Wednesday, May 31, 2006 

Peter T. Brown here, Head of Web Development at Super Oyster Inc. This is the first of many posts I'll be making here on our corporate blog and wanted to introduce myself. Hello All!

Over the last week or so there has been great response to our first public release and disclosure of what Super Oyster is all about. I've noticed some interesting things in the ensuing discussions.

First off, there has been the common misconception that the Super Oyster process enables people to cut in line. I want to make it very clear that our patented method for improving queuing processes does not and never will enable anyone to cut in line. Instead, we enhance existing waiting lists by making it possible for people near the front to sell their positions to others -- we never create new positions. Thus, the amount of time it takes you to get to the front of the line is the same regardless of how much buying and selling is happening ahead of you. In the case that no one is willing to sell their spot in line, there will be no opportunities to buy a better position. Remember, you can only buy from others!

Secondly, some folks have speculated that SuperOyster enabled waiting lists will be susceptible to rampant speculation. It is important to note a few things. First, this already happens with high profile lines for high demand items. It was a common for people to join a waiting list to acquire an Xbox to only turn around and sell it for two or three times that cost on eBay. SuperOyster does not enhance nor retard this common practice. Second, in response to this common reality for high demand items, many resource owners take steps to mitigate this risk. Common tricks include charging a fee to be in line (common within the NFL for example). Others have those in line sign a contract that requires a purchase once the person had reached the front.

So, with a Super Oyster enhanced line, there could be some risk to getting in line if done only with the intention of re-selling your position. Since positions in waiting lists are susceptible to market changes -- just like stocks in companies -- there is the chance that the cost to be in line may be more than the cost for which a position may ultimately be sold. Imagine spending $50 a year to maintain a position in line for say, NHL Season Tickets, only to find that the team becomes progressively unpopular and your position at the front can only be sold for $10 after a few years.

It is very important to us to honor the effective, well tested, and equitable aspects of plain old lines. That being said, we think there is a lot of room for improvement in the process and we think we can dramatically improve the experience of both the resource owner and those waiting in line. And, as ever, please keep the comments coming!

Thursday, May 25, 2006 

Alpha feedback

Kudos to all of you in the blogosphere who’ve been trying out our Alpha and providing feedback. We greatly appreciate it.

Exposure from this has been global, with discussions occurring in both China and Lithuania, not to mention the US. Our Alpha is simply just the beginning. We have a whole slew of things planned for the future, so keep your eyes on this blog for updates!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 

You too can play with our code

Our Alpha has been out for a week or so, and we’ve decided to open it up to the rest of you all. Do you want to take a peak? Well here are the directions for trying it out. Keep in mind that this is an extremely early alpha and it is designed to just provide a snapshot of what we are doing. Nothing on this site is even close to being ready to ship.

This alpha is broken up into 3 separate parts to demonstrate how a merchant might utilize our system. The first part is a season ticket waiting list for a fictitious professional football team called the “L.A. Stars”. This list has over 200 people on it, and has an active marketplace. The second demonstration is a fictitious marina that has a multiyear wait to acquire a slip for permanent moorage. It’s a smaller list, but it works just the same but with a slightly modified shell. The final demonstration is a generic list that has no shell and no real activity. The point of the third demonstration is to show how our interface is designed to live within another merchant’s website. We have purposely left off the shell.

The workflow is such that a new user would arrive to our system via another merchant’s website. For example, if you were browsing the “L.A. Stars” football site, and you wanted to buy season tickets, you would be directed to our system to add yourself to the waiting list for season tickets. Thus, you’d either add yourself to the end of the line or perhaps buy a spot from someone else….etc.

As you’d expect with any Alpha, there’s a bunch of issues that we have yet to resolve. A lot of these will be fixed or redesigned within the next couple months. The latest set of release docs can be found at http://www.superoyster.com/alpha.htm . Please review this document BEFORE accessing our system.

You can log into our system at: http://alpha.superoyster.com/about .

Questions/Comments/Concerns? Direct them to info@superoyster.com

Monday, May 22, 2006 

Ticketmaster validates our assumptions

Ticketmaster is again validating our concept that positions in a line have value. They have always had a ticket auction service, but they are only now beginning to understand what they really had. SuperOyster’s service has a patented service that is analogous to this process, but our services are much more broader and can serve many markets that Ticketmaster is not involved in. What we find interesting is that Ticketmaster has not discovered a way to maximize revenue while sidestepping weird ticketing laws like we have. They have also realized something that StubHub, RazorGator and SuperOyster have been discussing for a while. If you partner with an entertainer, whereas you provide them a piece of the revenue you receive, you have much happier partners. They’ll want to work with you more often.

Here’s a link to the USA Today article discussing this very concept: USA Today and Ticketmaster

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 

Alpha is RELEASED!


Vamshi and I started writing code on a part time basis last year. By February, we had Peter working full time while Vamshi was filling in the gaps between rounds of golf. I’ve now been playing CEO / Program Manager /Product Manager/ HR Specialist /COO/ Accountant / Evangelist / Lawyer / Software Tester as well. There’s also been help from a myriad of others – too many to mention. Well, today all of that work can be seen by the world, as we finally released our Alpha. This release is a great stepping stone for the direction we are heading. We are all super ecstatic to achieve this milestone and move on to Beta. Whew!

Our Alpha demonstrates how the service can be “white labeled” for any merchant’s website. We demonstrate this in three manners. The first is simply a version of the service running without a shell – just the SuperOyster UI is present. The second demonstration exhibits the service within the realm of a fictitious professional football team that has hundreds of people on its season ticket waiting list. Finally, the third site shows how the service could be leverage by a marina which has a multiyear waiting list for permanent moorage.

This is another screenshot of the Alpha without a merchant’s web shell.

I’ll be stepping away from the code for a few days to focus more on customers, namely merchants. We have a few leads, and we have to generate a few more. I expect a whole slew of customer activity over the next month that should generate one or more LOI’s.

If you are interested in playing with the Alpha, or you want to talk to us about leveraging our service, please feel free to contact me (Matt Kowalczyk) at info@superoyster.com.

I think I need a vacation. :-)

Monday, May 08, 2006 

Alpha is here!

ok, ok…stop the shouting. I promised one or two screen shots of the alpha, well here you go. This screenshot is a picture of the trading UI also known as the “Marketplace”. Since this is an alpha, we are still playing with the design. We’ve discovered a whole set of issues with the design path we are taking, but these are all good healthy questions to be having.



Peter and I spent this afternoon closing out the  remaining bugs that existed against the alpha. We’ve made some cuts and even added a few things. For those of you on our mailing list, you’ll be receiving instructions sometime this week that will tell you how to access the alpha build. Keep in mind that an Alpha build implies very rudimentary features, so don’t expect to be able to do much. A lot of time has been spent just simply creating a foundation for all the great work to come. If you haven’t been receiving SuperOyster emails from me, and you’d like to play with the alpha build, drop me a line at info@superoyster.com.

Thursday, May 04, 2006 

You have to wait for space

Don’t know if you are into space travel or not. I think it’s pretty darn cool. Ever wonder what it would be like to travel in space? I dream of activities like that, though everyone already knows that I like to get high. Anyway, Virgin Galactic has been offering flights into space aboard their new fleet of spaceships.  Yes, that sounds so Star Treky, but you know what…? They already have a waiting list of people who want to go into space. Sure, the flights don’t start til 2008, and you’ll have to mortgage the house if you want to go. However, what if you wanted to be part of the first Virgin flight into space? (sorry about the pun) The first flight or even the second promises to be historic! Well, considering that there is a waiting list, you’d have to find a way to purchase a spot from someone else at the top of the list. Unfortunately, Virgin does not implement SuperOyster’s patent pending service which helps people bid for positions on a waiting list. Too bad, you may just have to wait til the next historical event takes place.

For all of you who subscribed to this blog, could you do me a favor and resubscribe? I just hooked the blog feed up to Feedburner, so that I could track stats and whatnot. The new link is http://feeds.feedburner.com/Superoystercom or just simply copy the syndicate link found at the bottom of the page.
    

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 

Exposure is good!

Don’t know if you caught it, but Brady from O’Reilly Publishing (yep, the developer books with the animals on the cover) wrote a quick review of the SuperOyster service today in his blog.  It’s great to see us grab a little exposure.

Meanwhile, I’m busy working with Peter and Vamshi testing the Alpha build of the product. We are close to being ready, but if any of you really know me, you know that I usually won’t settle for less than perfection when it comes to testing.

Stay tuned. I plan to put up a few screen shots of the Alpha build tomorrow!

Monday, May 01, 2006 

The NFL Draft and position value

SuperOyster’s software creates a market out of positions in a line. The value of any position in a line is dictated by particular market dynamics, thus optimizing the market for all parties involved. Our software helps regular merchants and individuals understand the economic benefits of any position in a waiting list.


Certain entities have already realized that a position on a list has a tangible value. One such group is the National Football League. Ever wonder how pro football teams manage the complexity of the NFL Draft? If you aren’t familiar with professional football, let me take a second to describe what the NFL draft is all about. Each year, a special event is held in New York City (this year’s was in Radio City Music Hall) where teams take turns selecting eligible collegiate football players to join their club. The team with the worst record the previous season chooses first and the team with the best record chooses last. The selection process has multiple rounds thus providing each team anywhere between 7 and 10 picks. Essentially, this process is a line or waiting list with over 200 positions.


Since the draft is so important to the success of the team, each team has started placing a tangible value on their positions in the draft. The highest valued position is the first selection, the second highest valued position is the second selection and so on. Each team has their own “value chart” that establishes the value per position, though each team’s chart is usually pretty similar. This chart helps them assess whether or not a trade is worth making and also helps them determine how much they should be paying a particular draft selection. An example chart (complements of the redzone.org) can be found below:





The big surprise from this year’s NFL draft was Quarterback Matt Leinart. Originally, he was slated to be the #2 or #3 selection in last year’s draft. Matt decided to stay in school to help his team reach the NCAA Championship. Though it was an admirable decision on his part, it also detracted from long term value. Matt entered the NFL draft this year, and much to his chagrin, he was chosen as the 10th selection. His value depreciated by 50%, thus probably costing him over $10 million in salary. Note postion #2 was worth 2600 and position #10 is worth 1300 points in the chart above.


This is yet another example of how important it is to understand the true value of a position in a line. With software from SuperOyster, everyone – the merchant, the position holder and prospective customers all are better informed about the positions in a line.