Live @ TC Disrupt: Google+ & WordPress

Just got off stage at TC Disrupt 2013 where we announced that we’ve added an integration of Google+ on and Jetpack.

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You can now share content from WordPress to Google+, comment on WordPress using your Google+ account, and Google will display WordPress content across it’s platform with richer info such as the author’s photo:

Linking to your Google+ Profile creates an official connection between your content and your Google+ account. The benefit? It adds a layer of verification, confirming you are the author of your posts, and helps Google understand who created certain pages, which helps to increase the accuracy of search results.

Check out the full details on the announcement blog.

And big thanks to Seth and his team for working with us on this, and to our lead developer Beau for making this all happen on our side.

To the Elon Musk Hyperloop Bashers and Skeptics

Slightly amazed but not surprised to watch the news coverage of the Hyperloop and seeing it run about 75% negative so far – people calling it “out there” and questioning the cost projections, the safety, and everything else that was detailed.

The skeptics and the talking-heads that are out there mocking it, are frankly representative of a relatively new type of attitude that seems to want to kill big ideas and dreams before they even have a chance.

I spoke to a retired physics professor a few months ago and he said the biggest difference he saw in students in the 60s and 70s VS today was that the moon shot and other big projects gave people the confidence that any idea was possible. And that today there was a quicker instant-default-reaction of cynicism and doubt to anything really big or seemingly “far fetched”.

I personally have no idea if the Hyperloop will ever succeed or even get a green light to be built.

What I do know is that I’m super excited that someone with a pretty amazing track record (PayPal, Tesla, Space X) is tackling transportation and looking to leapfrog the current train system which is dated, expensive, and just not that exciting. And we should give these people a chance to take a few swings and see what they can come up with before every arm-chair expert chimes in on why it’s not possible. From the conference call follow-up that he held, sounds like he may now build a mini-prototype just to show everyone that it can work.

So my humble $.02 is that we need more people thinking like this, not less — and we need more aspirational projects that open people up to the near limitless possibilities of what we can build and solve.

I’m also a big believer that teams in Silicon valley will have a much better chance of tackling these problems than the traditional companies in the transportation industry that have been relatively stagnant for years now, mainly focused on cost reductions. Reminds me of a Steve Jobs quote:

“The people who built Silicon Valley were engineers. They learned business, they learned a lot of different things, but they had a real belief that humans, if they worked hard with other creative, smart people, could solve most of humankind’s problems. I believe that very much.”

And I always keep this quote in mind:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” — Mahatma Gandhi

If you haven’t listened to the Elon Musk conference call outlining it all, here is the clip:

A Couple of Months with Android

For the last few years I’ve found myself putting away the iPhone about once a year, for a couple of months of trying out the latest Android device. I do it mostly for work reasons to see how our various integrations behave on Android, but I’m also curious to see how Android is continuing it’s march of rapid innovation and improvement.

So I took a few notes the last couple of months, and then today saw this post, “Android is Better” – which I’m not sure I fully agree with the conclusion, but it offers up the best arguments I’ve seen on why you should give Android a second look if you haven’t tried it recently.

So go read that post, and then jump back for a few extra thoughts:

The Good:

  • I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (aka “Phablet“) from AT&T – after some words of encouragement by Peter Pham a couple of months back. The form factor is actually pretty awesome — it still fits in your pocket — and for maps, reading, and web browsing it’s pretty amazing VS an iPhone screen.
  • samsung-galaxy-note-2-xlI live in a Google world — google apps, voice, maps, contacts, docs, etc — and all of that stuff “just works” on Android.
  • On Android there is an app for everything including customizing the lock screen.
  • Apps are much more polished than they were a year ago.
  • Overall Android interface is faster and more responsive.
  • Notifications rock — you can reply to an email or tweet right from within the notification.
  • Little things like choosing which app runs a certain action is very liberating. Annoyed that on iOS it launches Apple Maps from various map links. On Android it asks for your preference, and you decide.

The Bad:

  • The new user experience was terrible compared to a pure Google device such as a Nexus4. AT&T loads up so many useless apps that it’s hard to know who actually uses them. I saw a wacky contact manager, a wifi app (why ?), AT&T Locker (no idea), AT&T Navigator (I’m a Waze guy), and more. Reminds me of Walt Mossberg’s craplets issue that still haunts PCs.
  • Can’t stand that the power button is on the right side of the phone. I nearly turn off the device 5 times/day by accident.  iPhone has the perfect button placement IMO, others should follow that model.
  • The device is still running Android 4.1.2 b/c Samsung hasn’t updated Android yet. That’s a problem.
  • Overall UI still feels about 80% polished compared to iPhone. Little things like the settings screen are intuitive on iOS, almost a throwaway on Android.
  • Couple of things I rely on don’t work – like Spotify working on AirPlay.

So what’s next ? Waiting to see what Apple rolls out in September, but also keeping an eye on The Google Play Edition phones, which are made by partners, but run pure Android. That Galaxy S4 looks like the phone to get if you are shopping for one right now.

Yona: An Open Source Restaurant

Yona is named after the Prophet Jonah, who escaped the prophecy and met the whale. He went into the sea at the precise location of the restaurant, the historic Jaffa port; the oldest functioning port in the world.

An open source restaurant, Yona offers complete transparency to its culinary magic: admire the chefs in action as they turn raw materials into delicious delectables. The food is exceptionally fresh thanks to excellent raw materials; the bread is baked on site, the yogurt and ricotta are homemade, and fresh salmon and meat are smoked in-house.

Cool to see their love of open source, but wished that their website used something like a Restaurant theme 🙂

Reblog: Israel’s Ethiopian beauty queen wows a stylish New York audience

Fascinating story:

“I am not putting an act,” she says, “I was head of the student council in my high school, I commanded over 90 soldiers in the army. You get a lot of experience, and with the experience comes the self-confidence”.


Tiger Global invests in Automattic

We shared some exciting news today that Tiger Global has made a $50mm investment in Automattic.

From our CEO Toni

Tiger Global has recently invested over $50M in Automattic secondary stock purchases. After many years of being backed by a great team of investors who have been with Automattic since the early days – Polaris Partners, True Ventures, Radar Partners, and the New York Times Company – Tiger has joined this illustrious group by purchasing shares from early Automattic investors and employees. Along with the on-going growth of WordPress (now powering over 18% of sites on the internet) and the amazing Automattic team (now over 170 employees), this investment is another milestone in our journey towards building a great company.

It’s noteworthy that Tiger has recently invested in companies like SurveyMonkey and Eventbrite, and before that companies like LinkedIn and Facebook. Those names provide a sense of how far Automattic has come and how we’re poised to enter an exclusive circle of successful software companies that are built to last.

And from our founder Matt:

Anyway, wanted to get in front of the news that will inevitably come out in the next week or two: there has been a large secondary transaction in Automattic stock, about $50M worth. “Secondary” means that it’s existing stockholders, like the earliest investors or employees, selling stock to another investor versus money going into the company (“primary”). It was led by Lee Fixel at Tiger Global, one of the behind-the-scenes quiet geniuses that has previously invested in SurveyMonkey, Facebook, LinkedIn, Palantir, Square, Warby Parker… Automattic is healthy, generating cash, and already growing as fast as it can so there’s no need for the company to raise money directly — we’re not capital constrained.

Plus always gratifying to see the reactions from our friends:

WordPress on Google App Engine

I’m at Google I/O right now and they just ran a demo of WordPress running on App Engine and using Jetpack to tweet out via the Publicize feature. Cool stuff:

UPDATE: here is the video of the session: