The Karelia logo was inspired by events that occurred shortly after Dan Wood created Watson. The application was designed as a complement to Apple’s existing Sherlock 2 application, providing users various plug-ins to view specific internet content. Watson was released in November 2001, and the popularity of the program grew quickly.
Wood was later invited to a meeting at Apple, in which he was shown a demo of Sherlock 3, which incorporated the same look and nearly all of the modules featured in Watson. After voicing his displeasure to Apple Developer Relations, Wood received a phone call from Steve Jobs, during which Jobs indicated that he saw Karelia as the handcar in the way of the steam train that owns the tracks (a very similar experience to that of Cabel Sasser of Panic Software). Despite this setback, Karelia Software has continued to create popular Mac software and has since incorporated the train tracks and handcar into their logo.
The story became known to developers as “Getting Sherlocked”. Third parties getting trounced by the big platform.
Building interesting desktop apps for MacOS or Windows always came with the getting sherlocked risk.
But with the web, developers have learned to build on top of each other. Consider Amazon Web Services, or Twilio, or Mongo.
Yet the desire for the bigco to try and crush the little co seems to be a constant.
Recently, Google launched Google Drive. It’s clear they don’t want Dropbox to be the category leader in file sharing and sync. Even though Dropbox on Android is superior to Dropbox on iOS.
Google basically bolted Google Drive on to their existing popular Google Docs. Here is the big honking Google Drive promotion in my Google Docs dashboard.
If I’m Dropbox, I’m not loving this.
But here’s the thing. Dropbox is still a much better product in my opinion. It just works. And their iOS app is better than Google Drive’s iOS app.
This morning I got up quite early and read through 4 pitch decks from entrepreneurs. All of them contained a Dropbox link. None of them had a Google Drive link.
As I mentioned in this twitter thread, I’m a big fan of Google in general. They have built extraordinary products and have made even more extraordinary acquisitions with Android and YouTube. That’s the Google I love.
I don’t love when a big company bolts on an app to an existing product line specifically to nuke a competitor. That’s what Google Drive feels like to me.
And for that reason I’m a loyal, happily paying Dropbox user.
I’ve been using a Retina MacBook Pro for one week, only as a secondary computer, and I’ve already changed my font, redesigned my narrow layout’s header, and conditionally replaced an image with text. I’ve noticed that fonts, especially, respond extremely differently on the Retina screen: many of my old, non-Retina choices simply didn’t look good, and many fonts and metrics that were previously poor for screen use can be used nicely on Retina screens.
“and so here I am: still standing in the arena, in hand-to-hand combat with demons mostly of my own making, aiming to make a small dent in the universe. nowhere near a great success story, yet fighting the good fight and perhaps helping others to achieve greatness as I attempt a bit of my own. I’ll be 46 in a month, well past the age when most folks have already shown what they’re made of. but I’m still grasping for that brass ring.”—
When we interact with our phones we get to interact with applications that are often built in less than a year. Many times these apps are built within 6months.
That’s the gift Apple gave to the world.
It wasn’t long ago when VCs and entreprenuers dreaded the idea of building software for mobile phones. It was a nightmare. Your app could work on one specific Samsung phone for Verizon but not ATT. And it was if you were lucky and approved.
Today, every time we touch a software product, it’s obvious if the app took 5 years or 6 months.
The built in navigation and user interface on my car? Designed in many years ago and sucks. The app on my mobile phone that tells me where to have lunch coming home on my weekend road trip in a random place? Less than 6 months and awesome.
This afternoon we watched the Spain v Italy Eurocup final on our Verizon DVR box. I set it up last week. It took about 15 clicks through the remote to set it up properly (including selecting all the options just in case the game went long or in case the DVR wanted to delete the game to make room).
And 20 minutes into watching the recorded game, the DVR froze. Then it locked up. I had to restart the box. When the box came back on, the TV tuned to the live game which and we all saw the scoreboard, 2-0. Fuck.
The whole point of recording the game was so we could watch it start to finish.
There is a part of me that feels bad for Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable. They are relying on these god-awful designers at dinosaur companies to build them boxes and software designed years ago. And they are dreadful. They can’t be happy to put this stuff in front of their subscribers every day.
I don’t know how you could possibly design a consumer product so many years in advance. The world moves to fast to assume you have a clue about what users want that far off into the future. The only time it works I suppose is if you are building something so audacious where you keep the quality bar obscenely high.
The days of building proprietary apps for proprietary platforms which require broken timelines are over.
We consumers are done with that model and we are moving on.
“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.