I was talking to a friend yesterday after the sad and horrible airbnb story broke.
My friend commented at the time, “I would never make my home available on airbnb and I’m not sure I would ever use airbnb”
First let me make it clear: I am not an investor in the company and I am not personal friends with management. I think they handled the sad incident very well and most definitely it will improve their service and customer needs better.
But back to my friends comment.
It seems to me that you can point to every new technology and point to the posssible dangers. The automobile. The airplane. The mobile phone. The list goes on.
I recall how some politicians went after craigslist and some folks saying you should never meet someone you connect with on craigslist. Why don’t those same folks scream about listing an ad in the local newspaper from days gone by.
Or others have said using your social network to disclose your activities could lead someone to break into your house.
To me, all of this needs perspective and some common sense.
New technology and our connected web has made our lives better. Individually and in aggregate.
Yes. There will be bad apples everywhere. Bad apples live in analog and digital worlds.
But I’m optimistic that as technology gets better and we are become more connected, our lives will continue to get better and safer. Not the other way around.
I spend a lot of my time recruiting the best people I can find to join our portfolio companies.
These days one subject comes up frequently - namely, “leaving money on the table”.
Some of the folks being recruited have vested a subset of their total equity and if they leave their current employer, they will be leaving perhaps something like 25% or 50% of their economics behind. And for many people this can be a sizeable amount of equity and value especially if the stock is liquid or likely liquid in a short period of time.
Often the candidate starts to think about how much equity they will get in the new company and how much that will be worth vs the amount of “sure thing” money they have in their hands if they can stick it out another few years at the current company.
This is a very personal decision and there are many ways to evaluation the decision. But since this is my personal blog and people ask me how to think about this tradeoff, here is what I tell essentially share with them and how i’ve done things in my life.
1 - There can often be financial costs for leaving your current employer beyond the leaving money on the table part. Unfortunately some employers don’t make it clear to their employees that if they leave the company, the employee typically has 90 days to exercise their vested equity. That can be expensive and needs to be part of the equation. It can be helpful if the stock is liquid but costs can be real. So make sure you understand this part fully. Don’t just ask your friends or your manager. Ask your accountant.
2 - Some folks don’t have to exercise upon leaving a company because they bought their stock early (via 83b election). in that case, life is a bit simpler. This is also a very nice advantage about joining a company in its earliest days.
Okay, putting aside the tax & accounting issues (and there are likely other things to also consider), here’s the heart of the matter.
Are you happy at your current job? Do you love it. Do you care about the product, people and problems you are trying to solve. Are you learning? Do you spend more time thinking about your current work or thinking about the next thing?
If you spend more time thinking about the next thing you should just move on.
(Another perspective: if your current employer stock goes up a ton, then your vested equity will obviously also appreciate so you will get the benefit. )
Yes, there is a chance that the money you are leaving on the table will be more valuable than going to a new startup that doesn’t work out. That is clearly a risk.
But if that new prospective company is capturing all your attention and imagination than the price for not moving is much more expensive in my opinion.
What you do on this planet is more valuable than the extra few bucks you may make a long the way.
I haven’t had any regrets about the money I left on the table. It was a big deal at the time. Im happy with my choices and never looked back.
Very early this morning, I upgraded my Mac to Lion.
So this is hardly a thorough review. If you want a comprehensive review of Lion you should check this out.
Anyway, here are my initial thoughts.
-It’s truly amazing that apple is able to sell me a new operating system through their app store. No CDs, no DRM, no codes, no nothin. I remember the days when I would do a clean install when a new OS hits, but not this time.
-The total instal time took 35 minutes (not including the time it took to download from the Mac App store).
-Many folks do not like the new scrolling gestures of Lion. I love it. Forget looking at the scroll bar. Just imagine you are moving the actual page when you scroll, just like an iPhone and you’ll be golden. It’s a very sastifying feeling.
-I also like all the other physical gestures to get to desktop, Mission Control and switching screens. Very smooth. Feels like Minority Report.
-I’m a big gmail user. gave up entourage and outlook years ago. I’ve always preferred using gmail with a browser instead of any native app. That changed with Lion. I’m now using the latest Apple Mail client and I love it. The only feature I miss the is “unsend” feature in gmail via a browser. Otherwise I’m hooked.
-haven’t had a chance to use AirDrop but I’m really looking forward to it. Everyone at our firm is switching to Macs. #sweet
-all of the apps I use daily work fine with Lion. No problems.
I’ve been wanting this for a long time. We have multiple floating iPads in our house. It would be great to just pick up any one and have it all set up for each person in our family.
As other CE devices have gotten social and smarter, the need for multi-user is even more important.
Take our beloved Sonos for example.
I now have Twitter and Spotify connected to our Sonos system. It’s very cool.
But our entire family uses Sonos - not just me. So any songs that are starred in Spotify on Sonos will show up in my profile. And if someone wants to tweet a song, that will come from my @bijan account. So if you happen to see a “listening to Rihanna” tweet from my account, just know that it wasn’t me ! :)
As more and more of our devices are able to tweet and offer personalization, we need some sort of way to do multi-user profiles. Sounds straightforward enough but the challenge will be making it beautiful, fast and simple.
As with every thing I write down on Tumblr, these thoughts are my own personal thoughts and do not represent companies in our portfolio, nor do they represent my partners point of view. They are simply my own and they are subject to change :)
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I’ve been thinking a great deal about how much government we want in our technology business world. Or how little we want it.
As I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s simply not binary.
Few things that are on my radar and my thoughts on whether the government should get involved:
To date the government has not fully regulated how the web should work. There has been a lot of talk and debate, but right now if a mobile operator wants to block a certain website, they could do that. Similarly, Comcast could do the same thing by several different methods.
I think this is wrong. I would rather see mobile and landline ISPs practice non-discrimanatory behavior. I believe it’s better for their buisness and better for end users. If they do descriminate, I think the government should step in and adopt something that was proposed several years ago by the FCC.
My rationale is the the internet belongs to all of us and there isn’t a real choice when it comes to broadband access today. And unlike the rest of the tech sector, angel investors and venture capitalists are unable to fund last mile broadband alternatives. As a result, there isn’t any reasonable competition or alternative.
Companies should treat their employees honestly and fairly. If they do, they will attract the best employees.
Given that incentive, logic would suggest we don’t need to regulate how companies treat their employees because if they mistreat them, the employee will leave. Right? Wrong.
I’m glad the government has stepped in and forbid companies from discrimination based on gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Since leaving the bay area and moving back to MA in 2001, I have been beating the drum as loudly as I possibly can to end employee non compete agreements.
I believe they stifle innovation.
While I am frustrated that non-compete agreements are fully used and enforced in this state, I am happy that more and more tech companies are doing away with them in the state of MA (e.g. zynga, google, and a bunch of startups).
So part of me feels like, maybe we don’t need government regulation. After wall, if thought leaders like Zynga and Google do away with these things in Cambridge, perhaps EMC, Akamai and others will follow suit if only to attract the best talent.
I hope that happens. I really do. But just like other employee rights issues, I don’t think relying on the private sector is good enough. We need state government to act in this case. I see no reason why employees in this state should have less rights than employees in other states like California.
And to my fellow VCs that support non-competes, why do we insist on them here and not insist on them when you back a team in SF? Not right.
I have been working on the tech community for over 20 years. I’ve only worked in this field. And over the past two decades I have seen our government pay close attention to how some dominant technology companies behave.
The most obvious case, was the US DOJ and Microsoft. At the time, it was huge news and many folks at the DOJ and in the tech community wanted to see MSFT busted up and regulated.
They were upset at how MSFT was bundling their browser wtih their dominant operating system.
I didn’t believe then and I don’t believe now that the government should regulate tech companies in such a mannor.
There is simply too much innovation happening that the market will change the landscape.
Just look at the browser market then vs now. Look at the mobile landscape. There are many other examples. MSFT dominance in the late 90’s is just a memory. Do we think that Google doesn’t have competition today? Or Facebook? or Apple? They are at risk by other large companies and all of the crazy, brilliant, audacious startups that are being funded every day in startup land.
My friends at Foundry and USV have articulated very well why the current patent model is a mess. And I completely agree. The objective for the patent system is to reward the innovator. That is noble and I want that to exist. But the patent system today rewards either the troll or the very large companies. Startups cannot afford to defend themselves in patent litigation unless they are very well financed. And startups should be funding innovation, not litigation.
There are many other topics that are worthy of attention.
At the end of the day, I’m pretty convinced you can’t be either completley for or completely against government regulation and oversight in our business.
It requires thoughtfulness and clear discussion on a topic by topic basis.
do you think the future of products like boxee, tiVo and others is being networked to share content & resources? why should i have to set a recording on my DVR when someone else already has it? asking b/c of your expertise in this area.
I don’t see that in the near future.
Instead, i think the answer is everything will be on demand from the cloud via stream, not download. I don’t want more local resources to deal with.
And it all needs to be powered and filtered by our social and interest graph.
“So working in a group of 10 people within a large organization feels both right and wrong at the same time. On the surface it feels like the kind of group you’re meant to work in, but something major is missing. A job at a big company is like high fructose corn syrup: it has some of the qualities of things you’re meant to like, but is disastrously lacking in others.”—
Tumblr, like Twitter, provides an interesting and valuable experience for logged in and logged out/non users.
For example if you aren’t logged in you can read my Tumblr posts with ease. You can see how many people like or reblog any given posts. And you can see thing like my big pictures by clicking on the “Pictures” link at the top of this page. You can also ask me a question.
If you are logged-in and you view my Tumblr posts, you can do more. You can “heart” a post, or reblog it, or reply.
I like this model. My Tumblr has dual citenzenship on the web. I’m a participant outside of Tumblr and I’m a participant inside of Tumblr.
Even if you are a logged in Tumblr user there is a bunch of data I’m able to see about my personal interactions that aren’t visible to others.
I thought I’d share some thoughts about them.
Tumblr shows me at any given time, who I’m hearting the most on the Tumblr network. These days I follow about 185 people on Tumblr (adding more all the time) but these are the folks I heart the most. I’d encourage you to also follow them if you don’t already.
Related to my Crush badge above, Tumblr gives the ability to hide or make available all of the things you “heart” on tumblr. Some Tumblr themes display this information prominently. Others don’t. My custom theme at the moment doesn’t have this info but I’m proud of the things I heart on tumblr so I need to find a way to show them off. In the meantime, here’s a link to everything I’m loving on Tumblr.
Tumblr has a different view than Twitter when it comes to displaying the number of followers you have. Twitter displays this information prominenantly. Tumblr takes the opposite view and makes this data private. Right now, I have over 6k followers on Tumblr (thanks everyone!!).
As the number of Tumblr followers has increased I’ve noticed that much more of my interactions, engagement and engagement on my blog happen with other logged in users. That makes sense as David and John have been telling me for some time that traffic inside the Tumblr dashboard (logged in users) continue to make up the majority of page views.
As a result, measurement of my blog’s reach is misleading at best based on 3rd party analytics tools. Those only count pageviews to bijansabet.com. They are unable to count how much reach my Tumblr posts has inside or outside of tumblr.
This isn’t unsual or unique to Tumblr. When I send out a tweet, it ends up being displayed on a wide range of apps, websites and devices thanks to the many 3rd party clients and web apps that leverage the Twitter API. Measuring my site’s traffic with Google Analytics or Compete.com is the functional equivalent of being able to measure page views to twitter.com/bijan. It’s just not a helpful metric .
In some ways the number of followers you have doesn’t tell the whole story either. A few reblogs or retweets and your content can go on a tear.
Last week I shared this photo on Tumblr. I’m not exactly sure when it happened but it felt like a few hours later, it picked up enough reblogs that it just took off with over 6k notes.
If I look at google analytics for that particular day it doesn’t show a crazy, radical spike. It just shows a nice bump. But I picked up a significant number of new followers that day, and a ton of questions on Tumblr Ask.
I gotta run and get ready for my flight. So I’ll bring this post home by just saying that I get a lot of value out of all the gestures and data on Tumblr. I think there are a many possibilities for Tumblr to continue to increase the user experience with all of this and there are a lot of exciting possibilities for 3rd parties that want to innovate with Tumblr data as well.
“Application developers play a fundamental role in helping people get the best out of Twitter. As an ecosystem, we’ve just crossed one million registered applications, built by more than 750,000 developers around the world. This is up from 150,000 apps just a year ago. A new app is registered every 1.5 seconds, fueling a spike in ecosystem growth in the areas of analytics, curation and publisher tools.”—Twitter Blog: One Million Registered Twitter Apps
Hey Bijan - Really love your thoughts on maintaining conversations on the Tumblr platform, but I couldn't help but notice that you haven't enabled replies on your posts. Curious why that is, whether you'd prefer to use the Tumblr ask over this native dashboard feature or if you logic is, "If I can't respond to replies, it's really a one sided conversation." Would love to hear your expanded thoughts. Thanks.
why didn't you answer my question about comments? cmon, dont be andreesen. be wilson. enable comments. why would you not have comments? :)
your humble servant,
i’ve got no problems with comments. I’m in the middle of an experiment. I’m trying trying out new ways to engage with Tumblr Ask, @bijan or email. Or having others use their blog to weigh in on things they are agree or disagree with here (with new posts or reblogs).