November 13th, 2014 § Comments Off on dublin web summit 2014 § permalink
“the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.”
coming home from the web summit early this year, watching the closing remarks and announcing the winners ceremony on the tv’s around the dublin airport. paddy looks great, relaxed as ever, as he announces the cto of coca-cola, who announces their programme of support for entrepreneurs.
the web summit and the founders conference are amazing achievements by paddy & the team. they started 4 years ago, bringing 500 tech entrepreneurs into dublin for a get-together. this year, they brought 20.000. in the years in between, they had the most amazing lineup of speakers and participants, like elon musk, bono and mark.
so far, nothing new, everyone knows this is happening. even some slovenian vc’s were noticed in the crowd this year. what struck me when i saw paddy on TV with the guy from coke was, that paddy has probably the most impressive rolodex on the planet. his personallity and his vision and lots of hard work have given him access not just to PA’s of most influential and smartest leaders in the world, but even more importantly, for these events to work, he had to invest time to really understand each of their motivations and goals and visions and activities.
i expect paddy to have better understanding of where the global business is going than the nsa.
let’s meditate about this for a second, and repeat the logic – in just four years, he got best of the best to speak on his stage and support his cause. he didn’t bribe them. he trully got them on his side, with charm and with facts. he knows these people and organizations they represent personally. that’s power.
and what does he do with this power?
he organizes a party.
let’s meditate on that – yes, a f**ing party. a 4-days long pub crawl on the streets of dublin. an excuse for 20k of most productive people on the planet to get away from their routines of changing the world and … get drunk!
a lot of good comes out of these parties of course:
- taxi drivers and airliners and hotelliers and pubs benefit directly. of course they also sponsor the event
- participants get some rest / action and recharge their batteries
- participants get their annual dose of brainwashing about changing the world and how awesome they are for it
- the speakers and the corporations feel good about connecting with the community and giving back to the community, without noticing that they were actually kept far away from the actual audience, in separate hotels and lounges
- the startups participating in competitions feel good about the hard work and energy they put into presenting themselves for one of the four days in one of the five startup halls with 500 startups each, and pitching those two vc associates that stopped by their 70cm of booth space.
obviously, this is a good thing. great thing even. getting 20k people on a remote island means you are doing something right for the planet. but i can’t help but ask myself, is there anything better that could be done with all that power?
every society needs connectors, people who facilitate connections between individual players, because of their unique abilities to make personal connections with various and diverse actors, accumulating social capital, and converting it into trust between the introduced parties.
one of the ways you can do this, is by throwing a party, and hope that the right people will connect by pure luck. completelly different approach is performing surgical strikes with direct introductions. in between these two is the third way – playing a good host – organizing the party, and intruducing the ones that showed up between eachother.
after this year, i feel that we only had the party, and absolutely nothing else good from paddy. i wish he would spend his time connecting the best startups with the right brand executives. the planet would be better off.
November 10th, 2014 § Comments Off on general disclaimer § permalink
i noticed that i often get ideas to write on this blog, but after thinking about them i realize that they might be misrepresented and thus decide not to write them. i’d hate it if this blog was the reason for any particular person or company to be misunderstood and damaged, but at the same time, i feel that each not published thought is lost opportunity for me and for the readers. so i’ve decided to write up a general disclaimer, that will be part of every provocative blog posts i publish in the future. i hope it will manage to frame my context well enough, to prevent readers from jumping to conclusions and judgements. here is the wording i’m thinking about, and i would very much welcome any improvements or feedback.
the articles and words on this blog do not necessarily represent the position of their author. strong sentences, especially such that describe people or companies or events are here to express an abstract point, and not to pass or enable or encourage judgement. please refrain from taking them as facts, but rather as building blocks of a story. author accepts feedback and complaints under comments and on email.
i hope this will relieve me from worrying too much, and to start writing more aggressive and controversial pieces, that will stir the conversations more. not because i would want to convince anyone of my points, but because i feel that not enough people are contributing to public debates, which gives unfair advantage to media and politicians and trolls. so bear with me, specially when you disagree.
February 13th, 2014 § Comments Off on good week for science, bad for UX § permalink
Leopard watching two lions (Photo credit: Calle v H)
these days i’m under a strange combination of feeling victorious and nostalgic over challenges that used to make me seriously irritated and frustrated. tasks that i used to do much more frequently and really hated the convoluted way in which they were implemented.
several relatives asked me to help with different problems each:
- I had to update online bank certificate on a 4 years old mac mini running Leopard. it turns out, the bank doesn’t generate a valid certificate on firefox 12 anymore, and newer firefox version require Snow Leopard. *sigh*. download ISO (wait few hours), too large for DVD, copy to external drive, reboot, wait an hour ’till it upgrades, move the access point because the internet stopped working, download new versions of chrome and firefox, get the darn certificate, everybody happy.
- I had to convince an abandoned windows XP machine to connect to DHCP router – remove all obsolete dial up ‘connections’, create lan connection, ping, doesnt work. switch cable, switch router, ping, doesnt work. open LAN properties, add TCP/IP, open TCP/IP properties, set to ‘obtain IP address and DNS automatically’, OK, close, warks! [thanks wikihow – http://www.wikihow.com/Set-up-DHCP-Network-Settings-on-Windows-XP]
- I had to get new government-issued certificate for access to e-taxes. even though this is a whole different registrar that under (1), i noticed the emails and instructions were word-to-word same. good news is, that means i knew what to do immediately, bad taste left because of fake competition. bonus? the user now has three certificates from two issuers on the system, all made in the same name, with the same ‘name of the certificate’ that shows in the dropdown box when logging in, making it hard to guess which is the right one for each service. and it gets even better. one of the services accepts the wrong certificate as the right one. probably someone on the other end was equally confused and matched the wrong ID. *sigh*
A FRUSTRATED DRIVER SITS THROUGH A TRAFFIC JAM IN HERALD SQUARE – NARA – 548272 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
so much for the ancient technologies that still don’t work as expected. but there were some bleeding edged ones as well:
- my fancy new fitbit force wouldn’t sync. it just wouldn’t, for almost two weeks already. reseting the tracker or reinstalling the apps wouldn’t work. but the apps themselves made the whole process ultra frustrating, because of constantly changing behavior – random messages about not finding the tracker (that never moved anywhere), that it can’t find the server (even though @support claimed they are up), that the password is wrong, really didn’t help with debugging. and not everything was fitbit’s fault – once in the process, i tried logging in with facebook, which opened an oauth window, which was fixed size, but facebook loaded some security questions which were larger, which led to loading whole facebook, which was even larger. in the end, connection happened, but the app still wanted the same darn password. the tracker is now syncing, but the final step to this was to ‘add another tracker’, instead of ‘sync tracker’.
- and finally, i had to connect windows 8 laptop with external bluetooth speaker. this connection worked for months, and suddenly stopped working without explanation. clicking on the speaker icon in taskbar and on devices and settings in left bar only brought up useless information. then i noticed bluetooth was disabled altogether, and it refused to switch on. so we rebooted (clicking on ‘start’ to shutdown was stupid enough, but now you have to click on ‘settings’ to find it, which is even worse). sure enough that switched the bluetooth magically back on, but the speaker still wouldn’t play anything. it turns out, the speaker icon in the taskbar had to be ‘right clicked’ (on a touch-first OS mind you), to reveal a ‘playback devices’ option, where you can switch the default device. and even that didn’t make the music come from them! i had to click on the darn speaker again (left click), and set the app-specific volume to more than 0. why i can set volume by apps, but not the output device as well, is beyond me.
all in all, it was a good week for science everything magically works, and it seems there is some progress in the art of UX – these days most problems are actually solved by rebooting everything and letting the defaults kick in. ten years ago you had only 50% chance that would solve it.
Jerry is frustrated by Tom who believes that he is a mouse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
January 4th, 2014 § Comments Off on If you want to understand the life of a startup entrepreneur, watch this video § permalink
New York (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)
The author is Terrence Kawaja, an investment banker in NY, who knows everyone and in spare time creates more or less funny spoofs of popular culture.
This is his latest video, which is essentially a rewording of the famous ‘sunscreen’ song. I find it incredibly accurate, chaotic and sincere description of everyday life of a startup entrepreneur.
aspiring entrepreneurs, angel investors, employees, their families, everyone should understand the ups and downs that we go trough, and this video de-mystifies it appropriately.
September 23rd, 2013 § § permalink
There is a worldwide epidemic happening, and I feel like someone finally needs to say something about the problem: email hoarding. We’re all guilty of it. It’s easy to rack up thousands of emails over the years. We can’t keep living in a world up to our eyeballs in mail, so what can we do about it? I decided to take the challenge head on and achieve Inbox Zero.
After searching around for a solution, I stumbled across SaneBox. It does what it implies: bring sanity to your inbox. It uses an algorithm to understand my past behavior and move less important emails out of my inbox and into a folder named SaneLater. If something’s in the wrong place, I just drag and drop it. That being said, it’s right almost 100% of the time.
It does way more than just filter though. As an entrepreneur, my favorite feature is SaneReminders. It lets me know when a contact hasn’t emailed me back, so I can be sure to follow up at the right time. It also has one click unsubscribe and snooze folders, which are an added bonus. Best, it works anywhere I check my email – phone, laptop, tablet, etc.
If you want to join me in the Inbox Zero revolution, you should definitely check out SaneBox.
August 20th, 2013 § § permalink
Fred Wilson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We launched a fun new featurette today—the tech circle. You can read more about it on our main blog, and on Fred Wilson’s blog, but in essence it is a showcase for our latest product, the content discovery network.
This was my first product launch again in years, so I couldn’t sleep really. But not simply because something was going to go live.
Since Fred was leading the pack with his blog post, and since Fred blogs early in the morning, we had to flip the switch on his blog before he wakes up. Because all blogging tools are somewhat old, the best way to do that is to actually put some code into the design of the site.
I’ve had Fred’s google analytics
access for a while now, and now he shared his blog access as well. So I had the honor to hack my way trough Typepad’s opaque templating system. Of course I first tried on a test blog, and of course the templates changed on the live blog as well while I was still figuring out how it all works. Hopefully nobody noticed.
Anyways, our recommendations have now connected together a group of very interesting product people from very different backgrounds. Would love to hear your comments on it, and would love to hear if anyone would want to start a new circle with some of your blogging friends.
January 23rd, 2013 § Comments Off on the economy of wordpress plugins § permalink
there is a very interesting discussion going on about the emerging business landscape of wordpress plugins, between Evan Solomon and Pippin Williamson, and even Matt chimed in.
English: Matt Mullenweg during the conference WordCamp in San Francisco CA 5 August 2006 Français : Matt Mullenweg lors de la conférence WordCamp, à San Francisco, le 5 août 2006. Deutsch: Matt Mullenweg während der Konferenz WordCamp in San Francisco, USA am 5. August 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
they observe correctly, that plugins are becoming real businesses, however they feel that it’s not as serious as the themes business, nor that it ever will be.
while this is probably true if you consider only ‘custom plugin development’ and ‘premium plugin’ models, however there is another significant business model that emerged in the last years, that they are ignoring here.
for us at Zemanta, wordpress plugin has always been a core driver of adoption, and we’ve built a real business around it. but our business is actually software-as-a-service offering built on top of the plugin, rather than the plugin itself. the plugin is essentially a delivery mechanism, that is very efficient because most publishers are using a modular CMS, predominantly WordPress.org. but the real business value lies behind the scenes, in the cloud, where we can afford to process large amount of data.
I see business like ours grow tremendously over the past few years, and I see a lot of WordPress.org plugins being leveraged in this way – to deliver real value for the publishers, and enable diverse business models from utility, advertising and agency work, scale.
WordPress.org has built an impressive ecosystem, it’s tight integration of the CMS with the plugins directory enables SAAS models with almost frictionless infrastructure to customers (auto-updates, integrated discovery, security guidelines), but at the same time it’s sometimes limiting. it’d be great if WordPress.org was more aware of the needs of all constituents.
August 27th, 2012 § Comments Off on Blogging is safe for now § permalink
it seems the debate about the death of blogging just won’t die out, but this post by Tim Bray is a great. I completely agree with everything:
- that the main reasons for someone to blog are:
- You love writing.
- To influence.
- To entertain.
- To inform.
- that people who have always written stuff are mainly those who can’t not to
- and the following quote sum’s it up:
I don’t know of any way to be influential without deploying some combination of rhetoric and polemic and storyline. And I don’t think you can do that without writing a few hundred words, organized into paragraphs, with a permalink.
August 25th, 2012 § § permalink
Planet example (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So, everyone is talking about a balloon accident lately, but my Blogspire sent me a version of the report that blew my mind – hungarian project that maps all emergency events on the planet, from major traffic accidents to fly-by-objects.
Here is an example:
EDIS Number: VI-20120823-36303-SVN Date / time: 23/08/2012 14:30:44 [UTC] Event: Vehicle Accident Area: Europe Country: Slovenia State/County: Capital City Location: [About 6 miles south of Ljubljana] Number of Deads: 4 person(s) Number of Injured: 28 person(s) Number of Infected: N/A Number of Missing: N/A Number of Affected:…
and they have another project, mapping all grobal warming events.
Both of them are a great addition to a growing list of real-time global dashboards of differenti aspects of the Planet. I’ve been collecting them for a while now, and it seems it’s time to create a dedicated page for them.
Please feel free to submit any dashboard you know of that I’ve missed in the comments.
August 24th, 2012 § § permalink
Amazing how we never see opinions like these coming from within Silicon Valley itself.
Silicon Valley is facing an image problem. Facebook didn’t even leave the Valley to ring the opening bell on its tragic IPO, and that was after spending $1 Billion on Instagram. Meanwhile Zuck’s sister is shooting a “reality” show in San Francisco and calling it… well, reality. Let’s not forget the Angry Birds movie, either.
…the media in Silicon Valley needs to stop regurgitating the same stories to the top of Techmeme every day. Secondly, focus on BIG problems – stop saturating the media with acquisitions like Instagram which do nothing to actually change a significant problem in the world. Finally, look to the established giants who are solving the world’s most important problems – from healthcare, to politics, to green energy and education.
I agree almost completely, the valley as a business hub is becoming more about efficiently moving pieces of paper, than solving next greatest problem of the world. They are starting to resemble entertainment industry of south California.
One thing that we should see as their achievement and contribution to the world though, are numerous frameworks and recipes for reducing friction in entrepreneurship. Everyone around the world knows about the lean startup now, and it is helping to unleash new talents in other places.
Not sure why I’m remembering Monty Python right now.