Jomi Cubol

Design. Strategy. Leadership.

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Design is Asking Questions

Design is usually thought of as a problem-solving endeavor and about finding the best solutions given existing constraints. That is indeed true. But in my opinion high-level design also involves constantly asking questions.

They can range from the mundane to the really hard ones that we generally want to avoid. It’s being able to reevaluate our assumptions, reconsider our processes, and rethink the way we approach things.

Why? Because if we don’t ask questions, someone else will answer them for us. That can mean another company eating your market share because they dared to ask questions that were fundamental. That can mean a competitor inventing new solutions much faster because they dared to ask how they can make their organization move more efficiently. That can mean an entire market being disrupted because they optimized for their current roadmap and never even asked how things...

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The Evolution of User Experience and its Role in “Winner Take All” Markets

As software continues to eat the world, many aspects of product development have been uttered endlessly to the point of non-meaning. One of these terms is UX or user experience. It’s become so prevalent and common-speak especially in pseudo-tech circles that most people identify it as simply the behavior and emotion of a user’s interaction with an application. While there’s a certain degree of truth to that, it’s scope has been limited to questions like “Is the app onboarding confusing?” and “Is the app frustrating or delightful to use?”

While these are important for sure, in my opinion, these should be some of the last questions to consider. An app, or any product, is merely a tool for something else, namely, the job it’s hired to do. You can have the most delightful onboarding experience filled with flashy animations and fluid interactions and can still come up short on the essence...

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Resistance Is a Gift in Disguise

Fred Wilson via AVC:

I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur who didn’t get knocked down in the ring at least once or twice. I told him that you can read all you want and get all the advice and coaching that is available and you still will not learn the hard lessons that one has to learn to become best in class at what you do. I’ve come to the conclusion that you have to learn some things the hard way to really learn them well.

At the end of the breakfast, I congratulated him. Not so much on getting through a rough spot in his business, but for getting knocked down and getting back up and winning the round. Because that is what you have to do to get better in life and in business.

Personally, getting knocked down has taught me a ton. Sometimes the things that knock us over the hardest is ourselves—the inner voice of fear, uncertainty, and doubt when things get hard. But the thing to...

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Create New Things. Create The Future. Create It Today.

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, Palantir, and Founder’s Fund, on using human agency to build the future we want to see:

But no matter how many trends can be traced, the future won’t happen on its own. What the Singularity would look like matters less than the stark choice we face today between the two most likely scenarios: nothing or something. It’s up to us. We cannot take for granted that the future will be better, and that means we need to work to create it today.

Whether we achieve the Singularity on a cosmic scale is perhaps less important than whether we seize the opportunities we have to do new things in our own working lives. Everything important to us—the universe, the planet, the country, your company, your life, and this very moment—is singular.

Our task today is to find singular ways to create the new things that will make the future not just different, but better—to...

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What problem(s) do you want to solve?

Eevee, blogger and previously an engineer at Yelp, wrote a post-mortem post that struck a nerve in the tech scene titled “I quit the tech industry”:

It’s nothing to do with Yelp specifically. I just don’t care about Yelp’s problems, any more than I care about Uber’s problems or Yo’s problems or anyone else’s problems. They’re interesting for a while, but they’re also the same self-inflicted wounds everyone seems to deal with — why is this slow? why is this broken? how can we keep this old code limping along indefinitely without having to rewrite it? how does this thing a former employee wrote even work? They’re cute puzzles, and I can get into solving them for a while, but I don’t care about them. Because they aren’t my problems; they were just dumped in my lap, along with a canvas sack with a dollar sign on it. ?

To others, this may seem like an entitled position, but I completely...

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Don’t Follow Your Passion

Short and sweet graduation speech from Ben Horowitz, former CEO of Loudcloud/Opsware (bought by hp) and now general partner at venture firm Andreesen-Horowitz. The succinct yet effective speech is worth watching in full, but here are the key takeaways:

  • Don’t listen to your friends, or, Think for yourself. Everyone wants to be liked and the easiest way to be liked is to tell people what they want to hear, and what everyone wants to hear is what they already believe to be true. The last thing they want to hear is an original idea that contradicts their belief system. But when you think for yourself, and you happen to be right in what you believe to be true (that very few other people do), that is what creates real value in the world.

  • Don’t follow your passion, the world is not going to hell in a hand basket, and the class of 20__ is not required to save it. Passions are hard to...

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Microsoft reportedly buying to-do app Wunderlist

The Wall Street Journal:

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to acquire 6Wunderkinder GmbH, a Berlin-based startup behind the Wunderlist to-do list app, for between $100 million and $200 million, according to a person familiar with the deal.

Wunderlist is my to-do app of choice. I’ve bounced between so many productivity apps but always end up going back to the service I started using since they were featured on the App Store many years ago.

Seems like Microsoft is continuing their acquisition spree of awesome mobile apps, and Wunderlist is no different, and very much fit the portfolio of their recent buys in Accompli (branded to Outlook for mobile) and Sunrise.

I’ve been very bullish on Microsoft’s resurgence since last year, and am excited on how they will integrate these services to provide value to the overall Microsoft ecosystem. Hopefully they won’t shut down the product, as millions...

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Uber is Five Years Old

Travis Kalanick, Co-founder and CEO of Uber, in Five Years and 311 Cities Later:

In 2008, on a snowy night in Paris, Garrett Camp and I had trouble getting a cab. Garrett had this idea, “Why can’t we just tap a button and get a ride?”

Five years ago today, we launched Uber in San Francisco. Now more than 1 million drivers have provided hundreds of millions of rides and that simple question has transformed into a global transportation network available in 311 cities and 58 countries around the world.

Today, Uber was launched 5 years ago in San Francisco. Half a decade later, it’s practically impossible to envision a world without convenient transportation at a push of a button. It was made possible by the proliferation of mobile, and has risen to become one of the most controversial and disruptive companies of our generation. But love it or hate it, their growth and impact is nothing...

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The Role of Assumptions in the Theory of Disruption


Steven Sinofsky, former president of the Windows division in Microsoft and currently board partner at venture firm Andreessen-Horowitz, wrote about the theory of disruption using Blackberry’s fall against the iPhone as an example in his piece “Disruption and shoulda, woulda, coulda.”

Specifically, he makes the case that it’s much easier to recognize, deduce, and acknowledge it in hindsight, when really, it’s so much harder to do so in the thick of it. Blackberry rose to prominence by introducing smartphones that were perfect for business, and was subsequently adopted widely by consumers. However, all of its assumptions, from product, business, and technological standpoints that made it extremely successful was then shattered by a new product, in this case, the iPhone, gradually, then suddenly.

He explains the role of assumptions and how significant they are when introducing new...

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How will the Watch fair over time compared to the rest of Apple products?


Apple’s second quarter earnings came out today, posing a new Q2 record in total revenues at $58 billion at a year-over-year 27 percent revenue growth. And like last quarter, most of it—69 percent to be exact—can be attributed to the iPhone. Via Quartz:

iPhone shipments passed 61 million, the second-highest total ever. iPhone revenue represented 69% of Apple’s total sales, the same as in the December quarter.

Pretty insane that one product category can pose such dominating figures. That doesn’t even include their App Store business, which is growing 100 percent year-over-year on its own. It’s by power of sheer volume shipments combined with huge profit margins from each unit sold.

The question I’m entertaining is, having just launched a new product category in the Apple Watch, how might it fair in comparison to other Apple products in the long run? How many units will it sell over...

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