roaming and rambling.

Instagram is mind boggling

Seriously…how can one company be firing on all cylinders so epically? First, and obviously it just nailed the product to perfection on iOS…and their 30M users in 15-16 months is evidence.

More recently, they announced photo app dominance with allowing 3rd party publishing to Instagram from other photo apps. Photo app developers (Hipstamatic, Camera Awesome, etc.) agreed and seconded that motion by integrating and immediately incorporating “post to Instagram” functionality. This alone would have taken content creation curve up a significant notch.

But then the biggest of announcements happen today (…or I guess the announcement happened at SXSW. At any rate, Instagram hits Android today. It’s going to be huge. So huge I can’t comprehend it. I literally expect the user base to go from 30M in 50M in a month. It was already the fastest growing social network in history (based on # of users), and that lead will only be further extended now.

The biggest concern now is reliability and uptime…for us as users and certainly for Instagram’s team. They have prided themselves on not having a fail whale equivalent to date….we all hope that stays the case. I don’t know how that’ll be possible…seems impossible to double the user base overnight at significant scale and perfectly scale infrastructure in line with it. Fingers crossed!

Kristof’s bottom line about @invisible

"The bottom line is: A young man devotes nine years of his life to fight murder, rape and mutilation, he produces a video that goes viral and galvanizes mostly young Americans to show concern for needy villagers abroad — and he’s vilified?"

- Nicholas Kristof

M83…aka explosion of light, lasers and audio (Taken with instagram)

M83…aka explosion of light, lasers and audio (Taken with instagram)

Last of fall in Boston. Now the war begins. (Taken with instagram)

Last of fall in Boston. Now the war begins. (Taken with instagram)

Access Granted - Part I - Instagram

As a consumer, tech fanboy and yes as an investor too, what compels me most in tech products is access. I’m obsessed with access. Who isn’t? Who doesn’t want to climb the wall and explore a world that was previously off limits?

I am mad, as Kerouac would put it, in that I am “desirous of everything at once.” I want access to everything without limitations - a true product of the internet generation. I don’t want to ever be on the outside or to be the uninformed or the inexperienced. Who does?

Access is even better when married with convenience and ease. That’s when it’s magical and sparks a contagion of adoption amongst consumers. Access and convenience together satisfy some subconscious superpower trump card on the hierarchy of needs. At least it seems that way from my first world point of view.

So who are some representative granters of access? I’ll highlight four in the next four blog posts this week: Instagram, Spotify, General Assembly and Quirky.

Instagram is probably my favorite digital product slash consumer service on the market today. I find it becoming the primary hub of content creation for me in my personal social web. I post and broadcast from Instagram far more than I “like,” tweet, tumble, check-in, etc. So how does it fit the Access Granted thesis? For me and so many of my friends, Instagram has made accessible good photography, and moreover artistic self-expression.

I used to be a photographer – from 2000-2007. I was serious about travel photography and analog equipment – and was “early” on the Holga (i.e., at least in its current rebirth - about 5 years before it hit the shelves of Urban Outfitters). I took a local community college class in 2001 called “Plastic Camera Workshop” – where I was cross-processing slide film as C41 prints – basically making analog Instagram-like prints. Here are a couple examples, the first from South Africa in 2002 and the second from Mexico in 2001.

However, it was a fairly cumbersome endeavor to carry the Holga with multiple rolls of 120 film  (which only get about 6-8 exposures on Holga), masking tape to make the camera light-tight, then processing and printing the film at my “local” lab 45 minutes away. Accessible? Yes, but minimally so. And definitely not convenient.

When I graduated college and became an adult – work, life and laziness got the better of me and I abandoned my analog devices and the craft. Then in 2010, I discovered Instagram. Access granted. I’ve since become an incessant user due to the product’s perfect convergence of access and convenience. As @kevin would say…it’s magical. Look at the pictures above. Look at the pictures below. Similar deliverable. Taken 10 years apart from each other.

Thank you to Instagram for making me a photographer again. I would never have capture these moments or 187 others without Instagram.


Counterpoint Again: If You Got It, Flaunt It

To continue pulling the thread on the last few posts, I wanted to clarify that I’m not opposed to the rounds that are going down across the board. It’s important to note that my objections revolve around the conflicting and borderline two-faced nature of some constituents in the startup and tech ecosystem.

The counterpoint to my counterpoint is, “if you got it, flaunt it.”

Ultimately each entrepreneur has to gauge what is best for his/her own company. The standard cautions still hold true – that raising a bunch of money at a high price can be a double-edged sword that cuts hard and sharp against you if your company happens to not be the next “it” tech phenomenon. If you’re confident or if you have sufficient traction and defensibility, then you “got it.” Next step: flaunt it.

Build your arsenal and gird thyself for the talent & customer acquisition arms race that ensues in any compelling market. It can definitely work if done right – Groupon, Spotify, and Buddy Media are examples of when it works and you dominate a market.

And for observers (like me in these posts), I remind us to hate the player, not the game. The game is actually great to watch. And as I’ve noted before, I think we all win as a society when innovation, entrepreneurism and funding abound.