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Anti-scale effect in tech

Anti-scale effect in tech
Tonight I was talking with an exec at Google and I brought up the success of (they’ve gotten more than 500,000 downloads in just a few weeks) and asked him “why can’t Google do that?” I knew some of the answers. After all, I watched Microsoft get passed by by a whole group of startups (I was working at Microsoft as Flickr got bought by Yahoo, Skype got bought by eBay, etc etc). I told him a few of my theories, and he told me back what they are seeing internally. Turns out he was talking to me about these items because Google, internally, knows it has an innovation problem (look at Google Wave or Buzz for examples of how it is messed up) and is looking to remake its culture internally to help entrepreneurial projects take hold. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. So, how does a big company innovate? Another way? Sachin Agarwal, one of the founders of Posterous, echoes these comments in a post about what he learned working at Apple (Small teams rule). So, how about you? Related:  Strategy

The Strategy Trap “They were worried that I would get bogged down in wanting to do things, not just create strategy.”- David Polinchock / @lbbinc One of the topics covered during the #LikeMinds Summit this past weekend was precisely this: The chasm between strategy and execution, especially as businesses struggle to understand how to leverage, integrate and operationalize Social Communications (what you do with social media platforms) in the coming 6-24 months. Unfortunately, because the C-suite tends to look to itself when it comes to “strategic masterminding,” the focus too often shifts from execution at the customer level (the most important thing a business should be focusing on on) to… being the guy who came up with the game-changing strategy that will secure more funding and increase influence within the organization. When this happens, strategy becomes a product, and that’s bad. Strategy isn’t a product. Any idiot with a powerpoint deck can deliver a “Social” strategy: Um… yeah, except… no. 1. 2. 3.

Why big tech companies like Google can still innovate Google lost one of its star engineers this week. Can a company be too big to innovate? Star Google engineer Lars Rasmussen leaves the company for Facebook Facebookers also reportedly are leaving to start their own companies Can a company be too big to innovate? (CNN) -- Earlier this week, one of Google's rock-star engineers left that mammoth company -- population: 23,000 -- for Facebook, which has about 2,000 employees. The departure of Lars Rasmussen, co-creator of Google Maps and Google Wave, is only one example, but it raises interesting questions about the precarious nature of corporate tech innovation: Can companies grow and continue to be be creative and innovative? This is especially pressing because, with this latest project, the highly ambitious e-mail replacement software called Google Wave, Rasmussen was trying to prove to himself and to Google that innovation is possible at an enormous company. Microsoft: 89,000 Apple: 49,000 Google: 23,000 Facebook: 2,000 Twitter: 300

How New Ideas Almost Killed Our Startup Odysseus resisting the Sirens Vinicius Vacanti is co-founder and CEO of Yipit. Next posts on how to acquire users for free and how to raise a Series A. Don’t miss them by subscribing via email or via twitter. On my three year startup journey that lead to Yipit, I had over 30 other completely unrelated ideas. To be clear, the “ideas” I’m referring to are the ones that have nothing to do with your current startup. In our case, Yipit had always been about organizing local information and we had been working on it for a while. Social version of delicious (summer of 2007)Tool to recommend the best version of the online video you were currently watching (spring 2008) Bookmarklett that smartly shortens your tweet to less than 140 characters. I now think of these new ideas as the Sirens of the startup journey. The Temptation To understand why these new ideas can be so tempting, I refer you to the incredibly insightful startup transition cycle. The Danger The Solution

Nokia’s New Chief Faces a Culture of Complacency Minh Uong/The New York Times The prototype was demonstrated to business customers at Nokia’s headquarters in Finland as an example of what was in the company’s pipeline, according to a former employee who made the 2004 presentation in Espoo. But management worried that the product could be a costly flop, said the former employee, Ari Hakkarainen, a manager responsible for marketing on the development team for the Nokia Series 60, then the company’s premium line of smartphones. Nokia did not pursue development, he said. “It was very early days, and no one really knew anything about the touch screen’s potential,” Mr. As Nokia’s new chief executive, Stephen Elop, takes over this month, he faces a formidable task: to regain the company’s lost ground in the smartphone segment of the global phone market, especially in the United States, while maintaining its worldwide dominance as the largest maker of mobile phones. His biggest obstacle, according to Mr. She also said that Mr. Mr.

Why Startups Fail « vcdave An entrepreneur recently asked me why startups fail. Startups fail because they run out of money. You’re probably thinking, “Tell me something I don’t already know!” Read on and you’ll see that statement is deceptive in its simplicity This post is based both on my experience as an investor and as entrepreneur (when I’ve boot-strapped and venture-funded). They spend too much on sales and marketing before they’re ready. Other times, this occurs with entrepreneurs who are accustomed to having lots of resources. Sometimes even when the product is great, the sales process itself isn’t understood to a point where it can be scaled: who are you selling to, how much will they really spend, and what profile of sales person does the company need to hire who will succeed at selling that particular product. Spending on the sales and marketing operations means there is no return if customers don’t bite. The market outpaces the startup’s ability to execute. Take Company X (a composite).

Rescuing Nokia? A former exec has a radical plan Midsize businesses face enterprise-caliber threats Interview A couple of months ago, a book appeared in Finland which has become a minor sensation. In the book, a former senior Nokia executive gives his diagnosis of the company, and prescribes some radical and surprising solutions. Up until now, the book has not been covered at all in the English language. This is the first review of the proposals outlined in Uusi Nokia (New Nokia - the manuscript) and draws on three hours of interviews with its author, Juhani Risku. It’s very, very timely – and even if you don’t follow Nokia, mobile or telecomms it’s a fascinating exercise in business analysis and organisational studies. [If you’re in a hurry – use this handy jump list: Nokia Research » Symbian » Marketing » Dual CEO model Design: contextual » London Office People: Kallasvuo » Vanjokki » Aho » Ojanperä » Ahtisaari » McDowell] The diagnosis is largely one that others have made. Midsize businesses face enterprise-caliber threats

Sean Parker On Why Myspace Lost To Facebook With reports of social network Myspace about to sell for ~$30 million, the tech world eagerly awaits the HBS study for why the service, which was bought in 2006 by Newscorp for $580 million and was at some point valued at $1.5 billion (a quote in a Business Week article referred to it as “one of the best acquisitions ever”) ultimately failed. For those that can’t wait for the inevitable GSB white papers, former Facebook President and Napster co-founder Sean Parker explained why Myspace succumbed to Facebook in an interview with Jimmy Fallon at the NExTWORK Conference in New York. While the entire interview is a delight to watch, the highlight is when Fallon starts asking Parker about whether Facebook is “it,” (“Is Facebook the end game?”) bringing up the failed Myspace for comparison. “It’s never the end game. Able to put being the possibility that it was victim of some artificial super intelligence aside, at minute 20:54 Fallon asks Parker, “Where did Myspace go wrong?”

Why Nokia's Collapse Should Scare Apple - Patrick Barwise and Seán Meehan - The Conversation by Patrick Barwise and Seán Meehan | 9:01 AM April 25, 2011 Nokia’s inability to field a credible response to the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and Google’s Android operating system in 2008 has precipitated a freefall in its share price. Today, Apple is riding high, making this the perfect time for it — and every successful company — to reflect on Nokia’s fall and ensure that they don’t suffer the same fate. Not so long ago, Nokia was the disrupter. In 1994, the dominant global provider of mobile handsets was Motorola: its shares were trading at an all-time high and it was seen as an outstanding innovator and even described by a senior consultant at A. T. Although Nokia introduced few radical new products, in the 1990s it was a bold, innovative company in broader business terms — more than most people realise. Over time and with success, Nokia too lost some of its ability to stay in touch with, and adapt early to, market trends.

Color, Now Down Two of Three Leaders, Looks Like A Lesson in Lean Startup Philosophy Just three and a half months after the company launched to the public, proximity-based photo sharing mega-startup Color has lost a second of its three high-profile initial team members, Michael Arrington reported this morning. Arrington said DJ Patil, who was LinkedIn's chief scientist until this Spring, has resigned. Co-founder Peter Pham, previously a leader at very successful startups Photobucket and Billshrink, left Color last month. The reasons why Color appears to be imploding can't be known for sure, but the whole thing looks like a lesson in the Lean Startup philosophy. Just after it launched, to widespread criticism because the user experience was so confusing and unfulfilling, we did an in-depth interview with CEO Bill Nguyen. Indeed the technology does sound very, very interesting. Lean Startup advocate Ries says that he had a similar experience with one of his startups, an avatar-based chat plug-in called IMVU. And now what have they got?

Jeff Bezos on innovation: Amazon ‘willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time’ One question at’s shareholder meeting this morning in Seattle clearly made an impression on Jeff Bezos, sparking an extraordinary response from the Amazon CEO and founder on the qualities of innovation and the characteristics of the company. The question: Amazon seems to be executing well lately — is the company taking enough risks? Added the shareholder, “If it’s still Amazon’s philosophy to make bold bets, I would expect that maybe some of them wouldn’t work out, but I am just not seeing that. So, my question is where are the losers?” Continue reading for the full text of Bezos’ response, transcribed from the company’s webcast. In a way, that is like the nicest compliment I’ve ever gotten. We’ll have more of Bezos’ comments on other topics in a follow-up post. [Update: Hat tip to Evan Jacobs, who asked the question.] Follow-up: Bezos explains why is so big on tablets Follow-up 2: still trying to figure out grocery delivery business

Five Things I Learned At MySpace That Could Help Google+ Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Tom Anderson, the former President, founder and first friend on MySpace. You can now find Tom on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ This is just a guess, but I’d bet money that Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz probably feel like their heads are going to explode. At MySpace I tried to digest that “inbox” and “community” by myself, and that worked pretty well for a few years. Here’s a few things I’d do right now, if I were Google. 1) Start seriously courting the journalists, tastemakers, and celebrities that are using and/or pontificating about G+. Why? 2) Exhaustively think through the privacy issues and tie up any loose/ends that G+ has on this front. 3) Move Google’s top analysts (probably focused on monetization right now) onto the Google+ project to form a skunk works team. 4) Hire the best product executors & visionaries in the world, something that clearly has not been Google’s forte in the past. 5) There must be one ring to rule them all.

Unwired View » How Nokia was disrupted. Part 1 Back in 2007 Nokia was riding high. They owned well over a third of the mobile phone market, and about every second smartphone sold in the world had Nokia name on it. They set the directions for the rest of the industry, leaving competitors scrambling to catch up with every new product launch. The latest device – Nokia N95 – was a masterpiece of technology. Fast forward 4 years. What happened? To those familiar with Clayton Christensen’s disruptive innovation theory, the answer should be pretty obvious. How great companies get disrupted Every industry goes through 2 different development/change cycles. During the period of sustaining innovation, players in existing markets innovate by adding features to the products that makes them better and more attractive to the ever growing number of users. But that’s not what incumbent will hear from it’s best customers, or their traditional market research efforts. And that’s exactly what happened in a smartphone industry over the last 4 years.

Staying Credulous: On Not Letting Being 40 Get In The Way I turned 40 in March. I didn’t think of it much, and I don’t plan on buying a convertible sports car or otherwise engaging in a mid life crisis. These age milestones just aren’t as meaningful for most men as they are for some women. But one thing I am very aware of is my growing skepticism of some of the crazy startup ideas I see. I have always been that guy, looking for the positive in any startup situation. There is some evidence that the most successful entrepreneurs are 40 or older. The companies that shape our culture – Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, etc. – are almost always started in a dorm room. It’s so easy to look at a startup and think of the ten startups before that tried to solve the same problem and failed. The wisdom that comes with experience seems like such a valuable asset to have. I sometimes feel that skepticism creeping into my thinking when I look at a new idea being presented by an eager and innocent young entrepreneur.