I came across an incredibly thoughtful tweet today penned by wordsmith @mm:
Few blogs–and people–in Silicon Valley are of more motiveless substance than
@benjy. If only he wrote more. http://benjyw.com/
Earlier today, on my way up to San Francisco, I read Benjy’s latest blog post which was RT’d into my stream. It is an excellent post. I’d recommend reading it. A few hours later, I came across Morgan’s tweet, which had the descriptor “motiveless substance.” I had to pause and re-read that phrase. It’s kind of an awkward comment. But, then I read it over a few times, and realized, it was perfect. Content-marketing in our world is only growing in popularity, partly because it’s cheap to produce and partly because it works, and it works really well. And, I am a small part of all this noise created we have to suffer with. And, I like to think what I write is of substance, but I’m not sure that’s always the case. And, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some motive buried deep inside what I do and continue to do. It is, then, with motive. But, true “motiveless substance” is rare and provides real signal. I hope to read more posts that fit this type of writing, and I hope one day I can write like Benjy.
Software and mobile applications can be developed anywhere in the world, especially today. Even hardware, for that matter. And specifically, two locations have created a strong community of technology creators separate from Silicon Valley: New York City and San Francisco. The density of activity has become so intense, investors on the west coast are flying out more often to NYC, are taking cars up to the city, and even opening satellite offices, hiring new colleagues (even at the partner-level), arranging to syndicate deals with preferred investors in new locations, and trying to learn the nuances of each new ecosystem. I believe all of this activity is moving in the right direction and entirely rational, with one caveat: To me, there’s a subtle difference between:
- (a) “having an office in SF and/or NYC” versus;
- (b) “having a presence in SF and/or NYC” versus;
- (c) “being ‘present’ in SF and/or NYC.”
I don’t want to suggest that any one of these three approaches is better than the other, but they shouldn’t be confused with each other or used interchangeably, as they are fundamentally very different and directly effect the type of relationship investors have with not only founders, but also tech bloggers, operators in startups, PR professionals, and folks who are looking to jump from their current gigs into the startup world.
Highlight launched in early 2012, generated unsustainable buzz prior to SXSW, and entered a “quiet period” after everyone realized mobile battery performance was too valuable to spend unwisely. As is the case with new mobile products, I road-tested Highlight and subsequently erased it from my iPhone after a month. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. For a v1 product, I thought it was brilliant. Even the ability to “pause” highlight during times was well thought out. After a month away, I reinstalled Highlight and have basically kept it “on” every since, coming up on two months now. My use of it hasn’t been earth-shattering, and the app hasn’t required me to do anything special, and I have met some interesting people on it. And, after this second time around the block, I’m starting to see the bigger idea that Highlight (or other similar apps) could tap into — Push.
Here’s my logic: Back in the day, Google gained leverage by capturing our intent through search. We would hunt and peck for information, and Google delivered it to us. Then, when people with identities (or pseudonyms) came online into various social networks, the act of curation or the power of discovery grew in importance, making sense of the “mess” of information around us and offering “delight.” Today, and in the near future, mobile-specific services that are “always on” and run in the background could provide that next big delivery mechanism, pushing relevant information to us based on the strong API support from the handset makers and mobile operating systems, as well as information based on context, such as location. Today, Highlight periodically tells you when someone who is a second or third order connection via Facebook is around you, but in the future, a service like Highlight could tell you when your friends or colleagues are around, or when you’re nearby a store you love that’s having a sale, and so forth. That is a massive shift from the hunting and pecking we still do on our mobile phones and tablets — and more importantly, it’s a shift I’m looking forward to as a user.
This is the initial post on my new blog. I decided to stick with WordPress, but opted to self-host in order to integrate Disqus for comments and customize portions of it in the future. I have two goals for this blog. One, I want to create original content about technology and startups on a daily basis. The posts won’t be long or perfect. They won’t look like what I’ve written on TechCrunch, or on Quora, or on my previous blog. They’ll be entirely different, I hope. Shorter, more direct, and more opinion. My style will be to frame questions that interest me rather than try to write long tomes or explain everything about nothing. And two, that’s where you come in. That’s why I researched all commenting systems and elected to invest in Disqus. My second goal with the blog is to ignite discussion, debate, and disagreement. I will invest the time to moderate. As a reader, you may post comments using identities from Facebook, Google+, Disqus, or Twitter. Finally, I must admit — despite my hopes — that I’m a bit skeptical folks will be interested in commenting given how much content is generated out there today and how fast it flies around. I’ve even caught myself saving items to Pocket and just skimming the headlines, never getting around to reading anything. In that spirit, I’m hoping that the small group of folks who start reading and following this blog actually don’t share it, but instead participate in a discussion, and hopefully one day, a real community. In the future, I’m even hoping to organize aspects of this blog in real life. That sounds like fun to me, but it will take some time to get there. As you poke around, some of the blog is missing or incomplete. It’s a work in progress, and I hope it gets better every week. Thanks for your time, and thanks for reading. First real post will hit tomorrow.