July 21, 2012

Trejdify update

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We have launched a new version of Trejdify and you will find the following:
  • A new ranking algorithm to rank the best news articles. The old one was based on votes only - that is, the top ranking news item was the one with most votes. The new one is based on number of votes and time. So a new vote on a newly submitted news item will be worth more than a new vote on an old news item. If you want to learn more about ranking algorithms, you can visit: Reddit, Stumbleupon, Del.icio.us and Hacker News Algorithms Exposed! We have also saved the old algorithm, if you want to find the best articles (the one with most votes - not adjusted for time) from this week, month, year, or beginning of time. You will find them in the boxes labelled "Best News This..."
  • A slightly improved design
  • Related articles to one article. If you click on the comments section, you will find a box labelled "Related articles". The users who liked the article you are looking at did also like the articles in the box
  • Recommended articles you may like. If you click on your @name at the top - you will find your saved articles and also a box labelled "Recommended Articles". The links in that box are based on what you have already voted on and what similar users to you have voted on.
  • Categories. We currently have 4 categories: Markets, Economics, Personal Finance, and Management. You can't choose the category yourself, the computer will chose the category automatically when you submit a new article and every article may not have a category. We may add or change some categories in the future, so if you have a suggestion on a new category, please contact us. 

The algorithms for the related, and recommended articles, and the category chooser comes from the excellent book Programming Collective Intelligence by Toby Segaran who is working at Google. The code in the book was based on the Python programming language, and we have translated it to PHP to make it work on Trejdify. You can find the translated code here at Github if you need it to your own projects.

Go and check out the latest version of Trejdify

July 13, 2012

The rise and fall of Digg, and what we can learn from it

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The inevitable happened yesterday, the remaining parts of Digg were acquired by Betaworks for $500,000. At the top of the peak a couple of years ago, Digg was almost acquired by Google for $200 million. We have since late April suspected that Digg would fall when their engineers left the company for work at the Washington Post. Digg was the first large social news site and has the same business model as Trejdify, so this is a good time to analyze what happened, and what we can learn from it.

The rise of Digg

Let's start from the beginning. Digg was created by Kevin Rose in 2004, and soon became one of the largest websites in the world. To analyze why this happened, we can use the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.We have earlier applied that book on Trejdify and if you want to read more about the book, please read this article: Time for Trejdify to regroup. These are the steps on how to take a company from good to great applied on Digg:

  • Level 5 leadership. Was Kevin Rose a level 5 leader? He created the company from scratch, and he probably did it to make some money from it, but he also wanted to build a great product. He was the founder, and founders are often level 5 leaders.
  • First who... then what. This is hard to analyze for someone on the outside, but I think Kevin Rose only hired A players in the beginning. 
  • Confront the brutal facts.
  • Hedgehog concept. All the early features added to Digg, such as the Diggnation show, did fit within the Hedgehog concept.
  • Culture of discipline. They followed everything above during the buildup of Digg.
  • Technology accelerators. They launched various features, such as the widgets to Digg a story automatically from another blog, and the Diggnation show was possible thanks to faster Internet speed.

The fall of Digg

The author of the book Good to Great has also written the book How the mighty fall. The book is about how a once great company declines toward the doomsday. Here are the five stages of decline (it may be possible for a company in decline to skip a stage) and what happened to Digg at each stage:


  1. Hubris born of success. People become arrogant and they lose sight of the true underlying factors that created success in the first place.
    • Digg: Digg was once one of the most popular websites on the Internet, and if you are the most popular website, you may think that you can do whatever you want. After the release of Digg 4.0 in 2010, users began to leave for other websites such as Reddit. Maybe Digg got arrogant and didn't think they needed to test version 4.0 among real users before releasing it? After the release, it was impossible to bring back Digg 3.0
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more. Companies make undisciplined leaps into areas where they cannot be great or they try to grow faster than they can hire great people. When an organization grows beyond its ability to fill its key seats with the right people, it has set itself up for a fall.
    • Digg: Kevin Rose said in one of the episodes of the Random Show that because Digg grew so fast, he basically hired everyone he found, a decision he said that he later regretted
  3. Denial of risk and peril. Leaders at this stage ignore negative data, and focus only on the positive data. They blame external factors for setbacks, rather than accept responsibility.
    • Digg: The users complained about the new design and that various features had been removed. You could hear users say: "I used to use Digg, but the experience, especially on mobile, just kept getting worse and worse!"
  4. Grasping for salvation. Companies at this stage tend to hire a leader that's supposed to save it, they try different bold strategies, creates products or acquires companies that doesn't fit within the Hedgehog concept.
    • Digg: Alexis Ohanian said about Digg 4.0 that the version "is cobbling together features from more popular sites and departing from the core of digg, which was to give the power back to the people"
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death. The setbacks starts to erode the financial strength of the company, and key persons abandons the company.
    • Digg: 37 percent of the staff had to leave Digg in 2010, Kevin Rose left the company in 2011, and the engineers left the company in 2012 for work at the Washington Post 

What can we learn from it?

  • A Digg engineer said that Digg 3.0 couldn't be brought back after the release of Digg 4.0. One lesson learned is to make sure to test a new version among real users before releasing it - or make sure that you can bring back the old version. 
  • Never think you are smarter than your users. Just because you are the most popular guy in the block doesn't mean that you soon may become the least popular.

What's the future for Digg?

  • Betaworks are about to turn Digg back into a startup, with a low budget, a small team, and fast cycles. The book How the might fall proved that it is possible to reverse a company in decline, and to do that Betaworks need to use the concepts from Good to Great. 
  • I personally think that they should focus on quality news. The reason to why we created Trejdify is that the business news section on Digg is terrible. Today you can find articles in the business section like "Which Fighting Style Kicks The Most Ass?" and "Can juicing help improve your skin?" which has nothing at all to do with business. 
  • The current largest competitor is Reddit, but Reddit also has a bad reputation among some people, because of various sub-reddits that are rather "extreme." Digg can probably find users among those who prefer a less extreme website.
  • Many traditional newspapers are struggling for their survival, and the investor Warren Buffett believes that newspapers should only act locally - not globally (The future of traditional newspapers according to different experts). Can Digg become the online newspaper who act globally aggregating content from all the local newspapers?    

Source: TechCrunch, TechCrunch, Wikipedia, Betaworks

July 12, 2012

Trejdify update! Most shared links on Twitter

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The goal of Trejdify is to deliver the best business news - not all business news. To accomplish this goal, we have earlier trusted our users to submit what they think is the best business news "out there". To find more of the best business news, we are now also adding the most shared financial links on Twitter the last 24 hours. If you share a link on Twitter, you probably think that the content of the link is something worth reading. We are currently adding 5 of these links once each day. They are labeled "from Twitter" in the news-stream.

Go and check it out at: Latest business news from Trejdify 

July 11, 2012

Time for Trejdify to regroup

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Trejdify has been online for about 6 months now and its now time to regroup and make sure that we are pushing Trejdify in the best direction. Many companies have the tendency to add features that doesn't fit the underlying business model, mostly because they don't have the time to reflect on what they are doing. Soon they realize that they have gone too far from the original model and are about to fall over the cliff because it's too late to change. The plan is to regroup every 6 month, since we don't want to end up in the cold water below the Golden Gate bridge.

Today, we are going to use the book Good to Great by Jim Collins to make sure we are doing the correct decisions. Good to Great is considered to be a classic, and the book is about a research project on how a company can go from a mediocre company to becoming the best company. The author has written several other books with the same theme, including how to build a company that can survive for a long time.

This image is showing a summary of the findings from the book:



Level 5 leadership. The definition of a Level 5 leader is:
"Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious - but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves."
First who... then what. This chapter is mostly about people. The point is to first decide who you need, before you decide where you are going with the company. It is also important to remember that employees in general are not important - what you need is A players. If you hire B (or C) players, the A players may move away to another company with A players.

Confront the brutal facts. The point of this chapter is to never hide the current truth about your company. If you notice that your customers are running away from you, you need to accept that you have a problem.
"Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality."
Hedgehog concept. The point is that you need to understand what you can be the best in the world at - not what you want to be the best in the world at. You also need to understand what you cannot be the best in the world at. This image summarizes the Hedgehog concept:



Culture of discipline. What you need to do is to follow everything from the points above, especially the Hedgehog concept. Ignore all the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that doesn't fit within the underlying business model. A great company will have many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Also make sure that you have a "stop doing" list which is more important than a "to do" list.

Technology accelerators. What you need is carefully tested technologies - never use fads. The most important point is that the technology has to fit within the Hedgehog concept.

Good to Great applied to Trejdify
The Hedgehog concept:
  • What are you deeply passionate about? We are deeply passionate about the way people reads business news. We generally think that people are reading the wrong news: people are reading short-term news they don't really need, when they should be reading articles they can learn something from.
  • What can you be best in the world at? We can be the best in the world at delivering the best business news. We can't compete with companies like Bloomberg who are delivering all possible news, but we shouldn't either since most people don't need all possible news - they only need the best news. They don't have the time to go though all the regular news items each day after work - they get exhausted by it, so they don't read any news at all.

Culture of discipline. This is actually harder than you think. Trejdify used to have a tool section, where you found a Trading simulator and a list with links. Did they fit the Hedgehog concept? No!

Technology accelerators. What we need to do here is to test different new technologies. We have tested Twitter before with a good result, so we are going to keep the Twitter account. We are currently testing Google+, Pinterest, and Quora. One other technology that we are going to test is Machine Learning to improve the way we discover business news. The important point is that all these technologies fit within the Hedgehog concept.    

July 8, 2012

Dancing On My Own

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This video was not intended as a description of the process you have to go through when you try to find new customers - it was filmed at a music festival. When you have begun the process of dragging in new customers to your company, it will be difficult in the beginning so you have to "dance on your own" for a while. But as you struggle, you will hopefully find a few customers that will "dance with you." But when you have a few customers, they will attract more and more customers. The psychological principle behind this is called social proof.
The principle of social proof was described in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini. It says that we humans determine what is correct by finding out what other people think is correct. 95 percent of us are imitators. This is a short-cut we are trained to use because when a lot of people are doing something, it is the right thing to do (not always). 
  • We laugh when we hear laughter
  • You can put some money in the tip jar to make people leave more money in the tip jar
  • Advertisers like to write: "Fastest-growing" to say that many others think the product is good
  • Create a long waiting line outside a club to make it seem more popular
  • Write fake names in a name collection

You can also use this principle to reduce your fears. If you are afraid of dogs, you can watch how other people are playing with their dogs and you will notice that dogs are not that bad after all. But remember that other people may be wrong, such as in Germany in the 1930s, so be aware of this psychological principle and use your own judgment.