Tumblr and the Emotional Bonds of a Startup
There has been a lot of coverage of Tumblr’s exit to Yahoo. Here are my two favorite pieces:
This photo of the founder, David, and the early investor, Bijan.
This post from the first employee, Marco.
A startup is an emotional experience that’s shared between a small number of people. Amidst the news and analysis of the transaction, I love how touching and sweet the photo and post are.
The Disaggregation of Photo Management
Peter Nixey’s post, along with the comments and related Hacker News discussion, highlight the current frustrations with photo management.
Historically, photo management was solved by a single product, such as iPhoto, that did a reasonable job for most people. Photos were taken at events, synced manually over a cable, organized around events and albums, edited using the photo management software’s tools, saved locally, and shared directly.
The shift to mobile devices and the rise of cameras that are always connected has changed things. It has changed how we take photos, our sync and save expectations, our organization methods, and our sharing behavior.
Adding to the problem is that there isn’t a common way that we manage our photos. Individual needs and expectations differ across all aspects of photo management.
My guess on the solution? The disaggregation of photo management.
Companies such as Dropbox will provide the plumbing (sync and save).
Companies such as Aviary will power the editing functionality across a variety of services.
Organize and share will be increasingly coupled, delivered by a number of different services (startups in this space today: Tracks, Albumatic, Cluster, Days, etc.)
Even browse and discovery experiences are changing. Services will increasingly leverage context to deliver photos in intelligent ways (see Timehop’s Dropbox integration).
All of this raises the question: what does this mean for startups like Picturelife and Everpix that, from sync to save, are working on the entire photo management problem?
May 16, 2013 at 10:15am
Good products provide value. Great products delight.
Timehop provides value through nostalgia, showing you what you did today, in previous years.
A Twitter search reveals that users love and loathe Timehop. It all depends on what was happening in their lives in previous years on this day. Regardless of the feeling, Timehop provides value by helping you revisit the past. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion.
Far more interesting is the benefit that Timehop enjoys by delivering delight to their users. There’s a whimsicalness to Abe, Timehop’s cartoon dinosaur mascot, that breathes personality into the experience. Users love Abe and this love creates an affinity for the app.
This morning I noticed the hint of a shadow at the top of the settings page. I pulled down to see a dancing Abe and a trail disappearing up the screen. After walking my thumbs down I reached the end of the trail and was treated to a reward that made me smile.
It’s whimsical and playful. It shows an understanding of human behavior. Most importantly it’s an experience that was purposefully designed into the app and created delight in the most mundane of places: the settings screen.
May 15, 2013 at 10:22am
Kevin Ashton on the importance of saying no:
Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work… Saying “no” has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined. No guards time, the thread from which we weave our creations. The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.
Too few people understand this.
Don’t take that coffee or call. Do not build that tangential feature. Say no to TV. Don’t attend that event. There’s no need for another meeting.
I was disappointed to see that throughout my neighborhood, on telephone poles and windowsills, signs have been posted to protest the building of a condo tower.
I’m disappointed because the evidence and data make it clear: density is needed for cities to thrive.
I’m disappointed because the same people who rightfully use evidence and data to argue in favor of bike lanes, two way streets, rapid transit, and traffic calming are actively protesting against density or remaining quiet.
Whether municipal finances, health outcomes, environmental concerns, housing affordability, infrastructure utilization, or cultural benefits the reasons to support density are abundant.
If you argue that density destroys the sense of community in a neighborhood, I encourage you to live and experience life in any of the wonderfully dense cities around the world. If you can’t do that, then watch this 20 min video on ‘density done well.’
Friedman in the NYT, on what technology has done to the world over the past decade:
What’s exciting is that this platform empowers individuals to access learning, retrain, engage in commerce, seek or advertise a job, invent, invest and crowd source — all online. But this huge expansion in an individual’s ability to do all these things comes with one big difference: more now rests on you.
If you’re not self-motivated, this world will be a challenge because the walls, ceilings and floors that protected people are also disappearing. Government will do less for you. Companies will do less for you. Unions can do less for you. There will be fewer limits, but also fewer guarantees. Your specific contribution will define your specific benefits much more. Just showing up will not cut it.
As an optimist who grew up with the web and is working on web-based products, I’m excited about the future.
But I often speak with my wife about the cost that this change will bring. I fear that there is a generation who planned their lives against the promises of old guarantees and are struggling to adapt to the changing world.
These people relied on governments, unions, and companies. We’ve seen that these organizations can’t fulfill the promises they once made. What is this generation to do? What is society to do for them?
I don’t have an answer for those questions. Lately I’ve been discussing how it’s great to be us. ‘Us’ being people at the start of their careers who are involved in the web. It’s important to acknowledge that this change which is creating so much opportunity for some is creating great challenge for others.
From Kara Swisher’s Vanity Fair piece on Instagram:
But their real breakthrough was conceptual: “Instead of doing a check-in that had an optional photo, we thought, Why don’t we do a photo that has an optional check-in?” says Systrom.
Systrom’s question may sound shallow now. Given where the industry’s attention was at the time (Foursquare, Gowalla, BrightKite, Loopt, etc.) the question was, as Swisher states, a conceptual breakthrough.
We know how Instagram’s simple observation turned out.
We know how Mailbox app’s simple observation turned out.
If anybody knows of any other good stories where a simple observation helped frame a product in entirely new light, I’d love to hear them.
Tucked within a PE Hub article on the private, more personal ways we’re starting to share is this gem from Greylock’s Josh Elman:
“Every time, when it comes to the consumer Internet, people are quick to say, ‘There’s no business here.’ But they completely miss the fact that these are new, important behaviors and that as consumers shift the way they communicate or interact, there will be plenty of ways to invite monetization, especially for those companies that get to a large enough scale.”
In 2007 it may have been excusable to condescendingly ask how a service makes money. Today by doing so you reveal your ignorance (or worse, your ineptitude).
April 30, 2013 at 2:48pm
The new iPhone commercial is a good Apple ad, connecting on an emotional level and only marginally featuring the product.
I’ve personally taken many of the photos that are highlighted in the video. I suspect you have as well. (I’m glad to see that I’m not the only runner who does this.)
The spot concludes with the ad’s only line:
“Every day, more photos are taken with an iPhone than any other camera.”
At risk of being repetitive, the visuals communicate another point: we use the iPhone to take photos we didn’t take before. We now capture photos of the everyday moments of our lives.
Since we’re capturing these photos on connected devices, what we do with our photos is starting to change too. The shift in what we do with the photos is happening more slowly than the shift in the types of photos that we take. This is understandable.
But we are going to see significant changes in what we do with photos. From personal journals and diaries to ways we communicate, there’s great change ahead. Given the emotion that photos (and video) evoke, the change is going to be profound.
April 4, 2013 at 4:20pm
Mark Zuckerberg speaking to Wired’s Steven Levy:
OK, so what is the next big trend?
The big stuff that we’re seeing now is sharing with smaller groups.
How would you implement that? Do you do it within Facebook or with separate apps?
There’s a place for both. There’s a place for a service that only communicates with your core friends and family, and I think that’s going to be ubiquitous. But there are other great services out there doing great things. Instagram is a good example of this. They just crossed 100 million active users. It’s a much smaller product by Facebook standards, but it’s a really meaningful product.