When I first met Bill Ngyuen, I thought he was absolutely full of it.
He was running a cloud-streaming-CD-trading site called Lala, and he talked a mile a minute. Bill said things like “We’re gonna make the Music Business hip again”, ‘Wait till you see how Lala does the cloud, you will be blown away”, and “We are thisclose to deals with Google, & MySpace“, and “Have you heard this track from Built To Spill, incredible!”
On first blush, it all seemed to good to be true. A shorts-wearing music and tech obsessive, who wanted to help grow paid music consumption? It was hard to buy in.
Now, I will be the first to admit — Bill didn’t save my label or make the Music Business “hip” again. But, he certainly delivered on most of his promises. Lala did have the best cloud integration of its day. (I’ll never forget the day our head of Biz Affairs saw me sorting my home iTunes playlists on my work computer, thanks to Lala). Lala did do deals with MySpace and Google. Lala integrated beautifully with iTunes.
Their marketing and promotion was non-existent, but as a service, Lala worked.
When Bill sold Lala to Apple, and went, temporarily to work in Cupertino, I fell out of contact with him.
Maybe Bill believed that he had taken his cloud music revolution as far as he could as a small shop, perhaps he simply got an offer he couldn’t turn down. People grow bored and frustrated, people have families, stuff happens.
Still, I had to tip my hat to Bill for shaking things up with Lala, and showing us the potential of the cloud.
Now, Bill has remerged with Color, a new photo-based Social Networking app & site. The Color app takes your photos, videos, and comments and ports them to anyone else in your location who has the app on.
This is an ingenious play. It takes the two hottest online content forms — photos and videos, and tethers them to the two hottest trends online — social networking and self-expression.
The Final Take: So this time, when Bill Ngyuen gets enthusiastic, I will understand that he is indeed full of it…as long as you define “it” as vision, possibility, and smarts.