Category Archives: technology

100 Things to Watch in 2013

Another year, another inspiring presentation by JWT of 100 things to watch in 2013:

 

Does Microsoft Stand a Chance?

“Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers!”.  Steve Ballmer’s stage performance was a massive Internet hit and emphasized how important is the developer eco-system for Microsoft.

Why are developers so important? Simply put, An Operating System (Windows, OSX, Linux) is a form of a marketplace, just like eBay. On one side there are developers (the “sellers”), and on the other side are the “buyers”, i.e., customers who buy software. The better the marketplace is (i.e., the higher number of paid transactions), the more sought after it would be and the company enabling the marketplace would generate higher revenues from operating system sales. Because operating systems are not compatible with one another, the history of computing shows that in many cases, the winner takes it all (Where are Novell, Sun, Silicon Graphics and their likes today? Mainly in Silicon Valley history books)

Two phenomena have reshuffled the landscape completely in the last couple of years – the rise of the iPhone (and Android) and the continuous momentum of the open source movement (that was ignited by Linux massive success). Suddenly, Microsoft lost its dominance and stopped being the first choice for developers.

In 2007 I founded Delver. What did we build our company with?

  • Windows workstations and laptops
  • Dedicates server running Microsoft Exchange and Active-Directory (so ridiculously expensive)
  • Microsoft Office and Microsoft Visual Studio – all very expensive products (licenses cost hundreds of dollars per employee, per year)
  • A combination of Unix machines and Windows servers in our production environment (I would estimate 80% of our codebase was Asp.net vs. 20% Java)

What products are we using in our current startup, Dynamic Yield?

In the office, we use

  • Google Apps for emails, documents and calendar
  • Dropbox for file sharing
  • Highrise for CRM
  • Eclipse code editor (Personally, I am very content with TextMate on my Mac)

In production, we use

  • Dedicated Dual-Xeon linux monsters (hosted in 100tb)
  • Amazon AWS
  • Cotendo (Akamai) as a CDN
  • Our customer-facing application was written in Ruby on Rails (by me! At least initially, I was quickly demoted to a CEO role once Igal arrived)
  • Apache servers (soon to be changed with nginx)
  • MySql database and HBase for our big data needs.
  • Code written in Php, Python, Javascript and Java.

Who is noticeably missing from this list? you guessed it right, the guys from Redmond. And the sad thing? we never even once contemplated using a Microsoft product for any of the tasks we perform, in the office or in our server farms. They are just irrelevant for our work routines, and that’s something Steve Ballmer should be very worried about.

Platform Wars

Epilog: there is one point were we spend a lot of time with Microsoft products – debugging and making sure our front-end code works well in the nightmarish IE 7 and IE 8 browsers.

And finally, because I really like (for real! no cynism) Steve Ballmer, here is a another great clip of his:

Another Year, Another Casualty

The pace of technology advancement continues to take its toll on some of the 20th century finest companies.

After years of decline, Eastman Kodak is about to go bankrupt. This is another sad example of a company with amazing legacy, who’s management failed to adapt to the digital age. In an ironic twist, Kodak is the company that invented the digital camera, the technology that brought to its demise.

Indeed, that’s a nasty dilema – realizing that a technological innovation will undercut your main revenue sources – film and the chemicals needed to develop them. A smart management will internalize the fact that times have changed and will adopt for the future. Kodak’s management went for the Ostreich strategy – bury your head in the sand, and hope that the storm will go away. Oops, bad decision. By the time they woke up, it was already too late.

George Eastman, founder of Kodak

The mechanism in which executives are compensated in public-traded companies doesn’t improve these companies chances of survival. As a CEO of publicly-traded company, you receive your bonuses based on short-term profits and stock value. Why would you invest in a long-term strategy shift when you are at the reigns? Better squeeze-in every dollar of short-term profit, cash out and move on to your next CEO gig with pockets full of cash.

Maximizing long-term shareholder value is not the real goal of public companies management teams, but rather maximizing short-term personal gains.

You press the button, we do the rest

Some statistics:

  • Kodak was founded in 1880 by George Eastman. His strategy: sell inexpensive cameras and make large margin in consumables: film, chemicals and paper.
  • in 1976, Kodak had 90% marketshare of photographic film sales in the US.
  • Apple’s QuickTake consumer digital cameras, introduced in 1994, were actually manufactured by Kodak.
  • By 2005, Kodak ranked #1 is sales of digital cameras in the US, with $5.7B in sales.
  • By 2010, Kodak US market share dropped to only 7% in.
  • 2007: The last year in which Kodak made a profit.
  • 2011: Preparing for chapter 11 filing.
  • 1930: Added to the Dow Jones Index. Stayed in the index for 74 years, until 2004.
  • 1996 Market Cap: $26B. 2011: Market Cap: $126M.

 

Goodbye Kodak, and thank you for all those memories you helped humanity capture.

The Numbers Are Just Striking

241,000 concurrent viewers for a gaming tournament. They weren’t watching Messi dribbling elegantly and scoring a goal, they were not watching LeBron James dunk, they were watching computer figures running around a terrain shooting each other.

It won’t be too many years before MLG (Major League Gaming; What a genius name) will bigger than MLB, NBA and any other real-world sports with their boring player strikes, player injuries and a need to actually get off the sofa.

Microsoft vs Apple: A Tale of Two Marketing Departments

Apple, November 2010:

Microsoft, November 2010:

12 years ago (thanks archive.org)

Microsoft, December 1998:

Not much has changed…

Which reminds me of a video I posted here a long time ago:

Hmmm…