Wednesday

How the Tech World Turns


With Facebook buying Oculus Rift (a virtual reality startup that produces virtual reality “goggles”), it’s apparent that Zuckerberg is trying to stay ahead of the tech curve. What FB will do with Oculus remains slightly unknown, but the Oculus team has up to $300 million in incentives to hit certain milestones. I’m imagining that FB will attempt to capitalize on virtual reality as the new platform and its social and advertising revenue opportunities, while still keeping users active on PCs and on mobile.

This seems outlandish and slightly far-fetched, but after working at a tech startup for over the last year, you start to understand how quickly tech evolves. From the creation to testing to market acceptance or denial of a new technology can be a relatively short time. We at Narrative Science have been working to perfect artificial intelligence for years. The advances we’ve made have been astounding, all while getting a fair amount of press. But if people can’t use your product everyday, they assume you’ve failed. Until one day your product ends up in the hands of consumers who finally understand how they leverage your technology. My point, because people haven’t been able to use the Oculus Rift or Narrative Science for that matter, it’s easy to scrutinize the technology.

The second industrial age in upon and the rate that software is progressing is astonishing, rates we’ve never seen before. At the beginning of this second machine age, FB realizes how important it is to have a hand in the latest, possibly game-changing tech. Although people can’t see it now, FB will help bring this technology to the masses, while putting a few dollars in its pocket.

Twitter’s 3 Keys to Success


Twitter’s founder Jack Dorsey had a talk  a few years back that helps you step into the mind of a great entrepreneur. The talk is about 15 minutes long, but it’s an interesting talk that is straight-forward, but dwells on some great insight.

His three keys to success:

1) Draw: get your idea out of your head and share it,

2) Luck: assess when the time (and the market) is right to execute your idea,

3) Iterate: take in the feedback, be a rigorous editor, and refine your idea.

4) Then indirectly I would add a fourth, time and experience. The combination of the two will help you identify opportunities and see the world in a new light.

Why I Chose to Work at a Startup


About 18 months ago, it was either Wichita, KS, Minneapolis, or stick in Chicago. The first two would have been great jobs that would have paid handsomely. The latter was a risk that I felt I could only take now, while I don’t have a wife and kids (and didn’t pay handsomely). I chose the latter, and couldn’t be happier with my decision.
I would argue that technology has never moved faster than it’s moving now. This opens up opportunities to work with new technologies and apply them to current systems,  processes, or business functions. The challenge of changing the way businesses function with new technology turns out to be such an abstract and difficult problem to solve. Striving to solve this problem and ultimately make the company successful is what drives people who work at a startup. The never ending search to solve this problem forces you to be a jack of all trades, which is why I love what I do. So here are my top reasons why I enjoy working at a startup and hopefully I can convert some of you.
1.) I’m emotionally invested
Aside from having equity and hoping to have a very lucrative payout via IPO or buyout, I find myself “drinking the kool-aid”. Some weeks when a prospect doesn’t sign a contract, you think you’ll be out of a job next week. Then when a big prospect signs a contract, you think it’ll be a matter of weeks before you’re on your yacht in the Mediterranean. Being emotionally invested in what we’re doing and how we’re trying to change the landscape of business gets me excited to go to work everyday and attempt to solve a problem that has never been solved before.
2.) I was sick of being a “number”
I’ve had jobs before where I just felt like if I left tomorrow, they’d just hire someone else to do the same thing. Regardless how much impact I tried to have, or how successful I was, I was caught  in the “corporate sludge”, impossible to get out. It was hard being motivated to go to work everyday. I felt like I could just punch in and punch out everyday, and that’s all I had to do; was just put in my time to work up the corporate ladder. And that’s what I want to stress, go somewhere where your voice is heard and you’re not just clocking in, expand your horizons, or go somewhere where you believe in the company’s mission. It will make waking up on Mondays much easier.
3.) Expanding my skill set
The things I’ve done to help “keep the doors open” are things I wouldn’t have done anywhere else. If you would’ve told me I’d have been project managing, product developing, involved in product strategy, doing client projects, coding, prospecting for clients, sales pitches, and doing User Experience testing all in a day’s work, I would’ve thought you were crazy. All of these are very transferable skill sets, especially in the new age workplace. By now, I can’t imagine going back to a company where all I did was one specific function.
End rant….
P.S. – If you feel like you can’t expand your horizons, make it a personal goal to learn something new every year. This past year for me it was computer programming. The knowledge is out there. You just need to be hungry enough to Google it…..