“One thing that I find missing is discovery of non-new content. The web is completely oriented around new-thing-on-top. Our brains are also wired to get a rush from novelty. But most “news” we read really doesn’t matter. And a much smaller percentage of the information I actually care about or would find useful was produced in the last few hours than my reading patterns reflect.”—Evan Williams, “Getting The News”
“If Yahoo was making a legitimate claim on patent infringement, my guess is they would have actually tried to settle things between the two companies first. The fact that they’ve waited until Facebook filed to go public and entered its quiet period, and then handed the story to the New York Times signals something very different. Perhaps following the advice of activist hedge funds who’ve said that Yahoo should use their huge patent portfolio to hobble more relevant, innovative and successful competitors.”—
This happens from time to time and it can come for a variety of places. The founder isnt’ happy with the culture. Or the product isn’t taking off as quickly as they had hoped. Or they are fearful of failure. Or there is something else going on in their personal life that has impacted their work life.
Whatever the reason, they are in a funk.
We all go through it. For founders is incredibly hard because as the author of the post states:
I find myself doing things for the startup out of obligation to the investors, who have been awesome.
And as result, it’s hard going to your board members or investors and saying you’ve lost that feeling or you don’t know what you are doing and you are going through a funk. Some investors will understand but many others (unfortunately and sadly) will take that information, forget the founder is a human and decide they are unfit to serve as CEO.
(I once had a founder tell me 6 months after we financed the first round that they dont’ like any of their initial hires. He actually fired the first 4 employees and started over. That wasn’t easy for anyone but looking back it was clearly the right thing to do)
Even if they won’t do something like that it’s still hard to make that confession outloud.
I don’t have a secret silver bullet on how to deal with the funk but I think it’s important to spend the time thinking about what is the cause. Is it work related or personal related?
When I’m in a funk, I try to practice these four things:
1. Work out more
2. Eat better
3. And talk it through with my wife and my coach
4. Patience through the process
In startup land where everyone is hyping their startups and investments, it’s easy to get down on yourself from time to time. The first hard step is being honest with yourself and then take it from there.
It’s not a surprise if you have been following Apple’s iPhone or Android’s success. And of course we see the result of all these smartphones in our portfolio. The number of mobile downloads is accelerating.
We all knew the processing in your pockets thanks to moores law and beautiful software would change the world.
The thing I’ve been thinking about lately is mobile data plans.
Before the iPhone the only successful monthly data plan was blackberry. If you wanted a blackberry you needed to sign up for a monthly data plan. And most employers picked up that tab.
Now consumers are increasingly buying smartphones and if you get a smartphone then you have to get the monthly data plan.
And while CE manufacturers will continue to come up with lower cost Amdroid phones the upfront cost of that phone isn’t the biggie. It’s the data plan purchased every month by the consumer, not the enterprise.
At some point as we get faster cellular data (4g) and increased wifi coverage, I’m thinking its gonna impact cable companies.
Wireless operators have made it clear they will continue to raise rates as they throttle data.
So as consumers we are being offered three bundles at the moment
1. Tv bundle by your cable co
2. Broadband to your home by your cable co
3. Mobile data by your wireless co
4. Landline telephone service by your telco
We already can see the writing is on the wall for the landline.
In our family we subscribe to all of these but the mobile phone is the single most important device. I suspect that is true for many if not most of others.
But today we pay more to our cable co than our wireless co.
It’s interesting to think about how they impact each other and at what point consumers only pick one.
Because one day cutting the cord may really mean cutting the actual cord.
(please excuse lack of links and typos. wrote this on my phone )
And while I’m loving the time with my family at a beautiful place, this island/community needs a transformation.
This island has two sources of jobs essentially. Tourism and fishing. But I’m told it’s mostly tourism.
There is nothing wrong with the tourism industry as we know many cities in the US rely on tourism. But if it’s the majority of job creation or preservation than it doesn’t feel right to me.
Thanks to the internet you can start a company anywhere. But we need more people to learn how to code to make good on this opportunity. I’m thrilled that places like Code Academy and Stack Overflow are helping people learn these valuable skills.
I’d love to see people on this island and this community learn to program. It would transform this place and I believe it’s possible. One developer at a time.
“Twitter cares more about its societal role—with its revenue model still a work in progress, it is about to move into new headquarters in the vast Art Deco Mart building, in one of the shabbiest sections of San Francisco’s Market Street skid row, with the quixotic hope of revitalizing the neighborhood.”—
The issue is that Path 2.0 had used our personal address book data to find friends that also use Path.
At the highest level, I think that is a feature - not a bug or a problem for that matter.
I’m sure there are things that Apple and dozens (or more) of iOS apps can do better to make the user aware of what’s going on. But here’s the thing: i want apps to do more with my data. It makes my life better, not worse.
Google knows everything about me. Everything. They know my search history. Map queries. They own my mail, calender and address book. They have my task manager. All my docs.
I made that trade because Google does those things better than desktop apps or behind the firewall apps. Close your eyes and imagine that you had to run your own mail server or use Microsoft Exchange.
I gave all my photos to Flickr back in the day because they did a better job with it than I could.
That’s the give:get thing about the web.
That doesn’t mean I should give my data and the web service should mistreat me and sell my data without my persmission. But if they want to use my data to provide better things like “find my friends” then please please take my data.
I trust that Path is going to use my data to make the product better. That’s Dave’s mission. He’s trying to build the best private social journal and he’s off to a great start.
I wish other things in my life used my data to make my life better. That’s a fair trade to me.
There comes a time in every company where the leader or founders have to decide whether they are going to take a big risk or play it safe.
I met with a founder last week that was telling me about his frustration with his company. Things are going very well considering but he can’t get the team to take risks.
The most striking thing about Facebook is how often they are willing to take big chances that could mess things up.
The classic example was Beacon. It was a PR disaster but it was a bold effort in product and vision and they had to regroup and come up with a better idea.
But they push things forward. Even before Beacon, the introduction of the Facebook news feed was controversial.
As long as Mark Zuckerberg is running the company we are going to see him shake things up with that service. For better and for worse. Some will love it - some will hate it. But you have to admire the desire to push.
David Karp and the Tumblr team take risks as well. Over the years I can think of a number of features that were launched to the entire user base and either refined or simply removed.
An example of that was Tumblarity. Some folks loved it (like me) — others didn’t. It’s gone.
A few weeks back Tumblr released Highlighted Posts. Fred wrote about it last week. I am a big fan of this feature and I’m looking forward to see how it evolves. I know a lot of people love it but there are some that aren’t sure. One thing is clear, they continue to try new stuff over at Tumblr and it is very exciting to me.
Another area where I see companies taking a big bet/risk is in the area of acquisitions. We have had a few startups in our portfolio seek to purchase a smaller company to accelerate important areas. That’s always a risky move but it can be extremely rewarding. Twitter’s acquisition of Summize (in ‘08) had a lot of risk but paid off extremely well.
None of this is easy. It’s scary. Some of your investors will think you are nuts. Some of your employees will grumble. Your users may yell and scream. It requires vision, the will to inspire and a team to execute. Oh, and it doesn’t always work.
But taking risk is a big part of what makes a good company achieve greatness.