“Sometimes you see a parent walking with a child in the park, the parent talking into the phone and the child looking into the eyes of any available adult as if to ask “Can you believe this asshole?” Maybe I’m projecting. But the kids don’t look happy. That’s for sure. I wonder what kind of therapy these kids are going to need when they grow up. Used to be when a parent took a kid for a walk, the kid could ask the parent questions, or tell him or her stories about what they did in school. These days quality time is spent with a hand-held device and a parent whose mind is anywhere but here”—Dave Winer
One of the most successful online social drugs is people tagging in Facebook photos. I can’t recall when this feature was first introduced but getting a message saying “you’ve been tagged in a photo” followed by a link was incredibly seductive. It still is.
And it isn’t link bait as the content typically is quite good on the other side of that link.
Twitter’s users invented their own native version of people tagging with @replies that have evolved into @mentions. It’s very popular to see @username in a tweet. I do it all the time when I’m hanging out with friends and loved ones.
Foursquare has a cool way of people tagging. They use the Twitter namespace and actually do an autocomplete during the check in. Then if I send that check in to twitter, my friends can see that I included them in the tweet. It just works.
Instagram has their own version of people tagging but it’s a bit wonky. They use “@username” as well — just like Twitter. But when you tap on the @username in Instagram it goes to the user profile page on Instagram.
Here’s why it’s confusing. The other day I took a photo of my friend @ryan on Instagram that I fully intended to share on Twitter. But his user name on Instagram isn’t @ryan. So folks on Twitter knew who was in the photo but people on Instagram thought it was a different Ryan.
It would be great if Instagram reconciled their namespace with Twitter. Especially since they copied the same @username syntax from Twitter.
I think people tagging is extremely useful and fun. But somehow it needs to be organized and structured. I guess we solved this with email back in the day. It seems fixable.
And as more social apps come to market, i’d love to see more of them figure out how to connect and sync with the best people tags as much as possible.
“we are wading through a see of uninspired activity…searching…endlessly for that glimmer of ambition…that crazy look in a crazy founder’s eye…that says I would not last 4 seconds at Bain Consulting and I might have killed a turtle when I was 7 to see if reincarnation was real…where are you strange thinkers? Where are you weirdo’s? For god’s sake, get weird. Do different…PLEASE…the fate of our ecosystem rests in your hands…in your mind lives the step function we desperately need…inspire us”—Rise Strange Thinkers, We Need You - Jordan Cooper
Why didn’t they wait for the big reveal until after they were ready to actually let people touch it? The keyboard is clearly a big new thing with the Surface but I’m told by folks at the event that users were never allowed to try to the keyboard attached to the device. And why didn’t they have pricing ready?
Hardware Partner/Channel Conflict
When Google launched their first Nexus, it was an attempt to showcase Android. But they still worked with one OEM at time. By choosing just one they insured quality. They went with HTC on the first one and then with Samsung on the next two Nexus devices. The Nexus line stands out from all the other Android powered phones because they are clean versions of Android. There isn’t any UI layer built on top and they generally have the best hardware at the time. The latest Galaxy Nexus is a great example.
I’m surprised Microsoft didn’t do the same. The NYT story talks about a failed joint developement with HP for the tabletpc. But there are a lot of other Windows based OEMs out there. Does MSFT no longer trust OEMs? As Gruber points out, why didn’t MSFT work with Nokia on this given their close ties.
I recently passed on an investment opportunity because the entrepreneur is going to port for Windows 8 before the iPad. The reason? Because Microsoft is paying the development costs and told the entpreneur they will market it. I’m not a fan of changing your roadmap because of near term dollars. You gotta decide: who is your customer. Also rarely do marketing pushes by any App Store (iOS or Android) ever make a company. Getting featured is super nice but it doesn’t define your success.
So back to the topic at hand. Who is gonna develop for the Surface. The best news is the Microsoft has a number of their own apps that are compelling for the enterprise (Exchange & Office). But that isn’t sufficient. How will MS get thousands of other great devs to build for Surface. Marco has some great insight on this topic.
What do you think? Will you give the Surface a try?
“On the advertising side of our business, we deliver solutions for clients based on the two distinct experiences that our readers look for: the socially powered, lean-forward community experience at Economist.com; and the lean-back, immersive, reading experience of digital editions.”—The Economist Group’s digital strategy | Lean Back 2.0
It’s not easy but there a number of ways to get into the venture capital business. Some grow up in it, paying their dues in an almost apprenticeship model then over the years they take on more and more responsibility at the firm as their experience grows.
Some are were experienced entrepreneurs or operators and then make the switch to venture capital.
Some start their own firms - while others join established firms.
There isn’t any right or wrong way to do it. The data proves that there isn’t much correlation in whether you need or don’t need startup experience prior to make the investment.
I was talking to an experienced successful venture capitalist the other day. He suggested the best VCs are doing this as a second career vs a first career.
The theory goes like this: if you have had a successful (VC or operational) career (competitive, smart & lucky) you can have the confidence to be a good VC. You are willing to make risky, bold investments and not ride on momentum deals and the like. You are willing to have an investment blow up in your face.
If you are a VC early in your career and haven’t had past success, then you run the risk of making “safe investments” (protect the downside, consider exits early and often and try to putting your own career in front of the firm’s objectives).
The problem with the “safe strategy” is that it doesn’t work for early stage VC. Early stage venture requires substantial risk because there will be quite a number of losses in the portfolio and so the winners need to be outsized. The other problem with safe is that these things are rarely safe anyway.
I see this syndrome of “career fist, company second” in big companies as well. It rarely happens in a startup because everyone is fighting for their lives together. But in big companies, protecting ones turf becomes cancer. Anytime someone puts their own interest in front of the company interest problems arise.
Coming back to the VC. I believe the best venture firms have the culture to allow failed investments where they support the founders but also the investor that led the investment as well.
The first investment I led at Spark was quite lucky/fortuntae. We invested in ThePlatform in 2005. Six months later, Comcast bought the company and we made 3x our capital. The second investment I made turned out to be a failed investment but I learned a lot of lessons and our partnership supported me through the whole thing.
Thats the key. Your company needs to support each other so that the individuals interest doesn’t come in front of the interest of the company. If you can make that part of the culture and the people you hire, then you’ve done good work.
Last week I had some tests done on my foot. An x-ray and some other stuff.
I have a small thing my primary doctor wanted me to check out with a specialist.
So on Friday I went to see a specialist at MGH. He did some more tests.
Each time I met with someone, I gave them my name and I filled out a form. At this point, I’ve filled out at least 6 forms with 99% of the same information.
And yesterday, the specialist called me to give me the results of Fridays test. But he got my voicemail so he left me a message saying “I have your results and I want to discuss. Call me back when you have a chance. Not urgent but just want to explain a few things.”
Ok, now this doctor is a highly educated and a very nice person but obviously this voicemail isn’t terribly helpful. “Not urgent” tells me I’m fine but c’mon - can’t you just explain it?
Alright, I’ll bite, so I call him back. I get his assistant so I tell her what happened. She asks me for my name and address and phone number and I need to confirm the date of my last appointment. After I clear security, she puts me on hold and comes back on and tells me the doctor is busy with another patient and will call me back.
My schedule today is completely hosed so I can’t imagine a time when we are both going to be free. And tomorrow looks worse.
Now I come from a family of doctors. My brother is a physician and so are my parents. And Lauren used to be nurse (still has her license). And my sister in law is a doctor. I’m a big fan of people in healthcare. They are doing their best to take care of us even though their jobs are getting harder and harder.
But this system of ours is nuts.
Why can’t I just get an email from my doctor. Or why isnt there an online record with my results. Why do I have to keep giving them all my contact info every time I have an appoint. Why do they ask for my employer and title at the office?
According to Google Analytics about 18% of the folks that visit my Tumblr at bijansabet.com are using a mobile device (phone or tablet). Google Analytics only sees a small subset of the traffic because most people that check out this site follow me on Tumblr and view the content via the Dashboard.
Regardless, I’m guessing the ratio is about the same of mobile vs desktop traffic.
Anyway, when you visit my Tumblr I display the full web site. It looks the same whether you are on an Android browser or iOS browser or Chrome on the desktop.
Tumblr gives the owner a choice to present a mobile optimized version as an alternative.
This morning I’m changing my settings to default to the mobile optimized view. My custom theme will be removed for mobile browsing but I think it will be much easier on the eyes.
You can still leave a comment on a post but scrolling to the bottom of the page and tapping “Standard view”.
Let me know if you like it better the old way or the new way.
The main problem with this breed is its basic, fundamental design,” said Nancy Laste, a veterinary cardiologist who helped care for Uga V and VI when she was an intern at the University of Georgia in the early ’90s. “It’s a defective and unworkable design.”
I’m so fascinated with English Bulldogs. That face and character is incredible. But health issues and risk seem awful.
Is it possible to get a healthy bulldog? This article suggests its impossible.
I’m back in San Francisco this week which isn’t a strange thing.
After living here for ten years, I get back for work about once or twice a month. I’ve been keeping this routine (ritual?) for about 7 years now and while it can be taxing on the body at times, I thoroughly enjoy it too.
I love this city, it’s people and it’s beauty. Lauren and I fell in love in this city. This place means a lot to me and always will.
This particular week in SF is the week of Apple’s annual Wordwide Developers Conference. Millions of users and developers pay close attention to Apple’s announcements. One popular way to keep track of all news from WWDC is to follow #WWDC on Twitter. I was doing that much of the day on Monday like many of you.
The most memorable WWDC for me has to be the year 2008. I had just joined Twitter’s board after our investment. We were in USV’s old conference room in NYC with @Fredwilson, Twitter team and the Summize team. The two companies were working together and in that meeting we were in final discussions that led to the Summize acquisition.
The meeting was just a few weeks before WWDC and everyone was concerned about how to keep the site up during Steve Jobs keynote in particular. I don’t remember the anticipated TPS (tweets per second) but it was non trivial by any means. The team came up with Operation Gray Mode which @biz later wrote about in a blog post Sunday, June 8th 2008:
In the event that our estimates and preparations fail, we have designed a way to keep Twitter updates moving quickly through the system to their respective recipients. We have isolated and created on/off switches for many Twitter features. Should it become necessary to shed incoming load quickly, we can turn off features such as stats, pagination, and several others to preserve the reliability and timeliness of your Twitter timeline.
Both team working like crazy to pull it off. The acquisition also ended up being successful as well.
Those days seem a long time ago. Fast forward to today where the service is extremely robust, following #WWDC was solid as rock and Operation Gray Mode is a thing of the past. The team has grown from around 15 employees to many hundreds. And today I’m excited to check out their new nest.
This company has done incredible work over the years. Sometimes it takes a walk down memory lane to appreciate it all.
Thinking through the switch from the Air to the Retina MacBook Pro
The new retina MacBook Pro looks sweet. Thinner, faster, more storage and oh boy all of those pixels.
But my 13” MacBook Air has served me and my back very well. Its light and fits neatly on a the coach tray when I’m flying back and forth across the country. The biggest limitation of the MBA is when I use Lightroom. The screen size and resolution isn’t ideal for photo editing. (wonder how long Adobe will take to upgrade Lightroom for retina displays )
If it wasn’t for the iPad 3, I wouldn’t consider the retina MacBook. Since I have an iPad3, I could switch to heavier laptop and just use the ipad for quick trips.
“They asked me to make a toast — the one thing I said that I hope hope hope sticks is that whatever it is that we have going on here right now is special. Not because it’s “hey, foursquare 5.0 wooo!” but because we’re all in this together, busting our asses, giving up nights and weekends, drinking McCallan out of plastic cups and still having a good time.”—Dennis Crowley
Earlier today, Foursquare announced and released the #allnew4sq. You can read all about the many and vast improvements on their blog post.
Short version: It’s awesome.
The thing about this release is that it’s been in the works for a significant amount of time. A lot of thinking, hardwork, sweat, determination and pain went into this release. There was talk at one point about whether it made sense to rush something out the door for SXSW this past year as they have done in previous years.
This time the decision was to take the required time, rip apart the existing app and start over. It was a massive undertaking to surface new things and improve many existing things.
I’ve been using the private beta for the last few months. It was amazing to watch all of the attention to detail and the polish that went into every new build that I received every few days. It’s clear this team loves and cares about their community and their app.
We see the same inspiration and obession with detail in other companies as well. Earlier this week, Twitter announced a new version of their famous little blue bird logo.
There was nothing wrong per se with the previous logo, but the new one is simpler and more beautiful. Clearly, the Twitter team thought they could do better with their logo which is already widely recognized around the world. This refinement tells us they care about everything they do. At least that is what it tells me.
These two recent examples are great lessons for all of us. Take pride in your work. Pay attention and get obsessed. Don’t settle.
Congrats to Foursquare, I love the #allnewfour4sq. Well done team.
(disclosure: our firm, Spark Capital, is an investor in Foursquare and Twitter)
“As I walked around the middle school with the principal, we were looking at rooms that could be used to create a maker space for students. We walked into an empty room that once was the metal shop. It was perfect. I could imagine it having tools and materials and workbenches. I could imagine groups of curious kids being active, social, and mobile. She said her students would be very happy. “They never get asked to create anything,” she told me.”—