Browsing posts in: Etc

Apple is (still) wrong, and tech needs to grow up.

(This is a follow-up to my post last week, “Apple is wrong. Your iPhone is not a black box.” Cross-posted here from Medium.)

lockIt seems that the storm that has been gathering for several years between the government and the tech industry around privacy, encryption, and the proper role of law enforcement is upon us. Apple has chosen its ground to stand on, and has now been joined — at least in spirit — by many of the other heavyweights of Silicon Valley, including Google, Facebook (and WhatsApp),Twitter, Microsoft and many more. Broadly, the Valley has closed ranks behind Apple’s contention that it should not be compelled to cooperate with the FBI’s request to decrypt a locked iPhone from the San Bernardino terrorists.

After I wrote about why Apple was wrong last week, I’ve continued to follow this issue closely, there are a few observations that are well worth making about how this debate has begun to evolve.

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Twitter’s Opportunity

A while back, I took a hard look at Twitter’s stock performance, as well as its third quarter earnings and CEO shakeup, and decided — it’s time. I went and purchased a fairly large (for me — I’m no Sacca!) position in Twitter stock.

Since then, well, you know what’s happening. I could screenshot a picture of the stock price chart, but this gif probably says it better.

$TWTR up 5% today! Woohoo! Only 20% more to go until… we’re back at December’s price.

So, I suppose that’s my disclaimer here: I’m a $TWTR shareholder. Like pretty much everyone in the last three weeks, I’ve lost some money recently.I don’t regret my purchase of Twitter, for the reasons I’m going to lay out here; yet I also see clouds on the horizon that I sure hope every single person on Twitter’s product team is watching.

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Product Managers as Capstones

When I first got interested in moving into product management several years ago, I basically read a lot and asked around to understand more about the role and what it entailed. A lot of what I was found is still the conventional wisdom of Product Management: what they call the “mini CEO” model. As its name implies, this idea puts the PM at the center — or perhaps the top — of a system that produces a product.

Over the years since, across different product roles in different companies, I’ve had to un-learn a lot of that. Today, I mostly reject the “mini CEO” model of Product Management. Here’s why.

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Victory Lap of 2015

6850_5Last year’s annual roundup of the top posts of the year was a big hit (in terms of traffic/clickthroughs to old posts). This year, I’m going to do something a bit different. In addition to listing my top 5 posts of the year in terms of traffic, I’m also going to list a few that got less traction, but which I humbly think are worth a read because they said something important/interesting.

My most-viewed posts of 2015:

1. The State of Digital Analytics in 2015 – it’s Adobe’s world, we’re just living in it. The digital analytics industry has been consolidating into the “marketing cloud” industry for some time, but the major vendors like Adobe and Google are each picking their own strategy. Bonus, I did a deep-dive into financial results for the Adobe Marketing Cloud in this post, and updated it here. I’ll be repeating a similar post in January.

2. Whither, IBM? I hesitated before writing this, but stand by it – not least because of the loud and strong support I got from my former colleagues at Big Blue. To understand what “company in transition” means at IBM, you have to understand how the company sees itself first. The future of Big Blue’s dominance in technology is a big question mark now. While I have more thoughts on this, I doubt I’ll write about them further. (You can still ask!)

3. Elon Musk is Wrong – We Aren’t Going to Colonize Mars – Partly a response to WaitButWhy’s series on Elon Musk and his well-publicized insistence that mankind must go to and colonize Mars; partly a rebuttal to the common internet enthusiasm for manned spaceflight. To be clear, I love and strongly support space exploration – but putting humans into space is mostly a waste of resources.

4. Reddit’s Growing Pains – Twitter’s not the clown car of social media. Reddit is. The “front page of the internet” is really anything but, and becoming less relevant with each passing year because of misguided priorities and bad leadership.

5. Three Charts That Explain “Omnichannel” – “Omnichannel” rivals only “big data” as an overused buzzword that seems to encompass whatever strategy an executive wishes to promote, but that doesn’t make it meaningless – only misused.

Here are some posts that I still think are interesting, but attracted fewer views:

1. Paradigm Shifts – the broad, long-term shift of consumer connectivity to mobile has major implications for the business of marketing, and particularly the marketing platform industry. We’re moving into an era of audience platforms – like social (FB), device (iOS/Android), services (Google) and commerce (Amazon) – whose dominance over the “open web” of today will change how marketing is done.

2. Collision Course – my exposure to the worlds of both ecommerce and marketing tech platforms revealed something interesting – both are headed directly into one another. I expect to see acquisitions and/or a lot more direct competition between the two in the very near future.

3. Measuring Up – our practices of employee performance management today are inadequate and inappropriate for a world that’s moved beyond the factory line, leaving both good employees frustrated and bad ones rewarded.

4. Ecommerce – Gradually, Then Suddenly – as a percentage of overall retail sales, U.S. ecommerce is still in single-digits territory – yet it’s already shaking up the established order, and re-creating the list of winners and losers over the next decade. Just as mobile adoption has hit its “hockey stick function” with accelerating adoption, ecommerce is doing the same.

Lately, I’ve also begun writing more on non-tech topics that I just find interesting from an investment or cultural perspective. My recent post on the quick service restaurant segment and micropayments are examples. Those were fun, especially if I can catch a burst of inspiration and enthusiasm as it’s building in my head. We’ll try more of those as time goes on!



A look at 2015

For the first time ever, I have the next week off from work. SAS closes down during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, giving employees a chance for mandatory relaxation. Yes, it is completely awesome. I plan to catch up on my reading and find out if my wife likes red velvet pancakes for breakfast.

Even besides the 70-degree weather we’re currently having in Carolina, one thing I like about this time of year are the year-end posts everyone writes: summaries, best-ofs, predictions for 2016. Here’s mine.

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