The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Coffee talk: Adrian Cockcroft, technology fellow at Battery Ventures — November 15, 2015

Coffee talk: Adrian Cockcroft, technology fellow at Battery Ventures

Adrian Cockcroft has enjoyed a long career working at the leading edge of technology, having helped Sun Microsystems, eBay, and Netflix build and scale their systems. When he’s not serving as a Technology Fellow at Battery Ventures, he writes and speaks extensively about a range of subjects, including his fascination with what comes next. We talked with Adrian about keeping up with technology trends, what makes something intuitive, and which innovations that have surprised him during the last decade.

How did you get to where you are today?

I started out wanting to know how everything worked and got a Physics degree in London. After, I wrote software for a living until I joined Sun Microsystems and spent my time there explaining how Suns worked to customers. I moved to the USA and wrote a few books in the 1990’s including Sun Performance and Tuning. I spent time at eBay learning about large scale web services and moved to Netflix as they launched streaming in 2007. In 2010, I became the cloud architect for Netflix and started explaining cloud-native architecture to everyone else. In 2014, I moved to Battery Ventures to help find interesting companies to invest in and help our portfolio companies scale.

You’re speaking about complex technology at this year’s upcoming YOW! Conference in Australia. What about the event are you most looking forward to?

I attended YOW! 2013 and found that unlike most conferences, the speakers at YOW! Conference travel as a group from Melbourne to Brisbane to Sydney and really get to know each other.
brisbaneThere is also an opportunity to evolve and tune the content, as well as its presentation. I’m really looking forward to hearing new things and making new friends.

Tell us: how do you define something as ‘complicated’?

Complicated things have lots of moving parts and relationships between them, which are initially confusing to try and understand.

In contrast, what makes technology intuitive?

When we have a mental model for how something should work it becomes intuitive, we can manipulate it and the behaviors become more predictable.

How are complicated and intuitive related, if at all? Is there a specific use case you often share to explain the relationship between the two?

Things that start off looking complicated can be learned over time by individuals and groups of people so that they eventually become intuitive. For example, driving a car is very complicated, not only controlling the vehicle, but navigating roads and around other drivers, but it has become intuitive to many people.

You’ve done some incredible work at well-known companies during your career. What, if any, innovations have surprised you?

When Apple released the initial iPhone, it wasn’t a surprise, but the quality of the user interface experience was so deeply intuitive that it surprised everyone.

I saw a two year old using one of the first iPhones, and that was the inspiration for a hack-day project I did at Netflix to create a Netflix for Kids on iPad demo.

This helped the real Netflix for Kids product get started.

What’s the most challenging part about keeping up with your rapidly changing industry?

I’m constantly exposed to new people and ideas, so the challenging part is to figure out which ideas are going to take off, and which will fade away.

What other industry events, courses, and reading do you enjoy?

YOW! Connected, a conference for developers, by developers

I focus on two kinds of events: developer and DevOps oriented conferences that discuss and communicate the state of the art, like the GOTO conference series, DevOps Days, Monitorama and Gluecon; and management oriented events like CIO summits where my focus is on how to setup an organization to be innovative.

To keep up with the latest news, I use Twitter and listen to podcast interviews with interesting people e.g. SE Radio, The Cloudcast dot Net, The New Stack.

Where can we find you online?

Find me on Twitter @adrianco.

Last, how do you like your coffee?

I love cappuccino.

YOW Connected! is a conference for developers, by developers. Learn more about Adrian’s upcoming panel and register for this year’s event here.

Coffee talk: Danny Fiorentini, music-making creative and founder of Muzeek — August 21, 2015

Coffee talk: Danny Fiorentini, music-making creative and founder of Muzeek

A gut-follower and passionate creative, Danny Fiorentini chased his dream to Sydney where he co-founded Muzeek, beautiful software that’s changing the way artists and venues book live shows. Here, we talk with Danny about his journey, making music, and what it takes to build a great product.

How did you get to where you are today?

A whole lot of hard work, instant coffee, and ramen noodles. My team today is the hardest-working group of people I’ve ever been around, so it’s really a pleasure to come to “work” every day.

You followed your gut and moved from the United States to Australia to chase a dream. What advice do you give to people looking to do the same?

Well, the initial move to Sydney was for some personal inspiration, growth and a need to explore a bit more. Australia’s creative talent is through the roof, so I was initially looking to expand our indie-record label (that we dumped all of our student loans into) while going to graduate school on the side. I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time, but knew I wanted to step away from my comfort zone and figure out what dream I was actually chasing within the industry.

I had been on the artist side, then production side, eventually followed by the label/manager side. Meanwhile, I found myself just wanting to go back to creating cool stuff behind the scenes – like when my brother and I first started making music. Moving to Sydney made me realize I needed to focus and go back to building & creating again, rather than just managing people. 

My personal advice for anyone chasing anything is to step away from your current perspective and try to see things from the outside-in. Focus on what you’re truly great at doing; if it’s something you love, you’ll never need any other reason to get up in the morning and make it happen.

What inspired you to create Muzeek?

Several things went into it, but mostly the idea of creating something valuable for the industry as a whole. I’ve used so many music-related platforms, but I felt like the industry was missing an integral component to live tech. Obviously the idea of technology and booking isn’t a new one, but I certainly felt the way it was approached was never done correctly. I really wanted to help contribute to the industry in a meaningful way.

Admittedly, the Internet’s evolution in general probably wouldn’t have permitted this platform to exist 10, even 5 years ago. I think it’s a combination of luck, timing and opportunity.

The biggest inspiration now is our user feedback. The team stays motivated just knowing we’re solving a real problem that’s gone unnoticed for so long. 

Why should someone opt to use Muzeek?

The platform will drastically reduce operational costs, automate a lot of the tedious stuff that bogs a booker down, surface valuable data that people currently miss out on, and above all, create a sense of transparency within a team that allows everyone to work much more efficiently.

We want to become the operating system someone has always wanted, but never knew was possible. We’ve focused meticulously on the details. We’ve approached this platform with an entirely fresh set of ideas about what live music booking needs, what it’s been missing, and how technology can remove 75% of the unnecessary manual tasks that take so much valuable time.

How do you attract attention from venues, bookers, and artists? What’s been your biggest challenge while building Muzeek?

Our users really attract the attention for us; as they all send out booking confirmations to new people, and those actions introduce Muzeek to new users. Because of this, we focus on making our existing users incredibly happy. We want each new person who comes into contact with Muzeek to be equally stoked.

The biggest challenge, by far, has been keeping up with customer demand — a good problem to have. Our team was absolutely blindsided by the amount of feedback from customers, so we tripled our development team to keep up. Luckily, most of the feature requests were already on our roadmap — we just needed to work faster.

You clearly love and live music, having previously co-founded Outbox Records. Which artists do you have on repeat now?

MuzeekI’m a big Tame Impala fan, so I’ve been on that new Currents album for a bit. Plus the Mark Ronson stuff is awesome — I was lucky enough to catch them live last month. I also think ODESZA is the best electronic music out right now. Their originality blows me away with every release. Other recent plays include Pond, Joey Bada$$, 20syl, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, The Walking Who, and our very own Prof3ssor Blue.

Where can we find you in Sydney?

Usually in Bondi avoiding sharks, or our offices in Surry Hills. Wherever it is, there’s a laptop in front of me!

Last, how do you like your coffee?

I don’t know how she does it, but my girlfriend makes the best instant coffee on Earth. She gets that milk-to-coffee ratio perfect every time. It’s definitely an art!

10 online/offline communities taking the globe by storm — July 17, 2015

10 online/offline communities taking the globe by storm

Digital communities can be just as powerful as real-life ones, bringing together like-minded people to share knowledge and create change. Today’s brightest communities make use of all channels to be exceptionally engaging:

  1. TED
    Renown for TED Talks, this nonprofit is dedicated to sharing ideas and sparking conversation. From science to global issues, community members can reap the benefits of powerful ideas in more than 100 languages.
  2. Creative Mornings
    People in 117 ‘creative cities’ participate in a monthly breakfast with a short lecture, covering topics like music, design, and new technology. The offline meetups offer members a chance to learn something new while meeting like-minded peers.
  3. Travel Massive
    Travel Massive counts travel industry insiders, leaders and innovators in more than 95 global cities, hoping to connect insiders and empower change in travel. Community members meet, learn and collaborate at events all over the world, helping move the mission forward.
  4. Responsive Org
    In-person meetups take place from Brussels to Brisbane, bringing together those interested in creating a fundamental shift in the way we work and organize in the 21st century. Examples of Responsive Organizations that fit the Community’s manifesto include Google and Tesla.
  5. Social Media Club
    Founded nearly ten years ago, Social Media Club remains one of the world’s most digitally connected communities with a mission to expand digital media literacy and promote standard technologies. Knowledge transfer happens at meetups, which take place at events that range from ‘Content and Coffee’ to ‘Happy Hour with Chipotle.’ Membership levels range from educational to professional, offering flexibility for anyone interested in joining the Club.
  6. Girl Geek Dinners
    Breaking down “old fashioned stereotypes” is no easy feat, but Geek Girl Dinners is intent to do so by empowering women (and men) to talk about their experience and knowledge in the technology industry — over a fun dinner! Founded in the UK, Geek Girl Dinners hopes to make technology accessible for anyone, ditching outdated myths about women and young people in the field along the way.
  7. Startup Grind
    More than 200,000 entrepreneurs take part in shaping this incredible global community, which counts local chapters in 175 countries. Designed to educate, inspire and connect founders and creators through events and discussions, Startup Grind continues to grow and thrive by attracting the best and brightest.
  8. Product Hunt
    Product enthusiasts around the world delight in reading about the latest and greatest gadgets and innovations, surfaced daily by Product Hunt. Hailed as a ‘must read’ for those in technology and startups, the site has amassed a cult-like following in a few short years.
  9. PassionPassport
    Writers and photographers make up this passionate traveling community, created for sharing tales of completed trips and sights seen. An impressive Instagram feed boasts more than a quarter million followers, with photos garnering tens of thousands of likes along with countless comments. Contests encourage friendly competition, but members remain consistently supportive and inspired by one another.
  10. SoulCycle
    Sweating it out is serious business for SoulCycle riders who attend class in more than 30 global cities. The philosophy in each location is the same, inspiring riders to be strong and give them confidence and courage for personal and professional endeavors. Community is at the heart of what SoulCycle does, and its rides are at the center of many friendships.

What, if any, other communities belong on the list? We’d love to learn about them in the comments.

3 reasons to level up your programming skills — March 23, 2014

3 reasons to level up your programming skills

This is a sponsored post from our friends at General Assembly London.

web_dev

There was a time when computer nerds were seen as misfits (watch the 1984 movie ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ if you don’t believe me). These days, that characterization couldn’t be further from the truth. Programmers, computer engineers, and data scientists are hailed as leaders in the business, technology, and design communities.

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Event Review: LeWeb London 2013 — June 17, 2013

Event Review: LeWeb London 2013

On the 5th and 6th of June Damon Klotz from The Fetch Community Ambassador team in London went along to LeWeb London to learn all about impact that the sharing economy is having on the world. 

3D printing pens and Loic Le Meur taking photos using Google Glass.
3D printing pens and Loic Le Meur taking photos using Google Glass.

LeWeb visited London for the second time in 2013 bringing together start-ups, entrepreneurs, venture-capitalists and the technorati from around Europe and beyond for two days to talk about the sharing economy. With my press pass in hand I was ready for an action packed two days to learn and hear from companies such as Airbnb, Yelp,  Etsy, Google Campus, Taskrabbit and Burning Man to name a few.

Day one and day two have both been covered in detail by a range of different media outlets and all the videos from the talks can be found online here. So rather than just repeat what you can find elsewhere I decided to sum up my favourite talks into tweetable quotes and bring them all together to highlight some of the key themes from the two days.

Day One 

What conditions are required in your business to collaborate and share.

Ideas can come from anywhere. But an idea is worth pursuing if you’re married to the idea and you know that in 10 years time you’ll still be thinking about in the shower.

If the 1st and 2nd acts of the internet were to get people to the internet and connecting then the 3rd will be how to get people back offline.

We will soon be able to use technology and the connectivity around us to help find a private space anywhere in the world to work in peace and gather your thoughts.

75% of the world population will be living in a city by 2050. This will cause excess capacity and goods that can then be married with a large marketplace ready and willing to use them.

By 2050 sharing in a large city will be second nature.

You never truly know how someone will use your product, platform or service. Sometimes the feature that you’ve hidden will end up becoming the most important part.

A small idea has the ability to change an entire industry. Taskrabbit started as a task and errand service that now has the ability to disrupt the whole jobs market and the way people find work.

This last point is not unique to this conference, it has been echoed by all start-ups and is constantly blogged about. One of the biggest problems start-ups face is recruiting. Finding people as passionate as you are, so that you can create a culture of cofounders.

Day Two 

The hippies from the 60s and the digital hippies today are not that different. Both of them search for meaning. Digital hippies want to create and purchase from meaningful businesses.

The sharing economy is not just a fad. There is now a financial component to sharing as well as platform to compare and share the services you use.

The legal implications that come with the sharing economy haven’t yet caught up entirely to this new model.

We are sharing so much that we are nearly at the moment when anyone could know what can be known about anything.

When a government can no longer help its people, then people will look to help themselves and then look to help others.

Don’t be limited by pursuing small ideas. Pursue a quest and a brand adventure and make the world a better place along the way.

Summary

I think most people will agree that access is becoming more attractive than ownership. But in order to provide a rebuttal, LeWeb invited Milo from Kernel Magazine to tell us 10 reasons why the sharing economy is bollocks. In summary, I walked away from the two days incredibly inspired and excited about what the future holds, but as I left, one question sat in the back of my mind. Where do we draw the line at what we personally make available to the world?

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About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Damon Klotz. Damon splits his time between being an intrepreneur by day at Ramsay Health Care, where he heads up Digital Strategy. He also cofounded a men’s mental health campaign, Soften The Fck Up, and blogs about the application of digital tools in business and the start up world.

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