News and Announcements
I've finally returned to the office, so expect the return of all sorts of blog posts, including ones from ISPCON as well as my usual postings for web developers.
The trip and conference were pretty good, and I have to say that it's pretty good having the gentlemen pictured below as travelling companions:
That's VP Marketing Ken Schafer on the left and
Iron Chef Product Marketing Adam Eisner on the right.
This afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (2:00 p.m. Pacific / 2200 hours UTC), Tucows will be holding its quarterly investment community conference call Q3 2006, in which management will discuss the third-quarter financial results after market close.
If you'd like to listen to this conference call, click here to access the webcast site. You'll need Windows Media Player to listen in.
We'll also record the conference call and post it here later as a podacast.
CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, reports that the 750,000th registration of a .ca domain name was recorded this week, marking a 50% rise in the number of such registrations in under two years. A snippet from their news release:
"The phenomenal growth of dot-ca registrations is the result of increased awareness of the value of dot-ca and the trust Canadians place in it," says Bernard Turcotte, President and CEO of the Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Registration Authority. "Dot-ca still offers the best opportunity to get the domain name you want when compared with the larger dot-com registry."
"Dot-ca is reserved for Canadians and defines an organization or individual who meets Canadian presence requirements," explains Mr. Turcotte.
According to the press release, when CIRA took over the .ca registry, there were 60,000 names registered there. By 2003, there were 250,000 .ca names registered and in March 2005, that number had doubled to 500,000.
I don't think I have my own category yet, but I'm Tris Hussey and I will be covering the Blog Business Summit next week for the Tucows blog. So while Joey and crew will be at other conferences of cool-geekiness, I'll be in lovely Seattle covering all the sessions I can (there are some dual track sessions) and recording some podcasts as well with speakers and attendees. I myself am I speaker and will be talking about audience measurement and RSS metrics. I'm certainly going to make it interesting, in my usual style ... Joey has heard me speak so he can vouch for me.
Blog Business Summit was the first of its kind—a conference geared towards the business blogger. Those already doing it to those who want to get started. The speakers at next week's conference (the third BBS) are the cream of the crop. Some of the best minds on the blogosphere like Dave Taylor, Robert Scoble, Tara Hunt, Jason Calcanis and others. There is still time to register if you want to go ... and if you're interested in business blogging, you really should think about it. For the first time I'll be at the pre-conference workshops on blogging (covering those for your too) ... and those should be just awesome. Oh and I'll probably sneak in some pictures and posts from dinners and such. Why? Because that's where the really good discussions happen.
Your next question will be then, just who is this guy. I've been a blogger for over two years now (seems like forever) and my primary blog (sponsored by Blogware, btw) is A View from the Isle where I cover news about tech, the blogosphere, and other stuff that I feel like writing about. Now, being a blogger I couldn't just stop there. I write for several other blogs including:
- The Qumana blog (Qumana is my primary employer)
- Qumana Investor Blog
- Business Blog Consulting
- Blog Business Summit
- The Homely Scientist (one of my B5media blogs)
- PimpYourWork (a B5 blog I write with three other folks ... it's not officially launched, so it doesn't have a spiffy B5 template, but the content is still great)
- Daddy Wears Slippers to Work. The blog for the book I'm writing about telework.
I think that about does it. Yes, all those blogs do keep me rather busy.
The next month is going to be a busy one for many of us here at Tucows. In additional to the usual work stuff, some of us will be making appearances at the following conferences:
CASCON 2006 (Toronto)
I got a last-minute invitation to IBM's CASCON 2006 conference, which runs from October 16th through 19th, where I'll participate in the Social Computing: Best Practices panel. I'm thinking of catching the "Introduction to AJAX Technologies" workshop on Monday and the "Rails/DB2" workshop on Tuesday afternoon. Note that admission to this conference is free, including the food!
The Ajax Experience (Boston)
Here's a good one -- Brent Ashley, who will lead the Ajax Transport Layer Alternatives session, gave me a complimentary pass to The Ajax Experience, which runs from October 23rd through 25th. This looks to be a very meaty conference for techies and I plan to take copious notes and share them with the developers here at Tucows as well as you, the readers.
ISPCON Fall 2006 (Santa Clara)
ISPCON Fall 2006 is the premier conference for internet service providers, wireless providers, VOIP providers and internet businesses. Tucows people will be all over this one -- on the exhibit floor, doing the opening keynote and leading a couple of sessions! For the full details, check out this entry; to get a free pass to the exhibit floor and the keynote, see this entry.
Today is Canadian Thanksgiving, a statutory holiday in Canada, where Tucows' head office is located.
Tucows' head office (located in Toronto) is closed today, but a handful of departments will remain open. For the benefit of our partners, here's a quick listing of their hours:
- The Operations department will still monitor our systems 24 hours a day. (We should send them some turkey.)
- Customer support, Sales and Payments will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern (6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Pacific / 1300 hours to 2100 hours UTC). Customer support will be available via pager for system-wide emergencies.
- The Compliance department will be closed.
All departments of the company will be back to their usual schedule tomorrow, Tuesday, October 10th.
Have a happy and safe Canadian Thanksgiving!
On Saturday, September 30th between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Tucows will be hosting an open house/job fair. We have a number of job openings for:
- Developers (Junior/Intermediate App Developers, a Senior App Developer and a Contract Web Developer)
- Quality Assurance Analysts (QA Analysts and Senior QA Analysts)
- a Usability Architect
Bring your resume to our offices, located at 96 Mowat Avenue, just east of King and Dufferin. You'll have a chance to meet with Executives & Managers of our Product Development, QA and Usability team, and talk about yourself and the exciting careers here.
Why Did We Buy Kiko?
While there are a lot of little reasons, I'll cover a few of them in a moment, there is really one big reason why we bought Kiko. We needed the functionality, quite desperately, inside of our email platform and it was going to take us a long time to get it. Especially at the level of sophistication Kiko has.
The Calendar FunctionMost webmail platforms have a calendar but very few of them are ever used. It is quite simply a crappy user experience. We as users have a problem with shared calendar inside of Tucows and because we are a mixed-desktop environment we are not able to go with the expensive-frustrating-functional Exchange Server solution. At times there have been real pushes for this internally but I have pushed back and insisted that anything we do with a shared calendar be open standards. There is not much.
We all believe that a calendar is a very important function in the messaging suite for small businesses. Given that people don't want to maintain separate services for personal and business use, and because the line between personal and business services is getting blurrier, we felt this functionality was a big hole for us.
So why didn't we build it? Well the short answer is we have so many things to do in general and so many exciting things to do with email in particular that it was just not going to be possible until at least Q2 of next year and even then the plan didn't really excite anyone around here. It looked sort of like the next-gen of our current offering. Had this not come up we would have probably stayed the course and looked to catch a break. When it did, we quickly went through a simple calculus.
The Important QuestionWhat would we pay to have a kick-ass AJAX-based calendar available now?
When I am dealing with quick, complicated decisions I really like to boil them down to a simple abstract construct. Yes there are a huge number of shadings around that question but at its simplest that is the essence of the decision. What was the value to Tucows of the time and the certainty? Of being in the market with this functionality six to twelve months earlier than otherwise? What was the value of having it be good for sure? Even if we threw it away in six months (not that we plan to do that)?
What I can tell you for certain (and you'll be able to hear more details in an upcoming podcast) is that it was more than we paid!
This Situation and TucowsFrom the time the auction was announced, there was great discussion online about the value of Kiko to a buyer and much of it was both accurate and confirming. Justin and Emmett (see them being interviewed by Alan Wilensky here, here, here and here) were absolutely right in determining that Kiko was a feature not a business. We think they were absolutely right in assessing that integration with email was key and that the greatest value here was to someone with a suite of services to integrate with. We felt that this was going to be 2-3 man-years of work and they confirmed that. All of this made us more comfortable in the short period of time that we had to make our decisions.
There were also some interesting facts that were specific to Kiko that made it work for us. It was clear from their posts and such that Justin and Emmett were no longer passionate about the calendar space and were excited to do something else. They felt, and we agree, that this was worth much more with them along for the ride. Probably by a factor of ten. It would have then attracted a completely different type of buyer. We would not have paid that premium for the people. Not that they aren't worth it. Just that our financial calculus was different. This probably kept some of the natural buyers out of the process.
We also did not need a huge base of retail users. They are nice and we will provide them with a great home but if this had been much of a success outside of Mike's 53,651 it probably would have attracted more financial buyers or domainers and the price might have ended up more than we were willing to pay. It is worth noting here (and we also talk more about this in the podcast) that there was clearly interest in the domain name and the traffic. We will certainly monetize that as it is a space we know well, but we also may choose to sell the name off as it is not core for us. Either way it is another place where we, more than most/all other buyers who would be interested in the calendar functionality, will be uniquely able to take advantage of the assets.
In a nutshell, this was the kind of deal where we were buying exactly what they were selling. That makes for good business and, by the way, is too infrequently the case with Internet services.
Other BenefitsAs we dug deeper there were a number of other little benefits that made this seem like a great fit and got us comfortable pushing ourselves a bit on the spend.
I will call out a few of these, but this list is not exhaustive:
Global User-base - For some the non-US customer set and things like language support may not have been seen as benefits. For us they were a very nice addition. Our business is extremely global with customers in over 110 countries. We have a large European business and a large South American business. We have plenty of customers in Asia. The customers and languages that come along with Kiko are a nice benefit for us.
Mobile Integration - Kiko has a very impressive set of mobile carriers they integrate with. We were blown away when we dug into this. It will be nice to have that functionality for the calendar. It will be even nicer to have an existence proof for making the rest of our services more mobile. We are just starting to experiment with mobile around the edges of our business and this will help things along.
Nice AJAX Implementation - Kiko is a very nice use of AJAX, especially in a lot of the underlying thinking. To me, that is not about technology, but about making a web app behave more like a desktop app. Learning how this worked within Kiko and having to maintain this code base will be very good for the rest of our services. Again, there is a nice broad application of a benefit to be taken advantage of.
ConclusionFirst and foremost this was about better/faster. We were able to get a key feature done well, and done now. In my view we were lucky with a number of the small things that made this happen. The people were not part of the deal which held down value for one group of buyers. The retail user base was real but not too large, which held down value for another group of potential buyers.
There were also a number of side benefits which are important in any good deal. The global user base and language support, the mobile integration and the nice use of AJAX are three examples.
All in, we are quite excited about this, we thank Justin and Emmett for all their hard work, we look forward to giving the existing customers an ever-improving user experience and look forward to bringing a great shared calendar to the millions of end-users and thousands of partners who use Tucows services today.