Best of September 2019

🌮Are cloud kitchens a new category?
Much like cloud computing services, cloud kitchens have become a popular business model for food-delivery providers that want to serve up meals while avoiding the expense of traditional restaurants with their associated high real estate and service staff costs. And is Travis back?

🧠1 $Billion for a mind reading mouse on your Arm? There are alternatives to voice commands, including technologies like eye-tracking, but simply thinking about what you want a device to do, and having it happen, would be the ultimate solution. Crazy, but what a cool company, check out:

🤯 Wait wut? 13 $ Billion lost? If you wake up on a Casper mattress, hail a Lyft to get to your desk at WeWork, use DoorDash to order lunch to the office, hail another Lyft home, and have Uber Eats bring you dinner, you have spent your entire day interacting with companies that will collectively lose nearly $13 billion this year.

Are IPO’s the new Ponzi Scheme?

💸 🎣 Since Uber became a public company in May of this year, they have to report their quarterly numbers. In the last Q2, they reported an insane loss of 5.2 Billion Dollar 😳! On the other hand, they have an average of 17 million trips a day and an expected total turnover of $59 billion for 2019.

According to their CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, the total addressable market for Uber is $12 Trillion, which is 15% of all Global economic activity ($80 trillion). Would it really be possible for 1 company to take such a giant piece of the global economic pie? 

Len Sherman, adjunct professor of business at Columbia University states that none of the ride-sharing companies around the world can articulate a path to profitability. “Along with Lyft, Uber will be able to sustain itself without posting a profit for as long as the capital markets remains confident in the companies’ predictions about the future”. 

This sounds crazy to me, as long as interest rates are low and people have no clue where to put their money, the capital market can keep fueling these beautiful, crazy and ambitious dreams. But in the end the only ones who actually see money in the bank are founders, early employees and VC’s.
The same kind of system, appears to be happening at WeWork

“When applying our average revenue per WeWork membership for the six months ended June 30, 2019 to our potential member population of 149 million people in our existing 111 cities, we estimate an addressable market opportunity of $945 billion. Among our total potential member population of approximately 255 million people across our 280 target cities globally, we estimate an addressable market opportunity of $1.6 trillion”. Hahahahaha, this makes my WSJF’s calculations seem a lot less crazy! 

Ben Thompson from Stratechery: “Did you catch that? WeWork is claiming nearly every desk job around the globe as its market, a move that by definition means moving beyond being a real estate company”.[ ] “Everything taken together hints at a completely unaccountable executive looting a company that is running as quickly as it can from massive losses that may very well be fatal whenever the next recession hits”.

I might be old-fashioned or maybe even naive. But I prefer a company like Foursquare, who spend the past 10 years figuring out how to turn their technology into a profitable business. So I was really happy to read that Foursquare is is reporting to surpass the 100 Million revenue this year with a team of 350 people. Such of good job of perseverance and actual love for your product! 

Exiting times ahead! I just hope that the crazy – and beautiful – dreams of Uber, WeWork, Peleton and the rest are not leading us into the next tech bubble!

Best of July 2019

🏔🤯No More Backlogs?! 
Sometimes it feels there is such an avalanche of feature requests coming to mobile, it will never be possible work your way through the backlog. This can feel quite overwhelming for everyone in our team.

So this Interesting idea from Basecamp  – who’s CEO Jason Fried was tweeting last week how much he loved flying KLM and the KLM Houses App -. caught my attention. 

He states that a backlog takes a lot of time to manage and to maintain – can’t argue with that. And gives us a feeling like we always behind, even when we’re not. He argues for distributed backlogs, where every stakeholder maintains his own list of ideas. “This approach spreads out the responsibility for prioritizing and tracking what to do and makes it manageable” 

Every 6 weeks, pitches are made on what to build next. Good and urgent ideas return, bad ideas die.

🏨  ✈️There’s trouble within internet darling 
Interesting article in the NRC two weeks ago. The online hotel platform suddenly replaced their CEO, Gillian Tans, who had only been in this position since 2016. So whats wrong? Apparently the growth in turnover is slowing down. Turnover in 2018 was 14.5 Billion Euro’s with a growth of 14.5% compared to 18% in 2017. Also the first quarter of 2019 turnover was lower than the year before. 

75% of the turnover of Booking is generated by hotel bookings. But new competition is slowing growth down. Especially the rise of AirBnB is hurting Booking. Other competition like Expedia is successfully trying gain access to the complete travel value chain. They are aiming to become the gateway to the complete travel experience. From hotel, to flight to rental car. 

Interesting to think about KLM’s position in this market. How do you work with these powerful platforms without them eliminating access to the your customer and cutting your margins.

There is a YouTube Obsession for Everyone! The Amazing Tale of the $50 Jetski! 

When people talk about gaming – I feel very out of touch. And when I hear about YouTube celebrities like PewDiePie making millions playing games while talking about gaming I feel very old – and poor haha! 

Recently, I discovered this whole genre of guys buying and restoring boats and cars on YouTube! Now I find myself spending hours watching handy rednecks in Florida buying and restoring dilapidated speedboats and fixing up totaled Ferrari’s. I thought I was the only weirdo watching this stuff. 

The other day I found out that my colleague Rene Matla and I had both spent half an hour watching two guys repairing a jetski  – on the other side of the world – that they had bought for $50. And they got it working again! Woooo what a ride so exiting! And that were are actually 12.000 other people watching this video.

So it’s not the kids these days, being lazy or an uninspired generation. Watching someone else playing their video game and learning from it, relates to their world just as much as Rene and I watch JetSki repair video’s – which is just as random and useless –  I even never had JetSki!. But it relates to my world of boats and some kind of macho ambition where you can fix you own stuff. 

This thought me two lessons. First; The kids these days are not extremely lazy couch potatoes, too lazy to even play their own video games. But video games relate as much to their world as restoring old boats does to mine. Furthermore it again confirms the rule of Futurist Kevin Kelly – who states that every successful product or platform will break off into different parts catering to ever increasing smaller niches. So maybe Rene and I should start a YouTube channel where you can see us watching dudes repairing Jetski’s! 

Best of May 2019

😴💰 Pokemon Go Is Coming For Your Sleep!
 This week the Pokemon Company announced a new app that will “turn sleeping into entertainment”. Pokemon Go earned 2.45 Billion Dollar in revenue and encouraged people to go outside and hunt for Pokemons. Pokemon Sleep will reward players who will get enough sleep and will try to turn sleep into entertainment. Pokemon Sleep will come with a small device that you have to put inside your bed which will collect the data about your sleeping habits.I’m super curious to see how they will turn sleep and our sleep data into another behavior changing and billion dollar business! 

😡✈️ There Are Two Types of Airport People (Why some people love the stress) Interesting analysis in the Atlantic on why certain travellers seem to enjoy the stress of barely making their flight. Apparently everyone finds flying stressful -check out this article on why – . And people have 2 ways of dealing with this. The early arrivers deal with their stress by preparing, arriving early and being efficient. But apparently the people who like to come late deal with stress by creating a form of stress, which gets them in a state of excitement. 

“They distract and procrastinate, and next thing you know, they can’t do what they need to do to get there on time,” Gerkin said. “It’s not quite self-harm, but it’s in the same arena. It changes your feeling state and gets you out of that place that’s uncomfortable and into this place of excitement.” 

📱🧠Product Management Mental Models for Everyone
I think we don’t talk enough about product management at KLM. We spend a lot of time on our development processes. And a lot of time figuring our how to build the next feature. But why are we building what we are building is  – imho – get’s the least attention.
And I think this is actually the most interesting part of product management. Just figuring out with what feature or improvement you’ll great the most value. And how to allocate your limited resources to this feature. This article explores a number of mental models that give a great perspective on different parts of product management. 

What Protein Bars, Perfume and Soho House Taught Me About Innovation and Change

A couple weeks ago, my girlfriend took me to London for the weekend. Being in a different environment and having some time to observe things and do some shopping, I noticed how wrong my thinking about innovation and change can often be. Three events changed my thinking: 

💅 1.What happend with Chanel No. 5?!
My idea of a perfume shop is a brightly lit store, with walls covered with pictures of actresses and hundreds of little bottles in all shapes, colours and sizes. A place where you feel uncomfortable as heavily make-up ladies wander around and ignore you. 

Then we stumbled in the Le Labo Perfume store. This perfume shop looked more like a laboratory from the fifties then a perfume store. There were only 20 or so brown and boring little bottles on a shelf. After my GF picked out a fragrance, a guy in a lab coat started to add fluids from all types of bottles together and mixed the perfume on the spot! He printed a personal label which included who – the guy in the labcoat – where and for whom the bottle was made. You couldn’t even start using the perfume directly because “the fluids have to sink in and mix for a few days.”  

So no marketing, no fancy models, not a few hundred options. And twice the price of a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Who would have expected that the perfume market would change in this direction? 

🥂 2.Paying for paying for a drink? Soho House 
Soho House recently opened in Amsterdam. This is a private member club for people who work in media and arts. You have to pay around 2000 Euro’s a year to be member, which gives you access to clubs, hotels and venues around the world. 

I thought this was really weird. Why pay to get into a bar, where you still have to pay to get a drink! I thought this whole Soho House thing was ridiculous until we were trying to find some decent breakfast in one of those hectic crazy tourist-flooded streets in London. Again the GF surprised me, while she flashed a black card standing in front of a discrete looking door in Greek street. 

A door opened, and we entered a quiet bar, with lots of space to sit and a wood fire crackling in every room. It seemed a bit like another world than the hectic and busy places on the other side of the door. And to my own horror, I had to admit it was really nice. And if I had a cooler job title – and KLM would  give me a raise haha – , I would totally apply for a membership. Again I was totally wrong in my first presumptions and in the diverse ways a bar experience can change. 

🍫 3. What happened with Snickers and Kitkat!? 
What’s wrong with a good ol’ Lion or Mars when you’re a little hungry? Apparently a lot. Because in every coffeeshop or supermarket you can buy every possible edible substance molded in the form a candy bar. I had no idea that a category like this could change so much. And it’s good business too. For example RXBAR was founded in 2012 and was sold to Kelloggs for $600 million in 2017. I never could have predicted or imagined how this seemingly stable category could change into a thousand shapes, flavours and prices. 

🤔 Everything will change 
These experiences made me realize again, that everything arounds us will change. And it will often change in ways, that we don’t understand or that we don’t expect. 

Therefore, I try to look at all the normal products and services around us and try to image all the crazy ways this product could change. I’m drinking a tea right now made from a regular tea bag. Maybe in the future the tea flavor is part from a little container embedded in the cup, or I add the tea flavor to my cup from a tube of tea gel. The same counts for Voice, AI, or the use of apps in the Airline business. 

Everything arounds us will change. And no one – especially not this hillbilly from the Bible belt  –  can predict how it will change. But imagining the ways all products around us will change, gives an imaginative and fresh perspective on the world around us. 

Lingerie Wars, Obesity and Bankruptcy, Slowly then Suddenly!

👠👙💸 I’m fascinated with this line “Gradually then suddenly”, from the article of Tim O’Reilly who uses it to describe technological change. It basically stresses that all sudden change – although it appears sudden – is often an accumulation of smaller events that were happening for many years. 

I like to think it’s applicable to most aspects of life, society and business. Think about getting obese. Gain just 2 kilo’s every year and after 10 years, you can’t run up the stairs anymore. Or pay more attention to your iPhone then your girlfriend. Do it long enough and she’ll dump your tweeting ass. 

For me it explains really well, that you have to keep paying attention to trends, habits and economic forces, that appear to be small –  but overtime can ensure a sudden change that you didn’t see coming. Take for example the #flyingshame trend or the slow rise of voice interfaces. Easy to dismiss now as fads – Alexa set the timer to 10 minutes -, but in a couple years can be big in unexpected ways. 

A great example on how this works in business is the rough weather lingerie company Victoria’s Secret appears to be in. Not a market that I would think is very dynamic, underwear is just underwear right.

For years Victoria’s Secret has been the leading company in the US lingerie market (worth $7 Billion in total). But a growing portion of woman is getting tired of trying to look like a ripped naughty housemaid with a rock hard sixpack. And are looking for more comfortable underwear and natural looks. 

Add to this the rise of more “body positive” underwear start-ups like ThirdLoveChroma and Adore Me who sell comfortable, inclusive and directly online to their clients. And all of a sudden your sales are falling and your closing shops left and right. 

Slowly. Then suddenly. 

PS: Good job ladies! If I were you, I would quit wearing those uncomfortable high heels too!  

Best of February 2019

🤓🤖 AR Will Spark the Next Big Tech Platform  – Call it Mirrorworld 
If you think the internet is done. And there are no opportunities anymore. Please read this mind-boggling vision on the possible impact of Augmented Reality.
Kevin Kelly states that in the future everything in the world – from objects to streets and the world itself – will have a virtual counterpart. He calls this the mirrorworld.

On top of this, all objects will be fitted with sensors and camera’s. This means that all objects can recognize and “see” each other and can be positioned in the world. Objects will constantly update their image of the world around them and will send this data to other smart objects or robots. 

“Watches will detect chairs; chairs will detect spreadsheets; glasses will detect watches, even under a sleeve; tablets will see the inside of a turbine; turbines will see workers around them” .

🖥 🔪 The Trauma Floor, The secret Live of Facebook moderators in America 
Imagine a social media company so big, that you need 15.000 content reviewers in 20 sites around the world, to 24/7 review all posted content, in an attempt to remove porn, violence, fake news and other content violating FB’s community standards. This article from Casey Newton gives a first glance in the bizarre world of content moderation of the worlds biggest social media platform. 

What stands out most for me in the article, is the impact on the mental health of the content moderators. It is widely known that normal users of social media can experience, fear of missing out, un-satisfaction with their own lives and anxieties. Social media is a bit like potato chips. The first couple of bites taste great. But after a whole bag, you feel very dirty inside.

Anyway, also the moderators – who view around 400 posts a day – started to believe things like the Earth is actually flat and the denial of the Holocaust – often referred to as the Holohoax. Some moderators started even experiencing symptoms of ’secondary traumatic stress disorder.  

This article gives some good insight in one of the aspects of social media we never really read or think about.

⌚️Nubia’s new wearable puts a 4-inch (10 cm) flexible smartphone on your wrist
Interesting to see how form factors from laptops, tables and smartphones seem to merge. I can find myself sometimes pinching my laptop screen or wishing I could pinch and zoom while reading a paper magazine. But now also the domain of smartwatches and smartphones seems to be merging.

Nubia just released a foldable screen of 10cm that wraps around your wrist. Apple just filed a patent for a foldable iPhone. And also Motorola confirms that their foldable smartphone is coming. 

This tweet of Benedict Evans on this subject makes a lot of sense to me:

“I’m not sure if folding phones will be a thing. I am pretty sure that screens that don’t have to be a flat rectangle, but can be any shape and molded over a curved surface, will be part of general product design”.

Best of January 2019

 🧟‍♂️🤖The Digital Maginot line
One of the most thorough articles about our current world of disinformation campaigns, state employed cyber warriors, amateur guerrillas and sponsored trolls. Renee DiResta argues how media platforms and governments should change their approach in trying to react to this. 

The most interesting point that DiResta makes, is that contrary to a normal war where the objective is the physical territory. In the “Warm War” that is currently fought, the territory is the human mind. “Once a combatant wins over a sufficient number of minds, they have the power to influence culture and society, policy and politics. Think about this next time your uncle is sharing some Deep state theories on the family What’s App. 

In this time of Wikileaks, Brexit, Click farms and viral propaganda being spread with almost no cost, an important article to read!

🌎🌈2019 predictions of Scott Galloway
What I like about Scott Galloway is his holistic view on business. He combines technology trends with product and marketing and a strong insight in financial markets, while most experts view the world from their single perspective. His prediction for the new year always make me think a little harder. The ones that I like the best are:

Strange bedfellows A bevy of consumer and tech firms enter into strategic alliances and partnerships with only one objective: Push back on Amazon.

The rundle The consumer world begins to distill to a small number of mega brands or networks that are recurring revenue bundles (“rundle“). Business has mistaken “choice” as a good thing. Consumers want less choice, but instead confidence in the (fewer) choices presented to them.

Every digital media firm other than Facebook, Google, and Amazon Media Group loses share Lots of great firms (Refinery29, Buzzfeed) begin to show signs of asphyxiation as the oxygen continues to be sucked out of the room.

Read the rest here!

💩💰The internet of Shit? Or too early brilliance? An impression of CES
What I love about working in technology, it that no one knows exactly what the future will bring, and what products or business will be successful. I remember myself thinking that camera’s on Phones where the most useless thing ever. And walking around with Google Glasses thinking this was going to be the next big thing after mobile. 

Check out this twitter thread with fairly far out, companies and ideas from the last CES this January. My personal favorite is the Cyber Fishing, Smart Toilet 2.0 and the Water 2.0.

Six Ways to Survive a Corporate Job After a Startup Crash

When my tech business failed I did something I never thought I would: I went to work for one of the largest corporations in Europe.

During the five years I worked on Somehow, a product design agency based in Amsterdam, I thought that start-up life was my calling, the most exiting gig I ever imagined. I enjoyed the ability to pick the people I worked with, the thrill of pitching to clients, the rush of making money and the prospect of becoming financially independent. Of course, I knew that building an agency would never set me up for an IPO, the cover of Wired– or sweating in front of a US Senate hearing. But there was a good chance of accruing moderate wealth while actually loving my job.

In 2015, my co-founder Wilbert Baan and I decided that the agency was not growing enough to have a solid future ahead. We had happy customers and a decent income, but we just couldn’t lock down that steady recurring stream of income. We tried pivoting to a product model, but we didn’t have the power anymore to fully pursuit it. We decided, while we still had money in the bank and no debt to anyone, to kill the company.

I was devastated. I thought I lost the best job I ever had — the one job I could actually excel at, where my weird combination of talents and skills finally made sense.

As you can imagine, I was not really thrilled when I landed a freelance gig to develop the Location Based Product strategy in the mobile app department of AirFrance KLM. I had never worked for a company bigger than a couple hundred people; I planned to get out as fast as possible.

At this moment, I have been working at the KLM mobile team for 3.5 years! And to my own surprise, I’m actually enjoying the challenges of building products in a highly complex environment. I’m amazed and inspired at the way 80.000 employees figure out to how to organize themselves and safely transport 98 million travelers per year.

Hereunder are the lessons that helped me enjoy working at a corporate after starting out, thinking it was going to be the worst thing that ever happened to my career — and how if you are in the same position, you might change your frame of mind to see it the same way.

1. No one cares about your business failure!

This is probably a European thing. But Europeans are not very risk tolerant and failing is seen as something very negative. I expected people to judge me for failing to build a successful company. It turned out that nobody cared at all! New colleagues didn’t even ask for my reasons or motivations for shutting down the business. They asked for my portfolio, the products I had built, about the lessons I had learned and adventures I’d had.

But not a single one questioned my abilities, talent or passion due to quitting. On the contrary, they admired the guts and responsibility it took to build a company.

As long as you seem able to take care of an organizational need or problem, new colleagues don’t care what you have done before or how immaculate your career has been.

2. Speed beats politics

When I arrived at KLM, there were other teams working on roughly the same product line as I was in different parts of the organization. This caused time-consuming political power battles over which team owned a certain subject. Owning a subject translates to the number of employees managed, which in most cases determines how much bacon you bring home.

One thing I learned having my own business was to focus relentlessly and deliver as fast as possible. I don’t like politics, so I tried to delivered my POC’s and products faster than other teams.

In your corporate job, some people might be scheming — as is the case in every organization. Make sure you are building faster — prove your assumptions and product value — and often you don’t have to worry about politics.

3. Engagement paradox

When I was freelancing I didn’t care much about anything else other than helping my direct client, doing a good job on the project and maximizing my invoices. I wasn’t concerned with other people getting promotions, who the new VP or what the organizational structure would be.

Once my freelance contract was turned into an employee contract, I also became more engaged with the company and my place within it. I started comparing myself to other people and having opinions about certain managers and product decisions that didn’t even involve me. My increased engagement caused me to be less happy and sometimes frustrated.

Although it may be contrary to your intuition, if you are not too emotionally involved with your company you are actually able to have more fun, relax and achieve more. Don’t get locked in with regard to your skill set and keep an independent frame of mind.

4. Organizational structure equals individual freedom

As a surfer, I need to sneak out of the office from time to time to surf our fickle North Sea. I always thought that being my own boss gave me the most freedom to surf when the waves were up. But there were many times when deadlines and meetings won over surfing.

At KLM, people are obsessed with structure and super smooth processes. I was annoyed at first having to “succumb” them. It took me quite some time to realize that when your process and structures are set up well, there is a lot less dependency on individuals to keep everything running. Good processes in place mean less stress, more cognitive space and — in all honesty — it’s easier to sneak off early and go surfing, because everything keeps running also when I’m not there.

I came to love designing internal process just as much as product design. A well designed process equals individual freedom. Whether it comes to working on your long term strategy, freedom to think or write or to run off to sea every now and then.

5. Every corporation was a crazy successful start-up once

In an abstract sense, the challenges at Adyen, Shopify and Lyft are quite similar to the ones of older or more established companies. We’re all fixing a problem, we’re all battling for talent and revenue.

This perspective makes a lot of problems and discussions interesting. Shift your perspective and look at your corporate as though it is a crazy successful start-up which battled it out for decades and made it. Imagine everything you can learn and implement from a big business in case you might want to try your hand at another start-up again in the future.

6. Love your craft

This has been my biggest and also most liberating lesson of all. I love solving hard problems and developing digital products. I love working with a team of smart people with different skills sets. I love building a little army and fighting as hard as we can.

During my time at a big corporation, I realized that it almost doesn’t matter in which type of company I work. Every different type of organization enables me to learn and improve my skills.

It can be your own agency, start-up or within a giant corporation. The rules are a bit different, but the core is the same. Love what you do, be grateful for the opportunity to improve your skills and you’ll be happy where ever the up-and-downs of your career will take you.