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Interesting Interview with Joel

Linked on main page.

Sharing some apparently "contrarian insights", though many of them are obvious really (perhaps I'm contrarian too).

One thing though, the article mentioned that FogBUGZ was the flagship product, but I thought CityDesk was.

It also mentioned that Fog Creek Software is an eight-person company, for those who may wonder how many people Joel has working for him.

Nemesis
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

That made an excellent read. Thanks a big bunch.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

now we know that there are around 8 employees.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

2 Observations:

====
Spolsky knows most marketing pros would tell him, "You're making an implicit deal with your readers. In return for the perceived value of your content, they should be giving you their contact information so you can capture them in your sales funnel and then follow up by telling them about your products."
====

He's talking about Don Peppers & Martha Rogers famous book whose name I forget right now.

====
"Everybody knows that Beta was better than VHS, right? At least the image was a little more clear. But it's not true. VHS held two hours instead of one, so you could store a whole movie on a single tape. And that's what people really wanted to do, and VHS did it for them."
====

I guess that's why when they designed CD's and DVD's they were determined to fit a symphony on a CD and a movie on a DVD. That's why CD's are 74 minutes or whatever.



Good stuff, it's sort of "Joel Lite" but I guess it's fun to rehash old ideas for new audiences.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Wake up and smell the coffee people.  The whole thing is a big marketing scheme.  I can't believe you people jump on the bandwagon so easily.  The last few questions are purposely aimed at marketing FogBugz.  Sheesh... You people make me sick.  I would never in a million years buy one of Joel's products.  I would never in a million years sign up for Joel's mailing list.  Where do you think this guy gets ideas for his articles?  From what he reads.  You and I give him those ideas from his discussion board.  Most of the stuff is just plain obvious.  Use source control.  Give people their own offices.  Choose to grow slow or fast...  No f'ing shit.

Give me a break people.  The guy is good at writing and preying on geeks who "need direction".  Get off the bandwagon and think for yourself.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Troll!

Chris Peacock
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Well actually, he's pretty much correct.  Although, he's not saying anything that isn't obvious.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The interview mentioned 'Joel's flagship' products, I was wondering, 'to Joel' or anyone else, everyone thinks that the Joel software team is a great group with a great leader, the best of the best and the products are pretty good, I wouldnt know; but, are there any plans for expanding your product base, maybe going tackling enterprise software(a .NET framework? or J2EE framework?) or the next 'web-browser' or email client?

Or are you guys focused on your core products and that is that?

Berlin Brown
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Muppet - Joel has a business to run - to say that he uses all aspects of his business to improve his bottom line is normal in business, there is nothing wrong with that.  For the previous posting to refer to such tactics as 'preying on geeks' sounds to me like a troll.  Of course, I could be wrong, the guy could just be stupid.

Chris Peacock
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Chris,

Absolutely!  Of course Joel should use all the tools available him.  I wasn't saying otherwise.  I was just saying that the above poster had it correct.  What he says is exactly what Joel is doing.  Of course he's preying on geeks, they're his bread and butter.  The same way I'm going to be preying on some pork chops when I go home tonight.

If you read into my comment that I felt what Joel is doing is malicious, then I'm sorry, I didn't intend that at all.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"The whole thing is a big marketing scheme."

And? The article is *about* marketing. Sheesh. Do yourself a favor & never read one of Ogilvy's books. Or Malcolm Gladwell's, or Douglas Rushkoff's or ...

At this rate, you'll never read anything anyone writes because everyone is selling SOMETHING.

"Don't read that dustjacket, can't you see it's just marketing hype for that book you're holding!"

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Muppet - pork chops, hmmmm...

Chris Peacock
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Everyone is selling something, be it a physical thing, ethereal thing, ideology or otherwise, every day, all the time.

<manInBlack>Anyone who says differently is selling something.</manInBlack>

Greg Hurlman
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

>> I guess that's why when they designed CD's and DVD's they were determined to fit a symphony on a CD and a movie on a DVD. That's why CD's are 74 minutes or whatever. <<

The reason why CDs are 74 minutes long is that one of the original Philips engineers was a big fan of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and the Von Karajan performance that he liked was exactly that long.

(still have my Sony CDP-101 from 1983 stashed in the back of a closet)

example
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

> Of course he's preying on geeks, they're his bread and butter.  The same way I'm going to be preying on some pork chops when I go home tonight

Implying that pork chops are, in fact, bread and butter? If that is so then just buy bread and butter, it is cheaper.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

But, I prefer pork chops.

Arnold
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I read the interview.  To me, this is what it implies:
To be a successful ISV:

1.  Know and understand your target market very well.
2.  Establish a presence on the web that communicates in a personal way to that market.
3. Build a quality product.
4. Make sure that everyone that you communicate to is aware of the existence of the product.
5. (and this is probably the most important) Grow your presence to be one of the top 100 most heavily trafficked web sites with respect to your target market.

Most smart people are probably capable of 1-4, though it may be a lot of hard work.  In my opinion, however, step 5 requires a lot of luck.  Am I wrong?

ken
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Recently I bought a dvd recorder and I started passing vhs tapes to dvd after I finished I started with beta tapes from way back then.

It amazes me that the beta tapes have a lot better image quality despite being older and they are three and a half hours long too.

Andres
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Have you played teh beta tapes as often as your VHS tapes?  Might be just media aging there.

Greg Hurlman
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The part I do not get is: "He won't reveal his total sales or installed base, so as not to encourage any more copy-cat startups—it's happened before. But he says his accountant calls the eight-person company "ridiculously profitable." "

I guess Joel assumes that "rediculously profitable" does not have that same trigger appel as "!!!ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!!", right?

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

example:

It was probably Sony President Norio Ohga that determined the length of the CD.

http://www.snopes2.com/music/media/cdlength.htm

Yoey
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

There are plenty of symphonies that still don't fit on one CD.  Some of us are still waiting for the industry to get its act together and come out with the DVD-audio standard.

Keith Wright
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Keith -

keep holding your breath.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

thanks Andres, I just don't understand these people who keep saying beta was limited to 1 hr. I guess they never saw a beta machine and just like to talk out of their ass.

Fred Burns
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I'm actually wondering if the "interview" happened at all and is not an example of what is referred to in the "interview"  - a jpurnalist quoting Joel and then claiming he held an interview with him.

There is nothing in the 'interview" that is not available on the web site.

And as for the idiot who suggested all Joel is doing is copying the ideas others give, he would do well to look through the archives. Most of the articles are before the ideas arise in the forums, not after.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I don't think anyone said that ALL he's doing is stealing ideas from his forums, but I think you'd be a fool to think he doesn't mine the forum here or elsewhere for ideas.  That's market research, baby.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"And as for the idiot who suggested all Joel is doing is copying the ideas others give, he would do well to look through the archives."

Well, Yes, Joel is mostly borrowing for other ideas.

The thing is, very few people on this list would _read_ competitive strategy, and "It Doesn't Matter", and the practice of management by drucker, and tog on design, and marketing books, and peopleware, and blah blah blah blah.

Sure, some of us would read a few of these books.  But mostly, this audience wants the entire 6-book subject summed up into a nice, In-Context, pre-digested 3-4 page article that's well-written and not boring.

That's a service joel provides.  Watts Humphries says X, Kent Beck says Y, Micheal Jackson the methodologist says Z, steve McConnell says A.  Somebody needs to do some analysis and draw some conclusions.

He's good at it.  He's got credibility.  He writes well.

That's a pretty darn winning package. 

And every now and again, he comes up with an iceberg secret that leans more toward original than borrowed.  Those innovations alone make him rare.

JMHO. 

www.xndev.com (Matt H.)
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Beta was not better, if better is not what your customers want.
Any marginal superiority in image quality was more than compensated by the other factors.

Here is what Margolis and Liebowitz have to say about it. They get money from MS and they are using the argument to back up MS against the DOJ, but on this, as opposed to the example of the Dvorak keyboard, they are quite right.

http://wwwpub.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/cato.html


Beta-Vhs

The second most popular example of how markets allegedly get locked-in to poor standards is the Beta-VHS videorecorder format struggle. It is sometimes claimed that Beta was a better format and that VHS won the competition between formats only because it fortuitously got a large market share early on in the competition with Beta. But this story turns out to be just as inaccurate as the keyboard story.

In 1969 Sony developed a cartridge-based videorecorder, the U-matic, which it hoped to sell to households. Since other companies had such products in the works, Sony invited Matsushita and JVC to produce the machine jointly and to share technology and patents, which they did. Sony hoped by this behavior to achieve a standard, which indicates considerable foresight on the part of the market participants. But the U-matic was not a success.

In the mid-1970’s, Sony developed the Betamax. Sony demonstrated the machine to Matsushita and JVC and disclosed technical details, hoping to establish a new set of agreements. Months later, when JVC demonstrated its new machine to Sony, Sony engineers concluded that JVC has expropriated their ideas. The resulting bitterness left Sony and Matsushita-JVC each to go their separate ways.

The only real technical difference between Beta and VHS was the manner in which the tape was threaded and, more importantly, the size of the cassette. Sony believed that a paperback sized cassette, allowing easy transportability (although limiting recording time to 1 hour), was paramount to the consumer, whereas Matsushita believed that a 2-hour recording time, allowing the taping of complete movies, was essential. The larger VHS tape meant that for any given state of the recording technology, VHS machines could provide longer playing time, or higher quality playback, or some combination of the two.

The behavior of the antagonists in this competition is a wonderful example of forward-looking behavior. They used partnerships, advertising, pricing and any other tool at their disposal. The behavior was nothing like the passive adoption story that the theoretical models of lock-in present.

In an attempt to increase market share, Sony contracted to have its Beta machines sold under Zenith’s brand name, a highly unusual move for Sony, and licensed the format to Toshiba and Sanyo. To counter this move, Matsushita allowed RCA to puts its name on VHS machines and brought Hitachi, Sharp, and Mitsubishi into its camp. Sony slowed down tape speed to increase its playing time to two hours; VHS did the same and increased playing time to four hours. RCA radically lowered price and came up with a simple but effective ad campaign: "Four hours. $1000. SelectaVision." Zenith responded by lowering the price for its Beta machine to $996.

The market’s referendum on playing time versus tape compactness was decisive and rapid. Beta had an initial monopoly for almost two years. But within six months of VHS’ introduction in the US, VHS was outselling Beta. These results were repeated in Europe and Japan as well. By mid 1979 VHS was outselling Beta by more than 2 to 1 in the US. By 1983 Beta’s world share was down to 12 percent. By 1984 every VCR manufacturer except Sony had adopted VHS.

Not only did the market not get stuck on the Beta path; it was able to make the switch to the slightly better VHS path. Although Beta was first, VHS was able to overtake Beta very quickly. This, of course, is the exact opposite of what path dependence theory predicted: that the first product to reach the market is likely to win the race even if it is inferior to later rivals.

Now listen to the version of this story found in Brian Arthur’s work:

Both systems were introduced at about the same time and so began with roughly equal market shares . . . . Increasing returns on early gains eventually tilted the competition toward VHS: . . . if the claim that Beta was technically superior is true, then the market’s choice did not represent the best outcome.

The story is little more than an inaccurate anecdote. The elevation of poorly researched anecdotes to the category of ‘proof’ for narrowly constructed theories reappears in the current discussions surrounding Microsoft, as shown below.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

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