Friday, May 30, 2008

a peace of mind

"The Word" by Tony Hoagland

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between "green thread"
and "broccoli" you find
that you have penciled "sunlight."

Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning -- to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,

that also needs accomplishing
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue

but today you get a telegram,
from the heart in exile
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

- to any one among them
who can find the time,
to sit out in the sun and listen.

Every so often, I come back to this poem, originally posted by Betsy. Things have been very busy here, and will be for the rest of the year. But wanted to share this as it holds a lot.

Friday, January 18, 2008

best pick up line (ever)

Seen on the Palantir Tech guys' recruiting shirts...

"You had me at Hello World!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Winning Product for 2007: VMware Fusion

I believe the best product of 2007 (and potentially in 2008) is VMware Fusion.

If I only consider the social web space, you know what my answer will be. But VMware Fusion is the best overall because it showcased VMware's ability to put power and versatility on the OS. And make it better. Virtual machines is my buzz term, and I recently just got an OS book to understand more about this space. To understand the tech space right now (minus some social web) is to understand VMware.

VMware Fusion
- is holy matrimony of the Mac and PC paradigms (and whoever can figure the reverse.. whoa).
- will make Apple an even bigger force to deal with;
it makes Mac > PC.

A few years back, PCs dominated. But in the next few, at least in Silicon Valley, I am predicting a synchronous use of PCs and Macs, and an equal market share in SV of the two.

I stand by my belief that the most interesting problems are going to be a lot harder than LAMP-oriented (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) products. Facebook is filling the social void. There is a plethora of problems out there waiting to be solved, and VMware proves that one of them is.

Here are my tops for 2007:

- Most thought-provoking post: Do you ever say, "MySpace is sooo ugly?" by EIR Andrew Chen
- Who to keep an eye out for: Google alums, esp. the early (2003-2004) and late (2007+) joiners ;)
- Biggest surprise: Facebook (surprise in hype and scale, I have more to say here)
- Best team: FriendFeed (they've proven it once already...)
- Best big company: the Big G! :)
- Best vision of the social future: Loopt. (Privacy will be a huge value-add in the years to come. Privacy is not only privacy per se. Privacy increases relevance)
- Most awaited for release that will change your future: Google's Android
- Biggest trendsetter: iPhone (no brainer)
- (My) Biggest increase in usage: Yelp
- Where to hire the best engineers: Google
- .. and the best marketers:

Friday, January 04, 2008

summary for 2007

inspired by niniane's post about hemingway.

the 2007 consumer-facing high-tech theme can be summarized as follows:

How many ways
can you express

Friday, December 21, 2007

The People Make the Substance Interesting, and Not the Other Way Around

Late fall and winter always bring out the more pensive and sometimes, more moody side of me. I play less John Mayer; Augustana and The Fray get more mileage. I start thinking more, and get restless.

Looking back, 2007 was a defining year, 23 was a defining age. I stopped work at the company I had my heart set on since college freshman year, started to take up more than I could chew (again), and started to fight for my sleep.

What's going on?

I've wanted to write about this for a long time, and no one ever really got a full answer. To be faithful, I'm putting it here.

The summer after Stanford freshman year, I worked alongside PhD student Dave Koller on the Digital Forma Urbis Romae Project, piecing together via digitization and algorithms an ancient marble map of Rome that was broken into 1000+ pieces. Stopping into Prof. Levoy's office sporadically, I saw on his wall a sheet of Google logos, each logo specialized as Google's now famous for. Knowing Dave better throughout the years, I hear about his stories with his colleague, Google co-founder, Larry: their late night talks about all the problems in the world, their annoyance with downtown Palo Alto's high restaurant prices (hence Larry's fav, Andale being installed on Google now), and little things like why peppermint patties taste so good. What I learned from that summer, particularly from working with brilliant Dave, was that the people make the substance interesting, and not the other way around.

I was hooked, and that summer was my formative motivation behind computer science, and behind the industry I'm ever more passionate about. It's about the people, the need, and solving the world's problems.

The high tech landscape now, compared to the years I was still in college, is vastly different. It was a semi-empty landscape a few years ago, with one promising upstart that paved the way for today's wonderful bubblies. Right now, I'm never more disappointed. As I roll through subscribed blogs, particularly the main tech blogs, and as I experience the flurry of action around apps, the question I ask myself that becomes ever more prevalent is What Problem Are You Trying To Solve?. More so than always, the question they're trying to answer is This Is How I Will Gain Users and Monetize. Ouch.

It was first the search problem. Then it's the social problem, which wasn't necessarily a problem but a void. The web needed to be more social (as does the Stanford CS Dept -- those two are actually related). Web-social saturation is high right now, and it's not going to look good for many startups out there. It's exciting for sure, but I'm also reminding myself of why I was so inspired by Dave and that summer project.

It's about the people and the problem. And that problem, whatever it may be, is going to be a lot harder than LAMP, going to require a lot more guts, a lot more dedication into making the company and bringing in the right people. The people make the substance interesting, and not the other way around.

I left Google because I was staying true to myself: I'm a passionate products person. I knew I rocked those products interviews with Google in October 2006, but due to terrible (and hurtful) experiences with recruiters and a series of path dependence, products didn't happen. Instead, I went with Google the company. A few months into it, I knew I had to do products work because if I weren't, I would be shortchanging my passion.

My professor, Michael Dearing, said something I remember well: "All companies are messy". Google -- the company, the products -- it's the messiest pile of spaghetti out there. And I love it, because with all that structured chaos is a grand vision that was started by a great team of people (note *team*) and thoroughly executed. Messiness is bound to happen and it's the dedicated people who are willing to delve into that spaghetti and make teamwork happen, make launches happen on time -- all the details. That's the magic behind the clouds.

I'm a Google believer and I remain so. I love their products and haven't to date encountered a company, from a products and engineering perspective, run as well and truth be told, as happily, as Google. But if someone as passionate and with as a long a history as mine is not doing what I want at Google, then it's also evident that Google has a problem: a saturation of talent. Which is why I left, because I was watching and not doing.

Right now, I'm working on a problem (mobility ^ location) and on the messiness of a company. It's not perfect, not everyone's easy to work with, there's a lot to be done with the product, and no, I'm not happy everyday. But I don't think I want it any other way. Along the way, I've learned that I'm an entrepreneur, in profession and in mindset.

Here are my goals for 2008:
- be more technical
- iterate on problems and ideas
- get more fresh air
- study, and read more

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Don't Submit.

Don't submit to the hype.
It's not worth it.

More soon.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Martin Eberhard Leaves Tesla Motors

A month after our iinnovate interview with Martin, big news comes out that Martin is leaving Tesla after big grumbles with senior management. See his response on the Tesla forum (3rd down). His frankness shows that 1) there's a lot of drama beneath the niceties of senior management, 2) a cutting edge auto business is very hard to run (my colleague, after our interview, remarked, "imagine the burn rate!"), and 3) founders are often shafted due to communication and management issues. This is probably a rift often seen between engineering and biz. A problem evident from works like C.P. Snow's The Two Cultures.

After Martin's talk at Stanford, I've become a champion. I totally admire his entrepreneurial and engineering mindset, and his drive for the big idea.. this is the real deal, esp. after watching gross hype like this.

I can only imagine a bright and promising start for Martin's next big idea. From his talks, I can tell he's an engineer at heart. You need executers for a business, sure, but engineering -- that's where it all starts. This is a big loss for Tesla.