When bad UI can make your product unsafe

I’ve been building software/internet products for a long time now and always cared a great deal about User Experience and design. Good UI can get your users more engaged, can lead to higher conversion rates, better engagement and overall better user experience. But did you ever think that good UI can make your product safe?

I was watching this TED video today where Avi Rubin, a security expert, explains how everything (from your car to your Pacemaker) can be hacked.  It was all very interesting but what I found fascinating was his example about hacking the two way radios that are used by law enforcement officials. These devices, made by Motorola (not known for employing the best in UX…), have an option to encrypt radio transmissions  with a switch of a button.  As you can see from this image, moving from open air to a secure channel requires 1/8 turn of a multi-purpose switch. When secure, the device is showing an indicator which is few pixels large. Because of this failed UI, 20% of the discussions in the secure channels that were sampled, actually happen in open air.  Continue reading “When bad UI can make your product unsafe”

When bad UI can make your product unsafe

What do you get when you buy a startup?

SAP acquired my startup in 2002. It was SAP’s first meaningful move to the SMB space and the expectations were high. SAP achieved its goal as our product, now called SAP Business One, became the leading SMB product for SAP, competing and winning against Microsoft, Sage and other market leaders.  Since then I acquired two startups, spent some time in a VC, started a company and now I am experiencing it all over again as I help a startup integrate into a much larger company. Doing it, I feel that the first order of business for the acquiring company is to realize what is it that you acquire.  Often, it will be bunch of hacks, knowhow and a group of passionate individuals.  Once you align your expectations, the chances of getting more out of the deal are much higher.  Continue reading “What do you get when you buy a startup?”

What do you get when you buy a startup?

China’s winning formula: MIN (human rights, wealth) and MAX (education, discipline)

Both Sarah Lacy and the New York Times covered the story of Apple iPhone manufacturing in China. The short of it is simple: companies don’t go to China because of cost anymore, but rather because a Chinese company provides better flexibility and higher quality than an American one. The days of cheap plastic chairs manufacturing in China are over- they outsource it to Vietnam now… Today’s China makes the most sophisticated devices in the world.

But why China wins? I believe that China is winning because it got to an optimum between education, wealth, human rights and discipline. It seems like the formula to a national success is MIN (human rights, wealth) and MAX (education, discipline).  Continue reading “China’s winning formula: MIN (human rights, wealth) and MAX (education, discipline)”

China’s winning formula: MIN (human rights, wealth) and MAX (education, discipline)

SOPA: A Bitter-Sweet Victory And A Great Opportunity

Yay! We won! The goog good guys convinced the highly political Congress to change course. Facebook. Google, Firefox and even porn sites all came together to twist Congress and Hollywood arms and won. Sweet… So why the bitterness and where is the opportunity?

It’s not a bitter victory but it is disappointing that the only thing that got the collective web to react was a direct attempt on its revenue and profits. We all know that the subtext to all the freedom speak was money. Great deal of money.  In a coordinated campaign that lasted only few short weeks and peaked today, the entire country got convinced that SOPA was evil, only to serve the interest of the internet companies. (Disclaimer, FWIW, I agree with the position of the silicon valley here, but this is beside the point). Continue reading “SOPA: A Bitter-Sweet Victory And A Great Opportunity”

SOPA: A Bitter-Sweet Victory And A Great Opportunity

How do I keep my gym routine?

I hate the gym. I really hate the gym. I f***ing hate the gym. At the same time, I have been going to the gym 3-4 times a week for the last 5 years (yes, it was my 2007 new year resolution…) despite my hectic (at most times) work and personal life. I developed few little rules that helps me persist that I wanted to share with other people that try to stay healthy… I’ve written it from my perspective (ever changing work schedule with some flexibility) and I am pretty sure it will not work for everyone , but worth trying if other methods failed you before…

  • Plan to go every day: No, I don’t really go every day. I just pack my gym bag, get everything in place and plan a convenient time based on my next day schedule. Sometimes the day goes as planned and I end up going and sometimes something changes and I don’t but since I plan to go every day, I still get to go 3-4 times every week in average.
  • Treadmills are evil: but at the same time, they are the fastest way to get a good 30 min of cardio. At first, I tried the classic “30 min workout” music on my iPod to stay engaged but I couldn’t get myself to persist. Than  I tried TV but there is never something good and the commercial breaks are huge downer when you run. Than I tried to listen to audio books: it was an improvement, but still, the 30 minutes felt like 30 days. Just when I felt I could not listen to one more book, I bought an iPad. Since I rarely watch TV at home, there are million TV dramas that everyone talks about and I never got to see. I started downloading seasons and watch one episode every visit to the gym (right now I am watching Breaking Bad, gym TV at its best). Now since my rule is that I can’t watch it at home, I kind of looking forward to get to the gym and enjoy 30-40 minutes of good, commercial free TV.   Continue reading “How do I keep my gym routine?”
How do I keep my gym routine?

Gowalla/ Facebook deal: welcome to 2003, 1999 is over

Most of the chatter about the Gowalla and Facebook deal was about the investors and whether the founders screwed over the investors or not (to make a long story short, Arrington thinks they did but Jason Calacanis (an actual investor) think they didn’t. the End). In my humble opinion, it doesn’t matter. It’s nothing more than Silicon Valley gossip. What really matters is this deal impact on the future of the location base services space (LBS) and consumer apps in general: The number 2 player in the LBS space got picked up for what’s considered in the valley to be pocket money? What does it mean for the 100s of LBS/consumer apps that are competing over the limited consumer attention? Continue reading “Gowalla/ Facebook deal: welcome to 2003, 1999 is over”

Gowalla/ Facebook deal: welcome to 2003, 1999 is over

So what did you learn from running a consumer internet company?

Ruth was number 20. I don’t know Ruth, and I didn’t know the other 19, but they all sent me emails/Linkedin messages that read something like this:

So sorry to hear about Bizzy. I am building a very similar service but with a twist/different monetization/different target audience: can you share your learning from Bizzy?

I answered few in writing, few via phone calls and even had couple of face to face meetings but when number 20 hit my inbox, I figured it time to have a permanent link I can send people to… Every answer here deserves a post of its own, and one more for the questions I haven’t answered yet, but let’s start with something… I also tried to write the answer in a more general way, so they are useful to the broader audience. So here are some of the questions I’ve been asked:

So what did you learn from running a consumer internet company?

A letter to Bizzy

I don’t know Ethan. I never heard his name before or saw him on Bizzy. I got an email from him today thanking me and the bizzy team and thought it was worth sharing. After all, we worked on Bizzy because we loved it. And knowing that we were able to amaze people is all we could expect.

Hi Gadi,

It’s very sad to see you guys go. Bizzy is a very fun and useful product and while it had its glitches, I enjoyed playing with it for most of the time. I’m writing to let you (and the team) know how impressed I was with the recommendation engine from Bizzy. Continue reading “A letter to Bizzy”

A letter to Bizzy

High on Bizzy love…

Yesterday I shared with our users that the startup I founded, Bizzy, will be shutting its doors soon. Bizzy was a part of a larger public company so in this sense we did not have the same control over our destiny as a true independent startup has but in any event, closing the doors over something you built and loved is not easy.

There will be time for lesson learned and what’s next. Today, I just enjoy the public and private love we are getting from our users. I mean, it would have been horrible to tell your users you are shutting down and get no one to react… But in Bizzy’s case, we got hundreds of emails, tweets and phone calls from users all over the country and it really helps to keep our collective spirit high… Tomorrow we might wake up with a hang over, but today, I would like to share some of the funny/heart warming responses we got… Continue reading “High on Bizzy love…”

High on Bizzy love…