figure it out will be digging into tasty slices of a very large and rapidly growing pie.

So, if you’re a marketer for a major consumer brand or a developer of an interesting social or mobile game, please join the revolution. (You can reach me at: john at mediaspike dot com.) Onward!

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Tunerfish/Comcast/Plaxo: What a ride!

Today is my last day at Tunerfish/Comcast/Plaxo — and the end of my longest ride in Silicon Valley (a sequence of positions that started in March 2006 when I joined Plaxo as the company’s first VP of Marketing).

I’m proud to have played a key role in the turnaround of the Plaxo brand and product, a re-invention that helped pave the way for the acquisition of the company by our largest customer, Comcast, in May 2008 (one of the best exits of the year, especially given the economic meltdown that followed). While at Comcast, I had the great privilege of founding and leading Tunerfish, a new business unit in what would become the white-hot market space of social TV. I took Tunerfish from concept to secret skunkworks, to launch at TechCrunch Disrupt, and on to what is now a really great service, built by one of the best product design and development teams I’ve ever worked with. In short, a fantastic run!

But I’m a startup guy, not meant for a long stay at a huge corporation, and it is now time for me to head on to my next Silicon Valley adventure.  (BTW, If you’ve got an interesting consumer Web startup that could use a seasoned product/marketing/business leader, I’d love to chat.)

I will really miss the awesome folks at what is now the Comcast Silicon Valley Innovation Center (home to four teams working on the future of entertainment and communications), and I’m looking forward to seeing all of the great stuff under development there roll out in the coming months. In particular, I’m keen to see how the Tunerfish team brings social/discovery/personalization features to the Xfinity touchpoints in millions of homes — and how they’ll continue to evolve my favorite social TV app.

Oh, and I’ll also miss the awesome view from the office, overlooking the dirigible hangars at Moffett:

Onward and upward!

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Silicon Valley: Top 10 of the 2000s

Kaliya's computer

It’s all too easy to view the first decade of the 21st Century as just an unmitigated series of disasters: September 11th, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and the meltdown of the global financial system, to name just a few.

But the 2000s also saw continued acceleration in the advance of technology and its impact on society, as we continued to ride the exponential curve of Moore’s Law. So, let me offer my “Silicon Valley: Top 10 of the 2000s”…

The Dot Com Bubble Collapse. (Yes, even this list starts with a disaster.) We entered the new decade and the new century drunk with optimism that recessions were a thing of the past, with a firm belief that the Internet’s transformational power had created an unprecedented “long boom“. And then, in March of 2000, the Bubble burst, sending Silicon Valley into a multi-year “nuclear winter.” Internet companies of all sizes imploded, unemployment rose, buildings went vacant, vendors started requiring cash (rather than asking for equity), and the venture capital fire hose turned into a trickle.

Broadband and Wi-Fi. While many of us licked our wounds and wondered whether Silicon Valley would ever recover, the underlying fabric of the Internet just kept getter better. Broadband access crossed over from early adopter to mainstream, and Wi-Fi hotspots spread like wildfire, fueling a rapidly growing addiction to the Internet. Ten years ago, most of us sipped the Web through dial-up straws; now we expect high-speed access everywhere, all-the-time.

Google IPO. In the first half of the 2000s, one company defied the pessimism and came to symbolize the hope of a return of the good old days. Google reminded us that the Bubble was less about the true Silicon Valley and more about the madness of irrational investment behavior on Wall Street. And their profitability and growth were so strong that they could do what no one else could since the collapse — pull off a tech IPO. Heck, they not only IPO’d, they dictated their own terms to the Street, with a Dutch auction in the summer of 2004. Indeed, for most of the 2000s, Google was the undisputed hottest company of Silicon Valley. [Correction: Dave McClure points out that another high-flier, PayPal, was the first tech IPO, post 9/11. He’s got a lot of other great additions, too, so be sure to read his comments. Thanks, Dave!]

Blogging. Though blogging started in the ’90’s, it would take until the middle of the 2000s for it to become a powerful mainstream force. But by decade’s end, sites like TechCrunch, Mashable, Techmeme, CNET, GigaOm, ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, and ZDnet, among many others, had completely transformed how we discover, consume, and create tech news. And it wasn’t just tech. The power of blogging was transforming every facet of the news business, from politics to sports — and even to the paranormal, like when a Bigfoot hunter held a press conference in Palo Alto.

YouTube. In the ’60’s, it was said that “the revolution will be televised”. In the 2000s, it became clear that it would be uploaded to YouTube. The video sharing site blasted off from the emerging “Web 2.0” scene in early 2005, rocketed to mainstream impact, and got acquired for $1.6 billion by Google — all in less than two years! Suddenly, Silicon Valley was once again a place where a few people could get together, build something innovative, have big impact on the world, and get ridiculously rich in the process. The Web 2.0 revolution was in full force, with hundreds of new companies with funny names popping up all over, embracing user-generated content and social virality.

Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and team did not invent social networking, but they apparently internalized all of the right lessons from those that had come before, including Plaxo (the first socially viral “people layer” network, founded by Sean Parker, Cameron Ring, and Todd Masonis), Friendster, and MySpace. Facebook exploded out of Mark’s dorm room, riding a potent exponential growth curve that continues to this day, propelling Facebook to the center stage of the Internet industry — and finally giving Google a run for the money in the “hottest company in Silicon Valley” category.

Twitter. As the 2000s come to a close, a new contender is rising, not from Silicon Valley, proper, but from the Ground Zero of the Dot Com Bubble of 10 years ago: San Francisco. Twitter, a darling of the early adopter set, launched at the cool geek confab, SXSW, in 2006, and remained decidedly niche for so long, that many thought it might be remembered primarily for its “fail whale”. But Twitter eventually connected with celebrities and mainstream media outlets, like CNN, and the chirpy little bird soared into the stratosphere.

Ereaders (Kindle, nook, and more to come). Books are one of the most important inventions in human history. Major breakthroughs (like the Internet) are often compared with the impact of Gutenberg‘s movable type press from the 1400s. As the 2000s are coming to a close, “ereaders” are revolutionizing the concept of a book, turning it from a physical object to a digital item pulled from the clouds. In the coming decade, the impact will be enormous.

Apple, iPod, and iPhone. For a company that almost died in the ’90s, the 2000s have been a truly remarkable decade for Apple, featuring a return to profitability, a string of hot new products, the launch of two new billion-dollar-plus product lines (iPod/iTune and iPhone), and the reinvention of the music and mobile phone industries. Silicon Valley sees “Big Waves” only once every 15 years on average, but we’re ending the 2000s, riding two distinct and reinforcing Mavericks, and one of them is embodied by the iPhone. The iPhone has given birth to a new ecosystem, much the same way the personal computer did in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and is inspiring vigorous competition in what had been a technological backwater. Of course, the other really Big Wave is the emergence of…

The Social Web. When Sean Parker and team pitched Mike Moritz at Sequoia, seeking venture funding for Plaxo in the dark days of 2002, it was not just to solve the real and vexing problem of stale address books. The billion dollar opportunity they pitched was that the Internet, for all its great impact, would not reach its full potential unless and until someone brought to it the missing “people layer”. If real identity and real relationships could be combined with network effect and Internet-style interoperability, they said, something really big would happen. Of course, like so many big, bold visions, getting there has taken multiple attempts, and now involves a really dynamic collaboration between big Internet companies, “Open Stack” grass-roots communities (like OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, Activity Streams, the Open Web Foundation, and OpenSocial), and lots of startups, but we exit the 2000s seeing proof-points all around of the emergence of an open and interoperable Social Web. It’s becoming increasingly common to visit a new website and be able to use an online identity you’ve established at Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a growing list of other identity providers, and get a new account (without having to repeat the dreadful process of choosing a new password, filling out a bunch of forms, importing your address book, and re-friending the same long list of familiars you’ve friended so many times before). Look to the coming decade to bring us an amazing array of new startups native to this new Social Web.

What do you think? Are these the right 10? Nominate others via comments.

And, now all that’s left is to wish you all a Happy New Decade!

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A glimpse into the future of news, thanks to NYT’s open APIs and Plaxo

TimesPeople feed in Plaxo

As my frequent readers know, I’m a strong believer in the emergence of a Social Web characterized by openness and interoperability, and powered by a virtuous cycle of social discovery. The cycle starts when a visitor to a media site shares content out to one or more their social networks, enabling their friends to discover it, click over to the source site to consume it, and from there to share it (or another piece of content) out to their social networks – starting the next loop of the virtuous cycle.

Enabling that cycle under the hood, will be a common “Open Stack” of technologies (like OpenID, OAuth, Portable Contacts, Activity Streams), which will dramatically lower the cost of integration – a critical requirement to scale from a few distribution partnerships to leveraging discovery across the whole of the Social Web. And I believe that such a virtuous cycle will play an essential role in enabling the newspaper industry to evolve from its print past to its online future, with a viable long-term business model that is native to the Social Web.

That’s why I’m so excited by what was rolled out today by Plaxo, long a champion of the shift from walled gardens to the open Social Web, together with TimesPeople, the forward-leaning social news arm of The New York Times, which has led the way on opening up the industry via its revolutionary combination of free access to content and open APIs.

In recent months, the two have been working together to simplify the task of sharing to one or more social networks. Today, they introduced the first fruit of that collaboration, a TimesPeople “feed” for the Plaxo network, which allows one-click sharing from NYTimes.com over to the Plaxo network. The feature was implemented via the TimesPeople APIs, without the NYTimes.com having to integrate a single line of Plaxo-specific code or even to add a Plaxo logo or link anywhere on the site. (As a result, any other social network or content aggregator could easily replicate the feature.)

TimesPeople members who have hooked up the feed can share a news story with a single click on the “recommend” button next to the article. That’s it. In the background, without any further effort, Plaxo picks up and delivers a content bundle that includes the story’s headline, a snippet of copy, a thumbnail image, and link to the full story.

Other social networks can take advantage of the same API, as well, paving the way for a model in which one click by a reader can promote a story to all of the aggregation services that user shares on.

This stands in stark contrast to the status quo on most media sites. All too often, sharing a piece of content means choosing from a bewildering array of branded links, or a popup UI splattered with dozens of colorful, little Web 2.0 logo icons. Or more recently, it might mean a deeper one-off integration with a single partner. Either way, the media site ends up having to decorate itself with one or more logos – and faces the hard choice of how many and which ones to present to their audience as choices.

Nascar effect

And this “Nascar effect” makes it highly unlikely that a user will make the effort to share content out to more than one of the social networks they use.

Hats off to Derek Gottfrid of TimesPeople and Joseph Smarr of Plaxo, for this great example of Social Web interoperability!

[Reminder/disclosure: Plaxo is my employer (but I try my best to write about it here objectively and only when it is relevant to opening up the Social Web).]

Update: There’s also now a post on NYT’s “Open” blog, Plaxo: The Pulse of TimesPeople. Nice!

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Is the Wall Street Journal really building a “LinkedIn killer”?

This evening, TechCrunch had the scoop on a secret project at the venerable Wall Street Journal, a project that Michael Arrington reports is referred to within the team building it as a “LinkedIn killer”. While I don’t have any inside information on the project, I do have an opinion on whether it will be just that…

Before offering my opinion, I must say that I admire the Wall Street Journal in many ways. When I had my “born-again-capitalist epiphany” 20 years ago in the days after the Berlin Wall came down, one of my first acts of transformation from Bohemian to entrepreneur was to purchase a copy of the Wall Street Journal. Over the years, I came to rely on the WSJ as a consistently reliable source of hard-hitting journalism on business and matters of great import. A drop-dead seriously great publication.

I also admire the creativity and ambition implied by Michael Arrington’s piece, and sincerely hope that his post is true. Indeed, it is time for the Wall Street Journal (and all other newspapers) to address, head-on, the existential threat that the Internet represents to the entire industry of news delivery. As loyal readers will recall, I’ve been on record that the death of newspapers is accelerating.

That said, I don’t think LinkedIn is vulnerable to any new business network starting up, whether incubated at a newspaper on in-the-wild. LinkedIn is one of what I think of as one of the “three horsemen of the Social Web,” networks that are fundamentally about real identity and real relationships, specifically Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo (where I am employed, as many of you know).

Why? Because the Social Web is entering its explosive growth phase. Facebook, the clear leader of the pack, now has over 250 million active users, with highest growth rates in the seriously post-college over-30 crowd. But LinkedIn and Plaxo are also growing rapidly, as we are watching something very similar to the birth of the Web some 15 years ago. Rather than stealing share from each other, the leaders in providing a “people layer” for the Internet are riding on massive wave that “grows the pie”.

Plaxo just recently rolled out a few features that Eric Eldon of VentureBeat says moves us deeper into business networking. And just this evening, we announced revamped Plaxo profiles to make them more professional, more dynamic, and for those who want a public profile, “truly public” (not just a teaser to sign up for or sign into Plaxo).

After we did, someone tweeted to ask if we were moving to compete directly with LinkedIn. I thought it was an interesting question. Again, it was the kind of zero-sum thinking that I do not think applies to the explosive growth we’re seeing as the Web goes social.

If LinkedIn has any threat right now, it is one of fundamental model or strategy. Not only is the Web going social, but the Social Web is going open and interoperable. Just as Plaxo and Facebook have figured out how to do amazing things for their mutual members, so must LinkedIn embrace interoperability with Plaxo, wth Facebook, and with the other people-powered apps of the Web — including whatever it is that the Wall Street Journal may be working on.

Update: the story is also being covered by Seeking Alpha

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Photos from the “Birth of the Social Web” at Facebook This Evening

Wow! I am damn near speechless after an amazing evening at the Facebook “Technology Tasting,” for the launch of the new Open Stream API and the announcement that Facebook will soon be an OpenID Relying Party. Today really marks the birth of the Social Web. If you’d like to know my coherent thoughts, at least on the Plaxo integration I was involved in, see my official post on the Plaxo blog:

At Plaxo, we believe we’re on the cusp of a major transformation – the biggest change to the Internet since the birth of the Web 15 years ago – as the Web goes social, and the Social Web goes open. For that dream to be realized, we need to address the pain currently associated with using multiple social websites. We need true interoperability and true data portability, with users in control.

Today, together with our friends at Facebook, we are excited to deliver on that promise, with the roll out of an integration of Facebook Connect that demonstrates an unprecedented level of interoperability between two social networks (while preserving fine-grained control of privacy).

But here, for posterity, let me share some visual impressions of this historic event, via some photos I snapped from my front row seat at the action. 🙂

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Dave Morin
Dave Morin, Facebook

Chris Messina
Chris Messina, Vidoop, OpenID Foundation, Citizen Space, and DiSo Project

Robert Scoble
Robert Scoble, blogger, early adopter and Jason Kincaid, TechCrunch
(be sure to check out Jason’s video of the event)

Joseph Smarr

Joseph Smarr
Joseph Smarr, Plaxo, OpenID Foundation, OpenSocial Foundation

Luke Shepard
Luke Shepard, Facebook and OpenID Foundation

David Recordon
David Recordon, Six Apart and OpenID Foundation

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Live-Blogging from the Activity Streams Meetup at Web 2.0 Expo

The opening up of the Social Web is accelerating on an exponential curve. So many things have happened in recent weeks that I have not managed to blog about. I hope my loyal readers will forgive me for not posting on the big rollout of MySpaceID or Google’s support for Portable Contacts in GMail. Anyway, onward…

Sign for the Meetup

I’m up in SF with Joseph Smarr at Web 2.0 Expo. I shot video of Joseph’s talk this morning, which I hope to post, along with the slides, tomorrow. Now, I’m at the Activity Streams meetup, that started with lunch, but is just now getting down into the working session. MySpace has a bunch of folks here, and is helping us get organized. There are also folks from Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Plaxo, Nokia, Six Apart, and Vidoop, among others. This is a follow-on to the meetup in January, which I live-blogged then.

The industry and community circle

After a lot of discussion, David Recordon suggests that what we need is a bunch of examples of use cases and questions, asserting that we probably already have good answers to most of them. Joseph Smarr suggests a 90-day period of soak time for the current draft spec, with people implementing against it.

As usual, what I am most impressed by is the genuine collaboration underway, in which it is clear that none of the companies participating is trying to extract some proprietary advantage. This is truly an open spec process, in which the need for a common standard is far greater than any company’s desire for unique advantage. After all, webwide activity stream aggregation, pioneered by Plaxo in the summer of 2007, is now the blueprint for the the Social Web, as expressed in implementations from Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and AOL, among others.

The circle grows

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Plaxo and TripIt: “Social and Useful”

In these early days of the emergence of the Social Web, we’re never surprised when the services we use do not work together. Fragmentation and frustration rule the day, and 15 years into the consumer Internet revolution, we are still doing lots of things manually that will *someday* happen “magically” in the cloud.

Well, today I experienced a little bit of that near-future magic, and I wanted to share it with you…

First, the context. Plaxo [disclosure/reminder: my employer] rolled out a new release today that included a first-class integration with TripIt, a travel itinerary service that I had heard good things about from my colleague Joseph Smarr, but never actually signed up for. Well, it was also the day before our flight down to Austin for SXSW and a week before my flight to Las Vegas for Microsoft’s MIX 09 to speak on a panel about Activity Streams. So, it was unavoidable that I should check out TripIt and set up an Activity Stream from it into Plaxo.

First, I went to Outlook, where I had an email from Carson Wagonlit, our company’s official travel agency. I clicked on the link to view my itinerary, and was surprised to see an “Add to TripIt” link. A lightbox popped, prompting me to email the itinerary, which was as simple as typing in my email address. Yep. No heavyweight registration step, just kicking off my relationship with TripIt wid the act of emailing a single itinerary! Sweet.

Add to TripIt

I was instructed to check my inbox for an email from TripIt, and moments later it arrived. It included a link to my itinerary on TripIt, which I clicked on. After filling in just a couple pieces of info and choosing a password, I was a full-fledged TripIt member, all set up and ready to go.

I went back to Plaxo to add the TripIt feed. This functionality is *way* more buried than it ought to be, but since I work at Plaxo, I knew exactly where to go. (Do you think maybe we’ll make this more prominent soon? I do.) This is what I saw:

TripIt Activity Stream Setup in Plaxo

I chose Friends and Family, since I don’t want my travel plans shared with all my business connections (or the world, for that matter). I clicked on “Connect your TripIt account” and saw this in a popup:

Sign In to TripIt

So I signed in with my new TripIt credentials and saw the TripIt consent page that was asking if I wanted to grant Plaxo access to my private TripIt feed (Activity Stream). It’s yet another great example of the power of the open standard OAuth:

TripIt Access Request

I clicked on the “Grant access” button, and I was done. I had a TripIt account, and my Activity Stream from it was now flowing into Plaxo, sharing my itineraries with my family and friends. Not long after I saw this in my Plaxo Pulse stream:

Vegas Trip in the Plaxo Stream

There are so many things about this that are way cool. First, the event looks great, because it includes more details than most third-party feeds into Social Web aggregators. Second, this is a private feed, shared with only the subset of my connections that I choose to share it with. Third, they can (and did) comment on it, sparking interesting conversations. Fourth, they can get the info about my travel plans, though not in a level of detail that I would be uncomfortable with. And fifith, I see a link that is only visible to me, which connects to the full itinerary details over at TripIt. Pretty sweet, huh?

But that’s not all. When I go to my Plaxo calendar, I see my trip to Austin for SXSW and my trip to Vegas for MIX 09 are there, automatically injected as a result of connecting my private Activity Stream to Plaxo.

This is a *great* example of data portability with the user in control, and a glimpse into the world of the Social Web we all want to bring about. If you’re heading to SXSW, give it a whirl!

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The Social Web TV on Facebook’s TOS about-face, Magnolia’s fall, and more

Who owns your data? Should there be DRM on the content/data you share with others? What happens to your stuff when the service you shared it on has a catastrophic failure? These and other questions of sharing user-generated content are discussed on the latest episode of The Social Web TV, as Chris Messina, Joseph Smarr, and John McCrea welcome special guest, Larry Halff, of the fallen (and soon to rise again) community and social bookmarking service, Magnolia.

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