I decided to write him back with some advice. I’m publishing my response on the hope that it will help salespeople produce better pitches (which will thereby reduce the number since they will have to be more thoughtful), and saving that, maybe my post will provide some cathartic commiseration to all of the other people who I know face a similar barrage of unqualified pitches every day (and I won’t even get into the cold phone calls).
I can not even begin to put a number on how many unsolicited pitches I’ve gotten via email over the years. Hundreds if not thousands. Most of them are pretty terrible. One or two per year are for products I genuinely need or will need in the future. But the process itself, whether or not the product being solicited is good or not, is old and busted and really needs to be done away with.
Chad’s advice is right on the money, of course, in that these inside sales people really should do a little research before they decide to email an executive out of the blue. Otherwise it is lazy and the email becomes borderline spam.
Now they need to take a queue from Instagram (and many other modern mobile apps) and start uploading the photo immediately, rather than waiting for the user to click “done”, so that it seemingly uploads instantly.
As you may have guessed from the lack of posts, I’m busy. After leaving Viddler and taking some time to get things in order; I’m busy building Plain, Plain Space, and our first product Barley.
Barley has been a smash hit and it isn’t even publicly available yet. We’ve been overwhelmed by the response. We’ve had interest shown by people and companies in every Internet-connected country on the globe. Literally. Designers and developers are building templates, importers, SDKs and more for Barley already.
In its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass, according to people familiar with the company’s explorations, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they are not allowed to publicly discuss unreleased products. Such a watch would operate on Apple’s iOS platform, two people said, and stand apart from competitors based on the company’s understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body.
Apple. You have over $100 billion in cash on hand. You’re making around $20 billion in profit per quarter. You have some if not the most talented design and engineering staff the world has ever known, a supply chain that money can’t even buy, and a beloved brand that people wait in the freezing cold to pay money for. Do not make a watch.
Even if the watch is cool… and I believe it will be. Even if the glass of the watch can literally mold to my skin and be utterly transparent in ways I could never imagine… and I believe you could do that. Even if the watch can use Siri and Maps and allow me to check-in on Foursquare… and I believe it could. That still isn’t enough to justify your time and attention.
With the resources you have you could build a small village on Mars. You could tackle the TV industry and turn it on its head the way you did music just a short decade or so ago. You could disrupt the way modern-day computing happens yet again by offering relatively inexpensive laptops with retina displays that are always connected to the web, for free, anywhere I go. Or, create an even better iPad that begins to rival the computational power of a desktop computer.
Any one of these efforts would be considered an amazing feat but truly worthy of being tackled by a company with your resources. Choose to do something amazing with your resources. Even if you make the best watch the world has ever seen… and I believe you could… you shouldn’t.
But it is a little hard for someone who only knows the old Foursquare to grasp how useful the new Foursquare has become. The company has actually made great progress in product, design, and utility over the past year. But like many companies, it hasn’t communicated this sufficiently. That’s a big part of the reason, I’d guess, that it isn’t growing as fast as it could be.
I completely agree. Foursquare is an incredibly valuable tool. Even if you don’t use it you see it in use within Instagram, Path, and many other applications. Foursquare has been collecting very useful data for years and has recently really begun to understand how to use that data in a way that is valuable on the go.
I still see people using Foursquare daily that focus mainly on the badges and not on the discovery engine, the ability to plan trips using its list features, etc. Foursquare needs to start telling people the best way to use it.
There is no shortage of opinions on this topic but Wayne Barz takes a pretty good approach to answering, or not answering, the question How much should I raise?
I certainly can’t answer your specific “how much” question in a single 1,000 word blog post. But I will suggest there are only three main buckets in which to place your answer generally. Once you’ve placed your trust in one of these buckets, then you can get to work on your specific amount:
“raise no money now, keep bootstrapping” (~20% of deals should do this)
“raise only what you need to get the current job done” (~70% of deals should do this)
“go big or go home” (~10% of deals should do this)
I’m planning on discussing how I decided how much money to raise for Plain once our company has our site and blog up and running (tomorrow, hopefully). But I can say that I am generally taking Wayne’s #2 approach; raising enough to get the current job done and go from there. Although I did have the opportunity for #3 I think it is still early on and we have a lot of unknowns so I see no reason to move too quickly and get over our heads.
Great post by someone who has seen a lot of deals. Read the whole thing.
Please do not be alarmed if you’ve noticed that I have unfollowed you on the Twitter. It isn’t because I do not like you. It is, again, because I’m refactoring the way that I handle Lists on Twitter.
The unfortunate consequence of this most recent refactoring, though, is that if you have a private account I may no longer be able to follow you on Twitter. Twitter does not currently allow me to add your account to a list if we don’t follow each other.
But the larger point here is that he turned a rant into a positive action. He challenged me to do something about it, to blog what I’d figured out, to provide a clear constructive encouragement instead of just a criticism.
If you believe something passionately, you should blog that.
I agree. I’ve been thankful to myself for nearly every post I’ve ever written. Even if only a handful of people read them also I’d always have the posts for myself.
I need to blog a lot more than I do. About solutions, practices, and processes. And I’m going to. Just wait.
In a world where hitting 10, 50, and 100 million users seems to be the goal it is nice to see that a service can be a massive success at a fraction of that scale. GitHub just hit 3,000,000 users and their growth rate is still on the incline:
This latest batch of one million amazing developers joined GitHub in just the last five months.
GitHub isn’t for your mom (though I’m sure the team at GitHub would appreciate you teaching her how to use git). But it seems like GitHub is being found by exactly who it is for. And that’s awesome.
Congratulations to the entire team (especially my friends there).
I can’t talk about the details of how things fell into place but the choice became obvious. I’ll be designing for Microsoft as of summer. I promise that I’ll make the my greatest work ever while I’m there.
Web creative types take note… sharing your work, ideas, and thoughts will lead to good things. Share more.
If you talk to any woman in the tech community, it won’t be long before they start telling you stories about disgusting, sexist things guys have said to them. It freaks them out; and rightly so. As a result, the only women you see in tech are those who are willing to put up with all the abuse.
There aren’t enough women in tech for a variety of reasons and the male-dominated environment is definitely one of the bigger reasons. I’ve heard stories that I wish I could forget from older, disgusting men who thought they were bragging to me. In every case I’ve almost immediately removed myself from those discussions and, as quickly as possible, stopped doing business with those men. If you were one of those men and are now reading this, now you know one of the reasons why I no longer work with you.
I pulled this quote out because as you read the interview you begin to realize your reading the words of someone who had so many interests and was very well educated on many of them. And, he cared.
Aaron was wise beyond his years. And many will laud his technical achievements like being a co-author of such specs as RSS, RDF, Creative Commons, and co-founding Reddit. I will remember how he thought. Aaron tried to keep firmly in mind the long term. He tried to set things up that would last and even put together a way to make sure they kept going. Too often we see decisions being made that purposefully have a short half-life for the benefit of the few rather than the long-term benefit of the many. In Aaron’s memory lets try to reverse that trend. Stop and think.
Canonical is calling this Ubuntu for phones but even in their own presentation they mention it will run on tablet devices. Yesterday I said, on Twitter, that I was happy to see another entrant into this market. Android and iOS are not enough choices (though we’ve been dealing with Mac OS vs. Windows for years and years).
However, Gruber says that a gesture-based UI can never work. I don’t know if that is true. I’d hate to say that anything is impossible. Gruber and I are old men. Maybe a gesture-based UI wouldn’t work for us (though keyboard shortcuts come as second-nature to anyone my age and under) but will work for a future generation? What if every mobile OS became a gesture-based touch OS? Then humans would be forced to deal with it and get used to it.
So, I don’t know if it is a non-starter because it is a gesture-based UI or if someday that will catch on as the norm, but I do know that if it isn’t responsive or reliable than it won’t take off regardless.
One of the most important lessons we took from delicious was the value of single user utility in social systems. It might seem odd that systems designed to leverage interactions between people can have (should have?) single person utility. But I strongly believe they should.
In short; single user utility is the fact that an application or service can be valuable to a single user with or without the social components like the network, sharing, etc.
Delicious is a good example of this, as Wilson describes, but there are many others. Path, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, the now discontinued Nilai, and many more have their own single user utility.
Bad examples? Google+, Instagram. Both of these would be fairly meaningless without the social components.
Social components should multiply the value of a service not be the only value of a service.
5. No shouldering, holding, pushing, tripping, or striking in any way the person of an opponent shall be allowed; the first infringement of this rule by any player shall count as a foul, the second shall disqualify him until the next goal is made, or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game, no substitute allowed.
Could you imagine if this rule were still in effect today? It would be like hockey where a team could have a power play. Until the next goal was scored a team would be playing 4 on 5.
Dalton Caldwell, co-founder of App.net, does some thinking about organizational complexity. He contrasts how a simple demonstration of Artificial Intelligence does not necessarily mean that model is scalable to do more complex tasks. The model needs to change with the growth. The same too with a company. The organization needs to change as it grows in order to best serve external complexities but only when those exist.
How do you determine if your organization is complex before it needs to be?
“When you talk to employees of a large company, it seems as if their entire world is made up of byzantine internal politics with no relation to customers in the external world… a large percentage of every day is spent attempting to navigate ever-shifting politics surrounding the org chart. It would seem that the larger a company gets, the more the company tends to allocate resources towards inwardly focused (as opposed to outwardly focused) issues.”
A company doesn’t even need to be that large before this starts to become an issue. If you’re at a company that talks more about what they will do than what they actually do, that worries about their titles more than their product, or has a bunch of people that don’t know what their job is… you’re already there.