Thursday, May 17, 2012


The excitement is pretty high here in Silicon Valley. It's the night before Facebook's IPO. And most engineers are working on an amazing number of projects. Some of them will succeed and could be the next core feature of the Facebook user experience. And some of them will fail. But they will try.
Hacking has been about the anti-culture. It's actually about innovation, because it creates a constant stream of products and services that can transform an experience. 
Culturally, founders have been lovers of places where there are no rules. It starts with Burning Man. It morphs to Coachella. It becomes Winter Music Festival. Or the Ultra Music Festival. It's about places with no boundaries.
As I build the first culture, I hit a wall where I feel constrained. And then I sit back, and smile because I know that I was taught once to Think Different at a place called IBM. That's how you can create something that lasts. And it starts with every person at the company to write their own job description, define their own goals, and set their own responsibilities. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Personalize me, PLEASE

I've been thinking a lot about personalization and what it means. It's been an incredible part of every product that I've worked on. And today, it still isn't true.

To personalize something, a user needs multiple ways to establish an account with a service. Then you need to trust that service to manage your profile. FOREVER. I've had a hard time discovering everything from apps to music to videos on all of my devices.

One should consider the challenges of personalization. The web needs a more federated and open way to identify a user. And that needs to apply to a lot more things now that the web is a lot more than Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, Google Chrome, and more. It can personalize everything from apps to how we pay for things in stores to what ads we see on TV.

It's scary to think that one company would manage all of these things, but if all of the services out there would find a way to collaborate, my life in the digital age would be much more peaceful and productive.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Is My Phone so LONELY?

Last night I spoke on a panel with a few friends in the valley. The topic was about the social games business model and whether it was right for every startup.
To start with, my first question was about "KPI". It caught my esteemed panelists by surprise, but it's a term that defines the metrics we live and die by. Two didn't really know the term.
Social Games live by the metrics. Metrics at the top social game companies are measured in minutes and hours, not days, weeks, or months. But in minutes and hours, you can only really process data if it hits a meaningful number of users.
This brings me to the point about LONELINESS. I am a single user on my phone. I don't have a way to get my friends to play on my phone, or on their phones. So the phone and mobile apps are inherently lonely.
I remember a video from a games conference a few years ago. In it, I remember the slide of a room full of college-aged guys sitting in a room taking turns playing Friday Night Fit on a Playstation.
The search for social is on for many people. It's the essence of Web 3.0. But the reality is, we as people might not be ready for a world where we communicate with each other through screeens even when we are sitting at the same table. So, my phone is lonely by choice because it is personal, like my closet, my shoes, my shirt, my coat. And I probably would let more people visit my closet, try my shoes, try my shirt, borrow my coat than I would borrow my phone.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Regaining Developer Trust

I'm sorry it's been awhile since I've posted. Life happens and so does work. I'm going to start to regularly write about life in digital media and beyond. The title isn't appropriate for what I do since I don't just work with media companies, consumer electronics manufacturers, and service providers like Cable and Wireless companies. But it's where I started because life changed after the devices and projects I worked on got one thing - an Internet connection.
Today I spent an hour catching up with a friend who's spent a lot of time working with developers. More than anything, developers are people, like you and I. They aren't an icon. They aren't some source code. They are people. And they are a key part of an organization's success.
I've worked at IBM, Nokia, and Photobucket. At all the companies, figuring out what was right for the developer was always at the center of my projects. But as you roll out new ideas and services, we tend to protect and guard them, rather than poll the masses for feedback. Developers sense that, and it keeps them from investing in your platform because they aren't sure how everything fits together.
It's becoming clear to everything that I do - developers are an extended part of an organization. As a key member of a company that caters to developers, helping them match users with apps in the competitive world of mobile apps, many companies struggle to see how developer trust is key. At lunch, the friend was telling me how some deals were won. It wasn't about how much money was being thrown at the developer. It wasn't about how much marketing or distribution could happen with the platform. At the end of the day, it was about how easy it was to work with the person that represents the company to the developer.
As we all build developer programs, let's try to remember that developers are people. They aren't userIDs; they aren't an app; they aren't a datapoint. They are people that need to be treated as core to your mission. In my mission, developers are key to generating the content that keeps my consumers happy. As we build out these programs, be transparent, exchange ideas, and keep iterating on the products and services that the developers need to continue to create with the products and services they have.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Social for Distribution

I trust editors less and less. I trust programmers less and less. I've taken control of my own programming, and read fewer reviews than I ever have before.
A big part of this is trusting services like Flixster, and to a lesser degree my social graph on Facebook, and the public consensus on Twitter to filter out all the different media that exists in the world.
Social is a new discovery model. Whether it's a high score on a casual game, or a quick snippit comment from a friend, this has changed the way that I discover content.
As Facebook makes the OpenGraph available on any device with an Internet connection, there is going to be a new battle. Service providers will become dumb pipes, and will have to find innovative ways to build applications and new experiences for the Web 3.0 age.
I'm wondering what services are making great use of the new social discovery model and can make the OpenGraph a key part of the user experience.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

The Changing Online Landscape in your Home

It's become clear that home is turning into a new battle. As platforms like Android and Microsoft seek to be a part of your in-home experience, it's become clear that there are few ways to manage it easily.

One thing that I've been thinking about a lot has been the idea of a configuration tool for your devices. There are services that make it easy to find and install updates, but few to manage your services similar to the online interface from, an interesting new project in the digital home space that lets you turn any PC into part of your digital home.

As profiles evolve on the web, the web will become infinitely more useful in managing the services which include content, communities, and communication tools like mail and messaging. But devices still have a ways to go before the advent of a broadband data connection will make them behave more like a PC.

My predictions are:
1) Devices will have logins that will let you register them right when you purchase them
2) Setup will only require setting up the data connection
3) Communities and other settings will come from applications like Mail, Social Networks, and your ISP to be relevant as soon as you turn on the power.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Participatory Election

Media is about getting together, establishing a relationship, and aligning your goals. An example of this was the Obama election campaign where the team did an amazing job of bringing the candidate closer to his voters, mobilizing them in ways we've never before seen.

So now comes Gavin Newsom emerging as a challenger to former EBay CEO Meg Whitman. What is untraditional about this approach is that Gavin broke the news to his Twitter followers and Facebook fans in addition to announcing via traditional media. It is an aggressive mood in this challenging economy. Says Newsom, "It's Official - running for Gov. of CA. Wanted you to be the first to know. Need your help."

This is a sign that everyone is seeking some semblance of control. The era of "Spin Journalism" has led to numerous misstatements in the past, and elections are no exception, often employing Spin Doctors as key communications officials. Newsom is capitalizing on his popularity challenging many of the fragmented ideologies that have divided the state of California, and has been using social media to establish a new type of rapport with his constituents that we did not see before Obama.

The rise of Twitter and Facebook has been impressive to watch. The growth of both services in engaging users, establishing relationships, and becoming platforms for messages has helped the popularity rise rapidly. What is different is that while Facebook has a suite of tools targeted towards brands, including celebrities, to build relationships with large followings, Twitter has actually enabled some to create relationships, conversation, and dialog within its growing community.

In this election for California's Gubernatorial race, I fully expect that new tools will be used to collect feedback from voters, mobilize them throughout the process, and engage individuals, especially the new class of Millenials who are empowered, idealogical, and are not too shy to voice their opinions with the tools and platforms that have evolved from blogging, MySpace, YouTube, and now Facebook and Twitter.

For a look at a post from powerhouse bloggers at TechCrunch, take a look at this link.

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