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Noah Brier

Noah is the co-founder of Percolate. Before that he spent his career in and around the advertising industry. He has been recognized as one of the 50 most creative people in business by Fast Company and sits on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Social Media. He lives in Brooklyn and occasionally blogs at NoahBrier.com. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

Culture

The 6 Meeting Rules of Percolate

On Sunday morning I ran across this New Yorker article about banning computers in college classes and posted it with a note about how we don’t allow computers in meetings at Percolate. A few people replied and seemed interested, so I went ahead and posted our brand new (and beautifully designed) poster of the six rules of Percolate meetings that now hang in both of our conference rooms.

The Tweet, as you can see below, took off and I thought it might be worth turning into a bigger post. (more…)


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Events

Why We Named Our Conference Transition

When my co-founder James and I first started our company, we knew we would name the core product Percolate. We did, however, spend some time discussing potential names for the parent corporation that would produce it. One of those names was Punctuated Equilibrium.

The term, originally coined by Stephen Jay Gould, proposed that evolution actually happens in bursts, with species undergoing long periods of stasis interrupted by a brief period of massive change. Think tens of thousands instead of millions of years. Marketing, and business at large, felt like it was in one of those bursts, and we were excited to build software to help organizations evolve.

Ultimately we settled on a simpler parent company name: Percolate Industries, Inc. Still, the notion that we’re in a time of massive industry change has only become more acute over the last three-plus years as social continues to explode and mobile has taken over the planet. (more…)


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Culture

First Principles

I recently ran across a quote from an interview between Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Kevin Rose. In response to Rose’s question asking for “one piece of advice that you would always recommend to an entrepreneur,” Musk replied (amongst other things):

I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there.

He goes on to apply the method to making battery packs cheaper. Batteries, he explains, have always been expensive and, therefore, that’s how they’ll always be. Instead, he suggests, to make a cheaper battery you should look at the component materials, understand how much they cost individually (much less than the cost of a completed battery), and then figure out how to put them together in a more cost-efficient way. (more…)


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Milestones

Funded III

We’re now just over three years into Percolate and when I look back I tend to split the time based on our fundraises. It’s less because of the money and more about the things that happened to cause us to go raise a round. The first one was the end of our first year, 2011, when we were seven people, a few Fortune 500 clients, and the beginnings of the product that would eventually become Percolate. After building for just under a year, we felt like we had finally built something that answered a fundamental question every marketer was asking: “What should I Tweet about?” We believed we had a unique answer to that question and based on that went out and raised a $1.5 million seed round led by First Round Capital to help hire some more folks and bring Percolate to market.

The next big moment came just six months later in May 2012 when three big things happened: First, Facebook went public, totally changing the conversation around social and content. Second, Buddy Media got bought by Salesforce, which helped solidify to the market that marketing technology was a real category. Finally, Facebook switched over to timeline, declaring the end of the “social web,” as tabs fell to the wayside. Based on those events, plus some good traction, we went out and raised a $9 million Series A led by GGV.

(more…)


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Announcements

Hello WPP: More on our strategic partnership

When we started Percolate just over three years ago we did so with a thesis: Content is the atomic unit of all marketing. When we looked around at the technology landscape, we saw a lot of tools for brands built around campaigns and publishing, with no one focusing on the day-to-day challenge of creating content to meet the every-growing demands of a social + mobile world.

Since then it seems like a day doesn’t go by without a new story coming out to support what we like to call the 3rd phase of digital marketing. Just last week LinkedIn continued its transition into a content platform by announcing that it was making publishing available to all users and Marissa Mayer said in a recent New York Times article (which itself now offers native advertising) “the path to revenue is really about delivering for advertisers ads that perform in whatever format or setting our users are working in and making those ads really enhancing for the user experience.” Those “ads” she’s talking about is content and the “format or setting” is mobile.

At this point I think it’s safe to say the advertising world agrees that content is the future of marketing in a social + mobile world.

With that mission and momentum in mind, I’m incredibly excited to announce that we’ve partnered with WPP, one of the industry’s unquestionable leaders, to help continue to make our vision a reality. Because of their position working with brands of all shapes and sizes, WPP has had a front row seat to this shift to content. As the demands of content marketing continued to explode, they made a decision to partner with us to help their clients implement a systematized approach that drove at efficiency, effectiveness, and brand governance.

Needless to say, we continue to be more and more excited about the space, the opportunity, and the products we’re building. Today, more than ever, marketers need a system of record to help manage every step of the content marketing process and, with the help of partners like WPP, we can continue to ensure that our solution gets into the hands of the world’s best marketers.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

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Milestones

2013: Year in Review

In trying to write up this post recapping 2013, I kept trying to come up with a way to define the first three years of a startup’s life. The first year is clearly about identifying the problem. We spent 2011 with a clear sense that there was a challenge to be solved in helping brands create content with technology (because James and I had lived it in our previous lives in the marketing world), but we still had to prove it was something we could solve and would drive value for our clients.

By the end of year one we had some great clients and a good sense for what needed to be done. From there we spent year two proving it. We started to build a bigger team and bring on more and bigger clients. By the end of year two (2012), we had seen real client success and continued to see momentum in the content space (especially from the big social platforms, who after Facebook’s IPO in May, 2012, were taken a lot more seriously by the business world).

Year three, last year, was about building out the business. We nearly tripled the business in 12 months (we’re now almost 90 people), shipped an incredible amount of product, and brought some of the world’s best brands on board as Percolate customers.  As a co-founder it’s a crazy and amazing feeling to walk into our office and feel the buzz of that many people working on delivering great marketing technology for clients. That our mission, to be your content marketing platform, has stayed the same only makes things feel even better.

But, of course, the life of a startup isn’t about looking back. So what does year four (2014) hold for Percolate? I’d say this is the year we fully establish ourselves in the market. We’ve learned enough (both over the last three years of the company and the course of our careers), to know definitively that we are solving the number one challenge in marketing: How to create engaging, relevant content on a continual basis without throwing an unlimited amount of money against the problem. We also know that we have built the best product and team to solve the problem, so this year is about making sure everyone else knows those things, as well as continuing to bring top-tier service and features to our clients day-in-and-day-out.

Finally, the last note here is a gigantic thank you to all our clients, both new and old. Their support, guidance, and ideas, have really driven our product, and more broadly business, through the last few years. It’s a cliche to say that without clients you don’t have a company, but it’s also very true. So, to all of you who are reading this, thanks for all the support. We wouldn’t have made it this far without you and it’s our commitment to continue to go above and beyond expectations (surprise and delight as Kiva, our VP of Sales likes to say). Keep being awesome.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.


Insights

The Future of Google Lies in G+Droid

Google is an amazing company. Beyond all the obvious stuff (world’s best search engine, self-driving cars, crazy computer glasses), Android has been the thing that’s been capturing my mind the most lately. But the point of this post isn’t to talk about Android (I’ll save that for another, longer, post about the pros, cons, and comparisons to iOS), rather it’s to talk about Google+ generally, and specifically its marriage to the world’s biggest mobile platform.

As we all know, Google has very publicly announced its intention to build G+ into a massive social platform at any cost. For a while I think many simply nodded and metaphorically patted Google on the head, as if to say, “sure Google, whatever you say.” However, as Android has continued to grow, I’ve noticed something very interesting: It seems that Google’s plan to turn G+ into a platform is to hitch its wagon to Android. With over a billion users it’s hard to argue with that strategy.

Specifically, Google has put G+ all over Android: Photos automatically sync with a private G+ photo album, many apps offer to use G+ to sign in, and, in its newest phones, Hangouts take over the SMS responsibilities, creating a unified messaging app. What you get is a platform you can’t help but use. And, since it’s Google, what you start to realize is that it’s a great product.

Where things start to get interesting, though, is when you start to layer on the idea of identity. This, of course, is where Facebook shines. They have established themselves as your singular identity platform. Anywhere you can create an account these days, you’re offered to create it using your Facebook identity. It’s only a matter of time, I’d imagine, until we start signing in at the DMV and authenticating at our banks with our Facebook accounts.

Google, of course, isn’t happy about this. They’d argue, I’d imagine, that they own identity just as much as Facebook does. Their argument, of course, is that all the implicit data you load into Google by way of your searches, locations, emails, and phone calls, makes for a pretty compelling picture of who you are and what you’re interested in.

What they’re missing is the explicit stuff. That includes content you share, the friends you explicitly connect with, and generally, the identity you project publicly. That’s why Google+ is so important: The company has already proven it is better than most at using your data and turning it into something really amazing (try Google Now if you don’t believe it), but it hasn’t yet become a place you think of as representing your public identity. The more they can leverage Android to bring people into the G+ fold and show them the power of Google as an identity platform, the more they can catch up to Facebook in the fight for who represents you in the future.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

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Community

Building Communities

In my time I’d say I’ve built two communities: One at my blog, NoahBrier.com, and the other being likemind, a global coffee meetup I co-founded in 2006. Here’s a few things I learned along the way that I think might be useful:

  1. You’ve got to believe in it: The difference between an event and a community is that the latter is a living thing. A community needs space to breathe and evolve and to do that you’ve got to be committed to encouraging that growth. You’ve got to believe in the mission and be able to plant the right seeds/push the right buttons to encourage the right kind of movement.
  2. Respond to everything and everyone: This is something I (used) to do on my blog and with likemind and believe it had a huge impact. Real communities need to feel connection and your job is to be at the center of that. To make that happen everyone needs to believe there’s a real person on the other end. For likemind that meant emailing back every single person who signed up for the mailing list anywhere in the world. This started lots of conversations and generally let people know this wasn’t just another networking event.
  3. Jump in and be part of it: This was true on both the blog and with likemind. To be successful at building a community you have to be part of it. The only way to have the empathy necessary to build the community is to be there with it.
  4. Make connections: This is something I believe in generally, but I think it’s especially important in community-building. Part of your job is to be the connector. That can be people with ideas or people with people.

Of course every community is different, but that’s the point. The key is to figure out how to take these ideas and apply them to whatever you’re trying to cultivate.

PS – While I was writing this I found a few blog posts I had written on the topic in the past:


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Releases

Photographer App 2.0: Introducing Instragram Integration

A few months ago we launched our first iOS app called Media Uploader. The idea was simple: Give brands an easy way to procure photos from employees and events. The app allowed anyone associated with the brand to take photos with their phone, tag them, and post them directly to the brand’s Percolate Media Library (without giving them access to any of the other functionality the brand wouldn’t want them messing with).

With a few months of usage under our belts we saw the opportunity to extend the app to solve another crucial need for brands. The new 2.0 version (which also comes with a name change to “Photographer”) includes the ability for the brand to access their Media Library on the go and post any photo directly to Instagram from the app.

If you’re a brand you know how much of a problem this solves. Because Instagram is still mainly focused on users it doesn’t allow brands to switch between accounts. This means there is usually just one “Instagram phone” around the office or in the hand of a community manager. If that person isn’t also the one out taking the photos there’s a painful process of getting the photos, saving the photos, and then posting them to Instagram. With the new version of the app the official Instagram poster can now watch the images stream in from employees and brand events and push them straight into Instagram in real time. 

The update is available in the app store now, so if you’re a Percolate customer you can head over and download it immediately.

If you’re not a Percolate customer and you’d like to learn more about the Instagram integration, or about our Photograph App Case Study with P&G’s Braun team, please be in touch. It’s awesome.

instagram_screens


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Insights

Android and Intents

I’ve been an iPhone user since 3G (I stuck with Blackberry through the metal-backed one). Generally I’d say I’m pretty happy and impressed by both the hardware and software. However, as someone who a) is fascinated by technology and b) runs a software company, I thought it was important that I got to know Android a lot better.

So a few weeks ago I started my concerted effort for an Android education. It started with a Moto X I was given to test, which I liked a lot, but since I couldn’t switch out my sim card I couldn’t really get to know properly. I started to try and use it around the house as a tablet replacement, however, and I really liked it. Of course it wasn’t made for that, though, so I went out and bought the Nexus 7, which I thought would give me exactly what I needed to get to know the OS (at least from a tablet perspective).

Overall I’ve been very impressed, but the point of this isn’t to do a review of iOS versus Android (specifically 4.3 Jelly Bean). That seems useful to do at some point, but for now I want to talk about “intents”. This is the function that allows one application to pass you to another for a specific action. The place you see this most is in the share intent, which allows you to hit share in any application and have access to all the other apps you have installed that you might want to share that piece of content on.

This, for me, makes Android feel a lot more social than iOS, which requires each application to hard-code in their sharing functionality (except for the Facebook and Twitter integrations which happen at the app level). This is awesome both from a user experience standpoint (I don’t have to copy and paste anything) as well as a developer standpoint (if you’re building apps you don’t have to make decisions on which platforms to put in/leave out and you can easily register your app as a share service and make it available inside other apps). The Android developer blog has a bunch more advantages to this approach, including:

Forward Compatible with new services — If some swanky new service springs up out of nowhere with an Android Application, as long as that application knows how to receive the share intent, you already support it. You don’t spend time in meetings discussing whether or not to wedge support for the new service into your impending Next Release(tm), you don’t burn engineering resources on implementing support as fast as possible, you don’t even upload a new version of anything to Android Market. Above all, you don’t do any of that again next week, when another new service launches and the whole process threatens to repeat itself. You just hang back and let your users download an application that makes yours even more useful.

Anyway, my point here was really just to highlight a little bit of functionality in Android that totally changes the experience and makes it feel, at least to me, like a more social OS.


Want to learn how Percolate can help with your content marketing?

Get in touch and we’ll show you our system in action.