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Thoughts on Apple’s iPhone 6 & ApplePay

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I listened to the announcement last week and have a lot of thoughts on the upcoming iPhone. 

Apple’s launch event came, and delivered (mostly) what had been leaked and/or expected: a larger iPhone & a phablet, payments and a smart watch. The phones are mostly predictable: the customer is always right, and the customer has decided to optimise for pocket size and experience over thumb size (the changes in iOS7 & iOS8 have made it possible to do this, incidentally).

Why did they make it bigger?

Basically, Apple dominates the high end of the phone market.  They like it that way.  To date, there has been a few high-end Android phones eating away at their sales (mostly Samsung phones).  There are currently six reason people buy these phones (taken from Benedicts’s Blog): 

  1. Their operator subsidies an Android but not an iPhone – this has now ended, with Apple adding distribution with all the last significant hold-outs (Sprint, DoCoMo, China Mobile)
  2. They don’t particularly care what phone they get and the salesman was on more commission to sell Androids or, more probably, Samsungs that day (and iPhones the next, of course)
  3. They have a dislike of Apple per se - this is hard to quantify but probably pretty small, and balanced by people with a dislike of Google
  4. They are heavily bought into the Google ecosystem
  5. They like the customizations that are possible with Android and that have not been possible with iOS until (to a much increased extent) iOS8 (more broadly, once could characterize this as ‘personal taste’)
  6. They want a larger screen. 

The first has largely gone, the second is of little value to an ecosystem player and nets out at zero (i.e. Apple gains as many indifferent users as it loses) and the third is small. Apple has now addressed the fifth and sixth.  That is, with the iPhone 6 and iOS8, Apple has done its best to close off all the reasons to buy high-end Android beyond simple personal preference.  As Benedict Evans states, “You can get a bigger screen, you can change the keyboard, you can put widgets on the notification panel (if you insist) and so on. Pretty much all the external reasons to choose Android are addressed – what remains is personal taste.”

What’s the deal with ApplePay?

A lot of people are saying “they are going to make a ton of money with ApplePay!” and “They are going to crush PayPal!” – both are not even close to true.  If you look at what they are actually doing here, it’s not to take on banks, credit cards or any actual payment system.  They are taking on the wallet.  If you look at what they did with music – they didn’t put Universal Music out of business, they didn’t come up with a better way to be a label, they just crushed the music store (like Tower Records).  It’s the same here.  You still need a credit card.  You still need a bank to issue thecard.  You just don’t have to pull it out or even have it when buying something.  

 

I just pre-ordered my new iPhone 6 (not the Plus) to get it on Friday.  What about you?  You buying one?

 

Written by Mike Lewis

September 15th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Apple,iPhone

Kapost Culture & The Alliance

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Kapost is still expanding rapidly.  A year ago we were ~20 people and now we’re ~60.  That’s a lot of new faces and we’ve done a lot of hiring. (Blog post about Kapost expansion)  Thinking about our our expansion brought me to how we view culture.  Some thoughts on that…

Culture is Important

We have a culture doc that is on the web (below). It gets a lot of views (over 2k).  It’s also important as it’s how we describe working at Kapost. We actually thought a lot about it. 

Kapost culture 7.2013 

I’ve been asking a lot of people who have scaled companies what they would do differently and what’s worked for them.  They repeatedly talk about culture. This is what keeps it all together for them. As David Cummings (Founder of Pardot) says,

Yes, the people are the most important part, but culture is reflected in the core values, processes, and the way the company chooses to act.

Basically, it’s super important.  I’ve also been thinking about what culture actually means.  More and more to me it means just how stuff gets done.  How do conversations go, how fast are decisions made, how honest should people be?  That is all defined by the culture.  It takes a while for people to realize.  I’d say that at Kapost, people have described our culture as super transparent, high accountability, and very fast.  I think that’s true. I think it’ll change over time but that’s how it’s been for the past few years. 

Vibe vs. Values

Brad Feld had a post that described the difference between Vibe and Values.  It says how the music in your office, the dress code, the food in the office is all “vibe” and the vibe can change in a company and are defined by employees.  The values are “the guiding principles or a code-of-conduct upon which a company was founded and which it operates on a daily basis” and are defined by the company.  Things like “don’t be evil” at Google.   They are two different things and we should differentiate between the two. 

The Alliance

This is a business book I read this summer when it came out. It’s by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn.  It’s very interesting and something we talk about a lot at Kapost.  The idea is that employees are no longer hired for their entire career and because of that you should treat them as though they will someday leave your company.   Each employee is coming aboard for a “tour of duty” and you should actively define that tour, being explicit about what the employee will do for the company and what the company will do for the employee.  It more accurate reflects how people treat a job.  It also allows for honest conversations about what employees and employers want.  It’s a great framework and I recommend you check it out. 

 

Written by Mike Lewis

September 12th, 2014 at 2:59 pm

What Would It Take to Get You Fired?

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What if you walked around the company you worked at and went to someone and asked, “What would it take tomorrow to get you fired?”

I just saw that question asked in this awesome video by Jerry Colonna:

Chances are people don’t really know what it takes to get fired. What he argues is that if people don’t really know what it takes to get fired, then they don’t really know if they are actually doing a good job.  Putting some transparency around what defines success and failure can take a lot of stress out of people’s time at work. 

Written by Mike Lewis

September 4th, 2014 at 6:58 am

Posted in Kapost,Startup Life

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My Minnesota Vikings vs. Lions Bet

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Niraj and I just made a bet.  The Lions are projected to win 9 games this season and the Vikings are projected to win 6.  We have a bet to see who wins more and he is spotting me 3 wins.  The loser buys the winner some football paraphernalia (max price $30)

Bring it on!

On a related note, I really want a website to exist that allows you to enter in a bet, a prize for the winner and a date for it to be resolved and then this app notifies you when that date comes.  I have so many little bets placed but I need something to keep track of them.  Somebody please build this.

Also related: the new Vikings stadium looks amazing.

Written by Mike Lewis

September 2nd, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Hupspot IPO Thoughts

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This past Monday Hupspot released their official S-1 which is the information released for a company when they are about to IPO.  

I’ve read a lot about this information and wanted to jot down some of the more interesting pieces: 

  • Founded in June 2006 in Cambridge MA, they coined the term “inbound marketing.” They did more than coin it, they lived. They wrote the books, built an influential blog and practiced what they preach.  Nowadays you hear “inbound marketing” all the time.  Here’s to them for coining a term that an entire industry adopts.  (ChiefMartec talks about this more here
  • In their S-1, they list as one major risk factor as is the inability of customers to create content to make blogging, social media, and inbound marketing in general worthwhile.  This is true for our customers as well.  If nobody is creating content, then many of your marketing efforts fail (email marketing, social, inbound, etc.)  
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Lewis

August 27th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

SaaS is going into battle together every day

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I read a good post by Jason Lemkin (former CEO of EchoSign, now partner at Storm Ventures) about hiring VP’s in your company and he had the following passage which totally resonated with me: 

SaaS is going into battle together every day.  Wining that next customer.  Saving that big deal.  Building that crazy feature.  Every day, there’s a new drama.

It’s truly a team effort.  The VP of Sales opens and closes.  The VP Marketing feeds the machine. The VP of Customer Success keeps it running and adds fuel to the fire.  The VP Product makes sure the 1,000+ customers get what they need, as impossible as that is.  And the VP Engineering’s job is to make a business process 10x better than it ever was before, just using computers.  This is teamwork.  And it’s really not that silo’d at all.  You’re all working on different parts of the same puzzle — Customers.

Where I don’t see true teamwork, I almost always see eventual failure.  Or at least, underperformance.

I’m running the product ship and I feel really thankful that we have a great team lined up right now of Toby, Patrick, Riley and Nader.  

It’s a battle out there but with these folks, I like our chances….

Written by Mike Lewis

August 14th, 2014 at 11:52 am

My No Caffeine Zone

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I remember my sophomore year in high school where I decide for a New Year’s Resolution to give up soda (or as I called it then, “pop”) as I thought i was becoming a bit too addicted to caffeine.  After a few days of withdrawal, I was fine. I’ve never looked back.  Since 1993, I’ve been off the juice.  Other than a special Captain and Coke and super-rare RedBull and Vodka, I’m free of caffeine these days. 

I really enjoy it.  It keeps me balanced.  I have noticed that i’m more likely to do a run or cardio activity in the morning to get going as it’s really the only way I know to get my brain cruising. 

I’ve also noticed that in the rare occasion when i do have some caffeine, man does it hit me.  I go crazy.  I’ve also noticed that if i mix lots of liquor and caffeine, i’m sometimes sleepwalk – leading to some really weird stories. That’s another blog post. 

While i’m on the topic, a huge pet-peeve of mine is that lack of drinks available that are both diet AND caffeine free.  It’s usually either-or.  You have Sprite, 7Up and some root beers that are caffeine-free, and then you have Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper and such.  You can’t have both for some reason.  That really bothers me. 

I was thinking about this habit of mine when I read a new article in Business Week about the decline of Coke.  There’s some fascinating stats in there list below. 

All in all, I like being off the sauce. 

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  • During the 1970s, the average person doubled the amount of soda they drank; by the 1980s it had overtaken tap water. In 1998, Americans were downing 56 gallons of the stuff every year—that’s 1.3 oil barrels’ worth of soda for every person in the country.
  • Since 2000, soft-drink sales stabilized for a few years; in 2005 they started dropping, and they haven’t stopped. Americans are now drinking about 450 cans of soda a year, roughly the same amount they did in 1986.
  • For Coke this is a problem. Soda makes up 74% of its business worldwide and about 68% in the U.S. Sales of Coca-Cola’s carbonated sodas fell 2% in the U.S. last year, the ninth straight year of decline. Coca-Cola made $46.8 billion last year, down from $48 billion in 2012.
  • Diet Coke tumbled especially hard, dropping 7 percent, almost entirely the result of the growing unpopularity of aspartame amid persistent rumors that it’s a health risk.
  • Today, Coca-Cola has 130,600 employees and makes 500 different beverages that people around the world drink 2 billion servings of every day.
  • A quarter of all carbonated beverages consumed globally are made by Coke; Pepsi is at 11%.
  • By 1999, according to the CDC, a fifth of all U.S. adults were obese; today that number is 35%. Obesity rates among children have tripled since the 1970s.
  • Coca-Cola now knows that 40 percent of the drinks customers buy have an added flavor and that people over 34 drink mostly caffeine-free Coke in the afternoon.

Written by Mike Lewis

August 13th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Posted in Food,My Stuff

2014 Sport Video Roundup

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The videos and advertisements for sports flowing through the internets these days have been great.  Wanted to capture and share a few for y’all: 

 

Recently, there was a great new ad lauding Derek Jeter in the final year of his career (although it should be noted that Joe Mauer has posted better stats at age 31 than Jeter did at at 31)

Related to that, there’s a send-up of the above ad by Funny Or Die, not lauding Alex Rodriguez:

For the Timberwolves, I’m all in favor of trading Kevin Love for Wiggins to the Cavaliers.  Speaking of the Cavs, there’s a great mock video of Lebron and his “Coming Home” campaign mashed up with Dumb and Dumber.

Finally, this is over a month old, but the Beats ad for the World Cup was definitely the best one of the summer.  It came out right before the Cup started and got me incredibly pumped for it.  A great ad.

(thanks to Kesner and Matt for sharing these first)

Written by Mike Lewis

July 23rd, 2014 at 11:11 am

Iceland is Incredible

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Diane and I took a trip to Iceland a few weeks and it was a fantastic time.  It was great to get away just the two of us sans Hunter.  Plus, a road trip around a really crazy island is always fun.

A things stick out for me when i think of the trip:

  1. It’s a really small country.  Only 320,000 citizens and 70% of them live in the capital city of Reykjavik
  2. Waterfalls.  It’s an island that is just a bunch of super steep volcanos and the volcanos have glaciers on top of them.   So, you can imagine a lot of water flying over the top of the volcanos.
  3. Glaciers.  They are really beautiful.  Our visit to the Glacier Lagoon was really amazing.
  4. Hot Springs.  There is lots of seismic activity which makes it an ideal place for hot springs.  The Blue Lagoon is a pretty cool spot.
  5. RoadTrips are Fun.  I had a great partner and we had some great scenery, but it’s always great when you can hit the road and have time to chat and reflect on life.

Here are some of the pics of the trip.  It was amazing

There were some amazing black sand beaches. Soft like regular sand but all black.

Gullfoss waterfall was a ton of water flowing up. You can see the little walkway on the left

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Lewis

July 20th, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Content Marketing: Telling a Story

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I recently listened to a great commencement speech by Robert Krulwich about the power of storytelling and it made me think about the power of narrative and stories in my business.

See, I work in content marketing. To most people, that’s a dull phrase that doesn’t mean anything. But to me, content marketing is the power of businesses using stories and entertainment and ideas to connect with their customers. It’s using these stories instead of banner ads, popup ads, billboards and other branding tactics that try to distract and interrupt you. It’s a powerful change in the marketing and sales landscape.

The speech talked about two gentleman who told stories. The first is sir Isaac Newton. Back in the day Newton was asked why he made his famous book about gravity and laws of motion so hard to read, he replied that that he considered writing a popular version that average people might understand but he wanted “To avoid being baited by little smaterrers in mathematics.” Newton intentionally wrote a book in dense scholarly Latin that contained lots of math so that only serious scholars could follow. In other words, Isaac newton didn’t care if he was understood by average folks.  He did not believe in the power of storytelling.

The second was the story of Galileo. He, unlike Newton, had a flair for narrative. He wanted to tell people what was on his mind. In his famous book, ‘The Dialogues‘ about the sun being the center of the solar system, he didn’t write it in Latin. He wrote it Italian for a mass audience. The writing was gorgeous and poetic and funny. It was a running conversation between good friends who spend four days together in Venice. Their argument is between whether the earth is the center of the solar system or is it the sun. He has little pictures throughout the book and short chapters so it’s easy to read. There are numbers in the book and apparently if you skip them, you don’t miss that much. Because it was so easy to read and became such a hit he was actually sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. His stories had that much power.

I see businesses every day who want to connect to buyers and impact their lives. Not all businesses realize it yet, but their stories are competing every second with everything else on the web. If you’re selling cars, you’re competing with John Oliver, Facebook and hamsters eating burritos for attention and time, and the only way you can attain it is to make your content compelling and give your potential buyers a reason to read, follow and market to you.

Their are some companies that have harnessed their inner Galileo and told some great stories that are useful, and they have buyers eating out of they palms.  That’s the way it works.  

Written by Mike Lewis

July 18th, 2014 at 1:50 pm