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Track Changes

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Now displaying: August, 2018
Aug 28, 2018

Product is Humbling: This week, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk about John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies In a Silicon Valley Startup, a book about “what can go wrong when you believe stuff”. Drawing comparisons to Wild Wild Country’s Baghwan and the late Steve Jobs, this episode discusses the founder of Theranos’ charisma within the culture of Silicon Valley. Was the failure of Theranos to deliver its product a case of collective megalomania, mass hysteria, or simply a refusal to say “I don’t know?”


Paul — 2:00: “You’re looking in a mirror in some parts of this. You’ve met people like the people in this book. First of all, it’s hardware instead of software — and it’s healthcare hardware instead of software.”

Paul — 3:05: “You cannot deceive the public with your blood product and tell them, ‘come to Walgreens and we’ll test everything and we’ll tell you what’s wrong with you!’ when you can’t do that.”

Paul — 3:20: “There’s an element of self-deception throughout that I really found fascinating because that’s a big part of software. You kind of lie to yourself about how easy it’s going to be.”

Paul — 4:30: “Clearly [Steve Jobs] knew what the limits of possibility were and he would just shove people right up through that. Past that limit.”

Paul — 7:25: “It was also cool to see Silicon Valley connect to pharma, […] like this is Brave New World.”

Paul — 8:55: “Everyone is starting to realize that the marketing message doesn’t correlate to reality. It’s this very tricky thing where the agency isn’t quite sure what its ethical responsibilities are because they’re about to put help information up.”

Rich — 10:15: “You try to get in the head of the founder here and you have to wonder, is the founder terrible and self aware and has just decided, ‘ok, I am evil, I know what I’m doing is evil,’ or is this someone that just got lost and drank their own kool-aid?”

Paul — 12:45: “The book ended up being about the way that litigation affects the truth about business, and how a business is run and operated at a certain scale.”

Paul — 15:20: “Your number one job in any role where you’re dealing with the public is to reduce litigation risk. People don’t get that. My job has often been — when I’m writing, when I was an editor — you think constantly about the attack surface for litigation.”

Rich — 18:30: “There are two ways to get people to stay with your organization: Fear or, really, a sense of commitment or loyalty to the place […] where if you’re doing it right, if someone leaves, you pause and reflect on yourself and wonder what happened.”

Paul — 22:25: “It’s very easy if you are a smart, talented person who has succeeded to believe that you have perfect knowledge about things you know not a damn thing about.”

Paul — 25:45: “Nobody pretends that real estate in New York City is a utopian life-changing industry that’s gonna make the world better. It’s just savage vampires sucking blood from each other.”

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Aug 21, 2018

 

Don’t Quit Your Day Job: This week, Paul Ford and Gina Trapani sit down with Rick Webb, COO of Timehop, to discuss his 2015 book Agency: Starting a Creative Firm in the Age of Digital Marketing. Rick lays out how anybody — even someone born in a ditch in Topeka — can start an agency. He also leads a discussion about the legacy of viral marketing in his own career, and the history of the advertising mega-structure.

 


Rick — 5:55: “I think that at any moment in marketing there is some technology, craft, or medium that is the new emerging thing that’s very good for agencies to be able to make their mark in.”

Rick — 7:20: “The book is really written like you came to this business as a craftsperson.”

Rick — 7:50: “In the old days, an agency operated as an agent on behalf of their clients and the reason they’re operating as an agency is because they’re going to buy media… this is the classic definition.”

Rick — 9:10: “That’s why they really want video ads to be a thing and they have since the early 2000s. They could just take the model they had and use them again — and they are winning. It is slowly becoming that.”

Gina — 9:50: “Timehop is a great product. When it first launched […] it was something my company took a lot of inspiration from. It just let you kind of appreciate your social content in a perspective that you wouldn’t have had.”

Rick — 11:15: “[Timehop uses] programmatic advertising. We don’t do data-driven advertising. Your data isn’t in your advertising.”

Rick — 12:55: “There’s a business case for Timehop that’s out there, but really we took it because I believe in nostalgia. I always have. That’s why I wrote the first cheque for them. I like little simple things that are just a couple minutes of your day.”

Paul — 17:40: “So we’re living in this world of giants. We scamper around in the shadows of dinosaurs as a little mouse with our firm, but a lot of the people listening to this show are people who are doing a reset of some kind in their career. If somebody wants to get into your world, what do they do?”

Rick — 18:00: “I think one thing that really confounds everyone is the compensation structure of start-ups. Like there’s this widely pervasive belief you can get rich in start-ups.”

Rick — 18:50: “Right now, hundreds of companies are being planned in New York. Maybe one or two will become a unicorn. […] The minute you can tell they’re going to go anywhere, everyone else can too. It’s just a waste of time.”

Paul — 19:10: “Going to a late-stage start-up is just a job.”

Gina — 22:18: “In the beginning, though, you have to have some resilience for feast and famine. You know, when you’re first starting out, you have to be able to take a couple of months where you’re not getting paid or getting paid very little.”

Rick — 24:15: “You don’t have to quit your day job until you make enough to quit your day job.”

Rick — 29:20: “Advertising is a very, very, very big part of our world and people don’t think about it. […] Mass media and technology are both primarily funded by advertising.


Aug 14, 2018

The Only Success that Matters: This week, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade discuss the figurative moats that protect companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google from competition. Has anybody really figured out how to disrupt their markets? Why isn’t Postlight jumping on machine learning and blockchain? This episode is about companies zeroing in on their own strengths and focusing on their right-sized ideas.


Paul — 3:10:“How do you function and thrive in a world where you know you’re never going to be the biggest? Where there are giant organizations with giant competitive moats around them and yet the whole narrative is like, ‘this is the only success that matters.’”

Paul — 6:10:“Starbucks at one point was making little coffee shops that were not Starbucks but were really cool and looked local. They wanted to just make sure they had a place to test out ideas and they wanted to make sure they were getting that market.”

Paul — 7:40:“It’s so hard for the legacy company to catch up.”

Rich — 8:10:“I think the way you disrupt is you eliminate steps. There was a day when you’d have to sign on to the internet with some internet provider. There was a day when you weren’t on the internet and when you wanted to get on the internet you dialed a number… Then you’d open your browser, and you’d go to Google.com, then you go into the search box and search. Google decided to come out with a browser. I couldn’t get it. Firefox was killer. It was excellent at that point in time… It turns out the only reason they were doing it was to eliminate one of the steps. The search bar and the URL bar became one.”

Paul — 11:40:“Organisms at this size are vulnerable in a very sort of macro way. They’re vulnerable to economic shifts, technological disruptions, and cultural shifts. They’re not vulnerable to somebody else [doing] something 4% better, because then they’ll just buy them. Maybe global warming will destroy Google.”

Rich — 16:30:“It’s funny, right? These monsters are competing with each other. They’re paranoid about each other. We started this with the moat. I mean there’s the moat between Starbucks and Pete’s Coffee — those are little moats compared to what’s going on [between Amazon and Google], so how the hell do you get in?”

Paul — 17:30:“What we did is we made a decision to just focus on being a good company that puts nice things in your hand, and build solid platforms.”

Paul — 19:16:“The giant tech companies, because they have such loud voices in the room, they get the press, they get to define the web and they define mobile… They eat up all that oxygen and they define success entirely for the vast majority of human beings.”

Rich — 25:15:“That’s the tone of this. Just keep your chin up. Don’t ask if [you’re] going to be the next Facebook. Who wants to be Facebook?”

Paul — 25:30:“When you are in this world and you listen and you pay attention to the media, you feel like an idiot if you don’t have a trillion-dollar opportunity.”

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Aug 7, 2018

Learning from Failure: On this week’s episode Paul Ford and Will Denton sit down with Victor Lombardi to talk about how great experience design often fails. We talk about taking a humanist approach to UX design within a corporate role, look at design that has failed, and find ways to detect early signs of failure. We also make fun of Google Plus.

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Victor — 4:47: “When your product is money, it’s hard not to get greedy.”

Victor — 6:58: “That blew me away: that there are people doing this work. They can be technical but their job is really to interface with humans.”

Victor — 18:10: “If you’re not really in touch with the customer [that’s an early sign of failure]”

Paul — 19:34: “That’s your whole world view, and then [apple comes in] and is like, ‘actually you’ve been thinking incorrectly’”.

Will— 20:36: “Can we add a little addendum [to the book], ‘lots of money and sheer bravado will get you through’ [your failures].”

Victor— 20:39: “They have such a great history of questioning our expectations and getting away with it, that it’s become a pretty good strategy for them to keep cannibilizing themselves, messing with our expectations of what we should be doing with our software and getting away with it 90% of the time.”

Paul — 20:57: “You’re a humanist at heart … and that’s not a corporate mindset. The corporate mindset is that we have to basically be flawless.”

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

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