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Ich habe mich eine Stunde lang mit Marcel Weiss über AngelList, Startups, und Venture Capital unterhalten. Wem also auf einer Autofahrt sehr langweilig ist, der kann sich meine Stimme anhören und etwas über meine Sicht der Dinge erfahren.
Marcel schreibt seit Jahren Neunetz und ist einer der Blogger, die in Deutschland eine echte Meinung haben, sie darstellen, und gerne mal anecken. Er ist deswegen ein super sympathischer Typ, und die Stunde ging schnell vorbei.
Podcasts machen Spaß. Soviel ist sicher.
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Asynchronous communication like chat and email is key when you work with people who are coding or otherwise creative. It’s annoying to be tapped on the shoulder or constantly called, ‘hey’ed, or interrupted when you are trying to focus.
Now, most people (including us) use Slack nowadays, since it is good looking, makes nice sounds, and handles GIFs really well (an important feature for good chat). It can also hook into a ton of other services that broaden its usefulness, like Google Docs, Skype, and more.
I love using email. I am good at filtering and ignoring it, forwarding, and otherwise making it work in ways that help me get shit done.
Other people, including a lot of my colleagues, hate email with a passion. I agree that it is not useful for conversations, and fails terribly at ad hoc-, group-, and timely communication. However, it does have one massive advantage over chat: it is literally someone else’s to do list. That means, if you work with someone and expect an answer, there is a clear understanding that something is answered, solved, or reacted to or not.
Chat, including Hipchat and Slack, have one disadvantage: You ask someone (either a person or group) for something (an answer, a solution, a file), and that question gets buried in other chat. In my personal situation, this happens because I am in a different location and time zone than most of my colleagues, and because we all use chat so much.
For example, I might be chatting to my colleague Amit in New York:
8pm NY time:
Amit: Hey Phil, can you give me the bank details to wire this money?
Amit: Also, how was dinner last night?
7 hours later, 8am in Berlin:
Phil: I checked out the place you told me about, it was great! Thanks for the recommendation.
Amit: Yeah, I know, isn’t it. I went there with Dave, the band was great. We should go together.
Phil: True – how about Thursday next week when I’m over?
And just like that I forget to give him what he asked me to do, as the chat is about different topics, broken up by time zone, and maybe I’m checking it at the wrong time.
I would like Slack (or Wunderlist, or Trello, or anyone else) to build an integration that lets the user add todos to conversations.
Amit: Hey Phil, can you ??give @Amit the bank details to wire this money?
By using ??, a todo gets added to my Wunderlist inbox (or to a list that’s specific for this chatroom) and I can simply tick it off when I’m done. Amit will be notified, and everyone’s happy.
Companies like Spatch are building a protocol that might add this to email, but I hope that the hundreds of millions that Slack raised (or Benedikt’s design team) are enough to build something like this much quicker.
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I’ve been flying to SF regularly for 4 years now, and with much increased frequency this year. I hate being tired, and get really grumpy, so I’ve developed a pretty well working model of how to prevent and treat jet lag. It’s based on experience, and this great research, from which I learned that:
Here’s a rough schedule for going westwards (i.e. EU to US).
I managed to return this Monday from SF, and be back on track by Wednesday. It works.
This schedule is obviously easier if you have a flexible work environment, but you can decide how much you want to prepare yourself, adjust to local rhythm at all, and how much you are prepared to suffer upon your return.
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Most commonly discussed in bold.
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Caution: excessive stereotyping in this post!
People quote Skype ad Nauseam when talking about category changing models from Europe. It’s time for the new generation to come up with businesses that actually take advantage of the unique makeup of Europe and show that we’ve got it.
I’ve been looking at the various European grant and support programs in what is called Horizon 2020, FP7, and various other names. These are EU and EC designed programs that are supposed to come up with a new mega success in Europe, or at least support regions and markets to compete on an international scale. All those programs quote the great minds, research, education, and design from Europe. And all of those programs remind us of “world beating companies such as Skype” that play to the unique abilities of Europe.
Where are the new players in that category, and why are they unique and why can they only be built here? Skype couldn’t have built in the US alone, for the simple fact that long distance phone calls were already cheap enough or free by the time it came around. Europe with its borders and the built in issues was a perfect place for Skype to emerge. MySQL and Linux were probably rooted in the strong socialist (for lack of a better, or worse, word) nature of the north, and the resulting strength of OSS there (also influenced by the strong academic and scientific education and resulting community). Betfair and it’s siblings are of course the result of strong betting/gambling cultures, especially in the UK, that are regulated out of existence in the US. H&M and Zara aren’t tech startups, but still immensely successful companies based on the design heritage in their respective cultures, much like Ikea is the result of no-nonsense design combined with wonderfully Swedish egalitarian principles of affordability (the egalitarianism is still there, not so much the affordability I might add).
What are companies that are playing to similar principles, and build their raison d’être simply on cultural, regulatory, or market realities?
Transferwise is one I’m very familiar with (Seedcamp was an early investor and I’ve spent a lot of time with Kristo and Taavet). In most markets, nobody besides marginalised minorities is even thinking about cross border financial transactions. That’s why I’m so excited about it. Oh, and Taavet was early at Skype. Go figure.
I’m sure there are more, and I’m already thinking about markets that might be unique to Europe. The nucleus for this post was Fabrice’s piece on Craigslist. They have about 90% of the classifieds market in the US (a guess), and are prohibiting a single player to take over their market. Of course, as per Fabrice’s post, the mighty will probably stumble and fall, but this is the reality today. Might this lack of a clear leader in Europe make for an opportunity to build something? Of course, Zoopla in the UK, the Scout Group in Germany, and many others have taken some of those markets, but there are many more white spots than in the US.
If you’re in Europe, and thinking of something big to build, find one of those markets where you don’t just have speed, ideas, and great execution on your side. An inherently different and hard to understand market might be the biggest moat you can build to prevent a well capitalised competitor from the US to enter your space.
If you have an idea of some of those markets, leave it in the comments, I’m excited to hear about this stuff. Or, even better, build a kick ass company and take that market for yourself and replace the same name to pop up in those policy briefings.
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