“They have a ton of content, an existing billing relationship with millions of users, an existing Android app marketplace that could be leveraged on the box, a reputation for solid hardware products, and a terrific channel through which to promote the product.”
I think it will be a game changer. Lots of use cases, that’s not the problem. Examples on their website, simplify existing use cases (phone, mapping, directions, media), create new ones (medicine, overlay of information on everything terminator style), etc.
The key to success will be
1) Making it super simple to use for consumers. Eg camera built into the frame, activated based on sensors, etc. You shouldn’t have to look up to activate it. One way to think about this in smartphone metaphors is, Glass today is like the old smartphones (Palms, BBs, WinPhone) and it needs to be like the iPhone.
2) Not socially awkward. They will become acceptable as lots of unacceptable things have become (social norms change), but steps can be taken on marketing, PR & privacy fronts to catalyze this change.
3) Obvious one, but make it a simple platform for people to build on top to create amazing use cases with it. For e.g. see what developers did with the Kinect sensor.
This deck is packed with amazing insights. Totally worth going through it. Some things I personally found interesting.
Internet trends - Total data shared growing like crazy - Wearables are the next computing wave - Countries / cultures have diff sharing habits - Photos: FB is king, instagram big, snap chat growing
Mobile going gangbusters as usual - Mobile usage at country level > desktop (China, India, S Korea) !! - FB Mobile ARPU rising
Computing - Wearables are the next wave. Don’t look like it today, but could you tell from the first smartphone (Palm) or tablet (Windows). - “New major technology cycles => 10x user growth driven by lower price and improved functionality” !! - Wearables can answer all basic use-cases of smartphones !
High skilled immigration is finally gathering momentum !!
Some rough takeaways based on discussion with Colin and David today. Great insights from Mr Albrecht!
Very little time
Focus on key takeaways
Generally team, space, product, traction
Team, always focus, crucial. How much time have founders know each other for, what’s their pedigree?
Space, size, players, gaps, opportunity. Vary focus and time based on how well known / understood the space is. Big concern for investors, don’t want drama or breakup.
Product. What is it, what are differentiating quantities? It has to be unique enough and 10x better to capture the market.
Traction and growth. How much already (size) and what’s growth velocity (slope), eg. 10k users, but only launched a month ago. Should also talk about scalable growth strategy here.
Tell them, Remind them at the end
- pre meeting email 5 slides
- meeting 50 slides, lots in appendix
- post meeting email 8 slides
- 1 key point per slide
- make it visual!
Product: vision, execution (feature backlog, bugs backlog, prioritize, milestones, ship), talk to cust, measure and draw insights
Design: make it beautiful
Eng: build it fast
Market: grow it
Sales: make money!
Here are some thoughts on how these different channels can leveraged for the goals of new user acquisition, retention and resurrection based on analyzing what some of the high growth companies have done (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Dropbox, Spotify, Pinterest… ) and reading about them (lots of great growth literature out there).
mobile notifications… friend/platform activity. not mentioned, but can be big
Traffic for new user acquisition
Key metrics: high volume (#), low cost ($), high conversion (%)
Social media (viral)
Viral videos on Youtube are classic example
Dropbox did a really kick-ass good job of this by making sharing dead simple & giving users incentive for sharing (more free space).
Spotify implicitly shared what you listened to in the ticker and grew an insane amount by leveraging Facebook.
Invite friends (viral)
Emails to invite friends and family via address book import (email & phone). Mostly happens along with “find friends” for new users, but could easily be leveraged for core users as well.
Most companies have implemented email address book imports (Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, Dropbox, Pinterest…).
Getting address book from phone can be super valuable too, e.g. send email to import contacts which is opened on phone, or make it easily visible!
This data is also super useful not only for inviting friends, but also reverse address book as it helps build an implicit graph.
SEOing all of your content is a great way to get new traffic. Some examples
Twitter profiles for celebrity & popular person
LinkedIn, Facebook for regular people
Amazon, eBay for product
Quora for questions
Pinterest, Tumblr for topics
Widgets around web
Increase distribution of your content
Hook users to come to your site or “engage” from where they are
Engage: FB Like, Twitter Follow buttons
Widgets: FB recommended articles, Twitter widgets
SEM / Ads
Digital and traditional media (TV, print, hoardings, onsite)
This is expensive and except for digital, user activation will generally be low.
Traffic for retention & resurrection
Metrics: repeat usage, analyze user cohorts and get to “core”
Once a user is signed up and is using the product, the goal is to keep coming back to the product & convert them to “core” so their likelihood of churning is way less (whatever the definition of core is). OR if they have “churned” (i.e. left using the service), then to bring them back. The following are great ways of doing this.
Email & mobile notifications are great ways of doing this since they can get the user back to the service.
Email: Content & Activity
Emails keep the product / service in the user’s mind. The key is the content should be relevant otherwise it quickly generates to spam.
Content digests: Tells users of the best content being shared. LinkedIn network updates digest, LI Today top stories digest, Quora top questions digest, Twitter top tweets digest .. The goal here is to demonstrate value and keep the product top of mind.
Notification of activity: Tells users what native activity is happening. Facebook notifications / Birthday reminders, Twitter follows/favs/rts…
Notification of activity just like email.
More realtime than email and therefore will result in a prompter response.
Factors I’ve read of and heard that impact startup funding. - Space (e.g. big data, enterprise, location) - Team (e.g. Google, Bing) - Traction (i.e. paying customers, user base) - Product… you need a vision so you’re moving in a certain (good) direction, but this changes with time based on customer & market needs.
This framework can be used to analyze and understand why certain startups are getting funded. A space which has high potential, being worked on by a strong team that already has shown some traction makes for a deadly combination.
Come to think about it, this is also an interesting way to look at companies when thinking about where to work. Think and act as an investor as you’re investing your most precious resource — time and energy.
ADI IGNATIUS: Jeff, you’ve said that you like to plant seeds that may take seven years to bear fruit. Doesn’t that mean you’ll lose some battles along the way to companies that have a more conventional two or three-year outlook?
JEFF BEZOS: Well, maybe so, but I think some of the things that we have undertaken I think could not be done in two to three years. And so, basically if we needed to see meaningful financial results in two to three years, some of the most meaningful things we’ve done we would never have even started. Things like Kindle, things like Amazon Web Services, Amazon Prime. The list of such things is long at Amazon.
He has also famously said that you have to be willing to misunderstood for a long time to innovate.
ADI IGNATIUS: You’ve said that you would be interested, if you had the right concept and approach, in creating a physical Amazon retail experience. Why even consider that?
JEFF BEZOS: Well, We like to build innovative things. We’ll look around the world, and we’ll be inspired by what we see. But we like to put our own unique twist on it and do something that’s not redundant. If there are 100 physical stores that are doing a great job, we don’t want to be the 101st. If we can find something that we think customers would like that would be differentiated, it would be super fun to do that.
ADI IGNATIUS: So would developing a phone also fall into that innovative category?
JEFF BEZOS: Yeah, absolutely. That’s the kind of thing where you would ask what is the idea? How would it be differentiated? Why wouldn’t it be me too?
ADI IGNATIUS: So disruption is obviously a rough business. Do you have any personal regrets about the pain that your success has caused to traditional retailers?
JEFF BEZOS: I’m just as sentimental as the next person I have lots of childhood memories of physical books and things like that. Our job at Amazon is to build the best customer experience we can in every way and then let customers choose where they shop.
ADI IGNATIUS: Amazon has done a great job of self-cannibalizing its revenue streams, going from Amazon Store to Amazon Marketplace, from print to ebooks, and so on. In most companies, moves like those would be hard to execute without organizational turmoil. How have you managed the transitions?
JEFF BEZOS: When things get complicated, we simplify by saying what’s best for the customer? And then we take it as an article of faith if we do that, it’ll work out the long term. So we can never prove that. In fact, sometimes we’ve done a price elasticity studies, and the answer is always we should raise prices. And we don’t do that because we believe— and again, we have to take this as an article of faith— we believe by keeping our prices very, very low, we earn trust with customers over time, and that that actually does maximize free cash flow over the long term.
#Metrics: Key tool for PMs in every stage of product development as its the only objective measure of decision making and performance. Answers key questions with a simple question — what metrics are you trying to optimize.
One caveat: Great note from Fred Wilson about early stage products — “Early in a startup, product decisions should be hunch driven. Later on, product decisions should be data driven.”
Planning - how do you prioritize features - how do you decide what not to do - how do you get resources for your project - how do you decide what to focus on for next iteration (Relevance team in Bing did this really well by finding pockets of underperforming queries and optimizing them, via Rod Deyo)
Execution - how do you decide what to cut if you’re running late - how to you decide between competing priorities & make controversial decisions - how do you communicate context for decisions to team, management, stakeholders
Post launch - how do you communicate impact of what you’ve shipped
Amazing how many types of search engines exist! Couple of obeservations
1) The standard types (universal, geo leaders, information type leaders) have existed for a long time, but there’s a new crop based on searching your personal data in cloud services which is really cool!
2) Looking over the best ones for information type, its cool to see these are in fact the best places to follow, share and discover that type of content. Reinforces the fact that search is such a fundamental part of any content service, and you should invest in it to make your service even more awesome.
Personal cloud search - CloudMagin, KiteDesk, Otixo, Primadesk, Greplin (now dead) - With all personal services moving to the cloud, this “feels” essential. Need to still see it being super effective though. - Obvious scenarios: photos (FB/Picassa/Flickr), posts (Twitter/Facebook), documents/notes (Dropbox/Box/Evernote/Office365), email (GMail/Yahoo/Hotmail), blog (Tumblr), people (friends/contacts on phone/GMail/Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn), calendar (Google), etc.
Geo leaders - Baidu (China), Yandex (Russia), Daum/Naver (Korea), Yahoo JP (JP) - Thinking about why Google hasn’t cracked these markets, there seem to be several components 1) market dynamics which require local knowledge, 2) regulatory effects which are hard to fight like in China, 3) technical challenges like NLP.
My regular use based on information type, basically reflects content hubs - commerce: amazon, ebay, G, B - QnA: quora, stackexchange - local: yelp, foursquare (trying to dent this space), G, B - people: facebook (social), twitter (public), linkedin (professional) - music: youtube, spotify, rdio, itunes - video: youtube, G/B, dailymotion, metacafe - images: G, instagram, twitter - movies: imdb, rotton tomotoes, flixter - maps: google, bing, mapquest - apts: airbnb, live lovely, padmapper, craigslist
More specialized use-cases - jobs: linkedin, monster, dice, indeed - real estate: zillow, redfin - tech companies: crunchbase - tech research: techcrunch, mashable - research: google scholar - code: google - business: Nexis (Lexis Nexis), Thomasnet
Samsung’s success has been built on its “fast follower” strategy for design and manufacturing. The company produces dozens of new smartphone models every year that address all segments of the market, from the high end to the low end. Samsung monitors the big trends in smartphone design, user needs and unmet market opportunities, then creates products to fit those markets quickly and efficiently.
Meanwhile, Finnish-based Nokia is mired in transitioning its smartphone line to the Windows operating system, resulting in declining shipments for the company. Sales of the company’s older Symbian-based phones have plunged, while its new Microsoft Windows 7-based handsets haven’t been able to make up for the loss so far.
Planning - Measure. “you can’t improve what you can’t measure”! - Status. review metrics you care about - Goals. how much do you want to move them - Note: review time series, not snapshots! - Action: Set goals.
Execution (status meetings) - Review metrics => how are we tracking towards goals - Review eng or other work to hit those goals - Note: review time series, not snapshots! - Action: course correction or cruise (everything’s tracking well)
Execution (A/B experiments) - Data shows we should be doing “A” over “B” - Note: review snapshot - Action: Launch “A”
Metric examples - Search, NDCG - Sales, Revenue by geo/product line - Product, engagement - Growth, User funnel - Marketing, Customer funnel
Good music, pick one that has it, eg Philz in Mission. You always have your own otherwise.
Social env. Social is good at least for me as I like being around people, but with the benefit that there’s no one to pepper you with questions or discussions. Also ppl are generally soft iut of respect for others. If you’re working with friends, it’s even better. You can take the occasional break and have a word.
Table and chair, need that for my best productive stretches, but couches probably work well for folks too.
Compared to work, there’s no good music playing (you don’t always want headphones), social interruptions exist and even self introduced many times since you want to talk to ppl you know, and lastly too many other interruptions like meetings.
Product development thoughts, lessons from PM & founders
Thoughts on how the role of a PM developing a product is similar to an entrepreneur building a startup. Founders have a lot more at stake, take much higher risk and as a result think/act very carefully at every step of their decision tree. In general, PMs and engineering teams thinking like founders and startups can be more successful.
I haven’t been a founder myself, so thoughts are based on what I’ve heard and read from friends, blogs and founder interviews. Its obvious that a founder writing this could improve a lot or disagree.
PM learnings based on building product & product process at Twitter, Bing and Windows before that. Also reading lots of blogs, talking to talented PMs, learning from mistakes :) Learnings are obviously not original, but definitely helps to think about it deeply & write it down.
Structure of post (step, input, output) inspired from PM at Microsoft post by @stevesi. Nice read too.
A) Vision -> pitch deck Inputs: idea/problem, user + market research, design, prototyping Output: Pitch deck, mocks, demo
At this stage, you’re developing the idea and establishing the value proposition.
Focus - Advise to founders, laser focus. - Solve one problem really really well instead of boiling the ocean. - PMs should do the same & have that mindset.
Broad scope - Overall space should be big. - If not, you won’t move the needle in a significant way. - Means you wont get the resources (money for founders, engineers for PMs). - The roadmap should outline how you laser focused on one problem at each stage.
Idea & problem statement - Define WHY - 10-100x better solution or filling a market gap - “What is the job users hire you for”, milkshake analogy (1 & 2 by Clay Christensen, thanks @sippey) - “Press release” and work backwards (Amazon, thanks @kintan) - Founders solve problems they’ve faced and are passionate about. - Imp b/c experience & passion leads to better intuition. - Intuition is always important, but critical in the early stages. - Even with tons of data, need intuition to draw the right inferences, ask the right Qs to make sense of the data. - PMs can be at a disadvantage - May not have personally experienced the problem i.e. dont have intuition. - Can take a junior role, lesser responsibility, less critical deliverables - Learn & experience the space first to address this gap. - You can research the space, but this gives you the theory. - You need the first hand experience to know what / how it works in practice. - Its hard to learn the space & deliver a stunning product at the same time.
Competitive/market research - Founders & PMs are in the same boat here - PMs might have better company resources, make use of them - Can’t be emphasized enough - Map the problem space on key axes/dimensions - What’s been successful/not, problems solved/open - Draw the 2x2 matrix to clearly visualize & demonstrate this - Understand & demonstrate what piece/link of the value chain you’re solving - Make sure you’re not re-inventing the wheel, very expensive & getting bad ROI - Understand market trends & macro picture (e.g. mobile, social, commerce)
Use cases - Define WHAT - PMs & founders both do this - Need clear use-cases to do competitive research & talking to customers - Understand real v/s theoretical use-cases - Intuition & data help with this - Validate & refine use-cases with data and user research
Customers - Founders talk to real customers, PMs should get as close as possible - Speak with ppl inside & outside the company - Speak with ppl who work with customers i.e. sales, partnership, biz dev - Data analysis to understand what users are saying - User research with prototypes / mocks (ads on craigslist) - PMs have it easy though, you can find these people / data - Finding real customers for founders is much harder
Design, Prototype - Visualize WHAT - This is a critical difference between PMs and founders - Both build mocks - Founders build demos always, PMs/eng teams dont always :( - Demos really help refine the idea - Playing with a demo instantly tells you what works in practice - You refine the idea based on this feedback loop with self & within team
Note these steps are not in sequential order, but rather go in a cycle. You start with an idea, research it, talk to customers, build a demo, refine it based on all this input.
B) Pitch -> resources Input: Output of step 1: pitch deck + mocks + demo Output: Resources and timeframe to build the product
PMs pitch to management, founders to investors - Easier to convince mgmt since they’re pre-disposed to the space - They told you to look into this in the first place - Also parting with resources is generally easier than parting with money - Investors look at factors like team cred, already est for PMs, they’re hired - However, good mgmt will think like investors
Pitch deck: problem space - Frame the problem space - Product gap, market inefficiencies, etc. - Use data to convey size of problem space - Data establishes this is a real big problem, not theoretical - Talk about competitive space & user research - Data + competitive + user research establishes “problem/market” fit
Pitch deck: solution - Illustrate in mocks the solution - Walkthrough the roadmap, what problem you solve at each step - Key metrics: users, page views, engagement, revenue, etc - Impact: ROI and how this moves the needle - These are estimates, be clear how you reached them - Bonus: Demo
Output: Resources - Founders get money, PMs get eng team - Founders have it better since they chose their co-founders / team - They also have it tougher as they have to hire
Founders & startups - Rapid iteration on product: weekly sprint, demo every week - Have to demo every week, no excuse for it - Startups move fast — Build full stack, all components that don’t exist — Don’t depend on others for building things that don’t exist, no others — Don’t complain about external dependencies, no point to it - Refine the idea a lot in this iterative process - Continuous feedback from sponsors & other smart startups - Alpha/Beta startup launch has already gone through multiple refinements
PMs & companies - Don’t do enough of this - Don’t really refine the product enough - Risk launching product to users that might not be as refined / iterated upon - Lots of tactical lessons from startup process - Beginning to see some of this at Twitter which is great (demo, sprints)
Final demo, beta, A/B test, launch - Product is ready - Founders have demo day (incubators) and launch beta - PMs A/B test, then launch - A/B testing doesn’t always happen even for web products, it should! - PMs have it easier, lots of users already to test & provide feedback - Key learning from startup process here - PMs should also demo widely & get feedback - Could put some final tweaks before launching i.e. another sprint - Do NOT let this become a blocking/greenlight juncture - Launching is the only way to get real user feedback - Product will never be perfect - However, this step is critical to decide how to communicate it
Comms - Modes: Evolutionary v/s revolutionary (thanks @gabrielstricker) - Side note: Also imp to think of this when pitching the idea to mgmt - Need to be more careful when launching revolutionary changes - E.g. revamps of yahoo mail & flickr - For PMs, Marketing & Comms teams are your best friend at this point - They help tell the story, pitch/brief reporters, blog about it - Founders have to do it all themselves - Develop the relationships all by themselves
E) Feedback, Metrics -> iterate - Finally, you’ve launched - Use the user feedback (qualitative & quantitative) to quickly iterate - Founders listen to user feedback and release quick fixes every week - PMs could learn from this - PMs benefit from having large user base and getting metrics impact - Key lesson: Iterate aggressively - Key lesson: Launch report — Quickly communicate to whole team, max 1 week after launch (good/bad) — Discuss metrics, highlights, lowlights, next steps - Don’tthink about / wait for big v2 launches, happens too often with PMs - Launch iterative v1.1, v1.2, etc.
Great thoughts from the panelists at #bases #150k kick-off — @shl @nestmatt @hosain + hosting by Mary Meeker. Rough notes.
- Two approaches: Solve a big problem, solve it for yourself. - Focus on the WHY & articulate it really well. - Do a few things well - Hiring, be patient, hire the right person.
@Jawbone Jambox, UP (@hosain, Hosain Rahman) - Problem: Lifestyle company, we are with you in everything you do - Challenge: Half the company didn’t believe in it, but you really got to articulate the why, and once you build and live with it, they get it. - Advise: Think big, keep extrapolating to bigger. Aim for outer space, then you get to the moon. If you aim for the atmosphere, you’ll only get into the sky.
@Nest (@nestmatt, Matt Rogers) - Problem: 10% of energy in US used in the home - Challenge: Imp of co founders, wait and hire the right person - Advise: How to market your product, focus on the WHY - Hiring: Be patient, hire when you find the right fit. Hiring badly in a small team can have terrible consequences. Really important to hire based on combination of know-how, culture fit (i.e. gets along, not a pain in the wrong place).
@Gumroad (@shl, Sahil) - Problem: selling online is super hard, i created an icon, put up a website, etc etc but couldnt sell it. - I did it for myself. I needed this, so I went out and did it. - If you’re deeply passionate about something and ready to spend years of your life on it, then 2 months is small in comparison (on how do you value the time you spend on your startup).
Disappointed by the Surface experience (at the Microsoft store).
- Touch KW is too big and takes up most of the screen. In word, you only see 2 lines visible, shouldn’t you optimize word default layout?
- Smart KW hard to use, miss the feedback loop and it’s not very sensitive either. Why is MS displaying all tablets like that if that’s the case? I guess it’s trying to position it as a laptop + tablet as soon as ppl walk in, but the experience not being great is ridiculous.
- KWs not being great means like basic prod tasks like email are hard
- Home button is touch instead of hardware and can be hit by mistake when typing
- KW numbers mode Doesn’t have keys in typical laptop mode with numbers on top, just feels strange as a result but might be a newness thing only
- typing is just easier on my iPhone! But maybe there is a factor of getting used to it
- App store install experience is funny, you don’t see where the app is installed so you have to exit the store and then scroll to that part of the screen
- some of the native apps like weather did look pretty. Prolly need to try them out more
- IE wasn’t super impressive
- lots more but don’t feel like writing :)
- No start menu so no way to search all apps, why?!
- Why is search button hidden and not on screen or part of the task bar?
Overall, didn’t feel like a great experience. If you really want to create a great product, this is not how you do it.
I had a discussion a few days back with a friend about if Google did the right thing by giving Android away for free. Should they have charged a little bit for it… just like Microsoft does with Windows? Could they have retained more “power” i.e. say in what goes in the final product if they did?
My take — they did the right thing and the reason is they never intended to make money of the software, their end goal was always to achieve high market share in order to monetize via ads. And giving it away for free was their strategy to get the max # of OEMs onboard the Android bus and get maximum distribution as a result. Also it also leads to results like penetrating the low-end market in emerging markets like no other.
Also Google didn’t get nothing in return. The base operating system is theirs so they get to do deep integrations of Google services like auto-photo sync to G+. Also Google search bar on homepage and GApps are always installed in the OOBE (I think).
These wins is what G had in mind and it got them, so why was it not a winning strategy?
Defer v/s Loop in
2x2 of importance v experience, wisdom from @hangtan
Have a lot of experience, not super imp => you can take care of it.
Imp and not a lot of experience => check with your manager.
High imp => always good to have your manager in the loop.
Know the factors your manager cares about which helps inform what’s important => generally partners, users
Context: For companies going through strategic inflection point / “10x force”
Source: Only The Paranoid Survive, Andy Grove
Let chaos rein => bottoms-up ideas pulling the company in different directions
Rein the chaos in => top-down look at the directions proposed and choosing one.
Good balance between the two is needed. You’re lost without the first because senior mgmt doesn’t have all the details. However, senior mgmt needs to choose one of the directions being taken, and FOCUS on it.
Some examples from the book
HP: strong top down and strong bottom up actions. had rational nonthreatening and slow discussions but they steadily moved forward instead of meandering around in circles.
Wang Laboratories: strong top down actions, weak bottom up actions with Wang. weak top down and weak bottom up without. when he became sick, the company went down with him because the other mgmt didnt know the strategic direction.
Apple: (with sculley) strong bottom up weak top down. he understood the implications of the horizontal industry structure but it appeared he just wasn’t strong enough to overpower Apple’s inertia of success that existed bc of its 15yr history as a fully vertical computer company. (2 mistakes: not adapting apples software to intels microprocessors and not modifying apples then revolutionary laser printer so that it would work with PCs other than those made by apple)
Somewhat similar to how Hackweeks inform planning.
Why did Google invest in Android and their revenue sources
Google bought Android in 2005 (which predates iPhone release, Jun 2007) and released beta in Nov 2007 and first phone in Sep 2008. The fact that they bought a company is indicative of strategic direction to invest heavily in mobile. The question is why?
If you think about Google’s business model, its ultimate in the advertising business. They make money by showing ads to people in return for information users want. The advertising business is all about user base. Revenue is proportional to # of impressions, the more impressions and users you have, the more money you make. This is nothing new. Companies in the media business (TV, print, radio, etc) knew this all along… the more subscriptions (or users) you have, the more money you can make. You give content users want and place ads in between.
Google must have realized early on that mobile was going to be a big force (“10x” force in Andy Grove’s words) that could disrupt their advertising business. This could happen if digital eyeballs shifted from desktop to mobile. Remember that smartphones were a small % of desktop shipments at that point, however, G foresaw this could happen.. there must have been early trends. Either way, they saw this, and decided to invest in this trend. They might not have known whether it was going to be a “10x” force or not, but they took the plunge to understand this specifically. Seems like they acted on advise similar to Grove’s — disrupt yourself before the competition disrupts you.
The good thing is that they truly invested in it after purchasing Android instead of strangling it for resources (as compared to Microsoft which is known to screw this up). After a while, they realized it truly was a “10x” force, that mobile was going to be the next big thing. This realization probably had something to do with stellar sales of iPhone. Any way, they doubled down on it and because of their early investment, they were able to become a big player and advance their interests. This is also similar to how Intel invested in micro-processors for the longest time even when memory was their biggest business, because it was a potential “10x” force and they were able to take advantage of it.
We can ask why would they buy a company and invest in the OS itself. This is not how it made money on the desktop. Most desktops run Windows and the most prominent browser used to be IE when Google launched. However, if we think back, Google actually supported Firefox and then invested in Chrome for similar reasons. They wanted control on the entry point.Otherwise Microsoft could forcefully switch all users to use their own search engine in their browser. In mobile terms, it made sense to invest in the OS itself given that the industry was very young and by owning the OS, they could have a deeper integration than just at the browser level. Some more thoughts on this below. This was tremendous foresight.
1) Ads on the device, not just in the browser. Google is an advertising network and can show ads inside apps.
2) Cut from app sales in Play store. This is probably smaller than their ad revenue.
Showing great ads
Owning the OS itself (instead of just the browser), allows them to do a lot more in terms os showing great ads.
1) User modeling: The more G know about the user, the better ads they can show on the device. If they didn’t own the device, it would’ve been harder for them to show really good ads inside apps.
2) Distribution and install base. Apple would obv not let them have a search bar on the home page for example (every android phone has it), and eventually kicked out Youtube & Maps from being OOBE.
3) Mobile search was gng to be different. Enable the user scenarios and make money along the way. Eg voice search, contextual search, search from inside apps, etc
Per Mary Meeker’s 2012 slides about mobile revenue, it comes from app sales and advertising (source: KPCB 2012 slides).
- A person who has an itch to fix something
- Has an idea on how to fix that
As a person
- Started first company at 14, didn’t think it was a company
- Wanted to solve a problem
- “Im not a visionary, I predicted Skype kind of video chatting wouldn’t be big”
- “I do know how to fix this music problem though”
Goal: Become easier than piracy
- Piracy works b/c its convenient, super easy
- If you can do better, ppl will use you
- Small segment will still pirate, but majority will not
- In Europe, Game of Thrones TV series latest season is available only a year later
- Ppl are willing to pay for it & want it now
- In the internet age, you can deliver it now, so why not?
- If its on the internet, ppl will get to it (even if pirated)
- That’s why uTorrent, Kazaa, etc work
- If you can make something easier, ppl will use it
- ppl were paying ~13/yr in US for music on avg.
- with spotify its ~100/yr
- can grow the music market in a country
- proved this in Sweden
- Spotify is a music platform
- Takes care of “music object” & hairy problems of licensing, etc
- People are building great apps on this platform
- Not necessarily where Spotify would invest
- Enabler for developers
- Huge platforms exist today that didn’t 5 years ago
- Mobile (iphone & Android smartphones)
- Social (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc)
- Take advantage of them to reach millions of users quickly
- Collaboration with Facebook
- One of the first OpenGraph partners
- Very successful OG partner
- Thought of identity on web as a big problem to solve
- Saw that FB was solving it
- Mark Z wanted to solve music social problem
- Came together to create something great
- Say NO, Focus
- Do one thing really really well
- Saying no, means you can focus on most important things only
- Saying yes, means you’re doing more of less interesting things
- Imp for startup env when you only have a few ppl
- Under promise, over deliver
- Promised it would be in the US soon, but took too long
- People like TechCrunch started a countdown
- Execution is 95 percent
- Everyone can have a good idea
- Need to execute on it well
- Need to keep trying
- Hire / Fire fast
- Landscape changing very fast for a startup
- Need the right person for the job
- Spotify’s BHAG
- Make a service easier to use than piracy
- Streamlined user interface, do one thing really well
- Leverage global platforms to reach audiences at scale
- Be selective in addressing the right customer use cases
- Expanding into video
- Very different use case
- Repeat use of same songs via Playlists, ppl don’t do this with video
- Focus on making one thing really really good
- How to work with hard markets like music
- Stay patient, keep trying
- Got to convince them it can work
- People will be willing to listen
- Distributed teams
- Virtual town halls
- Travels a lot
Notable ones currently
- millennial networks
Interesting that FB is thinking about becoming a mobile ad network. Its goal was to become identity on web. Once you do that, ppl not only connect with your platform to get basic information about you and benefit from the virality of your social network, but FB also benefits by knowing more about you. This is a great virtuous cycle and ultimately means FB could use this knowledge about you to target ads to you incredibly well i.e. just like Google!
Well known models
- Part of the product (twitter, google)
- Virtual goods (zynga, FB w gifts)
- Premium services (LinkedIn, spotify, newspapers)
Obv mobile is much harder and a completely diff model than desktop web to advertise on, especially with the move to apps (harder to drive users to a landing page) and limited space. Also you know much less about the user (no cookies in web browser). Mobile ad networks have a harder time too as a result.
Theres also in-app display/text advertising which doesn’t feel good as a consumer given the limited space seeing a bunch of it taken away by an ad and which draws attention). Seen lots of news websites do this, free or ‘lite’ versions of paid apps too (eg mobilerss).
Scale: “price for what the market will bear, price for volume, and then work like the devil so you can make money at that price”, andy grove, only the paranoid survive. The idea is this kind of pricing works mass scale. You can get economies of scale and make investments necessary for that.
The other option is capturing a niche market like Apple did with Macs or iPhone. Then you can price higher bc your goal is to only capture that market. As a result Apple has highest margins or revenue (can’t rem which) amongst all PC manufacturers even though volume is lower than the other big players.
Android for eg went on the mass scale end of things. That’s why it has such a huge market. Cheap phones that are bought by everyone.
Take money off the table, but what really leads to great work is
- autonomy: being self-directed. e.g. hackweek, 20% time at Google. leads to great innovation & ideas, people put more into it than normal work.
- mastery: be great at what you do, accomplishments are the output of this
- purpose: make an impact on the world. e.g. wikipedia, open source. Companies/people have missions Steve Jobs - “make a ding in the universe” Facebook - “make the world more connected and open”
This is all super important I agree, but something critical and contrary to the video’s thesis is rewards. If the work is not rewarded in some form, then there is no incentive to continue doing great work. Now rewards might come in different forms
1) Compensation/promotions is the most basic that companies do.
2) Fruition: You might come up with cool stuff during hackweek, but if it never sees the light of day then what’s the point? For example, a common question during teatime was why do so few hacks get implemented?
3) Recognition or fame: E.g. in the open source community for being a top contributor, like Otto/Fat for bootstrap.
What's wrong with iOS5: Great vision, poor execution
I’ve been using the iPhone 4s for over a month now and owned a 3gs for 2 1/2 years before that. I loved the iPhone, why you ask? It did the most important things really well. This is well established and been written about several extensively. Now let’s look at my experience with the iPhone 4s, great vision on the features but very poorly executed in my opinion. This makes me sad as a fan of Apple products. The reason I love their products is because how cleanly they execute, how they complete the scenario end-2-end, how simply they design it… most of my experiences with the 4S are turning out to negate some of these values and diminishing my trust in their ability to churn our awesomely cool and perfect products. I hope my experience with the 4S changes over time, or they release an OS update that solves my problems, or maybe I’m a power user and it was never designed for me :)
Here are some examples of my “issues”
Siri - Main selling point of iPhone 4S and its such an amazing idea in theory. It recognizes what I need and gives it more easily than me having to construct carefully thought out queries. It worked well initially and I was impressed when it showed me the weather for “what’s the weather like today” and was able to call my friend when I said “call XYZ”, but its been a downhill battle since then. Its slow, doesn’t activate half the time, search gives me different results than Google/Google Maps, etc. It could be so much, but turned out to be only so little.
iCloud - So important for things to be in the cloud these days to enable sync across multiple devices, so I’m glad Apple added it. But why the half-baked support for different types of content that I want to sync? It provides Photos, which is my main use-case and works great So hats off to Apple for that, but why leave it that? Why not provide a generic sync folder for all documents and data like Dropbox does? Why not provide support for Notes? Why not make all this content easily available and editable on my PC as well just like Photos is? There was an interesting story which suggested that Apple tried to buy Dropbox but the latter refused. Now Apple adds functionality similar to Dropbox, but not completely. It allows me to sync documents created using Apple apps like Keynote, but not generically where I can just put data in a folder and have it sync on all my devices i.e. Dropbox. Why not create an “iCloud” app just like the Newsstand app, that does this?
Another pet peeve is syncing Notes. I used to enjoy using the Notes app on the iPhone to jot down stuff quickly. I was delighted when I read I could now sync my Notes across devices.. but wait, iCloud doesn’t do this for you as you think it would. iCloud syncs notes across your devices (e.g. iPhone and iPad), but not your PC. You can easily simulate the iCloud functionality by setting default Notes account to GMail/Yahoo/or such which also has the added benefit of being able to see your notes in the corresponding mail account. Why couldn’t you do this and complete the scenario Apple? Half baked products raise expectations and then disappoint which leads to erosion of trust
Reminders - Useful, but a basic scenario like prioritizing tasks is missing. There are things I need to do eventually, and then really urgent things I need to do tomorrow. Why not provide an easy way for a me to mark them accordingly?
Reading List - Big big gripe. I was using Instapaper for this functionality, so the bar is at least that high. Instapaper allows me to easily sync all content between PC and iPhone. Apple’s Reading List only allows me to sync to Safari (something I don’t use) on the computer. Why not provide a way to add a Chrome or Firefox extension that would read the Reading List from the cloud and allow me to see it on my PC as well?
Another issue where I see the incomplete scenario is how “unread” list is managed. If I goto a page that I’ve added to Reading List directly, without clicking on the item in the Reading List, the item should get marked as Read and not appear on the “unread” list… but it doesn’t!
Design - Cluttered! The one thing always talked about Apple products is how “beautiful” they are. This used to be the case, but now suddenly I see all kinds of different options being pushed for very simple buttons. For photos, hitting the “options” button produces 8 options (email, message, assign to contact, use as wallpaper, tweet, print, copy photo, save to saved photos… the last one really boggles my mind too, isn’t it already saved on my device?). In Safari, I have 6 options (add bookmark, reading list, add to home screen, mail link, tweet, print). In contacts, I have 4 different options for each contact (message, share contact, FaceTime and one more). Apple’s design philosophy was always “less is more”, why has this taken a turn for the worse for “lets pack it with everything we got”?
Performance - This is only anecdotal, but it seems like my iPad (first generation) has become slower after installing iOS5 and seems to hang more often. If this is true, then Apple should warn users about this or at least not recommend the update. This was the problem with Windows Vista… it was too big and heavy and couldn’t run well on users upgrading from Win XP on their older computers. The result, users had a terrible experience after upgrading. Key lesson learned for Windows 7 was to reduce the memory footprint and make it faster. Apple should know this too. Don’t give users something that’s slow. It breaks the experience and adds more cost without adding a lot more value.
There are more, but I’m tired of writing, so I’ll call it a night now.
Its the “I want it now” feeling. This is why brick and mortar stores are still alive since people can go get it now as compared to waiting for a few days. Think what Amazon sales would look like if they could build a teleporting machine for all the physical goods it sells!
Taking a tangent into philosophy land (since its so hard for me to avoid it), I won’t go as far as saying that the world is divided into two kinds of people - those who want it now and those who don’t - since I think most people would prefer having it now if that was an option, though there is something to be said about ordering something and the anticipation and thrill involved in waiting for it to arrive :).
However, instant gratification seems to be the order of the day as products offering this service are booming!
- Kindle: Sold as many e-books in 4 years (2008-2011) as the Amazon store sold paper books in 15 years!
- Twitter: News, realtime discussion. Now with 100M active users.
- Spotify: Free music streaming and sharing. Growing like mad! Not a typical example of instant gratification since music access has been instant for a long time now, but subscription services like Spotify, Rdio, etc. have made it easy to listen to as many songs as you want, which I would say is akin to the feeling of instant gratification.
- Google: Instant Search, though its pretty fast otherwise as well :). People might not think of Search as instant gratification, but I’ll put it in that category as its getting the information you want instantly (generally and that’s at least the goal).
Just finished watching the first season of Mad Men on Netflix, and I finally feel like I’ve found a dependable source of entertainment :). I enjoy drama in a very different way than I enjoy thrillers and comedy. Its the emotional connection, and producing that is hard. To set the bar, good drama for me is movies like Godfather, 12 Angry Men, Casablanca and Scent of a Woman. The typical hallmark of good drama are the characters and the soundtrack. It pulls you in, connects with you, touches a chord, and above all, has class. Drama is very different from thrillers or action, genres that are gripping sometimes because you keep guessing what’s next. But with drama, its more like you’re lost in the show and you want it to keep going on.
The reason I’m happy about this find is when I’m looking to relax and don’t want to read, I generally look to Netflix to provide me with ready entertainment, by which I mean I want have to search much. I keep adding interesting movies to my instant queue for this reason, but whenever I think about watching, there’s a hardly a title I can fallback on with confidence and say yes, I’ll enjoy watching this. With Mad Men, I think I’ve found that. The steady stream of episodes, season after season is definitely a boon, but also a curse when it turns into a marathon and you realize the weekend is over and you spent it on Netflix :).
To give a comparison with a recent TV dramas I’ve found entertaining, there’s White Collar and Suits. The problem with them is that they’re generally unreliable, more so of White Collar (Neal Caffrey) than Suits (Harvey Specter). You’re hooked my a couple of good episodes, but then the rest generally disappoint and I hope that’s not the case with Mad Men. The thing I like about it is they took the whole first season to build the characters nicely - reveal something about their past, their ambitions, their values, what they stand for, etc - and that I enjoyed most of them. That tells me that I’ll hopefully enjoy the rest as well instead of having to go on the hunt for good entertainment again :).
Thinking about the characters though, I don’t like most of them except for Don Draper and Peggy Olson. And the thing even with them is that you really like them for their ability and values, but then they have these fatal flaws which brings them back to earth. Come to think about it, most great characters in drama have that, and maybe that’s required to connect with the audience at an emotional level… but then you have these absolute classics like 12 Angry Men and Casablanca, where the protagonists don’t really have any huge character flaws. I guess it’d be hard to build a whole TV series on almost perfect characters, so you have to introduce flaws, but I’m no expert on film theory :).
Another interesting point was that the people behind the show seem to be quite impressed with Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged and are always dropping in a mention. I’m a huge fan, but I don’t find the comparisons appropriate. Yes Don is a self-made man who cares about his self-interest, but I don’t think he’s in the same league because of those flaws.
That’s all for now… looking forward to Season Two now!
I was reading an interesting article on Inc about GetGlue and a related thought about the different revenue models struck me - I pay for cable and still have to watch ads while in the online software world, ads are a way of generating revenue on free services and you can pay a premium for an ad-free experience. It’s amazing how the models are so different.
Cable providers - In the case of cable (Comcast, Dish network, etc), I pay (good) money to the cable company for getting access to some TV channels and generally not the best ones. The company then gives some money to the channels and pockets the rest. Costs for the cable company / service provider are mainly around infrastructure (I’m guessing), but those should have been mostly one time capital expenditures.
Online providers - Now come to online world (Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, etc), there are still 2 companies involved. One that provides the service and one that provides the content. However the revenue model is so different. You see no ads on Hulu or Netflix and the content you have access to is generally much more extensive (big library) and on-demand. The advantage for these providers is that there are no infra costs as the internet pays for service delivery! So they can probably have a different deal with the networks.
Oct 30 update
YouTube just announced officially that they’re announcing “premium channels”, a mix of the above two models. They’re terming it the future of “cable”. I don’t know how true that will be given the kind of clout networks have, but I’m sure hoping for a freer experience for the consumer (i.e. me) where I can only pay (i.e. seeing ads) for what I watch.
Finally making the move to an online blog to share my thoughts (if anyone cares to listen ;))
This problem has been bugging me for a while, and I don’t know why Windows and all browsers suck at this! The idea is very simple - allow me to easily revisit something (a website, document, etc.) that I’ve been to in the past. Here are a couple of pet peeves.
Browsers – I want to revisit a URL I’ve visited before. I start typing in the address bar, but Chrome nor IE really pull up good results based on past visitation history. Chrome thinks I’m typing in a URL and IE has a History section in the address bar autosuggest, but it doesn’t really work :) In fact, the browsers / OS should sync browser history across all my devices (work laptop, home laptop, iphone, ipad) and show me the results easily. Another typical use case for me is that I start reading something on my iPhone, but now I’m home and can read it on a bigger screen. There’s no easy way for me to get to the same URLs on the other device.
Word / Office apps – I open a lot of different documents and the “Recent Documents” feature was a good addition, but its limited to last N items. Why not have a search box on top of the list and allow me to type part of the name of the document and show it to me. Desktop search and maybe the Win7 start menu search box was supposed to solve this, but its slow, doesnt work half the time, etc etc so really not that useful.
A friend recently introduced me to Greplin and I wonder if it can solve this problem for me? I like the idea of Greplin, but I think its not at its full potential currently. For example, it only works on online properties currently, and a nice next step would be to index my computer, phone, etc. for stuff I’ve recently used and make it easily available from anywhere. And you know what, they could do this easily via their Dropbox integration, if Dropbox was to extend functionality to auto-index all documents, etc. that I’ve used instead of stuff that I specifically put in the Dropbox folder :) Now wouldn’t that be nice!!
Spotlight on Mac/iOS does a pretty good job at this. I really like the UI as well as it clearly differentiates between different types of content.
Also Chrome supports this use-case now in auto-suggest in the address bar and differentiates URLs from queries by showing them in green which is a nice touch.