I have thought more than twice about writing this review. It’s an expensive car and I really don’t want to sound like a show off post.
But I frequently write about new products I’m using so not writing about this particular one feels inconsistent.
So here goes.
A few months ago I went to the Tesla website and ordered a Model S. I had tried one out previously and was completely impressed. And I have wanted an electric car for a long long time.
Less than 3 months later the car arrived last Monday. Mine is back outside and black inside. Just like my camera :)
The car drives like a dream. It’s responsive, fast and smooth.
There is an enormous touchscreen inside that displays the media system, navigation, phone, other apps and car controls.
The navigation system is incredible. It’s google maps and it just works like it’s supposed to. You can search for a place instead of a laborious data entry system. You can pinch and zoom on the screen. Tap a button to see a traffic overlay or satellite overlay.
Our iPhones paired to the cars without a hitch. It also syncs the address book as well as recent calls. I haven’t tested voice commands yet.
It’s fun to plug in my car to recharge the battery. I’m beyond thrilled i don’t have to buy gas each week. A full charge gets me about 250 miles. Amazing.
The audio system is very good but not the best. My last car sounded better. I messed around a bit with the levels which improved things.
Model S comes with built in 3G connectivity. The browser app is slow and I don’t think I will ever use it. But built in 3G means I can play internet radio stations easily. I’ve tagged a few favorites already including kexp and some indie ones from Europe which are new to me.
The car has this cool user profile system. When I get in the car I tap my name (batman) and the seats and mirrors go right into place. When lauren taps her profile (batgirl) her seats and mirrors adjust accordingly.
I would love to see music, maps and other apps tied to the user profile in a future software update. I love my wife dearly but our music taste doesn’t always overlap. I’m told Tesla regularly updates their software so I’m hopeful.
The big touch screen is stunning but there are some disadvantages of having so many soft buttons. To open the rear hatch requires two taps. Same with the sunroof.
The interior is sparse with a minimalist design. There are no storage areas on the driver and passenger doors. The globe box is small. There isn’t a center console storage box. The cup holders are slightly awkward but completely usable. There aren’t any cup holders in the rear seat which for me is a feature not a bug :)
I thought the lack of interior storage was going to be an issue but I’m pleasantly surprised to discover the opposite. This car feels open and will have less clutter as a result. I’m happy about that.
There is a Tesla Model S mobile app. From my phone I can remotely honk the horn, lock/unlock the doors, locate the car on a map and manage the climate control. Again that’s another benefit of built in 3G.
My glowing review would be incomplete if I didn’t mention one serious problem.
This past Sunday we went out to dinner. When we returned to the car after dinner the car was completely unresponsive. It would turn on but I couldn’t put the car in drive. Basically my car was bricked.
I called roadside assistance and they towed the car to the Tesla service center. The customer service people were attentive and got me a loaner the next morning. They fixed my car the next day and we swapped the loaner for my fixed car by evening.
They described the problem to but honestly I’m not completely sure I understand the technical explanation. The local manager said he never experienced this before and I believe him. The car seems to be working perfectly now but it was a buzzkill.
Tesla stock has been on a tear and I can see why. They are innovating like crazy and it’s inspiring. I hope they can build a product family that is more approachable for mainstream customers.
At the very least it will be a kick in the ass to the competition that has been serving up cars with awful dated user interfaces and harmful emissions for the planet.
“When I see decades-old photos which anonymous people took and left behind, I obtain a definite feeling of “something existed there”. Today as well, when I release the shutter, I hope to take photos like those.”—Hideaki Hamada
“We can either have competition, which would solve a lot of these problems, or we can have regulation. What Comcast is trying is to have neither. It’s insanity, and we keep lying to ourselves about it. It’s time to start thinking about ways to actually do something.”—Craig Aaron
And in this case, we need to say it loudly and clearly when it comes to broadband and the Internet.
Today Comcast is trying to weave together a vertically integrated company with content (acquiring sports teams and NBC Universal) as well as consolidating the last mile broadband network (Time Warner Cable acquisition).
In addition, they give us a closed, awful set top box, a low performing router, poor internet speeds compared to rest of world, significant pricing hikes and tireless attempts to destroy network neutrality. And consumers have little choice because we don’t have the same level of competition as we see with wireless carriers.
Just like I tell my kids: you simply can’t have it all. It’s not a healthy thing period. You need to choose what’s most important to you and what’s best.
We need to make our message heard. We simply cannot allow one company to be this grabby when it comes the key element of our nations infrastructure.
Want to own content and the last mile? Fine but you can’t own all of the last mile nationwide. Want to consolidate the last mile? Fine, then sign up to network neutrality with a commitment to better coverage and performance.
I’ve heard people compare Comcast’s challenges with the our nations highways. The story goes at some point the highway will be so congested that we need trucks to pay more.
My response: we already do. We as subscribers pay more year after year. We have no choice. There are many places even in metro areas where consumers are given exactly one choice.
I’m even open minded to data caps as we have with wireless. What I find unacceptable is the idea that Comcast or any ISP should dictate which bits can and can’t flow over their network. Content and application discrimination will stifle innovation.
(The other problem with the highway example: the government does not discriminate which trucks can and can’t use the highway. They don’t reject Toyota trucks and accept Ford trucks because of a special deal)
Another thing: we can’t forget that Comcast wants to own content and apps as well. What happens when they don’t want the protection money because they are rolling their own 1st party service.
Some people are saying regulation isn’t the answer. We need more innovative alternatives. Generally I completely agree (see my earlier thoughts on the MSFT/DOJ antitrust case from years ago). But until we have those alternatives we need to keep our internet open to all.
We made if back from St. John late Tuesday night. We were starving so we went out for a quick bite, went home, unpacked the essentials.
I woke up the next day (yesterday) at 4:30am to catch the 6am Delta shuttle back at the airport for a day trip to NYC. Met up with my friend Josh for an early coffee and a quick photo walk. Then back to back work meetings from 10am to 6pm and caught the 8pm shuttle back to Boston.
Woke up early this morning and my head was spinning. I didn’t want to do my run but I’m 60 days (oh god) away from my first marathon so i talked myself into it. One step at a time. I climbed on the treadmill and got busy. An hour later I felt like a new man. I need to remember how good it feels to get the heart pumping.
I made two calls from home and now heading to the office. Meetings with an activist, an investor and then an entrepreneur. After lunch I’m heading to MIT to speak at two classes back to back at their business school about startups. I am really looking forward to that. Love engaging with students.
Anyway, our vacation is over, my email auto response is turned off and I’m back.
The team is small, the balance sheet is tiny but productivity soars. Any and all decisions are solvable by getting everyone together in a room. That is because it’s literally easy to get everyone in a room as the team is small.
Small teams are durable, flexible and productive. Decisions by consensus works.
But the company has ambition and needs more people for the mission. So the company starts to hire.
As the company starts hiring productivity slows down (or worse). All of a sudden the founder says, “Holy hell, how did we get here. We have more talented people than ever but we are moving so slowly.”
And while it’s painful for the founder(s), it can be beyond frustrating to the team. They left their previous job to work at a hot growing company only to find that the team is completely disorganized and people are now complaining.
So here is some good news and bad news:
The good news: you aren’t alone. The majority of growing startups go through this stage.
The bad news: it’s not fun and it highlights a number of things you need to watch out for. And if you don’t, companies can get stuck in this phase for far too long.
Things to consider:
-how good is your vp of engineering. he or she may have been an amazing developer when the team was small but can do great people want to work for them?
-how good are other members of the management team?
-is the team organized properly. are the right people working on the right things. i love this interview with chris fry who runs engineering at twitter.
-is the team bought into the plan. if not, why? are deadlines arbitrary? did the team have input? is it ambitious enough or too ambitious?
-on boarding process. it’s a tragedy to go overcome so many challenges to hire a new person only to have them join and not know what they are supposed to do.
It’s seductive to convince yourself in the early days that all we need to do is keep our culture and hire more people and assume productivity goes up. Hiring without great management can be a full blown nightmare.
But if you can build the right foundation with the best managers, you will have the opportunity to build something truly great.
We often hear about new products that promise to beat the current market leader by being the “blah blah blah on steroids”
I’m not a big fan of this strategy
That doesn’t mean that the market leader isn’t vulnerable but it’s a question of the approach.
Apple didn’t put a hurt on Microsoft desktop business by a better version of macos. They put the hurt by nailing a new category altogether with the iPad.
By contrast Microsoft has adopted the “on steroid” strategy in many of their products.
The Surface tablet is an attempt to be an “iPad on steroids”. It has a keyboard, it shipped with a pro and consumer model. It can do split screen. The list goes on.
You know how well the Surface did.
Google clearly felt threatened by Facebook so they tried to create a “Facebook on steroids” with google+
G+ launched with a sophisticated system to manage your contacts called Circles. The cognitive load was overwhelming. G+ came with as ton of other features like video conferencing, high res images and its arrivals cluttered up the rest of google web apps which had previously been light and pure.
You know how google+ turned out so far.
Over the years I’ve seen pitches for YouTube on steroids, Flickr on steroids, Wordpress on steroids, yahoo shopping on steroids, google search on steroids and many many more.
But here’s the thing. Steroids aren’t good for you.
The best way to deal with YouTube is Vine and Snapchat.
Flickr on steroids is a mistake. Instagram was the answer.
Wordpress on steroids. Nah, think Tumblr and Medium.
Yahoo shopping on steroids. Nope, think about things like Storenvy.
Google Search is vulnerable. Now more than ever. Try searching for a product review. It’s busted. The spammers and content farm won. But a google search on steroids isn’t the answer. A new approach is.
Less is more is a powerful notion. But it’s deeper than that. Redefining an experience in a unique way is how you beat the market leader.
“My very chemistry has changed. In relationships, hobbies, and life, I find myself fidgeting in the safe smallness of the status quo. I want more from you now, and I want more from myself, and I’m less afraid of the risks it’ll take to get there because I have breathed through chaos before and I believe now—finally—that we’ll all still be here when the band stops playing.”—Blake Ross
The Mac is certainly one of those things that had a profound impact and changed my life in so many ways.
The Mac wasn’t my first personal computer but (that would have been an Apple IIe) but it was my favorite computer.
My first Mac was the Macintosh SE. It had a built in floppy drive and more importantly it had an internal 20MB disk drive. My parents bought it for me during my sophomore year in college (1988). Thanks mom and dad.
I loved that thing. I could run wonderful software on it like MacDraw, Hypercard and do some primitive hacking on my OS with ResEdit.
A few years later, I sold that machine on usenet and bought my very first laptop — a Powerbook 140.
So much has changed since those salad days. I’m grateful for the Mac, what it stood for and how it changed my life.
I love the photos you take - they're well composed and sharp. Have you ever considered focusing more on shooting people/strangers? You have a compelling aesthetic that would be complimented by a personality in the frame.
One of my goals this year is to photograph strangers but I’m still trying to find my courage. Thanks for the reminder!
My friend Josh has a wonderful portfolio of street portraits. Check it out here. Inspiring.