Back to Base

Today is my last day at Nokia. The great mobile adventure is over. More accurately, the need to define a mobile web as something other than the internet at large has mostly vanished.

I left Yahoo for Nokia with a vision of building services to connect the social web to phones that knew more about you and the world around you than a desktop PC could ever hope to know. I built a few prototypes and white-boarded many more. The potential is rich and the rush of apps and services that are “location aware” is only the beginning of what we will see in the years to come. In many ways it feels like 1995 all over again and we’re all re-discovering developing for the web browser. All that’s missing is a “View Source” to bring in the masses.

It’s been an amazing experience highlighted by a two year assignment to Helsinki which gave me, my wife, two kids, and our little dog Mimi an experience of a lifetime. Nokia is a global brand and the multitude of languages and cultures that you bump into day-to-day in the hallways and canteen is mind-boggling. Helsinki is a global hub with many families moving in and out of Finland exposing us to a broad group of people from all over who became our friends. We hope to continue to keep in touch with as they move around the world. My Finnish colleagues too were gracious in taking in this relatively bombastic Californian, tolerating my bubbly “Good Morning!” greetings and gently instructing me in gentler, more subtle methods of salutation.

But now we’re back in California. While the new Nokia offices in Sunnyvale are beautiful, the commute is not. While I learned heaps from Nokia about the mobile phone business, particulars in mobile UI (design for the one-handed strap-hanger in Bangalore), as well as unique aspects of localization (make room for long German place names, right-to-left Arabic script, and currencies in Europe use a comma, not a decimal), the excitement for me is further up the stack with the applications.

I’ll take a few days off then start anew at GigaOm on Monday where I have accepted their invitation to be Product Manager of their premium subscription product, In many ways this is a return to my roots when I was a PM for – another premium news subscription service. Coming full circle from a time when content was screaming to be free, we are entering an age of content factories where well-edited media and curated content will be something worth paying for. Anyone can sit and read everything coming through on ReadWriteWeb, TechCrunch, and yes, GigaOm and branch out to regional tech sites such as Arctic Startup and Asiajin that do an excellent job of covering their region but who has the time to read it all? Algorithms are getting better (check out Summify) but social networks that mix up family, friends, and professional contacts are getting muddy as filters and we all run the risk of building filter bubbles around ourselves.

There is a market for summaries and curation and I want to build a platform that enables that. The internet has made infinite distribution available at little to no cost. The challenge (and opportunity) is for publishers to maximize revenues by offering ever greater premium upsells to their True Fans on a steep value curve so that everyone wins. The folks I’ve met at GigaOm totally get this and I’m psyched to get cracking on building out  features to meet the demand. This is going to be fun!





19 responses to “Back to Base”

  1. Ms. Jen Avatar

    Congrats on the new job and new challenges, I hope you have fun and get some good problems to solve.

    Love this quote: “My Finnish colleagues too were gracious in taking in this relatively
    bombastic Californian, tolerating my bubbly “Good Morning!” greetings
    and gently instructing me in gentler, more subtle methods of salutation.”

    1. iankennedy Avatar

      Thanks Jen! As with you, I always feel that everyone has something to teach you.

      1. Ms. Jen Avatar

        The thing that strikes me as funny is that you aren’t bombastic at all,  I am by far more frighteningly chipper to newcomers, but I can see how to the Finns that any Californian would be too much in the morning.  We have been storing sunshine in our hypothalamus’ since childhood… ;oD

  2. Carsten Pötter Avatar

    Congrats! Quite a change from Nokia to GigaOm, I guess. But you’ve chosen a great media outlet. 🙂

    1. iankennedy Avatar

      It may seem so but really it’s a return to my past. I used to work at Dow Jones and Reuters as a Product Manager. It’s all about the flow of information and getting the right info into the right hands. It doesn’t matter if it’s via a newswire, website, blog, social network, or mobile device, it’s all the same problem. That’s been my primary driver of my career. 

      1. Carsten Pötter Avatar

        Sounds good.

        But you should update your Disqus profile since you’re not the Nokia product guy anymore. 😉

        1. iankennedy Avatar

          Nor am I in Helsinki – just updated my disqus profile, the first of many that will have to be updated over the course of the next few weeks. . . 

  3. Om Avatar


    Cannot wait for you to start here and needless to say, I am over the moon on this!

    Welcome aboard!

    1. iankennedy Avatar

      Thanks Om! See you soon.

  4. Tanja Rauniaho-mitchell Avatar
    Tanja Rauniaho-mitchell

    Hi Ian and congratulations – I had no idea that you are changing jobs!

    Sounds very exciting, I am sure it will be totally different from the past couple of years.

    Cheers Tanja


    1. iankennedy Avatar

      Yep. Time to move on. Be sure to look us up  next time you make it over to SF.

  5. Luis Orozco Avatar

    Dude, didn’t you leave Helsinki yesterday? 😉  Good luck!

    1. iankennedy Avatar

      Blink and you’ll miss me, no time to waste. Hope you’re having a great time with your kid’s first Summer!

  6. Ted Dunne Avatar

    Ian — Congrats.  Welcome (back) to the info/research/news side of the house.  Sounds like a great move! You’ve had a great path since Dow Jones. Best of luck!

    1. iankennedy Avatar

      Thanks Ted. Looks like we move in similar circles. Look forward to bumping into you sometime. Let me know when you next come out West.

  7. Vincenzo Belpiede Avatar

    good luck man!

    1. iankennedy Avatar

      Thanks Vince – make it happen there in San Diego!

  8. Bob Avatar

    “currencies in Europe use a comma, not a decimal” — except for the UK that uses a decimal 🙂

    1. iankennedy Avatar

      Thanks for the correction Bob!

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