From the creator of Sparrow, a new app called Beam is coming soon

As most folks know, when iPhone first shipped there were only apps created by Apple. The App Store wouldn’t arrive until about a year later. And even then, apps that directly competed with Apple’s apps were far and few between. And users had to deal with either poorly implemented web apps or Apple’s apps for critical things like email.

By 2011 or so, a new app called Sparrow launched on the Mac and then iPhone. Sparrow was a thoughtful, beautiful app that delivered a powerful and yet simple approach to mail. Like so many others, I was taken with Sparrow and it quickly became my default client. Eventually, Google acquired Sparrow and the app was no more.

Earlier this year I was introduced to Dom Leca, the creator of Sparrow. Dom told us about his vision for a new app called Beam. A few weeks later, my partners and I made an offer to lead the seed round in the company. Dom and Sebastian Metrot have been working on building the initial team and the first version of Beam. While they aren’t ready to fully disclose the product today, you can read about their vision in their paper and join the beta.

I’m really excited about Beam and can’t wait for you all to try it.

Mount Cardigan

A few weeks back, my wife and I made a day trip to New Hampshire and spent the day exploring Mount Cardigan. We heard about this place many times over the years but this was our first time. It was one of those magical fall days, the weather was crisp and the colors of the season was a real treat. The hike itself took about 4 hours round trip. The last 1/4 mile up the face was super challenging but felt great at the top.

(All of these photographs were made with a Mamiya 7ii and Kodak Portra 400 film. Developed and processed at Richard Photo Lab in California.)

Startup salaries + company culture

I woke up this morning thinking about startup salaries and how it impacts company culture. As I started drafting this post I started having a mad case of deja vu. After a quick Google search, I discovered an old post on the very subject many years ago.

It’s a bit dated but I think the main points hold up for sure.

The only additional comment I want to add is the importance of fairness and consistency.

At board meetings, directors are asked to approve employee option grants. Management proposes all the grants offered to employees and the board has the opportunity to ask questions, comment, reject or approve. At most board meetings, this is unfortunately not given the attention it deserves. Common symptoms include, rushing the topic at the end of the meeting with a few random questions about confirming the 409a price and how much of the option pool is impacted.

I encourage all founders and investors to treat these employee grants with more respect. More respect for the company, the investors, existing employees, future employees and the impact on culture. If you respect this issue deeply, employee grants could be transparent, there would be consistency to how each employee earns equity, terms would be consistent and so would percentage grants by role.

If the employee option grants are an ad hoc mess, then it likely means the founders and the board didn’t do it’s job fully. And while there might be short term benefit to speed, the long term impact always comes home.

Foggy mornings

(All images made with a Hasselblad 503cw on Kodak Tri-X 400 film. Developed and scanned by FW Photos in Texas).

A day in the office

Yesterday, I drove my son to school and went for a run with my wife. After my shower, I looked at my schedule and saw an afternoon of back to back video calls. I found it hard to fire up the home iMac and get going.

So instead, I made the last minute decision to head to my Spark office in downtown Boston. I’ve been there a total of 3 times since the pandemic started. It took me fifteen minutes just to find my temporarily misplaced office key fob. By the time I stepped off the elevator on the 8th floor, I had a wave of mixed emotions. I missed the noise of an office environment with conference rooms filled with colleagues and entrepreneurs. I missed my office. I missed seeing all the familiar faces.

But at the same time, it was nice to be back at my work desk. I made myself a cup of tea as I used to. I turned up my chill playlist on my headphones, I made my video calls, I took care of email and Slack — in between I went out for a coffee and took a walk around the block.

I am grateful for my privilege and the ability to do my work from home. But I really miss the office and all that it brings. Clearly, I didn’t appreciate that enough.

42 (film)

Last night Lauren and I watched 42. It came out in 2013 but truth be told we didn’t get around to watching it until the untimely and very sad passing of the great Chadwick Boseman.

The film is a powerful account of the Jackie Robinson story. Boseman is tremendous and you can’t but feel a sense of anger, shame, frustration, and inspiration after watching this movie. It’s absolutely the best baseball movie ever made and likely one of the best overall movies ever made.

I highly highly recommend it. I am just sorry it took me this long.