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Patrick Lannigan — winter 2008/2009
    joeisms: The List
  • Speed, Sex, Standards
  • 10X
  • Network Lock-In
  • Real, Win, Worth
  • Deployment Score
  • Before (or after)
  • What if it was free?
  • Little eat the big
  • Whos the customer?
  • Special Sauce

I refer to this list as Joeisms in honour of Joe Alsop who drilled these methods into my forebrain so I could do a better job analyzing technology-centric market opportunities. Ive added to it (and refined it) over the years but have stubbornly clung to the name "Joeisms". (Sticking to "Joeisms" also makes it easy to locate using Google.)

This list will be most useful in the hands of someone who needs to refine a process for building new markets, products, or startups. Anyone who's done that sort of thing (like me) knows how brutal it can be. Using this list can also help Darwin-ize your ideas by (either) building-up the strongest ones and/or killing the weakest.

So Many Wars. So Many Lessons.

Developing new markets, ideas, and startups is not unlike a battle or a war. There are winners and, more often than not, plenty of casualties. One of the best ways to get a leg up is to analyze older battles. As an example, it's easy to say that Microsoft "out marketed" Word Perfect for word processor dominance but that's too simplistic an answer. To really understand—you need specifics. You need to understand how the challenger developed an unfair advantage. This is the key. If you can develop an unfair advantage for the market, product, or startup you're developing—you're a long way to charting a course to victory. This list will help you do exactly that. Ignore it at your own peril.

The Joeisms are as follows:

Speed, Sex, Standards

When taking on an incumbent vendor there are many approaches. One strategy is to map your battle along the lines of speed, sex, and/or standards. This is best illustrated by example.

Lotus 123 beats VisiCalc (Speed & Sex)

Lotus beat VisiCalc by not concerning themselves with multi-platform capabilities but, instead, aiming straight at the IBM PC and optimizing for that platform. The result was a faster (and sexier) interface than VisiCalc. They took a gamble on the IBM PC standard being a success—but it was a calculated risk that paid off. (note that many years later Lotus put their money on OS/2 and lost to MS-Excel on Windows) (of course Microsoft create their affordable bundle of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint virtually impossible to resist)

Oracle beats Cullinet & Ingres (Standards)

Oracle focused on an IBM standard called SQL and aimed for the "higher ground" of relational databases since they could claim that they were based on a standard. Was there a lot of "hot air" in their marketing? — oh yeah - but they did it. They're number one in the database space with Microsoft (who licensed SQL Server from Sybase) hot on their tail. S till — it was a remarkable battle plan that they executed very well.


If you really want to obliterate the competition you can always make your product ten times better than the closest competitor. Of course this is easy to say—but there are some great examples in the high tech history book...

Google (10X)

I had the good fortune of being in a position where internet research and sleuthing was critical. As such, I was very dependant on search engines (Yahoo! & Alta Vista). When I found Google, in 1998, it became my default search engine—immediately. The decision was easy, as Google was (hands down) at least ten times better than any other search engine I had ever used. I was so "in awe" of the results I even forced my Google habit onto others I worked with. They became converts too.

Data Domain (10X)

Data Domain developed a dramatically better data backup method. They pioneered what is called "de-duplication" technology. Data Domain reduced the size and (perhaps more importantly) the time it took for larger organizations to do their data backups. They did this by determining which "chunks" of data were the same as prior "chunks" they had already backed up. In other words, their backup programs ignored file names, directory names, and time stamps and simply focused on the "chunks of data" they had to manage. After all, how often do we duplicate data and simply rename the file and/or directory? Probably more often than you think. They had made enough inroads with existing backup vendors to attract EMC which purchased them in July of 2009.

Network Lock-In

As the old saying goes—"no man is an island". There are battles to be won by leveraging networks of people who have a desire to exchange documents, emails, etc.

America On Line (AOL) (Network Lock-In)

Those who are old enough will remember the diskettes and CD-ROMs that AOL used to send out with "free trials" on them. AOL knew that if they could just get a certain amount of users on using AOL it would draw others in. (Remember, when AOL was first born the internet wasn't available to the common citizen.) As such, if Mr. Smith was on AOL and wanted to exchange an email with Mrs. Right, she had to be on AOL as well. When grandma wanted to send emails to her grandchildren they all had to be on AOL. This type of marketing begins to feed upon itself. A modern equivalent is Facebook.

To Be Continued ...


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Email Patrick Lannigan at lannigan at gmail dot com for more information

This page was created and/or refreshed on March 09, 2016 @ 11:47:56
by Patrick Lannigan (or one of his cronies) in Markham, Ontario, Canada
The page subject is: Joeisms