July 22, 2008
I arrived in San Francisco via Southwest Airlines on Saturday evening (somehow I managed to find the two Southwest flights that day without any funny security speeches, bummer) and then spent the evening catching up with Arvind and his friends in the Marina area of town. We had breakfast Sunday morning in Palo Alto and then drove up Interstate 280 to catch Highway 92 west to Half Moon Bay where I checked into the Ritz Carlton for the Fortune Brainstorm Technology conference.
Upon arrival we checked into the clubhouse and pushed our tee-time back thirty minutes to give us a few to warm up on the putting and chipping green before hitting the links. We played the Ocean Course (the other course is an older style tree course a bit more inland that weaves in and around the nearby neighborhoods, it’s called the Old Course). Once again I was caught off guard by the cold air along the Pacific Ocean so I picked up a logo windbreaker to keep me warm. I realized after beginning to play that it was custom built for golf because the arms on the jacket were telescoping so that it would look normal when standing straight but would flex during your back swing so as to not tug against you as you moved. Cool idea, although it probably had no affect on my game, it did allow me to stay warm throughout the afternoon instead of having to take it off and put it back on throughout the day. The clubhouse didn’t have any sunscreen so I picked up a hat in an attempt to just cover anything that might burn. I think I pulled it off with the exception of a bit of my neck that’s been tingly since.
After the game I uploaded some pictures of the course to Flickr and pushed a few videos of our shots on to YouTube (Herb on the 18th tee, me on the 18th tee, Arvind on the 18th fairway, Arvind and I cruising along the 16th hole fairway). Disclaimer: yes, I need to work on my golf swing, it’s pathetic I know. We spent enough time on the course taking pictures of the incredible scenery that we upset more than one group behind us. Apparently they weren’t working as hard as we were to enjoy themselves.
A friend from last year’s conference, Herb Kim of Codeworks in the UK, joined Arvind and I for golf and then set a dinner reservation at Cafe Gibralter which is about four miles away from the Ritz in Half Moon Bay. Herb’s friend Alasdair, a venture capitalist from the UK, joined us for dinner as well. Ryan had recently landed and arrived at the hotel so he added a 5th to the group. Herb was recommended the restaurant from a traveler on Dopplr, the travel serendipity site that had reminded us a few weeks back that we’d be at the same conference again this year. The food was fantastic.
After dinner Arvind and I downed a bottle of wine in the hot tub and chatted about web business models. I walked him through some of the big changes in the works at Preation and we talked about how our business model has already changed over the last 12 months. It was nice to get his ideas on the model changes. I plan to keep him up-to-date on our transitions especially the customer microeconomic model that our projections will be built upon.
The conference runs through Wednesday at noon but I’ll be jumping a plane back to the East Coast for another conference earlier that morning. Now it’s time to put my thinking cap on and start taking notes.
July 21, 2008
Major transitions have been as follows: DOS to Windows, Desktop to the Web, now we’re in a time where ideas won’t come out of companies but instead users will build the value within a platform and will look for other users like themselves to give them the rest of what they need.
Will our 25 years of history of success and innovation be a benefit or an inhibitor to our success? The young people in the company are being empowered to contribute their ideas through creative time and labs.
This year Intuit put their TurboTax product’s customer community within the product and took it off of the web. They found that 40% of questions asked by customers were first answered by other customers, and at a level of quality that exceeded their own ability to answer questions. Questions even outside of their realm of expertise like what vendors they use for other services and what the lowest price is that they get.