slovenian talent: look around before you look around

August 12th, 2013 § 11 comments § permalink

Slovenia
Slovenia

Slovenia (Photo credit: phault)

Statistical office of Republic of Slovenia has announced that we had a terrible brain drain in 2012. Surprise surprise, who would have known.

We have been seeing signs of it for the past 18 months. First by people temporarily living abroad, deciding they are not coming back. Later people living in Slovenia, who started seriously thinking about leaving. And finally, when we started hiring a lot of engineers, and a lot of people ‘just started’ working abroad.

Of course, a year from now, Statistical office will report that the brain drain was even higher in 2013, all the media will write about it then, and the country will have lost another 12 months when it could have done something.

I have several issues with this situation, which worries and saddens me a lot. But I want to write about just one today – opportunism vs rational thinking.

Yes, the crisis is annoying, yes the economy is still winding down, yes you lost ton of job last year or the clients you’ve been calling on for the past decade have stopped ordering or paying. All very true and solid reasons for looking to change something, in order to defend the quality of life you got used to. And I understand completely that working abroad is a rational option in this decision-making process. I’ve done that, and the decision isn’t easy.

After all, constructing a nice way of life took you a couple of decades, right?

Slovenia

Slovenia (Photo credit: phault)

But moving or working abroad shouldn’t be your default answer. It doesn’t have to be. I humbly call on you to try hard to find options to work for globally focused companies in Slovenia. By relocating yourself and your family you are risking as much as you are hoping to gain, but only the ‘gain’ is visible in the offer you have on your desk.

This is one of rare situations in which I’m arguing that it’s smart to be a bit more conservative. But fact is, that if you are deciding between bad past in Slovenia and shiny one offer from somewhere else, you are comparing human fish to dolphins. Try harder to add the lynx and the salmon to the table, and then evaluate you options.

In other words, companies like Zemanta, Celtra, 3FS and similar, are amazing, global, product companies. We are unlike anything you have worked for before in Slovenia. We are all looking to hire a lot of talent. We are all paying well above average and we are all growing. Consider applying for jobs with Slovenian startups, before you decide to change everything in your life.

And dear readers, please tell your friends that as well. I know 20% of them are thinking about moving right now.

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Podjetnikov credo, 1776 (via bukla)

August 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

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20130803-142851.jpg

are slovenia and US failed states?

June 28th, 2013 § 6 comments § permalink

Slovenia
Slovenia

Slovenia (Photo credit: phault)

I bet you’re instinctive answer was yes. how cynical of you. it seems everyone’s favorite sport last two years in Slovenia has been complaining about life and politics, without having any broad perspective on the state of the world.

Slovenians seem to live in a mental bubble, where they compare their own poor fates and lives with the imaginary paradise.

Foreign Policy actually does a proper analysis of all countries in the world every year, and ranks them from most failing to least. they even create a color-coded interactive map of failing states for all the cynics and others, who like to complain a lot.

Short answer to the question from the headline is no, Slovenia is 16th least failing in the world, based on indicators like quality of living and such. read the methodology if you care.

I love datasets like this one, if you assemble them with care and if you actually make them complete, they have the power to perform reality-check.

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The real reason for Apple’s new HQ ?

June 24th, 2013 § 3 comments § permalink

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (Photo credit: Kashmir Global)

Apple‘s new HQ build site opened this month, after some delays and quite some rise in costs. A lot has been written about it since Jobs gloriously unveiled the plans in Cuppertino last year, and all articles seem to gravitate towards one of the two conclusions:

  1. it’s going to be grand, beautiful, cutting edge office space for generations to look up to
  2. it’s a sign of the beginning of the decline of Apple, just like it happened to all other IT giants

Everyone agrees with the first point, but the cynical second point sounds like a stick in the mud. Sure Jobs wanted to build a monument for himself, but how can people possibly assume he was at the heights of his intellect, reinventing the whole home computing industry, and at the same his judgment clouded by a simple human sin of vanity. I don’t believe that Jobs would approve such an expensive project without a very deep and in Jobsian manner convoluted brilliant plan.

I was reading a very in-depth article covering more details of the story in Bloomberg Businessweek that exposed much more details than any before – about the builders, the challenges, the approaches. They even performed interviews with employees to shine some more light on how this spaceship is really going to be built and how it’s going to look like from inside. These interviews give a new clue about the possible real reason for the project that’s more expensive than WTC.

Supposedly all the insides will be assembled with a pre-fab modules for “bathrooms, utility closets, and banks of offices complete with carpets and window treatments”. nothing special, except that Jobs wanted high precision and attention to detail everywhere, so these pre-fab modules will be supplied by a purpose-built factories. At the same time, the building will have one of the largest private arrays of solar panels and a number of other technical advancements in construction and furnishing.

What if Apple’s new headquarters is not just a beautiful monument to the creator, efficient way to house 13000 employees and homage to HP labs and California, but also a pilot project for the next grand stage in Apple’s business expansion? After successful move-in, they will be left with a lot of public attention, a tested supply chain, solved first set of technical challenges to leapfrog one of the largest industries on the planet.

So to all you cynics out there, what do you think Jobs would do? Waste $5B and risk the success of his life work to build a building, or leverage it to expand business?

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Help us create the first museum of new technologies in Slovenia

May 20th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Children playing Paperboy on an Amstrad CPC 46...
Children playing Paperboy on an Amstrad CPC 46...

Children playing Paperboy on an Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am proud to be part of a group of enthusiasts, who have 10 years ago started systematically collecting and exhibiting computer history in Slovenia. the pinnacle of this first decade was the recent exhibition Goto1982, prepared in collaboration with MNZS, that covered the cambrian explosion of home computers extensively.

 

Today, we are hosting a closing event for this exhibition, which is moving on to be hosted by Technical Museum of Slovenia for the next 12 months. We are extremely proud to be recognized and trusted by both institutions, and by thousands of visitors who left very optimistic comments, like “omg, this was my first one!“, and “this is confusing, i feel young and old at the same time“. thank you all!

 

We are more sure than ever, that technology is not just part of everyone’s lives today, but essential ingredient in everyone’s personal story. Each and every one I talk to these days doesn’t feel intimidated or bored by the idea of this Museum, quite the contrary – with glitter in the eyes, everyone starts listing objects from their past that they have been safely storing until now.

 

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We are opening a new chapter today – we will be announcing the founding of Computer Museum Society, and inviting new members and supporters to join. Our plan is to build a different museum – one that will not only educate about the past, but also think ahead, educating the youth and bringing together professional communities.

 

To do this next step, we first need your help. We need you to raise your hand in support and basically say: “yes, computers and other contemporary technologies have made me what I am today, I don’t want this to pass by unexplored.”

 

You can support our efforts by:

 

  • showing up tonight, at 6pm in MNZS
  • becoming ‘supportive member’ with a donation, which gets you the right to wear exclusive t-shirt, learn about our next steps in real time and your place on our wall of fame
  • thinking of 10 friends who might support our cause and telling them about it

 

Thanks!

 

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How many people work in slovenia (and on what)

April 30th, 2013 § 12 comments § permalink

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bakery

bakery (Photo credit: Sachiho)

Slovenia is a small country. it’s a fact, but unfortunately this realization is too often used as an excuse to not do something right. In my opinion, this means two other things:

  1. because it’s a small country, we can have much better overview of activities, if only we choose so. our national statistics centre is able to produce monthly insights into many aspects of the society without much effort, so we actually have data available that could be used to empower better decisions easily.
  2. because we don’t have infinite pool of human resources, we have to be more careful on where we employ them.

I don’t see enough efforts on either part, and I’m pretty sure very few people in slovenia are actually aware of the actual distribution of human potential of the country, which results in lots of ungrounded frustrations and much ranting about “too big government sector” or “too little economic growth“, without data to back it up.

So i wanted to get better sense of what our high level structure is. here is first draft of a breakdown of slovenian population:

… every slovenian resident can find herself in exactly one of the squares. now we can observe some interesting facts, some that we have known before, and some that might be a surprise:

  •  government is not so big. 40.000 people work across the administration. the same for public sector – all our education and health is run by only 5% of the population
  • i ventured into separating private sector into two halves – the pseudo-private sector are people employed in companies that are funded mainly from public sources. i’ll get more accurate data, but i believe this distinction is important, because those companies are not actually creating value on the market, but rather live off national budget.
  • so my theory is, that until we get more people from all other buckets into the real private sector, there is little hope of solving the economic crisis. if all our growth is dependent on government projects, and only 16% of people daily work on and think about adding value to the

complete data table is:

sector group headcount percent
slovenija 2,050,000 100.00%
pre-active slovenija 430,000 20.98%
active slovenija 940,000 45.85%
inactive slovenija 680,000 33.17%
kids under 15 pre-active 250,000 12.20%
young students pre-active 90,000 4.39%
student pre-active 90,000 4.39%
government active 40,000 1.95%
public sector active 110,000 5.37%
pseudo-private active 330,000 16.10%
real private active 340,000 16.59%
unemployed active 120,000 5.85%
other inactive 110,000 5.37%
retired inactive 570,000 27.80%

i’m imagining next steps for this visualization will be:

  1. make it update itself from monthly data
  2. add more complexity, adding ability to drill into individual sectors
  3. create a comparable breakdown of added-value, or contribution to GDP, or something similar, to back my thesis that we need more people in the real private sector.

thoughts? what else do you see in the chart?

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my comments on “Slovenia cuts growth forecast as bail-out fears grow”

April 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

300px-Zemljovid_Slovenske_dezele_in_pokrajin

 

A map of the Slovene Land and Provinces, autho...

A map of the Slovene Land and Provinces, author Peter Kozler Hrvatski: Zemljovid slovenskih zemalja i pokrajina, autor Peter Kozler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

every western media seems to be talking about slovenia these days…

Slovenia cuts growth forecast as bail-out fears grow

Fears that Slovenia will become the next eurozone nation to need a bail-out have been fuelled by a sharp cut to the country’s growth forecasts by the government’s economic institute. Slovenia has become the first victim of contagion from Cyprus as its borrowing costs rocketed last week in the wake of a punishing bail-out deal.

via: www.telegraph.co.uk

as an ‘insider’ I feel obliged to comment:

  1. to all westerns: slovenia is going to be just fine. the current state of public finance is a residue of a couple of years of poor governments, that resulted in couple of months of public uprisings and a new government that feels promising. so stop panicking and pay attention to details. every crisis in EU zone in the last three years was handled completely differently, there are no patterns.
  2. to slovenian politicians: this is actually awesome public PR opportunity – the world is looking at us closely now, let’s keep the limelight on us as long as possible and make sure the ‘crisis’ resolves while they are paying attention. now is the time to invest in all kinds of projects :)
  3. to slovenian public: go vote next time around. and pay more attention next time. the rest of the world cares more about slovenia than you do.
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Best Book about Zemanta in NYC

March 18th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

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I gave several book interviews since starting Zemanta and moving to NYC, most of them in the last 18 months. Lots of authors are exploring the technology revolution that we were fortunate to participate in.

Books are coming this year, discussing it from various angles – comparatively with .com boom, the rise of entrepreneurship Europe, new entrepreneurship as a lifestyle, … It is no surprise to me, that the first book to actually publish is the one specifically celebrating NY tech community and agility and resilience.

Tech and the City became available on Kindle two days ago, and hardcopies are coming in April. I received the notification from the authors this morning, and already I’m half way trough it. It’s that good.

It starts with an amazingly inspiring foreword by Fred Wilson, which alone is worth the $2.99, as it perfectly outlines the mental model of the greatest city on the planet. After that, the book only gets better, weaving the story trough fragments of conversations with participants in the ecosystem, rather than lazily throwing together yet another series of interviews. This enables the book to read like a travel diary, rather than a self-hype-help business manual.

For the finish, the authors have collected a very comprehensive list of the NY tech ecosystem institutions – vc’s, events, co-working spaces and competitions. They have also published them on the official blog of the book.

It’s cheap and it’s short, and it’s awesome. Go read it and learn how you should be thinking about helping entrepreneurs in your cities / countries.

 

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Beware SXSW Networking Syndrome

March 11th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

blog

I’ve been meaning to write a piece about networking events for a while now, and this article prompted me to finally do it today.

Beware SXSW Networking Syndrome | TechCrunch

“Wow! I’m wanted!” I thought to myself upon receipt. But after basking in narcissistic glory for a few seconds, my pride gave way to bemusement. For one, I’ve never met the sender. We’ve exchanged a couple of LinkedIn messages, but I don’t think that qualifies me as a close friend. And on balance the @Garyvee namedrop as a hook to entice the invitee felt more sad than enticing. But most striking, to me, was that this sender is not a PR person or event planner who trades in building social connections, but rather an entrepreneur whose startup I respect.We need this to understand how you use our service - you can take it out if you like. Cheers, your Blogspire team.

via: techcrunch.com

I have a problem. I totally grew tired of networking events recently. I just want to be in the office and talk to my team and occasionally help them close a challenging deal. but then i sometimes feel guilty for not spending every evening ‘networking’ and mingling on VIP events and such. how can that be?

whole industry flocking to SXSW for spring break is the greatest symptom of this mentality. forced fun i call it.

So i asked myself, why do entrepreneurs really go to these events? there must be a finite list of possible motivations, and i’d bet each of you, if being really honest with yourself can pick one that is the main driver. I could identify 5 phases in my own history:

  1. I wanted to tell everyone about this great new thing – we are makers, and we get excited about stuff we build, and want to talk about it. the more the merrier. until the novelty wears out, or you are successful and have to start working on other types of challenges related to growth.
  2. I enjoyed being part of the in-crowd – startup ecosystem does resemble entertainment industry, and today’s entrepreneurs are treated as rock stars in some respects. and attention is addictive and you do enjoy it. here, a lot of people are famous for 5 minutes, or sometimes 5 weeks or 5 months. nobody is famous for 5 years. though.
  3. I enjoyed meeting new interesting people – on every event you go, you will meet at least one very interesting person that will make the event worthwhile. and by interesting, i mean really interesting – doing something very compelling, thinking in special ways that inspire you etc.. but after a while, you realize you can only manage several hundred relationships anyway. unfortunately.
  4. I got business done there – strictly professionally speaking, you don’t have to have fun. you can just prey on prospects and partners and clients. works fine, but makes you pick the events very carefully. 
  5. ultimately, sometimes I felt it’s my job to go there. this was the worst, but actually made me notice the other four angles.

so these days, I don’t go to events if I can help it and I don’t go to SXSW, even though I know it would feel special, I would meet awesome people there and that I would do business. I still prefer working with my team on day-to-day challenges above all that.

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Launching RankWP.com

February 19th, 2013 § 9 comments § permalink

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I have a very special announcement to make, at least very special to me. i’m happy to be announcing the launch of a community project, that’s building on top of the WordPress Plugins directory, augmenting it’s default information about the plugin, with some never-seen-before data, that should make your decisions when evaluating plugins even easier. It’s called RankWP.com

I have been a blogger since 2004, ever since i installed my first WordPress, version 1.0 if i recall correctly. it was the hottest thing online back then, and one could argue, it still is. Also, the first product we ever released at zemanta was a WordPress plugin. of course we uploaded it to the directory, and rejoiced when we saw bloggers discover it, starting to use it, leave reviews and ratings.

one of the best features wordpress had, and still has, is it’s extensibility trough plugins. there is a plugin for just about anything you could think of, more possibly, there are several. for every wordpress-based site owner, testing various plugins is a regular, and fun activity. wordpress.org directory is like an app store for website owners, built in a true open-source fashion as an ever-growing and ever-improving repository of blogging goodness, where developers across the globe are building on top of previous efforts of likeminds.

with thousands of plugins available, it’s not always easy to find the best one for your needs. it’s easier if you know just how popular it really is, so we have built an algorithm that estimates the actual number of active users of each plugin. plugins also become more or less popular over time, so we started tracking their popularity rank and show you how it’s changing. both of these informations are available now for all the plugins for the first time.

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all these great plugins are built by people, and most developers publish more than one. we are happy to expose most successful developers based on the aggregate number of users of all their plugins. of course automattic’s own developers have a clear lead, but of the independent developers, Yoast is a clear winner. I’ve shown him an early version of this project and he was kind enough to say a few words for this announcement:

“For users to find new plugins, or better alternatives to plugins they’re already using, is really rather hard. RankWP seems to be a very good step in the right direction of allowing people to see what other people use, which plugins get installed and uninstalled more often and which developers tend to have good plugins. I hope they keep developing this as the community could really use this.” – Joost de Valk

you’re all cordially invited to take a look, send me feedback, suggestions, corrections. if anyone feels like helping, either coding or editing the content, you will be very welcome.