Why I Think Windows Phone 7 Has A Shot: Office
The initial reviews of Windows Phone 7 have been interesting. Most tech pundits agree that it is a huge improvement from previous attempts. Reviewers seem to enjoy the Metro UI as fresh and still competitive with iOS and Android UIs. But almost every review I have read has reservations about the potential for success. Whether it is the lack of phones available (9 seems like plenty), potential customers being locked into long-term contracts or a huge gap in applications. I am going to dwell on how Windows Phone 7 will succeed if it does.
I am shocked by how little attention Microsoft Office is getting. The integration is not all there now but it will improve. Office is Microsoft’s biggest business. More than ever it is what drives sales of Windows. Each of Office’s applications is a killer app in its own right but especially Excel as a whole and the advanced features of Word. Entire jobs are built off of these applications. My father is a DC lawyer who spends almost all of his time taking advantage of Word’s advanced revision control system. There might be alternatives but he is not going anywhere and neither are the people that work with him. Excel has an even greater, more intense following.
My father will not buy a Mac because the MS Office experience is bad. We just forced an iPad down his throat and he loves it but the missing piece is a good Office integration. If there is a mobile device that can nail down a good, advanced Office experience of course he will buy it and so will millions more.
Apps, browsers and OSs are extremely important. But they are largely becoming commoditized. In the next couple of years the average person could care less about their mobile email client, browser or OS. They will want the cheapest device or the one with a killer feature. For more than 15 years Office has been a killer feature on the PC and nothing has rivaled it. Google Apps are finally gaining momentum but still pale in comparison.
Apple can keep some of the luxury market who does not care about Office. But more consumers will want cheap and lean towards Windows or Android and then ultimately pick Windows because of Office. Hopefully Microsoft will keep working at mobile and double down on Office because they can do it.
I am now going to shower to get the Microsoft off me.
Typed from my MacBook Pro.
CVS’s Rewards Program Is Amazing
Disclaimer: I am not a fan of CVS. CVS much like Walmart systematically destroys local businesses. Once these companies have a local monopoly they destroy whole economic ecosystems. Why do people understand the economic problem with monopolies but defend stores that have them by referencing free market economics? Monopoly first, then destroy free market economics using monopoly.
Phew, that was a long-winded and bitter disclaimer, now on to praising CVS. I am not sure how long it has been going on but recently I have fallen prey to CVS’s ingenious rewards program.
While traditionally supermarkets and pharmacies offer coupons for specific items on the receipt, CVS is offering money off on anything at CVS. Frequently after a purchase I will get a receipt offering $4 off a $20 purchase within the next month. So what do I do? Every month I make a $20+ purchase and use the coupon, despite hating the company. It is too convenient and cheap.
Using a combination of these coupons today I bought 40 AA batteries, two things of Blistex and a bag of fun size Snickers for less than $15.
Well played CVS… Well played…
Startups Should Get A Dishwasher
I live in an apartment with no dishwasher. I thought that would not be a problem. Dishes only take ten to fifteen minutes after each meal right? Wrong.
Doing the dishes is actual an interesting worker-queue problem (but I digress). Some days I put off the dishes, consequently the next time I need to do the dishes there are twice as many. While each extra dish is a new task for me, a dishwasher can handle them all at once and do a good job.
I made the mistake of thinking that because I was able to do the dishes a dishwasher was not a big deal.
Startups often make this mistake. Google is particularly famous (though it all worked out) for writing an enormous amount of enterprise software in house, though eventually they caved. The average startup should not try and do it all internally, some problems are best to throw money at. Examples include: payroll, legal (seriously, do not try to do your own legal), mail servers, site hosting etc. I would even caution building your own blog, handling your own scaling and more. The exception is if your companies core competency is in one of these areas. For example, I hope Mailchimp runs their own mail servers.
A lot of proud entrepreneurs make this mistake of thinking that because they can do it they should. In reality entrepreneurs should expend as few of their engineering resources (generally their scarce resource) as possible on things outside their core competency.
My old employer TechCrunch has officially been acquired by AOL. I have no news to report but I just wanted to personally congratulate the team, especially Heather and Mike. It is a long time coming and you all worked extremely hard for it.
My Thoughts: Superangels vs. VCs
I want to use this blog to answer questions I get asked frequently and people keep asking what I think about Superangels vs. VCs, so here goes:
Update: If you like this post HN love is appreciated here.
I do not care that much. In both cases one is taking institutional capital for the capital itself and the value add of the investor (the partner at a VC). I believe that opinion is shared by most in the industry excluding some of the Superangels.
Dave McClure (who I like) in particular vehemently disagrees with that. In blog posts, tweets and on stage at TC Disrupt he argues that Superangels add strong, specific value, in his case design and marketing etc.
I know Dave is looking to bring in a designer for 500Startups but he of all people knows VCs do similar things. Bessemer brought in Dave’s friend Jason Putorti to do that, Google Ventures also has people for that as do many other VCs. Many VCs have great talent on retainer to help their portfolio companies.
Good VC partners like good Superangels add specific value, much of it in management and operations but in other areas as well. Ironically, Dave was on stage at Disrupt right after Bing Gordon who embodies that at Zynga.
Many Superangels also insist that their strategy of more small investments is better and that VCs cannot do the same because they want board seats. That is untrue as Dave himself volunteered on stage when he mentioned the myriad of Sequoia seed deals. Other VCs do the same.
Superangels then argue they give better terms, but the VCs I know who do seed deals could care less if it is a convertible note and what the valuation is since they know that they will follow up with later-stage terms. From what I have seen Angels are more concerned about note versus equity and valuations.
A lot of this seems pro-VC, but I am indifferent. I find that it is the Angels who are trying to differentiate themselves, so it is them that get the scrutiny. Then again Dave’s value add is marketing and he certainly has generated a ton of attention about it in a good way. None of the entrepreneurs I know even ask for intros to VCs, they only want to meet the angels, so kudos on that.