What’s New is Old

A few ideas bouncing around in my mind came into focus when I discovered a new blog yesterday and this post in particular. Nir Eyal writes about the shift from Web 1.0 to the Social Web to the Curated Web.  “The Curated Web is characterized by a fundamentally different value to users than the social web.  Whereas Web 1.0 was characterized by content published from one-to-many and social media was about easily creating and sharing content, from many-to-many, the curated web is about capturing and collecting only the content that matters, from many-to-one.” In an interesting juxtaposition.  Yesterday I also read Fred Wilson’s blog post about new media e.g. blogs overtaking traditional media.  This was a more far ranging, less structured, discussion but the group comments hit on many of the same ideas as Nir’s.

I have mixed feelings about this topic and the theory was not “sitting right” so as usual I was stewing on the subject.  Yes – I am consuming much of my content in a manner typical of the “Curated Web”…suggested by people I trust on email, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook but that is really just a subset of what I read.  It was Sunday when I was thinking about this and Sunday for me, if I’m lucky, means curling up for a good chunk of the morning with the NYTimes.  Yesterday was such a day – even in the remoteness of Kirkwood, CA my iPad had just enough data signal to get yesterday’s issue. Happiness – so much content I enjoy on topics ranging from politics to science to technology all in one place!  High quality Web 1.0 that is a fit with my tastes e.g. NYTimes, Economist, The Atlantic, WSJ plus the authors whose blogs I read regularly (blogroll ++) are as consistently satisfying and even more so than the “Curated Web”.  Perhaps it comes down simply to authorship.  There are authors whose content I want to read no matter the format.  I have enjoyed Thomas Friedman’s writing since “Beirut to Jerusalem” and read his books and columns regularly even though the reminder might come on Twitter.  Ditto for James Fallow, David Pogue, Dan Raviv, Joe Morgenstern, Andrew Harper etc. Certain topics come to me that way but not all.  I was trying to figure out the alignment – is it topical?

When I am looking for content on topics of my more recent interests such as leading a startup, VC fundraising, Women in Technology or the Cloud market I am finding myself in the more typical Web 2.0 pattern.  Perhaps this is because the content is more broadly distributed on the web leading me to appreciate more direction to it via curation.  Perhaps it is the nature of this content itself.  Interestingly, however, I find myself coming back full circle to identifying author’s whose content I like then subscribing – going directly to the source bypassing curation.  I’m curious if others are finding the same pattern and if/how it varies by type of content.

What do Good Housekeeping and Computerworld have in Common – SugarSync! Also known as the Consumerization of Enterprise IT

Consumerization of IT is a hot topic these days. First of all – what does this mean? There is no official definition but in the technology press there are a few important ideas. First is the use of consumer technologies within the company IT infrastructure. For instance, employees buying an iPhone – they purchased it and they own it, but they are using their personal device to manage their work email and perhaps other applications. This leads the enterprise IT manager to use tools and technologies to secure and manage applications on the consumer’s device. This is not just related to hardware – the same thing happens with software and particularly cloud applications like SugarSync.

On the other end of the spectrum, consumerization of IT means that traditional enterprise applications need to become more consumer friendly. The end-consumers of enterprise software have become accustomed to technology products being powerful AND easy to use. They are no longer willing to accept arcane user interfaces and slow inaccessible data. These consumers know better because they have experienced better in the consumer world and they are bringing these products, like SugarSync with them to work.

I can think of no better example of this trend then what I experienced on Thursday. Computerworld – one of the largest and most important enterprise IT periodicals did a head-to-head comparison of SugarSync, Dropbox and Box and (once again) we came out the winner! They gave Box a score of 3.5/5, Dropbox a score of 4/5, and SugarSync a score of 4.5/5. The reporter confirms that after using all three, SugarSync is what he personally uses now. Here’s the link to the full review: http://bit.ly/yiNuQL

Then on the same day Good Housekeeping (which gets over 8 million unique views per month online) wrote an article explaining what the Cloud is. At the end of the article, they recommend SugarSync to their readers as the “Full-Featured” option. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/yocB3G.

It doesn’t get much more “IT” than Computerworld nor much more “consumer” then Good Housekeeping. It’s awesome to be right in the sweet spot of this convergence.

Your Computing Devices Come and Go, Your Data is Forever: Ten Tips for Using the Cloud

My second post as guest blogger on Forbes.com as first appeared at: http://blogs.forbes.com/laurayecies/    

You may be one of the millions of people who purchased a new tablet or upgraded your smart phone or computer recently. Now you need to migrate all your data to your new device. You also want to make sure you have access to all the same information – your most recent versions – regardless of which device you are on, and that your digital data is secure.  Enter the Cloud.   The Cloud is a hot topic these days, in part because it makes solving these access and security issues so easy.

With the Cloud, your entire library of work and personal files are available to you at a moment’s notice. If you’ve got an Internet connection, you’ve got a mobile office. Just log on to your Cloud service from any device and you’re good to go. And if you don’t have an Internet connection, you can work offline and rest assured that everything will be synced automatically the next time you connect.

And since devices come and go, and crashes happen, the importance of an automatic, continuous, real-time backup for all of your files is of paramount importance in today’s world.

So whether you’re already enjoying the benefits of the “Cloud” or not, here are ten tips to get you started or to improve your experience:

  1. Choose a Cloud service compatible with PC and/or Mac, iPhone, Android, Blackberry Operating systems. The Cloud is about making sure you have access to your digital data. You may change your mind over time as to what type of device you want to use or you may add new devices to your portfolio. Be sure to choose a cloud service that has software for ALL the devices you might use – PC and/or Mac, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.

Read the rest of the article here.

Cloud Going Mainstream

I know it’s been said before but I do believe that this really is the year – the tipping point – for the cloud to go mainstream.

My “aha” moment was last week.  I was invited to be on two local TV shows – one here in San Francisco, one in Phoenix.  For both the topic was basically about organizing your digital life using the cloud.  This is the time of year for New Years resolutions about getting organized so timing is perfect for that topic.  The reality is that the cloud is an excellent tool to help people get organized (more on that in another post)

But back to the “aha” – it occurred last week when I was in the studio for the filming.  It was the 3:00 show 7Live hosted by Brian Copeland.  Here’s how they describe themselves.  “We take an unconventional look at the news that has people talking including tech, pop culture, entertainment and politics.”   The topics that preceded me were Iowa Caucus results, marriage proposal on the jumbotron at the UCLA game, and a dating service.  I was followed by a live a cappella group.  Watching all of this in the studio it hit me that others are seeing the cloud not just for the tech nerds (like me) but for them including the most non tech nerd daytime TV demographic.  It was great to hear my non-techie friends that tuned in react to the show.  They are going to try it.  After all – they have the key ingredients – devices and data.

My interview from KGO is posted here

We are now pitching SugarSync for more of these shows and the response has been enthusiastic – I’ll keep this blog updated but I will be interviewed live next week on shows in Sacramento, Chicago and Dallas.

Cloud Alone v. Cloud + Laptop

This last week I had an interesting experiment with the sufficiency of the cloud.  Somehow, in the rush of packing up for our road trip to Orange County I managed to forget my laptop at home.  I suppose one of the downsides of having such a light laptop (Macbook Air) is that its absence is not palpable and I didn’t notice until we had driven too far to go back home.  I figured it wasn’t a big deal, I had my smartphone, my iPad and access to many other computers – Steve, Margot and Adam all had their laptops with them and since we are on vacation they would not need them most of the time.  I could access my work email via webmail and all my files would be available to me using SugarSync.  This was a good test of the cloud to get work done.

What work did I need to do? SugarSync was officially on vacation this week but our board meeting just recently got moved up from second to first week of January.   The first board meeting of the year is when we review our annual operating plan – this is an important meeting and Peter (our CFO) and I were finalizing the detailed financial model and operating plans.  These are relatively complex documents – linked spreadsheets, presentations etc.

The main problem with my plan arose with the internet connectivity.    We were staying in a wonderful hotel on the Newport coast – there was wifi but it was very slow (or at least slow when divided by the holiday quota of guests).  My connectivity backup 4g mifi was slow as well – forget 4g and 3g was limited.  So bottom line I could work using the browser but very very slowly.    Similarly, accessing my spreadsheet and presentation documents from SugarSync was doable but painfully slow.

By contrast when Todd brought my laptop 2 days later that same limited connectivity was much less of a problem.  Email would upload and download in the background.  Ditto for the files in the folders I was sharing with Peter.  I could work on my files and email with the speed of local data – the cloud was there powering my laptop but I didn’t have to wait every time I clicked and wanted to open a file or email.

My conclusion from this experience was that while the cloud and internet access enabled me to function without my laptop I could work much more efficiently and enjoyably with it.  Perhaps this is why we are not yet seeing rapid adoption of Chromebook style computers.

Another Reason I Love Technology

I mentioned on this blog the other day that our friend Gary Lauder’s mother Evelyn Lauder passed away last Saturday.  In keeping with the Jewish tradition, the funeral happened quickly – in this case Monday morning.  As much as I wished I could be there (New York) it was not logistically feasible for me to go.  I wasn’t worried so much about disappointing Gary and Laura, I believed that they would understand and I was heartened to know that there would be many many loved ones there to support them.  But nonetheless I felt badly about not going.  I sent a condolence note Sunday night and when I woke up Monday there was an email from Laura saying that the service would be webcasted.  I immediately logged on and lo and behold on my screen was the beautiful Central Synagogue sanctuary.  There was 30 minutes until the starting time and it was already filling up.

I watched and heard the introductory music then Gary’s brother William and his children spoke.  I then switched to the dial-in as it had better audio and I found it easier to concentrate.

I knew from meeting her that Evelyn was an extraordinary person and had a tremendous impact on the world.  But my brief encounters with her were much more prosaic – I met the ebullient, loving, beaming Jewish grandmother, “kvelling” at her grandchildren’s events.  I loved learning more about her – the funny familial stories, her impact on breast cancer research and her incredible personal support for patients and especially the “career woman” and wedding planning stories.  I felt transported to the set of “Mad Men” listening to Leonard’s description of Evelyn and their office in the late 50’s.  But most importantly to me I was able to hear Gary, Laura, Josh and Eliana’s poignant remarks.  I am so glad that in the future of our friendship when Evelyn and even this service comes up, even though I wasn’t there in person, I will be able to remember and understand what happened at this event.  Who would ever have imagined technology helping us in this way.

Freedom from time and space – courtesy of the cloud

I started my first full-time job as “Government Channel Manager” on May 16, 1988 working for Informix.  I had just finished my MBA program the prior Friday.  Steve (my husband) and Derek (2.5 years old) packed up our apartment’s few possessions and met me in California a few days later.  I was pregnant with our second son Todd, due on June 24.  Yes, my first boss (George Billman to whom I will be eternally grateful) hired me at 8 months pregnant (more on that in a future blog).  Suffice it to say I worked at Informix for 6 years in a variety of roles.

It is incredible how much has changed since then.  At Informix we were heavy email users (very modern of us using a program called “Elm”) but in 1988 we didn’t have laptops.  Nor internet access at home.  No cell phone.  Bottom line, if I had work to do, I pretty much needed to do it at my office.  If I had to leave the office for a doctor’s appointment for one of my boys, I was out of touch for that hour or two.  If I didn’t finish my work by dinnertime, too bad, I needed to be in the office during the evening and miss that time with the boys.  I was lucky to live only a few miles from Informix’s headquarters so I could do a bit of back and forth if I needed to work late, but for the most part I was tethered to the office in those early years to get most of my work done.

By my last two years at Informix, I had a cell phone and a MacSE that I would bring home and I could connect to the network over slow dialup.  I got my first laptop while at Gupta.  By the time I got to Netscape in 1997 laptops and internet connectivity from home and while travelling were the norm.  The ability to leave work in time to have dinner with my children, give them their baths or help with homework (depending on age) and then finish my work after they went to bed (I’m a night owl anyhow) was transformative.  It was rare that the work couldn’t wait a few hours until my kids got to bed, but they couldn’t stay up late waiting for me to get home from work.  The parenting window of opportunity is already narrow for a working parent – being able to time and location shift allows us to maximize that narrow window.

I got my first Blackberry in 2003 and iPhone in 2008.  Now I am almost never without some sort of mobile device be it an app phone or tablet.  Using the power of the Cloud combined with these devices, there is almost no project that I can’t make progress on anywhere, including at a high-school lacrosse game!  Of course there is no substitute for being with coworkers face-to-face (and at SugarSync working as part of the team in the office is an important part of our culture) but for those special moments for our children, it is easier to be there because of the Cloud.  Of course there is the insidious side – am I really there at the event if I’m checking the device?  All I can say is for me it is a net positive, I know that I can be at events I otherwise would have to miss due to today’s technology.  It is up to me to be mindful of managing the distraction and being as present as possible for my kids.

Those of us in the daily juggle of balancing work and family are lucky to have these technologies to help us.  This is one of the main reasons I was so excited to build SugarSync – it is a technology I use constantly to help with my everyday life.