I am sitting at a giant table made by my brother and Dad while writing this. We have so many friends and family coming for Turkey Day that they decided to make a giant table. It is the first time in years I am at home for the holidays and most of the family, minus one brother is coming (he will join for Christmas), and it will be memorable.

Over the years I tended to just visit family during business trips but lately I haven’t needed to travel so I decided this year we would make the trip. Having kids myself now makes it more important to all get together and experience some holiday time. For me, this is the best time to enjoy the states. All the commercialism aside, the festive season is enjoyable when all your family is around.

I know not everyone enjoys the season and it is a very personal time. I hope anyone out there not enjoying the festive season has a friend or two to reach out and bond with. I am very thankful I am surrounded by family and friends. This is what it is all about.

Take care and enjoy the day.

Thinking more about the PM and self-managed teams

I know I need to follow up on this ::

BTW – still loving Desk…

There are so many discussions to have about how to PM – this was a good spot on it as well ::

I try to encapsulate more about how I do things at Spuul and then I read this article today ::

There is some good stuff in there and it slightly hints at how I try to do things at Spuul but we do try to task manage things some but many times we just have large goals, people to organize around them and dates to try and make. Roll all of them together and it feels like a hybrid of product management with self management. I can see from reading this article it could go a lot further but sometimes the startup mode makes it difficult.

This list is good and I want to try to dig into it more and see how I might put it into play:

1) Form a team around an objective (i.e. 4-12 people)

2) have them FIRST clearly define the desired result,

3) then the process(es) needed to get that result.

4) Then THEY set metrics for steps in the process and

5) for pay based on the result desired (quality, quantity, speed, etc.,)

6) finally THEY decide what happens if the metrics aren’t met and how to move team members along if they are not contributing appropriately.

7) Leadership approves.

8) Run it.

I love the small team thing, the result driven approach and the metrics – something to aspire to. Seems one could apply this to running the entire product team and then see how one could push it across the company.


Gotta crunch on this some more…


The web is dying

There has been a string of posts lately discussing how the web is dying. I just find it weird because folks are acting like the web means using web browsers to view web pages. Seems such a silly notion of what the web is since to me it is just a fabric of connectivity that allows people to use browsers to look at content, it allows people to use apps like Spuul to watch movies or enables small devices to monitor a house from afar. Such a limited vision to say the web is about browsers and web pages.

First article was Farhad, who I like, talking about how the banner ad ruined the web. I get what he is trying to say but I don’t side with it. I think apps are just easier to use for the most part and normally I am holding my phone but I don’t think banner ads force me to use apps. Banners ads have ruined the experience of a lot of web pages but I think people tend to just go to other sites or use the app from the same provider. Not sure a case can be made that banners ads are destroying the web.

As always when tech journalists make such claims other journalists chime in on twitter.

Here is one good thread ::

Some tweets to refute the advertising claims made about banners ::

This one was funny and Farhad replied ::

I realize I don’t look at a lot of sites and the ones I do either don’t abuse banners or they don’t bug me but I know when I do hit a site with a horrid array of banners, popovers, popunders and such – I just bail. I am sure others do but guessing enough don’t to keep everything intact and working.

My premise is the web is not dying and banners exist and work. Like it or not.

Further to this Gruber writes about how apps are part of the web – I tend to agree. The web is much bigger and more successful due to the advent of smartphones and smartphone apps. We could talk a lot about how some experiences might be better as a web page versus an app or how some apps make for terrible apps just like some web pages are horrible too but this is all about user experience. It is not an issue with the web or issues about an app versus the web. Users can vote by using whatever interface they like but regardless it is all the web.

In closing, the web is thriving – no matter how you look at it.


Not writing enough

I need to write more – both for myself and for myself.

November looks to be another good month even though I have not written about the last week or so. I have been in transit to America with two small kids. Takes days to recover. I am now in the secluded mountains of Alta, CA – enjoying the cold, the scenery and the slow internet. Stuns me how bad internet connectivity is – my parents pay the same as I do in Singapore for 2.5mbps line but I get 300mbps – soon upgraded to 600mbps. Shows you what happens when big telco controls the Internet.

Anyways. I just the new Desk blogging app for the Mac since I still write more on my laptop than I do on iOS – hoping this helps me to write more.

We shall see.

Back to my box of Twinkies for now…

Android first

Marco is obviously a very successful guy but I think this is where he and a lot of people from the states and Europe miss the boat sometimes – they clearly don’t understand the emerging markets and the freedom developers have around Android when it comes to telcos and bizdev. Given this – for some apps going Android first may make a ton of sense.

Evolution of the Product Manager

I am late to posting this but the article about the full stack developer got me thinking about the subject again.

From time to time I get questions and even have coffee with folks wanting to be a PM and asking how.

This article has some good info about the thesis behind it, the education some folks acquire and the experience that helps in becoming a PM :: .

There are so many angles to the role of the PM and of course the startup PM differs highly from the established company PM. Take Spuul for example – we don’t have an eng manager nor do we have a proper PM. We are just too small for this kind of headcount. Other places will have a head of PM to manage other mini PM’s – given this the definition of the PM is quite fluid in my opinion.

That being said, picture in your mind – the PM role in startup land to be a simple Venn diagram – the startup PM is that small spot in the intersection of customers, management and engineers. That is usually where I find myself on most days given the day to day duties I normally encounter.

I am sure there are many other ways to portray this but this is the one that keeps me focused on delighting users, trying to make money and keep a team of product people moving forward.

It’s a delicate but useful dance.

More on the full stack conversations later.

Lost the plot, off the rails – extraction needed!

From time to time I write about something other than tech because for a period in my life, possibly a very early mid life crisis, I decided to abandon tech to just exist. I had no real plan but to travel some, hang out and learn a language. I sold my house, moved from Hong Kong and ended up in the pub business in Bangkok. I have regrets and will always question my choices but I also have some solid real life experiences that I always call upon and a very healthy appreciation for the tech life, friends and of course family. I know I am spoiled.

That being said, standing on the other side of the bar in places like Bangkok would afford me a view of humanity that not a lot of people talk about openly. We would see it a mile away – some normal dude living the high life in Asia seemingly unaware that they were getting sucked in too deep. The alcohol, the drugs, the corruption, and yes the girls.

These people would miss work, miss meetings and some would even start a double life without their families knowing about it. I know of very successful people who have two families and have even imported their second family to their home country. Just nutty stuff. Situations that before my time in Asia I didn’t even know existed. I was too naive to be honest.

Sometimes the right people in that someone’s life, who had gone off the rails, would step in forcibly try to extract their friend or family from the lifestyle in hopes of getting them back home.

I would hear stories like this all over Asia – believe me it wasn’t just Bangkok. Many times it was in places where someone was making a lot of money and just didn’t realize what was happening to them. Funny enough I recall that more than a few of these folks were in finance and some were also in tech. Usually males of course.

Given the circumstances an extraction was needed and many times it worked but other times the lost soul didn’t want saving. They continued on with their new life.

Other times you would hear of a suicide or someone getting killed. Or even just dying from something strange.

I won’t wager an opinion on any of this except to say that this story coming out about Rurik Jutting sounds very believable. An extraction was needed – too bad there was no one around him to pull it off.


I like donuts. In Asia I never really find any I like apart from the basic glazed, old fashioned and Boston creme ones at Krispy Kreme. I grew up on normal American donuts and every time I go home I have more than a few. I plan on having a few this trip.

Which is why I loved this article –

I remember eating Winchell’s donuts but I mostly remember the normal mom and pop donuts – made fresh throughout the day. I would always eat then with a cold milk.

I lived in the some of the areas mentioned in the article and now I remember them being run by Asians but didn’t realize they were Cambodians. I think near one of my brother’s house is a donut shop run by Cambodians – going to check when I am in town.

The rest of the story is odd as well with the tinges of other Asian issues like the gambling, the young mistresses and all of Cambodia’s political issues intertwined around donuts.

Great read.

One last donut tidbit. When I was young my dad used to trade his mechanical services for whatever his customers could offer on barter – he happened to do a major engine overhaul for a German living in a small town near us with a bakery. A bakery with seriously awesome donuts. I probably had 2 per day for many months. I remember my mother sending us over for bread and we had to explain the credit had run out but she could never figure out we practically went and ate a box of donuts per day.

Donuts rule.

Amazing to see the depth at Google

Google prints money so it is not surprising they can afford to have resources for a product manager that helps to represent Asia. This is similar to what I was doing at Yahoo but of course we didn’t have this expansive of a charter.

I have to admit that Google is pretty serious about Asia. We are working with them at Spuul on some stuff and they devote ample resources, are very organized and run some strict deadlines.

As I hear about all the dismantling of Yahoo in Asia, I tend to think about what could have been but obviously wasn’t.

Google is not my favorite but I am impressed with how much money and effort they put into Asia.

Will write up another post about an interesting project they are doing with PWC in the region.