Paul Allen and Provo Labs and Provo Labs Academy
is the Founder and CEO of Provo Labs
and Provo Labs Academy
moving on from blogspot
i am now located at the following:
if you find youself at my old blogspot url, then you'll be redirected to
within 6 seconds.
rejecting blogspot, voip
okay. the other night, i bought "www.shmula.com" and got hosting at godaddy. it takes 24 - 48 hours to set-up my linux server; once that is done, then i'll create my mysql db and configure that; then, i'll download wordpress 2.0 and configure it and ftp that to my hosting provider; i wish i could ssh, but godaddy doesn't allow that. after all this, then i'll need to import all my blogger posts to my new blog using a utility in wordpress 2.0. i'm excited and look forward to getting this done and getting off of blogger.
i could've used typad. it would've been easier, but i prefer flexibility and it'll be fun configuring wordpress and mysql.
it also would've been much easier to have hosted with yahoo!, but i decided to go with godaddy instead. i think yahoo!is probably much easier, just more expensive, but certainly less work. wordpress is already bundled with their package and not much configuration needs to be done at all. there's a new breed of skype-like services: web-activated telephony in a click, for super cheap rates, often anywhere in the world. jajah is one of the more interesting ones. jajah opens up voip telephony via the web to everybody. there's no software to download at all. unlike yahoo messenger,
i really wish cable providers serviced where we live. because it's a new house in an older neighborhood, comcastdidn't extend their cable lines to our house. instead, i was forced to go with qwest dsl. i have to say, it's not bad at all. but, having dsl precludes me from signing up with vonage.
gtalk, or skype, jajah just allows you to put your number in a field and the number you want to call, then jajah connects them together and you talk via your computer. it's cool, easy, and cheap.
this is cool and practical technology.
not on (put_name_here.blogspot.com)
i'll begin publishing on "www.shmula.com" soon. i want to get off of the .blogspot domain and probably use wordpress or something. i'll get to it eventually.
lunch with mozy, gtalk, who is henry gale, & the ultimate fighter
i had lunch today with josh coates. we ate a mexican restaurant called mama chu's. food was good. chiminichanga. josh is the founder of a cool backup service called mozy. backup is an irritating computing problem -- annoying for end-users, small businesses, and large corporations. mozy is an answer to the backup problem. check out mozy. it's cool, free, and it will save your data.
the new interface to gtalk recently came out. it looks and feels much better. gtalk is getting closer to aim and instant messenger in terms of features, usability, and quality.
who is henry gale? i'm so intrigued by the "others". who are these people?
the ultimate fighter season 3 is now underway. episode 1 was cool. tito ortiz and ken shamrock are the coaches. tito's public persona is of a mean and rough guy. but, as a coach he's seems actually very nice and personable. he seems . . . human. ken shamrock, on the other hand, is a decent fighter, but not a good coach at all. he's indecisive, narrow, and just plain old. and, he didn't bring a submission guy as an assistant coach. c'mon! how can you teach mixed martial arts without any submission training? ken openly admits that he's not a submission guy, but that he's a slugger and a leg-lock guy. his team is going to suffer from his poor decision here.
i'm excited for this season.
amazon.com: work experience #4
i earned my ba & ms from the university of washington -- in computer science witha ba in economics and computer science. i was recruited right out of school. amazon is a place where you do cool stuff on the first day. on my first day, i was put on the music store team. it was fun and we worked hard to get the store up and the features that we thought would compete. our goal was to get to market quickly -- rapid deployment is the goal. that project lasted about 3 months and it was an awesome experience to know that something you created is used by millions of people everyday.
compensation at amazon is weird. cash salary is low for someone with my background ($75K), but they give out a lot of stock. bonuses are all in stock. i always ranked either a 4 or 5 every year and i got about 300 rsu bonus shares every year. it's amazon's way of keeping you there longer.
if you don't care that much about money, but care a lot about doing cool stuff and changing the way people use the web -- even on the first day, work at amazon. work experience there kicks. you won't get that kind of exposure and work experience anywhere else.
i left to begin my little search startup.
male, 2002 - 2004
amazon.com: work experience #3
I worked for AMZN from 2001 - 2005 at the RNO facility. I started as a lowly area manager and worked my way up to black belt. In fact, I started on the nights . . . weekend nights at that. I never forgot that experience and one of the lessons I learned is that it is really easy for people to feel isolated and forgotten about. So, all of you managers out there...remember that everyone who works for you is important!
Let's go back to the beginning...my first interview was by phone. AMZN contacted me regarding my resume that was posted on Monster. At first I did not even know which facility it was for. It could have been for TUL...yuck... (Sorry all of you Sooners). That interview was pretty easy and was done from someone in SEA (must have been an HR person). I drove to beautiful Fernley for my next interviews which consisted of a series of panel interviews. Interestingly enough less than half of the folks who interviewed me lasted through my tenure there. In fact, a couple of the folks had only been there a month before me! At these interviews the questions were primarily about my leadership style and problem solving. Pretty simple stuff.
Well, they liked me and I got a decent job offer (well, for Amazon. For all of you who have not worked for Amazon...they do NOT pay a lot!). On a side note: my least favorite core value is frugality. Great for a company…not so great for a paycheck. This was November which is just in time for peak season. I was put on the weekend night shift responsible the full case and non-con (read: large items) area. I started at a time when there was not a training program for managers so I was pretty much left on my own to sink or swim.
Well, I obviously swam and stayed with AMZN for 4 years. I went from night shift to day shift and then finally to black belt. Oh, thanks for training me AMZN! I really appreciate it!
Black belt was a good job under one boss but terrible under the next boss. One boss really believed in it and knew how to use Six Sigma. The next one was not quite as sure. I think that is more because they were kinda overwhelmed in that new position (to their defense…some key players left when he came on board). I joined AMZN because I really liked how everyone believed in what they were doing. I never lost my passion for customer service even though my enthusiasm for AMZN waned from time to time.
I left to move to San Diego and make more money.
Male 2001 - 2005
amazon.com: work experience #2
i miss the pacmed building in seattle -- i could bring my dog to the office and the front desk always had doggie treats for me. i was part of the usability group. in our group, we had about 15 people, mostly with backgrounds in psychology, human computer interaction, and anthropology. i left amazon for a different opportunity. i'm still in the ecommerce space, but i'm now making more money and i have people under me. amazon.com in your resume is a good thing. i recommend working at amazon. it's a great place to come from.
male, 1999 - 2000
amazon.com: work experience #1
i was contacted by the sales and operations planning (s&op) team at amazon.com at the beginning of 2002. after speaking with them by phone, i decided that it sounded interesting, but not my main interest. then, the pick 2-pizza team spoke with me about being a software engineer on their team. it sounded interesting, but i didn't want to develop software anymore -- at least not full-time. i though for sure that amazon.com would say "forget that guy" by now, but they didn't. i was invited to interview with the folks at the fulfillment center. i met with the gm and several of the folks there. i was stoked. operations is really where my interest was and this felt like a great fit.
my interviews were interesting and pretty easy. i don't remember them completely, though. they were quantitative, though, and also behavioral. i was given a case study by an interviewer -- a real estate case, where i was asked to compute a regression by hand and explain what the r^2 meant in the solution. besides that, the questions were behavioral and based on the amazon.com core values:
* Customer Obsession: We start with the customer and work backwards.
* Innovation: If you don't listen to your customers you will fail. But if you only listen to your customers you will also fail.
* Bias for Action: We live in a time of unheralded revolution and insurmountable opportunity--provided we make every minute count.
* Ownership: Ownership matters when you're building a great company. Owners think long-term, plead passionately for their projects and ideas, and are empowered to respectfully challenge decisions.
* High Hiring Bar: When making a hiring decision we ask ourselves: "Will I admire this person? Will I learn from this person? Is this person a superstar?"
* Frugality: We spend money on things that really matter and believe that frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention! at amazon, as i came to later understand, they really, really, believe and live the core values. it's really cool. since i've left amazon, i find myself drawing upon my experience there and my own value system now includes the amazon core values. this was and remains a really impressive part of amazon.com to me.
no lunch. interviews were over two days. i met some really cool people; serious movers and shakers at amazon.com.
several weeks later. . .
i received an offer. i was stoked. the salary was decent. restricted stock units (rsu) were generous. and, there was a signing bonus. remember, that amazon.com really emphasizes the core values in everything -- so, the rsu is the manifestation of ownership. their compensation & bonus plan is skewed to the ownership side. i accepted.
work in the fulfillment center is all about velocity and quality. from click-to-ship, velocity of product is key so that the customer receives his or her order in the shortest amount of time possible while maintaining high quality. there is a lot of inventory at the fulfillment centers. while at amazon, i was able to visit 4 fulfillment centers and the seattle headquarters. the operations group all report up to jeff wilke, who earned his ms and mba from the mit leaders for manufacturing program (mit-lfm). he's a big proponent of lean, six sigma, and also operations research methods, including simulation, queueing theory, and others. he hires really sharp phd-type people and engineers, software engineers, and others to run operations.
i left amazon.com for a smaller company. turnover is pretty high at amazon.com because headhunters constantly seek the amazon background and a lot of companies are interested in an amazon.com pedigree. i had a great experience there.
male, 2002 - 2005
omniture initial public offering
omniture -- a leader in web analytics -- filed an S1 to go public. congratulations to them and best of luck with the offering. this will be a great boost to the utah economy and bring more visibility to the potential of utah business and technology. a few notes on the S1:
revenues are decent,
* 2003, ~$8MM
* 2004, ~$20MM* 2005, ~$40MM they have operated at a loss every year (except for 2003), with a loss of $17MM in 2005; this means they are growing at a loss
. they have an impressive client list. given the financials, a few questions come to mind:
* can they sustain the double-digit growth going forward?
* they're losing money -- can or will the market bear that?
* they face some tough competitors -- urchin (google analytics) & websidestory.
best of luck to them. even though there's an S1, there is still a chance they don't go public. it just depends now on the sec comments, the results of the road show, and if they'll be able to respond to the comments from the street in regards to their quarterly growth projections. we'll see. best of luck to omniture.
my experience at amazon.com
later tonight i'll be posting my experience at amazon.com; i worked there from 2003 - 2005 and really enjoyed my time there. i've started writing my experience at amazon.com & i'll finish it tonight. in the mean time, i invite all former amazonians to share their experiences while an employee at amazon.com. here are some general guidelines:
* details, details, details
* share about your interview experience
* what did you do there
* when and where did you work for amazon.com
* your least favorite core value & why
* why did you join
* why did you leave
* openly slander people by name (don't mention names)
* don't share your own name
* sign your post with (your gender, years worked at amazon)
here's the process:
respond to this posting by posting an anonymous comment. the comment will be routed to me for approval. instead of approving it as a comment, i'll post it as a bonafide posting. no names. no trouble.
again, i invite all former amazonians to share your story here.
industrial design & things of that nature
i got a hold of last months utah business magazine article on utah's 40 under 40. having recently moved to utah, it was encouraging to see the promising and thriving business environment here. i'm especially impressed by the number of entrepreneurs in utah and the cool and innovative businesses they have built; it was interesting to read the profiles of those featured in the article. congratulations to them and i look forward to reading more about utah's up-and-coming business leaders and, in my small way, contribute to the growth of utah's business community.
google released an april fool's called google romance. it's entertaining to read. i think some people got fooled by this prank.
arnold schwarzenegger uses the phrase "things of that nature" a lot. it's hilarious that californians voted him as governor (i was a californian, but i didn't vote for him). california's 21 billion budget deficit is a tough problem to solve, and it certainly doesn't look like arnold is helping it any. a little coupon-cutting mentality and fiscal responsibility would help, i think.
lately i've really enjoyed vegetarian foods. i'm not vegetarian, but i think vegetarian food is super good. i really enjoy silk drinks & veggie burgers, and things of that nature.
apple turns 30 years old today! when i worked at inoveon, i had a mac and i loved working on it. apple had just released jaguar and i loved having a unix shell and easily working in that environment, but had the flexibility to use the click-and-drag widgets too.
industrial design and usability are chief at apple and they truly excel at it. i remember watching the macworld where steve jobs unveiled the luminiscent keyboard of the ibook -- the crowd went crazy.
simple innovation, but addressed a critical need. that's exactly the kind of breakthrough innovation they are well known for and excel at. since inoveon, i've been a pc user. but, i saw the less expensive macs at costco the other day and, apple recently release the dual boot feature. i think i'll save some money and buy myself one of these pretty macs from costco.
next to the apple and the dyson vacuum, i don't think there's any product that comes close to best-in-class industrial design, aesthetics, and ease-of-use. any other nomination for this category?