“People don’t take smoke breaks anymore — they take Facebook breaks.” Now, there’s a beauty that I heard this afternoon at the IBM Connect event here in Orlando.
You can blame it on the digital natives — the young ones who feed their activity streams to network and create their digital personas. For them, it’s not so unusual. It actually makes a lot of sense considering how data is changing who we are and what we represent.
Welcome to the second-person workplace, where a person is becoming a double of themselves. They live and work, and while they do their online persona is engaging, too. And we take breaks to feed that double identity.
Mark Fidelman of harmon.ie and a writer for Forbes moderated the discussion during which this topic of the new smoke break surfaced. The talk focused on the need for people to engage in social tech. It’s universal here at the conference — everything about this event is about getting people to use blogs, Twitter — you name it.
But what they do not talk about is why we are developing this digital persona that we will increasingly use as a double worker to define our behaviors.
I can’t take credit for this insight. Chris Dancy works in the office of the CTO at BMC Software. He discussed this in a phone interview today. He has cultivated this viewpoint and has distilled it into a presentation that has three core principles:
And the presentation:
Now read his post on how data is getting connected and will soon tell us when to leave the house, who to have dinner with and where it would be a good idea to eat based upon the diet learned from the data streamed from their FitBit.
I hope the people here at IBM Connect can think beyond tweeting and better understand the deeper meaning of data and its role in our lives. Maybe then we won’t find it so surprising that people actually would take a few minutes to go outside and get on Facebook.
Go here to read the rest: People Don’t Take Smoke Breaks Anymore, They Take Facebook Breaks
After a break for the holidays and CES, Ask A VC is back with two all-star investors, Venrock’s David Pakman and Kleiner Perkins’ investment partner Ted Schlein. Remember, Ask A VC allows you to ask the hard questions and put VCs in the hot seat
Pakman is visiting us from New York, where he’s been a partner at Venrock since 2008, focusing on investing in early-stage Internet and digital music companies. At Venrock, Pakman has led investments in Klout, Dollar Shave Club, Smartling and others. Prior to his career in venture capital, Pakman was the CEO of music retailer eMusic and co-founded myPlay, which was sold to Bertelsmann’s e-commerce Group. Before Myplay, he was vice president at N2K Entertainment, which created the first digital music download service. He also was the co-creator of Apple Computer’s Music Group.
It should be interesting to see what Pakman’s views are on the New York investment scene and where the next disruption in the music industry will take place.
You ask questions in the comments or here and we’ll ask them of our VC guests.
Schlein, who joined Kleiner in 1996, is one of the most experienced investors in the venture world, and makes investments for the firm in early-stage technology companies in the enterprise software and infrastructure markets. He’s led investments in Jive Software, ArcSight, Internet Security Systems (ISSX), Oakley Networks, and many others. He also serves on the board of directors of 3VR, 41st Parameter, Alien Vault, Chegg, Hara, Inspirato, IronPlanet, Jive, Mandiant, Nebula, Reputation.com, Shape Security, and Verdiem.
And Schlein oversees KPCB’s investments in Endgame Systems, LifeLock and Bit9. Schlein was also an early employee at Symantec and was the former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA).
Want to know Pakman’s views on Spotify’s future or who Schlein thinks will be the break-out enterprise company of 2013? Please send us your questions for Schlein and or Pakman here or put them in comments below today or tomorrow!
Apple announces 40 billion total App Store downloads from 500 million active accounts, Yahoo Mail users suffer widespread hacking, and it may be possible to send encrypted messages via the silence in Skype calls. It’s all in today’s Daily Dose.
You can catch The Daily Dose every Monday through Friday right here on The Next Web. Be sure to hit the subscription button of your choice below to get The Daily Dose as soon as it’s available.
The Daily Dose is taking a break from now until the new year, so we’ll see you back for more in January.
Editor’s note: Ben Horowitz is co-founder and partner of Andreessen Horowitz. He was co-founder and CEO of Opsware (formerly Loudcloud), which was acquired by HP, and ran several product divisions at Netscape. He serves on the board of companies such as Capriza, Foursquare, Jawbone, Lytro, Magnet, NationBuilder, Okta, Rap Genius, SnapLogic and Tidemark. Follow him on his blog and on Twitter @bhorowitz.
I do this for my culture
To let them know what a nigga look like when a nigga in a Roadster
Show them how to move in a room full of vultures
Industry is shady, it needs to be taken over
Label owners hate me, I’m raising the status quo up
I’m overcharging niggas for what they did to the Cold Crush
—Jay Z, Izzo (H.O.V.A.)
Ask 10 founders about company culture and what it means and you’ll get 10 different answers. It’s about office design, it’s about screening out the wrong kinds of employees, it’s about values, it’s about fun, it’s about alignment, it’s about finding like-minded employees, it’s about being cult-like.
So what is culture? Does culture matter? If so, how much time should you spend on it?
Let’s start with the second question first. The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least 10 times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter. The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If it’s possible to do something 10x better, it’s also possible that you won’t be the only company to figure that out. Therefore, you must take the market before somebody else does. Very few products are 10x better than the competition, so unseating the new incumbent is much more difficult than unseating the old one.
If you fail to do both of those things, your culture won’t matter one bit. The world is full of bankrupt companies with world-class cultures. Culture does not make a company.
So, why bother with culture at all? Three reasons:
In this post, when I refer to company culture, I am not referring to other important activities like company values and employee satisfaction. Specifically, I am writing about designing a way of working that will:
Culture means lots of other things in other contexts, but the above will be plenty to discuss here.
When you start implementing your culture, keep in mind that most of what will be retrospectively referred to as your company’s culture will not be designed in, but will evolve over time based on the behavior of you and your early employees. As a result, you will want to focus on a small number of cultural design points that will influence a large number of behaviors over a long period of time.
In Jim Collins’ massively successful book Built to Last, he wrote that one of the things that long lasting companies he studied have in common is a “cult-like culture.” I found this description to be confusing because it seems to imply that as long as your culture is weird enough and you are rabid enough about it, you will succeed on the cultural front. That’s related to the truth, but not actually true. In reality, Collins was right that a properly designed culture often ends up looking cult-like in retrospect, but that’s not the initial design principle. You needn’t think hard about how you can make your company seem bizarre to outsiders. However, you do need to think about how you can be provocative enough to change what people do every day.
Ideally, a cultural design point will be trivial to implement, but will have far-reaching behavioral consequences. Key to this kind of mechanism is shock value. If you put something into your culture that is so disturbing that it always creates a conversation, it will change behavior. As we learned in The Godfather, ask a Hollywood mogul to give someone a job and he might not respond. Put a horse’s head in his bed and unemployment will drop by one. Shock is a great mechanism for behavioral change.
Here are three examples:
Desks made out of doors – Very early on, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, envisioned a company that made money by delivering value to rather than extracting value from its customers. In order to do that, he wanted to be both the price and customer service leader for the long run. You can’t do that if you waste a lot of money. Jeff could have spent years auditing every expense and raining hell on anybody who overspent, but he decided to build frugality into his culture. He did it with an incredibly simple mechanism: all desks at Amazon.com for all time would be built by buying cheap doors from The Home Depot and nailing legs to them. These door desks are not great ergonomically nor do they fit with Amazon.com’s $100+ billion market capitalization, but when a shocked new employee asks why she must work on a makeshift desk constructed out of random Home Depot parts, the answer comes back with withering consistency: “We look for every opportunity to save money so that we can deliver the best products for the lowest cost.” If you don’t like sitting at a door, then you won’t last long at Amazon.
$10 per minute – When we started Andreessen Horowitz, Marc and I wanted the firm to treat entrepreneurs with great respect. We remembered how psychologically brutal the process of building a company was. We wanted the firm to respect the fact that in the bacon and egg breakfast of a startup, we were with the chicken and the entrepreneur was the pig: we were involved, but she was committed. We thought that one way to communicate respect would be to always be on time to meetings with entrepreneurs. Rather than make them wait in our lobby for 30 minutes while we attended to more important business like so many venture capitalists that we visited, we wanted our people to be on time, prepared and focused. Unfortunately, anyone who has ever worked anywhere knows that this is easier said than done. In order to shock the company into the right behavior, we instituted a ruthlessly enforced $10/minute fine for being late to a meeting with an entrepreneur. So, you are on a really important call and will be 10 minutes late? No problem, just bring $100 to the meeting and pay your fine. When new employees come on, they find this shocking, which gives us a great opportunity to explain in detail why we respect entrepreneurs. If you don’t think entrepreneurs are more important than venture capitalists, we can’t use you at Andreessen Horowitz.
Move fast and break things – Mark Zuckerberg believes in innovation and he believes there can be no great innovation without great risk. So, in the early days of Facebook, he deployed a shocking motto: move fast and break things. Did the CEO really want us to break things? I mean, he’s telling us to break things! A motto that shocking forces everyone to stop and think. When they think, they realize that if you move fast and innovate, you will break things. If you ask yourself, “Should I attempt this breakthrough? It will be awesome, but it may cause problems in the short term.” You have your answer. If you’d rather be right than innovative, you won’t fit in at Facebook.
Prior to figuring out the exact form of your company’s shock therapy, be sure that your mechanism agrees with your values. For example, Jack Dorsey will never make his own desks out of doors at Square because at Square, beautiful design trumps frugality. When you walk into Square, you can feel how seriously they take design.
Startups today do all kinds of things to distinguish themselves. Many great, many original, many quirky, but most of them will not define the company’s culture. Yes, yoga may make your company a better place to work for people who like yoga. It may also be a great team-building exercise for people who like yoga. Nonetheless, it’s not culture. It will not establish a core value that drives the business and help promote in perpetuity. It is not specific with respect to what your business aims to achieve. Yoga is a perk.
Somebody keeping a pit bull in her cube may be shocking. However, the lesson learned — that animal lovers are welcome or that employees can live however they want — may be societal values, but they do not connect to your business in a distinguishing way. Every smart company values their employees. Perks are good, but they are not culture.
In How Andreessen Horowitz Evaluates CEOs, I described the CEO job as knowing what to do and getting the company to do what you want. Designing a proper company culture will help you get your company to do what you want in certain important areas for a very long time.
Original post: Programming Your Culture
Devs hate outdated documentation. If a platform you build on changes and doesn’t tell you, it can cause days of frustration and wasted work. So now, when Facebook alters its source code, its developer docs automatically update to stay current. Since Facebook is constantly tinkering with its platform that supports 9 million+ apps, this should make it much easier for developers and keep them loyal.
Reference docs for Facebook’s FQL, Android SDK and iOS SDK are all now being generated automatically from their source code. Facebook’s Graph API will be converted to this system soon, along with other parts of the platform including the PHP and Java SDKs plus the money-printing Ads API. Facebook also redesigned the structure of its docs to make them easier to navigate.
In its early days the Facebook platform was pretty hairy, with devs constantly complaining that their apps would break without warning. But keeping third-party developers happy is critical for Facebook at this stage of its evolution. Twitter and Google+ offer competing social platforms that are happy to capitalize on the discontent of Facebook developers.
Meanwhile, Facebook is trying to execute a social layer platform strategy on mobile. Instead of competing directly with iOS and Android, it wants every app built on those platforms integrated with its social capabilities. It’s working so far, considering 9 of the top 10 iOS apps and most of the Android stars now have Facebook baked in.
If devs see their Facebook integrations break down and the documentation isn’t up to date, fixes can be a maddening trial-and-error process. By generating docs straight from the source code, Facebook’s engineers can spend their time building out the platform rather than fiddling with the docs, and developers can be confident they at least have the right instruction manual. Any platforms that don’t do this better step their game up.
Cheers to fewer expletive-filled all-nighters hunched over your code.
If you want to geek out on Facebook some more, read: Facebook Publishes Super Nerdy Big Data Engineering Blog Post To Attract Hardcore Coders
[Image Credit: Telegraph / Getty]
Here is the original post: Developers Will Love This: Facebook Now Auto-Generates Documentation From Source Code