When you start a software company these days, you face a pretty simple decision – mobile first or mobile only?
That’s why the decision to go web first with tenXer seemed a bit old school and maybe antiquated. The theory was that most of our target market especially software engineers do the lion’s share of their work behind their desk and creating a web site first made perfect sense.
But when you think about the long term vision of tenXer, reinventing the way people work, mobile must be at the core of that vision. That’s why today, we’re thrilled to announce the addition of tenXer for iPhone. For example imagine using geo-fencing technology to seamlessly track details about when and where you work. Layering that information with tenXer productivity data, we can answer important questions like where are you the most productive – home or work or when you have been at the office too long and should go home.
Imagine having an easy way to track all of your offline activities like client interactions or coffee meetings with co-workers. While many mobile apps have been developed to satisfy the intellectually curious, quantified-self crowd, these apps have always focused on consumer applications. Tracking has a much greater utility when applied to the enterprise because there are clear stakeholders.
At tenXer, we’ve used the mobile app to help encourage certain behaviors in our team members. Our marketing lead, Melissa, liked to go for afternoon tea breaks, so we encouraged her to start tracking these serendipitous meetings and track when she went with co-workers. Our product designer, Barnett, enjoys a collaborative process so we encouraged him to start tracking the design whiteboard sessions he has with teammates and to set a goal to have at least three per week.
In both cases, tracking helped Melissa and Barnett become more consistent with these unplanned events. And tracking the meetings was easy as a Fourquare check-in. Thanks @dens.
Finally, a tenXer core strength is taking data from lots of places where you are doing work already and aggregating that data into a consumable format. We allow you to see those events in a central activity stream and interact with that data in meaningful ways. Being able to take that experience with you anywhere you go is clearly the next step towards changing the way people work.
The stories above are at the center of the iPhone app we are launching today. In a nutshell here are some of the features:
- Auto-track your time at work using geo-fencing technology
- Auto-track other locations where you spend time working
- Actively track offline habits like client interactions and unscheduled meetings with simple time and location tracking
- See all of your tenXer stats on your phone, including goals that you have set
- See all of your activity from your connected service in a simple easy to read stream
To download the app today go to: http://10xr.com/ZCdP5d
Last night, at the tenXer offices, we were treated to a behind the scenes look at the 49ers success and failures through the eyes of COO Paraag Marathe.
Speaking candidly about everything from Coach Harbaugh’s wardrobe choices to his emotional roller coaster during the Super Bowl, Paraag spent over an hour imparting wisdom that stretched way beyond football and had deep parallels with the challenges that we face every day as entrepreneurs.
Here are three of the highlights:
1) How information is presented is often times more important than the information itself. The theme of communication and its importance in having influence was a resounding theme throughout the evening. Paraag commented that this was the biggest lessons he’s learned in his time at the 49ers stating that he’d rather see a great presentation that was a 2 out of 10 in terms of actual content than a bad presentation of perfect content.
This point resonated with me for many reasons. When I think about what we are doing at tenXer, it’s not just about the data that we are presenting it’s actually more important how we present it. It has to be relevant, easy to understand and has to be actionable. It can’t just be data for data’s sake.
Also, as I think about where we have struggled as a team it has been when we have had trouble effectively communicating our ideas internally. We have had some very sharp and hard working employees that have not worked out here because they have not been effective communicators of their ideas. Specifically the area of product management has proven challenging for us and listening to Paraag last night confirmed my suspicions that a lack of effective communication has been at the root of those ills.
2) Coach Harbaugh’s ability to block out everything else and solely focus on winning is what separates him from others. Paraag commented that Harbaugh doesn’t worry about getting fired. It simply doesn’t occur to him. Winning is all that matters to him. He only cares about what he can control and this single-mindedness helps him block out everything else on game day and stay focused. Paraag joked how “else could someone wear the same outfit 365 days a year and actually think it’s cool.”
This lesson applies well to startups as often we get distracted by outside factors that we can’t control like competitors, public perception or even the ideas of investors. Focus is a constant struggle for startups and the ability to block out extraneous forces is valuable.
3) Recruit people who really care about being the best. Paraag talked about an early can’t miss free agent that they signed a few years back. Everything looked great on paper but when he showed up at 49ers camp they realized he didn’t have that extra will to be the best. He just wanted to be “good enough”. Paraag said that drive to be the best can make up for differences in talent saying he would rather have a person with moderate intelligence who is willing to do anything to succeed than a genius with a lower drive.
We have come to a similar conclusion here at tenXer as we recently added the notion of “good is not good enough” to our company culture. We want co-workers who don’t just want to succeed. We want co-workers who want to be the best and won’t rest until we are.
We are proud to announce several new real-time features that make a great addition to tenXer‘s existing automatic work productivity analytics platform.
This Meeting Sucks™
tenXer already automatically pulls in data about your email and tweet activity. Starting today, we can detect when a majority of meeting attendees are performing these activities with negative tones (via sentiment analysis). We then notify all participants that This Meeting Sucks™ and that they should leave immediately.
“I had no idea that my daily ‘Reestimate Every Open Task’ meetings were something my team hated. They could have just said something. Thank goodness for tenXer: now we all have more time for writing documentation!” -Anonymous manager
You’re Coding Too Slowly®
Once you have enough callouses on your fingers so that your fingers no longer bleed when typing very quickly, it can be difficult to judge if you are coding fast enough. That’s exactly why we’ve added the You’re Coding Too Slowly® feature to tenXer.
Using our new IDE plugins for Eclipse, Intellij IDEA, Emacs, and more (but not vi), we track your characters typed per minute. We then input that data, including the percentage of your characters that are semi-colons, to a complex algorithm which predicts the number of commits you will make in the near future.
When tenXer detects that you will not hit your goal number of commits at your current rate, a robotic voice will begin to coach you from the comfort of your very own computer. Choose from any of 7 coaching styles including “You call that coding?!?” and “You are a special snowflake” modes.
Sign up for tenXer
Okay, so…We aren’t actually launching the features described above. Happy April Fool’s Day! However, tenXer does allow you to automatically track your work metrics, such as hours in meetings and number of commits. Connect your Google Calendar and GitHub accounts, and we’ll do the rest. Try tenXer now.
When the San Francisco 49ers completed their epic comeback, surviving a last minute scare versus the Atlanta Falcon and securing a birth in the Super Bowl, the first thing I did was text my friend Paraag Marathe, COO of the 49ers.
As someone who has known Paraag throughout his career with the 49ers, I could not have been prouder for him and what his team had accomplished. Of course his nature is to downplay his role and equally downplay any success. In fact, his text back to me was simply, “Thanks but we still have one more game.”
I was reminded of this moment when the newest tenXer, David Cramer, described his latest thoughts on our future company culture to me. “Good is not good enough,” he said. He went on to say that when he does something he doesn’t just want it to be better, he doesn’t just want it to be the best, he wants it to be so much better that everything else sucks in comparison.
“We need to be obsessed with improvement,” Cramer continued.
And that is what Paraag has been since his first day in the 49ers offices.
I first met Paraag when he was just cutting his teeth with the 49ers. He was fresh out of a career in management consulting and the legendary Bill Walsh then the team GM realized what an asset Paraag could be.
His meteoric rise from Director of Special Projects (whatever that means) to COO hasn’t been well documented. By design Paraag has stayed out of the limelight. It was a lesson learned early on when he became the scapegoat for the dark days of the 49ers. The abuse he took was offensive. One reporter actually had the gall to ask him if it bothered him that no one knew how to pronounce his name and talk radio pundits characterized him as a nerd with a laptop – little did they know that Paraag was and is one of the personable and articulate people you will ever meet.
But Paraag survived. He survived Terry Donahue, Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary. And when he was finally paired with peers that could take his work to the next level the organization flourished – and I mean really flourished. There is no team in a better position for the next decade than the 49ers.
And much of this can be attributed to Paraag. The obvious places to look are the judicious decisions around cap management and well negotiated and chosen free agent contracts. And you can also look off the field at better revenue strategies and ticket pricing but really the place I’d look is Paraag’s pervasive attitude.
Again, Paraag will not get credit for any of this but much of the reason the 49ers are in this position is due to Paraag’s relentless drive to succeed. Good is not good enough for him and he avoids complacency like the plague. He challenges everything. He constantly asks, “Is there a better way to do this?”
And as I think about the journey we are embarking on at tenXer – to reinvent the way people work – I hope that I can embody these principles internally and externally. I want to articulate Cramer and Paraag’s vision to be obsessed by improvement.
I can’t wait for the 49ers to win their next Super Bowl so I can congratulate Paraag only to have him tell me, “Thanks but we still have next season.”
When the Yahoo WFH controversy reared its ugly head, tenXer felt compelled to weigh in. However due to our youth, we didn’t feel comfortable making any definitive statements instead using the opportunity to tease some of our enhancements.
But when we learned that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer did indeed use data to make her decision, we thought it was fair time for us to look at our somewhat limited data and see if we could shed some more light on the issue.
We surveyed our current user base of software developers about their WFH habits and combined that data with email and commit activity collected from places like Gmail and GitHub.
We broke our users into three different buckets: “never” (WFH zero days/week), “sometimes” (WFH 1-2 days/week), and “most of the time” (WFH 3 plus days/week). Our analysis exposed three interesting insights.
1. Those that WFH “sometimes” are the most productive. In terms of sheer productivity (measured by number of commits), the “sometimes” group led the pack with 88 monthly commits per user followed by “never” with 67 and then “most of the time” with 45.
Maybe Marissa was on to something.
2. Productivity on Fridays varies greatly depending on WFH habits. The next thing that jumped out at us was the difference in daily commit activity between the “never” and “most of the time” users. For the “never” group Friday was the least active day of the week, perhaps highlighting some lack of productivity caused by looking ahead to the weekend – a full week in the office can do that to you.
Contrast that to the “most of the time” group who made Friday their most active day in perhaps an effort to make up for lost time?
3. WFH engineers are more active on email. Analyzing email habits was equally interesting. The “most of the time” group was very active on email sending over twice as many emails as the “never”group. These emails were 42% longer and their reply rate was more than twice as fast as those in the office all of the time.
It’s nice to be diligent on email but do you really want your engineers spending their time on email?
So what does all this mean?
Again our sample size in this analysis was small and using commit activity to measure productivity has its shortcomings but our findings were interesting enough to spur some conversation within our office. What should our WFH policy be?
Certainly three plus days seems like too much yet practically speaking allowing an engineer a day of autonomy of the office doesn’t seem like a bad idea. The data we have agrees with our practical instinct.
I’m hopping on a plane tonight to Boston, approaching one of my favorite weekends of the year. The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has quickly become one of the most important events not only in sports but also in the Decision Making 2.0 movement.
I’m proud to say I have been involved since the beginning. Sessions with audiences of fewer than 20 people in tiny MIT classrooms have become star-studded panels of the likes of Michael Lewis, Mark Cuban and Nate Silver, waxing philosophical about data and analytics to crowds larger than you see at an A’s game.
Though I’m no longer involved directly with sports (I still do a few consulting projects), I still make time to come back to Boston each year.
It is that important.
Well the obvious reason would be the amazing names you see around the conference – owners, GM’s, team presidents, media personalities, media executives. It’s a true who’s who of sports. It’s humbling.
But there is an even more important reason – an even more humbling experience. To understand that reason you need to look no further than the organizers, Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Patriots VP Jessica Gelman. They get nothing tangible for organizing this conference. Yet each year they work feverishly with the student volunteers to produce an amazing experience for all who attend. That is true passion.
And that is what powers this event. You see brilliant minds – undergrads, grad students and professionals – willing to fly to Boston on their own dime to pursue a passion – a career in sports powered by analytics.
Forget the fact that most of these people could make small fortunes in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street, because they certainly have. Instead they come to chase a dream and are wiling to take less than market salaries for the opportunity to make an impact on a team.
Although I made a difficult decision two years ago to leave this dream world, I applaud and will always continue to support that passion. I am amazed at the people I have met at this event and encourage anyone seeking advice (can’t guarantee it will be good) on how to turn their unique analytical skillset into a career in or out of sports to come up and introduce themselves to me.
I travel the 3000 miles each year not for the sports or the analytics but to meet smart passionate people.
Can’t wait to meet some more this year.
I got more than a few enraged emails on Monday when Marissa Mayer announced her no more work from home (WFH) policy at Yahoo. In my previous life, I sold a company to Yahoo so still have a lot of friends over there.
The question they asked me on Monday were summarized well by my friend Brian Mead, a product manager at Yahoo, “I’d love to see actual data on how productive people are when working from home vs the office. I imagine that it varies a lot based on job function. Does tenXer have any data on this? Would be curious on your take?”
For the last few months we have been working on a mobile app. Imagine FourSquare meets Nike Plus for the enterprise. You will be able to passively track things like time in the office and time working at home. In addition you will be able to track offline habits like cups of coffee you drink and times you’ve been to the gym. If you combine this data from with our productivity proxies we will have a better idea of where and what makes us most productive.
Of course this will be far from perfect but won’t it be interesting to know things like:
- Do I commit more code at home or at work?
- Do I respond to email quicker when I’m at work?
- Do I resolve more tasks when I get a workout in?
- Do I tweet more often when I drink more coffee?
The WFH productivity conflict is a good one as there’s merit to both sides of the argument. And yes many people will say you can’t measure the “intangibles of being in the office”. That’s good because at this point we are only focused on measuring the tangibles.