Ok, so we had some product issues late last week on the international front. Basically, a phone verification mechanism wasn't working properly. This has now been fixed, so those wanting to CALL ANYONE can go for it.
In addition, the ability to have a CALL ME link is working. Just enter http://callme.jangl.com/anyone's email address and you'll get a number to call them. Try it with ANYONE. OR, with me.
In this age where everything 2.0 is taking place, even Haters 2.0 is apparent. You know what haters are don't ya?
Haters are people that hate on you, and talk smack about you, usually not to your face, and typically because you have some swagger or another that makes them feel insecure. They look for every way to twist and misinterpret you, for their own self advancement or social preservation. I knew these people in high school. I also knew some in college. But I've recently found them in the blogosphere. It would be common to link to them, but hey - why link to haters. No need to bring them credence.
Attention all you start up visionaries: this is to be expected. Haters 2.0 takes place in blogs. Don't worry too much though, as not all haters are created equal and not all will gralk your vision. Comment to them so you can get it off your chest, and move on. Your passion will crush the hate, and typically outrun it.
Jangl released a new beta service today. It was arguably the most defining company moment to date - I say this for many reasons.
1. The service is an industry-first. As we work out our bugs and kinks in coming weeks, it might even prove to be game-changing. Chris - someone that understands the weeds of this industry, and Alec - another guy that gets it, and Vivek - a guy that's covering a lot of startups all gralked the nuances that make this relevant. A lot of this is about mind set and context.
2. The number of site visits and user registrations was higher than any other day for us - and to big proportions.
3. We have had record amounts of press coverage and interest. A prominent industry blogger once told us we'd never get Reuters to cover a company like ours...although today it ran in like 40 countries I think.
4. Here is finally a VoIP based service that you don't need to be a geek to use. (Us geeks only know this because we did our homework).
5. And most significantly, the Jangl team rallied behind this, with pride and passion, tirelessly (although everyone must be tired). I'm very proud of everyone. While I can send an email internally and thank them, there's nothing like doing it publicly. This is really all about the people.
We aren't finished yet. As always with a new web service (and especially with one that includes phones), we'll be tightening things up in coming days and weeks. Thanks for everyone's support and patience.
P.S. Here are a few current technical items I want to make sure people know about...
-Canada hasn't worked all day, due to a phone verification issue. We'll have it for you soon.
-Some user interface items still need to be cleaned up. For example, if you call someone, leave them a voice mail, and then they want to call you back, they need to verify THEIR phone before being able to connect to you. The problem is, the flow dialogue doesn't make that clear. This too will be fixed soon.
-Jangl widgets deployed prior to today may experience some issues as we push out a widget upgrade tonight.
-Jangl registered users prior to today need to sign up again for now, so that we get your email address. Once you sign up, and register your phone, all of your prior Jangl contacts will auto populate into the new contacts page.
It's been crunch time for the past few weeks at my startup - Jangl. We've been working on something that I truly believe is game-changing. Here's the deal... when Ben and I started Jangl, we had some big ideas in mind. There would be an organic progression for how and when those ideas mature as services people adopt. We started with a focus on privacy, because we believed privacy was the first inflection of bridging people's web relationships to their phones. So we did private, disposable phone numbers, provisioned by Jangl IDs and widgets. Next stop was to move from IDs to other 'already-in-use' people identifiers. Here's a diagram we put together in December 2005, just after we had closed our first funding:
We were still using our stealth name at the time "Buzzage". Notice the license plate as a potential means for provisioning a Jangl number. We were only half kidding.
The working premise is that you cannot truly make phone numbers behave like email and IM addresses, until the privacy thing is solved. So now that we've got this web-to-phone privacy thing figured out, it's time to migrate to the next inflection of our vision. There were lots of ways to skin the cat. We could have gone a route that says 'give people private numbers to use whenever/however, and then build personalization based services to apply to those contextual phone number personas. We could have found ourselves looking more like GrandCentral and RingCentral had we gone that route. It's all good, but not what we're here for.
Ben and I needed to put our heads back together and hone in on a theme for our next several releases. The prerequisites:
1. The theme must be an enabler for something yet even bigger.
2. It must take what we've built, incorporate it into something new that is more universal.
3. It must be simple and free (with great, logical placements of revenue generating extensions).
4. It must have legs to huge adoption.
5. It must give people what they want today, but also give them new wow functions.
6. It must spread virally (duh).
7. It must be game-changing. (something nobody has seen, that everybody could use)
You might be thinking about now... "ok, right, yeah, uh huh." Stay with me a sec.
So Ben and I went to lunch, and we also grabbed Aaron our VP of marketing (who by the way joined us from Podshow a few months back). We talked about product as-is, things we need to improve, etc. I was itching to spark a bigger discussion though. In my car driving back from lunch, I said "Ok guys, take all your predispositions, thoughts, inclinations and throw them out the window right now. Think game-changing. Don't stop at any hurdles. Then we got back to my office, hat shots of patron and got going. There was some scratch on my whiteboard to prove that session.
(Most of it won't make sense, but then again I wouldn't want it to make sense). What is it? I can't say because I'm under our own press embargo;). The first step in our next theme will show its face tomorrow. I hope you and millions of others like it.
-turn alarm off so it doesn't bug wife
-fall back asleep
-be woken by the daughter who wants a ride to school
-get ready in record time
-take her to school
-race to OAK to fly to Bob Hope
-set alarm off in security line
-get over it (be nice TSA)
-get called "honey" by the cashier in the airport food stand
-get stuck behind someone trying to walk that should have opted for the wheel chair
-watch someone leave men's room w/out washing hand
-find a mag..fastcompany with facebook guy on cover
-no nuts, thanks, but I'll take a water, no ice
-fly, read mag, then prepare keynote presentation
-"turn off all portable electronics"
-go back to reading
-land safely (w/out overshooting the runway)
-do email from the Q while on the tarmack
-get out, find a ride to Prospect Studios
-get back to email while cab driver finds his teeth that fell on the floor (drive safely please)
-talk to engineering - make sure the demo of the new stuff works
-talk to them again
-no...one more time to be sure
-eat salad from the commissary, see all kinds of Disney/ABC folk
-get ready to meet Amanda
-try that again
-demo the goods
-are the demo gods with me?
-yeah that's the ticket
-amanda is as nice as she seems
-get back to cab
-do more email
-go thru another security line
-get on tmobile wifi while waiting
-phone rings, back to back calls
-back to tmobile....company credit card isn't working...wtf?
-call GE Capital
-"We're sorry, it was to make sure it wasn't fraudulent"
-me: "Hello, um, I do this all the time..."
-get back to mail
-finance needs approvals and reviews
-marketing needs to execute deals
-finance asking questions
-planning another marathon day trip for next week
-looking forward to Prince this weekend
-too bad the Warriors are out
-isn't it crazy that Melinda got kicked off?
-board plane..somebody's wearing some bad lotion or something
-no nuts, just water, no ice
-get back on mac, prep board reports
-we are descending back into OAK.. me:"we are coming real close to that water! Where's the runway?"
-made it again, thank you God.
-listen to XM (wishing the Prius had better audio system)
-return phone calls and emails...err I'm driving - I'm keeping my eye on the road
-go back to kid's school for open house
-small talk with other parents
-check out the latest and greatest
-get 30 letters from kids who I presented to at career day
-everyone is spun up to be an entrepreneur
-these kids are all Jangl users now;)
-get home, 830PM
-head back out for take out
-read son some odes from the Be Happy book he bought at Jamba Juice
-fall asleep in his bed
-wake up when his frog starts ribbetting
-get ready for bed
-oh, crap. i never finished my board stuff
-wish I could catch up on Lost
-get back to work
-ok, I'm spent
-wait a minute! I read the news today, oh boy.
A story hit over at BBC today, about a guy who bought a home site unseen. He goes to the place, walks in, only to find a dead body, mummified! Turns out it's the body of a woman who owned the home before it foreclosed. I suppose the foreclosure was due to her expiration. Bizarre that no one knew... This one, for the record falls under the "Variety Hour" category;)
I get more than a handful of email and voicemail from offshore dev shops. I never used to be one of those guys that doesn't respond, but in this case I must be. 1. I don't have time to respond and 2. I don't want what they're selling.
This month we terminated a relationship with an offshore shop in India. They were great people and a great firm. At the end of the day though, I don't want to learn how to master the art of offshoring; I'd rather master the art of mapping great services to millions of people. We have a great internal engineering team, so we've determined it best to add more to that org rather than outsource offshore.
When you go offshore, there's a lot of overhead to consider:
-The time difference
-The serial approach to working (vs. real-time collaboration)
-Requirements must be water tight
-You have to have resources to manage the resources
-You have to black box things or tightly integrate things (a little of this and that doesn't cut it)
We started out getting resources offshore in the beginning, because we had raised so little money, that we didn't want to hire in. We knew we could get bodies quickly and control our costs. Over time we raised more money and became more aggressive on our product roadmap, so that's when we should have hired in more employees and weaned from the offshore model. We were at a point where product requirements were changing based on user inputs and so forth, so there became a moving target, which makes it impossible to succeed offshore. Offshore works best when there is a long lead time on development, whereby there is more definition and certainty. This works best when you're building a HW and SW system for example. In a consumer services startup however, you often don't know enough to have long lead times. In fact it can kill you if you bake too many plans in too far down the schedule. Besides, there's no substitute for having a crew of people slugging it out in the trenches together. Our people are proving it this week, as we crunch toward a new release.
So for startup folks reading who are building consumer services, take this lesson now, regardless of how flexible these companies say they are in working with you. If you must go with contractors, use local people onsite. The pace, quality and ability to navigate uncertainty are all better managed locally.