Stay classy, Sliders

December 28, 2012

Slide

With New Years just around the corner, I figure there’s no better way to celebrate than getting a brand new start. That said, this email was a lot harder to write than I predicted. I think it’s because Slide has been way more than just work for me the past six years. I mean, I saw you guys way more than my own family. I learned so much from you brilliant bunch, both Sergio and I literally grew up here (I hear Sergio is a grown up now). Most importantly, it was just so much fun.

Growing up at Slide made me realize a few things that I will forever remember and carry throughout the rest of my career.

Fuck entitlement
Back in the days, we didn’t get nice 30” monitors or fancy Wacom tablets. My first laptop as an intern was a hammy down and I had to draw with my trackpad. When I joined full time, I asked Johnnie for a 17” MBP, his exact words were, “We’ll get you a 15”, and when you work your ass off like Fernando, you can ask for nicer toys.”

Be passionate
No one were forced to pull all nighters or come in on weekends. Do it out of passion and just have fun. Complaining or bragging about it means you’re doing it for the wrong reason.

Be humble
When we work hard and accomplish great things. It’s important to remind ourselves not to get big headed.

Optimize for happiness
Lastly, being happy is extremely important. It affect every aspect of our lives – friends, family, co-workers and even the very product we’re building. Life is too short, if you’re unhappy, change it.

Anyways, the valley is a small place so I’ll save the goodbyes. Instead, I want to thank you for giving me the privilege to work with you all. Slide has been special. I genuinely wish everyone luck both in and outside of Google. I especially love seeing Sliders popping up in TechCrunch.

Stay classy,
Kevin

Airtime

June 07, 2012

In case you have’t heard, the highly anticipated Airtime brought to you by Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker is finally live. So what is Airtime?

Airtime is a live video platform that allows you to connect with old and new friends in a fun and simple way.

People inside the valley are fascinated with this product mostly because of Sean Parker. People outside of the valley are also fascinated because of its over-the-top launch party. The thing reminds me of the half hour LeBron James decision on ESPN. As we all know, hype can only get you so far. But I’m not here to criticize Airtime, nor am I here to praise it, I just want to see people to be more open minded and give it a chance.

People used to say “Facebook will never replace MySpace” or “Why do I care when you took a shit on Twitter?”. Turns out Facebook could replace MySpace and you do care about when people take a shit. Now people saying Airtime is just Chatroulette without the naked men.

James Hong (But don't worry, James Hong ran a test for you, the penis filter is legit)

I would like to think that Parker and Fanning are smarter than that and have a bigger picture that we’re not seeing at this moment. Dave Morin is still figuring out Path. Dennis Crowely is trying to reinvent Foursquare. If anything, Foursquare’s total redesigned application today showed us that these things takes time, nothing is an overnight success (shut up about Instagram already, that’s like winning the lottery).

I personally don’t care about meeting random people just for fun, but I can see how it’d be extremely useful if I need help with some specific task. This is the powerful part about building out their interest graph. Meeting strangers with similar interest is what led to Sean and Shawn to start Napster. Again, I don’t know what their long term vision is and I don’t want to assume. There are no definite success in this world. Start ups rise and fall, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they’ll figure it out. Best of luck guys

Microsoft Xbox SmartGlass

June 05, 2012

Earlier today, Microsoft Xbox announced a bunch of upcoming features and deals they’ll bring into your living room. The one I thought was most interesting is SmartGlass. SmartGlass is an application that allow your mobile devices to run on TV. It’s basically Apple Airplay for multiple devices - which is pretty awesome. Below is Marc Whitten, Corporate VP of Xbox Live giving the demo:

Xbox is probably the best product Microsoft have ever built from scratch. Owning whole experience from inside out, they’ve done a great job in its design, development and marketing, it’s not surprising that it’s such a wild success. But I never bought an Xbox because I never felt it’s a great differentiator to its competitors. I bought PS3 because it can play Blu-ray and I bought the Wii to experience its interactivity. Xbox had Halo. I don’t care about Halo.

SmartGlass however, appeal to me as a consumer. Especially since I’ve been thinking about buying an Apple TV solely for the purpose of Airplay. But now, SmartGlass makes Apple TV look like a Blu-ray player next to a PS3.

Hats off to Microsoft for introducing a great feature to upsale Halo. I’m sold.

Tim Cook's heroes

May 30, 2012

Tim Cook was on stage at D10 earlier today where he talked a lot about what he can’t talk about. If you follow Apple or work in tech industry, I don’t think you’re missing much by not watching it. But for those who are interested, you can find the full coverage here and video highlights here.

The one thing I do want to talk about though, is a question asked during the Q&A session: ”What do you look up to? Is there a person or a company?

If you walked in my office, you would see Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. If you are talking about CEOs that are living... I have incredible respect for Bob Iger and what he has done at Disney.

I think it’s interesting to highlight because if people are still wondering what kind of leader Tim Cook is going to be, you can find your answer within those three figures. They’re all extremely smart which goes without saying but I think they represent three qualities within Tim Cook: Loyalty - Bobby Kennedy, Leadership - Martin Luther King, Vision - Bob Iger.

Bobby Kennedy’s relationship with Jack is a lot like the relationship Tim had with Steve. Bobby is known to be the operational guy who worked extremely hard to keep Jack’s madness under control. And also like Bobby, Cook doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the not-so-sexy behind the scene grunt work when Steve was running the show. Hardware production is a profit margin business and dealing with Foxconn has got to be pretty difficult. I have heard stories of how hard Tim works, they never seize to amaze me. But despite it all, Tim was extremely loyal to Apple and Steve trusted Tim so much that he handed his baby over. This speaks volume.

Martin Luther King is one of the greatest leader ever born. But there are a lot of great leaders Tim could’ve picked, why King? I think it’s because King’s integrity and beliefs in doing what’s right. You hear all the time that Apple is more of a movement than a company when Steve was leading. If this is still true today, I hope that leader continue to make bold decisions by doing the right thing.

Bob Iger doesn’t have Steve Jobs vision. No one does, and probably no one will. But Iger’s vision lies in his ability to make great business decisions. Two of his biggest accomplishments to date for Disney are the acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel. When Disney was going through a rough time in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was Iger who pulled them out of the ditch. With Disney back on track, Iger was name as a Board of Director serving Apple’s Audit Committee.

Apple is never going to be the same as it’s once was with Steve. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Tim Cook says one of the things he learned from Steve was not accepting things good or very good, but only the best.

That’s embedded in Apple.
I’m not going to witness or permit the change of that.

Good luck Apple, I want to see that fricking TV soon.

Disclaimer: I do not own Apple stock

Culture of distraction

May 28, 2012

Joe Kraus is a Partner at Google Ventures. Recently, he gave a talk on a topic called “SlowTech”, which talks about our addiction with cellphones, computers, etc. How these distractions are impacting our society today, our future generation tomorrow and what can we do about it. I highly recommend watching it if you have the time:

Here are some stats he shared:

• In the pre-smartphone era we accessed the internet roughly five times per day. Today, with smartphones, we’re accessing it 27 times a day.

• We are 10 IQ points dumber when we're multitasking (same as pulling an all-nighter). We’re also 40% less efficient at whatever it is we’re doing.

• The average teenage girl sends and receives about 4,000 text messages per month, which means they get distracted about every 7 awaken minutes.

Joe also talked about the importance of “gap time” - a time for our mind to make subtle connections. I became extremely aware of its existence after the talk and how it’s increasingly getting worse for myself. Whenever I’m in an elevator, in a cab or waiting for a meeting to start, I’m constantly pulling out my phone and distracting myself. Before these devices, “gap time” allowed us to be more creative and focused.

Cellphones and computers are obviously a very valuable medium. Things we can access on the web today is unimaginable 50 years ago. The device in our pocket is helping us become more productive (in theory), but is also hurting us at the same time. It’s extremely difficult to live without them now that we learned to live with them, it’s also unrealistic to give them up. The main thing is to be aware of the problem and make sure we live as balanced as possible.