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Three questions. Offices, Servers, Registration - Mark Atwood
fallenpegasus
fallenpegasus
Three questions. Offices, Servers, Registration
Some pointed questions that an Angel or VC should ask anyone they are funding:

Why are you wasting my money renting expensive office space?

Programmers and designers can work from anywhere. When they need to work face to face, they can meet in homes, in cafes, and in co-working coops like CItizen Agency, Start Pad, Saturday House, etc.

If you feel you need to ride herd so closely on your staff that you need to put them in an office together, either you shouldn't have hired them, or you shouldn't be in the startup or tech industry.

Why are you wasting my money and our time buying servers and renting colocation space?

You can spin up a REAL real-world load-ready multi server and database LAMP application on AWS EC2 in just a couple of hours, and size it to exactly your load as you need it. And AWS isnt the only game in town. There are other cloud and grid app server systems entering the fray.

Why are you driving away our users with yet another "create an account / register on our site" page?

Instead ask the user "Do you have a yahoo, aim, gmail, or OpenID?" Log them in that way, make some heuristic guesses, hit the open social API, and learn everything you can about your new user without forcing another signup foirm on him. If they've logged into Linkedin, Plaxo, FriendFeed, Facebook, etc from that browser in the last few days, you can learn that from their browser via JS, hit their profiles on those sites, feed their profile URLs into OpenSocial, and build their new profile on your site faster than the user can groan "Do I have to fill this all in AGAIN?!"
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tcepsa From: tcepsa Date: April 23rd, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Instead ask the user "Do you have a yahoo, aim, gmail, or OpenID?" Log them in that way, make some heuristic guesses, hit the open social API, and learn everything you can about your new user without forcing another signup foirm on him. If they've logged into Linkedin, Plaxo, FriendFeed, Facebook, etc from that browser in the last few days, you can learn that from their browser via JS, hit their profiles on those sites, feed their profile URLs into OpenSocial, and build their new profile on your site faster than the user can groan "Do I have to fill this all in AGAIN?!"

That seems incredibly useful and convenient for the user. I'm still working out how worried to be about it. ~wry grin~
codetoad From: codetoad Date: April 23rd, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your first point is right-on. I don't get it at all.
intrepid_reason From: intrepid_reason Date: April 24th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, what you said!!!
loganb From: loganb Date: April 24th, 2008 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Good point on expensive office space, although office space for a startup is a no brainer. If your startup is doing anything remotely novel (and I hope it is), then you're going to have to spend a non-trivial amount of (communication) bandwidth within your team sync'ing (with each other) and evolving the vision. The bandwidth of a vocal conversation is an order of magnitude wider than a conversation over e-mail (to say nothing about latency!). Our team of 5 is all in the same office space, and we've even found that everyone working around the conference table is significantly more productive.

A startup should always have "too little" office space. When everyone is packed in, total communications bandwidth (between humans) is much, much higher.

I'm sure some startups don't need that level of sharing; I'm not sure I'd want to work at one.
tcepsa From: tcepsa Date: April 24th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
The bandwidth of a vocal conversation is an order of magnitude wider than a conversation over e-mail (to say nothing about latency!).

I actually prefer instant messenger in many situations. If I am in the middle of trying to write code and somebody needs to talk to me, I can often continue working on the code while having a conversation with them over IM because when they send me a message I can finish the coding thought that I am having and save my mental stack before switching contexts and responding to them. If someone comes in and starts talking to me I have to stop what I am doing immediately and pay attention to them or I miss large chunks of what they are saying. This generally causes my mental stack to fall apart completely, and once they've left it takes me several minutes to get my coding velocity back up to speed.

In addition, I don't find that text as a communications medium hinders my ability to understand what another person is saying. If anything, I feel that it enhances it, since it forces them to put into words everything that they want to convey, instead of relying on tonal or body-language shortcuts (though even those can be conveyed to a degree through text ~wry grin~). Plus, a record of the entire conversation can be preserved automatically, making it much easier to go back and see who said what when.

When everyone is packed in, total communications bandwidth (between humans) is much, much higher.

But then you can run into problems like crosstalk, a poor signal-to-noise ratio, and the fact that bandwidth is bandwidth, whether it is used for conversation or coding. If I'm sitting there trying to code and people around me are having a conversation, part of my bandwidth is going to be paying attention to that conversation, leaving less available for me to focus on coding.

This isn't to say that people have to work in solitude all the time; I've had some incredibly productive pair programming experiences. I've had some incredibly unproductive pair programming experiences as well, though, that I feel would have gone much better (at least in terms of my productivity) if they had been carried out via IM.

Then again, perhaps I am simply not startup material ^_^
From: pir Date: April 24th, 2008 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Generally I prefer simple interruptions be via IM or email because that's what they are; interruptions.

However, my current experience of being a member of a large team (~170 people right now) spread out in something like 10 different timezones and only 2 of us locally is that collaborating in the same space is very useful. IM doesn't always cut it, neither do email, VC or anything else.

Being packed in and with too much crosstalk isn't useful either, but being able to go and have a game of pool (or sit with a coffee, whatever gets you away from your work so you give your full attention and don't disturb other people) at very little notice with 2 or 3 other people working on the same project or just being able to bounce ideas off people in real time and in person is a huge advantage. I miss it. If I have to schedule that time "Hey, come to X coffeeshop at Y time?" it would be a lot less useful.

No to expensive office space but somewhere to work together a reasonable amount of the time can increase productivity, IMO.
From: neocuriosity Date: April 25th, 2008 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)
You bring up good points.

One reason that I don't like it when I'm automatically linked from one program to another (ex. yahoo and flickr) is that maybe I LIKE being a different user on both. Maybe my flickr profile is wild and crazy and my yahoo profile is for job-hunting. The last thing I need is some nosy recruiter googling my username. So, I actually prefer to create a new name most of the time. Because if I'm going to visit XYZ site, and I don't know what they're all about (or can't know until I register), I'm damn sure not going to put my name out there. Yanno?



Edited at 2008-04-25 04:19 am (UTC)
mauser From: mauser Date: April 24th, 2008 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Man, nothing peeves me more as a web user than yet another registration page for something that doesn't even really need it.

I've had to resort to keeping a notebook for usernames and passwords on sites that I rarely visit that don't really require any security because they don't contain anything important on them.
awfief From: awfief Date: April 24th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)
You have different passwords for those? For those I just have a password of "sheeri" (my first name). Basically, if it uses http instead of https to log me in, my password is "sheeri".
mauser From: mauser Date: April 24th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I generally have one unsecure password, unless it requires a longer one or digits. But I also have to track if I'm mauser, mauser712, or my e-mail address.
swanhart From: swanhart Date: April 25th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll keep that in mind ;p
awfief From: awfief Date: April 25th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
No problem. I give that away all the time, especially for annoying login-only sites like the new york times. :)
kespernorth From: kespernorth Date: April 24th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
If you're going to try to suck all that information out of my browser, I'm not going to visit your site, and I don't want you pulling information from other sites so you can spam my friends. Be prepared to offer an opt-out for those of us who don't really want to be welcomed to the social.

I'm really starting to hate Facebook and Twitter. Actually, scratch that, I've loathed Facebook for a while, but Twitter is really starting to get on my nerves.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: April 24th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree about "spam your friends". I am no fan of "Spam Twp Point Oh".

On the other hand, autodiscovery of existing profiles on existing well known profile sites costs you no privacy that you've not already lost. The big advertisers have already full cross indexed them all.

You might as well at least use them to save a pile of typing...
smirkingjustice From: smirkingjustice Date: April 24th, 2008 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
You should expand this into an Ignite talk. I agree with all three of your points. I think the startup community needs to hear them loud and clear.
(Deleted comment)
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: May 20th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Use Google
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