Business of Software Conference 2010
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories Business of Software, Events, Startups2 Comments on Business of Software Conference 2010
Business of Software 2010
Image credit: Betsy Weber

Wow, where to begin…

I attended the Business of Software conference (BoS2010) in Boston this year for the first time. The Business of Software conference is a yearly event sponsored by Neil Davidson of Red Gate Software and Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software, where entrepreneurs in the software industry get together to discuss the business side of running a software company.

Attending BoS2010 was truly an amazing experience. It was an intense three days of learning from, and networking with, passionate, motivated, driven, and intelligent individuals. It was very inspiring, and I highly recommend you attend next year, if you can afford it (it can easily add up to $5000 if you include airfare, hotel, conference fee, and other miscellaneous expenses).

The speakers included Seth Godin, Dharmesh Shah, Peldi Guilizzoni, Jason Cohen, Eric Ries, and Rob Walling. These are people I admire and look up to, and lil’ ole me actually got to meet and talk to many of these guys! How awesome is that! Probably the most surprising part was how humble, and easy to talk to these rock stars in the startup world are. Everyone I talked to was super nice, and extremely willing to talk to nobodies like myself.

I met lots of people at the conference, all at different stages in their business. Not only did I meet struggling startup founders just like me, I also met startup greats like Jason Cohen and Dharmesh Shah, and everyone in between. I especially enjoyed meeting Ricardo Sanchez and Steve Wilkinson, both of which I had previously interacted with online on OnStartups Answers.

BoS2010: Ricardo Sanchez and Steve Wilkinson

It’s impossible for me to write down every lesson I learned, and every emotion I felt, but I’ll do my best to summarize the presentations.

BoS2010 Presentation Summaries

All of the BoS2010 presentations were really good. My goal is to eventually post a summary of most of them. Unfortunately, that’s going to take me some time, because they all contained lots of good information. Below is a brief description of each presentation, with links to the ones I’ve summarized so far. I’ll post more summaries in the months to come.

Seth Godin: Being a great programmer is no longer sufficient to succeed in the software industry. Creating a piece of software that works is no longer an indicator of success. Times have changed. And in a world where we are bombarded with brands and products, we must create a unique customer experience to succeed. Success in the software industry is now dependent on your ability to create a tribe – a movement, a place of belonging, a community – and lead it.

Dharmesh Shah
: To have a successful software business, you need happy customers. It’s simply not enough to just acquire lots of customers – you need to retain them. And to retain your customers, you need to make them happy. You must measure your customers’ happiness level. Come up with your own metrics if you have to, but look at those numbers closely. Determine what makes happy customers, and what doesn’t, and adjust your business model accordingly.

Rob Walling: Most of us think that the number one goal of our website is to sell our products. And in a way it is. However, to best achieve that you must motivate a visitor to return to your website. Rob discusses how we can use permission based email marketing to increase website sales and profits.

Peldi Guilizzoni: As you run your business, you will worry about almost everything, however, not everything is worth worrying about. You should only worry about the important things – the rest will eventually work itself out. Peldi shares some of the issues that concern him, and discusses which ones are worth worrying about, and which ones are not. Peldi also shares some tips to overcome, and deal with, those fears.

Jason Cohen: From Geek to Entrepreneur. As a geek who has started three successful companies, Jason had to move from coder to everything else  – salesman, marketer, accountant, and changer of the pellets in the urinals. In the process, he found that some widely accepted advice lead to failure while trusting his inexperienced gut lead to success. He discusses six ways to figure out whether specific advice is right for your situation, and then work those lessons against the 37signals philosophy.

Youngme Moon: If there is one strain of conventional wisdom pervading every company in every industry, it is the importance of competing hard to differentiate yourself from the competition. And yet going head-to-head with the competition—with respect to features, product augmentations, and so on—has the perverse effect of making you just like everyone else. Youngme’s message is simply: Get off the competitive treadmill that’s taking you nowhere. Aspire to offer the world something that is meaningfully different. Different in a manner that is both fundamental and comprehensive.

Paul Kenny: Paul explores how to best get the customer talking about their needs, their concerns, and their aspirations. He discusses how to use our questioning and listening skills to engage the customer in a meaningful dialogue, which will help not only to identify an appropriate solution, but also to enhance the customer experience.

Eric Ries: The Lean Startup is a scientific approach to innovation. Most software projects fail. Most startups fail. Most new products are never used. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Lean Startup is a disciplined approach to imagining, designing, and building new products. By testing assumptions earlier, faster, and with more rigor, you can improve your success rate.

Scott Farquhar: From Bootstrap to $60 million. Atlassian has been a successful software bootstrap, right up until they took $60 million in funding in July 2010. Scott discusses some of what he’s learned about running a successful bootstrapped software company, including how to pick a business model, how to get free marketing, how they hired 32 people in 6 months, and how they built a workplace that has won numerous HR awards.

Joel Spolsky Business of Software

Joel Spolsky: After ten years of running a slow-growth, bootstrapped software company that was profitable from day 1, Joel found himself running a fast-growth, VC-funded internet company that is actually trying to get unprofitable. Joel reflects on some of the differences and some of what he’s learned from going over to the dark side.

Eric Sink: What Eric learned from selling his company to Microsoft. Over the years, Eric was approached by several parties interested in acquiring his company. He learned a lot from those discussions, even though none of the deals happened. In November 2009, Microsoft acquired the assets of his Teamprise division. In his presentation, Eric shares information that may be of interest to others looking to sell a small software firm to a big company.

Mark Stephens: The software universe has gone mad, and you need to step back and re-evaluate big time. This talk takes a long, cynical look at both the past and the future, gives you some new ideas, and pose lots of those awkward, searching questions you try to avoid.

David Russo: The way a company sets itself up from inception to find, hire, engage, reward, and keep its talent plays a large part in whether a company grows, finds success, rewards investors and incumbents, and even lives or dies.

Dan Bricklin: Dan discusses lessons learned from his experience in developing VisiCalc.

Derek Sivers: Derek shares the story of how his company CD Baby came to be, and why he decided to sell it.

BoS2010 Resources

Interested in learning more about the 2010 Business of Software? Here are some additional resources for your reading/viewing pleasure:



Official Business of Software Webpages

BoS2010 Blog Posts From Attendees

Registration is now open for the 2011 Business of Software conference, and the first 100 people to register get $900 off the conference fee.

Videos of some of the 2010 presentations have been uploaded on the BoS website. And although watching the videos doesn’t come close to actually being there in person, they are definitely worth watching.

Did you attend the Business of Software conference? If you didn’t, would you like to attend next year? If you did, what were your takeaways? What stood out the most to you? Did you share your thoughts on your own blog? Feel free to share the link with us.

Get a Free Copy of NSA’s Center for Cryptologic History 2011 Calendar
Posted on by Zuly GonzalezCategories EventsLeave a comment on Get a Free Copy of NSA’s Center for Cryptologic History 2011 Calendar

Here’s your chance to win a 2011 calendar from the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Center for Cryptologic History (CCH). All you have to do is tweet this blog post, and follow Light Point Security on Twitter.

M-209 Cipher Device This calendar was designed and published by NSA’s Center for Cryptologic History, and contains one of a kind photos and information from historic U.S. cryptologic events. For example, June features the M-209 cipher device, which was used to encrypt U.S. tactical communications during World War II and the Korean War. And January features the Confederate cipher reel, which was captured in Mississippi in 1864 by the north.

This is a very unique item that’s not available for purchase anywhere. The only way to get your copy of this calendar is to visit NSA’s Center for Cryptologic History, or enter this contest 🙂

How to Win – Contest Rules

We will run this contest for 1 week. The last day to enter will be on March 6, 2011 at 12:00pm EST. On March 7 we will randomly pick the winner, and announce it on Twitter. Entering the contest is easy; all you have to do is:Confederate Cipher Reel

  1. Follow Light Point Security on Twitter.
  2. Tweet this blog post.

To increase your chances of winning, tweet this post once per day. If you are already following Light Point Security on Twitter, you are eligible to win – all you have to do is tweet this post.

What Is NSA’s Center for Cryptologic History?

The Center for Cryptologic History (CCH) is part of the National Security Agency. The CCH is dedicated to the history of code-breaking, and provides a historical account of cryptologic history for the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense, other government agencies, academia, and the general public. CCH’s many classified and unclassified publications enable today’s cryptologic professionals to benefit from a historical perspective as they tackle increasingly challenging missions.

Microsoft’s “To The Cloud” Commercials Are Embarrassing
Posted on by Beau AdkinsCategories Opinion3 Comments on Microsoft’s “To The Cloud” Commercials Are Embarrassing

Face PalmSomeone please tell Microsoft what the cloud is… this is getting embarrassing. Have you seen the “To The Cloud” commercials? They all loosely follow the same formula. Someone is faced with a problem, they say “To The Cloud” and then they show you a Microsoft product that solves their problem. My issue is that none of the solutions they use have anything to do with the cloud.

Read more “Microsoft’s “To The Cloud” Commercials Are Embarrassing”