Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Engineer Who Saved Facebook

Very interesting article from business insider about Facebook's mobile app and the engineer behind it's revamping. Check it out below!

This Engineer Saved Facebook

Using a white board to illustrate his points, Ondrejka told Zuckerberg that Facebook was broken in a big, scary way and that he, a relatively new engineer at the company, had the solution.
Facebook's problem, according to Ondejka, was its mobile app.
Yes, it was the most popular app on Android and iOS.
But, built in 2006 using HTML5, instead of native iOS or Android code, it was, by October 2011, slow and awful to use.
It was so slow and awful, that it opened the possibility that users would defect Facebook for faster, better mobile social media apps.
Ondejka told Zuckerberg that he could re-build Facebook's app using native code and make it much, much faster.
According to the Wall Street Journal's Evelyn Rusli, who reported on this meeting in an excellent story on Facebook's mobile efforts, Zuckerberg responded to Ondejka with doubt.
He didn't believe, right away, that Ondrejka could "rapidly improve" the apps' performance with his re-write.
Rusli says, "Ondrejka assured him he finally had the technical resources and engineering expertise to get it done."
Ondrejka was right.
In August 2012, Facebook released a new version of its app, and the tech press and users rewarded it with near-universal praise for its speed and usability.
Meanwhile, Facebook continues to survive the consumer world's transition from desktop to mobile.
In this chart, you can actually see an acceleration in mobile-only users since Ondrejka's version of the app launched in August:
Death Of The PC
Business Insider

So, who is this engineer who put his career on the line and saved his company?
He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1992 with a badass sounding degree: "Computer Science and Weapons and Systems Engineering."
Ondrejka joined Facebook in November 2010 when it acquired the assets of a company he had founded, called Walletin. Before Walletin, Ondrejka worked briefly at record label EMI.
Before EMI, Ondrejka was CTO at Linden Labs, where he launched Second Life – the "virtual world." For about a half decade, Second Life was a pretty big deal, and it brought a lot of exposure to Ondrejka.
On his infrequently updated personal blog, you can find links to presentations he's given at conferences. One, titled "Angry dinosaurs: accelerating change institutional incompetence," sounds particularly intriguing.
You can get a sense of Ondrejka's personality and priorities reading one of the last posts on his personal blog – predictions he made for 2010. They were:
  • A major telecommunications company will recognize the competitive threat posed by Google Voice and begin offering “voice is free” as a method to gain customers and transition into more profitable data services.
  • At least one of the ineffective, post-9/11 airport security theater provisions is rolled back.
  • The current crop of social games will go the way of the original wave of Zombies and Vampires as players tire of the repetitive gameplay and friends start a backlash — again, exactly as we saw with Zombies and Vampires. The winning social game companies will be those which pivot dramatically.

  • Apple releases a tablet and moves computing onto a 4th screen, adding a new form factor to their existing complement of full screen (desktop/laptop), handheld (iPhone), and living room (Mac Mini/MacTV). It will be incredibly fun to use for the range of activities currently least served by current screens — movies, reading, browsing/social media on the run, and video/text chat. It will bring at least one new UX tech to the party to help make it the “ZOMG, WANT!!” product of 2010 — for example, front facing 3D camera for gestural control without touching the screen.

  • The 2010 midterm elections will see a degree of negative campaigning and hate mongering the likes of which the United States has never seen. It will be so bad that political and media leaders from both parties will finally remember that the point of politics is not to win but to effectively govern.

  • Amazon responds to the gaggle of competing copycat ebook readers by turning Kindle into a full fledged book platform: author choice on DRM, p2p sharing, and loaning; community elements for book recommendations, annotations, and ranking; and, user-generated book metadata for series and sequels, to allow author and series subscription for automatic delivery of new books.

  • Backlash against the world’s biggest banks and their windfall profits will contribute to the emergence of new regional, community, and online banking options.

  • The threat of Three Strike’s coming to the United States via ACTA will generate a grassroots debate about the merits of Obama administration’s IP maximalist strategy.

  • Heath care reform makes it through the committee reconciliation process and passes despite complaints from all sides.

  • I will be back at work full-time on something seriously cool.
Boy did he nail that last one.

Read more:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Interesting article on Apple and Microsoft

Dear Apple, Welcome To Microsoft's Agonizing World (AAPL, MSFT)

Microsoft Apple Comparison Chart
For the longest time, Apple bulls could sneer at Microsoft.

After peaking in December of 1999 at $58, Microsoft slipped to $22 a year later. Since then it's failed to break out of the $17-$36 range. It looks flat if you look at it over a ten year period.

While Microsoft's stock went sideways all it could say was, "It's the market. It's out of our hands, we can only do so much."

Microsoft's top PR man Frank Shaw built a good defense of his company. While the stock was flat, he noted Microsoft:
  • Tripled revenue from $23 billion in 2000 to $70 billion in 2011.
  • Increased profits from $9 billion in 2000 to $23 billion in 2011.
  • Returned $194 billion to shareholders via dividends and stock buyback.
Impressive numbers, but it didn't matter. Microsoft looked vulnerable to attacks from Apple and Google despite churning out impressive numbers year after years. The stock suffered because CEO Steve Ballmer failed to see the rise of mobile.

And while that was happening, Apple's stock was a rocket racing to the moon. Apple investors could look at Microsoft and laugh.

Well, the shoe is on the other foot today, as they say. Apple's defenders are throwing their hands in the air, shouting, "Apple had the fourth biggest earnings in history! What does Wall Street want?!?!"
The Street wants growth and stability. Apple's period of mega-growth is over. And real or perceived, there are threats to Apple's business right now. Samsung is selling a lot of smartphones. Amazon is clobbering Apple's margins. Google isn't going anywhere.

Apple can, and will, exist quite profitably while those companies do their thing. But, Microsoft existed quite profitably while Google and Apple did their thing. The looming threat is what held Microsoft in check.

The story can change for Apple. It doesn't have to be the next Microsoft. What really killed Microsoft was whiffing on the next big thing.

So far, Apple hasn't missed a technological revolution. If Apple rolls out a TV, an iWatch, or something else that people fall in love with, then it can avoid going sideways forever. But if Apple does miss the next big thing, then Apple will have to learn to live in annoying world Microsoft has been living in for years.

Read more:

Winter Storm Luna

News like this makes me happy that I live on the west coast and not back east! Tons of weather delays and closings. I hope our colleagues in the east stay safe.

Monday, January 14, 2013

You've Got To Pay The Toll

Growing up in the Hampton Roads area as a youngster, I have seen my share of toll roads.

In fact, I remember along one particular expressway you couldn’t even get off an exit without paying.

As I grew up and began to travel I have been taken by surprise by unexpected toll booths. I would dare say, some of you reading this have been caught behind me as I fumbled in my car for change and enraging travelers stuck behind me.

I have heard it said, “The difference between good and great is often the sacrifice one is willing to make to achieve it.”

When we look at this in the perspective of the life we live compared to the life we really want, we see where it disconnects.

In one word, it’s SACRIFICE.

I have never met someone who didn’t want more, but the issue seems to be their ability to see this principle.

If you’ve ever sat frustrated with your lot in life, you know exactly what I am speaking of.

Deep down inside you know full well it is never about what others have done, or not done for you. It’s what you would not do for yourself.

I want to share three simple tips that will help you identify where you are in the process and what is truly required of you:
  • It all starts with your attitude: Attitude is key! In fact, you can have all the intelligence in the world but if your attitude is one of negativity and strife; you will never attract the right life. I’ve seen people with all the potential in the world, but one blind spot in their attitude ruined any chance for them to step into greatness. We must address our internal expectations before we can expect to excel.
  • Next, establish the right circle of accountability: To some, this is a dirty word. Some see accountability as a fence or barrier to progress. But if you adjust your thinking to see accountability as the structure that holds the bridge of ‘greatness’ up, you learn to embrace it. Imagine how nervous you would be to cross a bridge with no guard rails. Chances are you would turn around and seek out another route. Many are wandering now because they lack authentic accountability.
  • Last, you have to take action: A good attitude without the proper action is like a brand new Ferrari without an engine. It’s going nowhere fast. Sure you look great standing next to it or even sitting behind the wheel. But it’s all a show. Action is the one part of the puzzle you cannot ignore. Life boils down to those who take action and those who do not. How many ideas have you filed away as ‘unattainable’ because you lingered too long? Action could have made you a millionaire five times over by now.
Greatness is not easily accessed.

If greatness was easily accessed, every person on earth would be realizing their power every single day.

But the sad reality is, it is not. Greatness costs. Often it costs more than most are willing to pay. We have to learn to sacrifice what we like to do now so we can live the way we desire in the future. Look at it as sowing seeds this year for the harvest coming next year.

See you at the TOP!
Early Jackson

Monday, January 7, 2013


Top 3 Interview Questions for Hiring Salespeople

In tough economic times, the pipeline for a sales job is often glutted with hundreds of applicants. With numerous seemingly qualified applicants to choose from, the interviewing and selection process can become long and drawn-out--and a waste of your valuable time.

Hiring on gut instinct may feel right, but it can lead to big mistakes. A skillful interviewer will instead ask questions that reveal how serious a candidate is about the job and how likely he or she is to succeed in the position.

Here are three knockout questions that can form the centerpiece of an effective interview. When asked together, they should give you a deep profile of the interviewee. If a candidate can’t answer these questions satisfactorily, quickly move on to the next applicant.

1. What do you know about this company and our industry?
The applicant's answer to this question should show solid research into your company and the industry. If he or she knows little about what your organization does, you likely have someone who’s just job shopping. That’s not what you’re looking for--you want people who are passionate about building a career with your company and in your industry. These are the people who tend to be successful long-term employees. Candidates in this group will have done research on the company and industry and will be able to enthusiastically articulate why they want to join your team.

2. What do you want to accomplish at this company?
When you ask this question, listen for ambitious but realistic answers. I once interviewed an applicant who in all seriousness told me he expected to be the company’s president in three years. Given this person’s background, there was absolutely no way that was happening--he wasn’t in touch with reality, and he wasn’t hired. But you should also be wary of those who have low expectations of themselves--these probably aren’t the high performers you’re looking for.

3. What have you done to prepare for the job?
The applicant’s answer to this question should show you that he or she is committed to securing the job. I once interviewed someone for a sales position at a medical device company, and when I asked what she had done to prepare for this job, her answer was: “I’ve studied your catalougue and website, and my best friend is one of your sales reps--I’ve traveled with her while she made customer calls for the last two weeks. I really want this job and am ready to start today.” Actions like this show commitment, and people who are dedicated have a much higher degree of success.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Non-negotiable Traits of a True Entrepreneur

Read this article and thought it would be great to share. I believe these to be true no matter what endeavor you are undertaking this year! Enjoy.
Successful founders are as different from each other as they are from everyone else. Except they all, without fail, share these four indispensable traits.

You say you want to start a company, but do you really think you have what it takes? You may be a detail-oriented geek or a visionary, a hyper-active multi-tasker or an obsessive, and have an equal chance of success. But there are certain character quirks that entrepreneurship simply demands. After building startups myself and investing in many others over the past 20 years, I hold these four traits to be non-negotiable.

1. You must be up for an adventure.
Starting a company or investing or joining a startup is like embarking on a four-week backpacking journey with enough food for one week. You don’t know where you or your company will be a year out; you don’t know how many people will be with you. You have to be comfortable with uncertainty. You should a clear vision on the end point, but the journey is very unknown.

Look back at the times in your career when the future has been uncertain. Were those the times that you thrived? Were you the irrationally positive person in the room? Were you the one firing up the team when everying seemed bleak? If you were not, let me say this: You at least have to be smart (and honest!) about your shortcomings, then hire someone who can do that for you.

As an investor, I prefer to see an entrepreneur who can do a little bit of everything without stressing when things fall outside his or her comfort zone. But I also recognize that a crack team of founders can be just as effective (if not more effective) than a one-man show.

2. You have to be patient.
Success will not happen overnight. This may be hard to believe if you’re constantly reading tech blogs, in which it seems to be gospel that billion-dollar valuations come to everyone who shows up. But the fact is, the companies that have endured took years to build. Starbucks opened in 1971, and eight years later they still had only operated a handful of stores. Spotify has been around since 2008. Amazon took 9 years to turn a profit.

You need to understand that the problems truly worth solving, the big industry problems, will not be wrapped up neatly in a year or two. It may take decades, and you will almost definitely have to make many adjustments to your initial vision. You’ll have to persevere through unfavorable conditions. But if you don't easily discourage, you will always have a better chance of succeeding.

3. You can’t be a perfectionist.
This is not a business where you will be able to spend all of your time and energy fixing one problem.

Good entrepreneurs can find a way to jump into the fray and start implementing ideas and solutions, even if they don’t have all the answers. You have to be comfortable covering a wide territory, with knowing a little bit about a lot of things, rather than a great deal about one thing. Compromise is essential for survival.

If you can easily check off all the risk factors when looking at a problem, it’s probably not a problem worth solving. So embrace the messiness. You’re going to learn more about what your battle plan should look like, and what challenges you need to expect, as you go along.

4. You have to be your company’s best sales person
Finally, it’s essential to remember that you must be, at your core, a great salesperson. You need to be able to sell your vision to potential partners, investors, and customers. If you can’t successfully do this, you’ll have a tough time getting very far. You’re going to be the first person to introduce the world to your product, and first impressions are important. Everyone wants to hear about your passion from you.

Learn the most common questions and reservations that people will have. They’ll want to know why what you’re doing is valuable. Cut out the jargon and speak to the heart of the matter. Start at the core, and then fill in the details. You have to hook them with the big picture before they can appreciate the nuances.

You wouldn't be reading this if you didn't have great faith and excitement in your idea. But you don't have a real business until you can enkindle that faith and excitement in others.

-Inc magazine