Over the last decade of developing, I've noticed two major schools of thought when it comes to software development. They're really two ends of a spectrum, and most developers fit somewhere on that line between them. The extremes of the spectrum are the Hacker, and the Architect. I won't argue that one is better or "right", but each lend themselves to very different situations.
Hackers focus on a visible end-result, and obtaining it as simply and quickly as possible. They are fast to cast off any baggage that slows them down, and build their software "just in time." A common mentality is "I'll build it when I need it". If it would take them 3 hours to hack a solution together, and 5 hours to integrate a 3rd party library, they'll opt to build it themselves. They concern themselves with "time to market" and are adept at cranking out working prototypes within hours or days.
Architects focus on beautiful, robust software that is elegantly constructed and flexible to future changes. They will often delay the immediate gratification of an early ship in order to get the technology "right". They pride themselves in their focus on systems engineering. Characterized by a fear of technical debt, architects can be known to bring a touch of OCD to their work. A common mentality is "If we do it right now, we won't have to gut it later". They always plan for the long term, even if it takes more time in the near-term. They concern themselves with "overall cost of ownership."
Obviously, each school has its pros and cons, which suit themselves better to different scenarios. Are you most concerned with immediate delivery (at the expense of long-term cost)? If so, you need a hacker. Is reliability, security, or stability a concern? Get yourself an architect.
So, over the past few weeks, I've been putting together a tech mentorship program for aspiring developers. The mentors helping out are amazing. If you know any smart developers, feel free to pass this info along.
Details & apply: http://bit.ly/kM9hoX
NextNY presents the NYC Tech Mentorship Program, in collaboration with General Assembly. It is connecting a select group of smart developers with top startup leaders serving as mentors. The goal of the program is to help high-potential techies reach into the startup world through advice, mentorship, and the wisdom of tech leaders who have been in their shoes. It will be an opportunity for developers to ask questions relevant to their goals and situations, and get personal feedback from industry vets.
How it works:
- Each mentor gets paired with one or two developers
- Each mentor and their mentees meet once a month from May-August
- Meeting is over lunch or coffee, and we'll leave it to each group to pick time/place
- You are a bona-fide techie. You have a degree in CS or have worked as a developer professionally.
- You're looking to get involved (or more involved) in the tech startup world.
- The program is free, but we ask that you pay for your mentor's coffee or lunch as a thank-you.
- Andrew Kortina, Venmo (twitter.com/kortina)
- Carter Cleveland, Art.sy (twitter.com/carterac)
- Chris Maguire, Postling (twitter.com/revolvingdork)
- Dana Spiegel, AxialMarket (twitter.com/danaspiegel)
- Dmitri Tcherevik, MightyMeeting (twitter.com/cherevik)
- Eliot Horowitz, 10gen (twitter.com/eliothorowitz)
- Kevin Owocki, Ignighter (twitter.com/owocki)
- Liz Crawford, Birchbox (twitter.com/liscrawford)
- Mike Lewis, SpotOn (twitter.com/mlewislogic)
- Naveen Selvadurai, foursquare (twitter.com/naveen)
- Nick Ganju, ZocDoc (twitter.com/nganju)
- Pete Miron, Knewton (twitter.com/petemiron)
- Simon Murtha-Smith, Singly (twitter.com/smurthasmith)
- Vanessa Hurst, Paperless Post (twitter.com/dbness)
Deadline is midnight May 11, EST.
Tweeting "Apply for the NYC Tech Mentorship program by May 8th http://bit.ly/kM9hoX" might get you bonus points.
Once again this blog has gone dark for over a month. That seems to happen whenever I get extremely busy. No apologies for it however, as it's been a productive month.
At the end of November, the first public alpha of eventLo was launched. We're holding back on any marketing or PR at the moment, until a few key issues are sorted. As it stands, the site actually looks quite vanilla, but there's a lot more going on than meets the eye. I'm likening the current site to that of an iceberg, where 90% of it's mass is below the surface. Expect to see that power wielded in the near future.
Over the month of January, we'll be hitting on several initiatives, including product improvements, market validation, and a heavy refinement process. I'm thrilled with how much we've accomplished in such a short period of time. The beautiful thing about having invested time in infrastructure and architecture is that future development, iterations, and improvements can be implemented at breakneck speed, without a rickety and patchy framework to hold it back.
I'll be keeping the eventLo blog up to date on eventLo issues. That frees up CleverKoala to once again focus on tech industry commentary and the life of a startup technologist.
Over this next year, I'll be focusing a lot of the writing on my emergence from a software focus to a broader tech industry focus. Still expect the nerdy how-tos and tech-heavy details, but much of it will be coming from a broader perspective. As my responsibilities have grown, so to has the perch from which I see my surroundings.
New Year's resolution: learn to sell, responsibly
If you manage finances for a small business, Profitably is making headway to save you time and headaches. You should go check them out.
From the site:
What is Profitably?
Profitably is small business analytics, simplified. Our product provides a simple and intuitive view into your QuickBooks data along with tools to drive growth and manage profitability.
If you are a CFO or VP of Finance for a small business, or if finance is one of your many hats, Profitably can make your life a lot easier. In minutes we can help you understand where you are making money and where you are losing money…why…and what you can do about it.
To be honest, I think checking in is obnoxious and un-natural. That's not to say I don't do it, but it's disruptive to the social flow, and so getting it to be habit with a critical mass will be incredibly difficult. Some my friends don't know where their phone even is at any given point in time.
In a day not too far in the future, civilian GPS technology will be accurate enough to enable the coveted "auto-checkin." When that day comes, the gate is truly open, and we're off to the races. Everybody will try to catch up, but Foursquare already has the head-start.
In a nutshell, the Twitter ecosystem resembles a pyramid. Where you are on the pyramid roughly depends upon the number of followers you have, and your following-to-followers ratio.
If you're into amassing followers, witty content helps, but for people who associate their Twitter account with themselves (ie, not @BPGlobalPR), it's really a just a facet of your public persona. Important person = important Twitter. Content has very little to do with it.
Take, for instance, @the_real_shaq. Take a look at those tweets. Seriously, read them. 3 million followers, and it ain't cuz of the content. Furthermore, he's following 611 people at the time of this writing. Followers-to-following? ~5000:1
How big somebody's mega-phone is directly correlates to the social power that they wield. Despite the quality of his tweets, tell me you wouldn't be smiling if he @'ed you. 3 million impressions is a whole lot of clout, even if it has nothing to do with your industry or core focus.
How high their followers-to-following ratio is indicates how much they respect the people they are following. Somebody who follows as many people are following them essentially look like "I'll scratch yours if you scratch mine" folks. It's kiss-ass and it shows. Following 611 while being followed by 3M screams "People want to listen to me, and I don't have to beg for it."
When you apply this across the entire fabric of our Twitter ecosystem, it forms a pyramid. That dude that everyone in you industry respects and follows? You'd love to have him RT a link back to your site. Guess what? He's be equally as happy if the mayor of his city tweeted about him, and that mayor would be elated if Shaq RT'd something he said. It works all the way up. And guess what? Shaq doesn't give a damn if you RT him because he doesn't know who you are. Trust me, your content isn't winning him over.
Business 2 Everybody is the current hot trend in the technology world, though no company will tell you that or use that term.
There are still plenty of companies trying to sell products and services to both consumers and businesses, but the hot properties realize that the web is largely about connections and information. Most money is still spent in the real-world, not online, yet almost everybody spends at least some of their time online. Businesses like Foursquare, Gowalla, Ubercab, HotPotato, Facebook, Yelp, and hundreds of others are building business models on the premise that if you can connect consumers to brick-and-mortar businesses, you can make a lot of money, while benefiting everybody. I'm not talking about throwing up some banner ads and calling it connecting. I'm talking about rich engagement that makes the web property an important channel in acquiring and keeping real consumers with real money.
B2E is exciting because there is literally not a single person in the world that these companies do not want as a customer (at least in the long run). The market is astronomical, and the game is afoot. Who can provide the richest tools, the most engaging product and the most useful information to consumers? Although eyeballs is an over-rated metric, sheer volume commands the power to truly monetize the other side of the coin, business clients. Having the power to trigger, lure, and influence desired demographics is like a superpower to a well-run business. "So, you have a really great bar. What would you pay to tell a huge chunk of your target market know how much they would love going there?" Everybody wins, so nobody even thinks twice about sending back some of that profit to the referrers, the men in the middle.
It is essentially the next evolution in affiliate marketing. Gone is the individual, beating down doors with a sketchy link, trying to make a quick buck. The latest version is a large, faceless connector that gets to know you, provides you with useful information that you want, and helps you to make better decisions that enrich your life. That information just so happens to greatly help the business that you are introduced to. My favorite thing about information is that it is rarely a zero-sum game. The connection platform has just made itself invaluable, by creating true value out of nothing.
P.S. I think defining B2E as "Business 2 Employee" is narrow, short-sighted and wasteful of a potentially great acronym. Thanks Wikipedia.
I think that I finally "get" Foursquare. I've been using it since I moved to NYC, and it's been useful to me in that time, but it always seemed like fun with a little bit of utility. I no longer think that's the case, and as it grows, it is going to be incredibly useful, with the fun being a great way to get people onboard and engaged.
The easiest way for me to describe how I view Foursquare is with a small thesis. Humans crave accurate, reliable, rich, and easy-to-digest information. This consists of Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why? (and sometimes How?). Let's look at the landscape of mega-information offerings that are dominating the web landscape.
Who? – Facebook, LinkedIn
What? – Google, Twitter
When? – I think this is a wide-open market, and will follow up with another post on the topic
Where? – Foursquare, Gowalla
Why? – Google, Wikipedia
Foursquare is emerging as the Where of the web, and it involves a whole lot more than check-ins. I don't have any insider information with them, but I can certainly imagine a taste of what's in store for us. Imagine this night in the life of a model Foursquare user in 3 years.
A Foursquare night…
6:30pm: Planning on leaving work in 15 minutes. You start a poll/chat among your friends over which of 3 bars you're going to meet up at.
6:45pm: Leave work. The gang decided on Flight 151 (who can resist $2 PBR?). You check in, and your friends know that everyone is indeed getting together.
6:50pm: The waitress knows that you're a regular, but free under-the-table drinks don't help management keep track of their best customers. The culture has shifted to recognizing your check-in and sending over a complimentary glass of your favorite to get the night started (I mean, duh, you are the freakin' mayor, right?)
7:00pm: Everybody else has shown up. There are enough of you here that Foursquare recognizes your "group." Whoa! There's another Google group in the back? We didn't even see them. Let's go say hi.
8:30pm: Time to move on. The waitress pulls up the list of who is checked in at the Flight, and selects your account. She puts the drinks on your tab. Aren't you glad you tied a credit card to your Foursquare account? Your Foursquare preferences have your default tip set to 15%, but you can change that one from your phone, or maybe just in the morning when you've slept it off.
8:35pm: Where to next? There's a cool new bar 20 blocks away that's swarming like crazy. Sounds like a good time. Guess it's going to be one of those nights… You hit the "cab" button, and it gives you an eta of 3 minutes. It's pretty convenient when your phone knows where you are.
8:55pm: Grand opening badges? Meh, I got a whole trunk full, but it is certainly a nice testament to my social life. Let the festivities begin. Leave you phone in your pocket and enjoy the night.
11:10pm: Two of your buddies just showed up. They saw all of you guys checked in here and didn't want to miss out on the fun!
12:20pm: The bartender is killing it! You give them a vouch on Foursquare. With how strong she's making your drinks, it would be a crime not to let the manager know that she's the reason you'll be back.
1:45pm: I'm starving. Whoa!! Yelp's best-rated pizza in the city is right around the corner? Done!
… the next morning …
10:10am: Who was that cute girl is was talking to for an hour last night? I got distracted by a group of friends that came by, and when I went looking for her, she was gone. Guess I'll go back and check who was at the bar. Oh! There she is. I'll drop her a line to see if she's interested in lunch tomorrow.
10:13am: Rate the bar a 4 out of 5. It was a good night.
I envision Foursquare as being a source of real-time information about the social world that's going on directly around you. It's like your own personal social Batphone.
I think there's a lot of integration that can be done with Yelp that would benefit both parties. As they both grow, however, I think they'll start stepping on each others' toes a whole lot. I'm interested to see how that clash develops.