A number of years ago, I trimmed back the number of friends I had on Facebook. You can say, I turned FB into Path before there was a Path :)
This morning I went through my Facebook News Feed.
The vast majority (well over 70%) of posts came from third party apps. And a signficant percentage of those came from passive/automatic shares vs actives shares. Examples include my friends watching a Socialcam video or listening to a song on Rdio.
If I strip out all the tweets, instagram, tumblr, foursquare check ins of my FB news feed, I’m left with a mostly native FB photos.
It’s interesting to compare Facebook to things like Tumblr and Path which take a great deal of care about how things are posted.
The other day I noticed a friend ask on Path, “why do people use Path?”. Many folks replied because it’s their chance to do a Facebook do-over and start a new graph from scratch. Others said they thought Path was well designed.
I think both of those are true but for me it’s the purety of the feed. There is only one way to get things into Path. You gotta use their app. That means that all posts are there because the author intended it to be that way.
Tumblr used to have a feature where you can import RSS feeds and other content sources automatically. They still have the auto-Twitter import feed but I think that’s the only one. Tumblr’s Dashboard is extremely clean as a result and that works for me.
The interesting thing about all of this is that while I’m drawn to the pure feeds of Tumblr and Path, I tend to selectively cross post content all the time (ie sending photos from Path to Foursquare). Is that adding more noise to my friends feeds or something else?
What’s in your Facebook news feed? And do you like it that way?
In the summer of 1997, Lauren and I had been married for a few years, and we decided to get a puppy.
We adopted a yellow lab at 8 weeks and brought him home. We named him Jackson because we thought it suited him and because we had lived on a place at the corner of Webster and Jackson Street in San Francisco.
Jackson instantly became part of our family. I have endless memories of the mischief and the love. When he was young, he tore up our yard, ate one of Lauren’s homemade apple pies when no one was looking, ate a hacky sack and no loose sock was safe when Jackson was around. The stories are endless.
He was there when our first child was born and our second and our third. They have always known Jackson being part of this house. Hanging with them at the bus stop and chilling out under the kitchen table. My dad would slip him bagels when no one was looking.
For years, I would come home from an out of town flight and he was the first one to greet me at the door regardless of the hour. Tailing wagging and letting me know he was glad to see me.
The last year has not been kind to Jackson. After he turned 14 last summer, his health took a turn. He couldn’t run around, had trouble getting out of his bed. And the last few weeks he developed a severe respiratory problem. The suffering took over and became too much for him and for us.
Last night we said good bye to Jackson. Everyone was crying in our house. My daughter Ellie asked Lauren if dogs ever come back to life.
This morning when I woke up, his life and our lives together overwhelmed me so I wanted to write this all down.
I will miss that dog with all my heart. He was so good to us.
The home screen on my iPhone has changed quite a bit over the years.
The most obvious thing is Apple’s very own core apps have been replaced by 3rd parties.
The default camera app has been replaced by Camera+, Hipstamatic and Instagram
The default notes app has been replaced by Simplenote
The default messenger app has been replaced by Kik
The default calendar app has been replaced by Calvetica
The default music app has been replaced by exfm, soundcloud and rdio
The default mail client has been replaced by Sparrow
There will always be competition between the platform and the ecosytem. This tension is normal and healthy to some extent, as long as the platform keeps innovating and growing. For example, Apple came out with an Instapaper competitor with Reading List. But that only pushed Marco to come out with strong Instapaper updates.
Apple launched iBooks & Newstand to compete with the Kindle app. But Kindle is still much more compelling.
The next step I’d like to see as iOS matures is a way for the ecosystem to get more access.
For example, when I swipe right from the home page, i want to replace Apple’s search with Duck Duck Go. Or when I tap on an email address on a webpage, I want it to open Sparrow instead of Apple’s mail client. When I tap on a phone number in an app, I want it to open Google Voice, not Apple’s native dialer. When I see a beautiful photo, let me share it to Tumblr and any other app I love.
Developers deserve that access and consumers deserve that choice.
Android has done an excellent job at giving 3rd parties equal capabilities on their platform. That’s the thing they got right - even much more than the much hyped openness of Google’s “open” app store model vs Apple’s controlled app store model.
“When you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot… And so if your main argument for how to grow the economy is ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you’re missing what this job is about.”—President Obama on why Mitt Romney’s record in the private sector matters (via barackobama)
DIY is seeking to be like a Boy Scout troop for the modern day. Instead of teaching children how to tie a clove hitch that seems fit for teenagers in the 1920s, DIY, a Web site and mobile app, will encourage children to build things, document them with an iPhone or iPod, and then receive rewards for their work.
This is such a great idea. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to back Zach and the team.
They looked pretty sweet so I ordered them and they arrived on Friday.
Here’s my quick review.
-very simple to pair with the iphone. the iphone also does smart things when you are near other paired bluetooth devices. for example, when i get in my car and make a call, the iphone lets you toggle between which device you want to use. it’s very fast.
-i like the short length a lot. it means it can hang around my neck without getting in the way and for once I don’t have headphones that tangle up
-they fit me fine when you just walk around the city or wherever. although on my run today, i noticed the left earbud wasn’t the best fit. it wasn’t too much of a big deal. I’m going to try one of the other buds they provided in the box. obviously your own ears may have a better or worse fit. sweat didn’t cause a problem.
-the only downside to these things is that it’s another device to charge every night. it has a standard micro-usb connector and comes with a charger. for my use, i get a full day without a problem.
-i’m happy with the audio quality for music and for making phone calls. better than the standard headset that apple provides with the iphone.
There is often a lot of “heat” around a company that is growing very fast. There is most likely a lot of growing pain that comes with hyper-growth but generally that is a high class problem (assuming the growth is authentic).
Founders, employees, investors and press will look at the metrics and combine it with a growth forecast and a reasonable scaleable business model and the mind makes the heart race.
But often times there is an opportunity to invest in a company (as a new investment or inside round) where the data isn’t obvious. The numbers look confusing. The metrics don’t present a compelling story. The chart can look boring or even scary.
In todays world where there are no shortage of startups being formed, the question is why would you fund a company that has been operating or a year or more and doesn’t have compelling metrics.
And in some cases the answer is you won’t. In that scenario the mind takes over and the logical conclusion says to move on. Find a new investment.
But there are times when the heart overrules the mind. That happens to me and some of my favorite venture capitalists out there.
For me, it’s when I see the founder(s) completely obsessed about the thing they are building. You can just tell that they are working on the product they have been dreaming of their entire lives. These founders obsess about the details of the product. They obsess about the quality of the team working on their ideas. They strive for perfection. They use their products intensely and actively. They are working on the one thing they want to see in this world.
One thing I always look out for in any new or existing investment is how often does the founder actually use his/her product. The answer can be extremely revealing. (actually the opposite is a red flag for me: compelling data but a founder that doesn’t use his/her own product is a big concern).
So in the absense of data, we get inspired by the founder who not only believes they can make it happen but they are designing, building and shipping products that get them closer and closer.
It doesn’t always work.
But that passion and obsession is one way to make the heart overrule the mind. And it makes it easier to give the company more time to win.
this is the song of the day for me. The new song sounds even gentler than his previous work, which was already quite gentle. His voice has an even better timbre and the instrumentation has more texture. Wonderful
Big syndicates for consumer seed rounds but not capital intensive ideas?
We have seen a ton of seed rounds completed over the last 24 months where the start up raises less than $2M of initial financing and has sometimes 4 (or more!) traditional venture firms participating plus a half dozen angels (or more!) in the same round.
Many smart folks have commented on that strategy and whether that is a good idea of traditional venture firms or entrepreneurs. For this post, I’m not going to comment on that topic (1)
But contrast that to the capital intensive investment opportunities. We are often asked to evaluate a Series A round of a capital intensive idea where the company needs to raise $5-$10M before knowing any real data. Those investments are challenging for a whole host of reasons.
In our partner mtg last week I brought up the idea/question: why can’t we have large syndicates for seed/Series A in capital intensive ideas? I think we should and my partner Santo wrote up a good post today explaining the logic.
I’d much rather see 4 VCs funding a capital intensive idea than 4 VC funding a capital efficient seed round.
And hopefully we can together fund some crazy bat shit ideas along the way that take years to figure out.
* * *
(1) OK, I can’t help myself. i don’t like to see more than 2 VCs in a seed round. The important thing for the lead VC and the founder to agree on is how much capital is required. Stage the capital properly and pick angels that will help. And choose VCs that have a track record of leading/following on their seed investments. Ask them specifically what their history looks like with seed investing and follow on. The answer will be quite revealing.
Basically I can only get coverage if I’m in a few rooms at best. The vast majority of my inbound calls go to voicemail. (Maybe that’s a feature not a bug - especially on weekends!) My primary mobile phone is an iPhone on Verizon’s network.
I’m a Google Voice user but I don’t want work calls routed to my home number. That would drive my wife crazy.
I’ve tried various micro-cells over the years and they don’t work for me either.
A few weeks ago I picked up a HTC One S. It’s a beautiful Android phone. I love it. Best Android powered hardware I’ve ever touched. I use the One S and my iphone 4s interchangeably. The only app I miss on the Android is Hipstamatic.
My absolute favorite feature on the One S is Wi-Fi calling. Basically when my phone connects to our home wifi network it automatically turns the cellular network off and I can make & receive calls with my own number over Wi-Fi.
I realize that this is an old feature to many of you t-mo users out there. But I can tell my fellow VZW and ATT friends, this feature is amazing. It just works.
Thanks to the combination of smartphone proliferation, the app store distribution model, FB Open Graph integration and Twitter, we are seeing mobile apps reach incredible metrics very fast - particularly in daily installs and sign ups.
It’s has me thinking about a number of things:
FB Open Graph integration is clearly paying off for developers. My worry is how long it lasts, namely, Facebook can change the rules of the road anytime they want. When I was on the board at OMGPOP, I saw how impactful (positive & negative), Facebook’s changes could be with things like notifications and invites. Is Facebook traffic a game to be played or something else? I wrestle with this question everytime I see that hockey stick chart coming from FB traffic.
I’ve been meeting a string of startups getting 20k installs per day (or more) very quickly. Is this the new norm? I know how long it took Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare to reach that level of daily sign ups. It took a lot longer than a few months.
Getting that level of traction is so early is very exciting. The benefits are obvious so I won’t go into them.
What are the drawbacks?
It can skew perspective. How much capital do you need? How many people do you need? What kind of people do you need?
I met an early stage company the other day and the founder presented a slide saying they plan on acquiring 100M users within a year based on the Series A fund raise. Their early traffic and user sign ups are exceptional and the company is only a few months old. Deliciously audacious and you know what, maybe they will get there. Its interesting to compare that with my conversation with David Karp, at 19, who told me he wanted to get 1M users after one year (instead they signed up 500k and I’m not complaining!)
The other thing about all of these companies that quickly reach 20k installs a day is it can make people (press, investors, employees) believe 20k per day is the new norm given the speed of distribution and number of socially connected users.
And I’m wondering if that’s really true and what is means.
If this is the new norm, it would lead us to believe apps and web services that don’t reach this level of velocity so quickly aren’t worth supporting with our time and money. If we applied that logic I can think of a long list of beloved apps that would be never have been given a chance that are massively huge and important today. Some things take time to grok beyond the early adopters.
One of the reasons why the Tumblr community is so damn awesome is that we have been doing this thing together for a long time. We didn’t get here because of OpenGraph. It’s a relationship that has seen a lot together. We’ve collectively celebrated and mourned. We’ve struggled with downtime issues. We share things we find wonderful and sad. Personal and professional. We get excited about new features together. We make stuff happen together.
I don’t want this post to suggest that I don’t like, care about or respect the levels of scale that we haven’t seen before. It’s absolutely stunning and I’m beyond happy for founders behind these companies. And I’m hoping to invest in some of them (or hopefully before they break out!).
I’m just trying to get some perspective about where we go from here.
In the post, he calls out the importance of “elders” in a startup ecosystem.
But, most of all, it needs Elders. That is, Mentors, coaches, Angel Investors; people who can serve informally and formally as guides. Their roles vary…from providing the seed capital to germinate ideas to providing a steadying, calm demeanor making the roller coaster of the startup experience just slightly easier to bear. “An Elder,” I say in my talks on the subject, “isn’t merely someone with grayer hair. It can be the CEO of the company next door who is two months ahead of you in their fundraising process. It can be the CTO of that failed company whom you bring in not just for their technical capability but for their experience in having lived through a failure and knowing that there’s life after failure.”
I couldn’t agree more.
We’ve seen elders engaged in NYC for many years now and the payoff is quite clear. Founders helping founders as angels, advisors, holding open office hours or various mentorship programs.
We didn’t have enough engaged elders in the Cambridge and Boston ecosystem for a long time. It was a hole that everyone felt. One of the reasons I feel better about the local scene is the emergence of connected elders. Its fantastic but we need more.
I used to use three 27″ monitors vertically, then switched to two 30″ Dells, nowadays I’m on a 13″ Air screen most of the time, and occasionally plug into a Thunderbolt Display. Here’s a cool article on how to increase productivity per square inch of your screen by Peter Legierski.
I made this move last year and couldn’t be happier.
“But I am never going to optimize short-term revenue at the expense of user experience or long-term goals. If people think we are going about this too cautiously, they can think that and I don’t care”—