Mood Swings and Innovation

Yesterday was weird. It began by hearing that Glympse closed on $7.5M in a B round of financing. Glympse has been around for a couple years, still pushing their version of location-sharing, and recently hit 1M users. Regardless of what I think of them, they convinced Menlo Ventures et al that they were onto something and worth maybe $20M bucks. That was before noon. Then I heard that a friend of a friend just released a pretty cool location app — also not entirely unlike Pingster or Glympse — called Ban.jo. I played with it. It was interesting.

A few moments later I noticed a ReadWriteWeb article on the entire slate of location-sharing social tools. It was a very good article. Pingster wasn’t mentioned. Sonar was. I remembered that Sonar had released at TechCrunch Disrupt in NYC last month, and was sorta the darling of the show. Somewhere around here depression set in.

I downloaded all of these products and spent the afternoon playing with them, and trying to determine what was the same as Pingster and what was different, and in what ways I was convinced my product was better. But seeing them all in one panorama was enormously helpful — it helped me clarify what Pingster was, and what it was not. I’ll describe the underpinnings of this in a future post – but with the next release of Pingster (1.3) I think the unique position will be clear. As I changed the way I looked at my product, and played with the feature set in wireframe form, I got enormously excited. I was feeling something different, renewed optimism and confidence in the path. Holy shit: in the course of a few hours I went from a catatonic despair to nothing short of irrational elation.

This process of new product evolution is painful. I sometimes equate it to film editing, where you need to cut elements out dispassionately, not because they are bad, but because they are too much. Because the goal is the end product, not the features. But film editing doesn’t include the kind of rollercoaster you feel in your gut as you not only move your product forward, but attempt to be undistracted by the swirl around you.

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One Response to Mood Swings and Innovation

  1. Ron D. says:

    Hey, Mike!

    A very insightful analogy between software development and film editing. Having done both extensively, I have to agree wholeheartedly. With editing, what matters is the gestalt of the film as a whole, not the individual scenes. A skilled editor/developer always keeps that distinction in mind.

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