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Innovation the Easy Way: Stealing Great Ideas Steve Kirsch ChairmanInfoseek.

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Presentation on theme: "Innovation the Easy Way: Stealing Great Ideas Steve Kirsch ChairmanInfoseek."— Presentation transcript:

1 Innovation the Easy Way: Stealing Great Ideas Steve Kirsch ChairmanInfoseek

2 A confession

3 I am a thief I steal ideas I steal property I steal money

4 Prediction 1 year from now, many of you will: pay me to use your ideas let me use your computers for free

5 If you must leave early... Please send all your ideas, spare cash, excess equipment, etc. to: Steve Kirsch Infoseek 1399 Moffett Park Dr Sunnyvale, CA 94089

6 Agenda Why steal? How to steal What to steal What we should have stolen When not to steal What you can steal from us Stealing on a global scale …and…if you get caught...

7 Agenda How to get out of jail FREE!

8 Why Steal?

9 How most companies innovate Put a team on it Look at what others have done Come up with new ideas, experiment

10 The smart way to innovate Why take the risk? Why not adapt proven techniques?

11 How to steal

12 The most powerful idea stealing technique Question –How does Cisco compensate its employees? –How does Microsoft compensate its employees? Answer Ask 2 employees

13 Other popular stealing techniques “How do you know things?”

14 Three ways to steal Passive stealing –Provide a customer feedback mechanism Active stealing –Research… who does (or must be doing) this the best? –Get a contact within the company Opportunistic stealing –Magazine articles (Inc, Fortune, etc) –Seminars (like this one!)

15 Stealing ideas from customers Make customer feedback EASY! Easiest way: add a “Feedback” link Hard part is asking the right questions Collaboration may bring innovative solutions BUT beware… Always better to observe than to ask!

16 Ideas we’ve stolen

17 The power of stealing Stolen from PSS (They probably stole it too) “We haven’t come up with any good ideas ourselves. All our good ideas we’ve stolen from others.”

18 How to quintuple revenues At Stanford U., can you sell $50 worth of lemonade in 20 minutes? This innovative technique was stolen from the winning team of the Stanford Entrepreneur Car Rally Applies to web sites

19 Corporate values Great companies had them Got their values from the PR dept STARTED with the best: Cisco, Peoplesoft, Southwest Airlines, … …and REFINED

20 Single, simple goal Stolen from PSS Focuses your thinking Stretch goal Put on everything… –Presentations –Memos –Signs around the company

21 Power of a single goal Food challenge: $5K 100M page views

22 Compensation based on customer satisfaction Stolen from Cisco Over half of cash bonus is based on customer satisfaction

23 Product development process Stolen from HP product manager Write the datasheet and create the screens before writing the MRD

24 Getting customer names Stolen from Quarterdeck, others Works on Web site E-mail required for download In 15 days from installation, we e- mail reminder

25 Free access to corp info Stolen from PSS, with help from Apollo It forces you to be consistent and fair People love it

26 Recuiting the best Stolen from Microsoft, Cisco Nice articles in Fortune about Cisco’s and Microsoft’s recruiting practices

27 Banner ad idea Stolen from Netscape We even copied the size!

28 Searching the Web Stolen from Lycos

29 Product ideas Steal from our competitors –Yahoo: directory layout –Excite: channels –AltaVista: portions of our query syntax

30 Action-biased suggestion box Stolen from US Forest Service Old way –Fill out 4 page form –60 ideas/yr New way –Send e-mail or tell supervisor –If no response in 2 weeks, and not illegal, do it –6,000 ideas/yr

31 Ideas we should have stolen

32 Yahoo! Their approach: manual directory Our approach: automated directory What consumers liked You are in deep doo-doo Now what?

33 Steal an idea from someone else to change the game!

34 When not to steal

35 When stealing doesn’t work The imperfect copy –Yahoo Conditions have changed –The Internet –Different industry

36 The imperfect copy Theory: “We’ll apply technology to do it better and faster and with lower costs this way” Reality: –Be VERY careful about “improving” a stolen idea –You may need to vigorously defend this, in the face of overwhelming support against you

37 Changed conditions ISP “free trial” model didn’t work on the Internet Internet shopping experience is completely unique –do not expect the same value propositions to apply

38 Changed conditions Pacific Bell stole their awards program from Frequent Flyer of airlines Recently discontinued

39 Ideas you may want to steal from us

40 Python We used Python for Ultraseek Server Python is similar to Perl Python is to Java what Java is to C++ –fast development –easy to learn language –easy to read –object oriented –portable –easy to debug

41 The homing beacon A simple addition to Internet software Sends message back after installation as to how many documents are indexed Allows our sales people to prioritize leads

42 Direct Feedback E-mail from feedback page goes right to the doc person that created the page See

43 Comments visibility Extract typical comments from your incoming e-mail and forward to upper management

44 Periodically pretend you are the customer Submit feedback and see how long it takes to get a reply Try the download link… does it download and install correctly?

45 Product information on your website There are 18 or so categories of information that I’d love to see about any product See m for a list –Customer sites –Live demo –Screen shots –Feature list –Specs –System requirements –FAQ –Product documentation –Press reviews –Competitive comparison

46 The Art of the Steal (Apologies to Donald Trump)

47 Stealing saves money! Today –OUR computers index YOUR data Tomorrow –YOUR computers index YOUR data (running OUR software) Ours Yours

48 Global theft benefits User results are more complete and up to date We leverage: –OPM –OPC

49 Summary If done properly, stealing is –safer –easier –faster than innovating from scratch

50 Stealing this presentation Goto Infoseek Type: “Steve Kirsch” Go to the top hit (my home page)


52 Be supportive Failures along the way are expected

53 Continuous experimentation Constantly explore new ideas through projects Fail quickly and often

54 Don’t overspec jobs Give people latitude Encourage people to venture outside field of expertise Working outside with customers

55 Don’t overplan Things change too quickly… new info Prefer prototyping to planning Rapid prototyping lets you evaluate a concept with minimal investment Good ideas can easily get derailed by too much planning Examples at Infoseek: –Cowabunga skunkworks –Use of Python

56 Pair visionaries with pragmatists You need both Ideally, we use small groups of passionate, energetic, opinonated people Collaboration without compromise

57 Look outside Home Universities Partnerships with other companies

58 Be patient Few great ideas happen overnight Many take years or decades

59 Ideas from Cisco Tie compensation to “customer” satisfaction Recruit in areas people aren’t looking for jobs, e.g., in the movies (see Fortune)

60 Ideas from PSS We haven’t come up with any good ideas Masters of stealing The power of a single, seemingly unattainable goal

61 Abstract Many of the most successful and innovative companies don’t come up with their own ideas; they steal the best ideas from other companies. Infoseek has successfully stolen and implemented a few key ideas from other companies that have made immediate and major impacts on the way Infoseek does business today.

62 Old Agenda Python Innovative use of internet (pinging back; require email to download; advertising tuning) Battling not invented here mistakes we made success we had –mulitiseek –ultraseeek server hiring the right people; recruiting techniques

63 Improvements to our WWW site Stolen from customers A visible and easy to use feedback link that is monitored by people responsible for that area (not tech support)

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