Photos from the Box Office

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Beer bus at the Box office in Redwood City.

I spent the afternoon trying out different headphones and amps at the Box office with Patrick and company. While we were there, Raymond gave us a tour of the multi-floor office. I have to say, they have some pretty cool stuff there, and the space is wide open.

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Fancy uncomfortable chairs.

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Chairs made from skis in their ski lounge.

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Indoor basketball.

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Themed rooms.

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Standing desks and plants.

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Lovely view of Redwood city.

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Gong.

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Full kitchen and cafeteria.

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Strange chairs that make you feel like you’re going to fall over.

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Every vintage game you can think of.

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No tech office would be complete without a bar.

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Insane conference rooms.

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Branded billiards table.

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Custom plaque from one of their board members.

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Curtain dividers. This is clever.

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Fun murals.

Farewell Flare

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Reflecting on next steps.

After working on Flare for the last 2 years, we’re shutting it down. I hold my head up high knowing that I worked with an awesome team, and I tried my best in an extremely tough space. I want to thank my comrades, my co-founders, my mentors, our investors, Expa and all the Flare users for giving me the chance to build this. I also want to thank Annie, my family, and all my friends for being so supportive of this dream.

This has been the most humbling experience of my life. I’ve learned some lessons along the way, and I wanted to pay it forward by sharing the insights. I’ll be posting a little more over the next few days, so stay tuned.

Bunch is in the app store!

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We officially started on Bunch on July 6th according to Justin, and in less than a month, the app is out in the app store. So first thing’s first, download the app if you have an iPhone.

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So, in a nutshell, Bunch is the fastest way to video message your 8 best friends. It’s kind of like a walkie talkie, and you just message friends back and forth. I’m really proud of the team for having faith in the concept and putting their hearts into building something so quickly. When I see them put in the hours and effort, it inspires me. It’s that kind of attitude that gets me pumped up.

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I’m really proud of this app, and I’m happy that something like it exists. It’s something that I genuinely use with my best friends and I’m hoping that they like it too. I want to thank all the beta users and all our supporters that rooted for us.

This time around, I learned that it’s best to build, experiment and create a playground, versus wait for permission/approval of others. I’m not sure if it’s the right way to build products, but it’s the only way I know how to do it. Building momentum is everything.

I’ll share more on this soon, but I just wanted to let everyone know that it’s out. Now it’s time to see if we can get some traction. Please give the app a try and let me know what you think. This one comes from the heart, and I hope that you guys like Bunch.

Interview with Scott Belsky, via Expa

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Last night I attended an Expa event with Scott Belsky. He shared his story and a ton of startup lessons. Scott co-founded Behance and is now a general partner at Benchmark. He also served as a VP of products at adobe when they got acquired. Here are some memorable quotes from the evening.

“Products are like a bonsai—Sometimes you have to cut some of the most beautiful branches to make sure the trunk is healthy.”

“Process is the escriment of misalignment.”

“The easiest decision is not to make a decision.”

“As a leader you have to short circuit your reward system.”

“Acquisitions are like feeding a domesticated lion. You have to aggravate the lion by shaking the meat in front of it, until it finally gets fed up and eats it.”

“Focus on verbs and actions, versus documenting everything.”

And his favorite question to ask people who are raising money, “How do you hire people?”.

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This was definitely illuminating, and the timing is so relevant. As I work on Flare, I really have to think about all these things.

Culture in the Long Run

Over the years, I’ve been really curious about company culture. It’s always fun reading articles talking about how you shouldn’t F up company culture. But if you read between the lines, there’s actually a financial reason why culture matters in the long run for start-ups. Given enough time, you’re probably going to move on or get fired… and the only influence you’ll have on the company is the culture you’ve left behind.

You know, I actually hear ex-founders talking about how they don’t recognize any of the new faces in their company. It’s fascinating to think about how all those new faces are working every day to build value (and making the company worth more).

The interesting thing about culture is that it’s hard to change for the better after things have gone south. So it seems really important to establish the right direction really early.

It all starts with the founders and the first hire. I’ve been told that the first hire is like mitosis—the first cell division in an organization that carries its DNA. One of my mentors explained to me, “your first hire will echo all of your best and worst attributes.”

So with that in mind, I’m trying to be more conscious of my attitude and perspective. I constantly ask myself questions like: How do we build values around innovation and a relentless work ethic into our DNA? How do we balance decisions based on data versus gut instinct? How do we handle disagreements and distractions? How do we set an example of excellence? How do we learn from our mistakes and run more efficiently? And ultimately, how do build things we’re genuinely proud of and have fun?

Anyways, big f’n kudos to any of the leaders out there that have built a successful culture. It’s not easy, and it’s certainly not luck. And yeh, when its done right, culture can be a lucrative thing. It’s a bet I’m ready to double down on.

The Product Metronome

”Product is the metronome of a team”

Hooman’s been feeding me with some profound nuggets of advice. As I dive into the role of product, he explained that it’s more than just creating growth and delivering things. It’s about helping the team find a cadence and rhythm not only for releasing, but an attitude around a company. When you’re calm, cool and clear, everyone around you will mirror that—and that’s a part of building product culture. Creating a cadence is something I’m going to have to work on. And being consistent with that will set an example of excellence.

If you had to choose between two teams (with the same output), which would you rather have?

a) A wired team filled with raw horse power and brute force?
b) A calm team that’s highly efficient that continually improves.

And the real question that Hooman alluded to—“which one is going to scale better in the long run?”

As I take on this new challenge, I will need to find balance in my life. Finding some zen will help me become a better metronome. The best is in front of us, and I look forward to our team playing together as a symphony.

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”All great leaders have a platform of people that they can lean on.”

Hooman hit me with another bit of sound advice. For example, Mark Zuckerberg always seems to have a calm cool persona… but he relies on a network of people around him to put his thoughts together. But what most people don’t realize is how much he leans on his platform of advisors to guide him. Same goes with the president of the United States. One could say this about all leaders.

When Hooman asked me who I could talk to about the following things, I didn’t really have a good structure for how I utilized my network:

  • Someone to bounce creative ideas.
  • Someone to vent to when I’m frustrated.
  • Someone to run through strategy and growth.
  • Etc.

Having a network of people that you can lean on for wisdom, creativity and sometimes to lend an ear, is a platform that you can use. And the sum of having a platform of people you can lean on plus acting as a metronome is a great formula for becoming a leader.

It’s a lot to think about… but I’m pretty excited to be working on creating new systems, not just for design, but for building companies. This is going to be epic.