Tello – Good Product, Dumb Strategy?

Next Story

Ingenio's Ether

Tello has been all over the news since last night. It hasn’t launched yet, but the promise is to allow people within your company and at trusted other companies to see your “presence”.

This means you can tell if they are using a landline, cell phone or IM application. You can use the Tello application to communicate with them and share applications. The system will work with traditional phones, blackberries and IM clients, and looks to be a killer productivity tool.

Tello raised $5.5 million from Eagle River, Evercore Partners, Rho Ventures and Intel Capital. The founders include John Sculley, Jeff PUlver, Craig McCaw and Michael Price.

I’m looking forward to testing this out, and maybe using it for my business. But Tello has made some odd choices in the weeks before launch.

First they clearly orchestrated a news blitz even though they are pre-launch. Ok, they got some great coverage. But why did they organize this way before launch? There won’t be as much hype on the day this goes live, when people can actually use the service.

Second, they’ve obviously decided that the bloggers don’t matter much. Om Malik and Alec Saunders took the time to write about them. Even though they each command a large and very relevant audience, Tello didn’t bother to list either of them on the news page. Lots of other bloggers wrote about Tello too (including our own MobileCrunch), but were not mentioned. Companies that don’t embrace bloggers tend to become attacked by bloggers. Companies that embrace bloggers, and thank them, get lots and lots of love.

Third, and this is minor – what’s up with the circa 1995 stock photography on the home page?

And no blog? Does Tello intend to communicate with us via press releases?

Of course, I will forget all of this (stock photography and all) if Tello is as cool as it looks like it might be.

Update: I have never been ripped into as aggresively as I have in the comments to this post.

Update: Tello has added blog posts to their news page. Good for them.

  • paul

    This interview sure has the appearance of a quid pro quo for TechCrunch’s assistance in the attempted Yahoo takeover when they repeated Frank Shaw’s aspirational words rather then the actual facts.

  • Martin Edic

    Excuse me, but ‘kiosk’? I think we’re about ten years past that model. I sure hope they have a mobile model or what’s the use? People are already leaving laptops at home because they can get by with an iPhone or other smartphone.
    I can never tell what a lot of the Microsofties are talking about. Ozzie is usually the exception but this time I don’t know…

    • Amyloo

      In my very unwired vertical I see lines of people waiting to use shared computers to check their email at trade shows. Probably won’t in two years, but right now? Kiosks.


    open, software, unchained, meaning 65% of our revenue is about to go free and open to the public?

    SkinLocator-love what your in.

  • francine hardaway

    Steve, I think your vision for Mesh and Live might be far past MSFT’s own. If you put words in their mouth, do you hope they will manifest as you said them?

    And what DOES Ozzie mean by kiosk?

    I do, however, see that Microsoft is trying to redefine itself and get back into the game, and since it has so much cash, it can probably march right up to the front of the parade.

    • Avatar

      Kiosk: A publicly open space where people can go to gather around in order to enjoy a shared experience.

      In the 90`s . Kiosk was how many described Publicly usable computers. there were some at malls or government buildings. it was also how the users individual section in a cybercafe was referred to.

      Ozzie way to see it based on that. so yeah. maybe it is a outdated way to refer to it. but what other single word way you could use?.. :P

  • Mike Lies When He Cries: Say Anything

    1. J. Michael Arrington worked at Wilson Sonsini for Partner Gail Clayton Husick (they wrote a book together)

    2. Gail Husick is Married to Brad Husick, founder of Webaroo.

    3. Mike Arrington endorsed Webaroo in 2006 Techcrunch article, not disclosing the relationship.

    4. Webaroo received VC funding.

    5. Mike Never disclosed the relationship.

  • Scott A Greiff

    “Be comfortable in our own skin in terms of the position that we’re in” seems to me to be code for “Be okay with the fact that we want the world to use Windows, and all this Cloud/Open stuff is really just to get people to switch to Windows.”

  • Nulling To A Microsoft Exec And More | TechnoNull - Useless Technology News

    […] is a classic – a total waste of bits on the hosting provider’s server. Ray Ozzie of Microsoft says nothing, replying to null questions by Steve Gillmor. Microsoft is doing so many things the wrong way, but Gillmor spends half the interview asking […]

  • TechnoNull-Uselss Technology News

    Hey Stevie, you wrote about Microsoft’s Vista just a couple of months ago: “Vista’s miserable hope-draining failure”, so why are you wasting our time with twitter and cloud computing? How about some hardcore journalism, the type that makes TC such a great blog??
    If you want to avoid more useless technology news, read this:
    You will get a unique insight to the world of technology blogging and news.

  • Bob Thomson

    As a start-up building extremely rich interactive web apps, from our point of view what Microsoft is doing with Silverlight, Azure and Mesh solves many of the issues we face on a day to day basis.
    Silverlight gives us rich client side interactivity, up to now, for me there’s been a pain involved in writing rich client side code and UI in JavaScript / AJAX or Flash / Flex, particularly if coming at it as a Microsoft developer who prefers to code in C#.

    With Azure’s storage service we get horizontally scalable storage. I don’t want to be worrying about issues like running out of disk space, back-ups, replication, latency problems for users from further afield etc. I just want to say “store this” or “get that” and have these things taken care of for me.

    If I’m offering something that takes a bit of grunt from the server like document or video conversion then I have to build my system to handle peak load plus a safety margin, this is expensive and inefficient. I also have to learn how to configure and manage servers, load balancers etc – something I’ve done in the past, but again would rather leave to the experts. The idea of spinning up more or less resources elastically with demand and only paying for what I use again appeals.

    For structured data I can use a SQL Server hosted on a physical server but then I have to worry about size, maintenance tasks, backups – for a system of a decent size I have to either hire, or become a DB Admin as part of my role as a web application developer. I’ve done it before, but it’s not what I enjoy and I’d rather be coding a killer feature than making sure I’ve got the right clustered index on my user table. Hopefully I’ll be able to move to SQL Server Data Services and have a lot of these issues taken care of for me.

    It was good to see Ray Ozzie tip hit hat to Jeff Bezos and Amazon in his keynote, as they have pioneered some of the models for dealing with the problems above. For me, it’s a more exciting time than ever to be building rich web applications!


  • Harry nuts

    Gilmore: Am I boring you to death Ozzie

    Ozzie: Fuck yeah.. you boring ole bastard

  • Enterprise 2.0 Blog » Blog Archive » Enterprise 2.0 Related News of the Day

    […] TechCrunch: Interview with Ray Ozzie on MS Cloud-based OS (Azure): Ray Ozzie on Azure, Office unchained, and Openness […]

  • emailgrowth

    I hope micrsoft can get this one wright. Vista is terrible only thing I like is chess titans. I really would like microsoft to create a more friendlier e-mail system. Trying to create e-mail social for anyone who has a e-mail address. Just check out my website by clicking on my name. Give me you suggestion. Ozzie will do just fine at micrsoft. I like J Allard who created xbox.

  • Marc’s Voice » Blog Archive » Halloween blogging ‘08

    […] Live Mesh APIs are ready – and Microsoft announced taht they’ll become a reliable party for OpenID.  Jon Udell calls the recent PDC “Microsoft’s State-of-the-0Union” address.  His post is called:URI, XML, HTTP, REST, and the Azure Services Platform. When somebody as smart as Jon Udell gets this jazzed, believe me it’s because Microsoft relishes being an underdog.  It gives them an incentive to go out and kick some serious ass.  Steve Gillmor has a great interview of Ray. […]

  • brian

    Vista may have been unsuccessful, but Ozzie! is one of the very few guys who can save the sinking boat of Microsoft. with MS investing heavily on Azure and Live Services, MS is all set to back on board!!!

  • Windows Azure - missing from the blogsphere? « ITasITis

    […] Unveils Windows Azure at Professional Developers Conference Microsoft PressPass, 27 Oct 2008 • Ray Ozzie on Azure, Office unchained, and Openness TechCrunch, 29 Oct 2008 • Microsoft launches Windows Azure C|net news, 27 Oct 2008 • Windows […]

  • Cipper Tech

    Looking forward to this new cloud solution.

blog comments powered by Disqus