Saturday, October 09, 2010

Criterias to review a job opportunity

Entrepreneurs review business opportunities, VCs review investment opportunities and talents review job opportunities. Let's focus on the last one as we're all often concerned by it.

I've identified 4 factors in order to drive a job acceptance decision.
They're for sure relevant to me, as probably to any passionate individual trying to do great things.

1. Opportunity Impact :
Is the company on the right strategic opportunity?
Is customers satisfaction good enough to enable growth?
Does the company have enough cash to run?
Does your role give you the opportunity to make / activate a difference.

2. Passion
Do you have passion for what's the company is trying to deliver?
Are you a natural customer of it or of its ideal execution?
Will you feel proud of its brand?

3. People
Will you find the right emulation within the company?
Do you have a strong desire to actually work with 75% of the people you met during the interviews? Is there a clear learning opportunity?

4. Money :
Does the offer meet your financial requirements to achieve your personal plans?

Accept the offer the job if you can reply positively to all those points, meaning that they are satisfied already, can be turned as satisfying by you or your boss (his focus day to day focus should be clear to you).

Hope this will help you as it helped me,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spotify free offer. It's "over"

Awaited. logic.

Probably under investors preasure, Spotify needs to demonstrate that they can convert prospects into paying customers. Today they restricted their free offer to 20 hours streaming per month which seems like a trial only option.

Advertising supported music is dead
Advertising supported music is well dead as predicted by all experts. With the imminent launch of a streaming version of iTunes, things are getting more and more serious.

Will the Unlimited offer be successful?
If the Premium offer is fairly convincing for iPhone and android users, I have huge doubts about the unlimited offer forcing free users to pay 5 pounds per month to continue what they were doing before (now with an ad free experience). We'll see, after all, 5 pounds is what I dreamed the pricing to be before I got my iPhone and went for the Premium offer.

Let's see what comes out of this :)

Btw today there is yet another big band giving out their full album streaming for free on Myspace.

Have a cool week,


Thursday, April 22, 2010

The unsexy truth behind online music revenues

It's kind of crazy to see how it's turning really tough to generate fair money by selling your record. This study shows what the online music industry (in his current state) has to offer to an artist and it's not really sexy... Look at how many millions of Spotify streams you need to generate in order to get 1000 dollars...

Spotify is not gonna make people pay for the music itself
Recorded music doesn't worth that much. It's a free thing for people. Spotify, are definitely not gonna change that. The old business model of the music industry is clearly dead. And I don't even think they actually are trying to. Spotify is making people pay for a great listener experience which is different.

What's the role of the record now?
This doesn't mean people are not ready to pay, it just means they won't pay for the music itself. The remaining role of the record is just to build a fans base that will turn profitable with other business models.


Some artists do earn more money than this
Just as an example: Did dJs every tried to get their salary mainly selling records or streams of their records?
Not really, they offer their remix for free and play them in clubs, like a lot...

"Being a DJ, next to video game tester is probably the most easiest and overpaid job on the planet" James Murphy - LCD Soundsystem

By the way, this month 2 great bands, LCD Soundsystem and MGMT launched their new album on their own website, making it available for free, integrally. to everyone. This even before making it available on Spotify...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

10 entrepreneur mistakes I'll try to never reproduce

I knew 2010 was going to be a creative year and it seems I didn't lie to myself (so neither to you). I'm glad of few things I did well in the past but I also made loads of critical mistakes.

If I sometimes naturally avoided those errors, I still wanted to note them so it's always clear in my mind as I did make some of them twice or more. So here are some of the biggest errors I did while developing products and leading entrepreneurship projects. You can check the "Experience page" on to know more about what I did, acomplished, failed...

But for now let me give some lessons to ... myself!

1. Thinking too much about the potential versus current delivery.

You've got a vision, it's great Gregory, you know what you want your thing to become in the next years, but hey! Get real man, do you have what it needs? Not missing any resource? It's not about how many ideas you have, it's about how many you deliver.

2. Choosing the coolest language for my application (in that case, Ruby on Rails), which means taking the risk of not finding enough developer to deliver.

Activating a cool and talented developer is cool Gregory, securing your long-term product delivery is what you need.

3. Thinking that a developer can deliver in a timely manner just on his free time.

Even for the alpha version, your lead developer can't efficiently work on several codes within the same day Gregory. Find a solution for him to dedicate at least 3 full days a week on what you want him to develop.

4. Planning too optimistically or sometimes not planning at all.

Things always take longer than expected. Own your delivery, don't ask your developer to be accountable.

5. Thinking I can build a very ambitious product without any financial backing (and negligible personal capital investment).

Stop dreaming Gregory. Your development team needs to live just like you. Profitability will also take time to come.

6. Not being totally fearless

Doubts are fortunate, fear must be forbidden.

7. Trying to deliver the perfect thing on day 1

Start simple; iterate fast, you did it well few times.

8. Pushing bugs and issues back to the next day.

The longer you wait, the longer it will take to fix.

9. Not having a price.

This one is always a tough one cause your model always evolve in the first 2 years but make sure your business model is clear and ready to evaluate before dreaming your product roadmap.

10. Being too romantic about business & start-up dynamic.

Be 100% rational. Solve problems.

I think that's it.

Hope it will help you too,

As you know I'm also a musician, I play drums for several artists including a rock band called Dead Pirates. Let's a have watch of Wood, the first music video directed by Simon and our band leader / famous illustrator, McBess. We'll be playing in Roma for Magazine end of May, so I wanted to celebrate!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2010: Relaunching

Happy New Year to all of you. I'm starting 2010 on the right path and I wanted to let you know that I'm relaunching my personal site. I think 2009 was the less creative year I had this decade following an intense entrepreneurship project fail in 2008. 2010 is only one month old but already a lot different.


4 reasons to relaunch

Believe it or not but is a core asset to my career for 4 reasons:

1- Its production process helps me formalizing where I stand today and where I want to be tomorrow.
2- It delivers a clear and easy to read positioning story to its targeted audience.
3- It helps me to stay in control of my personal brand online including my seo results typing “Gregory Talon” in Google Search (not that I have anything to hide, but I realised that I would probably dismiss 80% of candidates after seeing their facebook profile so let’s show something smarter first when it comes to me)

and the more important that makes this relevant:

4- It generates numerous exciting opportunities per year.

On top of that it's a real pleasure to do. I don't even have to deal with 50 individuals during 18 months in a matrix organisation to deliver a new product experience. (day to day life at Yahoo!)


A polarizing & differentiating asset:

Running your personal brand online has always been quite polarizing. Some will criticize you. Some will think it's clever and brilliant. Some would say you're doing too much...
To me, creativity is just about performing actions that others wouldn't dare to perform.

This asset has been a core self-marketing tool that generated interesting opportunities for me the last 5 years. This is actually the 4th version and to me the smarter one to date. It's the landing experience of other actions I perform to get my objectives completed. It's just here to ensure the perception of my professional profile and to help me converting opportunities into actual exciting experiences.


As you know music is really important to me, so I wanted to "celebrate" this launch sharing this Spotify playlist with you. It's made of 30 tracks that influenced my music culture from Soul to Electronic music passing by Jazz, Rock and even some Fusion (hear music for musicians).

Hope you'll enjoy it.


Are you running something similar and want to share results?
How do you manage your professional identity online?
Did your personal site / blog generated profitable opportunities?

I'll try to allocate more time in 2010 to my blog, I didn't deliver much here in 2009. Still it has been a good SEO tool to keep "leopards" calling you ;)

Here is a track called "Leopard Tree Dream" from Giorgio Moroder. Probably one of his best tunes.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

Interesting talk about the existing gap between what science knows and what companies do to increase performance and reduce employees' turnover.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Product development doesn't sound well with Democracy

Today I wanted to take few minutes to write about something obvious (kind of...) but very difficult to apply in companies, especially big ones. Product development needs to be based on users' insights to meet a demand and reach a good level of satisfaction, but it should be excluding democracy!

First for the ones that don't know what Product development is, let's define it quickly:

"Creation of products with new or different characteristics that offer new or additional benefits to the customer. It may involve modification of an existing product or
its presentation, or formulation of an entirely new product that satisfies a newly defined customer want or market niche."
Business dictionary

"The overall process of strategy, organization, concept generation, product and marketing plan creation and evaluation, and commercialization of a new product"

I'm not very satisfied by those definitions actually, so let's try to do mine.
Product Development is a
sub part of Product Management,
Product Development is taking concepts and ideas to real experience (I mean real product or feature). In terms of task, a product development manager takes a value proposition and design the experience that deliver the expected value to the users. He has to write a Product Requirements Document and to evangelise it. Then he follows the production to make sure that what is released is 100% inline with the value proposition. 

Then a good product could be define as a product that delivers a good level of satisfaction in line with his specific value proposition. Just that! Nothing more! And that's what is difficult to do!

Because value proposition is formalised by a sentence that should remain the same  forever or at least be evolving very slowly with years. In opposition to this, users and colleagues formalise their demand differently with a slightly different balance of concerns about things that are not initially core to deliver your value proposition.

The execution of an idea has to be done rigorously with the minimum of distraction. Once you have insights of users, a product development manager should almost act as a dictator. He is the guard ensuring that the execution reflects perfectly the value proposition in every details.

Here is a good quote about this problem from Jeff Lash:
"However, product development is not a democracy. There is no voting, and if there was, not everyone would get a vote, and not all votes would be equal. While it may be tempting to structure an open process by which stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input and are given a level playing field, this is really an illusion and a disservice to the product manager. If everyone gets an equal vote, then why have a product manager at all? All you would need is someone to tally the votes."

Should a Product Manager act as a dictator in a company?
WoW that's probably hard for lot of people, but some of them succeed to do it right:
Steve Jobs as a great example is leading is product strategy and product development very closely. By this fact, it's probably very frustrating for his employees to work at Apple cause they must have a limited impact on product strategy. But at the end of the day, a product needs a clear long term direction that is reflected in every details, the more people are involved in product strategy decision, the less clear and durable strategy is likely to be.
I don't really know any exception to this. Maybe you do? 

Jeff is also saying:
"Product managers are responsible for what the product should do; do not attempt to absolve yourself from that responsibility by pushing decision-making back on to the product development team or a wider group. Good product managers are able to get input from all of the relevant players and use that information as basis for decisions. Not everyone will agree with your decisions all of the time, but if you do your job well, your decisions should be understood and respected."

And I would probably agree on everything except this :
"Product managers are responsible for what the product should do"
I think Product managers are responsible for what the product was, is and will be actually doing

The bigger the company is, the more charismatic the product manager needs to be!
Don't get me wrong, there is really cool product managers in start-ups but doing a good product in a start-up is an easy task compare to do it at Yahoo!, Google or
Ebay. (Please scope this sentence to Product Management, and forget about Finance issues). I would like to be in a start-up to stop having to argue all the times and take a clear lead. It would be so much easier!

Dave McDowell, one of my boss at Yahoo! told me one year ago: " there are many "true" ", he's right, each decision has its reasons that somehow may be logic, but I think there is only one relevant decision. And it's difficult to demonstrate it to everybody before actually be looking at results. When I'm not charismatic enough to do my job that well, I start to act as an hidden dictator, I enforce things without approval and to be able to show facts. You might think it's dangerous... Yes maybe, but if you can't take any risk, why being in business?

If there are too many deciders in your company, what about externalising Product Development?
Hum... If you need Product Strategy Consulting, you probably don't have the right product manager in your team. But there are more companies than good product managers, so consulting firms will probably have their place forever. Externalising the product development to one consultant (a product strategist) could be actually good to work on a totally new concept, but ask him to lead your Engineering and User Interface Design teams, to work in your office and talk to your users. If he's not directly involve in your actual production, the result is likely to be very disappointing even if the initial concept was the most relevant one.
Concepts, ideas are what you dream of, the product is what you are.
(This sentence is debatable depending of the industry so consider the branding as part of the product) 
Users don't dream forever! Someone has to be responsible of closing the gap and keep closing it during years.
Ideas are cool, but they are not real. If they don't get real, they are worth nothing.

Hope you enjoyed this one.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

If I was a VC I won't give any penny to...

Today I wanted to post about a though I had about Search and Online Communication BtoC markets. After 2 years of work on Yahoo! Mail and a previous experience in Search Area at Convera, something suddenly became very obvious to me:

If I was a VC today, I won't be likely to give any penny to a startup creating a BtoC Search engine or an advanced Webmail, especially if they tell me that their objective is to switch users from big providers... No matter how cool the product is in terms of features. Sorry for Ciul or others really cool and talented start-ups but I think that's actually right to say.

Some of you might think: "this guy is telling me S###" so let me explain.
Google search as Yahoo! Mail (or Gmail) are currently delivering a good level of satisfaction to more than 50% of online users worldwide.

What are the main expectations that Search and Webmail users share?
The service needs to be fast and reliable at anytime.

Just think about 2 situations:

- You're in a store, and you need to quickly check a product price online with your mobile before buying your next digital camera, you do a search and find out that your search engine site is currently down...

- You're late to take your eurostar, your booking reference is in your booking confirmation email, right in your inbox... You need it to get your ticket and take your train. You try to access your email with your Laptop at Saint Pancras station, your webmail is not accessible...

In both case, I'm pretty sure you'll be pissed off with your provider, and will probably churn at some point. Communication and search are two area where productivity and reliability becomes more and more essential. The day Ciul went on, ... their delivery was really poor... How many times did you see Google search having downtime?

As far as I remember, I've seen Google having a downtime one time only in close to 10 years, (maybe i missed some... or not). Note that even Google is not doing that great with Gmail reliability, they have large scale outages frequently.

Those markets will remain dominated by big players, cause you need the scale, a huge network and a terrific architecture to deliver the basics right. When a startup is innovating in that area in terms of features, bigs players just have to deploy the same idea to a far bigger scale.

If I don't see any opportunities for those kind of startups today, you could maybe get acquired if you do a very good user interface. That's probably your only chance to scale... You won't success without a big player infrastructure here.