November 2008

Lars Hinrichs (XING) and Kathy Johnson (Consort Partners)When we heard the news that Lars Hinrichs, CEO and Founder of XING, was passing the baton of CEO to Dr. Stefan Gross-Selbeck of eBay, we were saddened, but also understood the decision.  Lars started the company five years ago, when the Internet was in a “dead zone” between the DotCom Boom and Web 2.0 days.  He loved networking and saw an opportunity to bring together aspiring and established business executives from around the world.  He called the company, Open Business Club (or OpenBC), based on the notion that it was open to everyone and was completely transparent – I could see who you were connected to and vice versa, so we could better understand our “six degrees of separation.”  OpenBC thrived as the technology sector began to breathe in new life, and was profitable within 90 days of launch.  Subsequently, Lars decided to change the name to XING – inspired by the railroad crossing signs he saw in the 145222867_ef496c36052.jpgUS (get it – XING = crossing!).  The company got a new look and appealed to markets outside of Germany – attracting users from the US, China, India, and of course, every corner in Europe.

In December 2006, Lars took the company public, marking the first “Web 2.0” IPO.  Seven profitable quarters later, Lars has proven he can run a startup and a public company and has now chosen to give the day-to-day activities to his successor, while he joins the company’s Supervisory Board.  He’s taken the company’s EBITDA margin from 17% to 40% in Q3’08, which is nothing to nothing to sneeze at, especially in today’s recessionary climate.

Lars is not just an incredible entrepreneur (we’re going to keep our eyes on him, as he has a track record of starting successful companies), but he’s also one of the nicest guys I know.  We also think the world of Daniela Hinrichs, who has navigated the press and communications around XING for several years.  They are both the embodiment of business networking… and downright nice, smart, ambitious, international, and caring people.

We’ll miss Lars but are proud to have had a “front row seat” while he created one of the most important and successful business networks in the world.  We’re looking forward to the next chapter of XING, under the tutelage of  Stefan.

Connect with me on XING here:  https://www.xing.com/profile/Kathy_Johnson

p.s. the photo above was taken during our last meeting in SF when we had to do Lars’ favorite thing in San Francisco -have dimsum lunch at Yank Sing.  We saw the sign as we left the restaurant and thought that was the perfect embodiment of where everything was headed – up and full steam “ahead”!

Leading casual games portal King.com has penned an interesting agreement with online ad firm Mochi Media that will allow publishers on the MochiAds network to access and distribute King’s titles.mochi-media.pngkingcom_logo_lrg.jpg

read more | digg story

This week marks the biggest travel time of the year. Most of us will be rushing around, trying to finish up our work, pack our bags, get the tickets ready and run off to meet family and friends to consume 4,000 calories in one sitting.  Then we’ll loosen our pants (or just wear sweats to make us feel less guilty…and yes, less fashionable), sit back and watch some tellie, and think about getting into a bit of shape for the next round of holiday merriment.Since Dominic and I are off to see my 84 year old mom for Thanksgiving, here are a few links that I found useful…

  • Of course, I’ve already filled reQall with reminders for myself (e.g. my mom wants us to bring See’s Candies’ soft chocolates – and nothing else, so that reminder is set for Wednesday).  I
  • ‘ve checked out NileGuide to review the highlights of Seattle, since I don’t go there too often despite the fact my mom lives in Tacoma.
  • We’ll be going out to dinner on Thanksgiving, so it’s important to have my outfit prepared and the accessories ready.  However, nothing looks good if my entrance is made with wobbly ankles due to my spindly heels.  Therefore, Graspr has a few friendly how-to videos, including this “must watch” which is hilarious (admit it, you’ve been the girl in the blue dress… or have at least seen her… before).
  • After our Thanksgiving feast, I’m sure I won’t be thinking of running a marathon on my trytophan-induced coma, so instead I might wander over to my PC for a mini adrenaline rush by playing a few online games at King (72% of those that play are women over 35, like me!).
  • But, feeling guilty as I sit with my sweats and fluffy slippers, I finally might be motivated to do something a bit more active.  Like play around with that giant exercise ball we bought last year that taunts our dog and collects dust.  So here’s another helpful video I will be trying out (although it looks a little tough… maybe I need to find a beginner version of this).

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A bit of self-promotion (yeah, I know… again).  I was amazed and thrilled to find out I was a finalist for the venerable Stevie Awards, especially as I hadn’t really thought my “lifetime achievements” were newsworthy enough to rank me amongst the top five in my category.  Last Friday, the judges made the final call as to who was the grand poobah Lifetime Achiever, and sadly, I didn’t get the big prize.  But that doesn’t discount the fact that I’m honored to have been recognized, at the lofty age of 43, to even be worthy of any sort of “Lifetime Achievement” nod.

Here’s the press release, so you can see how I even got this far…

Consort Partners’ Kathy Johnson Named Lifetime Achievement Finalist
by 2008 Stevie Awards for Women in Business

Achievements in technology, tourism and aviation for G9 nations, Fortune 500,
and startup companies garners recognition

 

ROSS, CA,  November 14, 2008 – Consort Partners (www.consortpartners.com), an international strategic public relations and marketing consultancy, announced today that its co-founder, Kathy Johnson, has been named a finalist in the fifth annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor shared by just 4 other women worldwide. The Stevie Awards have been hailed as the world’s premier business awards and honors women executives and entrepreneurs globally and the companies they run.

Nicknamed the “Stevies” for the Greek word “crowned,” winners will be announced during a gala event in New York tonight.  More than 1,200 entries were submitted for consideration in 50 categories.  Kathy is proud to be a finalist in the “Lifetime Achievement Award – Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations” category.

The nomination recognizes her work across various sectors, including her role as co-founder of technology PR and marketing consultancy Consort Partners, as well as her ground-breaking ventures in technology as co-founder of the world’s first video search engine Blinkx and executive roles with Internet pioneers Firefly (acquired by Microsoft) and Netcentives. 

Kathy’s evangelism of disruptive technologies has garnered media attention including international TV and radio (BBC, CNN, CNBC, etc.), international newspapers (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Guardian, The Times, Die Welt, Reuters, etc.), and business and lifestyle magazines (Fast Company, Red Herring, Real Business, PC Magazine, etc.).

“To be recognized for a Lifetime Achievement Award by the prestigious Stevie Award organization at the age of 43 is an incredible honor,” said Kathy Johnson.  “This nomination is a privilege I share with my team at Consort Partners, as they have been with me as we’ve worked with business leaders and entrepreneurs worldwide to move markets.”

Finalists were chosen by business professionals worldwide during preliminary judging.  Members of the Awards’ Board of Distinguished Judges & Advisors and their staffs will select Stevie Award winners from among the Finalists and winners will be officially announced at the awards dinner at 7:30pm EST tonight.

“Being named a Finalist in The Stevie Awards for Women in Business is an important achievement,” said Michael Gallagher, president of the Stevie Awards. “It means that independent business executives have agreed that the nominee is worthy of recognition. We congratulate all of the Finalists on their achievement and wish them well in the competition.”

Details about The Stevie Awards for Women in Business and the list of 2008 Finalists in all categories are available at www.stevieawards.com/women.

About Consort Partners:

Consort Partners provides marketing, communications and corporate advisory services to technology and media companies. From idea, through launch, to exit, we’ve been there. We’ve identified opportunities, got them off the ground, created new categories, built and sold global businesses. We’ve brokered deals, engineered partnerships and structured transactions in the US, Europe and across Asia. For real-time snapshot on what we’ve done for our clients lately, see: www.consortpartners.com/news.php .

About The Stevie Awards:

Hailed as “the business world’s own Oscars” by the New York Post, Stevie Awards are conferred in four programs: The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, The Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Selling Power Sales Excellence Awards. Honoring companies of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about The Stevie Awards at www.stevieawards.com.

Last week I was interviewed by Martinne Geller of Reuters for a story she was working on about the effect of the recession on holiday shopping.  She was a joy to talk to and I ended up telling her about our trip to Europe last year, when we popped into the Louis Vuitton shop on Champs Elysee in Paris and enjoyed a few glasses of bubbly while perusing the collection of new handbags.  Well, you can read about what happened last year, and the consequences of the recession on my 2008 holiday shopping spree here:  In recession, ladies recycle last year’s dress.

ipod_task4.jpgWe’ve been using reQall for months now, so it’s a part of our everyday lives.  I used to call reQall to remind myself of tasks (I still have my phone set to speed-dial reQall when I hit the letter Q), but I now confess that I’m addicted to the reQall app I’ve downloaded for my Blackberry.  When I’m in a meeting and need to remind myself to look up conduct some research later, I simply open my reQall app, type in the task, and everything is synched and ready.  reQall automatically populates my to-do list, sends me a reminder, and if I say it’s due on a certain date, it also puts it in my calendar.  How handy!  But, I digress… the reason I’m writing this post is because website Lifehacker is conducting an iPhone Task Manager competition.  There are a few out there – but reQall is the one you will love and use daily once you give it a try.

If you use it now, you know what I mean.  If you don’t use it yet, the holidays are a perfect time to get started… Remember to buy your wife that diamond ring; your mom-in-law that day at the spa; you need to get the car oil checked before you drive up to Tahoe for the ski weekend; and don’t forget to research hotels, cabins and restaurants before you go.  Also, be sure not to forget to buy the turkey and stuffing, order your Christmas cards and prepare your card list; buy those fun little holiday stamps, buy some eggnog and pumpkin pie, get your hair cut as it’s getting a bit long, figure out when Santa is at the mall so your kids can tell him they’ve been good, get your dreidls and menorah ready, put a vacation hold on your newspaper, find a kennel for the dog and cat… well, you get my drift… and please don’t forget to vote for reQall.

It’s finally here – election day.  After all the campaigning, messaging, soundbites, real-life stories, drama and interviews, it’s now our turn to take action and head to the polls to exercise our right to vote.  I had actually asked for an absentee ballot, so I cast my vote a couple of weeks ago and made sure to select the right answer to all the Propositions and Measures on the ballot.  Unfortunately, I think the ballots can be a bit tricky sometime, as I had intended to vote for the right for marriage for everyone, including same-sex couples, but that meant voting No on Prop 8 versus what I had intuited to be Yes.  Luckily, I read it again and cast the vote I wanted – No on Prop 8.  I also am in favor of letting farm animals have a right to stand up in their cage, spread their wings, and have a humane life so I voted Yes on Prop 2.  And finally, for the President of the United States?  Well, I guess you can tell by the video below where my vote has gone.

Regardless of your political affiliation or whether you agree or disagree with my voting choices, I do hope you get out there and help shape your town, community and country and vote.