On App Store Reviews by Nate Westheimer

Getting reviews in the App Store is so important that I'd love to add one of those spammy pop-ups to Picturelife's iOS app.

When you're fighting to succeed, it's understandable if you go for the most effective weapon, right?

Well, we think it's wrong and so we're not doing it.

Instead, we've come up with 7 ways to ask for App Store reviews that fit our idea of digital neighborliness.

I've posted about these ideas on Medium.

The Hard Thing... About Business Books by Nate Westheimer

It's 9:40pm on Monday night and I just put down Ben Horowitz's The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

I bought it at 4:45pm on Saturday, and the last time I read a book front-cover to back-cover like that was several years ago. It was that good.

It was so phenomenal, in fact, that I'm going to be buying a copy for each of my Red Bud CEOs and I'm going to encourage everyone on my team at Picturelife read it.

You don't have to be a CEO to get great information from this book.

But, for as much as I loved Ben's book and the rich, informative, and at times heart-breaking, stories it held, I could help but feel like it missed the mark for me in an important way every single business book seems to miss the mark for me: It wasn't written for me at all.

You see, at least fifty percent of The Hard Things... was only relevant to managing a company much larger, with much different issues than my startup, Picturelife.

Yes, we are a venture-backed, high-growth company (Spark is our lead investor and we have amazing angels like A16Z's own Chris Dixon), but most of Ben's book is centered on his Loudcloud story -- a company which raised $21m out of the gate, and $45m only 2 months after that.

Much of Ben's story was about managing a team of hundreds of people and several layers of bureaucracy within a couple of months of its founding. A company with less than 20 people is not the same.

For me, the hard thing about business books is how few of them actually speak to what I experience in the struggle (Ben's phrase). If it were just me, I wouldn't say anything about it and I would have stopped this post after my glowing review of The Hard Things..., but I think there are actually more venture-backed startups in my position than those in the LoudCloud position, and there aren't enough great stories told by the CEOs of those company who make it to the other side.

I don't want to take away anything from Ben's tremendous book -- it was immensely valuable to me as a new CEO, and ton's of the content was relevant to any manager or innovator -- however, I do want to make this call to the successful CEO community:

If any of you have a story that looks more like most of ours do, please share it. Who else has been 12 people a few years in and made it work?

I promise to write this story when Picturelife has made it to the other side, but in the meantime, who's going to step up to the plate. Who already has?

Multi-tasking on the iPad by Nate Westheimer


Yesterday, I ran on my treadmill and listened to John Gruber's The Talk Show for the first time. I had never listened to the show before, but since we've started sponsoring John's blog, I thought I should give his podcast a go. (Also, I've just been listening to tech podcasts more. Hosting one has always been an "owning a cafe"-like dream for me).

Anyway, he had Joanna Stern on last week and they spoke mostly about the limitations of tablets and especially multi-tasking on tablets. Joanna has just written this piece in the WSJ (paywall, so click on the top Google result here to read).

In their conversation, they tried to conceptualize what multi-tasking could look like on the iPad. A lot of attention centered on just enabling "command + tab" for connected keyboards to do Fast App Switching, and I think they are right -- that alone could be awesome.

But, another idea also came to mind as I was running into my 4th mile -- this coming from a critique they, and I, have with what Samsung has done in regard to multi-tasking, namely requiring a completely new and specialized app development framework most developers would never touch since it's not in the core OS. As an app developer it's unlikely I'll want to take valuable development cycles to build something that would only work on their devices.

So my basic idea for the next iOS takes the idea of multi-tasking and mixes it with my frustration with the relative uselessness of the Notification Center. I use the "Missed" notifications tab, but for me "Today" and "All" have been useless. On the iPad, Notification Center seems even more useless, as it's just a full screen version of what's on the iPhone, and has always seemed way, way too big for its purpose.

The idea I had is simple and could be quickly added to the next version of iOS:

  1. Make the Notification Center iPhone sized on the iPad,
  2. Allow users to take an app from the Fast App Switcher and throw it into a tab in that Notification Center pull-down. Perhaps just let me "star" or favorite an app from the Fast App Switcher to designate it as my secondary app.
  3. Most iPad developers have already built an iPhone sized app, mostly in the exact same bundle as their iPad app, so on the developer side there should be no extra work. Your iPhone app is your iPad's secondary/multi-task version.

So that's it. Simple, and not too terribly thought out. But worth writing down and sharing. The image at the top of this post is how I thought it would look, more or less. Let me know what you think.

New post... on Medium by Nate Westheimer

Twitter killed this blog. Let's face it.

If you've been reading me since 2006 (when I coined the 'innonate' moniker and bought this domain) you know I had a great few years of prolific posting. Then, in 2008, I slowly stopped writing at all.

It wasn't just me, of course. Google Reader used to be a thing back then. I used to check my Technorati score and see who visited me on my MyBlogLog.

Today, those things don't exist and I -- along with every other fair weather blogger -- have basically stopped.

In 2014 I want to change that and write more, but in 2014 I think the reality is that probably means I'll be writing in many places other than this blog.

Today I'm trying to write on Medium for the first time. Go read (and please share!) my post on why Picturelife decided to be early in accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment.