NIH #25 – Infinite amount of something

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We all love getting infinite amount of something for a small fee. That makes all the “unlimited” plans so popular. On practice, however, those plans fairly quickly turn out not to be unlimited, infinite or lifetime and there are reasons why.

Using “unlimited” in marketing materials has its benefits:

  • it gives perception that buyer gets a lot (infinite amount that is) while paying way less than that
  • it eliminates questions like “will it be enough for …?” making the purchasing decision easier

But nothing is truly unlimited or infinite:

When you are offered something unlimited for a limited fee, ask yourself “where is the limit?”.

Survivorship bias

Impressive numbers in this tweet have to be accompanied by other data to actually mean something:

  • What were the returns of those who responded to other similar emails? And how many of those emails were sent?
  • How well did those who did not respond to this email with their investments elsewhere?

Without that it's just an anekdote about your uncle winning in a lottery.

NIH #23 – A-a-aa not so good song

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Masking a problem without really solving it can move the problem to a more dangerous place or time. Do you remember the story about “A a a a a Very Good Song”?

Despite its popularity back in the day the song did not really solve the problem of Apple CarPlay annoyingly starting to play the very first song in the music collection, when the phone was connected to the car. It postponed that annoyance problem until 10 minutes later, when one could be driving through a busy intersection.

NIH #22 – Illusion of control

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All modern systems are built out of components. Those components can come in different forms: 3rd-party proprietary, open source and developed in-house. Open source seems to be the most popular option nowadays and one may think that using open-source components is an all-around win. It is a win, but not all-around.

3rd-party proprietary

  • minimal initial effort to start getting benefits from the component: some learning curve, but no heavy lifting with development
  • all encompassing solution with features you do not need but still have to deal with
  • fairly good understanding of costs related to getting maintenance for the component over time
  • minimal control over direction of development
  • possible dead ends because of lack of transparency

DIY components

  • tightly focused solution that delivers exactly what you need
  • significant upfront costs and long and, maybe, costly further maintenance
  • with all that comes full control over the direction of development
  • draws resources and attention from the core competency

Open source

  • ready-made solution that requires minimal to start using
  • free basic maintenance by the comunity
  • solution with wide focus and sometimes “half way there” functionality
  • illusion of control induced by the fact that source can be forked and taken in-house

NIH #21 – Business of selling

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Common bits of criticism of new products often come from the lack of the information and the lack of desire to put them into perspective.

Casper and the middleman

Interesting observation in Recode's article about Casper:

In the booming world of online mattress sales, these reviews sites had accumulated massive power — often turning up high in Google search results for general queries like “mattress reviews” or brand-specific ones like “Casper reviews.” And without many showrooms to allow customers to try out these mattresses, online reviews carried even more weight.

Casper started with an idea to remove the middleman by selling online and allowing customers to deal directly with the manufacturer. The middleman then was the showroom. When the competitors followed Casper to the new battle ground, the Internet, and Casper was no longer the only one there, new middleman naturally appeared – the review aggregator.

Not Invented Here #20 – Code does not equal project

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Software projects are so much more than just writing code. It is impossible to replicate entire project with any number of lines of code.

To be fair, I have absolutely no clue what the $86M figure includes…

  • Analysis of the limitations of the technical side of the proposed solution, which likely preclude its use for building real-time system: How I failed to replicate an $86 million project in 1 line of code
  • A case for order of magnitude difference in effort depending on detailed requirements: printing a file to the console
    • Naïve implementation is 2 lines of code in Python
    • Gracefully handling printing a huge 4Gb file from USB stick, which is ejected, requires a lot more work
  • Don’t think someone is stupid. Instead try to understand why they do what they do.

Not Invented Here #19 – Full Saturation

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Application’s lifecycle in a marketplace explains why at times developers add features nobody really needs and why many of them try to turn their applications into services.

Lifecycle model:

  • Rapid growth on growing market
    • Revenue comes from new users
  • Few new users, but strong demand for new features
    • Revenue comes from upgrades by existing users
  • Full saturation: no new users, no demand for new features
    • New sources of revenue are needed

Atlassian acquires Trello

Atlassian has announced that it acquires Trello. TechCrunch reports:

Atlassian today announced that it has acquired project management service Trello for $425 million. The vast majority of the transaction is in cash ($360 million), with the remainder being paid out in restricted shares and options.

I think I've been using Trello in some shape or form since its inception in 2011. The product grew, but kept its original spirt and idea. And now it has grew to almost half a billion dollars.

Atlassian suggests it will continue development of Trello. The immediate plans are outlined in Atlassian's press-release:

In addition to launching a new version of its existing Trello integration for HipChat, Atlassian will be launching Trello integrations for its other leading collaboration products, including JIRA Software, Confluence and Bitbucket. The integrations will be available in the Atlassian Marketplace, which is one of the largest enterprise software marketplaces in the world along with Amazon's AWS Marketplace and's AppExchange.

Integrations are good and are a natural thing to happen after such acquisitions. Would be very interesting to see how Trello will change little details.