My public sharing is mostly made up of Tumblr and Twitter.
I love those services and use them every single day.
And while I’m someone that appreciates public sharing, I do value private sharing as well.
These days the vast majority of my private sharing is with Kik. My wife uses it and so does my oldest daughter (younger kids don’t have phones yet). My brother and parents use Kik. And my closest work colleagues use Kik. I’m hoping in the new year all of the execs in our portfolio and all of my close friends join Kik as well. Its the best cross platform mobile messaging app hands down.
I’ve been wrestling with Facebook for years. A few years back I cut my FB friends back from 500 or so to 100. But all the various privacy controls are dizzing. And I’m way into this stuff.
Foursquare in my mind does the best job at managing private and public sharing. My foursquare check ins show up only to those I’ve friended on foursquare unless I explicitly send the check in to Twitter which I’ll sometimes do.
The latest version of Path is a joy to use. I think of it as my private twitter or Facebook as I’ve always wanted to be. Private. And unlike facebook, its all private and the app is a thing of beauty. Im using Path more and more. Earlier today I posted a request to my Facebook friends to join Path and friend me. Already a number of them have done that
I hope the rest do.
Disclosure: my firm, Spark Capital, is an investor in Tumblr, Twitter, Foursquare and Kik
(Please excuse typos and lack of links. Wrote this on my phone)
As many of you know I’ve been a loyal & active iPhone users since the beginning.
For the past 10 days, I’ve been using the Galaxy Nexus as my main device.
I’ve gotten a feel for Android 4.0 and it is a nice improvement for sure.
But the main thing I’ve noticing are 3rd party apps.
It’s been a surprise but in my experience Android third party apps look and feel awesome. Especially the ones I use frequently like: Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Kik, Google Voice, Maps, Dropbox, Evernote, Sonos, Runkeeper, exfm, Rdio, Path, Cardcase, Uber (and I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out).
It wasn’t long ago that the state of the Android apps suffered from a double whammy - apps didn’t exist or the ones that did exist sucked compared to their iOS counterpart.
The latter isn’t true anymore. And in 2012, I think we will see most apps exist on iOS & Android. Although my guess is that Instapaper won’t see the light of day on Android (by founder’s choice).
In fact in my experience, the apps that need the most improvement are Google’s own apps. The browser needs improvement. So does the address book. Gmail is good but needs polish (e.g. I want to be able to easily add someone from mail to my address book, move someone from to: to cc:, the list goes on).
As a user, the huge jump in quality of Android third party apps is exciting news and should serve as an inspiration to those developers sitting on the fence.
As a VC, Android’s success brings a slightly mixed bag. The exiting news is that the growing user base with iOS and Android is awesome and continues to justify a mobile first experience.
However it does mean that to support multiple platform out of the gate, startups will need to raise more money. When we participated in Tumblr’s first round of financing, they only needed two people for a long time - David and Marco. They were 100% focused on the web. They didn’t have to deal with iphone, ipad, and android. The first round was in a pre-app world. It was capital efficient and a different task than startups today.
I’ll bring this post home with my friend Andy Rubin’s tweet the other day.
There are now over 700,000 Android devices activated every day
In keeping with tradition, here are my favorite albums of 2011.
10. The King is Dead by The Decemberists. I saw them play in 2010 for the first time and was blown away. I bought this album the day it came out and loved it on first play. Great record.
9. Kiss Each Other Clean by Iron & Wine. For whatever reason, I’ve never been into Iron & Wine. Just never been my thing. But then I heard "Walking Far From Home" which was unlike any other Iron & Wine song I had ever heard.
8. The King of Limbs by Radiohead. I’m a Radiohead fan. This record won’t challenge the top Radiohead record ever made (that title goes to the Bends). But it’s solid and I’m happy that Radiohead is still putting out quality music after so many years.
7. Nine Types of Light by TV on the Radio. Do you own this record. If not, go get it. Thank me later.
5. Hysterical by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. This one caught me by surprise. It took me a few listens. Then I was hooked.
4. Bon Iver by Bon Iver. Wow, what a record. Holocene gets a lot of airplay but the entire album is great. Bon Iver is my go to place when I just need to get my head on straight.
3. The People’s Key by Bright Eyes. I’ve been listening to Conor Oberst for a long time and seen him live in various bands. This year we saw Bright Eyes play at the House of Blues (fka Avalon). It was classic Bright Eyes all the way. Love this album.
2. The Year of Hibernation by Youth Lagoon. This record simply blew me away. I can’t stop listening to it. It somehow changes every time I listen to it. I heard Trevor Powers talk about recording this in a garage to get the right reverb effect.
1. The Head and The Heart (self titled). Die hard fans will call me out on this one. This was technically released by the band back in 2009. A year later then they were signed by Sub Pop Records and the album was remastered and re-released in 2011. Whatever, this band is amazing. We saw them live at the Bowery in Boston and I danced my face off. Great record from the first song to the last.
It’s been an amazing year for new music. I’m a little sad I only saw two of these bands play this year. My resolution for 2012 is to see more live music. Who’s in?
“It is not healthy for companies to trade at prices well beyond what they are worth. It puts incredible pressure on the team to deliver results that can’t be delivered. And when the stock inevitably comes back to reality, the team feels like they somehow failed. Morale is impacted. The whole things is madness. And who benefits from that first day pop? Only the best customers of the banks who led the offerings. Why should they get a windfall when they did nothing to build the company and when they will be out of the stock so fast it will make your head spin?”—A VC
"He’s not scaling, it’s time to find a replacement".
I’ve heard that line from too many CEOs about someone on their management team.
In a hyper growth company, those two sentences can be just a year or two apart.
So what’s happening here.
Sometimes it’s just that the person that was given the management job was a bad hire. Mistakes happen.
But the more common thing I’m seeing is the bad promotion. In this case bad promotion means premature promotion.
In the early days when the company is small, the 10x achiever stands out. The founder/CEO looks at that person and appreciates all of the contributions. Then the next thing you know, that one person goes from being the first UI person or first iphone dev, to being in charge of a soon to be built team.
And that’s when it starts. All of a sudden that person who used to be an amazing individual contributor, doesn’t know how to manage a team. His team misses deadlines, quality of work suffers and the biggest red flag of all happens - he can’t get amazing people to work for him.
It’s easy to see why this happens when you look at it from the outside (outside is defined as anyone not working full time in the company). The ceo wants to promote the stars and there is something special about promote from within. And the killer individual contributor may be ambitious and asking for the bigger job as well.
But being a fantastic individual contributor doesn’t mean automatically becoming a fantatic manager.
Ultimately the CEO has to decide if that promotion worked out or not.
The biggest tragedy from the bad promotion is that more often that not it means that person has to leave the company if they can’t scale. And that’s always very sad to see. It’s sad to see someone so special that made so many contributions not have a role in the company. Once you promote someone it’s almost impossible to then demote that person to make room for the new manager.
The very best way to reduce the chances of a bad promotion is to take your time before you take the leap of faith and promote the person. Think about what it means if the person doesn’t scale. Think about the different skills between doing the day to day job vs leading a team. Can that person staff a team. Will fantastic people want to work for that person? Can they organize a team to prioritize all the things on their plate?
I’ve seen some startups try to get ahead of this issue by getting the team leader a coach or a mentor. I like that approach a lot. Invest in your team, help them becoming better managers. And most of all, be very careful about promoting too quickly.
“People try to get offline as much as they can, but I enjoy flipping through blogs or flipping through Tumblr. I would rather read that than a magazine. It’s a completely different thing to open up your laptop and be sitting there working. A lot of times I’ll try to leave the laptop closed on Sundays and just limit myself to my phone and the iPad. If I sit down with the iPad I’ll do more recreational things, but if I sit down with the laptop I’ll do more work.”—
Looking for a contact at Google Voice to lend a hand
I’m trying to port my Google Voice number to AT&T.
I followed the instructions here and unlocked my GV number
Then I went to AT&T this afternoon and asked them to do the port.
I’m told it’s in progress but ATT said they are waiting to get permission from Google.
The problem is that while I wait, all incoming SMS messages sent to my number are now lost. I am unable to receive any and all text messages since I’ve requested the port to take place. The sender doesn’t receive an error message either. And I missed an important txt from my daughter tonight :(
AT&T says it’s Google’s fault.
So i’m looking for a contact on the Google Voice team that can help me out.
My email is bijan at sparkcapital dot com
Many thanks in advance!
** Update: I was just introduced to someone on the GV team. Fingers crossed. Thx again!
Little things I'd like to see polished in Ice Cream Sandwich
I preordered two iPhone 4S’s. One for me and one for @laurensabet. We have been using them since day 1. They replaced our iPhone 4’s which replaced our 3gs…well you get the idea. We are card carrying members of the faithful.
But iOS 5 isn’t making us happy. Both of our phones lock up a few times a week. The battery isn’t great. The UI gets sluggish. It sorta feels like Google Chrome to me. I love the look and power but I long for the day when it was more stable and faster.
So, I picked up a Galaxy Nexus earlier today.
This isn’t going to be a thorough review. There are plenty of those that out there that do a fine job.
After a day of using Google’s latest - Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), I can absolutely say it’s a big improvement over the previous version of Android. And there are a number of things I like about ICS over iOS5.
One thing is clear, there is a lot of polish and improvement that has taken place with ICS.
But it’s still needs even more polish as the new UI makes the good stuff look great but the improvements makes the unpolished stuff stand out.
Here’s a list of things I’d like to see polished.
(disclaimer: I fully realize I’m not a designer or a UX person. I’m just a user)
Okay here goes, in no particular order:
1 - I use Google Apps for Domains with ICS. I have thousands of contacts. Some of them have pictures for each contact. Many/most of them don’t. With iOS when I call or receive a call from someone that doesn’t have a contact photo, the screen lights up with their name, number and the wallpaper I’ve previously selected.
With ICS, I get a generic looking icon that takes up the entire screen and it’s ugly looking. Here we are with a gorgeous screen and it’s taken up with a graphic that isn’t.
2 - When i call or receive a call from someone with a photo, the photo is stretched in a non-flattering way. Again, beautiful screen, ugly presentation.
3 - Every app has a soft UI for the menu screen or more options. It’s indicated by three vertical dots. It looks nice but some apps have this icon on the top of the screen and others have it on the bottom. Google should pick one location and nail it there.
4 - Android is known for it’s flexibility. I can add widgets and move all sorts of apps all over the various screens. But there is one widget I can’t move. Care to guess which one? Yep’s Google’s search box. It’s on the front page and I cant move it. I have a family pic as my wallpaper and this search box covers my wife’s face. Not cool Google!
5 - The fonts in ICS look very nice. And some of Google’s own app icons looks super great (ie gmail, maps, gallery). But some of them look pretty bad - like Phone, Browser, Camera). The People icon is borderline.
6 - Meetings on my calendar are a deep dark blue. I’m sure some people like it but it’s not for me. That’s okay but I’d love to be able to change the color somehow.
7. ICS has three main buttons on the bottom of the phone. Back, Home and a dedicated Multitasking button. I wish they ditched the multitasking button and put the search button there instead. The old-style Android method of getting to your active apps by holding the home button was very satisfying. I miss that and the search button.
8. i have a password lock on my phone. ICS doens’t have a built in way to have a delay before the lock kicks in.
It’s almost 11pm eastern time. i’m pretty tired so that’s all for now. i’ll respond to any comments in the morning.
Back in the day, many of us lived during epic war of the PC.
There were many battles but some of them stand out.
For example, Microsoft would create awful version of their successful Windows products for the Mac. Some of you may recall Internet Explorer for the Mac (nightmare). Microsoft Office has always been worse on the Mac than Windows. And even worse, we had plenty of times where Microsoft Windows app simply never made it to the Mac at all.
Apple sued Microsoft because they felt like their ideas were stolen.
Those wars were ugly and non-productive. When Microsoft became dominent they stopped innovating. Windows became terrible. IE went from being better than Netscape on Windows (really) to just a joke even through their market share soared. Even worse, Microsoft was trying to get the web to work only with IE. It was part of their whole embrace and extend strategy.
Thankfully the web and then later Firefox saved us from continued pain and suffering. Build an app for the open, standards based web and it would just work. The web as the ultimate platform, controlled by no one and supported by everyone. Perfect.
But the platform wars which started on the PC is now back with a vengeance in mobile.
Google which was the market leader as a true native web company has morphed before my very eyes. Take a look at Google’s apps for iOS (gmail, google voice). They run infinitely better on Android than iOS. Apple doesn’t allow third party apps to become default (for example try to add your a different search engine to the search box on the swipe right screen).
The arms race for patents is at an all time high. And Apple and others are taking an aggressive stance regarding intellectual property.
Last week Fred Kik’d me a link to this funny video he posted on his Tumblr. It absolutely made me laugh. But unlike the old I’m a PC ads where Apple was David and Microsoft was Goliath - in the mobile world we don’t have a david vs goliath. That’s why the Samsung ad, while funny, doesnt inspire the same emotion.
Instead we now have big elephants stomping all over the place and users are gonna get hurt.