A note of thanks…

December 25, 2008

The new year is approaching and I am finding myself reflecting on an incredible 12 months. Incredible, surreal, gratifying, crushing, uplifting, concerning and more.

This year I’ve basically been a homeless nomad as I’ve traveled the world to conferences and meetings. I’ve spent 14 hour stretches on planes, stayed in everything from crappy random motels all the way through to mansions in high-rise buildings.

I have loved every moment. It has been life changing.

I owe a lot of people a great debt. They helped make this year possible. I am going to invariably miss some of them here, but I’m going to try to name them anyway.

Nik Seirlis

Nik was the guy who believed in a 10 year old kid doing work experience in a computer store. He listened to my complaining one rainy night 3 years ago and said “Kid, you need to stop doing this small time stuff and think bigger”. OK he didn’t quite say it like a cowboy, but you get the drift. Nik continues to give me a firm kick in the arse every time I start to rest on my laurels. He helped me get the courage to start this journey.

He literally got on a plane with me in ’06 and we went to Silicon Valley together. Nik’s personal success set the bar for me in my own life and continues to inspire me.

Ashley Angell

If Nik helped me start the journey, then Ashley packed his bags, sold out his family and joined me on the road (figuratively). Ashley and I co-founded Faraday Media together, dreamt up APML and Data Portability together and have had countless discussions about social media, friendship, partnership and much much more. ‘

Ashley has that rare quality that you need in a business partner to be able to switch contexts. We each explicitly switch gears from ‘Friends’ to ‘Founders’ to ‘Board Members’ and emotionally and logistically bucket our discussions. Having worked with countless partners and friends, I can’t tell you how important, and how amazing this skill is.

Thank you my friend!

Steve Kelly

Steve Kelly funded the journey. He is Faraday Media’s angel investor and still funds aspects of the company to this day. His dry wit, calm attitude in the face of adversity and generous spirit have made it possible for Ashley and I to ride out together.

Ben Metcalfe

Ben is a unique guy. Dude is maybe a better word. When I first met Ben with Nik Serlis in 2006 his first words to me were ‘Why would I want to download THAT” referring to our then windows download product. I took an instant dislike to him.

Right after that, though, Ben showed his true nature. He and Sofia totally set us up in the Valley. They introduced us to almost everyone we know today. They showed us the sights, explained the culture and not only pointed us in the right direction, they took us by the hand and lead us there. Within a day I was having drinks with one of my heroes in SF city – Stowe Boyd.

Stowe Boyd

Stowe has been my inspiration for quite a few ideas over the last couple of years. What I call Edge Theory, Streams and even some of my ideas on the Attention Economy have been inspired by him.

Stowe continues to be an inspiration and I’m grateful to be working with him even more closely today!

Daniela Barbosa

Daniela is beautiful both inside and out. She is my co-conspirator, my collaborator and my friend. Along with Ashley, Marjolein and Elias (and many others not on this list) she helped me co-found and more importantly operate the DataPortability project. Without her, Elias and Marjolein (in the early days) it would have literally imploded under its own weight.

She has been unwavering in her loyalty and commitment and for that I will be forever grateful.

Marjolein Hoekstra

As I’ve described before Marjolein is a quiet supernode of the social media landscape. Her emotional and logistical investment into all this ‘Chris’ in the last couple of years has made it possible to keep up with our community, related posts and people and ideas and trends.  Marjolein uses her news radar skills and her countless browser tabs to find gold nugets in a raging river of noise.

I wish I saw more of her these days.

Elias Bizannes

Like I said above, Elias is one of the people who co-founded DataPortability with me. More importantly, however, he has been compeltely piviotol in turning the project into an organization. While we don’t always agree, we always respect what each of us brings to the table. And he brings a lot of HARD, detail orientated work. Like with everyone on this list, I could not have done significant chunks of my work this year without his help.

Martin Wells

Martin is almost as much a philanthropist as he is an Entreprenuer. I first glimpsed Marty’s name on the ‘2 Web crew’ website. An Aussie cabal of Web 2.0 leaders. They were once a pinicle of ‘in crowd’ for me to reach out to.

Reach out I did, to many of them. None responded with the generosity and common sense advice that Marty did. He not only elevated my thinking, but challenged me to think even more. He challenged me to stop thinking and to act.

He almost flew back to Australia to drag me to the Valley this year. I’m so glad I came.

Beyond the professional, however, I’d like to think that Marty and I have become great friends. He opened his home to me for many months and I will always love spending time with him, his wife and kids.

Robert Scoble

I met a lot of my heroes in the course of this year. Some were great, others were disappointing.

Scoble is exactly as you’d imagine. In the best way possible. He is constnatly swamped by people wanting his attention. He has a million incoming messages at any given time. And he tries his very hardest to give every single person SOME time. He sees us all as equals in a giant conversation.

His laugh is infectious and he is ALWAYS smiling.

His faith in me during his Facebook crisis helped propel the DataPortability project to a new level and his friendship through countless conferences and meetups (We’ll always have Amsterdam Robert hah) have turned amazing nights into surreal moments frozen in time.

It’s all just too much fun.

Michael Arrington

Michael Arrington is an amazing person. Number 100 on Time’s top 100 list this year (Lucky the list didn’t stop at 99 hey Mike?). That is seriously an amazing achievement.

Too many people assume Mike’s success is undeserved in some way. They are dead wrong. Mike works his *$@#ing arse off – often to the detrment of his health and his relationships. He gives TechCrunch everything.

When Mike invited me to stay at his home I was blown away due to his noteriety and ‘power’ in the valley. When I actually came to stay, however, I was blown away by a more important fact.

One of his first words to me were “I don’t want my shit on Valleywag”. In that moment I realized that he was taking a big risk letting me into his home and life – because any minute thing in his life could be blown out of proportion.

The most amazing thing I learned about Mike was that he still LOVES startups and helping people succeed. I would have never expected that.

Everyone wants something from Mike because they see him as a ticket to traffic or success. After spending a lot of time with him, I’d be happy to just call him a friend.

His faith and support of me at the start of the year will always be remembered and I am forever grateful.

Bill Hudak

I was introduced to Bill Hudak by Martin Wells. Almost instantly Bill, Marty and I became a crazy trio of Aussies. Bill isn’t an Aussie though. He is an American trying to be an Aussie. Oi, Bugger!

Bill is a valley boy – born and raised. He knows everyone there is to know here. He walked me into meetings with people I couldn’t believe just by making a phone call. He is super smart and super funny.

But more importantly than any of that, just like Marty, he opened his home and life to me. He lent me his car (A Pontiac Solstic no less) for countless months and litterally enabled me to speak to the people I needed to speak to.

I am proud to call him a friend.

Khris Loux

I met Khris just before a trip to Amsterdam. I really got know Khirs on the flight to Amsterdam and the ensuing 4 day Next Web Conference. When I say got to know him, I mean we laughed our arses off, took over the town, met the most amazing people and imagined the future of the web together.

Khris finds business value the way I find architectural value. He is the ying to my yang when it comes to startups. He too opened his home to me when I stayed in the valley. But more than that, he opened his mind!

As I’ve posted before, I’ve been offered a lot of gigs this year, but JS-Kit, lead by Khris, was special. I can’t wait to see what Khris and Chris can pull off in the new year.

In conclusion

I owe all these people, and countless others, a lot. Their faith, support and efforts on my behalf have made everything possible. I look forward to helping them to continue their journeys next year, and meeting more amazing people in ’09.

I’m sorry if your name does not appear here, my fingers are about to break and it’s Christmas Morning – I need to run!

Thank so much everyone.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

On the latest Gillmor Gang we debated the evolving Data Portability landscape.

Let me try to summarize the positions:

Marc Canter: At least the big social networks are doing something – and Facebook seems to give the user most privacy control.

Robert Scoble: When I give you my email address (or friend you) I have to assume that you are going to do whatever you want with it – including import it into other apps.

Michael Arrington: Facebook is behaving like old Microsoft and Marc Canter and DataPortability should demand better.

Me: Users need an additional check box when friending each other – ‘You may move my data to other applications’. The big vendors are trying to keep control for as long as possible – that’s to be expected. Startups, second tier social networks, non ‘social networking’ sites will ultimately implement first, and the big vendors will compete themselves towards open.

Over on Techcrunch Arrington claims:

DataPortability founder Chris Saad was also on the call, but failed to take a leadership position in the debate (he did, however, weigh in with a blog post on the subject before the call). Their influence may be waning.”

Mike, don’t confuse and conflate a thoughtful position and long-term view as ‘not taking a stand’.