I am running the Boston Marathon in 2014 and would love your support
Last year, our city and country was rocked by the tragedy at the Boston Marathon just a few blocks away from my office. It was a very sad day we will never forget.
I vowed to run the following year and I’m making good on that promise. It will be my very first marathon. I am not trying to break any speed records but hope to finish strong and healthy. I’ve been running and taking care of myself.
I also wanted to run for a non profit. My friend Dennis Crowley (cofounder/ceo at foursquare) connected me to the fine folks at Camp Interactive. Dennis has been a supporter of Camp Interactive over the years and ran last year Boston Marathon on their behalf.
So this year I’m on the Camp Interactive team as well. It’s a wonderful, important program that introduces the creative power of technology to inner city, at risk youth. I am inspired by their passion and the work that they do. It’s wonderful.
That tension between the future vs past and big vs small
If you follow this blog at all you will know that I am an admirer of Amazon. A company born on the Internet and led by one of the most compelling founders maybe ever.
The company has this crazy and rare combination of risk taking, operational excellence and long term thinking. It’s fucking extraordinary.
And I routinely validate their value in this world. I encourage startups to leverage Amazon Web Services. Our family routinely has Amazon deliveries every month. And I respect their success and ambition.
Yet I do find myself torn.
I make a point to buy more things from smaller boutique places online. I loved using Svpply (our portfolio company before being acquired by eBay). It would lead me to all sorts of places that I hadn’t heard of previously.
I also find myself buying locally when traveling from small independent shops whether in the Mission district in SF or Brooklyn NY or Cambridge MA.
That tension between the new vs past and big vs small is a big deal with me.
Somehow I admire the future but appreciate the past. And i suppose I’m drawn to pull for the little guy/gal whenever possible.
“It’s the fact that I never felt so connected with my photography before. I don’t simply hold a technical device and press a button. I really have to create an image. I have to do everything by myself and I have to do it right with every single frame. I have to load the film manually, I have to meter and think about the meter reading for a moment. Then I take the dark slide out, open the waist level finder and look down at this almost three dimensional looking image. I have to compose thoroughly, manual focus and finally, after everything looks and feels right, I press the shutter.”—Johnny Patience » Hasselblad 503CW
I am really enjoying the “the everything store”, a book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon by Brad Stone.
(I’m reading it on my new iPad mini retina which is an amazing tablet btw)
Anyway back to the book.
I am about halfway through it. It’s quite interesting to sneak behind the curtain and learn about how the company was started and their culture.
One thing that was foreign to me before reading the book is how amazon employees conduct meetings. Basically there are no PowerPoint or keynote presentation. Everything is written out in a 6 page memo often with an appendix with supporting data. The memo doesn’t have charts or pictures. It has text.
The memo is presented at the beginning of the meeting (not in advance) and the meeting starts with everyone silently reading the memo for 15-20minutes. Then everyone has the same information and the meeting begins.
It’s an interesting model and approach to say the least. It forces the “presenter” to do the work in advance instead of winging it in the mtg. It forces the meeting participants to pay attention to the material.
I have seen modified versions of this at work. Our portfolio company Stack Exchange has board meetings without any slides. A multi page report is distributed to the board in advance covering all the key parts of the business. We all read it and then the board starts at “2nd base” if you will. It’s an opportunity to get to the heart of the matter much more efficiently during the actual meeting.
I don’t believe the amazon model is for everyone. I think it would have been a disaster during my time serving on tumblr board as well as other portfolio companies.
But there is something important worth considering for all of us that spend time sitting or standing in meetings everywhere.
Listen and learn before hijacking the meeting or jumping to conclusions. It’s a good reminder for us all.
Loosely speaking I’ve seen negative sentiments like
"This means Facebook is in trouble"
"I knew it, we are in a bubble"
"The Snapchat founders are nuts"
I don’t think it’s any of those things.
Consider Facebook’s stock is pretty high right now. They are flush with cash, profitable and can easily afford $3B for a leader in this new emerging market. And kudos to Zuck and co for taking bold moves. Their purchase of Instagram was extremely smart. This was a sensible offer, not one from desperation.
It is reasonable to assume that the Snapchat founders have already taken out millions of dollars in secondary sales of their stock. They are not risking losing it all, instead they are going for it.
How does a company get great at hiring? What are best practices? We're hiring so many so quickly (175 going on 300) and I don't want us to look back with any regrets.
-pay close attention to culture
-make sure management is capable and/or trained
-founder/ceo should meet all new hires (preferably before the hire is made)
-respect your candidates. pay attention to follow up process.
-invest in the post hire process (onboarding, reviews etc)
Very few companies get to do this. So enjoy the ride!
“Most importantly, Bitcoin offers an open API to create secure, scriptable e-cash transactions. Just as the web democratized publishing and development, Bitcoin can democratize building new financial services.”—
“A feeling I got from working at Google was that technology could solve any problem. Yes it’s fantastic, but what I realized later was there’s technology and there’s people. Google had its list ordered: Technology. People. And I think the right order is: People. Technology. You have to think about people first and technology second. Hopefully technology gets out of the way.”—Biz
I started using Twitter before I met the founders. It was more curiosity than anything else.
Rather immediately I was taken by this combination of simplicity, utility and fun. And it worked via sms which meant it would go with me everywhere.
It was far more compelling than I could possibly have imagined.
Shortly after that, I reached out to the founders. I met Biz first, then Ev & Jack. Then Goldman. Beyond their amazing talents, the team had passion for their work like I had never seen before.
We made our initial investment in 2008. There was something like 15 employees in the company.
Over the next 6 years, I saw a team that worked impossibly long hours. They recruited extraordinary people to join the flock that have given Twitter their all. The founders are all beyond amazing but it would have been simply impossible without the all of the employees that made/make Twitter work every single day.
And throughout all of their massive growth (user base, revenue, employees, financing) they kept their culture. They kept their taste. They kept their priorities. They kept their sense of humor. They kept their promise to defend the users voice even when governments demanded otherwise and other tech companies chose the easier path and looked the other way.
Yes, I’m proud to be an early shareholder in this magical company as they go public today. But I’m also beyond proud and grateful to be a member of this Twitter community. It has given me so much by connecting me to the ones I love and things that inform and delight me every single day.