Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Moved to

Moved to I've moved so many times :(. Hopefully, this is the last time (unlike last time lol).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Summer is here in Silicon Valley

I just realized it's been 6 months since my last blog post. How time flies! Here's what's been happening so far.

In late Oct 2011, I attended the legendary (at least to me) Y Combinator's Startup School 2011 in Stanford university (Thank you Paul, Jessica and Y C crew). It was a very unforgettable and rewarding day. I finally got to see many celebrities in the startup community in person, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen,  Max Levchin and Aston Kutcher :) just to name a few. Here are a couple of photos I took there (sorry about the terrible layout, it's blogger's fault):

One funny comment one of the speaker mentioned was a lot of startups are a lot like the South Park episode: Gnome. If you don't have time to watch the video, there's a wikipedia page. The business plan includes 3 phases: 1. collect underpants 2. ? 3. profit

I went back to Hunan province, China during Christmas to vist my parents. It was cold as usual. I got sick for the most part of the trip. But it was good to be home. A lot more ex-colleagues in Shanghai got cars now. About half of the people who went to dinner with me in Shanghai drove. I think only one person or none had a car when I left for the U.S. in 2008.

I attended the 2012 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas in Jan, 2012 right after I got back from the holidays. It was an event I wanted to see for a long time. But it turned out to be a big disappointment. I like to interact with people and attend pannel discussions when I go to conferences. CES is more like a big trade show. If you're into gadgets and enjoy spending time looking at numerous electronics products with little differentiation, it's a good event. Otherwise, save yourself some money and don't go :). I'm speaking from a non-business attendee pont of view. If you go on business, that's a different story.

The only highlight of CES was seeing many Chinese companies coming up with Android devices. I especially liked the ones at Huawei's booth. They feel good holding in my hand and run the latest Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) version of Android. Here is a photo of the booth:

It rained for 3 weeks or so here. For a State that's famous for its sunshine, that's a long time. It finally stopped raining a week ago and weather has been really nice since then. 

I saw a Techcrunch article: Stop Looking For A Technical Co-founder last week that really resonated with me. I find it very true that "Most quality software engineers today have offers of amazing work environments and 6-figure salaries from the likes of Google and Facebook. Few are crazy enough to say no to that. Those that do typically have their own ideas, aren’t sure they need you, and have heard enough cliche pitches to ignore you by default."

Fortune's article Warren Buffett's $50 Billion Decision was also a good read. "Although I had no idea, age 25 was a turning point. I was changing my life, setting up something that would turn into a fairly good-size partnership called Berkshire Hathaway. I wasn’t scared. I was doing something I liked, and I’m still doing it." If you're 25 and are reading this, this (doing something you like) is probably the best advice you can ever get.

If you're like me, living in a country other than your home country, this New York Times article probably will make you home sick: The New Globalist Is Homesick. "Like Mr. Valencia, 20 to 40 percent of all immigrants to the United States ultimately return to their native lands. They know that Skype is no substitute for actually being there."

Monday, August 15, 2011

economy is pretty unstable

Nothing much to update lately. Economy seems to be very unstable lately. Wall Street had a couple days loss then up and downs. Over all pretty bad performance on stock market.

London has suffered from riots all over the city. My colleague who moved to California last year told me he and his wife used to go to some of the places where riots happened.

Summer is almost over. A couple of interns last year returned as full-time employees. Current interns will be going back to school soon. We'll have enough snacks and food in the cafeteria soon :).

I've hit my one year mark at Google in July. So far so good. Interesting projects, smart people. I've learned a lot, especially in internet and mobile advertising space. I like this space because a lot of innovation can happen. The barriers to entry is still not very high. I often tell people that :" you & I can sit down for a few hours and start an internet advertising business.". It's not rocket science, publisher sends a request for an ad and ad server respond with a creative. Real ad serving is not that simple ( you have to deal with tracking, reporting, frequency capping, targeting etc). But you get my point.

Rumor says iPhone 5 or 4GS will launch next month. My AT&T iphone4 still has 1 year contract. So I'll skip a generation as planned.

Things move relatively fast. So we'll see what happens in a year.

HBO channel showed Katherine Heigl's movie "life as we know it" on Sunday afternoon. I watched a little but didn't finish it. Her last movie I saw was "the ugly truth". She seems to be good at playing sweet yet kinda tough girls. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer time (some news updates and thoughts)

As more and more attention shift from traditional media to new media, it's no surprise to see some old media companies struggle  from recent earnings announcements.  There's no question that mobile ads will grow as more and more people adopts smart phones. some recent news that caught my eye
Is Apple's iAd dying a slow death? 7/8/2011
Steve Jobs Says 'Most Mobile Advertising Really Sucks' 4/8/2010
It doesn't seem like Jobs has figured out this one. But Apple's recent financial performance has sent the company on the trajectory to be the highest market cap company. The #1 right now is  Exxon Mobile ($419B). Apple right now is $364B. Google right now is $199B.

Here is Google's very own Vic Gundotra's Mercedes-Benz ad:

Monday, June 20, 2011

A few interesting articles

p.s. if you haven't read in the plex, Charlie Munger recommended it at Berkshire's annual meeting. 

bonus video Jawbone boombox. It's a really good portable speaker. I tested one out at San Jose airport.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham

I spent the weekend finishing reading a book. I wonder how good Pirates of the Caribbean 4 is.

Just finished the book I wanted to read for a long time this weekend. Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham. I learned a lot from the book. Highly recommend for people with a tech background.

I think if you want to focus on high tech industry. You can save your $150, 000 investment on going to a business school. You can learn just as much, if not more, from good books and resources available on the internet.

I learned a lot from series of videos Paul's Y Combinator, a silicon valley incubator, shared on the internet. Here are some of the YC videos I enjoyed in the past:

Groupon's Andrew Mason

Airbnb's Brian Chesky
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

Sunday, April 24, 2011

SXSW 2011 notes

The above image has nothing to do with my experience with SXSW. It's the first image that came up from Google image search for "sxsw girl". Trying to see if this increases readership if I put random attractive female picture on my posts.

3/11 Day 1
I test drove Chevy Volt. It's an electric car for the first 40 miles or so. When the batteries run out, it runs on gasoline. I didn't think it's such a revolutionary car like my colleague does. Certainly not for the $33 000 price tag.  But I praise the marketing people working there. Chevy hired the fight folks. They did a good job generating buzz for the car.

The most interesting session is the one Brain Wong a 19 20 year old entrepreneur held about how to succeed being young. Later, his company Kiip received $4 million funding and is generating buzz. 

3/12 Day 2
My colleague was very impressed about the conference. He made a comment something along these lines: "All these wonderful things could be happening right now and we would have no clue if we weren't here". I think a big part of SXSW interactive is about generating serendipity and there's plenty of it.

Another thing I learned at a session is stop listening to your customers. Don't bore them with your surveys. Observe your customers instead. I think it's a very useful advice. People often lie or can not articulate about their needs. This resonates with another useful advice, especially for girls. If you want to know whether someone loves you, do not listen to anything he/she says. Only pay attention to what he/she does.

Life after YC is a very interesting session with founders from Airbnb, dropbox and two other companies I can't recall (one of which Jessica Mah is the founder). 

Keynote from Seth Priebatsch is good. He is in his early 20s and have done some cool things. No excuse for the rest of us:).

Frog's party is less interesting this year after hearing the augmented reality toilet thing they did last year. Nothing particularly memorable.

The rest:
Groupon's marketing person did a funny session about corporate creativity. I start to pay more attention to the text they write on their web pages. 

Keynote by Chris Poole from 4Chan is kinda boring. I think it mostly have something to do with his presentation skills and my unfamiliarity with 4Chan. Now my profile image on my instant messenger is from 4Chan.

Google party is okay. At least there is a Google party.

Vimeo party is awesome. It's a rave party in a power plant. Well done. 

In conclusion: It's a cool conference if you have some $2 000+ to spend. Or if you have never been to Texas (like me). For the lucky ones working in marketing department in some startups, it's a conference where you get made, paid and laid.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SXSW 2011 notes 3/10 day 0

Ever since I got back from South by South West or SXSW this week, I got some questions about the event. So this will be a relatively long post. If you work in the tech sector, it's hard to avoid hearing about SXSW in the past week. All the major press have some coverage for this event. In this post, I hope to add some of my personal takeaways and share some of my thoughts about the event. So you don't have to spend money and vacation hours to be there. 

SXSW is a conference/festival held at Austin, Texas every year. It contains 3 major parts: interactive, music and film. Traditionally, Music has been the most well-known portion of the event. However, this year, more people attended interactive than music. 

I attended the interactive portion this year from 3/11-3/15. Everyday, there're around 300 events scheduled in Austin Convention Center and surrounding hotels. Events includes keynotes, pannel discussions, presentations, core conversations, meetups and etc. Every night, there're at least 7 or 8 industry parties organized by major companies like Google, Microsoft and 20 or 30 parties organized by startup companies like Foursquare, Groupme. 

While sitting at San Francisco airport terminal, the first thing I noticed is that almost everyone on the flight is going to SXSW. I convinced my colleague Suresh who recently switched job to Product Manager in search to come with me to attend SXSW. Since he want to go again next year. I guess I've made the world a better place by influencing one person at a time ;). Suresh is Indian. I'm Chinese. Neither of us have been to Texas before. I kind of felt like the movie Herald & Kumar where an Indian and a Chinese go on a funny trip. 

Just before we boarded the plane, we noticed a prominent silicon valley angel investor, Dave McClure, is about to board the same flight.  Dave gave me his business card last time I met him at a SXSW meetup in San Francisco. I had no idea who he was at the time. He sat 3 rows behind me. I had a hunch that I'm going to the right place this time. 

After we landed, I noticed there are a lot more white people around us compared to the bay area where there are a lot more Asians. I've occasionally heard things like rednecks and roadkill about Texas from Californians. So I was a bit alerted about the environment and surroundings. The rest of the trip proved me that it's unnecessary. I was surprised how nice people are there. I had a great time in Austin. Suresh said he want to stay there forever:).  

We spent the rest of the day checking in the hotel and getting our badge at the convention center. Getting our badge before the 1st day proved to be one of the best decisions we made on this trip judging the length of the line the next day. 

It's good to see Google's "old friend" Aol's presence at SXSW:

Smiley Media opened its office to host a party with free booze. I've never heard the company before. But hard to resist free drinks. The office is in a very nice hotel building which I can't recall the name. The interesting thing about the office is that it has a secret room behind the book shelf. What a brilliant idea.