We'd better celebrate this! It's the Luke Arm by Dean Kamen
This is my personal & professional blog. It's a place for me to think out loud and learn. I'll sometimes talk about things I don't understand as a way to begin to understand them. I'll often be wrong, short sighted, and unclear. When you see this happening, please point it out!
We'd better celebrate this! It's the Luke Arm by Dean Kamen
In real life, when someone mentions a name, you have the right to ask a 1000 questions about that person. No less should be the case on the web.
Every time I see a name on the web, it should be clickable. And it should take me to whatever page that person wants me to go to: their Facebook page, their Linked In profile, their blog, whatever.
This needs to happen pronto.
"I believe the best software is written by small groups of people who have both passion and vision. Passion is easy to define; you care so deeply about something that it wounds you if it's done poorly. Vision can mean different things, but I mean the ability to not just come up with new ideas, but to actually be able to see how they would integrate with people's lives. Vision without passion gives you a guy who sitting on couch saying, 'Flying cars! Wave of the future! Mark my word, the guy who invents that's going to be rich... pass the chips.' Passion without vision gives you America's current political situation, where we allow huge companies to destroy the world but pass laws to make sure nobody marries a turtle."
Facebook Connect is awesome. Connect let’s you take your friends with you to any site. You go to PerezHilton.com, suddenly you see that the VP at your company reads it too! And you didn’t have to do anything! The “you didn’t have to do anything” part is quite important.
I think the Yelp.com scenario is a better one. You’re looking for a restaurant for your dinner date and you see that your friend Chris Fargo eats there with his rich lawyer friends. And that he takes Dena there for romantic dinners. Perfect! You no longer have to rely on strangers. Plus you are sharing an experience with your real friends. Suddenly the internet is personal and not lonely and creepy!
Facebook Connect will dwarf Facebook Platform. Facebook Platform is for apps that live inside Facebook.com. Connect is for the web. The web dwarfs Facebook.com and so will Connect. As my friend Paul McKellar says, the web always wins.
The major concern entrepreneurs have with Facebook Platform is that Facebook owns the user. And they really do own the user. With Facebook Connect, you own the user and augment your site with Facebook goodness.
If only I owned Reddit.com or, say, the New York Times.
I’m super excited about this! Oh, and the truly brilliant entrepreneur will figure out how Facebook Connect is disruptive even if you don’t own the New York Times yet. Have any good ideas? Let’s collaborate!
Read more on Facebook’s official site: http://developers.facebook.com/connect.php
If I was Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, I would:
1. Own the job market. Class it up just a little bit, but own a big chunk of it. Make several times as much money as Facebook and smile. Especially at Social Networking conferences.
You might say you’re already doing this, but I don’t think you’re even trying. Do a CNBC/LinkedIn Poll and ask users if they know they can search for open jobs on LinkedIn. 50% will tell you they didn’t know.
2. Get people to log in more frequently. I think LinkedIn is great but it’s something you go to once a month to accept/find connections.
Perhaps the thinking was that Answers would do this. It’s a nice try. But people with interesting questions are rare. And I don’t want to help people that much.I think the best way to do this is digg-like news integration. Show me news for the vertical I work in. Replace news.ycombinator.com for me.
And go ahead and leverage all those fun business development deals you’re making with CNBC, the NYTimes, and WSJ…send traffic to the best content on those sites.
3. Improve your navigation. It just sucks. You look more like a NYC based company than an SF one. Hire a UX designer from Facebook who played a pivotal role in the Profile Redesign. They get how to optimize for content creation/how to seduce users into expressing themselves.
Today, I log into the home page and, above the fold, see nothing actionable.(Needless to say, I do not mean to imply I’m a tenth the man Reid Hoffman is…I just like catchy titles.)
One of the biggest concerns/questions when considering a software venture (or really any venture) is how will you get customers?
In all the hype about Facebook, Twitter, and Web 2.0, I forgot about one of my favorite methods of distribution for consumer software: OEM bundling.
I love the idea of coming up with a subscription service, getting Dell to bundle it, giving users a 30 day trial edition, and then using either love or fear to get them to pay you.
Interestingly, as the price of computers comes down, the price of Windows isn’t. And the cost of Windows is becoming a larger and larger percentage of the price of a computer. (Forget Microsoft Office which costs more than 3 computers).
OEMs supposedly pay twenty-some dollars for a copy of Windows. They make some of that back with money they get from Google, Norton, and AOL. I once thought a day might come where Dell bundles enough trial editions in that Windows is “free”. I thought this might be an effective, market-driven way to incent OEMs to never ship Linux computers.
Think about it! You get a PC and are already signed up for eBay, Match.com, have $5 in PayPal, have $5 on Full Tilt Poker, and have 1 message from a secret crush!
It’s going to be interesting to see when and how the desktop OS is simply a thin client….it’s already increasingly so for me personally…
Let’s say you have a billion dollars. And you’re charged with taking a 3rd world country with a stagnant economy, how do you systematically bring that economy to life? How far does that $1B go? Where does it go furthest? Are your changes sustainable?
Craigslist thinks it’s great. Craig Newmark loves to strut around and talk about how he’s not making money. How they only charge users where they feel it’s “appropriate”. And how they have a soul.
I tend to disagree. I think Craigslist is not a good steward of their users. I don’t think what their doing is noble or altruistic.
They’ve built a service that is just good enough. They’ve got a relatively captive audience. And instead of making money so they can funnel that money into innovation and making their service better (like, say, Google does), they’re happy keeping the product just good enough. Who pays the price? USERS. In wasted time and missed casual encounters. Oye!
Hire an ex-Googler (perhaps Mike Sego!) and make your search work.
All this said, Craigslist is pretty amazing. I’d die a happy man if I had the impact CL has and will on the world. Not to mention all the funny stories of what people have used CL for…
It’s absurd that the New York Times print and online editions look identical on the front page.
I once heard Greg McAdoo (who is awesome) say that the first thing people do when new technologies emerge is: figure out how to do the old things with the new technology. That’s precisely what’s happening here. The NY Times and most other newspapers aren’t leveraging the new technology like they should.
Don’t even get me started with CNN.com…or any Hearst magazine website.
Why aren’t they stealing the best from TV? From Digg? From Facebook? Where’s the convergence between user generated content and old school journalism? Why isn’t the front page personalized to show stories I’ll like? Why can’t I comment on a single thing I read? AHHHHHHH!
I don’t understand why the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate rears it’s ugly head in all Presidential elections. As a matter of law, isn’t this a resolved issue? (That’s a real question not a rhetorical one).
I don’t think people think of it as a proxy on other issues (like stem cell research AKA science).
What up, yo?
I do wish Obama had picked Hillary as VP. I wish he’d believed enough in the “this election isn’t about me, it’s about you” rhetoric to look beyond his sense of pride, his ego, and his personal feelings to allow the movement he’s started to be all that it can.*
*But perhaps Obama didn’t like Hillary on the merits…if so, then I have no strong opinion on the matter.
My brain is exploding with ideas, information, and worry. I’m so utterly confused and overwhelmed that I can barely put my pants on in the morning.
Seriously. That’s not hyperbole. If you run into me and I’ve forgotten my pants, be compassionate.
In moments like these, when my brain drowns in fluid, I make lists.
Here’s my list of things to do this year:
1. Travel to and learn about China. China’s going to change a lot in 20 years, I’d love to boast 20 years ago how I saw it before all this happened.
2. Figure out how to get into HBS. Cause Business School is where all the cool kids hang out.
3. Do a startup. Startups are hard work but what else is there in life?
4. Get a step closer to finding my platform. Tiger Woods found golf. MJ basketball. Steve Carell The Office. Obama oratory.
5. Do something I find personally meaningful and memorable. Ideally something that lasts for a while. Shit, this is pretty ambiguous. And it’s already September.
An individual I had the pleasure of meeting today made the argument that Gaming will be huge in China because the Chinese people have very few media alternatives. TV and movies are censored. As are the internet and print.
I buy it!
What a different world censorship makes!
Also, gaming consoles allegedly haven’t taken root in China because of the upfront costs of such devices. Therefore, the prevailing gaming platform in China will be the web. The “pay to play on our servers” business model has no upfront costs (enabling broader adoption) and can generate 100’s of millions/billions in revenue! Woohoo!
Mrs. Johnston, my AP European History teacher, only read non-fiction. She asserted that real life history was full of so many great stories, there was no need for make-believe*.
At the time, I thought her kind of crazy. Now, I see her point. But I think it’s still underrealized.
History is full of compelling stories. But those stories are locked inside textbooks or hidden in thick books. I remain reluctant to read entire texts of non-fiction because from a 500 page book, I’d get 3 stories I’ll remember forever and share with others.
This is like biryani with lots of rice and little meat. Mom wouldn’t be amused.
Why are books about history written this way? Because they’re written by people who want to be scholars rather than entertainers.
I think there’s a huge market for ripping the 3 good vignettes from each history book, adding historical context, and bundling them up in a single book. All meat, yum!
And here’s the perfect title: “High Brow Dinner Conversation for Intellectual Midgets, Volume 1”. (Of course it would be a series!)
This hardly makes me an intellectual :(…
(The more I write on this blog, the dumber I feel on so many levels…)
* I think this is true.
I was going to do a Seed Fund. Raise some money and turn it into more money.
Primarily because I think it would be a helluva a lot of fun. I love meeting people with more conviction, charisma, brains, and luck than I can manage to muster. Identifying and working with such people seems like a dream.
However, I’m not doing this. The economics, according to my math, aren’t that good:
1. Start with $5M of other people’s money.
2. Invest it in early stage startups. Do surprisingly well. Turn that $5M into $25M in 5 years. Take that Kleiner!
3. Distribute 80% back to investors. You’re personally left with $4M.
If that’s bad math, do let me know!
I recently moved to New York City. And I love it. If you’re a friend of mine and have never been, you’re invited!
Here are 100 things I love about it (this is now and likely forever an incomplete list that never makes it to 100).
1. The resolve of New Yorkers running around Central Park. Forget the Empire State Building, this is New York’s true tribute to human achievement.
2. Crappy, expensive apartments. I spend most of the day inside my crappy, expensive apartment. At my computer. Yay! But daily, sometime in the early afternoon, I realize it’s illogical to sit inside all day and pay exorbitant rent. Immediately, I go outside and walk around for an hour.
3. People walking fast. I love fast walkers. I have no where to go but I pretend. I really don’t think others are pretending. If someone walks slow, you’ve license to push them.
4. Efficient markets. For everything. People, food, apartments, jobs, everything. If there’s an event somewhere on Saturday, someone with a food cart knows about it and will be there to price gouge you.
5. Small businesses everywhere. They only take cash and always have change for a $100. They count their money in front of you. They know they make more money than you do and don’t let you forget it.
6. Smell of horse manure in and around Central Park. Admittedly, I’ve always liked this. I’m not sure what my parents did to me as a child. It’s especially beautiful when juxtaposed against all the artificial, concrete smells of the city.
7. It’s hard to be a racist in New York. There are so many people from so many places. You can’t even tell where people are from. You therefore can’t figure out who to hate.
8. Beautiful people. And lots of ‘em. I’ve long wanted to make a coffee table full of nothing but photos of people’s faces. You can do that without ever leaving New York.
9. Decentralized, one man businesses. My thinking here isn’t quite crisp. But there is something I enjoy about these one-two man food carts or the young dudes on bike-taxis. I really enjoy that they can have such rickety operations and make it.
10. Big buildings. A symbol of human power. Gotta love ‘em. They make the sky seem irrelevant.
What am I forgetting?
As most people that know me well know, I’m scared of flying. What’s “minor turbulence” to others is reason to cry for me. My heart literally races at take off. All flight long, I silently pray to God and make all these promises of Good I’ll do if I’m spared.
Anyhoo, most airlines say “Hold on tight, our job is to get you there in one piece.”
Everything Virgin does says “Airplane Safety is a solved problem. Let’s get the party started! Why aren’t you taking photos?”
This blog post is not full of good rhetoric! Doh!
As I try to figure out what to do next, I can’t help but reminisice about the past.
I use to work at Microsoft. Part of me really loved it. Here’s the mail I sent to the team when I left on May 31, 2007.
Today is my last day at Microsoft.
I’m quite sad to leave you great people. I’ve loved working here and I’ve learned so much from you guys. I’ve grown much as a technologist, collaborator, and human by working amongst you all.
In life, people matter most. I will miss each and every one of you. Part of any good I do with the rest of my life will come from having known you all for the past year and a half.
I have this weird personality defect where I have a hard time taking pride in things I do. For example, I wasn’t proud of myself for graduating college despite 4 years of arduous work (and, alas, not enough partying).
This product we’ve envisioned and built, I am proud of. My face lights up when someone asks me what product I work on. After I relay the product name, I immediately, almost hypnotically, begin rattling off the value prop (I think Todd knows black magic). And I don’t stop until the victim concedes his need for the product (or runs away screammmmmmmmmmming).
In my immediate future, I aspire to start a software company of my own. It’s because of what we’ve done the last year and a half that I’m inspired to do this. It’s because I’ve seen how awesome it is to build a product from concept, grow a team, announce the product, and delight customers. I’m grateful for this experience.
I’m hopeful many of you will keep in touch! If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, come see me!
P.S.: Enjoy RTM; you’ve earned it! I can’t wait to buy a half dozen of these devices!
A friend mentioned that he was considering started a small seed-fund for tech startups. That got me thinking: the prospect sounds pretty sexy, but does it make economic sense?
1. What’s the average fund size at KPCB or Sequoia? What’s the minimum they require from each investor? How many companies do they invest in for a given fund? What’s the average investment size? For a given company, how many rounds do they participate in? What are the returns on the fund as a whole? What’s the distribution between home runs, singles, and strike outs? These two firms are considered top tier firms, how do their returns compare to second, third tier, etc firms?
2. Kevin Hartz, Keith Rabois, & Jawed Karim do something called Youniversity Ventures. These guys are experienced, brilliant, connected, and quite aggressive. I read somewhere they invest in series A/angel rounds and “mark up” in future rounds. I’ve no idea what that means but it sounded like they invest at one valuation, helping the entreprenuer/company make progress, raise another round, and cash part of their money out…Is that what they do? Is that a viable business model?
3. Paul Graham and co do Y Combinator. I’ve heard people say that Y Combinator “breaks even”. Is that true or do they make a lot of money? Why don’t they make even more money?
4. What size would a seed-fund need to be? $5MM? $10MM? How hard would it be to raise this money? What sort of return could such a fund deliver? And in what time frame?
Hopefully, I’ll be digging in and finding answers to these questions soon!