“A platform is when the economic value of everybody that uses it, exceeds the value of the company that creates it. Then it’s a platform.” — Bill Gates

For a platform to have meaningful impact, both the platform vendor and the developers on the platform need a value exchange that works both ways. Otherwise it’s just a hobby.

People writing Windows, Office or iPhone apps make the these products more valuable which increases Microsoft’s and Apple’s revenue. Similarly developers writing more Azure or AWS translates into direct billed revenue to Microsoft and Amazon. These all benefit the platform vendor.

Developers…


The story of the blind men and the elephant tells a visual story of how humans can perceive the same thing very differently based on their individual perspective.

In the tech industry today, we talk a lot about privacy and how certain companies or products violate said privacy. One thing that is missing from these arguments is that privacy is multi-faceted and people care about different types of privacy. In discussions about privacy in the industry I see people regularly conflate

  1. protecting their information from other users
  2. protecting their information from the government
  3. protecting their information from the company providing…


This morning wired published an article titled YES, BIG PLATFORMS COULD CHANGE THEIR BUSINESS MODELS which argues that ad driven business models are the root of all evil online. The article argues

The few companies that control our digital public sphere — Facebook, Google, and Twitter — are all driven by the same fundamental business model, and it has only grown more pernicious over time. To microtarget individuals with ads, today’s platforms massively surveil their users; then they use engagement-juicing algorithms to keep people onsite as long as possible. By now it’s clear that this system lends itself to authoritarian…


I was recently called out on Twitter for dismissing this post titled The Facebook Era is Over which pointed to a number of trends working against Facebook which would soon diminish the service. Thankfully the article doesn’t fall into the trap of thinking the privacy scandal of the day will be their undoing but it does still have arguments which although compelling on the surface are actually weak.

Specifically

  1. Private messaging apps have existed for the entirety of FB’s existence. Facebook has countered by buying the biggest and copying features of most innovative. There’s no sign this strategy isn’t working.


I’ve often seen the phrase “strong opinions, weakly held” used to indicate both a focused approach to achieving an outcome but also flexibility in the face of new data. This is an important characteristic of some of the most successful leaders in tech and I thought it was about time I fleshed out this philosophy in more detail as it applies to product management.

Weak Opinions, Strongly Held

The first question is what’s the difference between a strong opinion versus a weak one in product management? A strong opinion is one where there is a clear point of view and the product team goes…


Dan McComas, former head of product at Reddit, gave a very candid interview about why he thinks modern social media sites like Reddit have made the world a worse place.

His core argument is that VC-funded social media sites only care about one thing and that is growth. More users, more posts, more views and eventually more ad revenue. This leads to a situation where there is no incentive to think about how their product affects the users that use it and the world at large.

The impact of social media sites on their users and society as a whole…


Twitter as a service is widely known for the toxic behavior of a subset of its users. In addition, the company has done a worse job than its peers in giving people the impression that it cares or knows how to deal with these toxic users.

One key flaw in Twitter’s approach to dealing with toxic users is revealed in this interview with Jack Dorsey, their CEO excerpted below

“Our model right now relies heavily on people reporting violations and reporting things they find suspicious, and then we can act on it,” he said. …


I recently tweeted the following advice for Twitter’s leadership and thought it was worth expanding on in a blog post.

Two things that separate successful products from the rest of the pack is the ability of the product team to set the right goals and flexibility in the face of changes in the environment. These changes could include new competitive pressure, changing user expectations or new technology being deployed across the industry such as the shift from desktop computing to smartphones.

A good way for product managers to build this habit is by using objectives and key results within…


Today I was pleasantly surprised to see Facebook announced plans crackdown on ad targeting by email without consent. For people in the ad tech space, it’s understood that what Cambridge Analytica did

  • creating a profile of various users without their consent AND
  • targeting them individually with custom tailored ads

is actually a very common practice on Facebook. From the linked Verge article

But when I spoke with an analyst at Microstrategy that December, he told me that the company’s data set — by then, nearly 17.5 …


This morning I read Steve Yegge’s post on why he left Google to join Grab. If you read the post in it’s entirety it seems to contain a contradiction, as he states his reasons for reason are basically due to the company’s

  1. Risk aversion
  2. Politics
  3. Arrogance
  4. Competitor instead of customer focus

On the fourth point it’s worth looking at the quote in it’s entirety

But fourth, last, and probably worst of all, Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused. They’ve made a weak attempt to pivot from this, with their new internal slogan “Focus on the user and…

Dare Obasanjo

"Everything you touch you change. Everything you change, changes you" - Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower

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