By Michael Woloszynowicz

By Michael Woloszynowicz

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What We Learned From Steve Jobs

With Steve Jobs' passing of the torch, I think it's appropriate to reflect on the lessons we've learned from him and Apple over the years. Here are some of the most notable lessons that we can all use every day:

  • Good is never good enough, always strive to be great
  • Get good at saying no. Saying no is hard but it's the no's that will define the success of your business.
  • Screw featuritis.You can achieve great success without having every feature imaginable. Do what's really needed, and do it exceptionally well. 
  • Marketing and showmanship do matter. This is not to say the product can be mediocre, it can't, but how you position it is equally important. 
  • Your passion is reflected in your product, so don't do something if you're not passionate about it
  • Don't believe those that tell you something can't be done. Nobody believed Steve Jobs could get a fragmented and stubborn music industry to agree to iTunes, but his perseverance and tenacity ultimately won out. 
  • Don't just fixate on the product, your positioning, experience, and message must be consistent across everything you do. Apple feels like Apple in its hardware, software, packaging, accessories, website and stores.
  • Design matters... a lot! We live in a superficial world and people love things that look great. The practicality and durability of Apple's designs is often questionable, but people look past it and fixate on the beauty.
  • Usability is cool. I strongly believe that the recent rise in usability and user experience is largely attributed to Steve Jobs and Apple, and for this I thank them. 
  • Timing is everything. Apple didn't invent the touch screen phone, the mp3 player, or the tablet PC. What Apple did was wait until market conditions were perfect to introduce these devices. 
  • Almost every industry is ripe for change, don't believe in the status quo. Apple has become the most valuable company in the world by competing in existing industries and taking them by storm. 
  • Don't ever give up. From being ousted to cancer, to picking a company up from the brink of collapse, Steve Jobs never quit, neither should you. 
  • Have a grand vision. I have no doubt that when Steve Jobs begin working on iPod, he already planned how he would parlay its success into the Mac line and other products. Don't just think about your product, think of the big picture and the ecosystem that can flow from it. 
  • Turtle necks are cool?
I hope that Steve Jobs' legacy will carry forward not only at Apple but at more companies across the world. Even if you're not a fan of Apple or their products, the changes they've brought about have had a profound impact on our lives and transformed industries. Let's take these lessons and change the world by making products people are passionate about and love to use. We'll miss you Steve. 

If you liked this post please Tweet it, or follow me on Twitter for more.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

These Twitter Numbers Don't Stack Up

A recent report found here announces that Twitter recently raised $800M in venture capital, $400M of which goes to the company while the other $400M will be used by employees to cash out some of their shares. While the figure raised is impressive, the claim that Twitter has revenues of $200M per year raises a number of questions. These figures are either incorrect or it makes you really wonder why they need venture capital in the first place.

Let's consider that a recent report published that the average developer salary at Twitter is $125k (found here) and the report in question claiming that Twitter now has 600 employees. Based on these figures Twitter spends roughly $75M per year on salaries. That leaves nearly $125M per year to cover the costs of increasing hardware demands, rent, and miscellaneous expenses, which seems quite high for costs that are often proportionally lower than employee salaries.

The justification is that Twitter needs to expand its workforce to expand internationally, and so it needs the injection of capital to cover the associated expenses. The problem with this claim is that given Twitters lofty valuation and increasing Tweet and user figures, you would expect that the revenues will continue to increase at a rapid rate. Since revenue is increasing it should suffice to cover the costs of an expanding workforce along with the international expansion. The better question to ask is whether Twitter actually needs more than 600 employees, does it even need 600? A look at 37 Signals shows that a great company can be maintained with a 10-20 people, while most startups have only a handful of developers. Sure Twitter has scaling issues that it needs to deal with, data that it needs to comb through, multiple client versions, but it still seems excessive. My worry with excessive funding is that it takes away the need to be lean, the need to survive dwindles, and focus often gets lost.

I'm not saying Twitter is doing the wrong thing by taking the money, but at $200M in revenue I would have to have a pretty good reason to further dilute my shares. As with most companies I suspect that Twitter simply took the money because it's being offered. There's likely no solid justification for it other than to publicize how valuable the company is, and to handsomely reward its employees with cash for their shares.

If you liked this post please Tweet it, or follow me on Twitter for more.