Placeholders

I’ve been super busy lately, and haven’t had a lot of time to write here unfortunately, but hoping to fix that in the coming few days. Lots to write about; wanted to put down a few placeholders of things I’m planning to write about.

On Scaling: spent some time talking with a professor friend of mine over the past few weeks about how organizations scale to have massive impact; realized that there are fundamental differences in approach. On one side, you assume that the core that you have — yourself, a small org, whatever — is the essence and you want to extend that to the rest of the world — but in some way, the new converts will always be pale reflections of the core. On the other side, you assume that you’ve figured out how to do something interesting, and want to enable lots of other people to do it as well as unexpected and new things — so the assumption here is that by scaling you increase diversity, increase quality, and you get better overall as you get bigger, not weaker & thinner.

Not Understanding Modern Technology & Products: In an NYT article a month or so back, HBS professor David Yoffee said this: ‘“The problem for both Firefox and Chrome is how are they going to convince customers that they have a significantly better product, worth the hassle of actually going and downloading something that’s new and different.”’ This was very surprising to me — it’s such old thinking, not really in line with the way technology products (Internet products in particular) spread in today’s world. I don’t know Prof Yoffee, but in my view, technology products spread today much more like political campaigns and memes, not as careful, considered evaluations of whether other alternatives are better than what someone has today. I’m not putting a value judgement on that phenomenon at all, just noting it, and think that it’s worth exploring a bit.

Living Inside Everyone Else’s Greatest Hits Albums: just some thoughts about how status feeds are changing the way we think about other peoples’ lives, and our own. Maybe a profound observation, maybe a banal one, who can tell?

My First 4 Months in VC: I’ve been at Greylock full time now for about 4 months, have some initial observations and things to write about. Steep learning curve, very busy time (and also busy personally), but want to take some time to deconstruct the experience so far and share what I can. (I also have a post on why I joined Greylock in particular to write. Quick hint: it’s the same reason that Soylent Green tastes so delicious.)

Alone Together, by Sherry Turkle: Interesting book, finished it a while back but haven’t had time to write about it yet. Lots in there.

And then a few other odds & ends, including a great book I’m reading about the history of the Eastern Roman Empire from about 300 AD until 1500 AD. I get that this will be of incredibly limited and esoteric interest to even my nerdiest friends, but I’m loving it. Fish gotta swim.

Hopefully more soon. What else should I write about? 🙂

11 Replies to “Placeholders”

  1. The NYT thing is puzzling to me, too—both the Yoffie quote and your response to it.

    “How are they going to?” It’s been done. A question like this, I guess, wouldn’t seem out of place if it were being asked in 2004, but it’s not.

    I guess I can understand it if it were in the context of an exploration about how to achieve Microsoft’s c. 2004 share, and then you seem to continue as if it were, which is equally puzzling to me. 85%/95%/whatever in terms of browser usage has been an explicit non-goal for Mozilla. Corroborated consistently. On multiple occasions. Going back years.

    So what’s the deal?

    1. I’m not offended by his analysis or anything, was more looking at 2 things. First, the one you pointed out, which is that it already happened. Second, it’s more that markets get shaped differently than they used to, and in particular technology & internet products. They’re less viewed through the lens of absolute utility and are often driven by social and value determinations. It felt strange to me that Yoffee’s analysis was so out of date, so wanted to explore that a little bit.

  2. Websites spread very fast, but not software. Once you have something that works for you, a big group of people will keep using it, some even don’t consider the possibility that there could be an alternative which better fits theirs needs. It’s different if they have problems with the browser, then they will try a new one.

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