December 12th, 2007


Retrospective / Eulogy for AppMsg/Convoq/Zingdom

For those curious about what the heck I've been doing for the past five years, check out Chris Herot's discussion of the history of the company: it's a brief but good overview of the main things we accomplished. I had my hands in damned near every bit of that: from writing the middleware engine and client/server infrastructure for ASAP, to doing the browser integration for the Salesforce project, to writing the slightly-impossible client widget for Zingdom Relay to serving as Product Manager for Spark.

Despite the headaches (and there were many), it was a good five years. The company had its issues, largely relating to having too much money (which encouraged a more bureaucratic style than we could really afford), but it was refreshingly level-headed in many ways. Being composed almost entirely of refugees from the dotcom burst, who understood the realities of startup life, helped us stay on a fairly even keel. And we had one of the best technical staffs I've ever worked with, on a par with that at Looking Glass. (And that's high praise -- LG had a lot of the most brilliant engineers I've ever known.)

I'll miss it, and I do regret that we never managed to make a big success out of any of our products. (Although I gather that some of the ASAP customers are very annoyed that it's shutting down: it had a modest but loyal cadre of users, and is still hosting a substantial number of meetings every day.) But I think we can take some pride in the fact that that was never because the tech or the ideas weren't there: ASAP alone contained a staggering number of innovations. Indeed, entire companies are being built now by just taking one of the novel ideas that we had in there, like no-download videoconferencing or live emailable links. If anything, our problem was in building an app that was way too complex to *explain* to people -- a lesson well worth keeping in mind for the future.

But now, on to new things...