Issue #005: The problem with multi-product companies
I love simplicity. I love things that are simple and do just one thing, but do it extraordinarily well. Therefore, I always get disappointed whenever a company expands way beyond its core competence.
That is the reason I got extremely disappointed recently when I received an email from Dropbox, a company I’m a paying customer of, in which they launched three new features bundled into their core app — a password manager, backup software and a secure vault. Sure, I use all three, but I already have software that does this job — separate for each of the features. This way I know that the feature is a core competence of the company and that they’re pouring all their resources into making sure it’s stable, performant, and bug free. Dropbox is a public company now, so obviously they need to chase profits and pump the stock price. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with that normally but in this case, it feels very short-sighted because they are making their core product worse. Steve Jobs once said that Dropbox is a feature, not a real company. I don’t think it was true back then, but it might very well be now. And if file storage is just one of the features for both Apple and Dropbox, I’d rather go with the native one.
The sunk cost fallacy is a real thing, so I’m reluctant to switch before my current yearly subscription with Dropbox expires but I’m getting more and more impatient with them every day.
People say that in business you can make money in one of two ways: either by bundling, or unbundling. I’m a much bigger fan of the latter.
- I’ve been working remotely or at least partly remotely pretty much my whole professional life, but it turns out it took a global pandemic to upgrade my video conferencing setup to something decent. For video, I replaced Logitech C920 webcam (which is decent but nothing special, especially in low light conditions) with my go-to mirrorless camera Fujifilm XT-20, connected to the iMac via Elgato Cam Link 4K. If you don’t have a mirrorless or DSLR lying around, you can get something like Sony A6000 for $600 or so on eBay. For audio, I invested in a cardioid condenser microphone Audio-Technica AT2020 and a Focusrite Scarlett Solo audio interface. While AT2020 could be considered by some an entry level XLR mic, it’s way better than anything you can find in a computer or a webcam and, in my opinion, more than enough for remote work setup needs.
- Are you an architect, a librarian, or a gardener? Anne-Laure Le Cunff from Ness Labs explores the ever-changing world of note taking apps. Her take is that the app we should use depends on our personality, e.g. if you like hierarchical structures and don’t mind upfront planning (you’re an “architect”) then Notion, Coda or Tettra will be a great choice. Must-read for anyone with the shiny toy syndrome. (That’s me too!)
- This weekend I started watching a new HBO TV series called Raised by Wolves. It’s a hard-core science fiction with some more and less obvious references to early sci-fi and Ridley Scott’s Alien and Prometheus. Not a massive surprise, given he directed two of the episodes! There’s so much backstory that needs to be filled in and so many potential story arcs. I don’t watch much TV, so I’m very picky, and this show has easily been my favourite so far this year.
There is a Japanese belief that business is temporal, whereas relationships are eternal. That’s true. One day you compete. The next day you partner. One day someone is your subordinate; the next day he or she may be your superior. At its finest, business is friendly competition, just like a game of tennis.
Thanks for reading, see your next time!