August 26, 2009

What if There’s No Reason to Eat the Dog Food?

What if There’s No Reason to Eat the Dog Food? There’s an expression in software about producing a product and market testing it — “seeing if the dogs will eat the dog food.”  I’ve heard it mangled many times around the employees of a software company using the software their own company produces as “seeing if the dogs will eat their own dog food.”  This is always true in consumer software and service companies.  Employees are often the best users, the power users, and the source of the best feedback to the organization about the product and competition.  We certainly saw this phenomenon in spades at MovieFone, where I used to work before starting Return Path.  There was no more of a power user to be found than Andrew, the CEO, and there was a frenzy every Thursday and Friday as employees called into 777-FILM to buy their own tickets for the upcoming weekend. But what if there’s no reason to eat your own dog food?  What if your software company develops a specific business application that only one or two people inside your company even care about?  Our services are a great example.  One or two people in Marketing, […]


March 16, 2007

Staying Power

Staying Power I interview a lot of people.  We are hiring a ton at Return Path, and I am still able to interview all finalists for jobs, and frequently I interview multiple candidates if it’s a senior role.  I probably interviewed 60 people last year and will do at least that many this year.  I used to be surprised when a resume had an average job tenure of 2 years on it — now, the job market is so fluid that I am surprised when I see a resume that only has one or two employers listed. But even the […]


December 1, 2006

I’m Embarrassed for My Profession

I’m Embarrassed for My Profession File this under the heading of “just when you think you’ve seen it all” — I am a marketing services person and typically applaud ingenuity and buzz-generating things wherever I see them.  But even I was a bit surprised last night at dinner when I went to use the restroom to find a new form of advertising — the custom urinal cake. Universal is promoting its new film, Let’s Go to Prison, in this somewhat unorthodox manner.  It did have my rapt attention for, say, 30-60 seconds, which is more time than I usually give […]


December 22, 2005

New Media Deal – a comment

New Media Deal – a comment A user calling him or herself “graciouswings” (who left a bogus email address with his/her comment, so I couldn’t email him/her) made a lengthy comment to my New Media Deal posting (posting here, comment at the bottom or here). The meat of the comment was: “advertising doesn’t bug us if it’s not too intrusive and if there’s something in it for us as consumers.” This is simply not true. This notion is based on unfair playing grounds. People don’t like seeing commercials before movies. People _are_ bugged by having to create an account at […]


March 4, 2005

Counter Cliche: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

Counter Cliche:  Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There Fred had a great posting the other day about Analysis Paralysis.  And he’s right, a lot of the time.  But I’ve always thought that Newton’s third law of motion can be applied to cliches — that every cliche has an equal and opposite cliche (think “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” vs. “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”). The counter cliche to Analysis Paralysis is “Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There” — another great lesson taught to me by my old boss at MovieFone.  While startup businesses generally do need to move […]


September 15, 2004

Change of Name?

Change of Name Fellow CEO Greg Reinacker posted an open question on his blog about whether he should change the name of his company, NewsGator. This is a GREAT topic. We struggled with it for years at MovieFone, because at some point, the Internet became a huge part of the business, and the name seemed antiquated. Plus, everyone knew us by the phone number, 777-FILM (or whatever number it happened to be in any given city). But it had 10 years of brand equity at that point behind it. Return Path used to be called uLocate.com a really long time […]


June 16, 2004

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Fred Wilson has a great posting today about how as a VC, it’s important to tell CEOs the truth when you don’t fund them so they can learn from the experience. As someone who’s been dinged by his share of VC’s (although not yet by Fred), I completely agree. He drew a great comparison to a conversation he had with a woman on an airplane about telling someone she didn’t want to go on a second date with him. I’ve always felt that as a manager, firing someone is a lot like breaking up with a significant other. As the […]