Bye bye IBM, hello Ugenie

If 2007 has been a very long year, December has been a very long month!

I quit IBM this week and took up a new position in Ugenie today [1][2].

This news came as a surprise to many, who considered that I was quite loyal to IBM. IBM has been a splendid place. There is no dearth of opportunities there. The more you are ready to take up responsibilities, the more you are given.

So what on earth made me switch?
The primary reason for the switch is, I wanted to work in a startup on something that is directly used by non-technical end users.

How do we serve a large user base? How do we keep up with the ever increasing and conflicting demands of users? How are things prioritized? How is it that a small group of 15-20 individuals can do something in a matter of days, that large organizations take weeks to implement?

The equation in a startup is quite different from that of large organizations. I have read this before, but have never had first hand experience. So I decided to take the plunge and experience it myself.

And then there was the question of the 'right time'.
Is this a good time? Should I wait? What will I gain, what will I miss? The more I thought about it, the more it confused me. So finally I just chose to go with Ugenie.

The work seems to be interesting. I am looking forward to it!

With some people predicting a dot-com crash in 2008, was this a good idea?
Time will tell. But whatever the case, I am not quite concerned.

Google and innovation – take 2

About a couple of years back, I wrote about how Google had a tight integration between its various services, and how Yahoo lacked it.

However when I made that entry, Google had very few services and Yahoo had lots of them. In fact, Google was primarily a search company and Gmail and Calendar were just new arrivals in the scene.

However now that Google has already been Yahoo 2.0, it's time to look at Google's offerings again and see how they have fared.

The first impression is that Google has done tremendously well. Although they have acquired several companies in the last couple of years, they have been very quick in integrating these applications with their portfolio. Orkut, Gmail/Gtalk integration, Gmail/Google docs integration, Google Mashup Editor are some examples.

However on second thoughts, it looks like there is a lot that is still to be done.

What kind of integration can we expect?

  • You bookmark resources in various services
    • Starring entries in Google Reader
    • Starring posts in Google Groups
    • Starring Google search results
    • Noting down items or clipping entries in Google Notebook
    • Indicating your favorite books in Google Books.
Why is there no single 'Google bookmarks' service?
  • Social network everywhere
Mail and IM are inherently social applications. However with the new Facebook revolution, a social network revolves around everything we do over the web. Google already has its own social network. How well is this integrated with its various services? More on Google Reader social network integration.
  • Presence awareness everywhere
A related expectation is presence awareness in various Google services. GMail has a tight integration with GTalk. Why is a similar presence awareness not available in Google Reader, Google Docs etc?
  • Uniform look and feel
Google has been doing very well here. However, some bit of work is required on sites like Orkut and Youtube.
  • Attention profiling
Google has a log of your search history. However, I guess it would be interesting to integrate this data with your mail interactions, your Google reader trends, your group activities, interactions on Orkut, sites you browse etc.

It is a complex problem to solve. You don't know what the various interaction points between the various services are or what the various dimensions are for these applications. However, we learn some of these over time. For example, it looks like social networks and attention profiling are here to stay. So if you are building an application, ensure that it is integrated well with some social network and also takes into account the attention information of a user.