Achieving Massive Growth (Qloud story 11 of 14)

This is post #11 about the Qloud experience.  The previous post was about about the launch of Qloud.  You can read that here

Once we launched, we grew extremely fast. I have to say that being part of a company that is blowing up is really really fun. Everyone is constantly happy. As a product person, this is what you work for and when it happens, it feels great.

We did some things that were shady and other things were legit and very smart. Some things we did:

  1. We wouldn’t let you use the application unless you invited 25 friends. We had a nice UI that let you quickly select 25 faces and then it would open. While extremely annoying, it worked really well.
  2. We integrated deeply into the new feed. We knew all of our users play history, including from iTunes and we’d launch really interesting news feed items to friends that read, “Of all the songs played last week by your friends, here are the 3 not in your library. Click here to play.” This is great music discovery, right in your news feed.
  3. We started understanding and using the link sharing networks. Lots of other apps were selling the ability to recommend users download other apps. You could buy space there and buy installs. We experimented a lot with all of them.  Some were pretty cheap and effective.  Interestingly, Steve Case really dug into this too. For someone with his success, we was not afraid to get into the weeds. I also give a lot of credit to our lawyer and BD guy here, Jim Delorenzo (now head of Sports at Amazon), for this success as he really figured it out.

I give Noah R-S (now Chief Product Officer at DailyMail) a lot of credit for hacking Facebook. He understood it at a level that probably only a few dozen in the world did.

We also started exploring a business model

Our growth was so fast that we’d get lots of calls from record labels and lawyers asking to shut us down. They saw the streams happening on Qloud and wanted it to stop. It took them a while to realize that we had co-opted YouTube for the streams.

Qloud Fundraising: Striking out in Silicon Valley (Part 2 of 14)

This is post #2 about the Qloud experience.  The previous post was about jumping ship and starting the company

Once we started Qloud, we started building the product and also started fundraising.  From day one, looking at our finances, we knew that we had 6 months to get the company to a place where we could raise outside capital.  Not only did we need to get the product built and working but we needed to hone our pitch.  We came up with what we thought was a compelling vision and set out to talk to investors.

Our pitch was that what we learned at Ruckus was that music discovery was a huge problem.  Talking to students it was clear that all discovery was word-of-mouth.  Qloud was going to be a way to allow people to find new music without having to ask your friend down the hall.  We were going to do that in 2 ways:

  1. we would offer a music search engine where you could search by tags and by demographic.  For instance, i want all the music tagged “happy” that is being listened to the most by men age 18-20 who live in Los Angeles.  This would return a list of songs that you could then sample.
  2. we would allow people to tag music inside their iTunes.  By creating a tag cloud, we would enable on-demand playlists for “happy” or “summer” or “breakup” inside the player.  This tagging and information from the iTunes would power the search capability provided in step 1.

Continue reading Qloud Fundraising: Striking out in Silicon Valley (Part 2 of 14)

Why Run?

I read a great little post by Lizard about her morning.  It is a great depiction of the pain of waking up and the joy of finishing.  It takes a while to learn that there’s nothing as rewarding as getting up to run.  It always delivers.  Liz’s morning:

• Get up
• Whine
• Go back to bed
• Get back up. Shiver.
• Whine
• Brush teeth. Look for running clothes
• Be filled with love that the Boss has washed my running clothes
• Stub toe. Curse.
• Look for socks. Find one. Victory!
• Remember that you need two socks. Damnit!
• Find second sock. Sock #2 is different thickness than sock #1. Debate how much this will bother me while running.
• Decide “A lot”, look for different sock.
• Fail at finding new sock, suck up the different thickness socks.
• Reach for caffeinated Gu.
• Discover lack of caffeinated Gu. Curse.
• Look for gloves. Find gloves. Rejoice!
• Look for Ipod. Remember have not charged iPod in 4 days. Curse.
• Attempt to tie shoes while wearing gloves. Fail. remove gloves, tie shoes. Leave house
• Step outside. Note that it is raining. And cold. Curse.
• Go to start watch. Notice that you forgot watch. Curse
• Begin to notice how pretty everything is all covered in fog
• …until the second running step when it becomes clear that water on the streets is turning into big sheets of ice.
• Run slow so as to not slip. (yeah. That’s it. That’s *exactly* why I run slow)
• Notice that ass has frozen and seems to be bouncing independently from my body.
• Bitch about ice on ground.
• Suspend bitching once sun rises and I notice how pretty the National Mall looks.
• Resume bitching when submerge foot in big puddle.
• Dream about the wonderful DC Spring weather, and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, conveniently forgetting that I am allergic to the cherry blossoms and will in no way be able to run while they are in bloom.
• Be annoyed that socks are different thickness and one shoe is looser than the other.
• Round the end of the Mall over by Lincoln. Look up at Abe, look at slick steps covered in ice and puddles leading up to Abe, and give him a wave, promising to visit him later.
• Get cold. Start to run faster to warm up and get home.
• Send The Boss mental thoughts consisting of “Make breakfast and coffee…make breakfast and coffee…’
• Stop running fast. Pant.
• Get home.
• Give The Boss a big sweaty kiss despite the fact that he did not get the mental message of “coffee and breakfast”
• Hop in warm shower and think to self “I love running”
• Smile when I realize: I actually meant it. I DO love running.

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The Ways Cities Talk

A city speaks to you mostly by accident—in things you see through windows, in conversations you overhear. It’s not something you have to seek out, but something you can’t turn off.

I just moved to a new city and i couldn’t agree more with this statement. Over the past 10 years, I’ve lived in Palo Alto, Boston, New York, Hanover and most recently Washington DC and each one was a completely different experience. The people, the structure, the transportation, and the values all contribute to the conversation.  There is a feel to each city.  It’s very real

The article written here is called Cities and Ambition. It’s a great little essay and it argues that Cambridge is the intellectual capital of the world. He also comments on Los Angeles and it’s culture, saying:

The big thing in LA seems to be fame. There’s an A List of people who are most in demand right now, and what’s most admired is to be on it, or friends with those who are. Beneath that the message is much like New York’s, though perhaps with more emphasis on physical attractiveness.

Only a few weeks in and i can already tell that LA is a place that has several languages. The people “in the industry” have one culture and everyone else has another. One thing i have noticed is how entreprenurial people are in LA. One person remarked that this is because people have to be self-promoting in the entertainment industry. I’m not so sure. I think it’s because of two things in LA. First, there aren’t alot of steady, traditional jobs. Sure there are lawyers and consultants and bankers but most people in entertainment and “the industry” do not have a salary but instead or work for hire type people. Second, it’s cheap to live in LA. You can get a cheap apartment right in the middle of the city. So you mix lots of jobs that people can try for with an affordable surroundings and you get lots of people trying new things to make a buck or become famous.

The article also talks about ambition in general. Saying:

So far the complete list of messages I’ve picked up from cities is: wealth, style, hipness, physical attractiveness, fame, political power, economic power, intelligence, social class, and quality of life. I’d always considered ambition a good thing, but I realize now that was because I’d always implicitly understood it to mean ambition in the areas I cared about. When you list everything ambitious people are ambitious about, it’s not so pretty.

It is interesting to think about and makes you wonder which is worse, ambition of something ugly or no ambition at all?

I have loved living in the big cities of America. They are all different but great places that have changed my worldview. I’ve met very different and interesting people in all of them. I do believe it’s true that you don’t have to be raised in a city, and you don’t have to live in one later in life, but at some point you need to be surrounded by the conversations and the ambition that can be found in and about the bright lights of a big town. Or as the author says:

The Impressionists show the typical pattern: they were born all over France (Pissarro was born in the Carribbean) and died all over France, but what defined them were the years they spent together in Paris.

btw: please read the article. It’s good.

DC is dangerous!!

I’m thinking of a move to the West coast because DC is a just a bit too dangerous. There was an earthquake today at 1:30pm in NoVa that measured 1.8 on the ritcher scale. Article is here. Seriously i’ve got to get to LA to avoid these natural disasters

drag racing on 17th street

Went to watch the queen’s last night. I’ve always heard about it but never made the trip. It’s quite a scene. Check out the good footage i got:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfKfReJukyo]

PS: Why can’t you rotate video? Seems like it should be possible

Beer Scavenger Hunt: Capital Hill Edition

We had a great hunt this weekend. In fact, it was the biggest turnout we’ve ever had for a hunt. It clocked in at over 55 people!

huntpic.jpg

Had a bunch of teams attend, such as:

  1. Team Mckendr: Mairead brought two 6’7″ dudes who were truly able to pimp out their hiding spots
  2. Team Davidson: Bryan Hozack + team. As usual Bryan was incredibly prepared and crushed the hunt.
  3. Team Newbies: Chloe Lewis, Meggy and Roy. They actually joined Team Pug for a super team. For newbies, they were great.
  4. Team Home Field Advantage: Erika, ScottyJ, Krug, Hercey. Great performance by the veterans.
  5. The Favorites. Team Just Graduated: Justin + GW team. All hype. For such a small team, they were pretty slow and put in rookie hiding spots. There’s always this spring.
  6. Team NY: Jules, Taco, Abbey. They joined with Team Pug for also. They get the MVP though for making the trip
  7. Team DJ Afterwards: Tiger, Daniel T, and Tom. They were rockstars because, well, they are rockstars.
  8. Team Pug: Danny, Percey and MPL (and eventually Samol and Shwabe). Any team with a dog gets huge bonus points.
  9. Team Loyola: Julia Turner Team (Julia and Molly). They get major points for just showing up. Although i think they were a bit in awe of the whole experience.
  10. Team Ohio State: Jenny led the charge to the most enthusiastic team i’ve seen
  11. Team No-Show: Molly Hill, Noah, Todd S., and Sara Pescatello. They get no points

The hunt’s best clue was:  “In the Church courtyard, the sack you’ll see next to the erect pipe is not the testicles of a priest but rather the container of some lovely spirits.”

Capital Hill proved to one of the best locations in DC for a hunt.  I was residential but also had some good stores and lots of spots for hanging out with a 12-pack.

Any ideas for where the hunt this spring should be?

Putting myself through pain: part 2

I ran The Nation’s Triathlon this weekend.  A fun event for those watching and a painful, but rewarding event for those like me who are dumb

We started on the waterfront in Georgetown at 7am on Saturday. The fire boats in the Potomac were spraying water all over at the beginning. I’ve never seem them before – i must say i think they look pretty cool.  The water was really warm (75 degrees) and not that disgusting.  It felt just like a regular lake.

Just so you know how far it is. I entered right by that “Swim Exit” sign and swam to the bridge (in the distance) and back. Yeah, that’s right. To the bridge and back. Also notice how everyone else had a wet suit which makes it easier to swim. That would have been nice, but i like to think of it as cheating (only b/c i don’t have one).

Continue reading Putting myself through pain: part 2