M&A is super important in tech. So many huge successes but also many disappointments coming from a mismatch of expectations regarding integration. This thread expands upon an "integration expectations" matrix. How to avoid misalignment. 1/many
Most people think about getting deals done—price and terms. Reality is that as either buyer or seller, once "deal fever" settles in those are easy and you can’t really "contract" or LOI terms of subsequent integration. Why?
Too many (unintentionally) scuttle deals by trying to negotiate future—how will things work, what will be asked of team, etc. Truth is you can’t contract these b/c they can’t be enforced, but also negotiating may leave bad taste and lead to failure of deal.
Paul was an incredibly important man to so many. My deepest condolences to his sister and those closest to him. The great research and philanthropic work at Vulcan continues.
Some personal reflection.1/
Like many of my Microsoft generation, I did not have a opportunity to work with Paul day-to-day in the very early days while he was full-time Microsoft. The chance I had began in the early 1990s when I was working for Bill as his technical assistant.
Paul was always curious and incredibly thoughtful about his questions and ideas about the future. The first time we talked was before the internet had really taken off but online services were becoming a big thing. Web technologies were new and the idea of an online service huge.
1/ “Do Not Track” the Privacy Tool Used by Millions of People, Doesn’t Do Anything gizmodo.com/do-not-track-t… via @gizmodo’s @kashhill // This is a good summary of the history of do not track. BUT I think it is too nice.
2/ Early in the development of browsers, it’s fair to say that every feature that was developed to permit people to have control over what they are shown/see was met with massive resistance from “advertising” write large.
3/ Popup blockers. It was incredibly annoying to browse the early web. You’d open a page and more windows would open. You’d close a window and more windows would pop up.
AND as soon as popup blocking was added there were cries of “this is the end of the ‘free’ Internet”.
1/ The rate of improvement in computational photography is amazing. While we understand how sensors get better due to improvements in silicon, we don’t have a way to characterize the improvements and innovations from software.
Above image is the HEC and then portrait mode at f1.4. Snapped in 5 seconds.
Two important things:
• What an analog lens does is “artificial” in that it all depends on choices made in the design of optics (shape of aperture, lens elements, lens coatings, lens hood, etc.)
• Most of what we see is also “photoshopped” anyway.
1/ Fresh evidence of China hacking of tech hardware bloomberg.com/news/articles/… // A story of great concern. No one has a complete picture of what is going on (obviously). BUT compromises at Nat Sec level very subtle and don’t follow “norms” of transparency and disclosure. Thoughts…
I start with massive support/respect for Intelligence Community (IC) striving to keep US safe from huge number of 21st century threats that few anticipated could be weaponized to such a degree.
Plus a lot of experience/empathy for full stack of big companies creating platforms.
Important caveat—I have no knowledge about any specifics beyond stories we all read. These are lessons from the process, emotions, and challenges of being on the front line. I have not talked to any relevant people.
2/ Amazon continues to use classic retail practices BUT in unique combinations enhanced by data. Things are super exciting/interesting because no retailer has done experimented with every “trick in the book” all at once. That’s new!
3/ For example, all retailers use data but any will tell you that merchandising is not just “picking what to sell and selling it”.
Merchandising it tapping into tastemakers (or being one). Fashion Week, Toy Fair, CES, etc. …Devil Wears Prada
2/3 MS falling into "trap" too many ISVs fall into. Want a feature that is risky to integrity/privacy/security of end user experience then go with more fragile platform that has APIs/"hacks" to deliver feature. Very tough to have a secure enterprise posture with this approach.
3/3 This isn't about integrity of platform at core "OS" level but the overall ecosystem, APIs, and consistency of enforcement of policies (including how phones ship from manufacturers).
Computing is an adversarial world. Enterprises need the most secure starting point.
1/ The market size—TAM—for business productivity software is way bigger than many realize. Two factors: cloud services free up dollars + startups building solutions to classic problems lacking S/W. A horizontal biz suite seems archiac compared to SaaS solutions for same problems.
History. Mainframes were about org productivity—financials, inventory, accounting. PCs came along and defined "personal productivity". Most early days of personal productivity defined by 3 categories: spreadsheet, word processor, database (graphics took longer).
Spreadsheet invented by @DanB@BobFrankston arguably the greatest intellectual tool invented for computing—Visicalc—came to define business PC. Still, early on was lots of competition (Lotus, Supercalc, Quattro, Excel). bricklin.com/firstspreadshe…
1/ Quite a few [sic] comments on this comment so maybe I can preempt the HN thread (hopefully not add to it).
I was trying to characterize both the attention to/frequency of security breaches in _big tech_ companies as analogous to safety in airlines. What did I mean by that?
2/ Big tech to me are the platform companies and/or large public companies. In these companies, security is an existential issue and treat it as such. The resources are applied. The processes are in place. Training. Checks. So on. Quite analogous to what goes on at airlines.
3/ My view: breaches in big tech are 1 in a million incidents (as are plane crashes, though arguing equivalence was not my intent).
Given scale of usage (sessions) and breadth of platforms, number of breaches is remarkably small—maybe not 2018 US aviation but not 1990 Aeroflot.
1/ "Consumerization of IT" bit of tired phrase. There’s a much more important shift with changing role of biz productivity software. We're in a new era where software solutions can be more like office "supplies" than office "buildings".
IMPORTANT: TAM for productivity s/w is going UP and not just because h/w & svcs dollars shifting to MS365 from on-prem, but because most cost/spend was hidden as spreadsheets, old templates, one-offs, or internal custom dev. So cloud+commercializaton=BIG TAM.
Consumerization attributes include buyer, user experience, pricing, etc. Key is productivity is minimizing usage or time to complete task, maximizing the value of single use case. Design point very different than consumer services MAU, MPU so "consummation" can be misunderstood.
1/ Like many, I woke up to this today. Struck by so many saying matter of time, expected (esp FB login)…
Responding to major, potentially existential, incidents (quality, security, privacy, abuse) as large org is unique. Thoughts on living through and coming out the other side.
First, this isn’t about FB—I have zero info. FB remarkably secure by engr/design. This is awful.
Second, w/ any crisis, there are always people somewhere (internal or external) who will say "told you this would happen".
“No matter what happens someone always said it would.”
This is really about how the culture of security came about.
Why do BigCo seem "slow"? Why don’t they seem to learn from past experiences of others? Key questions w/ not so obvious answers. BigCos got big by executing and exist execution mode, not crisis mode—getting stuff done.
Words that mean a lot of me from @sama, certainly the guiding words for me over many many projects. Problem—most people say they have plans (even after getting punched in the face) but they really don’t have plans. So what is a plan, really? 1/
A plan is not "what are you going to do". That’s still a vision. Most everyone thinks a plan is a detailed list of what you will get done in kanban. One way to think about this is to first make sure you have a strategy, but what’s that?
At the company level there is Mission, Vision, Plan, Tactices. See how plan is one part of this. Combine these and you have a strategy. Conflate them or fail to differentiate and you have a mess.
Alt-view on Amazon global domination of all retail and the last company standing. :-)
Recent moves by Amazon are an indication not of domination but convergence towards the same drivers of retail success in prior generation. “Everyone eventually becomes their parents.” 1/n
Retail has always been generational. Retail success stories are a graveyard of iconic brand names. Just brutal in how they roll over every generation.
Here are a few from my own childhood that no longer exist.
Historically rollover is due to a secular change in how people both buy and sell stuff. We might call this disruption, but these changes are tied to transport, communication, suburbanization, etc. No mistake, there’s innovation but in retail this is a response to secular change.
Pricing (for directly priced products) is a most tricky part of creating go to market as everything flows from pricing—amount of R&D, operating expenses, demand gen/CAC, channel, etc.—especially for tech founders. Under-pricing/over-pricing is a circle of life. Where are you? 1/
2/ Early on no one knows how much to charge and prices are closely related to “getting some revenue” in order to establish a product and begin the P-M-Fit journey.
3/ This stage is often when the basics of either freemium or the the price floor of a product established.
General patterns of free/cheap for small number users, low storage, no IT Pro and then more for those emerge.
The New ECG Apple Watch Could Do More Harm Than Good wired.com/story/ecg-appl… via @WIRED // It could also do more good than harm. A few thoughts on this. 1/
2/ I'm a big believer in preventative medicine and feel (like many do) that our healthcare system is a sickness management system and not a wellness system. Most studies show that if as a society we were better at wellness we would spend far less on health and be healthier.
3/ Difficult to disagree with family medicine approaches that "over-test" and possibly over-treat wasting healthcare resources.
False positivies can send people into panic situations and create "health emergencies" or worse complications due to tracking down a false positive.
The iPhone Franchise stratechery.com/2018/the-iphon…@stratechery // Smart. Interesting to consider the iPhone annuity stream relative to historic (pre-OS X) Mac "annuity" stream. This is another double-secret playbook that has been out in the open all along, but different this time. 1/
2/ The original Mac was essentially this identical annuity stream. Relatively higher priced PCs, core customer set, predictably improved, constant replacement.
3/ The research at the time was crazy in that every new Mac model was purchased by a huge portion of the base. New product -> time for a new Mac.
I'm not a big sports watching fan but am fascinated by both the changing realities around attendance and the relative denials by the leagues. It isn't clear to me why individual sports can't have a secular decline. The narratives don't seem like a stretch really. 1/2
2/2 Nascar has seen a real decline in dollars. Football seems to be in denial because advertisers have not yet left TV (where else can beer and cars go?). Compare top NBA to NFL advertisers (NFL data not so recent but best I could find). // Just thinking about this. Thats all.
PS/ Football seems to be in complete denial over the risk to human participants (making watching it potentially odd). Boxing was once a dominant spectator sport.
Not hard to imagine that people with electric cars might not be interested in NASCAR, especially as EVs expand.
2/ Put aside instruction sets. Apps can be recompiled, fatapps, etc.
But phones and pcs have many different capabilities that means you can’t do anything universal. Some stuff can be “faked” (GPS) but screen size or other sensors and of course mouse v touch cannot be.
3/ There’s really nothing you can do about this in software. Apple owning the hardware at both ends can continue to converge them (and also use iCloud to bridge data) and is doing that super well (eg continuity, etc)
“Why Women Stay Out of the Spotlight at Work” hbr.org/2018/08/sgc-8-… // This is important to consider for women on teams. Also raises important “performance evaluation” considerations for any team. A list-thread follows:
There are several terms/behaviors that often appear in performance appraisals that could have little to do with doing good work but prove quite difficult for some people. Here’s a few things to consider.
Visibility. As pointed out in research, being visible is often an uncomfortable spot. Reality is work should be visible, not necessarily people, esp. early in career. As people mature into leadership roles they get more comfortable w/visibility—though consider leadership styles.
Complaining that the fees to app stores feel like “taxes”? Then a fair thing to do is not charge for a product since that feels like a tax to your users.
Distribution is a cost of doing business. App stores are modern (and rather effective) distribution. 1/3
2/3 Some might say “monopolies” but one only need consider role of retailers, wholesalers, grocery, entertainment, or any historic distribution channels—it was never possible to build a major biz w/o “capitulating” at some point to distribution channels they created/innovated.
3/3 To those creating distribution channels, burden falls to them to maintain health over time. Does it become onerous to do business with them? Do they lack transparency? Are they arbitrary? These are all things that undermined the channels that were once dominant/innovative.
Twitter company email addresses why it's #BreakingMyTwittertcrn.ch/2nHgq2z // Oh nooo 😱😱😱 — breaking compatibility is a cardinal sin in being a platform. Or is it? Why the outrage? Why is this right to do anyway? Some thoughts on building a platform+app. 1/
The outrage from those that use third party clients is predictable, and in a sense justified. Justified because going way back twitter talked about the API & openness. Here’s from 2009 interview with @waltmossberg. allthingsd.com/20090526/biz-s…
I was there and recall thinking “🤔, this isn’t sustainable”. But also at the time, mobile platforms were uncertain—Facebook had not even pivoted yet and Twitter was a very small team leveraging the community. Plus no one argues with openness.
1/ Time management is top of mind for all as the universally scarce resource is time. There’s also a lot of advice and best practices to be had. I think a lot of what I see is counter to success (long and short term) for project and career. Here’s how I think/rant on time mgmt.
Most important thing is time management (TM) is like all other personal development and growth—what works for one person (leadership style, product) may or may not work for you. The big thing about time is how you manage your time impacts how others collaborate w/you. So think.
When seeking role models or suggestions for TM it is always best to look to people doing amazing work at the same type of job in the same type of role as you. Don’t seek TM tips from a CEO or VC if you are an eng or in sales, or bigco if you are series A.
“Why Small Teams Win And Bigger Ones Fail” by @esanueugenuxplanet.org/why-small-team… // Me: Number of designers should be a reflection of the interaction surface area of the product, not a measure of importance of design. Better for the product. Better for design. Better for eng/pm.
2/4 Mostly I see design teams that are too big for the surface area (experience) they design, and product management teams too small for the surface area they PM (code, APIs, experience).
3/4 Many think that having 1 PM for ever 2 or 3 eng (when at scale of ~100 eng) is extraordinary, but it all depends on how much you want to iterate before coding and how much coherence desired across a product line.
1/ “The End of the Big Idea?” by @bob_buzzardmedium.com/@bob_buzzard/t… // Interesting and realistic post about customer input program at Salesforce and the challenges at scale. Always super tough to argue against "listen to customers" but at scale two realities (to consider).
Some tough customer love in this thread. An early stage company (ent or cons) outnumbers customers. So listening is relatively straight forward mapping of resources to input. In fact, early stage companies often have a feel of "work for hire" in traversing product market fit.
This is especially true when building a product that must work for groups or bigCo process as regardless of founder vision, making that vision fit within constraints is a good thing.