Archive for the ‘Start-Up Life’ Category

New Version Every Other Week for Three Years?

February 16, 2011

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.

E. B. White
US author & humorist (1899 – 1985)

Releasing a working version to customers every two weeks is fun.

  • It is fun for customers who use the features instead of watching fictitious  “product road maps”.
  • It is fun for developers who see their work is actually used.
  • It is fun for the executives who can change the business priorities quickly.
  • If is fun for product managers who can measure actual usage.
  • It is fun for the R&D manager ,as the problems can not be hidden for long.

In my company,  we delivered 72 versions to customers  in three years.

Programming in the large and programming in th...

Image via Wikipedia

Here is one way to do it:

  • Hire top talent for development , QA , IT and operations.
  • Deliver the product as a Service (SaaS). Upgrading one instance is much easier than upgrading 10,000.
  • Bi weekly synchronization meetings on Monday and Thursday. Monday is just team leaders and Thursday is all of R&D.
  • Invest early in QA automation. We invested $20,000 in Automation infrastructure at a very early stage.
  • Invest in Unit-Testing as much as possible.
  • Avoid branching. Branches are evil. Merges are Yikes. One branch is good, two is max.
  • Invest in the “Ugly stuff”. Deployment scripts, upgrade scripts, database consistency.
  • Constructive dictatorship. Every code change  has a ticket. Every. No exceptions.Really.
  • First week is for coding. Than it is feature freeze. Three days for QA and bug fixes.Code freeze. Two days for final QA and critical fixes only. Release on Sunday.

In the next post I’ll try to answer the tricky questions: What about longer features? How not to scare the customers? and more.

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Borscht, Babaganoush and Beer – Food in the Global Software Development Industry

February 8, 2011

“Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.”

Nikata Khrushchev, ‘Kruschev Remembers’ (1970)

“You are very fortunate to be assigned to duty at Fortress Monroe on Chesapeake Bay; it is just the season for soft-shelled crabs, and hog fish have just come in, and they are the most delicious panfish you ever ate.”

General Winfield Scott, May, 1861, speaking to General Benjamin Butler

Borscht

Borscht, Borscht

I was surprised to see there isn’t enough research on the role of food in the software development process.

There are some clever insights on Beer and Pizza , Google Vs Apple food fight and “Frat Culture” but there is a lack of in-depth global research 🙂

Here are some observations that might be expanded later, on demand.

  • In California, lunch is sometimes sponsored by the company.
  • In Israel, in Hi-Tech, lunch is sponsored by the company, takes about 60 minutes and is eaten in Restaurants outside the office. The “Official” lunch break is supposed to be 30 minutes.
  • Is this tradition coming from the earlier socialist roots of Israel? Maybe it stems from the army background of many developers.

Personally, after 10 years of fried eggplants, eggplants in tomato sauce, eggplants in Tahini, eggplants with vegetables and eggplants macaroni, I was very happy to start eating proper lunch in top restaurants.

  • I once had to fly to a development center in Minsk,Belarus and eat borscht, for the first time in my life. I had to make sure the food level was comparable to other sites. It was a beautiful city and the borscht was better than I expected 🙂
  • In Israel , the employees eat lunch together and it is a great opportunity for team building. In California developers eat alone at their desks, which I always found a bit sad.
  • In California, 30 minutes lunch breaks are mandatory. It is similar to Israel.
  • Whenever we had to work on Fridays, I used to bring an extra nice breakfast for everyone . It helps make the atmosphere more causal and expresses  this is special occasion and not taken lightly by “management”.
  • In Belarus (2006) the cost of developers lunch was ,in some cases, almost 25% of their overall compensation.
  • No free beer in Israel. But Diet Coke is a must have. A top-notch espresso machine is quite common, in Israel. In the states horrible coffee is the norm anyway 🙂
  • The cynical view is the employers use food as cheap way to get employees motivated. The reality is that it is not so cheap. Assuming cost of 800 NIS per month it is 2.5%-8% of the compensation.
  • A less cynical view claims that the 60 minutes lunch breaks are  critical to get developers to work 12 hours a day. In reality, few employees work 12 hours a day, and there is little correlation to the ones who have the longest lunch breaks 🙂
  • Food does touch people emotions and demonstrates diversity. For example, a top engineer who suffers from Coeliac was extremely happy when one of our restaurants helped him select relevant dishes. At the same time, we helped Muslim engineers who needed to eat their lunch later than usual during Ramadan.
  • We are all quite fortunate to work in such great conditions. Our peers in Medical establishments have to live with Hospital food, if they even get enough time for lunch break.
Chocolate Ball Dessert, Tel Aviv

Chocolate Ball Dessert, Tel Aviv

Enhance Your User Exprience – Visual Attention Service

February 5, 2011

3M Offers a great tool to find the best User Interface for your application. In less than five minute it analyzes the attention attractiveness of a web application.

The score indicates the probability that each area of interest would get attention in the first 3-5 seconds.

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Area Of Interest Visual Attention Service

Visual Attention Service - CloudShare ProPlus Screen Area Of Interest

Here is an Example of Original CloudShare ProPlus Screen.

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Original

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Original Screen

Heatmaps highlight areas of the image that are likely to get attention in the first 3-5 seconds.

See how the feedback button(lower right corner)  gets a lot of attention, but the Upgrade button (top right corner) does not.

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Heatmap Visual Attention Service

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Heatmap Visual Attention Service

And a similar discrete view.

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Regions Visual Attention Service

CloudShare ProPlus Screen Regions Visual Attention Service

To try if for your own application or design:

1. Take a screenshot of your application(full screen, high resolution).

2. Sign Up for 3M https://vas.3m.com/.  Activate by email.

3. Upload your screenshot. Select “Web Application” under Type.

4. Mark important functional areas that you want to compare(optional)

5. Press “Analyze”.

The results are fast and simple to understand and downloadable as PDF.

While attention studies have their limitations and cannot be used as the only usability parameter, they can be quite useful.

The service is not cheap ($12-$20 per picture), but you can try five pictures for free. Moreover, It can save hours of stupid arguments between product managers, developers, designers and even VP’s of Marketing.

p.s – it runs on Azure.

A Practical Startup Company Vision Statement

January 1, 2011

We are using the following document within our company, hopefully implementing as well. It might be interesting or useful for others.

Introduction

Vision statements generally remain unused because they present a collection of good values that can not be translated to real life (see NetFlix’s Reference Guide on Freedom and Responsibility as an interesting exception) . The object of this document is to offer principles for the operation of a Company, examples for their implementation and understanding of situations where we are willing “to pay” in order to stand by these principles.

It is not meant to replace a detailed Company procedure, but to give a principled framework for the company’s activities and to enable candidates to see whether they are interested in joining it and share its principles. This document should be read as a whole since the principles in it complement one another.

The document is constructed as follows:

Principle – clear.

Implementation (i.e.) – an example of a situation in which we adhere to a principle and forego other opportunity.

Exception – since every rule has an exception.

At each cite that the document related to a company’s employee, it means also manager, of course.

The Principles

1. The products and services of the Company must be of such a quality that the Company’s clients will be delighted from the product and service they receive for their money.

The quality of the product will be measured according to this criterion. We believe that in order to achieve this, the product must be of very high quality in many senses.

i.e. To design the Company’s products from the start to a high quality standard, to ensure excellence in testing, usefulness, performance and flexibility for the users. For instance, to forgo extra features in order to favor testability.

Exception – The quality must be focused on the client’s needs and keep a healthy simplicity.

2. The Company’s aim is to attain meaningful income of hundreds millions dollars and profits of at least tens of millions dollars.

i.e. In the long range, the target markets must be large and meaningful. If there is a good opportunity for a small market that can not be enlarged, we should abandon it. We should invest in ordered infrastructures for a Company that wishes to grow and become independent and established and not merely to be sold.

3. The Company’s employees should be satisfied and enjoy their work. The Company should care for their welfare and enrichment.

i.e. Treating the employees as persons and not merely “human resources”. Respecting the employees, affording the possibilities for professional and personal development, investment in guidance. Support the employees in hard times and mutual respect among the employees.

4. The Company must be frugal in its expenditures.

i.e. Modest salaries, sampling and aggressive pricing amongst vendors, creative solutions, consideration of every expenditure. It is important that the atmosphere in the Company, among its employees and vendors will project it.

Exception – it is important that the savings will be not only in the direct financial cost alone but also in the alternative costs of time, personnel or productivity. For instance, there is no sense in obtaining a $100 discount if it entails a month’s delay in the project. We must maintain the difference between frugality on one hand and stinginess and pettiness on the other.

5. The Company must be fair, honest and open.

i.e. Paying vendors on time, paying for all used software programs, letting the employees share information, harmonizing expectations with new employees. We do not accept to the Company an excellent candidate if there are some doubts about his/her honesty and integrity.

6. We work hard, focused and with a broad scope.

Every employee is expected to contribute his/her best time and skills to the Company. The Company will recruit employees that are willing to invest the necessary effort.

i.e. A workday that starts at 9:00 a.m. and continues to, at least, 6:00 p.m. The employees are expected to work diligently in accordance with the character of a start-up company. Focused – a few efficient discussions with a small number of persons, work atmosphere, limited lunches and external prattle meetings, quiet and comfortable work environment. Persons that assume on the subject matter complete responsibility and ownership. There is no feeling of pampering and every employee does what should be done in order to reach the common goal.

7. Excellence, innovation and creativity.

The goal is to lead in every area critical to the Company’s activities. The commitment in not only to be the best in that area, but also to think outside the box – how can things be done in a better fashion, how can things be done differently, and what is really needed and better for the clients and the Company.

i.e. It is better to forgo a financially very good candidate in favor of an excellent candidate that didn’t arrive yet. Not to receive work discounts simply because “everyone is doing it”. Willingness to invest resources in courses, books and time-resources in “games” whose immediate benefits are not obvious.

8. Pluralism, openness, cooperation and teamwork.

The Company will encourage openness among the employees and managers, focused concrete discussions that may be hard but not personal. Information is not to be concealed in order to acquire personal power.

i.e. We recruit employees that are not entirely from the same assembly line, we offer equal opportunity to females or minorities, we make sure to inform our employees, partners and investors with important decisions and current information. Information reaches our employees before it reaches the media. The Company’s procedures and goals are public and open to our employees.

Exception – there is information that is kept secret for personal, legal or commercial reasons.

9. Immediacy and purposefulness.

Success is measured according to the bottom line – whether the goal was reached on time. The aim is to perform each task at the earliest possible moment. What could have been done yesterday, should not be left for tomorrow.

i.e. Responses to e-mails are rapid, stimulating vendors, employees and partners. Giving fast answers and expecting rapid replies. If confronted with a delay, searching  for alternative solutions. Looking to reduce bureaucracy and friction in order to achieve maximal efficiency. The employees’ time is dedicated to reach maximum efficiency.

Exception – we have to ensure that short-range targets should grow from deep and fundamental thinking out of long-range goals.

10. Trust.

The Company’s management model is predicated on the notion that its employees are honest, experienced, capable and diligent. Under these circumstances, the best way to obtain output is a relatively decentralized management model that demands high responsibility but allows a lot of independence to the managed. The model is based on results-dependent control combined with an ability of managers to delve into details in a selective manner in order to help the employees and perform control. The idea is to execute control rather infrequently, but to do it in a most thorough way.

i.e. The manager does not nag the employees and is obliged to help them perform their assignment. Managers in the Company will have the capability to delve into details and understand thoroughly any issue, when needed. The expectation from all persons in the Company is that they can analytically dissect their actions and know how to support their own decisions. Conversely, when a person fails the trust invested in him/her, it must be handled fast and incisively.

Contracting Heaven

August 26, 2010

A man walks down the street,
He says, Why am I soft in the middle now?
Why am I soft in the middle?
The rest of my life is so hard!

Paul Simon, “You Can Call me Al”

On a previous post I described some “Contracting Nightmares“.

Today, the focus would be on the full half of the glass. The freelancers that killed a dragon for us.

The ground rules are:

  1. Hire a person you know well, and consider to be a top performer (“Shakel” in Hebrew). Don’t lower the bar for temps.
  2. Hire a trust worthy individual who shares your core values and understands your “language”.
  3. Hire him, or her, to work in their field of expertise.
  4. Hire “over qualified” contractors, for short-term assignments.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=dragon&iid=5130299″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/5130299/close-toy-dragon/close-toy-dragon.jpg?size=500&imageId=5130299″ width=”380″ height=”234″ /]

In my experience, only the following combinations work out well

  • A Well defined, isolated  project

For example “back-porting open source Japanese fonts library from 2.4 to 2.6″.We had to do it for our SSL-VPN products.It was an ugly job, but somebody has to do it. It was not really related to any domain expertise we had inside the company and it was a non trivial task. On the other hand, it was a pretty well-defined project so the contractor could scope it well.

  • Hire a contractor for at least 6 months as an integrated team member

For our GUI team we needed an additional developers(see post) but could not find candidates that met our expectations.

We had three hiring experiments with outside help. The one that works well is outsourced from an external company, but has passed all our usual tests. He was not a “compromise”  in any way. Moreover, he is an expert in .Net ,so training time was less than a month. Since he came from an external company we got a 12 months commitment.As a result the on-boarding costs are smaller, and we still have a lower  financial commitment.

We also examined the company’s background, since in previous attempts we realized the “best” in some companies may not be productive enough in our environment. In other words – contracting is more expensive than in-house, therefore contractors should be just as good as full-time employees , if not better.

One drawback for this method is that the freelancer cannot become an owner of core functionality, since his future is always “at risk”.

The other drawback is that such contractor requires managerial attention,making it suitable to well established teams.

An Over Qualified Beautiful Old Car

An Over Qualified Beautiful Old Car

  • A research and scoping project

In Cloudshare’s very early days (aka as IT Structures) we wanted to have our first paying customer ASAP. Our feeling was that  real customer’s feedback is critical for our success. We only had  two developers at the time, so we hired I.Z to help us with building a virtualized networking architecture.

IZ was an experienced team leader and architect that lead two complex networking projects in his previous roles. He was in between jobs, as he was considering his next career steps (being both a great singer + a talented coder).

We were considering which remote console protocol to use ( VNC\RDP\ICA) and needed objective results showing how well each worked over different latency and packet lost conditions. To our surprise, there was not updated research available.

IZ came out with objective and clear results in a new territory’s for us in which he had  domain expertise. Till this day our remote access performance is one of our key advantages over other solutions in the market.

I trusted him, so we could work on time and materials base. He trusted us that we will not nickel-and-dime him. I always prefer to pay by the hour, as scoping is hard for complicated projects.Both sides feel wrong if the estimate is wrong for a fixed costs project.

Contracting Nightmares

August 23, 2010

It is a common mistake to think that hiring contractors is a silver bullet.

No obligations, get experts and focus on core skills.

That’s why the service level in Cable companies is so great 🙂

I have found that in 50% of the cases , hiring contractors in IT,Sales,Marketing , QA or development results in a complete failure.

Looking at the some of the characters who work as free-lancers, it is not surprising.

1. The not-so-competent

“It is not my fault I changed thirteen companies in ten years. I just made some bad career moves”.

“I like working on many projects at the same time. Just installed Exchange 5.5 for the local donut shop last quarter”

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=goaly+fail&iid=9557644″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9557644/russian-football/russian-football.jpg?size=500&imageId=9557644″ width=”234″ height=”201″ /]

2. The lazy genius

“Making $200 per hour seems much nicer than coming to work every day”

“I got this stupid Japanese company to pay me $666  per hour. I can’t really commit to any deadline for you. At least not until they go bankrupt.”

3. The former executive

“In this stage of my life I want to work half a day per week for $2000. You should be thanking me every day”.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=lazy&iid=5066159″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/5066159/businessman-alseep-meeting/businessman-alseep-meeting.jpg?size=500&imageId=5066159″ width=”380″ height=”254″ /]

4. The in-the-wrong-profession-guy

“I really want  to promote my band ,but got to make a living till than. Let me recompile the kernel for you.”

“I’m have founded five social network start-ups so far, but in the meantime I can help you guys with some JavaScript. Yes, I’m 19 years old.”

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=sting&iid=9519161″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9519161/scorpions-and-cinderella/scorpions-and-cinderella.jpg?size=500&imageId=9519161″ width=”234″ height=”311″ /]

5. The Californian-work-life-balance-dude

“I don’t like to work. I like to enjoy life. Please send money to increase my bank balance”.

6. The open-source-Linux-purist

“I will not work with these evil DLL’s. Only tar.gz+RPM would stop world hunger and buffer overflows”

7. The incompetent-misunderstood-self-proclaimed-genius

“I have developed this amazing web site for selling dog food. It has no traffic yet, but I’m starting SEO soon.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=lazy&iid=5064274″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/5064274/dog-laying-down/dog-laying-down.jpg?size=500&imageId=5064274″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /]

8. The ethically challenged

“I like free-lancing on top of my day job. What they don’t know can’t hurt them”

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=criminal&iid=239368″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/239368/thinkstock-single-image/thinkstock-single-image.jpg?size=500&imageId=239368″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

On the next post : “When contracting works well”.

The Fat and Thin Start-Up

March 25, 2010

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=fat&iid=275419″ src=”0271/42fac59c-21ca-4072-92ca-a476b898738b.jpg?adImageId=11667410&imageId=275419″ width=”319″ height=”480″ /]

Ben Horowitz posted a very interesting post on why ,sometimes, a start-up should spend a lot of money, if it helps them become the number one player.

I highly recommend reading it (thanks Ori for the ref) , as it gives a non standard view of a person who has a track record

I believe Marc Benioff took the same approach. He raised tons of money on his vision, much long before this vision could be sold to investors.

Some random thoughts:

  • I like the following quote :

If you are a high-tech start-up, your value is in your intellectual property. Don’t stare at your spreadsheets so long that you get confused about that.

  • One of the PointSec founders told me they had a similar case. They raised a lot of money before the 2001 crisis but were #2 in the market. Instead of cutting back they used it to gain every security certification in the world. If you did one of those you know they are very long,annoying and expensive. Coming out of the bubble burst, they were the only company with security certifications by almost all governments. It was key to beat their competition and created a very high barrier for entry, which allowed them to become the #1  player in full disk encryption.
  • It took a lot of guts for LoudCloud  to move from a hosting model to on premise model, but a start-up (even a rich one) has to focus. We are getting a constant stream of requests for using our service as an on premise product, but choose to focus on SaaS approach. Funny how in 2001 and 2010 the same approach leads to opposite conclusions.
  • Many great\large companies come from a very frugal background and  are still at it today. Spending more money than the competition is not the only successful method to win.
  • Maybe a company that  raises $350M it is not a start-up? Maybe it is quite a big VC ? or Just a holding company ?  With enough money and smart executive team one can start buying many small companies in the same domain and combine them into a market leader. The security business has some interesting examples and EMC has followed a similar strategy. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but it is a whole different ball game.
  • For most people raising $100M makes it nearly impossible to change the direction of the company, like Ben Horowitz did. The human psychology just works differently.
  • What salaries were they paying ? If the quarterly budget was 20M$ the yearly budget was $80M$, with 100 employees did they pay $800,000 per employee ? Even if they spent a lot of money on hardware (which seems they sold to EDS anyway ) even $200,000 per employee seems very high, since he says almost all of them were engineers.  Maybe I’m missing something.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=thin&iid=254772″ src=”0251/66b25aea-fd4c-41ad-adaf-0415b0827c2c.jpg?adImageId=11667419&imageId=254772″ width=”324″ height=”480″ /]

A Comment on Israeli Startups

January 22, 2010

This blog is just a re-post with minor changes of my comment on Steve Duplessie thought-provoking blog post on Why Israeli Startups Die.

It is best that you read Steve’s full post, but the main argument presented is that startups have will succeed only if they are  based in the valley. The second assumption is that  Israeli managers fail because they lack market, customer and product understanding due to their background as fighters.

Steve, the writing is very amusing and interesting, but I think it has some clichés which might have been true in the past but are no longer valid.

I definitely agree on the importance of marketing, product management and customer awareness , but don’t agree on some other points.
As an Israeli\American born in Atlanta,Georgia and living in Tel-Aviv I feel I have the right to criticize both sides 🙂

Let me challenge few assumptions that you are making in the post and others follow in their comments.
The Israeli entrepreneurs in the last years grew up under heavy American cultural influence. American television, movies, songs, food and culture from day one (no dubbing 🙂 ). Most of them have an  MBA as a their second degree and not a degree in computer science. Many chose to become experts  in marketing or finance and in usually in some of the leading business schools in the world.
The question if an MBA is a good idea or not is another topic …

The myth of a sweaty army commander leading his developers to die in the C++ fields is mostly a creature of the wild American imagination.
Most Israeli developers spent their army career in air-conditioned computer rooms, and the hierarchy there is much weaker than in corporate America, Japan or even a cub-scout group in Texas. Trust me, I tried both roles.

The other misconception is that you can’t run a really big company out of Israel. Having worked in Check Point for five years, I see no reason this can’t happen in other places. It actually worked in many cases – Mercury, Nice,DSPC, Teva, Gilat,Amdocs, Comverse, M-Systems, Precise, Memco and so on.

The fact is there aren’t many big new companies in IT in last years due to many reasons, which are not related to the origin of the CEO.
HP, Cisco, IBM,EMC,Microsoft and the likes are buying any enterprise software\technology vendor once it hits a certain maturity and size. With their size and the lack of  an IPO market it is no wonder many prefer the fast exit route.

Having many employees in the valley it might be true in the early days of the company, but  it becomes less critical when the company gets really big and global.

I’m not sure that Israeli companies that failed had a great technology but lacked market understanding. I think many of them had lousy products that had bad scalability, many crashes, memory leaks, bad user interface and slow performance. I probably interviewed some 400 engineers in the last years and not one of them admitted the technology didn’t work.  It was always the management fault. I feel quite differently.

BTW,it is extremely hard to get excellent product managers anywhere in the world. Moreover, amazing VP’s marketing are not easy to find in San Mateo or San Francisco as well.

On a side note to American CEOs and analysts, the assumption that all technologies come out of USA and the rest of the world just follows, is not going to hold for much longer,IMHO.  Israel would always be a miniature market, but the common American CEO mistake is to ignore the small nations of Germany,France, China, Japan and India because they keep insisting on having their own culture and language. Not only they think differently, but they refuse to follow the same marketing, sales and product assumptions that work “at home”.

Why Won’t The Big Big Giant Eat You for Lunch ?

October 11, 2009
Oh, man! We killed Mr. Burns! Mr. Burns is gonna be so mad! – Homer Simpson
Big Giant Stepping On A Small Company

Giant Stepping On A Small Company

One of the most annoying questions I had to answer in last couple of years was “Why can’t Cisco\IBM\Microsoft\VMWARE\HP easily copy what you do?”

To some extent, it is another variation of the annoying “What’s your intellectual property?”

Both of the questions are studied in first year MBA courses  .They seem to make sense at a first glance, but I would try to show they are highly overrated questions.

The underlying assumption is that BBG (Big Big Giant) can use its amazing resources, huge capital , loyal customer base and brand to kill any small company if the small company does not have a great barrier to entry, which is typically a technological one.

Having worked in few BBG’s and couple of Start-Up I beg to differ. The giants tend to fail themselves.

StartUp Beats Big Big Giant Corporate

StartUp Beats Big Big Giant Corporate

Lets start with some questions:

  • Why was Sun unable to succeed with its own firewall (SunScreen?) when it tried to stop OEM’ing Check Point’s?
  • Why was Check Point repeatedly unable  to take the SOHO firewall market  (FireWall-First, Small-Office, Safe@Home,Secure-1) ? NetScreen took if from CP. Then Fortinet did the same thing for NetScreen.
  • Why does Microsoft still lack  significant footprint in the Firewall business?
  • Why does Microsoft  ten billion dollars research budget fails to copy Google’s search algorithm for ten years?
  • How come Google Video lost to YouTube?
  • Why is VMWARE leading over Microsoft in virtualization?  Microsoft acquired Connectix in 2003. Connectix virtualization technology was almost as good as VMWARE’s at the time. Today there is a big gap in market share.
  • How come IBM , with years of building super computers does not have an elastic cloud solution?
  • How does small Riverbed perform  so well among the networking giants?
  • What was the huge intellectual property in Windows that OS2 lacked?

Here is a hint to my proposed answer to why giants fail, details to follow on part II :

  1. Time.
  2. Focus.
  3. Execution.
  4. Constraints.
  5. Culture.
  6. Investors.
  7. Golden Cage Syndrome.

An American-Israeli Sushi-Humus Grill-Bar

September 25, 2009

In my May post A Mexican, a Sicilian and a Greek Walk Into a Restaurant I discussed  how three different restaurants,in the same location, next to our start-up office, went out of business one after the other. Just after I posted it, a fourth restaurant opened in the same location with the brilliant name “Grey, an Israeli-American Bar- Diner”.

Guess what happened last week to the American-Israeli diner that served  sushi, Asian noodles, middle-eastern grilled meats, American burgers and breakfasts.

Restaurants,like start-ups, should  be very focused in their messaging and efforts. It is very hard to market excellence in five different areas.We had to decide whether  to deliver our cloud solution as a service (“Public Cloud”) or an on premise product (“Private Cloud”) . Both options were viable, and there were good arguments for each road. Despite the similarities and temptation it would have been a mistake to aim at both markets at very beginning.

Even “The Cheesecake factory” focuses on a single  item (with 40 variations 🙂 ) from its huge menu – when it comes to branding. Personally, this is also the only item I Like to eat there. And yes, I know the picture is from another Deli …

New York style Cheesecake with strawberries

New York style Cheesecake with strawberries