Life has become so hectic that it is hard to steal moments to jot down what’s preoccupying my mind. So perhaps that is why somedays it seems easier to talk than to write. Earlier last week, I recorded a podcast with my former colleague and dear friend, Stacey Higginbotham for her podcast, where we discussed my “winner take all” thesis as applied to one aspect of our industry that she is obsessed with: Internet of Things (IOT).
My belief is that we are still too early in the game to have any one company surge into the lead position. Every company is busy building their own silos and thus making it impossible for the device-buying-public to come to terms with these connected devices. For me, what will work in the future will be devices that deliver a solution to a problem we all face. True portfolio company, Ring for example, that was started by my dear friend Jamie Siminoff — it might have started as a doorbell, but it is essentially about a safer home.
For two years now, I have argued that IOT’s biggest entry point into our homes is through connected plugs or connected-extension cords. I have some Belkin WeMo plugs at home and they control the light bulbs, they allow me to switch off the music system and even the wireless routers. Frankly, it would be awesome if Apple made these connected plugs that networked nicely with my iPhone or any other iDevice.
This CES revealed that the attack of the white labeled devices wasn’t limited to personal computers and Android phones: everything from home devices to wearables will be coming to market, perhaps under the brand names of old guard non-technology companies that are threatened by the rise of connectedness. Of course, buggy software and security challenges are only going to degrade those brands. In short, 2016, like 2015 will be a year of incremental gains. If anything, Google’s earnings might shed some light on Nest and its progress, which could set the tone for rest of the IOT market.
Leo Laporte’s Twit.tv and Emily Chang’s Bloomberg West are two of my favorite video shows. Leo and the guests talked about the same topic Emily wanted to talk about — exodus of executives from Twitter. My take on Twitter’s situation is exactly the same from about five months ago. Jack Dorsey has a long, hard road ahead to revive Twitter and make it relevant to more people and find ways to become embedded into people’s daily lives even more deeply.
He is trying to achieve this when we all very well know that tech turnarounds don’t turn. Yes, there is the example of Steve Jobs and his big bet on the iMac, but that could easily have gone the other way. Still, Dorsey is trying to stem the churn, revive user interest and at the same time shift the cultural gear of the company. And like many incoming chief executives, perhaps he too wants to bring in his team. He has another six to seven months to make a mark.
What about executives who left this week? With every changing of the guard, it is a chance for talented and brilliant executives to reassess their priorities and some leave. Twitter lost two great ones in Kevin Weil and Katie Stanton. I know both of them personally and they both bleed blue. Kevin gave it all and I do think he is destined for greater things. Other executives too will find their next gig.
Focus for Twitter and Jack is to make meaningful changes, that first enhance usage & engagement, and then think about growth. 300 million is a lot of users, as long as they use Twitter. Like I told Emily, Twitter needs to be Twitter and not try to be Facebook or anybody else. Will it be perfect? Probably not. Was it worth $25 billion? Not really, but people thought it was. In my piece celebrating Twitter’s IPO, I pointed out that Twitter will live and die in public — in many ways it is a child star who has grown up with TMZ cameras. What will be the final score? Let’s give the founder more than six months to get it right!
Anyway, hope to see you guys back here soon.
January 25, 2016, San Francisco