The openness of business software

As someone who mostly invests in consumer products, I guess I never imagined writing a post with the words ‘business software’ in the title.

But Aaron Levie’s tweet today got me thinking.

All these cloud products have substantial overlap and compete with each other. Google would love to have their users skip Box and use Google Drive. But they are building their Gsuite products to seamlessly work with their competitors.

Microsoft is doing the same thing. Azure works with Microsoft competitors. And Slack is integrating Microsoft 365 apps.

In the consumer space, we used to see collaboration. I’m old enough to remember Instagram’s location integration with Foursquare, or Instagram photos showing up natively in Twitter.  But these integrations are less apparent these days.

Vertical integration seems like the priority. I can’t imagine Apple iMessage on Android in my lifetime. Nor does Apple still doesn’t allow Google Maps and Chrome to be treated as first class citizens. Apple’s Home Pod doesn’t work with Spotify. Google’s OneBox does nasty things for the open web. Google’s smart home products don’t integrate with HomeKit. Netflix doesn’t seem to have any interest in integrating with Apple’s TV app. (I could cite more examples about Facebook’s behavior but what’s the point, really)

Don’t get me wrong. The enterprise space has plenty of sharp elbows. Microsoft is trying to clone Slack, just like MS Planner is cloned Trello and bundled it with Office365.

But I am truly curious why we do see so much collaboration in the enterprise space. I suppose big enterprise IT budgets has tremendous power. But we consumers have power too. So let’s not forget it.


Dominos, Better Oblivion Community Center

We went to see the new band by Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers last week in Cambridge. Great show and loving their debut album.

Thank you, Andrew Parker

Andrew wrote a post yesterday about leaving Spark Capital.

While this was known to many of us for the last few months, seeing the words written out yesterday made it real I suppose.

I first met Andrew when he was an associate at Union Square Ventures. We worked together on the Tumblr investment and also another company called Bug Labs. Both in NYC.

A few years later when Andrew called me to say he was leaving USV/NYC and heading to Boston because of his wife’s medical residency program. I am pretty sure we made him an offer on the spot. If not, maybe a few minutes later.

He introduced me to Joel Spolsky which led to our investment in Stack Overflow and Trello. Andrew also led our investment in Carta as well as many other extraordinary companies.

From the earliest days at Spark, Andrew always made it his work to serve the entrepreneur and to be a guiding light at our firm.

Over the last decade of working with him, I know Andrew to be one of the smartest and more importantly finest people I know. I am grateful to call him my partner and will always be part of Spark.

Thank you, Andrew for everything.

New Orleans

We made a brief weekend trip to New Orleans last month. I don’t know the city well but between recommendations from Twitter friends and Foursquare we found some amazing places to eat and listen to music.

It’s a very cool city with incredible architecture, art, food and of course music. Even though our visit was short, I am glad we had the opportunity to explore outside of the French Quarter (especially during the day). The Garden District and the six mile walk down Magazine Street was wonderful.

I’m not sure when we will get back to New Orleans but I hope the next visit is longer.

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(Cameras: Hasselblad 503cw, Leica M3; Film: Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Tri-X 400; Developed and Scanned: Richard Photo Lab)

Beyond Facebook for photographers

It’s a reoccurring message.

Photographer friends of mine are moving on from Facebook and feeling social media fatigue. My friend Om recently wrote about giving Flickr another chance. And Jakob is leaving social platforms and returning to his blog.

I get it, although I’m not there. I do feel fatigue at times and as a result I deleted my Facebook account completely last month. I still participate on Instagram and my beloved Twitter most days. I feel like the value of community is very much worth it for me. But I am careful about who I choose to follow and engage with. And I’m paying more attention to my usage with screen time.

One thing I do feel is under appreciated in this online discussion about photography are photography books. Five years ago my bookcase had very few photography books. Today I have a few dozens, ranging from photo books created by friends of mine to the iconic books from Robert Frank and HCB. Last week, my friends Johnny and Rebecca Patience sent me A Life In Pictures featuring Steve McCurry’s work. It’s an absolutely a joy.

So if you find yourself a little tired of online life, get to your bookstore and pick up a few photo books. You will be glad you did.