Friday, August 31, 2012

Crash of social IPOs

Facebook is trading at 18.03.  Compared to its initial price of $38, it's at less than half of its original value.  Zynga, social gaming powerhouse, is also trading at its fraction of IPO price.  Today Zynga ended at 2.80.  It has dropped about 70% from its original value.

Facebook ended its day at 18.06.
Facebook needs to focus on its customers,
and that means mobile and marketers

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What I discovered on the way to Bing Friends' Photo

It is hard to try something new.  When the tool that you use just works, there is no reason to pick up something new, invest time to learn quirks of the new tool, and get used to new experience.

That's the challenge that Bing has.  When Google just works, it's incredibly difficult to change people's behavior to switch to Bing.  Like everyone else, I see trying out a new tool as a chore.  Google just works, and I like Google's simple and functional UI that gives me confidence that things will just work.

So it's no surprise that I have not been using Bing for anything.  In fact, even on my IE 9 browser I changed my default search engine to Google.  But today the announcement of Friends' Photo feature gave me a reason to give Bing a try.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How many connected devices do you have?

Bloomberg ran an article about average U.S. household having five internet-connected devices.  That got me wondering about how many devices that I have in my family.  I have a young family with 3 year old and a month old.  My kids are not exactly at internet ready age (although my 3-year-old boy has proved to me that he's ready for e-commerce).  Yet our connected device count is nine.

Whoa, what sign do I look first?
Information overload is just as bad as
lack of information.
We have two iPads, one Kindle Touch, one iPhone, three laptops, one mini PC and one desktop.  I actually think that we are below the Silicon Valley average because I'm the only one with smartphone.  I would guess most households would have each family member having one smartphone device and a laptop computer, and possibly one or two Wi-Fi-enabled tablets.  That would make 3-4 connected devices per adult, which would make 12 - 16 devices for a family of four.

What is surprising is how fast we got here.  A couple of years ago, the number of connected devices in my household was four.  We just had three laptops and one desktop.  Phones were simple feature phones or email-only Blackberry.  iPad and Kindle were not available on the market yet.

As I have posted earlier, we are at the cusp of transitioning to truly ubiquitous computing power and staying connected at all time.  We no longer wait for status of others.  We expect people to be available at all time.  We are expected to be available at all time.  This shift to constant connected-ness is creating not only technology paradigm shift, but also driving the shift of our perspectives of what it means to be reachable at all time.

No longer do we think about not having data.  It's about having relevant data at the right time to make decisions.  Delivering the right data at the right time and discovering new data are becoming more important than ever before.

How many connected devices do you have?  How do you keep up with deluge of information flooding your timeline everyday?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

YouTube, the new global media

This morning when I turned on NPR, it was talking about new trends on popular YouTube content.  Among the examples cited, the first example was a K-pop sensation by Psy called "Gangnam Style."

I first heard of "Gangnam Style" from my Facebook Social Media News interest group.  I knew of Psy from his earlier album released in 2000, but never thought that I would see people around social media sharing his  music.  To date "Gangnam Style" has been viewed 66,624,589 times and its viewership is accelerating according to YouTube analytics.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Simple automata summing up to complex system

All system is made of simpler parts.  The vast spectrum of how simplistic individuals can be put together to create complex system is what makes a network amazing.  Ant colony is such an example.

What is fascinating is that individually ant has very limited memory and cognitive ability to process information.  But as a whole it acts as a living organism, as if it has consciousness of its own.  An ant starts out searching for food.  It takes random steps until it can locate some food.  Once finding them, it goes back to signal other ants to follow the path to carry the food.

 Deborah Gordon and Balaji Prabhakar found that ants use TCP-like protocol
to deploy their colony of ants to maximize their chance of fetching food

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Edwin Friedman: Self differentiated leader

According to Edwin Friedman, a leader is a self differentiated person who does not get affected by poorly differentiated people.  A leader is someone who can simultaneously maintain relationship with followers while keeping distance from anxieties that followers might have.

In other words, a leader can inspire people to act in certain way, yet does not get weighed down by negative thoughts and emotions from team members.  Instead the leader's presence will defuse negative emotions and replace them with inspirational vision.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Apple is the biggest loser in patent war

Yesterday jurors announced the verdict on Apple-Samsung patent suit.  I wrote briefly about how everyone is loser because companies now have to spend more resources on defending against patent litigation and consumers will have less innovation to choose from at higher price.

I want to talk about Apple, the winner of yesterday's verdict.  Contrary to how it might look on the surface, Apple is the biggest loser of this patent war.

Here's why I think that is.

Friday, August 24, 2012

There are only losers in patent war

Jurors just awarded $1.05 billion to Apple against Samsung.  Samsung's claim of "form follows function" did not fly.  Apple just won a huge victory against Samsung.  Samsung lost big.  Although Samsung will appeal, it's not clear whether Samsung will be able to reverse the verdict completely.

So what does this verdict mean to you and me?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Don't build a solution and find a problem

I want to share three stories.  They are loosely related.  First is creating a mnemonic phone number.  Second is building a predictive mobile keyboard.  Third is a lesson from Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Simon Sinek: Start with Why

I am a believer of working for something greater than yourself.  Best motivation is figuring out what gives meaning to your life, and doing your job to get closer to your purpose.

I have not seen anyone who can motivate himself continuously for his own gain.  Everyone who inspired me to act either acted or believed that they are fulfilling their life's purpose, the reason why they exist.  No one has inspired me by telling me how early I can retire by working extra hours.

I believe that's because we all want to be a part of something greater.  We all want to belong to something.  We need to share purpose with people around us.

Simon Sinek shared his view of how great leaders inspire.  They inspire us by describing the purpose.  Great leaders don't start with what we should do or how we should do things, but rather why we should.  They help us see the bigger meaning of why we must.  They communicate the shared value for the rest of us to emulate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Product Management: Take position, admit wrong

I am often wrong, but never in doubt
- Ivy Baker Priest
One lesson I learned from doing product management is self confidence.  You have to be sure of what you are doing.  Take all the data that you can get and analyze the problem.  But once you made your mind, don't change it because you felt you had a wrong answer.  Unless you find a new piece of information that contradicts your theory, stick to your answer.  And if your decision turned out to be wrong, admit your mistake.  Learn from it.  Then move on.

What you don't want to do is vacillate or let someone else make the decision for you.  If you have the power to make the decision and you feel it's important one, don't let someone make that decision for you.  Make it yourself.

Don't be perceived as someone without opinion.
Form your decision based on facts, and stick to that decision.
Of course, make sure you have all the facts straight, like whether WMD really exists...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Communication Paradox

Here's something to think about.

We have been going at turning everyone on social network into publishers.  Anyone with fingers to type up their whereabouts or what they are about to eat can share their status with everyone else who care to subscribe to their updates.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Foursquare, Google+, Branch, Tumblr, Quora, etc., we have more social networks than we care to remember.

What is ironic is that as we become more connected and instantly reachable, I am finding that it is increasingly difficult to communicate with people.  I have more ways to reach my friend than I can count with my ten fingers.  Yet it is becoming challenging to have a dialogue with him.

Of course, if you are not interested in communicating,
you have a whole new problem...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Finding out about visitors without upsetting them: Pseudonymity

That is the question that every marketers ask.  It also seems like a question that every social media user asks when they upload a new photo on their profile page.  I bet majority of LinkedIn users check their 'who viewed my profile?' link to see who has been looking up their profile.  I am also one who thinks visitor data is irresistible.
Cool, someone from Management Consulting saw my LinkedIn Profile!
It sure beats not knowing anything about my visitor.
And I am not alone.  Any good marketer wants to know who is looking at their website and track their behavior.  There are number of web marketing packages that provides visitor tracking capability.  Any professionally developed website will have some level of tracking software deployed to make sense of who is looking at their site.  They often do this by requiring user to register with the site before viewing their demo or downloading a case study.

Saturday, August 18, 2012 is up

Today I got my invite to  I logged on this afternoon and took a quick look around.  It looked clean and worked much like Twitter in old days.  No frills but simple functional interface was serving maximum-256-character-long messages from thousands of early adopters.

The site was working, but definitely felt like an alpha site.  It had foundation of a house with all plumbing working.  But I could see that team is hard at work introducing new features and rolling them out.  Because of newness of it, I liked the small community feel.  It had a tab showing all global posts which will become quickly unmanageable to keep up as user base scales.  The fact that I could keep up with what everyone was saying felt refreshing. Global tab view;
It feels like early days of Twitter when
developers were welcomed unconditionally.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Product Management: Make it work the first time

One thing that you have to remember as product manager: customer is not interested in your product.  She is interested in solving her problem.

What that means is that you have to make sure that your product works the first time.  If it doesn't, she will move on.  Truth is that there are half a dozen other apps that she could have used.  Google always gives her more choices than what she can handle.  She will not only move on, but also have bad experience on your product.

Don't let this go on.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Twitter's wrong turn away from developers

Just read Twitter's announcement on Michael Sippey's further developer's guideline to Twitter API.  Their basic message can be summed up as this: Please do not look to support Twitter as social media channel from your cool new app.  Twitter is big enough, and is more interested in making money than attracting more users.

Of course you cannot say that directly.  So Sippey uses a 2x2 chart to illustrate how small impact the new API guideline will have to developers according to the third party app universe seen by Twitter.

Twitter developers can be creative and do things in upper left, lower left and lower right quadrant.  But upper right where individual tweets are displayed and new tweets can be posted by consumers, no developer creativity will be permitted by Twitter.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Obvious Medium launched early preview of Medium.  Medium is a bunch of topic boards where people can post blog entries or photos.  People can also rate blog entries and photos so that visitors are presented with interesting articles crowd-sourced by contributors.

Check out the Obvious Collection on Medium
and other pilot collections:
Been There. Loved That. and
Look What I Made
For now Medium is only available to limited contributors.  Medium team says that they will start inviting other contributors soon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Product Management: Place big bets

It is amazing how prescient successful entrepreneurs are in hindsight.  Bill Gates is one of them.  He first predicted rise of personal computers.  After making his fortunes from MS DOS and Windows, he made several bold predictions that we take for granted in his video interview with BBC.

What is fascinating is that this interview was recorded back in 1994.  1994 was a year before Netscape launched.  Graphical internet was known as Mosaic browser and mostly academic websites that existed across universities and research institutions.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Product Management: Evaluate product as buyer would

As a product manager, I occasionally think about why I made a decision to buy something.  It helps me understand what buyer is going through when they make a purchase decision.  Idea is to get inside of buyer's mind so that you can overcome objections and respond with the most appropriate answer for each buyer.

When I look at my buying decisions, I consider following:

1. Figure out what it does.

2. Estimate how often I will be using it, and divide the price by frequency to get to per usage charge.

3. Can I live without it?  Do I need it now?

4. What do other people say about it?

5. Do the design and the brand represent me?

I could use this every morning.

Sunday, August 12, 2012 gets funded

As of yesterday, reached its goal of $500,000 initial funding.  Total funded amount is currently $572,550 and still rising.  It got backings from 6,629 members, 1,851 developers and 56 pro developers.  That's 8,536 backers to get launched.

Congratulations to Dalton Caldwell and his team.
This is a great start for opening social network and
charting a new way to fund a project.

First, big congrats to Dalton Caldwell.  When I first saw the vision of, I was skeptical that he was able to get enough backers to get it funded.  But he and his team kept at it, and was able to generate conversations around open alternative to Twitter and Facebook by continually sharing his vision on what will become.  Great work.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Data visualization: How 100meter dash records have improved

There are more data than we can possibly consume.  All of us get too many emails, social network updates and news to handle.  When you have too much data and it starts obscuring the forest, you need to back up and relate other data points with latest data points.

There is one excellent example of visualizing 100 meter dash winners finish time.  Kevin Quealy and Graham Roberts created this animation to illustrate how 100 meter dash finish time has improved over the years.

Instead of showing you actual time of each Olympics winners (data points), it shows how much Olympics winners' performance has improved over time.  The animation is about visualizing the data and showing everything in context.

That's what data analyst does.  Data analyst's job is to ask a question about relationships among data points and create new insights from them.  Often these relationships are not at all obvious when you are combing through individual data points.  It is especially hard to qualitatively understand and communicate what a relationship is even when you have quantitative data.

Computer industry will need many more data analysts.  Starting with user's online shopping data to website visiting patterns are all recorded and digitized these days.  Someone has to be able to string all those data points together and be able to tell a consistent story around seemingly random data points.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Product Management: Aesthetics

Product manager is expected to know lot of things.  One of those things is aesthetics.  Ability to articulate what looks pleasing to eyes.  Product manager does not necessarily have to create a good design.  That's up to designer.  But when presented with an option, PM must be able to say which is better for what reason.

Trouble is that stuff like this is not taught in school.  Instead it is design sensibilities that you pick up around you.  Everyone has their own style of what they look and don't like, but there are universal rules about symmetry, alignment, Golden Ratio and color blending.

Here's example.  There is something very jarring about the below picture:

You can see more jarring pictures from this Buzzfeed article.

Why is that?  Because it violates several points in aesthetics.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Malcolm Gladwell: Key to success

Everyone has thought of how to be happier in life.  Happiness comes from finding meaning from their life.  You can go about searching for meaning of your life, but that could be an incredibly open ended endeavor.  Instead you should do something that gives meaning to your life.  Do something that makes you feel productive.  Practice a craft that you can become better at.  Pursue an idea that you are excited about.  It does not matter what it is.  As long as it gives you meaning, you are on the right path.

Essentially that is what Malcolm Gladwell talks about in the following clip:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Social network to social media

LinkedIn started out as professional networking site.  It was a networking site for sure, but it did not have traffic that members would be excited about.  It was meant for sharing your resume as Profile and keep in touch with your colleagues from earlier gigs.

When Facebook first came along, it was also a virtual Profile browsing site.  It had bunch of photos and people create their profiles.  It was meant for sharing photos and let others comment on who has the coolest photo on her profile.

Only after Facebook introduced news feed and Twitter came along, then it started becoming social network.  People started connecting with friends that they knew, and it created huge network effect for sharing information.  In order to see what someone else is sharing, you have to be on Facebook or Twitter to see what's going on.  Real social network began.

List of social networks.
Wait.  Where is Facebook on this picture?
Obviously it's not drawn by user base...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to build trust

Trust is the foundation that allows any team to work together.  Without trust, there won't be any team work. Everyone will be acting to maximize their own interest, and shared goal will take the back seat to each team member's individual interest.

Back when I was at college, I used to commute to classes.  One day as I was walking toward my car in the parking lot, a woman approached me.  She greeted me and told me that she ran out of gas.  She asked whether I could lend her some money.  She looked like a student.  I seemed to remember that she had her backpack and even asking me to share my number so that she could repay me.  I trusted her, and gave her $10 without asking any question.  She never called back.

For some reason I ended up trusting her.  She seemed genuine and believable.  But if someone else approaches me the same way in the parking lot, I will remember this and hesitate to trust someone asking for gas money.

How can we build someone's trust?
Chinese character for trust is made by combining
person and word character.  It's our words
that inspire or lose trust.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Danger of moving to cloud

Last week Mat Honan shared his horror story of getting hacked out of his iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Google and Twitter.  In a matter of minutes, he got his Apple devices digitally wiped clean by attacker and found his Twitter account was sending tweets that he did not write.

Mat Honan got hammered extra hard by the fact that he did not create backups of his Apple devices.  While all of us are reminded to make more frequent backup of our devices, I find something very unsettling about the whole incidence.
It's not wise to move your data to cloud
while keeping your iCloud password as 'Password1'.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Craig Newmark: Know when to get out of the way

Recently I saw a couple of posts on Craigslist.  How Craigslist page has not changed in any major way since its initial launch yet how effective it still is at what it does.  I happen to know this first hand because when I did my last job search, I started out with Craigslist and ended up finding a position.  What kept Craigslist successful over all these years, I began to wonder.

After searching a bit on the web, I found the guy behind Craigslist, Craig Newmark.  He is the founder of Craigslist.  Soon I found out that he's a fairly unassuming guy who values the Golden Rule and knows what things are outside his strength.  Once he realized managing people and running the company was not what he was good at, he went out and hired Jim Buckmaster as CEO.

Here's what I picked up from reading up on Craig Newmark and how Craigslist still is highly effective classified site:

Tracking what people read is surveillance, not sharing

Last week Quora announced that it will start tracking who viewed your content by default.  When I checked my account today, I found that my Settings -> View option was turned on.  This meant that whatever I read would have been tracked by Quora and can be viewed by article contributors by default.

I suggest you turn off View sharing option on Quora today.
You can do that by opening Settings page and clicking 'No' on Views.

I can see how it could be interesting for writers to be able to see who's reading the posts.  But it's definitely too much information to be shared with everyone.  What I don't understand is the rationale of product designers who thought that exposing whatever articles that you read with everyone is okay thing to do.  To be fair, Quora says that they will be exposing readership information selectively and as user you can opt out at any time.  Still I don't understand how default setting of all posts that are read is acceptable.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Inspiration Friday: Curiosity landing

Curiosity is landing on Mars this Sunday night 10:31PM Pacific.  Curiosity is a 1,980 lb Mars exploratory rover, and is equipped with a number of instruments to detect whether there had been any sign of life in Mars.

What is fascinating about Curiosity landing is its multi-phased landing sequence.  It first uses Mars atmosphere to slow down from 3.6 miles per sec to approximately 1,500 ft per sec shielding itself with heat shield.  Then it deploys parachute to slow down to about 220 mph, followed by 8 rocket thrusters slowing the rover down to hovering above Mars at about 25 ft up in the air.  Once it reaches hovering stage, it will lower Curiosity rover down to surface of Mars.

Live updates from Curiosity will be streamed from

I must say this is the best reason to stay up late on Sunday night to find out what happens.  Go Curiosity!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Will social network federate?

There are a few horror stories on developing apps on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn's public API.  Among them Dalton Caldwell's recent experience dealing with Facebook has been making Hacker News headlines.  Caldwell wrote an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg and posted it on his blog after he has been advised to either join Facebook or stop using Facebook Open API.  Caldwell created an app that looked similar to Facebook App Center using API, and he believed that Facebook changed their tactic from supporting his efforts to cutting his access off to his project unless he joins Facebook on acqui-hire term.

This story reminded me of the question that I posed to myself earlier: Will social network like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn federate to create network of social networks?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Please join us to help SHIELD Act get passed

Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (short for SHIELD) Act has been introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).  SHIELD Act protects software companies from paying legal cost when plaintiff (often patent trolls) loses legal case in court.  Basically it mandates software patent litigation expenses to be paid by patent trolls if they lose.

This is good news.  SHIELD Act will provide some measure of protection for small software startups so that they can continue innovating and create competitive advantages for U.S. companies against other high-tech economies around the world.