Dual-Platform App Strategies with Apportable

Using native code built for your iOS app, Apportable cross-compiles your code to Android, allowing app developers to embrase a dual-platform strategy based on Objective C. Guests include Co-Founder & CTO Ian Fisher, Engineer Adam Hunter, and Engineer Zac Bowling.

Learn more about Apportable

Financial Advice for Bootstrapped Founders

In an interview with the CEO (Jason Gordo) and Marketing Director (Sarah Buhr) of San Francisco startup FlexScore, we discuss the wide world of personal finance, and dive into the ways that FlexScore is bringing financial insight to the 99%, information previously only available to the wealthy.

Sign up for the FlexScore beta.

AngelList Enables Public Fundraising, Thanks to Silicon-Valley-Backed JOBS Act

A secret no longer.

A secret no longer.

Thanks to regulatory changes enacted by the JOBS Act, startups, beginning this Monday, September 23, startups may disclose their fundraising information to the public, rather than to accredited investors alone.

The changes were outlined in an email blast recently sent out to founders on AngelList, with the news freshly arriving in people’s inboxes.

President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law on April 5, 2012, after passing Congress with rare bipartisan support. Backed overwhelmingly by Silicon Valley, and supported by entrepreneurs across the country, the law rewrites and eases a number of regulatory requirements that currently burden emerging companies.

In addition to allowing startups to disclose their fundraising information (and ambitions) to the general public, the JOBS Act facilitates a number of changes that will likely prove a boon to a stagnant economy, including:

  • Increasing from 500 to 2,000 the number of shareholders a company may have before disclosing its common stock to the SEC.
  • Extend from two years to five years the period of exemption allowed for publicly traded startups to comply with the perfectly titled Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the costliest and most controversial measure of the regulatory act.
  • Provide simplified regulatory requirements for fundraising rounds up to $50 million, from a previous limit of $5 million.

Many of these changes have gone into effect already, or, like the public fundraising provision, will take effect soon. Also stipulated in the act is a much-touted measure allowing non-accredited investors to crowdfund companies; however, specific regulations governing this change have repeatedly faced delays.

NoThingsD: Tech Blog Severs Ties with Wall Street Journal. What’s Next?

Journalites no longer.

Journalites no longer.

As reported by Fortune, the influential team behind tech blog AllThingsD — chiefly, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg — is severing ties with parent company Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal, at the end of the year. In addition, Mossberg will cease publishing his column in the newspaper, ending a 20-year tenure at the publication.

One can only speculate about the internal politics that led to the fallout. That said, the announcement leaves the fate of the brand, and the team behind it, in jeopardy, partiularly since Dow Jones will retain the rights to the “AllThingsD” monicker, as Swisher and Mossberg reportedly seek outside capital for what may be a new media venture.

Three predictions on what will happen:

1) Dow Jones will either nominate new leaders from within its organization to run the site, or, more likely, will bring in a well-known outside duo from the blogosphere to take over. It’s difficult to imagine a more coveted position for a tech journalist, but at the same time, when one considers the deep associations between the brand and the two leaders behind it, it’s unclear whether such a strategy would work.

2) Swisher and Mossberg will launch a new tech-focused media site. While traditional, “dead tree” journalism continues to stagnate (as John Oliver quips, citing the recent acquisition of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos during a widespread decline in print circulation, “there are more people buying newspapers than there are people buying newspapers.”), digital media focused on technology, has a proven history of receiving institutional backing — PandoDaily, TechCrunch, GigaOM, and BostInno, among others, stand among the funded.

3) Other tech writers follow suit. A number of the best tech journalists still work for traditional media outlets — Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, for instance — but this needn’t be the case. If the team behind AllThingsD can successfully spin out of their parent company, I wouldn’t be surprised if they started a trend.

For additional coverage, see Matthew Ingram’s coverage on GigaOM.

Will Startups Embrace Management?

The future face of Silicon Valley?

A recent Medium post by Dustin Moskowitz, co-founder of Asana, argues that startups should transition away from distributed, individuated, hierarchy-free management culture — or, better put, anti-management culture – that defines the structure (or lack thereof) of many emerging organizations.

Moskowitz offers counterpoint by way of gaming startup Valve, who in a move of considerable transparency, published a self-critique of their laissez-faire, DIY-ish philosophy:

valve

Asana, and other companies, organize themselves around a culture of “distributed responsibility,” whose details they share generously on their blog. In this culture, domains of expertise fall into the hands of single individuals, where one person is responsible, say, for onboarding, another for CSS, and so on. The approach suggests a peer-to-peer culture of decision-making, rather than that of a traditional, top-down hierarchy.

Dustin’s notion of a good manager, perhaps reflecting a broader perspective shared by many in Silicon Valley, is as follows:

At the end of the day, good management qualities (empathy, attentiveness, honesty, wisdom, among others) trump philosophy, but some thought and planning can go a long way towards creating a culture that best supports your people and the goals of your company.

Interestingly, however, such qualities — while certainly admirable, and indeed desirable — may have little to do with effective leadership, or so suggests empirical research. “In Praise of Dullness,” a widely touted column penned by David Brooks in 2009, suggests that many of these soft-core qualities have little to do with effective leadership:

Steven Kaplan, Mark Klebanov and Morten Sorensen recently completed a study called “Which C.E.O. Characteristics and Abilities Matter?”

They relied on detailed personality assessments of 316 C.E.O.’s and measured their companies’ performances. They found that strong people skills correlate loosely or not at all with being a good C.E.O. Traits like being a good listener, a good team builder, an enthusiastic colleague, a great communicator do not seem to be very important when it comes to leading successful companies.

What mattered, it turned out, were execution and organizational skills. The traits that correlated most powerfully with success were attention to detail, persistence, efficiency, analytic thoroughness and the ability to work long hours.

In other words, warm, flexible, team-oriented and empathetic people are less likely to thrive as C.E.O.’s. Organized, dogged, anal-retentive and slightly boring people are more likely to thrive.

These results are consistent with a lot of work that’s been done over the past few decades.

Granted, Brooks focuses on CEOs, rather than managers, but I think that a similar principle applies in both cases: good leaders are individuals who are organized, consistent, critical, and hard-working, irrespective of their personalities.

The conclusions, while perhaps counter-intuitive, seem to be consistent across a wide body of research. Should this change the way startups organize themselves?

Maybe. I think that both Brooks and Moskowitz have valid points. The research cited by Brooks focuses on leaders of large, traditional, hierarchical organizations, where the qualities that constitute effectiveness may be defined, or at least shaped, by the broader culture of the companies.

Startups like Asana, meanwhile, are smaller, nimbler, flatter, and more collaborative than those highlighted in the cited studies. Given a company where the team evolves quickly, where each member wears numerous hats, where personal growth matters as much as dogged persistence, and where mentorship factors crucially into leadership, is a new kind of manager emerging? Moskowitz writes:

At Asana, we value transparency, balance, working together as peers, and investing in each other, and we try to apply these values to our management culture. We think that good management requires balance. We try to give people the freedom they need to contribute at their full potential, while also providing the support that helps them grow to become even more capable.

Our approach is “distributed responsibility,” exemplified by our AoR (Area of Responsibility) program. Instead of having all decisions flow through the management hierarchy, we go out of our way to distribute them as evenly as possible across all employees. At the same time, our approach emphasizes personal growth, especially through mentorship. I believe the most important contribution of a manager is to serve their reports by unblocking them, mentoring them, and pointing them in a direction that best serves their needs and the priorities of the organization.

Without suggesting too deterministic an outcome, the management culture at Asana certainly seems to be steering the company towards success.