Really like Carousel from Dropbox so far. And excited to use it with others as it gains adoption. I think it’s the best photo saving and private sharing system to date. (I’m of course partial to Instagram for broadcast.)
But it begs the question for me of whether anyone will tackle the “all pictures” problem - much trickier.
We are sort of an odd case I expect, but take pictures and videos with 2 phones and 3 “regular” cameras, and have about 1.2 TB of data across about 90k photos.
Local spinning media attached to our iMac is the clear answer now, but that can’t be the future, can it?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I live online. I don’t really mean where I hang out — Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr — I mean where & how I express myself in all my various aspects. (And obviously, by extension, how we all do.)
That probably needs a little explaining, so some background:
I started blogging about 10 years ago, on Typepad. That was an interesting time for me personally — I was just leaving my own startup, Reactivity, I was exploring a ton of interesting things online, playing a lot of World of Warcraft, starting to get interested in Firefox & Mozilla, which I would join a few months later.
And then I saw Joi Ito’s blog — it was sort of a revelation to me. It was a collection of his writing, of course, but also had the music he was listening to from last.fm, where in the world he was from Dopplr, his WoW info in some detail, and the conversations he was enabling via comments. It was amazing to me — because in a lot of ways it represented Joi’s online persona. But it was a little difficult then to piece together all of that in a way that looked good, and reflected a real personality. He had it custom built. And I hacked together my own, with a little help, on top of Wordpress — that’s what eventually evolved into john.jubjubs.net, which is nominally alive, but not very active. (And I’m considering mothballing it now.)
As I got more interested in Twitter and more involved with Tumblr, plus Instagram, I moved most of my activity over to those platforms. Connecting publishing to audience was a revelation, and the reblogging/retweeting semantics provided interesting amplifications that just weren’t really possible previously. Not to mention the quick hits of each of these — so quick to post a quote, or an image, or a picture of where I was, or to reblog someone else’s great content.
And now I tend to write on Tumblr, Medium, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc etc, and to post photos primarily on Instagram and push them to Tumblr, Twitter & Facebook, depending on the subject & the context.
But I don’t feel like I have much of a home anywhere anymore. I feel spread out on the web, diffuse. Tumblr for some things, but not a lot of them. Medium for others, but not really for posting pictures from a Stanford baseball game.
And then when you think about native expression on mobile & tablet, not much help. You’ve got things like Storehouse & Steller, for better native storytelling, but they don’t really scratch the itch. Maybe about.me?
This feels like an extremely important thing to me. For better or worse (I would argue mostly better), we’re living more & more of our lives online — feels like we need a new, modern, accessible place to call home that’s natural both on the web and native.
After 9 years of being a part of Mozilla, I wanted to let folks here know that as of last week I’ve left the board of directors. I’m hopeful about the future of the organization — both the products and what it stands for — as there’s really nothing like it in the world.
But it’s time for me to focus on other work, so I’ll just note that I’m grateful to everyone I got to collaborate with during my time involved with the company and the project. It’s been a singular experience for me, and I learned and enjoyed much.
Thanks to everyone who’s been a part of it and continues to be.
So, the big questions: will that time in the browser go up? Down? Does anyone care about browsers as they’re constituted now? To really be relevant again, do browsers need to change? What will they look like? Who will make them? It’s somewhat structurally (although debatably) in Google & Apple’s interests to continue their push towards native.
So that’s the challenge & opportunity as I see it.
Right now, we use the mobile web a lot like we use SMS — as a lowest common denominator that we know will be installed on everyone’s phone if they don’t have the app.
To me, the most exciting part of the Facebook/WhatsApp deal has nothing to do with the deal itself. Instead, I’m excited about the ramifications of such a deal. And I’m not talking about Facebook or WhatsApp here either. History will ultimately prove that deal genius or folly. But more importantly, I know that a deal like this has other people talking, thinking, and building.
The last group is key, but let me start with the first group. Once the fervor around the deal itself died down, we got a couple of compelling posts from the likes of Benedict Evans and riffing on it, John Lilly. Incidentally, both are now VCs. But neither started out that way, and both have long histories of solid thinking and writing.
Both understand that the Facebook/WhatsApp deal is simply the strongest signal yet that we’ve fully entered a new age in the world of computing where mobile is now the kingdom. And the $19 billion price tag simply shows that there isn’t yet a king.
“Mobile social apps are not, really, about free SMS. Mobile discovery and acquisition is a mess - it’s in a ‘pre-pagerank’ phase where we lack the right tools and paths to find and discover content and services efficiently. Social apps may well be a major part of this, as I discussed in detail here. These apps have the opportunity to be a third channel in parallel to Google and Facebook.”—
One of the humbling privileges of the job that I have as a venture capitalist is that I get to talk to so many amazing, committed, smart, driven, talented entrepreneurs, builders, designers, operators, marketers, sellers, and on and on. And I get to talk about so many different aspects of what they’re doing, in such detail - it’s really an unbelievable privilege, and I’m grateful.
But one of the things that comes out of that is that sometimes I visit with entrepreneurs who are struggling to make things work, who are struggling to sell, or get attention, or get product market fit. And like the world-changing alphas they are, they wonder “WTF? Why isn’t this working? What’s wrong with me?”
And the truth is this: starting something from nothing is *hard*. Nothing comes easy. Competition is brutal and global and 24/7 unrelenting. Inventing is never obvious.
But we have a survivor bias problem. The companies and people we all compare ourselves to are the ones who won, and who are winning. The Googles of the world. The Dropboxes. Ev & Biz & Jack. We compare ourselves to some of the most outrageous successes in the history of the world. We compare ourselves to the winners and the survivors.
That’s a hard standard to live up to for anyone.
It’s useful, of course, because it helps us dream bigger. It helps us think more about what’s possible. More “why not us?” And that’s great.
But it’s tough to see the forest for the trees sometimes and remember that for many, it wasn’t an immediate success. For many, they’ve tried before. For many all the other, less successful endeavors in their lives turned out to be leading them to their ultimate success.
So that’s the message I give, really. Don’t sweat the hero story so much. Strive for it, but focus on the business and product and team you’re building. Remember that the company may have more chapters yet to be written, and that the people in it most definitely do.
Survivor bias creates a tough standard when it looks like everyone is “killing it” and “up and to the right” - but don’t let it distract you from doing the thing that *you* want to do, and don’t forget that sometimes we struggle to a breakthrough.
Facebook’s new Paper app looks really, really lovely. It’s interesting that one of the lead value propositions they espouse is that it’s “ad-free.” But if they really continue down the path of unbundling their apps (messenger, updates, etc), they start to lose some of the advertising impression power they get now from their integrated feed app. So if Paper works — if people really adopt it, feels inevitable that over time it won’t be ad-free. (Which, honestly, doesn’t bother me personally in the slightest, but YMMV.) But maybe it’ll allow better feeling, more targeted ads. Might be that charging the publications (they show Time & The Atlantic) a distribution fee might work.
In any event, looks like some really, really nice work by the product team there, and I’ll be excited to try it out on Monday.
I’m very happy to welcome Kristin Richards and Elisa Schreiber to Greylock. Kristin is joining us as VP of Talent, working with Jeff Markowitz on our executive talent team. Elisa is joining us as VP of Marketing, working to support our portfolio companies and oversee all marketing for Greylock.