Archive of posts with tag 'business'

How to Think About Your Competitors

October 10, 2022 • #

For any company, keeping track of your position in the competitive landscape is an important element of making the right decisions. When I think about competitors, I think about them separately as “direct” vs. “indirect”:

  • Direct competitor: one with a product offering highly similar and seen by your customer as a direct substitute
  • Indirect competitor: one that might look glancingly similar (or very different) on the surface, but addresses the same jobs to be done

Direct vs. indirect doesn’t matter all that much at the end of the day;...

On Markets, TAMs, and Agency

September 16, 2022 • #

If you’ve been involved in investing or fundraising activities in the past, you’ve likely heard about “TAMs” (total addressable market), as in “So what’s your TAM look like?” The general idea is to determine a metric that communicates in few words the nature of a given market for a product or service. Investors want to know how a company thinks about its market opportunity (investors generally want large ones), and startup founders need to have a sense for what they can realistically target, build for, sell to, and capture to build a business. You may also...

Product-led Growth Isn't Incompatible with Sales

September 1, 2021 • #

Product-led growth has been booming in the B2B software universe, becoming the fashionable way to approach go-to-market in SaaS. I’m a believer in the philosophy, as we’ve seen companies grow to immense scales and valuations off of the economic efficiencies of this approach powered by better and better technology. People point to companies like Atlassian, Slack, or Figma as examples that grew enormously through pure self-service, freemium models. You hear a lot of “they got to $NN million in revenue with no salespeople.”

This binary mental model of either product-led or sales-led leads to a false dichotomy,...

Stripe's Content Strategy

November 17, 2020 • #

Morgan Mahlock wrote recently about the promise of Stripe Press, Stripe’s book publishing outfit:

Within the legacy publishing industry, Stripe’s young publishing press is refreshing - it is Sutherland’s electric cover art on a dusty, tired bookshelf. An Authoritative Look at Book Publishing Startups in the United States by Thad McIlroy states, “Book publishing has never been a technology-adept industry; indeed it is historically technology-averse. This is a challenge for the (minority of) startups targeting existing publishing companies.” Stripe Press is different because it was born from a technology...

Neumann on Schumpeter on Strategy

October 20, 2020 • #

There’s a myth in popular culture that associates “being an entrepreneur” with “making a lot of money.” But do they, if compared to a world where an entrepreneur did the same job in the employ of someone else?

In this post, Jerry Neumann references a chart from Scott Shane’s The Illusion of Entrepreneurship that tells a much more realistic story of what creating your own business means financially:

Comparison of entrepreneurs vs employees

The vast majority make the same, if not less than, their non-self-employed peers,...

Weekend Reading: Collaborative Enterprise, Algorithms, and Fifth-Gen Management

October 3, 2020 • #

💼 Collaborative Enterprise

Elad Gil describes the trend of continuing consumerization of enterprise software.

🤖 Seeing Like an Algorithm

Part 2 in Eugene Wei’s series on TikTok. See part 1.

🏫 Fifth Generation Management

Venkatesh Rao’s Breaking Smart podcast is always a must-listen.

Strategy for Startups

August 28, 2020 • #

In his article “Strategy Under Uncertainty,” Jerry Neumann contrasts the traditional Porter model of business strategy with one more suited to startups, the former being modeled around mature organizations operating in known competitive spaces, the latter around startups moving in opaque environments with higher uncertainty and more moving parts.

In the piece he defines “strategy” as a framework for “how to make decisions in situations that are not yet known.” To have a purposeful, intentional approach to an objective, whether in war, sports, or business, you have to formulate a model for predicting...

Weekend Reading: Timeful Texts, Sumo Startups, and Canva Backlinks

August 1, 2020 • #

🕰 Timeful Texts

A new piece from Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen (beautifully illustrated by Maggie Appleton). Can we make reading a more engaging and interactive learning experience? This builds on previous ideas from the authors on spaced repetition.

🤼‍♂️ Software, Full-Stack, and Sumo Startups

Interesting take from one of Byrne Hobart’s recent newsletters. Contrasting a typical “full-stack” model of company-building and VC funding to a “sumo” model:

The amount of VC funding has been rising steadily, and returns are skewed by a few positive...

Weekend Reading: Invading Markets, Sleep Deprivation, and the Observer Effect

June 13, 2020 • #

🎖️ Commandos, Infantry, and Police

Jeff Atwood on Robert X. Cringely’s descriptions of three groups of people you need to “attack a market”:

Whether invading countries or markets, the first wave of troops to see battle are the commandos. Woz and Jobs were the commandos of the Apple II. Don Estridge and his twelve disciples were the commandos of the IBM PC. Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston were the commandos of VisiCalc.

Grouping offshore as the commandos do their work is the second wave of soldiers, the infantry. These are the people who...

Weekend Reading: COVID Edition

April 25, 2020 • #

⚗️ COVID and Forced Experiments

Benedict Evans looks at what could return to normal after coronavirus, and what else might have accelerated change that was already happening.

“Every time we get a new kind of tool, we start by making the new thing fit the existing ways that we work, but then, over time, we change the work to fit the new tool. You’re used to making your metrics dashboard in PowerPoint, and then the cloud comes along and you can make it in Google Docs and everyone always has the latest version....

Things That Will Change

March 25, 2020 • #

This is a weird time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest global event that’s happened in my lifetime. It hasn’t impacted me personally that much (yet), but the financial and public health implications are clearly already disastrous, and bound to get worse.

Most concerning, though, is how little we know today about what’s in store for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

I don’t use this outlet to make predictions, and I’m generally not a fan of trying to call shots on uncertainties. But as an experiment, let’s set down some open-ended questions to revisit in 6 months to see...

Innovator's Dilemma in Video

February 13, 2020 • #

I was looking around for a summary of Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma and ran across this neat YouTube channel that does book summaries in visual form, with drawings representing the concepts in the book.

It’s a cool way of getting a different presentation of subject matter, especially of nonfiction and business books.

Weekend Reading: Internet of Beefs, Company Culture, and Secular Cycles

January 18, 2020 • #

🥩 The Internet of Beefs

Venkatesh Rao has assembled a most compelling explanation for how the internet polarization machine works:

The semantic structure of the Internet of Beefs is shaped by high-profile beefs between charismatic celebrity knights loosely affiliated with various citadel-like strongholds peopled by opt-in armies of mooks. The vast majority of the energy of the conflict lies in interchangeable mooks facing off against each other, loosely along lines indicated by the knights they follow, in innumerable battles that play out every minute across the IoB.

Almost none of these battles matter...

Weekend Reading: Tradeoffs, the Margins, and PR FAQs

December 21, 2019 • #

⚖️ Tradeoffs: The Currency of Decision Making

Farnam Street:

Time is our most fundamental constraint. If you use an hour for one thing, you can’t use it for anything else. Time passes, whatever we do with it. It seems beneficial then to figure out the means of using it with the lowest possible opportunity costs. One of the simplest ways to do this is to establish how you’d like to be using your time, then track how you’re using it for a week. Many people find a significant discrepancy. Once we...

Weekend Reading: Neutrinos and Math, Waymo Progress, and Freemium in SaaS

December 14, 2019 • #

🧮 Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math

As long as you consider linear algebra and eigenvectors “basic math”:

They’d noticed that hard-to-compute terms called “eigenvectors,” describing, in this case, the ways that neutrinos propagate through matter, were equal to combinations of terms called “eigenvalues,” which are far easier to compute. Moreover, they realized that the relationship between eigenvectors and eigenvalues — ubiquitous objects in math, physics and engineering that have been studied since the 18th century — seemed to hold more generally.


Second-Order Revenue

October 7, 2019 • #

In SaaS there are dozens of common metrics to measure on performance, like a pulse check on your company. Because of the often-high customer-to-revenue ratio with SaaS products, recurring revenue itself becomes a watermark metric to watch as an indicator. Recurrence leads to investing in and measuring customer success metrics, in order to keep that recursion happening indefinitely — customer lifetime value gets large with satisfied customers!

NPS, time-to-value, net retention, and customer health scores are just a few of those metrics that help give you a leading indicator...

Weekend Reading: Attention, Hill Climbing, and Enforcing Culture

October 5, 2019 • #

🧠 To Pay Attention, the Brain Uses Filters, Not a Spotlight

For a long time, because attention seemed so intricately tied up with consciousness and other complex functions, scientists assumed that it was first and foremost a cortical phenomenon. A major departure from that line of thinking came in 1984, when Francis Crick, known for his work on the structure of DNA, proposed that the attentional searchlight was controlled by a region deep in the brain called the thalamus, parts of which receive input from sensory domains...

The Magic of Recurring Revenue

September 17, 2019 • #

Any business that makes money from the same customer more than once can be said to have “recurring revenue.” But the term in the SaaS universe has a more specific flavor to it, thanks to the unique nature of the business model, value delivery, and the commitments between vendor and consumer. You may think “so what” when you hear that SaaS revenue is special or somehow better than other ways of making money; after all, the money’s still green, right? But there are a number of benefits that come with the “as-a-service” relationship between vendor and customer. Software companies fit...

On the Tumblr Sale

August 19, 2019 • #

One of the big events in tech last week was that Verizon offloaded Tumblr to Automattic, Matt Mullenweg’s company most known for Wordpress.

I had my main blog/website on Tumblr back when it first launched in 2007, which I used for a number of years before migrating it over to this current self-managed iteration on GitHub back around 20111. At the time I loved Tumblr’s middleground between the long-form-friendly full Wordpress blog and the short-form nature of Twitter. Tumblr’s “tumblelog” concept easily supported either mode depending on what you...

Growth, Sales, and a New Era of B2B

August 12, 2019 • #

This talk from a16z’s Martin Casado covers how the market for B2B SaaS go-to-market is changing from sales-driven to a marketing-driven. We’ve been thinking a lot about this lately in the context of Fulcrum — how the “consumerization of IT” plays into how business users today are finding, evaluating, purchasing, and expanding their usage of software.

As he describes in the talk, consumer business tend toward a marketing-led GTM, and enterprise ones toward a sales-led GTM....

Managerial Leverage

August 5, 2019 • #

Andy Grove is widely respected as an authority figure on business management. Best known for his work at Intel during the 1980s, his book High Output Management is regularly cited as one of the best in the genre of business books. After having it on my list for years and finally reading it earlier this year, I’d wholeheartedly agree. It’s the best book out there about business planning, management, and efficiency, still just as pertinent today as it was when it was first published in 1983.

Its relevance more than 30 years later attests to the...

On Retention

July 12, 2019 • #

Earlier this year at SaaStr Annual, we spent 3 days with 20,000 people in the SaaS market, hearing about best practices from the best in the business, from all over the world.

If I had to take away a single overarching theme this year (not by any means “new” this time around, but louder and present in more of the sessions), it’s the value of customer success and retention of core, high-value customers. It’s always been one of SaaStr founder Jason Lemkin’s core focus areas in his literature about how to “get to $10M,...

Image credits: Mark Roberge, Tomasz Tunguz

Weekend Reading: Term Sheets, Customer Loyalty, and Epictetus

June 22, 2019 • #

📑 Opening Up the Atlassian Term Sheet

This is great to see from a company like Atlassian with “openness” as one of their core values. Their take is that the standard M&A process affords too few protections for the company doing the selling and too many for the big buyer. Most importantly, to me, these M&A engagements are one-sided by nature: the buyer has likely done it before (often many times) and the seller it’s likely their first time around.

M&A is a key part of our strategy – over our...

Andy Grove on Meetings

June 21, 2019 • #

You hear the criticism all the time around the business world about meetings being useless, a waste of time, and filling up schedules unnecessarily.

A different point of view on this topic comes from Andy Grove in his book High Output Management. It’s 35 years old, but much of it is just as relevant today as back then, with timeless principles on work.

Grove is adamant that for the manager, the “meeting” is an essential piece in the managerial leverage toolkit. From page 53:

Meetings provide an occasion for...

Reaching the Early Majority

June 18, 2019 • #

Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm is part of the tech company canon. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years unread, but I’ve known the general nature of the problem it illuminates for years. We’ve even experienced some of its highlighted phenomena first hand in our own product development efforts in bringing Geodexy, allinspections, and Fulcrum to market.

Moore’s “Technology Adoption Life Cycle” is the axis of the book:

The chasm

In principle, the advice laid out rings very logical,...

Weekend Reading: Rays on a Run, Apple's Pivot, and Mapping Grids

May 18, 2019 • #

⚾️ The Rays are a Surrealist’s Delight

Love to see the Rays getting some deserved attention in the mainstream sports media. They’ve put together a great, diverse lineup of consistent hitters that have performed well all season:

The Rays emphasize power now, but in a different way: Through Monday, their hitters had the highest exit velocity in the majors, at 90.1 miles per hour, and their pitchers — who specialize in curveballs and high fastballs — allowed the lowest, at 86.3. Hard-contact rates enticed them to trade for Pham from St....

Weekend Reading: Product Market Fit, Stripe's 5th Hub, and Downlink

May 11, 2019 • #

🦸🏽‍♂️ How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product/Market Fit

As pointed out in this piece from Rahul Vohra, founder of Superhuman, most indicators around product-market fit are lagging indicators. With his company he was looking for leading indicators so they could more accurately predict adoption and retention after launch. His approach is simple: polling your early users with a single question — “How would you feel if you could no longer use Superhuman?”

Too many example methods in the literature on product development orient around asking...

Clippy: The Unauthorized Biography

April 28, 2019 • #

One of my favorite tech figures, a16z’s Steven Sinofsky, gives a history of “Clippy”, the helpful anthropomorphic office supply from Microsoft Office. As the product leader of the Office group in the 90s, he gives some interesting background to how Clippy came to be. I found most fascinating the time machine look back at what personal computing was like back then — how different it was to develop a software product in a world of boxed software.

Everyone makes fun...

Weekend Reading: Gene Wolfe, Zoom, and Inside Spatial Networks

April 27, 2019 • #

📖 Gene Wolfe Turned Science Fiction Into High Art

Wolfe’s work, particularly his Book of the New Sun “tetralogy”, is some of my favorite fiction. He just passed away a couple weeks ago, and this is a great piece on his life leading up to becoming one of the most influential American writers. I recommend it to everyone I know interested in sci-fi. Even reading this made me want to dig up The Shadow of the Torturer and start reading it for a...

Weekend Reading: Running Maps, Thinking, and Remote Work

April 20, 2019 • #

🏃🏻‍♂️ On the Go Map

Found via Tom MacWright, a slick and simple tool for doing run route planning built on modern web tech. It uses basic routing APIs and distance calculation to help plan out runs, which is especially cool in new places. I used it in San Diego this past week to estimate a couple distances I did. It also has a cool sharing feature to save and link to routes.

🔮 As We May Think

I mentioned...

Process Not Products

April 14, 2019 • #

In his new book Loonshots, author Safi Bahcall uses the concept of phase transitions to analyze how companies work. When a substance changes phase, like water going from solid to liquid, the same exact substance is forced to take on a new structural form when the surrounding environment changes.

As Bahcall points out in the book, companies exhibit a similar behavior in their inventions and strategy. He contrasts two different types of innovations that companies tend to be built to produce: “P” type innovations, where a company is great at producing new products, and “S”...

The End of Friction

April 10, 2019 • #

One of my favorite topics on Ben Thompson’s Stratechery, and one that underpins much of his Aggregation Theory, is the role friction plays in economies and cultural forces. Most of the pros (and cons) of internet companies can be tied back to the fact that they took existing businesses or customer demands and removed the friction. Whether it was shipping goods to your door, streaming movies, or communicating with friends, the internet stripped the friction from these interactions for good, but with some downsides that are only recently being realized and understood.

In 2013 he published one...

Modes of Control

March 21, 2019 • #

I’ve nearly finished reading Andy Grove’s High Output Management. Grove was the one of the founders and CEO of Intel, especially famous for his leadership of the company’s shift from design and fabrication of memory to microprocessors in the 80s.

The book is mostly well known for documenting Grove’s management style, which was later formalized into the OKR framework now widely used by Google and others.

But one of my favorite bits from the book (and there are several) is his concept of “modes of control.”

The fundamental...

Weekend Reading: Calculator, SaaS Metrics, and System Shock

March 9, 2019 • #

💻 Open Sourcing Windows Calculator

Seems silly, but this kind of thing is great for the open source movement. There’s still an enormous amount of tech out there built at big companies that creates little competitive or legal risk by being open. Non-core tools and libraries (meaning not core to the business differentiation) are perfect candidates to be open to the community. Check it on GitHub.

📊 The Metrics Every SaaS Company Should Be Tracking

An Inside Intercom interview with investor...

How Google Sets Goals

March 8, 2019 • #

I’ve been thinking and reading more about OKRs and how I might be able to implement them effectively — both professionally and personally. The idea of having clearly defined goals over bounded timelines is something we could all use to better manage time, especially in abstract “knowledge work” where it’s hard to see the actual work product of a day or a week’s activity.

This is an old workshop put on by GV’s Rick Klau. He does a good job giving a bird’s eye view of how to set OKRs and...

How Investors Think About Ideas

March 4, 2019 • #

A good overview from YC’s Kevin Hale on how to break down startup ideas:

The “solution looking for a problem” trap is all too easy to fall into, and to justify your way out of even if you fall prey to it. I love the approach here of starting with the end goal ($100M ARR) and backing into what the market size and price point would need to be to hit that target. So simple, but most of us don’t approach...

Weekend Reading: Build or Buy, OKRs, and Employee Onboarding

March 2, 2019 • #

🖥 When to Build and When to Buy: The Lure of Building Software

This was one of my favorite reads this week, on the topic of “build vs. buy” in IT organizations. In SaaS, this is one of the most common conversations you run into, particularly with medium to large sized companies. With large enterprises the lure of building their “own IP” is so attractive so frequently (because they have some resources), yet most of the time they have no real clue what they’re convincing themselves to do. Building something great...

Getting to 1,000

February 22, 2019 • #

I saw this tweet a couple of days back that I thought was interesting:

The topic of “how we got to 1000 users” is an interesting one I thought I could take a stab at…


Keith Rabois on This Week in Startups

February 20, 2019 • #

When I first heard about his company Opendoor (a real estate startup with the goal of creating faster liquidity for home sellers), I started following Keith Rabois. His Twitter account is a good follow.

This discussion covered topics as diverse as his political views, his original ideas for his companies, and investing principles.

Weekend Reading: Business Applications, Rays Prospects, and the Florida Panhandle

February 16, 2019 • #

👨🏽‍💻 Okta Businesses @ Work 2019

Interesting data here in Okta’s annual report. It’s clear that the way customer’s buy SaaS is very different than the “single-vendor” purchasing preferences from years past. SaaS allows businesses to buy and integrate the best-fit tools for any jobs:

We also looked at whether companies who invest in the Office 365 suite — the top app in our network — end up committing to a Microsoft-only environment, and the answer was clearly “no.” We found that 76% of Okta’s Office 365 customers have one or more...

Starting in Product Management

January 29, 2019 • #

This is a brief series for those interested in getting into product management, in four parts. This first post is about how I got into this line of work and the beliefs I’ve formed over the years on the discipline. Enjoy!

I never set out of college to get into product development. I was a geography guy with a penchant for maps and wanted to learn how to make them. I bounced from an engineering major over to geography early in school because I was passionate about it, with no clue what the ultimate career destination might look like. After...

Weekend Reading: Shanghai, Basecamp, and DocuSaurus

January 26, 2019 • #

🇨🇳 195-Gigapixel Photo of Shanghai

Shot from the Oriental Pearl Tower, the picture shows enormous levels of detail composited from 8,700 source photos. Imagine this capability available commercially from microsatellite platforms. Seems like an inevitability.

🏕 How Basecamp Runs its Business

I, like many, have admired Basecamp for a long time in how they run things, particularly Ryan Singer’s work on product design. This talk largely talks about how they build product and work as an organized team.

📄 Docusaurus

This is an open source framework for building documentation sites, built with React. We’re...

The End of the Beginning

November 25, 2018 • #

An excellent talk from a16z’s Benedict Evans on what’s next for tech and the internet.

Weekend Reading: CAC, Alexander Hamilton, and Flow

November 10, 2018 • #

🛒 What is Customer Acquisition Cost?

This is a great overview of the importance of CAC in a SaaS business.

One of the enjoyable things about SaaS is how much you can modify and optimize what you’re doing by measuring various parts of your process, especially in SMB-focused SaaS. Marketing, early-stage sales, late-stage sales, customer success — it’s like a machine with separate stages you can tweak separately to make incremental improvements.

📜 The Legacy of Alexander Hamilton

On the similarities between Hamilton and Edmund Burke:

“There are...

Weekend Reading: AV-Human Interaction, iPad Pro, and Buying Out Investors

November 3, 2018 • #

🚙 How Self-Driving Cars Could Communicate with You

Interesting work by Ford’s self-driving team on how robotic vehicles could signal intent to pedestrians. You normally think Waymo, Tesla, and Uber with AV tech. But Ford’s investment in Argo and GM with Cruise demonstrates they’re serious.

📲 The iPad Pro is a Computer

Jason Snell’s thoughts on the new iPad Pro release last week:

I love the new design of the iPad Pro models. The flat back with the...

Right-sizing and Product Scoping

October 31, 2018 • #

In product teams you’re continually faced with the challenge of scoping. When you build something directly for a customer, for a fee (consulting), the scoping process is explicit and has built-in constraints — customer expectations, funding, timelines, deliverables. Even in that scenario, agreeing on a firm scope for an effort isn’t simple, but it’s even harder when working in a product company. The same constraints still exist, but in a more nebulous, undefined form. Constraints aren’t imposed and enforced externally by a single client dangling the paycheck. The demands are dispersed amongst thousands of users with sometimes-competing desires, paying varying...

All Hands 2018

October 14, 2018 • #

Spatial Networks is past 50 employees now, with a sizable remote group scattered all over the country. Even though we’ve grown substantially in 2018, we’ve been able to scale our processes, tools, and org chart to maintain pretty effective team dynamics and productivity. When we first started hiring remote folks back in 2010, we had nowhere near the foundation in place to have an effective distributed team.

This week is our 2nd “All Hands” of the year, where our entire remote team comes to St. Petersburg HQ for a week of teamwork, group projects, and fun camaraderie....

Weekend Reading: Geocomputation, Customers, and Linear Growth

October 13, 2018 • #

🎛 Geocomputation with R

I’ve had R on my list for a long time to dig deeper with. A while back I set myself up with RStudio and went through some DataCamp stuff. This online book seems like excellent material in how to apply R to geostatistics.

☎️ Listening to Customers At Scale

Given where we are with Fulcrum in the product lifecycle, this rang very familiar on the struggles with how to listen to customers effectively, who to listen to, and how to absorb...

The Electricity Metaphor

October 9, 2018 • #

During this TED talk from 2003, Jeff Bezos compares the Internet revolution to the early years of electrification. Even 15 years ago he was already describing the core philosophy behind his future products, like Amazon Web Services. AWS is like electricity for technology companies: paying the AWS bill is like paying your utility bill.

The Missing Communication Link

October 8, 2018 • #

Slack grew huge on the idea that it would “replace email” and become the digital hub for your whole company. In some organizations (like ours), it certainly has, or has at least subsumed most all internal-only communication. Email still rules for long form official stuff. It’s booming into a multi-billion dollar valuation on its way to an IPO on this adoption wave.

But over the last couple of years there’s been something of a backlash to “live chat” systems. Of course any new tool can be abused to the point of counter-productivity. As tools like Slack and Intercom...

Breakthrough and Follow-through

October 5, 2018 • #

On a recent episode of the Knowledge Project podcast, Dr. Atul Gawande compared the relative importance “breakthrough” versus “follow through” innovation:

”We’ve been fantastic at breakthrough innovation, with no real understanding of follow-through innovation… Follow through can seem like it’s about nuts and bolts, and not about new ideas.”

What follows is a discussion about the importance of follow-through and rigor with advances in medicine. A redirection of attention away from the shininess of “breakthroughs” is an interesting idea. It’s not that follow-through doesn’t happen, it’s that it gets backgrounded or treated...

The Power of the SaaS Business Model

February 1, 2018 • #

We’re about to head to SaaStr Annual again this year, an annual gathering of companies all focused on the same challenges of how to build and grow SaaS businesses. I’ve had some thoughts on SaaS business models that I wanted write down as they’ve matured over the years of building a SaaS product.

I wrote a post a while back on subscription models, but in the context of consumer applications. My favorite thing about the subscription structure is how well it aligns incentives for both buyers and sellers. While this alignment...

Subscription Pricing Models

September 8, 2017 • #

Since Apple changed their subscription pricing options for App Store developers back in 2016, several high-profile apps that have made the switch from fixed pricing to the subscription model. TextExpander, Day One, and Ulysses are just three that I know of and use.

I may be biased as I’ve been building and selling subscription software for years, but I love that the Apple ecosystem is supporting this now. Ulysses provides a great example: their fixed model had the price at $45 for the Mac app and $25 for the iOS app. Their new subscription is...

Recent Links: Glue, Org Charts, and Patreon’s Growth

August 16, 2017 • #

⚗️ Amazon Announces AWS Glue

AWS Glue is a fully managed extract, transform, and load (ETL) service that makes it easy for customers to prepare and load their data for analytics. You simply point AWS Glue to your data stored on AWS, and AWS Glue discovers your data and stores the associated metadata

Interesting new service from AWS (is there a need in computing they don’t cover at this point?), providing serverless ETL transformations on datasets hosted anywhere. The automatic discovery is particularly interesting for applications dealing in highly variable data structures.

Weekly Links: Ambient Computers, Drones, and Focus

June 1, 2017 • #

💻 The Disappearing Computer

For his final weekly column of his long career, Walt Mossberg talks about what he calls “ambient computing”, the penetration of IoT, AR, VR, and computers throughout our lives:

I expect that one end result of all this work will be that the technology, the computer inside all these things, will fade into the background. In some cases, it may entirely disappear, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, a change in blood chemistry, a shift in temperature, a motion. Maybe even just a thought. Your whole...

Weekly Links: Cartography's Future, Interactive Maps, and Building Moats

April 27, 2017 • #

🚙 Cartography in the Age of Autonomous Vehicles

An excellent, extremely detailed analysis from Justin O’Bierne on how maps and cartography might evolve if autonomous vehicles negate our need for turn-by-turn navigation.

We can’t apply today’s maps to tomorrow’s cars – but this is exactly what those who think cartography is dying are doing. (It’s not that we’ll no longer be navigating, it’s that we’ll be navigating different things – and we’ll need new kinds of maps to help us.)

🌎 Few Interact With Our Interactive Maps–What Can We Do About It?

Brian Timoney’s...

Weekly Links: AI, APFS, and MBA Mondays

March 30, 2017 • #

Trying out a new thing here to document 3 links that caught my interest over the past week. Sometimes they might be related, sometimes not. It’ll be an experiment to journal the things I was reading at the time, for posterity.

The Arrival of Artificial Intelligence 🔮

Good piece from Ben Thompson comparing the current developmental stage of machine learning and AI with the formative years of Claude Shannon and Alan Turing’s initial discoveries of information theory. They figured out how to take mathematical logic concepts (Boolean logic) and merge them with physical circuits — the birth of...

A Quick Guide for New Developers

March 18, 2015 • #

This entire post comes with a caveat: I am not a software engineer. I do build a software product, and work with a bunch of people way smarter than me, though. I’m experienced enough to have an opinion on the topic.

I talk to lots of young people looking to get into the software world. Sometimes they want to build mobile apps or create simple tools, and sometimes looking to create entire products. There are a lot of possible places to start. The world is full of blog posts, podcasts, books, and videos that purport to “teach you...

Future of Geo

October 2, 2013 • #

I presented the day-two keynote to the CFGIS Workshop, talking about what the future of the geography and GIS discipline holds — new technologies for collaboration and sharing, the growth of the geo community and why it matters, and the importance of foundational knowledge of geography to our young people entering higher education.


Software Pricing and SaaS

July 23, 2012 • #

Jeff Lawson of Twilio gave this talk on SaaS pricing at the Business of Software conference last year:

Everyone in the SaaS product business should watch this. Great approach to thinking through putting prices on your SaaS service.

The key is to understand all the facets of your product and what things cost you as the creator, in addition to slicing and dicing options for your customers to buy what they need. Facets like:

  • Quantities (How many gigabytes? What kind of bandwidth is...