Managing 400m users, Disqus shares 3 hacks for a better UX in lean startups

Chris Jennings (@ckj) from Disqus spoke at Superconf in Miami this past week, and I had a chance to chat with him after his presentation. In this video Chris shares how Disqus uses 3 hacks to ensure a clean UX for its 400m users.

Summary of the video:
1. Design with constraints – Restraints fuel our creativity – Example: Quroa 1.0 was written just in HTML. Restraint keeps you focused on what’s important.
2. Selectively deploy – Roll out – Example: When Disqus rolled out their new theme, Houdini, Disqus employees could interact with the theme on major sites without disrupting regular users.
3. Design for delight – This gives fans something to talk about, and it can help diffuse anger if something breaks.

Slides from his presentation are attached below.

For more startup news, follow us on twitter @startupfoundry.

Ask TSF Readers – What happened to “real world” startups?

You know, the startups that actually have tangible products such as Zappos, Amazon, Redbox or Groupon.  If you can explain it to your grandmother, then most likely it has a real world aspect to it that normal people can relate to. If you’re debating a freemium model vs. Paid model then most likely you don’t have a physical product / service to sell.

As Startup Foundry grows we get more and more startups asking for us to cover them, and 99% of them don’t involve any “real life” aspects to them.  Why is that?  I have a few explanations why they don’t exist.

  1. Pure software startups have almost zero barrier to entry if the founders are developers
  2. Developers are so immersed into their digital lives, they forget about problems that can be solved in the real world.
  3. The people who have the ideas for real world startups, are not entrepreneurs, thus the idea never gets executed.
  4. There are actually plenty of real world startups, but I don’t hear about them because I’m also so immersed in my digital life.

Reason #1: Pure software startups have almost zero barrier to entry if the founders are developers

Or as I like to day: The path of least resistance.  A digital site that doesn’t involve physical things means that a developer can essentially develop and market a product without ever having to go outside of their house.  Chat Roulette being a prime example of this.  The founder of Chat Roulette didn’t have to go outside of his house and market his product to retail stores, companies or anything of that sort.  He just built it, and the initial (albeit short term) success was great.

All a developer needs is a computer and an internet connection.  Most of the popular developer frameworks are free and open source. It’s a no brainer.  However, this leads to a billion websites that all try to accomplish the same thing and there really is no innovation involved.  I don’t want another website that allows me to filter and display my online content in an easier way.  I’m absolutely dying for someone to come up with another article recommendation engine or a better way to determine my online clout.

The path to least resistance is also amplified because there are no hardware costs associated with it besides server costs (A server you will most likely never ever see).

Reason #2: Developers are so immersed in their digital lives, they forget about problems that can be solved in the real world.

This is another big reason why I think why we are too busy solving online problems instead of real world problems.  Developers are doing what they do best: Developing.  This involves a computer and an internet connection and also means most of their lives are spent are in front of their computer.  Ideas evolve from frustration you experience, and developers frustrations are mostly online because this is where they are most of the time.

If you combined the “path of least resistance” along with frustration you experience online, you end up with a digital product that solves a digital need – not a real world need.

Reason #3:  The people who have the ideas for real world startups, are not entrepreneurs, thus the idea never gets executed.

I’m sure there are plenty of mothers out there that experience a lot of frustrations in their lives with the products they use.  A baby monitor that doesn’t work, a crib that is too hard to put together, etc.  But, they are too busy to implement these ideas, or have the slightest clue where to start.  For this case in particular, i’m sure the major brands are all over it anyway.

But, as I type this, reason #4 seems like possibly the best answer to this post.

Reason #4: There are plenty of real world startups, but I don’t hear about them because I’m also so immersed in my digital life.

This can quite possibly be the answer.  Maybe it’s because I’m like everyone else, and I spend most of my time in front of a computer.  As sad as that sounds, it’s true.  The places I “hang out” are mostly online.  I hear the frustration of signal vs noise on twitter, but I never hear something like “I wish there was a better way to hang my keys”.  I’m so immersed in my online life, this is seriously the best real world problem I can come up with.  And it’s not even a problem!

In my example in reason #3, it is quite possible that sine I don’t have kids I have no idea what the newest and greatest products are and most importantly who are making these products.   Are there startups focusing on making baby products, I have no idea.

This is where I need the readers help – Where are all these real world startups.  Do they exist & if so where do I find them?

Rails for Zombies has evolved into Code School [50 invites available]

Learning how to code can be a daunting challenge. There are a ton of free resources available online, but there are very few cohesive courses that pull it all together in one package and this pain point was Gregg Pollack’s inspiration for Rails for Zombies. Gregg believe if he could integrate screen-casts with interactive elements (run sample code right in the browser) and gamification he could create a very unique learning experience. In the first several months over 5,000 people have already completed the “Rails for Zombies” course.

Inspired by Rails for Zombies success, Gregg decided to apply the lessons he learned from it and build a marketplace that could host similar content. Thus Code School was born. Code School is an interactive online marketplace where you can learn to code directly in the browser. It’s built off the same framework that Rails for Zombies uses.

Code School is currently in private beta, but they have graciously given us 50 invites to share with our readers. With an invite you can access “Rails Best Practices” for free (typically $30). All you need to do is leave a comment on this article with a way for us to get in touch with you and we will shoot you an invite.

For more startup news, follow us on twitter @startupfoundry.

Viinyl is About.me for music

The music industry has changed rapidly over the last 15 years. The evolution from vinyl, to tape, to cds, to MP3s has forced artists to adapt the way they brand and market their music. For instance, instead of the 12 inches of artwork on a Vinyl jacket artists previously had, today we’re limited to an MP3 file and accompanying JPG.

Along with the format change our purchasing preferences have shifted. Most people no longer buy whole albums, but instead prefer to pluck a few singles from iTunes. The single is undeniably king. Unfortunately this comes at the cost of lost art.

Armine Saidi’s company Viinyl believes it has the answer. Viinyl launched yesterday at Superconf in Miami, and their aim is to give singles the art they deserve. Their motto is “1 Song. 1 Site. 1 URL.”. In a sense Viinyl is hoping to be the About.me of music. A place where artists maintain their own creative vision.

Preliminary case studies show favorable results for artists using Viinyl. 24% of visitors who saw the artist’s Viinyl went on to visit the artist’s social media page, and 5% of listeners decided to purchase the track.

You can check out a demo Viinyl here. For more startup news, follow us on twitter @startupfoundry.

(Special thanks to Auston Bunsen for inviting me to be on the judging panel at Superconf).

Get Satisfaction tells TSF why their commitment is to “be a good citizen”

Thor Muller is one of the original co-founders of Get Satisfaction and is also the current CTO.  Get Satisfaction officially launched in September of 2007 and since then has grown to 50,000 communities, 6 million visitors a month and over 2,000 paying customers.

I had the chance to speak with Thor on the phone and we had a great conversation regarding how t hey started, challenges on the way, and their commitment to “Be a good citizen”.

What type of company would be suited to use your service?

Get Satisfaction is used by every size and category of company.  It ranges from small mom and pop retail shops to Global 500 customers such as Walmart, P&G, Microsoft & Motorola.  The appeal is broad.

Tell us about the first 6 months of Get Satisfaction, and how the idea originated.

My wife, Amy Muller, and I were founders of a consulting company we founded called Rubyred Labs.  We had grown to a team of seven, working together on developing new social networks and web apps.  Through a side-project called ValleySchwag we stumbled onto the intractable problem of customer service, which we thought could be reinvented using the social web.  Lane Becker, a friend who had co-founded Adaptive Path, told us: “If you two don’t start it, I will”.  We brought him on board as a co-founder and started Get Satisfaction.

During our initial pitches to investors we were told that most companies would never allow their “dirty laundry” to be aired in public. Customer service issues were “best kept hidden,” according to them. But our story was that companies don’t really have the choice:  through blogs, Get Satisfaction, Twitter, Facebook, etc, people are able to summon companies into public conversation.  This disruptive position was what ultimately attracted our initial investors, First Round Capital,  OATV, and SoftTech VC, to us.

To be clear: we never set out to be a complaint site. Our goal was to create open spaces for people to connect with each other around the products and services they cared about. Being a “good citizen” has been central to playing this role. Instead of just providing a SaaS community platform we allowed anyone to start a customer community–be they an employee or a customer.  This led to an initial launch of our service that was fundamentally consumer-driven.

Did this unconventional approach cause you any problems?

The good folks at 37signals had an issue with it, the result of a hasty update to our site design.  We responded quickly to the issue (and it was a valid issue), and fixed our mistakes. I am the first to admit that it was our mistake.  We received some feedback from outsiders to push back hard against the critique, but we felt that missed the point. This was our opportunity to live by our creed of conducting business with more humility, more humanity. Our original idea for a lightweight web app was inspired by 37signals’ work, and we genuinely respect the work that they have done.

Besides the 37 signals issue, were there any other public issues that you had to deal with? We’ve been fortunate to avoid many public mis-steps. One near miss: a year ago we pre-announced a change to our paid plans, including the removal of features from our free plan. However, we did not “grandfather” existing users. Not surprisingly, free users were upset. But since we were able to collect feedback before the actual change, we were able to add a grandfathering policy for our early users.  We avoided a black eye by being ultra-responsive.

Are you bootstrapped or funded?

In our early months were able to use our existing cash flow from the consulting business, along with funding from our friends and family who were eager–perhaps recklessly so–to support the venture.  Since we spun the business out of our development consultancy, we had a whole product team from day one.

How did you market your startup initially.  What advice do you have for other early stage startups?

First and foremost, you need a good story.  Early on, we had a provocative position: “Your company doesn’t own its customer service.”  That statement resonated with a lot of people and that’s how we were able to get press.  We also did a lot of speaking engagements, conferences, etc.

Another big thing that helped is that a few times we were featured as part of hot news stories or controversies. A prime example of this was last November, when DecorMyEyes was accused of cultivating complaints and bad reviews to gin up the SEO of their e-commerce site. The story got a lot of attention & press. We responded to the story, clarifying numerous mis-conceptions and providing technical guidance on how other sites could avoid being gamed by bad actors.  This was an example of how we look for opportunities to be a good citizen. This is the social capital that the reputations and businesses are built on today.

Check Get Satisfaction out at http://www.getsatisfaction.com, or follow them on twitter @getsatisfactio. Follow the author on twitter @robbieab, and for up to the minute startup news – follow us on twitter @startupfoundry

Don’t suck twice.

Every company makes mistakes. Startups by definition are more prone to making mistakes. Your app is at version 1.0, you’re slowly getting traction, and you’re scared you might screw something up.

I’ve seen startups that get so scared they become paralyzed by fear that the tiniest little mistake might bring their whole company down. I’ve heard companies internally debate button placement before they had a single customer even interested in their product.

As your startup grows there are things that you won’t be perfect on, and that’s okay (as long as it’s not a security hole). When you make a mistake, iterate quickly and fix it. Your goal as a startup is not to be perfect at version 1.0, but to not make the same mistake twice.

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, said:
‘If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.’

Two days ago I published my first (“real”) interview with Andrew Warner. Before the interview I practiced a hundred times, recorded several demo interviews with friends to make sure my equipment worked, and I memorized all of my questions. You know what? I still sucked (I botched a question, Skype auto color-corrected me green, there was a slight echo, etc.). However, it was a fantastic learning experience for me. I learned more in those 15 minutes with Andrew then I did in all of my rehearsals. My next interview will be a little bit better as I have learned from my mistakes. It still might not be perfect, but I won’t repeat those mistakes. Don’t be afraid of failure.

Planning is incredibly important, but you will learn so much more by actually getting some skin in the game. You have to get out of the boat to walk on water. Pick something your company sucks at and fix it. Don’t suck twice.

For more startup news, follow us on twitter @startupfoundry.

This is Your Brain on One Page: Workflowy [YC Summer 2010]

My girlfriend lovingly describes herself as the “geeks tech resistant girlfriend.”  That description is quite accurate.  She has an iPhone (which she got about three months ago) that has four non-Apple apps on it.  Some days I am surprised that she can even find the Internet.  As such, I thought it would be an interesting to see what she had to say about the dead simple list making startup Workflowy.  We’ll get to that in a moment in the form of a he said/she said discussion.  First a bit on Workflowy…

Workflowy is not exactly new to the startup arena.  They have been around since November 2010.  Mike Turtzin and Jesse Patel, the two cofounders, were accepted to Y Combinator in summer 2010, but what is interesting is that Workflowy was not the idea they were accepted for.  They were working on some sort of a platform for web gurus to give and get advice.  Which just goes to show that most angels or investors are looking at the person rather than the idea.

Workflowy was a product of Jesse needing a way to keep track of lists and ideas.  While working on their original YC idea he was using an older version of Workflowy to keep notes and lists.  Other YC members were using it as well and liked the product.  As a result, they realized that they may have been on to something and the notion of keeping your brain on a single sheet of paper developed into what we now know as Workflowy.

So how good is Workflowy?  Very very good.  I have been using it for what I thought was six months.  Turns out it has only been available publically since November 2010.  Apparently it is so good it has skewed my interpretation of the passage of time.  Nonetheless, my Workflowy account has been a godsend.  I use it for anything and everything.  It works great for this geek but what about his non-tech girlfriend?

She said: There is minimal set up—truly easy for anyone.  I am the ultimate test.

He said: She is right.  She is the ultimate test.  If it involves tech and she thinks it’s easy…it is.  She thought the activation process for “Find my iPhone” was difficult.

She said: Workflowy will eliminate the need for those annoying little scraps of paper holding your notes and lists. Unless you lose your computer, you won’t lose your list!

He said: When Workflowy gains traction 3M’s Post-it notes might be put out of business.  Those scraps of paper are annoying.  Digitalize them by shifting all your hot to-do items to Workflowy.  Worried that you won’t be able to access your notes on the go?  Or that you’ll lose your computer? They’ll have an app out soon.

She said: The intuitive nature of this program would make you think it is an Apple application.

He said: I love my Apple products but not in the hyper-rabid monomaniacal way that MG Seigler does.  She came up with that one on her own.  I will say that it is super simple, which is a large part of the appeal.

She said: For the “Type A’s” out there—you will love the fact that you can hide your completed items—rather that just deleting them. You can look back at all of your “honey do’s” and feel great about your productivity!

He said: For the deadbeat boyfriends or husbands out there, your significant others will be making “honey do” lists like starved beaver in a toothpick factory.  Which is an interesting part of list-making psychology.  I find that the easier it is to input notes, lists, or tasks, the more likely I am to actually to the inputting.  Which is usually the downfall of reminder notes:  the actual writing of them to remind yourself.  And it seems that most people that use Workflowy find the same thing.  The simple Workflowy interface lacks all the bells and whistles that your usual to-do apps include, which spurs the user to use it more.

She said: I am strangely bonded to my lists, so I thought an electronic surrogate would not fit the bill. Sorry paper. After 36 years, I am leaving you.

He said: Yikes!  Pretty strong words for someone that loves her lists and note taking materials.  I will keep you posted on whether she sticks to this very declarative statement.

She said: If you love detail, let it all hang out. If you don’t, a few clicks will condense your list into more general headings and subheadings.

He said: It’s true.  I just looked at my Workflowy account.  By my estimation I have about 10-15 pages when everything is expanded.  (Not counting completed items, which are hidden).  When it is minimized it consists of nine headings taking up about as much space as this paragraph.

So what advice does this startup have for other startups?  A couple of things:

1.) Have a vision for your company and product.  That vision needs to be the basis for which you measure all decisions about your product.  In the case of Workflowy, their vision is your brain organized onto one page.  This means that requests for more features or other add-ons are weighed against that vision.  If it doesn’t make the cut, it doesn’t find its way into the product.

2.) Don’t spend eternity in beta.  A startup won’t benefit from every detail being perfected.  The less time you spend in beta the better your efforts will be because as you move along with your idea, the startup and the company will change.  If you are in beta forever there is no way to experiment with the outside world and truly better your product.

3.) Do you know when to say goodbye to your baby?  This is the perennial problem of an entrepreneur:  when to let the idea go and begin anew.  In the case of Workflowy they moved into the list making area after they realized one thing:  Their users wanted it.  If you are forcing your product on them, it’s time to head in a new direction.

4.) Jesse wanted this to be the headline for this article:  “Mike is A Champion.”  My editor wouldn’t allow it but I think the message he was trying to convey was that a successful company depends on a solid relationship between the cofounders.  Pick your cofounders wisely and once you have, make sure you cultivate that relationship to its fullest.

If you are interested in Workflowy their main site can be found at http://workflowy.com.  Or follow them on Twitter @workflowy. To keep up with startup news, follow us on twitter @startupfoundry.

Andrew Warner’s 3 tips to giving interviews for founders and entrepreneurs


Andrew Warner (from Mixergy fame) recently sat down with The Startup Foundry for a one-on-one interview. In this video Andrew first established why founders should give interviews, and then gave 3 tips on how to give a great interview.

Cliff notes below.

Andrew’s three key points in giving an interview:
1. Practice – The old adage “Practice makes perfect” is true. Especially on film.
2. Shut up – Don’t trust a producer or editor to cut something stupid that you said.
3. Tell a Story – People remember stories.

Links in this video:
Mixergy.com – Andrew Warner’s Company
Balsmiq – The mockup company from the story Andrew Told
Superconf – The conference Andrew and I will be attending in Miami.
MediaTemple – Our sponsor

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewwarner. For more startup news, follow us on twitter @startupfoundry.

Get Clicky with it – Real Time Analytics for your Startup


Clicky was an easy choice for us to ask to interview.  I am a big fan of the service, and I love to see the little guy go up against the big guy (Google Analytics) and actually see some significant traction. I had an amazing opportunity to interview Sean Hammons from Clicky and he goes into detail of how they started, their biggest challenges and why they keep turning “hundreds of investors” down to invest in their company.

It’s an interesting read, and an insightful look into a great startup.  If you are a member of Clicky, or just needed the extra motivation to sign up – they have a built-in affiliate program that is worth looking into as discussed in the interview.

The transcript of the interview is below.

Who you are, position in the company, and how long you have been with Clicky.

Sean Hammons, co-founder and lead developer. I started working on Clicky started in October 2006 so it’s been a little over 4 years.

In two sentences or less, explain what your service does & what its’ competitive advantage is of other big players in the market

Clicky gives you simple yet detailed reports on your web site’s traffic in real time. The ease of use, real time data, great customer support, and affordable pricing has helped us stand out in this fairly crowded vertical.

What is the biggest challenge you have to making clicky real time.  Was it always real time?

Clicky has always been real time. In 2006 there weren’t many real time analytics tools (and none that were affordable), so we decided to make one ourselves. These days pretty much all services are real time (Google Analytics being a notable exception) so it’s not as much of a standout feature anymore. We had a lot of demand immediately, so I think we definitely got a bit lucky with our timing.

It has been a huge challenge dealing with the bandwidth and the amount of data we have to process every day. But challenge is fun and exciting. I absolutely love what I do. I’ve never worked on any project even one thousandth the size of Clicky, so I didn’t have experience with scaling or optimization or things like that, nor was I much experienced with using Linux as a server. Now I run 50 Linux servers that we built ourselves and during peak times we’re tracking over 4,000 page views per second across our network of 300,000 sites. If someone had told me in 2006 that I would be running a service of this size and scale in 4 years, I probably would have laughed.

How many users does clicky have?

We’ve got about 150,000 users (15,000 paying) tracking 300,000 sites.

Take us through the first 6 months at get clicky.  How did you get traction, press, etc.  Were the founders also developers?

My partner Noah was my boss at my last job, and Clicky was created as an internal tool for our own usage there. We saw the potential immediately, so we decided to become partners and pursue Clicky full time. Noah had a bit of cash saved up and I was a developer, so we didn’t need any funding. We lived off his savings for the first 4 months until we started making money directly.

Getting people to initially try the service was challenging and frustrating. We didn’t have any good connections at the time so it was hard to anyone to even look at our site. I was posting in forums, going to hundreds of blogs and using the contact forms to try to get the owner to try Clicky out, things like that. Not a single person signed up from those efforts. But finally, we got a break, and as soon as we got that one post, it just took off. We didn’t do any marketing or advertising, it was just that one single post on a largish web site. A few months later, we started making money, and that was a great feeling. We were growing much faster than we expected to, so the first few months was pretty challenging, as I had to really buckle down and learn about how to scale this kind of service. It was a lot of fun though. I’ve never learned so much in such a short period of time.

Tell us how you really feel about Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is an extremely powerful service but it has a very steep learning curve. We designed Clicky’s interface to be easy to understand up front so people don’t get scared. We have some powerful features (goals, split testing, etc) but they’re not up front intimidating you. They’re there to discover when you want them, but otherwise it’s all about simplicity. A lot of people use Clicky and GA together on the same site – Clicky for most day to day needs, but GA when they need some of the power we don’t provide. For example, Google’s has really good segmentation and historical trends with that data. We have segmentation too but it’s calculated “on demand” so it’s not as fast as Google, especially when viewing over a large date range.

What are some marketing techniques that you can share with others who have just launched their product.

Well like I said above, we didn’t do any marketing or advertising. But one thing that really helped our growth is that we’ve had a very simple affiliate program from day one. Every user is an affiliate by default so there’s no forms to fill out or junk like that. The program is simple – every new user you refer to Clicky who signs up for a paid account, you get 20% of every payment they ever make to us. This really encourages people to talk about us more than they might otherwise, and we have some people making several hundred dollars every month because they have referred so many users our way. If your service is is freemium or paid only, either way I would whole heartedly recommend implementing a similar affiliate program. Whatever other services I create in the future, I can guarantee they will all have affiliate programs. It really does help your growth and your bottom line.

I noticed you don’t have a Facebook fan page.  I had a post earlier that mentioned Facebook fan pages are worthless for startups.  Would you agree?Why does clicky not have a facebook fan page?

I think Twitter is a much better place for handling B2C relationships because of its public nature. I’ve never been a huge Facebook fan anyways. I do use it, but only for keeping in contact with “real life” friends.

Are you funded or bootstrapped?  If you did get funding, at what stage did you get the funding.  Pre-prototype or post-prototype?

We’re bootstrapped. We’ve been contacted by hundreds of investors at this point though. Originally we were interested in taking on some money to help us grow faster, but that is no longer the case. If you can afford to bootstrap, do it. Owning 100% of your company and not having to answer to shareholders is ridiculously satisfying. The only time I think it makes sense to take on funding is if you need a fairly large team up front to build your service. Otherwise, don’t do it because you’ll probably regret it.

Clicky.com must bother you.  Any changes clicky will purchase clicky.com?

We contacted the owner of clicky.com a long time ago but he was not interested in selling it at the time. It’s a bit frustrating because the domain is not being used for anything anymore. But, most people know us as “get clicky” anyways (because of our domain name), so it’s not really the biggest deal in the world.

Check Clicky out at getclicky.com, and follow them on twitter @getclicky

Follow the author on twitter @robbieab, and for up to the minute startup news – follow us on twitter @startupfoundry

Silicon Valley is Hollywood for Startups


I watched Social Network for the second time today, and it got me thinking. Entrepreneurs are no different than struggling actors. The end goal for an actor or entrepreneur is not to land a high paying job at some respected company, but to become rich and famous. If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to create something new and exciting that hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of people will use. If you are an actor, your goal is to get on TV or the big screen and be seen by millions of people.

We’re all working towards the same goal and yet everyone has a different approach. However, We all can agree on one point: You have a higher probability of succeeding if you surround yourself with the smartest people in your industry. The more connections you have, the better chance you have of getting found. Silicon Valley and Hollywood have a large concentration of industry talent all in one small area, and this is why they are arguably the most importent and influential areas in the world. Yes, the world.

What other place can you get a more dramatic scene when you finally tell your parents: “Mom, Dad: I’ve decided to quit school & work, and move to hollywood to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an actor”. Change Hollywood with “Chicago, New York, London, Tokyo, Paris” and it just doesn’t have the same effect. No matter how much you love your city, it’s just not as influential as Silicon Valley or Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, other cities ARE important too and you can become rich and famous by starting a company outside of silicon valley such as Boston, Chicago or New York, and there have been plenty instances of actors outside of Hollywood that have gone on to become rich and famous. But that’s not my point. There are no other areas in the world that are more influential and important than Silicon Valley or Hollywood. Period.

Silicon Valley is home to the most brilliant entrepreneurs and technology companies who have impacted people’s lives around the world. Google, Facebook & Apple are a rock throw from each other. Where else in the world can you say three companies of that magnitude are located so close to each other? Better yet, imagine if they all disappeared right now. Wouldn’t things be a whole lot worse?

Hollywood is home to some of the most influential actors, agents, producers and studios along with movies & music that are watched and heard around the world. They control America’s media, and arguably have a huge impact on international media as well. Media is important and goes hand in hand with technology. If president Obama shut off our internet AND TV, you can guarantee there will be mass riots.

Speaking of riots, technology & media were part of the reason people in Egypt were able to organize protests efficiently and succeed in their mission to overthrow Mubarak. It wasn’t the people of Silicon Valley or Hollywood that were part of this, but you can’t look past their role as an enabler, and you can’t look past the importance of these two areas and their impact across the world.

I would love to be proven wrong on this issue. If you think there is a more important region, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Side note: I am a fairly well travelled individual who has been to most of the major international cities except East Asia. I also live in Chicago. Go Figure.

You can follow the author, Robbie Abed on twitter @robbieab and The Startup Foundry on twitter @startupfoundry.