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
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.
Since I started tenXer, I’ve been searching for a technical co-founder, a true tenXer, someone who’d dealt with large scaling issues and had the street cred to represent us externally in the software development world.
After Evan Priestley blew us off (just kidding, Evan, we thank you for the infrastructure you helped build here), I began a comprehensive search to find someone like Evan. That means my bar was set high. I started poking around on GitHub and tech blogs, first looking for someone who was a Python expert.
I came across David Cramer on a site that ranked top Open Source contributors using their GitHub profile – he was at the top for Python projects. I was immediately impressed. He certainly filled the criteria of Python expert being a regular speaker at PyCon and the lead engineer at DISQUS (built with Python). But what intrigued me even more was his work on Sentry. Similar to Evan’s Phabricator, Sentry is a well respected Open Source tool for developers to monitor application errors. Cramer was the perfect fit. In fact the similarities between him and Evan are eerie. Also, they both are high school and college dropouts.
Evan actually gave Cramer a ringing endorsement when he said, “He’s pretty good.” By Evan standards and enthusiasm levels that means a lot.
It has been a long courting as David has been loyal to DISQUS and his work there but I am proud to announce that David will be moving on and joining us full time at tenXer next week.
We are all excited to see what we can build at tenXer with someone of David’s caliber leading the way.
As David wrote to me when he accepted our offer, “Hope you are prepared for how much shit we are about to get done.”
I am. I hope you all are too.
When we started this blog we struggled a bit with the exact theme. See the inbound marketing playbook would tell you to make each piece of content core to your company’s value proposition: to keep the content focused around what you are doing as a company and never to deviate too far away for fear of diluting your message.
The problem is that if you have ever tried to maintain a blog with regular content you will find that to make it interesting and updated regularly you need a variety of subjects from which to draw.
As I think about the tenXer blog I realize that it’s all about the tenX concept – why some people are tenX better than the average, how they become tenX better and how you can become a tenXer. In many ways we are generally trying to help you improve.
So here’s my instruction on how CBS could have become tenX better yesterday: truly embrace social media.
The Super Bowl highlighted the huge chasm that is forming between traditional media and social media. While personalities Dan Marino, Bill Cowher and Shannon Sharpe struggled through 34 minutes of unexpected airtime, Twitter treated us to its shining moment.
Will Leitch takes the CBS team to task far better than I could:
That was the worst display of broadcasting I’ve seen in my entire life. CBS probably would have been better off if it had just kept the screen blank for the whole half hour. We are all stupider for having witnessed it. I spent most of the rest of the third quarter sweeping up all my dead brain cells off the floor.
Cowher stumbled with his words calling time an ally and enemy to the 49ers (in the same sentence) and espousing a “bring Alex Smith back” campaign. Shannon Sharpe continued with his normal difficult to understand rhetoric, making the same poor joke multiple times.
Finally, our host James Brown who’s normally decent at his job, mentioned on at least three different occasions that we were 15 minutes away from the game resuming.
Meanwhile, in the Twitter-sphere, zingers were being thrown around left and right.
This time, it’s the rich people trapped in the Superdome.
—Neal Pollack (@nealpollack) February 4, 2013
Okay I’m out of jokes. Please turn the lights back on now.
— MG Siegler (@parislemon) February 4, 2013
Someone in the CBS booth is frantically looking for AJ McCarron’s girlfriend
— John Berman (@johnsberman) February 4, 2013
Power is still out. Fans getting restless and a few fights…but no registers so no beers being sold. Uh oh!
— Richard Rosenblatt (@demandrichard) February 4, 2013
Buffalo Wild Wings doesnt play around
— Super Bowl Lights(@SuperBowlLights) February 4, 2013
I remember watching Tom Kelley from IDEO speak once. One of his many points was that lowering the cost to prototype raises innovation. Taking that one step further I would said lowering the cost and infrastructure to build an audience raises the level of innovation on media.
As I think about the variety of lessons that can be learned from this blackout, I definitely share Deadspin’s notion that the traditional studio show needs to be blown out but I also that traditional media needs to really start thinking differently. They are no longer the story. They may have the broadcast rights and the production budgets but they no longer control the hose – we do. And we can go anywhere we want to listen to anyone we want.
Hopefully this will be lesson learned and the guys who make the decisions will realize that content is king. At least good content that is.
With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, I think it makes sense to wax philosophical on the parallels between my previous life in sports media and my current life in human capital management.
There are more similarities than you would think.
First off, at tenXer we believe that data, metrics and stats will change the way people work. And more than that we think that those same metrics viewed through an analytical lens will make individuals and companies more efficient.
Sound a little Moneyball-esque?
But where the two lives diverge is the available data. Sports statistics are fairly well established. Work statistics are not. And even more differentiated is the fact that sports results are played out on a public field and there is always a winner and a loser. The nature of work is fundamentally different.
But ultimately work and sports are about measuring results. Regardless of individual stats all the 49ers and the Ravens will care about on Sunday is who has more points. And this mirrors our attitude towards work. All we care about ultimately is the success of the company.
So what does all this mean?
Well for tenXer, we’ve realized that measuring team metrics is as important if not more important than measuring individual metrics and to that end our next big release is going to be around tenXer for teams. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the type of team features you’d like to see on tenXer.
Feel free to email us your ideas to feedback [at] tenxer.com.
As for the game on Sunday, I can’t resist the chance to slip into my past life and give you a prediction. As many of you know I’m a Pats fan through and through so there is certainly some bitterness in this prediction. And as many of you also know I live in SF and have lots of friends in the Niners front office.
All that being said, I cannot see the Ravens winning this game. I actually don’t even think it will be a close game. The Ravens are old and have not had to deal with a dynamic QB all year (okay, once against the Redskins). Against the Pats and Broncos they have been able to play the pass and sit back and tackle underneath. Against the Niners that will not work.
Niners 31 Ravens 16… put it on the board.
In the words of Jay-Z, I got 99 problems…
…and I hope we are solving one…
Startup 101 teaches you that to be a successful problem you need to “solve a problem”.
In an interview on Mashable, Mint.com Founder Aaron Patzer articulated this well.
Solve a real problem. You don’t start a company because you want to be an entrepreneur or the fame and glory that comes along with it. You become an entrepreneur and you create a company to solve a real problem. And by real problem, I mean a problem that is going to exist down the line. Personal finance and banking and credit cards and loans and which investments do I make — these are going to be complex even 20 years from now, 30 years from now, so you need a Mint to help you out. A lot of people start companies that are really just features, like a URL shortener, and some of those companies raise millions of dollars. And is this a problem that’s going to exist ten years from now?
Lately at tenXer this is all we have been talking about. Specifically, we have been asking each other – what problem are we trying to solve? On Friday, we did an exercise where every employee independently wrote down the answer to this question and the good news is there was an overwhelming consensus.
To put it as succinctly as possible, we are solving the problem that “people want to be better at their jobs but have no idea how to”.
Simple enough, right?
It’s always easy to look back on successful startups and articulate the “problem” that was solved. Taxis suck. Payments suck. The music industry sucks. But those are macro problems and those are easily identified.
The real key to the success of companies like Uber, Square and Napster is their ability to solve the micro problems prevalent in those industries.
Take Uber as our role model. Their success has hinged on their ability to break down all the micro problems with the taxi industry – lack of transparency, reliance on cash, lack of supply, lack of accountability.
So that is the challenge ahead of us at tenXer. What are the micro problems that we can solve that will help us make the world better at their jobs?
We have some hypotheses of course. Version one of tenXer allows our users to set goals on trackable metrics that are important to them. The micro problem in this case is “the lack of actionable metrics for employees to measure their work performance”.
Yet the challenge we face is placing this “solution” in a context for our users that helps them solve the macro problem. In other words, what we must figure out is how to use trackable metrics to actually help people improve in their job.
And that is a macro problem worth solving.
-Jeff Ma, @jeffma