Android has come a long way

I switched back to Android last month, after 3-4 years on iOS, which started in 2009 with this blog post.  The change was driven by curiosity more than anything, plus a new phone someone sent me as a gift didn’t hurt.  It’s been well documented in the media, but the Android platform has come a long way since I last used it as my primary mobile device. It’s still comparatively raw and requires more customization than iOS to achieve similar levels of productivity, but I think it has more potential to grow and evolve as a result.

A few general observations on features and user experience:

The Play Store / Wireless app download – Google rolled out some of these features
before I left Android for iOS, but the Play Store has evolved into a fully functional marketplace.  Still (more…)

Announcing our investment in Reonomy

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As someone who grew up around the real estate industry, with a father in development, an uncle in construction, a cousin in management and their assorted colleagues frequently a part of the dinner table conversation, it’s a sector of the economy that I watch closely. When my own career pursuits favored early stage technology, I couldn’t help but regularly consider how the two slices of the economy might intersect. What I discovered is that, for the most part, they haven’t. We think that will change.

According the the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Real Estate is the largest sector of the US economy measured by value added GDP. It leads state and local government, finance, health care and manufacturing by healthy margins. Yet, it’s the only one of these that hasn’t dramatically felt the impact of technology and the internet. Modern technology (more…)

Rest In Peace RFPs

RFPclipboard

 

A decade or so ago, while working for a large media company, the concept of issuing an RFP came up in conversation.  It was easy to figure out that RFP was an acronym for “Request for Proposal”, but conceptually, I was very confused. I was able to maneuver out of that discussion without needing to execute on the RFP process, thus preserving my confusion and ignorance about how it all worked. I’ll chalk it up to youthful idealism, but having never learned the process, I assumed that a party in need of a service put out the request for the service into the ether, and magically, qualified offers arrived moments later. Years later, as the balance of power had reversed, I found myself at a startup on the receiving end of an RFP.  One day via email, I received a 10-12 page document listing in painful bureaucratic detail the requirements for submitting a proposal for the honor of bidding on this company’s project.  ”So this is how it works?”, I thought to myself. For years, I had assumed that issuing an RFP meant posting a “help wanted ad” to some virtual bulletin board where all RFPs get viewed and magically, offers come your way, neatly filtered.  This may sound like a far-fetched vision, but truthfully (and  (more…)

Without customers, there’s no money

follow-the-moneyI rode with an Uber driver to the airport last night. The driver told me he drove a NYC taxi for 16 years before switching to Uber 12 months ago. When I asked why he switched, he explained that driving a taxi was stressful and Uber provides a better quality of life. He said the customers are nicer and he enjoys his life more. As a taxi driver, he leased time on someone else’s car. With Uber, he purchased his own Town Car and runs his own business. When I pressed him to ask if he made more money with Uber, he insisted that the money was the same; it’s the quality of life that drove his decision.  The discussion reminded me how incremental improvement is often enough to disrupt the status quo and drive real change in a market. In this case, I’m considering better quality of life for the same earnings as incremental. So often, we see startups trying to change the world with revolutionary product offerings that often end up confusing potential customers if the product experience is too far of a leap from the status quo.  Smart, incremental improvements can (more…)

Messaging apps as replacement for social networking

I met with an entrepreneur yesterday who suggested that mobile messaging apps would replace social networking in the coming years.  This is an interesting thesis and some data does support that the youngest demographic are moving away from Facebook towards a variety of newer messaging applications.  When you look at how Facebook itself has evolved, the newsfeed is the focus of the experience today so it’s become predominately a shared asynchronous messaging app or as Facebook writes “a constantly updating list of stories from people and Pages that you follow on Facebook”. Over the past few years, the list of messaging apps that I’ve used is too long to remember: Kik, What’sApp, MessageMe, GroupMe, Fast Society, Beluga, Snapchat, Hangouts, Line, Viber, Rebtel, Skype, Adium, iMessage, etc. etc.  Some of these apps have delivered valuable experiences that have had niche use-cases for me, but few have become mainstays on my home screen.  I’ve recently consolidated 90% of my messaging activity around iMessage. Apple has done a nice job connecting all devices via (more…)

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