One of the most important steps in building your company is creating a corporate boilerplate. This is a one paragraph summary of your company; it is your blurb. Journalists, customers, investors, random web-surfers - you name it, they will be the ones reading it when trying to find out more about you.
Here are some tips on writing an awesome boilerplate:
- Be concise and factual. Introduce yourself then describe what you do and for whom.
- Position yourself: e.g. say that you’re the market leader (if you truly are)or state your company mission.
- Don’t forget to include a link or contact at the end.
- Remember, short and sweet.
And now, here are some examples of big-name boilerplates:
Skype is a communications software whose purpose is to break down barriers to communication. With an Internet-connected device, families, friends and colleagues can get together for free with messaging, voice and video. At low cost, they can also call landlines or mobiles virtually anywhere in the world. Skype has recently introduced group video, allowing groups of more than two people to do things together whenever they’re apart.
Spotify is an award-winning music service offering a legal and superior quality alternative to music piracy. Spotify provides instant access to whatever music you want, whenever and wherever you want it, through a simple, clean and quick to use platform via an ad-supported, free-to-the-user service and a paid subscription service. With access to millions of songs through your computer, on your mobile and beyond, Spotify makes it easier than ever to play and share music legally. www.spotify.com
Research In Motion (RIM), a global leader in wireless innovation, revolutionized the mobile industry with the introduction of the BlackBerry® solution in 1999. BlackBerry products and services are used by millions of customers around the world to stay connected to the people and content that matter most throughout their day.
The BlackBerry product line includes the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet, the award-winning BlackBerry smartphone, software for businesses and accessories.
The G8 summit is received with varying levels of enthusiasm, with images of violent protests and questions of the effectiveness of the group fresh in people’s minds. For the tech community however, this year’s summit is extremely exciting as the Internet and technology are on the agenda for the first time ever.
Nicolas Sarkozy is currently hosting an e-G8 forum in Paris immediately before this year’s summit “in order to provide G8 political leaders with fresh ideas”. The world’s top Internet and digital leaders are there to meet and provide insights that will be fed into the G8 Summit itself in Deauville.
Sessions are being streamed live, and video highlights from each day will be posted on . Participants and other Twitter users wanting to participate in the conversation are encouraged to use the #eg8 hashtag.
This is great news for our sector and deserved “recognition of how critically important [the tech sector is] to sustaining and accelerating global economic growth”. And Ballou’s very own Colette Ballou will be there, so follow her for updates on @coletteballou.
So, the PlayStation Network (PSN) is finally back online after weeks of being down following an attack by hackers. Sony sent out several messages to users stating that credit card or personal details may have been stolen, and that Sony was unable to guarantee what had been exposed.
This is the first time Sony dropped the ball with its free version of online gaming that allows users to play against others around the world at no cost, unlike Xbox Live from archrivals Microsoft.
The main questions are whether the PSN saga constitutes as a PR disaster for Sony and whether the disaster has been rectified successfully.
Microsoft has had countless server problems over the last five years, all of which received limited coverage or exposure. This is interesting given that Xbox Live is a pay service, so users should be more critical of faults when they don’t get their money’s worth. But in fact, Sony has received far more criticism over this episode. Why is that? Let’s take a quick look…
Firstly, let’s start off with communication. Sony chose its PlayStation blog to communicate with users that there was a hack attack, and that the servers were taken down to prevent further damage. This was the right platform to use and updates were regular. However, the first post regarding the loss of personal user details was on the 26th of April, eight days after the servers had gone down globally. This was rightly paired with tips on protecting bank accounts, personal details and scams, but late nonetheless.
Secondly after this blog post and messages to users via email, no solutions or compensation were offered. Help and FAQs were limited to a few contact numbers, but no sign of a solution for those affected. The lack of information contributed to the panic and was picked up by press such as Wired, The Guardian and BBC.
After a few more days, Sony took control of the situation and began to turn the it around by doing a few things right. Howard Stringer, president and CEO of Sony, wrote a personal message to its PS3 users. Sony took the blame, stated its objectives, and offered an apology gift forwhen the servers came back up; a free month of PSN+, a pay service that gives users exclusive content. It also reassured users that security and personal details were of utmost importance. An insurance policy against identity theft was created to protect user details from future attacks.
A day after the CEO’s letter, Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications, wrote to users as well, stating that the servers would only be accessible once Sony was 100% certain that they were safe and fully repaired. As of today, the 18th of May, the PSN servers are back online and Sony have provided users across its many regions with contact information for third party companies involved with fraud protection or identity theft.
Microsoft and Steam no doubt watched the whole episode with interest. Sony mismanaged the first few days after the incident due to vague news updates, but eventually took control with the right decisions. But was it too late? Will users now think twice before disclosing their details to Sony’s online features? Will new users choose an Xbox 360 over a PS3? Time will tell.
Here are several things Sony should do: make it easier to access and purchase pre-paid PSN cards, reassure users that they are of utmost importance to Sony and that the company will do whatever it takes to protect them, make it easy for users to access helplines, and lastly, be direct.
Before I go, here’s something worth looking at: Sony have placed a bounty on the hackers through the FBI.
We all have that friend, the one that is always late. But, as I sit here, on my packed, massively delayed tube (where we just got told off by the tube driver!), I find myself wondering what late really means in our connected world.
Sure, in essence, it still exists; people are always running late. But the difference is, for the most part, thanks to technology, we are all aware of it. Lateness rarely comes without a text message, email, phone call or instant message from said late mate, explaining their predicament and apologising profusely. Long gone are the days when you stand around hoping the person you’re meeting isn’t stranded with no way to reach you. But, whilst these pre-emptive apologies can seem, and always are, polite; are they actually acceptable? Have we become a world where lateness doesn’t matter?
Being late is now so incredibly common and in many ways unavoidable (I’m looking at you TFL). But, I wonder how many of us haven’t put in a ‘I’m going to be late’ text to a friend as you really wanted your Saturday morning / can’t be bothered to move etc. Communication has made it so easy for us all to share everything, we don’t even think twice at using it to spin whatever we want…But just remember, location based tweeting, Facebook checks-in. We all love them now, but just think, you won’t be able to get away with shopping before that meeting anymore….
Our founder and CEO, Colette Ballou, has been included in the list of the UK’s 100 most influential figures in the digital world. The Wired 100, in June’s edition of Wired UK, included Colette Ballou alongside the likes of Julian Assange from Wikileaks, Michael Acton Smith from Mind Candy, Mike Butcher from TechCrunch Europe and regular tech-junkie Stephen Fry.
This year’s Wired 100, which is the second edition of the list, compiles the top investors, entrepreneurs, designers, innovators and figures who are playing an influential role in shaping the UK’s digital space.
The inclusion of PR professionals highlights the increasingly important role of social-media savvy public relations for start-ups. As more and more companies enter Europe and the US, the need for building key relationships with influencers, customers and press becomes a growing necessity, which is where we come in.
If you’d like to meet Colette, she is mentoring at Springboard, Seedcamp, SxSW Start-Up Accelerator and IBM SmartCamp, and she is a judge of the Telegraph Tech Start-Up 100 and is part of Dave McClure’s 500startups. She will also be attending the DLD Womenconference in Munich and has been invited to participate in President Sarkozy’s e-G8 Forum to take place in Paris in May.
Live Event Blogging – for and against
Wisdom London’s Kate Spiers takes on Ballou’s Stefano Scaglione in the first of our blog debates. This time, live blogging/tweeting from events – for and against.
There are very few live bloggers who do it right and for that reason I am largely against. For a start, live blogging is a misnomer. What we mean is live tweeting. Yes, you can blog from an event but why would you? I’d suggest that that very nature of blogging means that post event, as you’re ruminating all that you’ve heard and seen, is the best time to blog. Because when you’re there, you should be, well, there.
So: Live tweeting. Well, it’s a nice enough concept – you’re not there but you can follow the hashtag and more specifically, the official live blogger / tweeter and hear what’s up from the comfort of your desk / train seat / slanket.
In theory what you should get is the absolute golden nuggets of goodness coming from those esteemed speaker panels and keynotes. Often what you get instead is a stream of consciousness from people who should frankly know better, which essentially states the obvious. It is infuriating. It’s as if in the presence of a live event and Twitter, usually sane and even erudite individuals slavishly start to repeat word for word what’s being said in grand soundbites, without a second thought for their relative quality.
The Social Media World Forum a few weeks back, for example, brought us such classic STBO (stating the bleeding obvious) as this:
Yawn. We know this. What is this adding?
So to conclude my case, live blogging / tweeting adds very little and I’m still not sure why organisations actually pay people to do it. More interesting and useful is real-time response and comment from participants, which is contextual, genuine and quite often a lot better thought out.
Twitter, and most other social networks, has completely changed the way we interact with the internet. Apart from live video or a live audio feed, tweeting/blogging is one of the popular ways of converting an event into readable bytes within seconds. This has created the opportunity for anyone, and I mean anyone, with access to the internet, to temporarily be reporters of their own.
From the outside, streams of information will be flying out of the event, each with their own personal touch – it gives the outside observer an array of options and alternatives. A rich pool of information that people can selectively follow in order to understand what’s going on.
We should embrace this phenomenon. While browsing Twitter, you are just as free as the author, you can be selective. Tools are available to narrow down or filter words or people. In addition, most of the authors are reactive and ready to interact or nod their heads in agreement with tweets and replies. This isn’t in favour of just gibberish, but it’s in favour of giving everyone a platform to post their thoughts during an event in real-time.
Events, participating teams, companies and journalists should allocate tweeting duties to designated people within their teams, just to avoid too much repetition or confusion. At the end of the event, the collective stream of tweets will come in handy for analysis, for recaps, for learning, and for quoting.
If we expect live tweets to be at the same level as a literary genius or a journalist, we might as well filter the whole of Twitter. You’re going to get the odd ineffective tweet, but the majority, when put together, can tell a story.
Social media: Social or what? Do YOU have a digital addiction? Social media. We often profess it as a way to socialise with those outside of our immediate social circles. But, what about those who aren’t online when we are? How many of us sit at our friend’s house, events or parties engaging with those online, as opposed to those in person? I’m guessing a fair few of you. I know I’ve been guilty. How many of you think it’s okay? - Georgina
There’s a big question about what is really social about social media? And it really is a good question. It doesn’t let you know that person better; it just lets you know a side to them they want to portray. It doesn’t bring you a whole host of new friends; anyone here see all their Facebook ‘friends’ a lot, or know even half of their Twitter followers? It definitely doesn’t make you sociable; in fact, the opposite is true. So, what purpose does it serve?
Social media does have its place in society, disseminating news is just one; and I’m not talking PRs sharing their client news (hi!), or even journalists pushing theirs out. It’s about people sharing stories that are interesting to them or unwittingly being the first to break news. Giving people a platform to share on and from, has arguably given news (and savvy media channels) a new lease of life; it’s more engaging, it’s more interactive and importantly, as is the modern day trend, it gives everyone a voice. Many news channels cleverly incorporate social media into reports, using Facebook fan pages or Twitter streams to garner opinion - in many ways replacing email… - and it works.
Despite this though, there’s a time and a place for it. If you’re at your own wedding (or actually anyone’s), don’t be ‘that person’ who tweets witty banter about the day, when really, you’re huddled in a corner whilst everyone else has fun. Firstly, it’s kind of disrespectful; secondly, well, it’s just a bit sad. Same goes for births (just eww), birthday parties, events, Christmas dinner, any dinner, funerals (just plain wrong), in fact, just any time when you’re in the presence of other people. And if you are that person reading this, thinking there’s nothing wrong with a bit of funeral tweeting, I think you may have a digital addiction. First step: admittance. Second step: detox… Put the smartphone down.
Social media: Social or what?
Do YOU have a digital addiction?
Social media. We often profess it as a way to socialise with those outside of our immediate social circles. But, what about those who aren’t online when we are? How many of us sit at our friend’s house, events or parties engaging with those online, as opposed to those in person? I’m guessing a fair few of you. I know I’ve been guilty. How many of you think it’s okay?
So, this week you’ll be seeing plenty of a certain hashtag in Twitterland: as The Next Web (Official hashtag: #TNW201) hits Amsterdam for 3 days beginning on 27th April.
Our very own Vanessa McDonald and Anouk Jacob (GM of Ballou UK/USA and Ballou France respectively) are attending, and we thought you may like a preview of what to expect, especially if you’ll be following the action from your desk.
A Stellar Speaker Line-up
The Next Web never fails to disappoint and this year is no exception. We’re looking forward to star turns from Robert Scoble, Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge, Soundcloud CEO Alexander Ljung and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels. You can check out the whole list here.
We live and breathe startups, so we’re doubly delighted to see TNW Startup Rally take place again this year. 18 of the hottest new start-ups will compete for the overall winning accolade, judged by the great and the good of web life, including our very own TechHub Landlord, Mike Butcher (TechCrunch). Social commerce, social gaming and semantic web feature heavily this year. Stay tuned.
Oh, you developers are going to love this. For the first time ever TNW is hosting a two day Hackathon; inviting mobile and web developers, programmers and graphic designers from all over Europe to hack some of the coolest applications on top of the world’s leading web APIs and mobile platforms. A jury of leading entrepreneurs and investors will look on, and the best of the best will get airtime during the main event. Geekery and creativity unleashed – we like!
A Very Orange Celebration
It just so happens that this year’s The Next Web conference is followed by one of The Netherlands’ biggest holidays, Queensday. The Queen is revered by her subjects in the best way they know how – by dressing in orange and partying hard. Sounds fair to us….
The Next Web Conference: 27-29 April 2011, Amsterdam
See the full The Next Web Conference site here
And follow the hashtag for updates: #TNW2011
A Frenchie spends time with the London Office
In Daniel Balavoine’s song: Le Chanteur, “Je m’présente, je m’appelle Hélène...J’voudrais bien réussir ma vie, speak English”
Two months ago I travelled by Eurostar for the first time, leaving behind my adopted city of Paris to arrive in the Anglo-Saxon metropolis of London with my big red suitcase!
“LOOK RIGHT, LOOK LEFT”, - the best advice a Londoner ever gave me. Just for this, I disagree with Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “England has built London for its own use, while France has built Paris for the world” – they thought of all the poor and disorientated foreigners who arrive every day in this amazing capital. I even love my commute in to work. If you have ever visited Paris you will know that the metro is always crowded, and Parisians have a habit of planting themselves in front of the door, so that you can’t get off at your stop because they want to get in first…that used to make me really nervous! Here in London the tube is no less crowded but the people are so much more respectful that it’s become a pleasure to take it…(I know, I’m an anomaly!)
I now spend my days at TechHub: startups, Silicon Roundabout, new technology, social media, Twitter, Facebook, entrepreneurs, high-growth companies, online shopping, and video streaming. It’s all new to me…ok it doesn’t seem so scary but it’s all in English! It’s not so much that it’s disorientating, but rather the fact that you are faced with so many cultural surprises: the TechHub office is a big open space with numerous young entrepreneurs, hard-workers, putting their legs on the table, removing their shoes – I’ve never seen that before in Paris. At the beginning it’s weird, but now I love it!
One thing I find different in England vs. France is the networking. Last week I got to experience the British style of work hard/play hard at the Telegraph Tech Start-Up 100 (a ranking of Europe’s most promising start-ups) in London where I was part of the hosting team and responsible to welcome the guests. It was great fun and interesting to meet people from Europe’s top media and start-ups. In France, we have a mode of learning that is more theoretical than in England. Here I think people use more pragmatism and more easily blend drinks and a big party with getting to know others in the industry.
I am so happy to have found the Ballouettes team. Every day, even when I look at them with big eyes thinking to myself “what are they talking about?” they are always patient with me, and do their best not to leave me in any confusion. So, that’s a quick introduction to my time in London - so far. Keep checking back for more stories about my London adventures!
Last Tuesday the Ballou team was at the Telegraph Tech Start-Up 100 event in central London.
The event, organised by Milo Yiannopoulos from the Telegraph, was completely sold out, with at least 300 attendees, ranging from start-ups, investors and people in the media. Delicious cocktails and canapés were served throughout the night, adding a little extra to the networking and awards, always a welcoming touch.
And moving on to the actual awards,Spotify was crowned the hottest European start-up of the ranking, a much deserved victory for the Swedish-based music streaming service. Spotify successfully launched in eight European countries, both its computer and mobile app (available on most mobile platforms), and will soon be entering the US - which will hopefully be another success!
The category winners included:
Overall, the event was very well organised and was great for networking. We had a lot of fun meeting new people and start-ups - if you weren’t able to attend or speak to us, drop us a line! We’d love to hear from you. And well done to all the start-ups that made it onto the list!