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.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Going to Warren Buffett's annual meeting this year

So I've told a few friends that I am going to Berkshire Hathaway's annual stockholder meeting this year in April. I got very polarized response. A few friends are very excited. I also got laughed at quite a bit.  So before anyone laugh at me again. Let me explain why I am going to Nebraska in April.

For those who get excited, it's easy. Warren has been a great investor. Beating S&P500 consistently in 5 year moving window over 46 years. It's like if you invested $19 at the beginning, your investment becomes $95,000 now.

It's quite remarkable if you think about it.  Consider making money by investing is similar to flipping a coin, In effect, Warren's firm has been winning the game of flipping cois in the past 46 years or something like that, you know what I mean.

In the annual letter to shareholders which Buffett published last weekend, he mentioned: "When Charlie and I met Todd Combs, we knew he fit our requirements.". Although Warren is in great shape, we can't ignore the fact that he is over 80 years old. He is not going to be with the company for that many years. Finance  and investment is something I was interested when I attended business school from 2008-2010. Now I'm back in technology. I feel that if I don't attend a Berkshire annual meeting soon, the annual meeting might be different without Buffett.

Basically what triggered me booking the flight tickets is the following in Buffett's letter :"Come to our Woodstock for Capitalism...". For those who are less familiar with American culture, WoodStock is "one of the biggest rock festivals of all time and a cultural touchstone for the late Sixties" according to Wikipedia.

To prove that I was interested in investment, I did a quick stock analysis last year. It was made in a few hours. So it wasn't very detailed. But it was a good call. The stock price has gone up almost 100% since I did the analysis. STEC analysis
View more presentations from Alan Tang.
Another reason I wanted to go to Omaha, Nebraska is that I just got my first DSLR camera (I got a Canon T2i or 550D for international model. 18M pixels). I wanted to get out more and take some pictures. I think if it isn't for Buffett's annual meeting, I probably wouldn't visit Nebraska. There're still a lot of places I want to (re)visit (Italy, Greece, Spain, France...)

Here is my first picture taken outside my employer's laundry room while waiting for my laundry to finish. I disabled flash and the picture come out much better than what I got before in similar low light situation with a point-and-shoot camera.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Android gaining ground

I was surprised by Android's success a few times this week. One is from a youtube video visualizing activations over time.

Another one is after Gingerbread release hit my Nexus One Android phone, I posted a twitter message. Within a day, a few people replied my tweet. I've never got much response from my hundreds of past tweets. I was surprised to find out there're people out there who cared about Android OS releases on Nexus One.

I've also played around the Xoom tablet. It's pretty sleek. However, I'm still gonna buy an iPad2 when it comes out next week. Pretty similar reason why even though I have 2 Android phones (Nexus One and Nexus S), I still use iphone 4 on a daily basis.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

jobs at Google and DTS

A Google mobile ads product manager I work with is trying to hire a few product manager in mobile ads. If you think you're qualified, please drop me a line.

My friend's company DTS (Dolby Lab's competitor) is hiring a couple of PM, Biz, tech positions in LA Let me know if you are interested.