MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

Jason Calacanis at the SMASH | April 19, 2011

On April 7th, 2011, the MHB program hosted a social media summit at the USC Davidson Center in downtown Los Angeles. The first-ever SMASH, or Social Media Advanced Skills Huddle, amassed industry professionals, graduate students and professors for short lectures and brainstorming huddles. In the continuing MHB Weekly coverage of the event’s distinguished speakers and key ideas, today looks at renowned online entrepreneur Jason Calacanis.

Largely viewed as a web pioneer, Mr. Calacanis began his career at the outset of the dot-com boom and has carried his respected name through multiple entrepreneurial efforts since. (One of his projects, Weblogs Inc., sold for $25 million to AOL in 2005.) His résumé proves that he’s always viewed the internet as a social tool, and his latest endeavor — an online information house called Mahalo, which answers everyday queries with articles and videos — has emerged as a leading how-to guide for serious questions and minutia alike. Most notorious, however, are his fiery spirit and at-all-costs openness — SMASH host and Communitelligence president John Gerstner referred jokingly to Mr. Calacanis’ lunchtime presentation as “Jason, Tell Us What You Really Think.”

His message was one of change, including major overhauls to social media and online business. A blogger himself, Mr. Calacanis explained his position on the evolving blog network: that there are too many poorly-written blogs filling up the virtual world, making it increasingly difficult to discover the ones worth their while. Dismissing search engine optimization, he professed that his high page rankings have resulted from a common sense blogging procedure, not from paying SEO experts. Mr. Calacanis spoke at length about the upcoming video platform that will soon overtake much of the web — a revolution to be led by YouTube, he said, as soon YouTube becomes the way to watch all streaming content.

While he admitted that the futures of social media cornerstones like Facebook and Twitter are yet to be seen, Mr. Calacanis made several predictions. He believes that Facebook is peaking, and will be overtaken by the innovative apps and networks provided by mobile communications. He claimed that Twitter is underrated and will soon be the new “email address for life.” LinkedIn he described as impressive, and while the emerging social media phenomenon Color has yet to make waves, he finds it fascinating as an idea and a good way to meet new people. (Color allows its users to post photographs, which it then sorts by location to show which users have been where and when.)

To close, Calacanis explained his philosophy on the workforce and the hiring process. He denounced “good” workers, the type he would gladly hand over to competitors, in the search for “great” workers. He looks for people who forgo balance in order to devote themselves fully to their work — a trait he sees rarely in Generation Y employees, whom he views as coddled and sometimes unmotivated. His talk was one of candor, brash honesty and, for those who could the stomach the criticisms that cut close to home, a shot of DIY inspiration.

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    Established in 2009 at USC, the Master's of Science in Human Behavior is designed to equip students with knowledge of consumer psychology, social media and market analysis skills. This is our blog. Subscribe

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