Category Archives: Business

From Servers, Phones, and Voice Assistants to Space…

Last week I joined my good friend  Den Delimarsky and his colleague Courtny Cotten hosted me on The Work Item podcast. “In this episode, we dive a bit deeper into Charlie’s approach to product ideation and design, discuss the importance of having a principled organization, and ask questions about his most recent adventure around space.” Czech it out here (I love that the transcript is available along with the audio): From Servers, Phones, and Voice Assistants to …Continue reading

How to be a Secret Agent (of Change)

This post documents some essential tools I’ve collected in my “change toolkit”. By sharing them, I hope more leaders will become even better change agents, or at least be better at dealing with change.Continue reading

Open Office Hours with Charlie

Last month I offered “office hours” to anyone who wanted to chat with me. It was an experiment to see a) if interesting people would reach out, b) if I could be useful to these people, and c) if I’d be exposed to domains where I could spend more of my time in the future. All three hypotheses have turned out true. Thank you to all of you who utilized this so far! I still …Continue reading

Mechanisms

Mechanisms are complete processes built around a tool, owned by a leader that gets adopted broadly and regularly inspected and improved to ensure things get done, not because everyone has good intentions, but because the mechanism’s elements structurally force the desired behavior. “Good intentions never work, you need good mechanisms to make anything happen.” — Jeff Bezos I’ve written previously about how Good Intentions are Never Enough and why mechanisms are needed, but I didn’t go deep into how to make mechanisms actually work. …Continue reading

Kindel’s 2nd Law

Kindel’s 2nd Law – Companies with a subscriptions-based business model eventually behave in ways hostile to that company’s customers. Charlie Kindel – July 2019 Woot! I now have two laws named after me. This law was originally coined in a tweet: This law is a law due to companies’ getting focused on a made-up LTV (lifetime value of a customer), CAC (cost to acquire a customer), and churn rate. Especially churn. Once a subscription business …Continue reading

Have Backbone, Disagree and Commit

Have Backbone, Disagree and Commit Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly. – Amazon’s Leadership Principles This Leadership Principle actually combines two principles that go hand-in-hand. First, there’s the “Have Backbone” part and then the part about disagreeing but committing …Continue reading

Kindel’s Law

Kindel’s Law – Every payment system eventually becomes an anti-fraud system. -Charlie Kindel, 2013 I’m not sure how this law thing works. But I’m jealous of folks like Moore, Atwood, and Shannon. I think everyone should have a law named after them. In 2013, when I was tasked with build Amazon’s equivalent of ApplePay I had an epiphany. After studying all of the payment systems going back to the invention of currency up to credit …Continue reading

Customer, Business, Technology, Organization (CBTO)

CBTO = Customer + Business + Technology + OrganizationContinue reading

Businesses Buy Differently

My post on Why Nobody Can Copy Apple has become one of the most read posts I’ve ever written (thanks @gruber). Commenters are asking me “Can you describe more what the behaviors are that are different when building for business vs. consumers?” There are many, but central is the sales motion: the approach and process an organization uses to sell product. The sales motion for businesses is diametrically different than the sales motion for consumers. …Continue reading

Why Nobody Can Copy Apple

Horace Dediu has written another brilliant piece titled “Why doesn’t anybody copy Apple?”. As he points out, Apple is fairly unique in its command of vertical integration and many people point to that as the “why”. However, Horace also admits this can’t be the sole reason and he is unable to explain what that reason could be. I think I know. Tim Cook refers to integration and a great team as unique Apple advantages (but …Continue reading

Paying Developers is A Bad Idea

The companies that make the most profit are those who build virtuous platform cycles. There are no proof points in history of virtuous platform cycles being created when the platform provider incents developers to target the platform by paying them. Paying developers to target your platform is a sign of desperation. It means developers have no skin in the game. A platform where developers do not have skin in the game is artificially propped up …Continue reading

Retail Pricing, Markup, and Margins

Tom’s Hardware is generally really solid. But they should stay focused on technology because this post is seriously absurd: “More than two years after the introduction of the iPad, Samsung appears to be very confident in the tablet market and is shooting for margins that exceed Apple’s iPad levels.” – Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Has Bigger Profit Margin Than iPad, Aug 27, 2012 MSRP stands for Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price. It is the price a …Continue reading

A Mouse and Keyboard Don’t Make a Hardware Company

Microsoft is not, and never will be, a hardware company. Please don’t go off saying “what about Xbox or mice & keyboards?” Microsoft does not really want to build & sell hardware. Surface is akin to Google’s Nexus; a ‘north star’ product intended to lead OEMs in the right direction. “With Surface we wanted to make sure that no stone is left unturned, in terms of really showing Windows 8 in its most innovative form. …Continue reading

The Five Big Guys

I’m working on writing up my thesis on the future of the consumer technology business and have convinced myself that there are 5 companies that stand to dominate. I call them The Five Big Guys. This post lays the ground work for that thesis by discussing these 5 companies. In 1989 I read the tea-leaves and made the call that Windows was going to dominate and OS/2 was going to fail. I felt I was …Continue reading

Brand is a Critical Part of the End-to-End Experience

A commenter on another of my posts asked me to explain further why I think “brand is as much a part of the end-to-end experience as the user interface, device, OS, apps, and services.” I took it as a challenge to actually get my thoughts on the subject down in writing. So here we go… I use the following mental model when thinking through end-to-end user experiences: Or, since this is not real math, in words: …Continue reading

Be Either an App or a Platform, Not Both

If you think the thing you are building is both an “app” and a “platform” you will fail. Oh, and if you think it’s going to be a just a platform, you will fail too. (Update: April 6, 2012 – I updated this post with some typo fixes and minor tweaks). A recent story on Hacker News gave me an excuse to write down my thoughts on this subject. I’m reposting here in order to …Continue reading