When Innovation Is Execution

Superior Execution and a Dash of Genius

Gordon Crovitz has written one of the more thoughtful reviews on “The Social Network” in the Wall Street Journal Today.¬† He echos Lawrence Lessig in making the case that many of the choices made in the film’s artistic license reveals the hostile and proudly ignorant stance that Hollywood still has towards the software industry. The story of success born of superior execution that is the Facebook story is hidden behind the movie’s focus on the highly entertaining but largely bogus lawsuit that FB has faced.

Google did not invent web search. They executed better, simper and faster than their competition. WordPress did not invent blogging software but that community has iterated better in many areas and faster than their peers and now are rightfully being looked at as a premier enterprise web publishing¬† platform. The Beatles did not invent the three minute pop song . In fact they started out mostly covering other songwriters. These are success stories born largely through superior execution. Rising to the top in an existing crowded space is never easy and it rarely has to do with anyone ‘stealing’ an idea. We should all hope that the legal system does as little damage as possible to the next Facebook.

See:   Gordon Crovitz: The More Exciting Story of Facebook РWSJ.com.

Multi-tenancy on GAE

The Multi-Tenancy Mascot

I am excited that Google App Engine has released multi-tenant support via namespace API. This should make it possible to white-label an appengine app (we have had several requests for this with modpoll) while avoiding forking, or spinning up a separate instance of the app. While there are disputes about what multi-tenancy actually should means from a feature perspective, if we can segregate db, cache and task queue as claimed that sounds like pretty useful start to me.


The Zombie Workplace Survival Guide – a Software Developer’s Perspective

Here are my three own three P’s that I have used in the past and that may help you as a developer in a large company avoid zombification:

  • Prototype your idea. If you lack the skills to do so then you are very possibly in the wrong business. You don’t want to put yourself at the mercy of unpredictable forces and personalities that will mean the death or deadly dilution of the idea before it is born.
  • Prove that your software has merit. Get a small but influential group of people additctied to using it before seeking any official ‘buy-in’. Generate hard data. Wow the bean counters. Save money. Create data porn that no eyes can turn away from.
  • Plunder from existing frameworks and components. Resist the temptation to rebuild that which already exists in the world (even if you can do it ‘better’, more scalable etc) as this fact will not champion the project early on. Get it working first, optimize it later.

See: The Zombie Workplace Survival Guide – H. James Wilson and Kevin Desouza – Research – Harvard Business Review.

Getting Freemium Pricing Right

I feel for chargify in their need to update their pricing scheme. We are trying to do just that with one of our free products right now. Getting freemium price points can be tricky. It is easy to engage in some degree of wishful thinking in the value proposition of the paid offering to most users or to ignore the potential cost of acquiring a ton of free users and not enough paid users. Obviously these calculations can become easier if you can afford to launch with free and then add paid since you then have acquired a very valuable piece of information that can take some of the guesswork out of the value/feature equation – user feedback.

From: Subscription Billing System Chargify Missteps As It Switches From Freemium To Premium.