Localize or Fail

I used to think that localization meant translation. As someone who has lived in the US my entire life and has no experience with international business, I didn’t know any better. I assumed that to enter a foreign market, all a company had to do was slap up translations, register a local domain, hire a US celeb to pimp the brand, then boom—10 million new users.

I wasn’t that naive of course, but I never knew what localization really meant. I never knew until I learned how unsuccessful US consumer internet companies have been at entering China. Google, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter—all the giants. They all tried and failed.

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What I Learned From Steve Jobs: At A Distance

Many years ago, I came to Silicon Valley to work as an engineer at Apple and got my start in video with QuickTime 1.0 and QuickTime VR.

Apple was where I found out that design and technology can not only co-exist, they can multiply together in a marvelous kind of fusion.  Even though I worked at Apple in the wilderness years – when Steve wasn’t with the company – that vision and focus on user experience was already deeply embedded in the DNA of the company.

Of all the things I learned at Apple, the fusion of design and technology, and the creative process that drives that fusion, were the most fundamental.  For me, working at Apple created a deep-seated belief in the transcendent impact of a beautifully integrated user experience.  That belief is why when I talk about my time at Apple, I often say:  “You can take the engineer out of Apple, but you can’t take Apple out of the engineer.”

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July OpenTok App Round-up

It’s hard to tell when it’s summer in San Francisco, but here at TokBox you know it’s summer when everyone’s a-video chatting. This July, lots of new OpenTok developers decided to dip their toes in the warm, inviting pool of group video chat. (not sure why…) Here are some of our favorite examples:

Group/Social Video Chat
Friend Cameo: Voice, video calling and video mail on Facebook
SocialHangouts:  G+ Hangouts meets FB Video Calling with multi-user video chat
Tanglr.TV:  Group co-viewing of online live events
EpicMafia: Online Mafia game – with video to look ’em in the eyes

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Why your company should do an internal hackathon

Originally posted at blog.mumm.me

Hackathons are awesome.

At TokBox we put our normal schedule aside for a couple days to run our first internal hackathon. The rules were simple: pitch an idea, form teams, build something, then demo it 30 hours later. The winning team would get a prize.

My team didn’t win (though we were proudly among the first losers), but it was a really positive experience. Here’s why I think every company should try doing an internal hackathon:

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Yo Google, Skype – what about the web?

The big guys are duking it out again, and this time video chat is front and center. In the past few days Google unveiled Google+ with video “Hangouts”, Microsoft-owned Skype released the SkypeKit SDK and there is speculation that Facebook may announce next week it is bringing video chat to the social network.

There’s one thing missing in all of this. The web.

Google+ is surely a nice piece of work and Hangouts is great – and we love anything that makes video conversations more common – but these ‘new’ innovations are actually not new at all, they are alternatives to what we already have, just in a new location. They do nothing to help bring video chat to the web outside of the Hangout.

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TokBox wins Audience Award at Founder Showcase

We’re happy to announce that TokBox won the Demo Table Competition at the 7th Founder Showcase in San Francisco this week. Woo hoo! Our trusty TokBox crew members toiled away for hours (five to be exact) showing off OpenTok. They demo’ed everything from PokerView, to Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and eBuddy. See their smiley faces below.

Thanks to the Founder Showcase audience for helping us bring home the win!

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ReadWriteWeb 2-Way Summit

Our CEO, Ian Small, will be participating on a panel at the RWW 2-Way Summit on Tuesday, June 14th in NYC.

The 2WAY Summit NYC is a tech conference about the future of the web that takes place, June 13-14 at Columbia University in New York City. The event will feature two energizing and interactive components that will bring our influential audience together for two days of electrifying content.

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Startup Poker Night

We will be hosting Startup Poker Night at TokBox’s San Francisco office on Tuesday, June 14th.

Ante up for Startup Poker Night hosted by TokBox. If you’re interested in startups, work for one, or are in town for Founder’s Showcase, stop by to play cards and meet like-minded people. In celebration of the launch of Poker View’s new webcam poker tables, powered by the OpenTok API, the munchies and booze are on us. Just show up and be ready to play.

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Founder Showcase

We’ll have a demo table at the Founder Showcase on Wednesday, June 15th in San Francisco.

The Founder Showcase gathers 400 top technology CEOs, investors, and early-stage companies in Silicon Valley for one action-packed night each quarter to network, hear talks from leading CEOs, and help launch a start-up company to greatness.

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Microsoft + Skype != open standard for video chat

Over the last 24 hours, it seems like everyone on the planet has had something to share about the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype.  Opinions have been voiced on everything from the price paid by Microsoft (too high?) to the potential product integrations (everything from Outlook to XBox.)  However, one commenter really struck a chord with me when they started to voice a perspective of what this acquisition means for the future of face-to-face video communications.

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