Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger, Twitter and Medium came on stage at Roadmap to talk about Medium and what he is trying to do with his company. But the real story is that it is a design that is the core to the company – design that is rarely seen but mostly experienced. Here is my FastCompany column about all that!
Things have been quiet around here. I was traveling — New York, to be precise. I left my computer behind and was busy meeting people in real life, despite the nasty cold weather. It is good to be back in San Francisco and experience some glorious weather and sunshine. Here are some photos from an early morning walk to the top of the Bernal Hill Park. (If you are intrigued by the chairs and that table, then you can find out more in my Storehouse story.) They were snapped with my Sony RX-1 camera. It is fun getting to know this camera, all over again.
It is Fashion Week in New York (not to mention the frigid temperatures) and that usually means lot of traffic delays, sold out restaurants and in general pointless misery for normals. And apparently, not many people actually care as much about the shows — they are expensive and hard and don’t really deliver, like say Instagram. So that is why more and more designers are going for a more Instagram-friendly approach, reports The New York magazine. Shall we go ahead and file this in law of unintended consequences?
It has been a tumultuous week — media people around the world are mourning the loss of beloved David Carr, media columnist for the New York Times. He was 58 and died in the newsroom — a befitting end to one true champion of all journalism. David was a real journalist and his legacy will and should be — other journalists trying to do what he did so well all his: report with rigor and honesty, write with feeling and authenticity and and absolutely love the job. He shall remain in my memories for rest of my life.
Here are some stories you might want to read this weekend — they are examples of good journalism and great writing.
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Slack, the company that arose like a phoenix from the ashes of Tiny Speck is now a year old. It came out of beta last February! And what a year it has been for the company — it has gone from zero to one of the fastest growing services in less than a year. It has raised a ton of money and is valued at north of a billion dollars. Both its revenues and number of users are moving up to the North. Lately, more and more people are starting to use Slack for creating their own private social spaces. I have one — and I won’t be surprised if one day we start to see these special slacks start to become the “subreddit” of the mobile age.
As an investor, I am obviously excited about all this growth. But what I love the most about the company is the fact that co-founders Stewart Butterfield, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson and Serguei Mourachov are not letting the crazy stuff that is happening around them impact their life. I have been friends with Stewart from his time at Flickr and he has not let the vagaries of startup life impact his attitudes and zaniness. He has been a bit of a straight shooter. He even names his products with a bit of whimsy — for example, Slack and Glitch (the game that failed and lead to Slack.) So, on the occasion of Slack’s first birthday, I put together seven things Stewart said over past year that make me yearn for more plain talk (and less PR crap) from other founders and chief executives!
- “We were sure Slack would be useful, but we had no idea it would take off as quickly as did. But that was because we had no idea of the strategic importance of chat in the workplace at the time.”
- “I get in trouble with my PR team for saying this but I have no fucking idea.” #
- “One billion is better than $800 million because it’s the psychological threshold for potential customers, employees, and the press.”
- “To me, there are only two positions a company is ever in: Talking to investors or there’s a deal that’s closed. You’re never in the process of raising money. #
- I try to instill this into the rest of the team but certainly I feel that what we have right now is just a giant piece of shit. Like, it’s just terrible and we should be humiliated that we offer this to the public. Not everyone finds that motivational, though. #
- “Everyone here must know that everyone is making too much money, and that’s why we love satire. If anyone is honest with themselves, they must think that the reward is disproportionate to the work.” #
- “There are no good characters named Stewart.” #