Facebook Costs US Employers $28,000,000,000 per year

Image Source: Edudemic

Facebook.  All your friends are there, it’s so much fun, and it costs US employers $28,000,000,000 in productivity-loss per year.

I recently ran into a competitive situation with my business, ConnectSolutions, where an organization was comparing our service costs against a competitor.  However, the organization was not considering the fact that our solution increased productivity through ease-of-use and associated time-savings.  After I developed a model that showed the potential productivity boost (it was millions of dollars based on the size of the organization and average cost-per-employee/per year), they understood the true costs of both services.

That productivity boost got me thinking about what else we all spend our time on during the course of a workday that might impact productivity.  A quick search will tell you that Americans are spending, on average, 14 of their 74 minutes of online time on Facebook.  Mobile time spent might be more significant, but I don’t have ready access to those distribution stats.

Using that astonishing statistic, let’s make a few assumptions as inputs into our model.  First, I’ll assume that people are spending only 50% of their total Facebook usage during a given day during work hours.  After all, we are hard working Americans…right?

  • Time Spent On Facebook During Workday:  7 minutes

Next up, how many of us are sitting in front of computers with internet access each workday?  As a proxy, I’ll use the “knowledge worker” profile with an estimate of 30% of us American workers fall into.

  • Total Number of Internet-Connected Workers:  48,000,000 (30% of roughly 160M workers)

Ok, now let’s put these together to show how much time collectively we are spending on Facebook:

  • 48,000,000 worker * 7 minutes per day = 336,000,000 minutes per workday

Yikes, that’s a big number.  But how can we translate that into cost-per-employee?  Based on an average salary guestimate of $50,000 and 2000 work hours per year, we can assume a per-minute cost-per-employee of around $0.40/minute.  If we take that cost-per-minute and apply it to time employees are spending on Facebook, we get a big number…

  • Daily Productivity Cost due to Facebook Browsing:  $140,000,000

If we apply that to annual cost, we end up with a really scary number:

  • Annual US Employer Cost due to Facebook Browsing:  $28,000,000,000

Before thousands of IT organizations across the US race to block the facebook.com domain on their firewalls, it’s worth noting this is just a fun exercise and people’s actual usage patterns will vary widely.  We can also assume that there are some knowledge workers who aren’t using Facebook, or at least at work…

For those of you who also suffer from Twitter or HackerNews addictions, try your own model but avoid sharing the results with your employer!

Edit:  thanks to a reader for pointing out my exuberant use of an extra zero in my initial post…corrected…and still a very large number 😉

Consuming Large Quantities of News/Blogs/Updates Effeciently

Photo By Mario Pleitez

Tech moves fast, and for anyone who is trying to stay updated on the latest and greatest, keeping up with the myriad of sources and formats of information can be daunting.  I’ve had several conversations recently with tech-nerd friends who had new start-up ideas, only to be thwarted by my comments of “oh yeah, that sounds like X or Y that just got funded by YCombinator or some other fund…”  After apologizing for being the first to let them know they hadn’t thought about it first (another post someday on how ideas are easy, but execution is really really hard), the conversations have consistently turned to how I stay on top of this stuff.  You’ll find some of my methods below, and I’d love to hear others.

DISCLAIMER:  Consuming large quantities of information for no other reason then to “be on top of it” is not advised.  Set up the following resources to help drive your business venture, personal interests, or other meaningful pursuits to ensure you aren’t just idling along as a tech fan-boy or girl.

Ok, all that said, here are the services/sites I use just about every day:

  • HackerNews: awesome community of hackers and programmers helping each other to build great services, pursue start-up ideas, etc…  The latest programming advancements (NoSQL, Node as recent examples) are actively being cultivated in this community, and if you are looking for brutal but helpful start-up feedback…show yours to this community.
  • Techmeme: Good aggregation of the day’s big tech news.  Starting to get bored by the constant Facebook/Apple/Twitter/Google news items, but I guess that’s what’s dominating tech news these days.
  • TweetDeck: I use this desktop tool in a very specific manner, which is to define searches on topics that I’m interested in for my business (web conferencing, collaboration, competitors, partners, and customer news).  I get to see a wide range of content on these topics in a beautiful column-view, making it easy to digest what’s happening with these folks or topics in near real-time.
  • LinkedIn: I’m going to write another post on this one, because I get a huge amount of value out this service and I’ve been giving out a bunch of tips on this that most people don’t seem to know about (it’s a fact that LinkedIn buries some of its best features from users at the time of writing).  A couple of quick tips:  follow your customers and competitors on this service to see who’s coming, who’s going, news, and other helpful information to keep a pulse on your ecosystem.  You can also add people to “folders” for follow-up or organization.  And if you are pursuing new sales or business development efforts, this is the ultimate tool to find the right people.
  • Google Alerts: I’ve been using this for a long time, and it’s awesome.  You define a search term, and Google sends you an email (immediately, daily, weekly, …) when it crawls a piece of content with that term in it.  I use this to keep tabs on customer news, partners, and competitors.  Several times this service has highlighted opportunities for us to go back into existing customers to help assist with changing business environments (initiatives to save money, etc…).  I like this service because it sends data to me vs. having to pull for it.  Be careful on frequency (most of mine are daily, with some weekly digests).
  • Google Reader: I’ve been using this less lately, but it is still a great way to aggregate large numbers of publishers into a single view.

What about you?

Billions Served – ConnectSolutions Hits Exciting Milestone


ConnectSolutions hit a significant milestone earlier this year with the delivery of more than 1,000,000,000 collaboration minutes.  That number was generated through millions of meetings, events, and training sessions held by our user community around the globe.  What I find most exciting, however, is the increased pace in which these usage numbers are growing.  We’ll report more on that down the road.  You can read the full press release here

Startup Story with Mixergy

Trying to catalog some of my company’s accomplishments in 2010 (tis the season), and thought I’d document a few of the public discussions we had in the next few series of posts. The following is one of my favorites when it comes to perspectives on starting a business and various considerations ranging from funding to work ethic and commitment to the idea. If you are considering starting your own business, I highly recommend you take some time to review the many stories available at Mixergy as a resource.

Interview with Robert Scoble

I had an opportunity to sit down with Robert Scoble at his place a few weeks ago, and here is the video he shot of our discussion and a quick demonstration of our products at ConnectSolutions.  It was a lot of fun, and our topics ranged from web communication, to cameras, to lighting…

Michael Fitzpatrick Interviewed by Robert Scoble

Tech for Working Abroad (with kids)

A business growing like crazy with lots of new products coming online and customers coming in the door.  Three kids under seven.  Sounds like a perfect time to jump on a plane with the whole family and head to France for a month, right?

I’m pretty sure my wife and I talked about the possibility of travelng abroad during our very first conversation back in 1997.  It took us awhile to get there, but we just returned from an incredible month in France (Paris and Le Paradou in Provence) with our three children (all under 7 at the moment).  As I’ve shared this experience with friends and family, I’ve begun noticing some consistent questions about how we managed the kids, and how I was able to continue working (I didn’t take any time off in the end…next trip perhaps) remotely.  So, here you go:  some essential tools and tips we learned during our stay:

Apple iPad

The iPad is a magical device…for kids.  With its 10 hour battery life and lots of storage space, it ended up being the ultimate San Francisco-to-Paris warrior.  We loaded it up with movies, music, and games for the kids, and it made it all the way over with plenty of battery life to spare for another round of Toy Story or various kids games.  The parents enjoyed it too, as once we set-up wireless in the two places we stayed, it became a great email client and web browser for us to geek on during downtime.

Airport Express

I mentioned how the iPad was great for email and web browsing, but if you are traveling abroad, you don’t want to be using AT&T’s incredibly expensive data plans for the iPad, or your laptop, or your phones.  At the last minute, I grabbed the above AirPort Express and threw it in my bag thinking there could be a possibility of the “high-speed wireless” not working at our rentals.  It was a good call given that neither of the two locations had working wireless set-ups.  With this device plugged in, our iPads and computer were quite happy.

Adobe Connect

If you are going to be attempting to meet with your team, customers, and partners during your stay abroad, you aren’t going to want to hop on a plane nor sit on one end of the telephone for a long time.  I used Connect extensively during my travels as a way to make the discussions more social (webcams), as well as more productive (real-time document sharing, etc…).  Yes, I drink my own champagne.

Skype probably saved me several hundred dollars over the course of the month we were away.  Get the “Skype In” capability, so you can hook it up with the next wonderful service:

I’ve been using this as my primary number in my email-signature for awhile now, and it proved amazing while in France.  Folks call my Google Voice number, and I have it set to ring my mobile phone, my Skype account above, and even my office number.  As calls came in, I could answer them on my Skype account to make it basically free, without asking anyone to dial any new numbers, etc…  Very convenient for your callers, and you!

This one kind of just happened.  I had tried out foursquare awhile back, and it didn’t really click.  Early in the trip, however, I realized that having a log of all the fun places we went to (including little cafes, museums, parks, etc…) would be really nice, and this service is great for that.  I wish they had an easy way to export all of the locations we “checked-in” to, but it served us well and we found some good local places through the service.

ConnectSolutions Team

Last, but not least, I have to give credit to the team back at ConnectSolutions.  Their hard work ensured the business continued to be successful and grow while enabling me to get away with such an incredible trip with my family.  The welcome I received upon my return was the most impressive display of corporate pranks I have ever seen or heard of…and I look forward to returning the favor one day.

I’d love to hear from you all about what else could have made our trip even better!?!

Which Deep-End to Jump Into

ConnectSolutions is not on this list
Credit: Meg Pickard

In early 2007, I was beginning to get ready to depart the warm blanket of my former employer to dive into freezing start-up waters.  There was still a huge amount of Web 2.0 startup-excitement here in California, and I was a amazed at the number of “companies” trying to be successful on what amounted to a small feature vs. a sustainable business.  I saw an endless stream of them come through Adobe at the time hoping that our conversations would end up in acquisition.  Instead, it ended up being a great education for me and highlighting what became a pretty common blueprint for these web 2.0 companies:

  • Identify a feature, and build a service around it
  • Call yourself a company, and then raise a bunch of money to drive users and usage
  • Hope to be acquired before anyone realized you didn’t have a sustainable business model

I am almost as guilty as the people on the list above, since I tried to develop a business using that same model.  Fortunately, along the way, I had the opportunity to pitch the idea (a CRM-related concept) to the godfather of CRM himself, Tom Siebel.  About one minute into my pitch, my hopes and dreams for this “next-big-thing” in CRM were destroyed when the conversation went something like this:

“Michael, I get it.  It’s a good idea, and there’s a need for it.  However, if I saw that in the market, I’d put a few engineers on it and give it away for free as part of my CRM suite.”

The painful but correct translation:  “It’s a feature, not a business.”  That pretty much ended the discussion on that topic, but since I had his attention for the next couple of minutes, we ended up talking about the various kinds of businesses one could go after when starting something new, and why I really wanted to jump into the startup experience.  I was able to quickly conclude that I wasn’t interested in a feature-business (my internal monologue after that first minute of pitch was clear), nor a business predicated on being acquired, so that left me with one clear idea:  build a sustainable business based on stand-alone profitability.

In a future post, I’ll talk about my experience in trying to identify what that “sustainable business” was going to be, and how I arrived with my co-founder at the idea for ConnectSolutions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_SiebelIT’s a

Two+ Years Later…

Photo By Gleb Tarro

This blog has been dormant for more than two years now, which this easily explained: my adventures with ConnectSolutions have complete consumer for time. Fortunately, has incredible experience, and find myself extremely proud of team has accomplished to-date, and more than ever, I’m fired-up about the opportunities ahead.

A quick recap of what’s happened at company. In previous two and half years, we have:

…and are just getting started! It’s incredible journey over the “short” two+ years, and I’ve learned incredible amount from our successes and failures. Time allowing, to try share some those experiences on blog as payback to many resources found the web which led to my eventual decision to jump into the start-up world. I hope you enjoy.

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Everyone Should “Share” with Adobe…

With two small kids at home, of talk/demanding “sharing” stuff, and in many cases, meltdowns occur as concept is still bit foreign to a four and two year old. Fortunately, when it comes to Adobe, they have the concept down and are proving it through a new Beta launch of a document sharing service code-named “Share.”

Before I review this, let me come clean: Before the days of ConnectSolutions (not that long ago), I had their opportunity to work with incredible team that Adobe on variety of hosted services geared towards “knowledge workers.” This team was responsible for Acrobat Connect, but also series of stealth projects that will truly change the landscape for small and medium size businesses and their knowledge workers. Well, after what I’m sure was many long days over the past several weeks, I had the priviledge of kicking the virtual tires…

Share is a hosted solution that allows individuals to upload, organize, and of course, share documents with others. Sign-up is very simple (and free!), and provides users with instant access to a significant amount of storage. This storage is accessible from anywhere, which is important for anyone who travels, or of course, anyone who tends to work from home, café, etc…

As we’ve come to expect from Adobe, the service is front-ended with a beautiful, engaging user experience. Uploading documents is very simple, with the ability to upload multiple documents at once. With a single-page UI, you can select your documents to upload, identify permissions associated with viewing/reviewing the documents, and then upload. I’d like to see a desktop application to accomplish this through drag-and-drop though…

Once you’ve uploaded a document, the magic begins. You’re provided with a very slick interface your document repository, which includes thumbnails of the actual documents and basic information about them. Even better, a simple double-click over a document delivers an embedded preview right in your browser. No waiting for an external application to load (this includes no Acrobat Reader for PDF files), just instant satisfaction. Right now, it appears this capability is limited to PDF and image files, but other document types are apparently coming. When it comes to sharing, you have a variety of options including email, URL, and embedding documents in external web sites, blogs, etc… This is extremely useful in providing dynamic access to relevant content, in an engaging way.

While I’m very excited about this initial Beta, I will put my bias down briefly for one critique: A large part of my document sharing workflow includes allowing others (team members, partners, customers, lawyers, etc…) to review these documents, and make edits or changes directly in them. My preference is to retain control over who sees a document, but then allow them to engage and modify a document as they see fit. Ideally, this happens directly in document, and doesn’t require me going back into the original and duplicating the changes. Given that need, I believe Share has a great opportunity to allow direct commenting and review, and even editing, of the documents that traverse through its service.

In summary, I’m very excited about the potential here with “Share” and the work the Adobe team is putting into this solution area. Congrats to team for pulling this off quickly and allowing us benefit from work involved!


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Web Conferencing: "Meet" the desktop

ConnectSolutions has just "sneaked" a Beta of "MeetingPulse," a desktop application fully integrated with Acrobat Connect.  The app is based on Adobe AIR, and provides instant access to Connect meeting rooms, allowing users to quickly access their meeting rooms, be notified of participants joining their rooms, and viewing historical trends in their meeting usage.

The application is free to the Adobe Acrobat Connect community, and is available for download at:  http://labs.connectsolutions.com

For more information on the app, visit the official ConnectSolutions blog

Hope you enjoy it!