Madison Avenue is No Silicon Valley: It’s almost cliche these days to call on ad agencies to act more like software companies. There are problems galore with the analogy. The Atlantic carries entrepreneur Naeem Zafar’s 5 Secrets of Silicon Valley. The majority of the “secrets” — they’re actually quite commonplace — don’t apply to the bulk of the ad world. For instance, Zafar lauds Silicon Valley’s celebration of failure. One stop on ad blogs will tell you that the ad world doesn’t celebrate misses. He also points to Silicon Valley’s “aligned incentives.” This again can’t be said of Madison Avenue, where shops are actually incentivized to bill the most rather than based on outcomes. Finally, Zafar mentions the Valley’s “culture of collaboration.” Oh boy, if there’s anything ad agencies don’t do well, it’s collaborate. A client with multiple shops can be guaranteed those agencies will focus squarely on killing the other from Day 1. So until Madison Avenue fixes those structural problems, all the talk of acting like Silicon Valley will remain just that: talk.
Happy Birthday, Website: It was 20 years ago that Tim Berners-Lee put up the first website, which detailed his project on something called “the WorldWide Web.”
Dennis Crowley Up Close: Foursquare is the poster child for New York’s current crop of tech startups. And the personification of its role is cofounder Dennis Crowley. Ad Age has a profile of Crowley, who is described as less computer science geek and more master showman and social animal. In the portrait painted by Edmund Lee, Crowley comes across as a sensible technologist, less likely to build a robot than create a useful tool that solves a real problem. Now comes the big test: whether Crowley and his team can turn its big but not enormous user base into a the big-revenue business that its financial backers and the rest of the New York tech scene expect.
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