Thoughts after being acquired (2 of 10)

Empirical approaches to Product Development are easy to talk about but hard to do  (deterministic approaches die hard)

After Napster was acquired by BestBuy, I spent a lot of time thinking about the meaning of ‘product development’. BestBuy outsources the majority of its software development efforts to Accenture – a large consulting organization-  and, as a result, a contracting based metaphor permeates how many people at BestBuy think and talk about product development. “The business” and its needs are treated as separate from the people who are building the products. Cost, time to market, and technical feasibility dominated most early stage product ideation discussions that I was part of. “Should we do it?” was usually superseded by “Can we do it?” and that was very quickly followed by “How quickly can we do it?”  I have spent most of my professional career arguing that the best, most successful products occur when singular teams are responsible for marrying business value, customer delight, and technical excellence and that separating those concerns with rigid organizational boundaries results in sub-optimal solutions. So, I spent the next couple of months clarifying my understanding of product development and, with many of my colleagues at Napster, communicating our perspectives to our new partner. Read More

Thoughts after being acquired (1 of 10)

I have spent the last 20 years of my professional career building web-based products and services and growing businesses on the web. During that time I have worked for early stage startups,  fortune 500 behemoths and everything in between. Most recently I worked as the  CTO of Napster, a late stage startup. I had a lot of fun there. We rebuilt all of the consumer facing applications, beat waterfall and a “business vs. technology” mindset out of the organization, and generally introduced elements of risk taking and excitement back into the culture.  But probably the most interesting and valuable part of my Napster experience was  the acquisition of Napster by BestBuy in October of 2008. Read More