Today I announced my resignation from Factiva. I’ve been contemplating a move for several months now and the starts aligned in such a way to open up a door for me (thanks Mie!) at Six Apart, the folks who put out the software that allows me to create this site. I’ve had a good run with Factiva, starting in 1996 with a stint at Dow Jones based in Tokyo, the birth of a Factiva, relocation to the Princeton headquarters, and a two year run at managing the flagship product, Everytime things got a little boring, Factiva always managed to find something interesting for me to sink my teeth into. A lot of thinking went into this decision and it’s become clear to me in this process that an incremental change of job title is not enough and it’s really time for me to shift gears and jump into a new company.

I made the decision last night to accept Six Apart’s offer and while waiting for my boss to get off the phone so I could tell him of my decision, I strolled down to the credit union to close my account. I was grilled by the teller there for my reason’s to close down the account:

“Why do you need to close your account?”

“I’m transferring (me not wanting to break the news before telling my boss)”

“A lot of people keep their accounts even if they are located elsewhere”

“I’m, err, actually transferring to another company.”

“That’s ok, you can even get your new company to deposit their paychecks here, I just want to inform you of your options.”

“Um, that’s ok, I’m actually going to be quite far away.”

“That’s not a problem, we have electronic. . .”

“No, really, that’s not necessary. I just want to close out the account. . . ”

“OK then, but you know there’s a $5 charge to close your account. Good luck to you.”

Today was a day of telling selective people the news – after the first few, it became easier and easier to broach the topic. I feel like a skydiver who has just pulled the rip-cord and now am reaching terminal velocity for what I hope will be a safe landing – GERONIMO!


Wall Street Journal picks up scent

Front Page of yesterday’s Marketplace section has two stories, side-by-side, picking up on the meme of universal search with a graphic of two bloodhounds trying to get their way into a PC. One covers the announcement of the beta MSN search interface announced yesterday and the second looks at Apple’s Spotlight utility for desktop search. Both articles pose the theory that each of these companies are edging into the search space as a key differentiators. Microsoft’s approach is to create a better portal to the internet and Apple is working on getting an integrated desktop search out the door ahead of Microsoft’s Longhorn launch which promises better desktop searching.

If Microsoft is launching a better internet search engine to couple to their improved desktop search tools launching with Longhorn, and Apple is bundling better desktop search with Spotlight, the only thing missing is Apple integrated with an internet search engine. Apple’s Safari browser already integrates Google without the need of a separate toolbar – wonder what will happen to Sherlock which was Apple’s first attempt to embed internet searching into the desktop? Will Apple build its own, partner with a partner like Google, or reach out to the developer community to add on to Spotlight internet search integration?

Not exactly an admission, the article about Spotlight digs in to ask if either Google or Yahoo are looking at getting into the desktop search business themselves,

Google, which has become synonymous with finding information on the Internet, is working on its own tool for searching a PC, according to people who have talked with the company. A Google spokesman declined to comment on any product plans. Analysts say Yahoo may also get into desktop search. “If we think that’s something we need to do, we’ll look at it,” a Yahoo spokeswoman says.


The Web as a Platform

Today I’m starting a new weblog that will focus on a discussion that has been gaining momentum over the past two years. As web services gain favor and companies, customers, vendors, and providers begin to communicate via these standardized APIs, we all realize new economies of scale as well as lowered barriers to entry.

My initial “aha” moment was during a trip to Redmond where a Program Manager walked us through a demonstration of the .NET version of Visual Basic and showed how in 30 minutes with something like 5 lines of code he was able to build a simple web application.

The scenario was a CTO talking with his IT guy on a plane ride. The CTO asks the IT guy what all the bug-a-boo over web services is about. Jacking into the net via the seat back phone, he strings together three separate applications that pipe their results to each other to bring back a result that confirms the obvious.

1. Input your flight number >
2. Flight number acts as an input to geo-tracking service like Flight Tracker >
3. GPS coordinates of flight act as an input service that translates GPS to Zip Code >
4. Zip Code acts as input into weather tracking service for radar image of weather conditions.
5. Look out your window and confirm weather conditions

No jokes about Bob Dylan and not needing a weatherman for such an exercise, this was just an example to get the juices flowing. If you think about various web applications as something that can be negotiated with the http equivalents of “grep” and “|” then you’ll begin to appreciate the transformative (and one could say, disruptive) power of this model. Add RSS feeds to automate the connections and it’s like adding oil to the machine – everything starts to run even more smoothly.

So, to kick off this discussion/weblog I’m pointing to Tim O’Reilly’s original posting that sums it up very nicely:

Bit by bit, we’ll watch the transformation of the Web services wilderness. The first stage, the pioneer stage, is marked by screen scraping and “unauthorized” special purpose interfaces to database-backed Web sites. In the second stage, the Web sites themselves will offer more efficient, XML-based APIs. (This is starting to happen now.) In the third stage, the hodgepodge of individual services will be integrated into a true operating system layer, in which a single vendor (or a few competing vendors) will provide a comprehensive set of APIs that turns the Internet into a huge collection of program-callable components, and integrates those components into applications that are used every day by non-technical people.

From Inventing the Future, April 9, 2002