Thanks for bringing back the real deal

I recently met up with an old friend who has become somewhat of a veteran in the dotcom scene. We reminisced about the good ol’ web 2.0 days and talked about how much things have changed.

Back in the days when you can blame your product’s failure on the ongoing digital divide and limits in technology. Those who mastered the art of waxing philosophical about imaginative problems were the heros of the game. Products were like art works curated by early adopters, and no one dared to out themselves for simply “not getting it”. 

Fast forward nearly a decade, and today everyone and their grandmother is buying stuff online. As hobby entrepreneurs and incubators pop up like wild flowers, they are met with a new generation of digital natives that are coming of age with a brutal matter-of-factness and self-assurance around technology. Long gone are the days when all you had to do was build a platform, figure out how to get your friends and their friends on the site then incentivize them to generate content.

Today’s dotcom darlings are looking more like the real deal. Sure, we’ll still have those trying for the gazillionth time to crack the to-do list and we’ll still have those blessed WTF apps out for a quick win, but the new game changers are those bringing real value to real people in the real world. Instead of forcing you to change your ways, they’re figuring out ways to integrate the digital web into your lifestyle. Unlike their predecessors, they actually have to deal with real world problems such as buying goods, handling warehouse logistics, licensing content, working with authorities to set up infrastructure and warrant new laws. They are out there getting real people to rent out real apartments to real strangers. They partner with car manufacturers and local authorities to challenge the long established norm of car ownership. They convince retailers and their buyers to substitute well-established credit institutes for their payment solution.

So here’s my salute to all you new game changers out there. Thanks for bringing back the real deal!

Nothing against dreaming big, but why am I always surrounded by wanna-be innovators? First there was the high-fly MBA’er who thinks he’s the next Steve Jobs, now it’s the out-of-school rookie who thinks he’s the next Mark Z?

I recently rewatched a presentation by Malcolm Gladwell on how a spaghetti sauce and a psychophysicist (Howard Moskowitz) revolutionized the US food industry in the 1980s. Gladwell argues that Moskowtiz changed how our shelves looked by convincing the corporate world with the following three key findings:

1. People don’t know what they want

2. Embrace horizontal segmentation, because there are only different kinds of taste that suite different kinds of people. 

3. There isn’t one, perfect way to shape a dish.

While I do appreciate how “understanding and embracing variability” has moved beyond academia to infiltrate into mainstream thinking. What I find amusing is how the cost-effective mindset of the corporate world basically took these findings and twisted them around, leaving me with same-flavored foods packaged in new and different ways. So here’s my big ups to Moskowitz for inspiring the corporate world in bringing me Vanilla Coke and Pringles Taco Night! 

(NYtimes) Guy Kawasaki on the side of management you don't learn in business school

In a nutshell:
- Simplicity and clarity in communicating strategies and decisions
- Know what your strengths and weaknesses are and find people who complement your skills
- Find people who are better than you
- Engineers must realize that there is more to a business than building the product
- The toughest part of business isn’t the decisions and analysis, but the implementation (especially like what he says about consultants)

Social media in China aka a deck of references

Visualizing the internet superpower

Visualizing the internet superpower

The conversation prism

The conversation prism

Dogs as typeface 

Dogs as typeface