21 Jun

Good Post on Product Management

Ken Norton, VP Products at Jotspot, posted this good wrap-up on product management last week (you can tell I’m not exactly keeping up with my RSS subscriptions these days). His focus was on how to hire PMs, but it’s a good read to define what’s a product manager in the first place. If you like to think about, say, how you’d handle traffic at a busy crossroads with incoming cars, busses and trucks going in all directions, you might want to consider such positions.

08 Jun

Mundo de Warcraft and Frontline Thoughts About the EU

In this discussion thread many British World of Warcraft players want to be able to migrate their characters to US servers after Blizzard has effectively turned "English" servers into international ones where it’s OK to chat in any language. This translates into some servers being dominated by, say, Spaniards or Russians who seem to flood the general channels, insult English speakers or kick them out of groups. Not a nice customer experience and maybe Blizzard should be a little more proactive on this.
This is an interesting, real-world example of what’s wrong with ever-closer union within the EU and why I voted No to the European constitutional treaty (in the recent French referendum). Talk about putting the cart before the horse. By the way I voted from the French consulate in Lisbon since I’ve been living in Portugal for the last two years. My 4 1/2-year daughter is bilingual (well, she’s making progress in English too so she’ll be trilingual by age 6). Besides my native France I also lived in Germany and Italy in the past, and that leaves out tourism and business trips to England, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Russia.

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02 Jun

What Comes After a 10:1 GOOG Stock Split?

This graph is definitely impressive. Kudos to the Google team for creating so much wealth, and to people buying at IPO time. I’m not one of them, I thought it would rocket and crash, so I’ve given up on pretending I know anything about what I’m talking about in this industry. Or is the stock market delusional and I’ll be proved right in the long term? For all those years I felt Yahoo could make a big "software comeback" if they wanted to, and it’s exactly what’s happening, so maybe I’m only half a buffoon. That and I did write before the IPO it would take time to burst the Google bubble.
In any case, I’m now using Yahoo as my primary web search engine (still using Google for news). Results seem slightly better. A query on, say, "gaming mouse" doesn’t put something written six years ago in the first spot, as is the case on Google. And there’s less spam. As I’m using Firefox to initiate queries the barrier to exit is zero and retraining is minimal, as Yahoo mimicked many of Google’s tricks. With Firefox I’ve given up on the Google toolbar and never looked back.
Google is to web search what Hotmail was to webmail a couple years ago: not a major innovation in a long time, and more spam by the day. Ripe for replacement, and you don’t even need to change your email address. It seems obvious Google hasn’t got a clue about how to properly handle commercial sites and tell apart those with relevant content from the rest.
Now that I have a whole omelette on my face with the GOOG explosion, I might as well reinstate my bearish outlook on the company! The lasting, defensible position? I don’t see it, and the market is becoming big enough to warrant more focus and resources from competitors. Contrarily to the slavish reporting and blogging around, Google is not the first company run by smart engineers each doing their own thang. The paramount example was Bell Labs within AT&T, an organization that has delivered orders of magnitude more innovation and hardcore research than Google probably ever will. Or think of Xerox. Look at where they are after market conditions changed under their feet, it’s not a pretty picture.
Many companies have too many marketers and too few engineers in charge. Google will prove to have tipped too far in the other direction.