The valuations of highflying technology companies can seem baffling to those not initiated in the ways of Silicon Valley.
If you think FB, Google, Apple, or <insert other large tech company worth 100s of $Bns> is crazy for buying X company, you may want to read this series of tweets and pay special attention to “Value of company X to acquirer Y often = Potential impact to acquirer Y’s business — which has a lot more to do with Y than X.”
Now remember that you probably have far less context around Y’s business interest than Y does. #hubrisIsDangerous
Checklists are like drugs. Doing them makes you feel great, but this feeling masks the damage being done when misused. Checking those boxes give you immediate satisfaction, even if the box was meaningless. Using them correctly on the other hand will keep you healthy and moving down the right path.
One thing I frequently hear championed is “Getting shit done.” Getting the wrong shit done accomplishes little. Getting shit done is only interesting if you know it is the right shit to do.
Celebrate the impact you made, not the tasks you crossed off on a checklist. Otherwise the only thing you’ll get done is… well… shit.
The desire for the “Oh, how the mighty Apple has fallen” narrative is so strong that the narrative is simply being stated as fact, evidence to the contrary be damned. It’s reported as true simply because they want it to be true. They’re declaring “The King is dead; long live the King” not because the king has actually died or abdicated the throne, but because they’re bored with the king and want to write a new coronation story.
“Growth, to reach more users, and data, to improve the experience. That’s what apps need in an identity and social system. They’re what Facebook and Twitter deliver, and what the new Google Sign-In can’t without completed profiles, the social graph, and eyeballs.”—
Pro tip: Music alone can have a strangely high quantity of positive impact on mood in certain situations. Don’t underestimate the simplicity of the human brain and the ease at which it can be manipulated for your benefit.
I find that productivity increases as my mood improves. There are undoubtedly diminishing returns of this effect making efficacy of music for this purpose contingent upon your current state of mind.
Because we are capable of such complex thought and emotions, we often forget the rather simplistic input -> output nature of our brains. I know I do.
Amazon’s price-earnings ratio is currently a mind-boggling 3,275x. Apple’s is 10x. Traditional valuation metrics are obviously pointless for Amazon, but if you were to use Amazon’s PE for Apple, the stock would be trading at $144,618 per share, for a market cap of $136 trillion.
A friend of mine today told me he was selling his iPad. He’s an Android fan, so I asked “Picking up a Nexus 7?” He responds “No, I just don’t have a need for tablets.” I thought this was interesting, because just recently my iPad has killed most of my need for a laptop. Below is a story about how my iPad has reclaimed its spot in my heart.
Laptops suck time
MacBook Airs are light and shockingly snappy for most activity. Their ultra portable form factor lures you to using them on the couch, bed, kitchen table, toilet, and just about any other place in the house. Interestingly enough, these are all places where your productivity is less than optimal. These are not “work” spaces. Instead these spaces are where you have movies playing or people constantly interrupting you. They are comfortable, cozy, and sleep inducing (maybe not toilets). It’s easy to spend 3 hours in these spaces “working” while accomplishing 1 hour of actual work.
A few months ago after starting my new gig @Change.org I decided to run an experiment. I got rid of my personal MacBook Air and left my work MacBook Air at the office, leaving myself with a more than capable 27” 3.4Ghz core i7 iMac w/ a 24” display. Needless to say, my desktop has more than enough horsepower and screen real estate to get just about any job done. The temptation to work from my couch was gone (a 27” iMac is not that portable regardless of its slim form factor). After I got home from work, I worked at my desk, real work. What used to take 2 hours now took 1. When the time came to hit the couch for some relaxation, the iPad was there waiting. It’s not great at producing content, despite the abundance of 3rd party add-ons making it more competent in this arena. However, it is perfect for surfing the web on Flipboard, catching up on some reading, or just about anything that doesn’t require an abundance of typing or context switching.
So there you have it, laptops are dead. Kidding. This isn’t a “X is killing Y” post, but this is a call out to those of us that get fooled into thinking that the flexibility granted by technology is actually improving our lives.
On the importance of having good product people running the company:
"When you have a market monopoly, the sales and marketing people end up running the company. The product people get run out of the company. Then the companies forget what it means to make great products. The [researchers] at Xerox PARC used to call the people who ran Xerox ‘toner heads.’ They just had no clue about a computer or what it could do."
We began a 2 day spike on integrating Stripe with a new product we’re working on. The integration was a breeze and our engineers knocked it out in no time. The reporting interface that delivers results is sexy and informative.
Unfortunately, the fun ended there when we began researching it’s international support. I had previously done some digging to see if Stripe did handle international payments, and according to their documentation, they do. But when you dig deeper into their FAQ they note that all charges that are created with Stripe, must be done in USD. This is a deal breaker if you want to display currencies to international users in their native currency which from a UX perspective is the only way to go. As a big advocate of UX, I regrettably must put this investigation on hold and go down another channel.
Product design & technology are not separate competencies
Technology is the application of knowledge & tools to solve a problem. Product design is the practice of understanding a problem and producing the most efficient & effective product for the problem at hand. Complex problems require relatively complex solutions. The two disciplines, technology and product design, go hand in hand. In Henry Blodget’s latest article, And Here’s The Secret Reason Apple Is Crushing Google…, Henry states:
Google has an engineering culture, in which brilliant technologists are the rock stars.
Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images
The brilliant student.
Apple, meanwhile, has a product-design and marketing culture, in which “technology” merely serves to support a product’s function and form.
There are two things I’d like to call out here. First, engineering is the “how” in technology and product design is the what. If Henry’s point is that Google lacks the product design element, then what he is actually saying is that Google is ran by brilliant engineers, not technologists.
Second, “technology” is not used to support a product’s function and form. A product’s function and form are inherently critical to the efficacy of the technology. Despite the negative wrap that marketing gets, the effective use of marketing is about getting technology into the hands of the right people and to educate them on how the technology should be used. Apple obviously gets this as all of it’s marketing has the technology and it’s use cases front and center.
Succeeding at engineering is not succeeding at technology. Technology is a super set that includes engineering and product design. At a training I attended a few months back, Marty Cagan, author of Inspired: How to Create Products Customers Love unapologetically said that the product design element is the harder part of technology. If that is indeed true, it’s not hard to see why Apple is the most valuable technology company on earth.
My Birthday post. One of the cool things about tech is that it’s value is often directly correlated to the way it is leveraged. One could argue that the best tech has a low variance between minimum and maximum yield with respect to work done by the user. Timeline, and many of the tools on Facebook do not satisfy that condition, but that’s why the Facebook development ecosystem is so relevant and booming. In laymen’s terms, to be epic at Facebook requires a lot of work and expertise (or really sexy products).
Facebook Messaging can revolutionize communication, period.
There have been various mentions in the blogosphere regarding the question “Is Facebook killing email?” Based on the stats we know that it isn’t… yet. However, after breaking down the problem email sets out to solve, we can see the potential of Facebook as a communication medium.
In the web’s early years many of the constructs were web based interpretations of real world components, mail->email, commerce->ecommerce. Each migrant construct ferried over a set of problems similar to those that exist in the “real world.” In the case of email, junk mail persists both mediums To solve this problem we’ve enlisted junk mail algorithms, government regulation, and various other hacks to compensate with this failed model. At the end of the day, these approaches are just hacks; duct tape to keep this mode of communication together. Despite the increasing sophistication of these hacks, they are inevitably flawed.
Facebook presents us with an alternative mode of communication that at first glance may seem underwhelming, but the power and ubiquity of Facebook’s OpenGraph and user base quickly dismisses this understatement. Facebook provides us with a network of nodes that ties our online identity to various third parties. These third parties can be friends, family members, restaurants, other applications, games, music, videos, and the list goes on. Each node is confirmed by us and cannot be effectively infiltrated. If a node gets corrupted by illegitimacy it can be removed manually by the user, but is often removed automagically by Facebook’s watchdog algorithms/moderators. The only sources of information that can reach out to us on Facebook are those that we have authenticated (unless you have enabled your @facebook.com email address which can be removed or changed at any time). Each and every message/notification can quickly be tracked to it’s source. If the source becomes unpleasant or spammy, we can sever the tie with a simple click. Update: According to Microsoft 97% of email is spam. Symantec suggests this number is closer to 70%. How much of your Facebook inbox is spam?
Facebook has been built with authenticity in mind since it’s inception in 2004. The problem with email is that it lacks the ability for users to police the nodes. The best we can do is unsubscribe from email lists, but this is not a catch all method of protection. In fact, many spammers use this as a way to find active email addresses. Clever eh?
Facebook may or may not kill email, but for the sake of my inbox I sure hope it does. The potential is there, it’s all about execution.