Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hawk’

White Hot Flickr Alternative 500px Raises 525K In Series A

June 3rd, 2011 06:39 admin View Comments

As the complaints about Flickr continue to pile on, scrappy Toronto-based service 500px continues to grow, going from 1000 users in 2009 to over 85K (around 45K of which have joined in the last three months). And after two years of bootstrapping, the startup is today announcing its $525K Series A round with investment from High Line Venture Capital, Deep Creek Capital and ff Venture Capital.

Says co-founder Oleg Gutsol, “The idea of making 500px arose from Evgeny [Tchebotarev] and I having difficulties with the current available platforms — there wasn’t a good service that would allow us to display our photos is a visually pleasing way and be easy to use. I think we tried every somewhat popular service online and still were not quite satisfied. So we decided to build one ourselves.”

Founders Gutsol and Ian Sobolev migrated their Livejournal-based photo sharing community to the current site on Halloween 2009 with little fanfare. Recently garnering some positive press as well as drawing in Flickr power users like Thomas Hawk, Troy Holden and Ivan Makarov and this whole thread of  Flickr migrations, the site grew 60% in the last 30 days, bringing in an impressive 2.5 million visits last month.

Despite its unexpected scales, 500px is committed to its main goal to help photographers reach larger audiences, with Digg-like Popular and Upcoming pages as well as an editorial staff that curates the Editor’s Choice and Fresh collections.  ”We encourage young talent,” says Gutsol Tchebotarev, “It is not uncommon to see someone new joining our site and have their photo appear in our popular feed in a matter of hours.”

Gutsol plans on using the money to hire more engineers, like everyone else in tech right now, hoping to build a “global platform” for digital photography. The company currently makes revenue by offering a $50 pro-account that gives users custom layouts and giving photographers the ability to sell their prints.

Source: White Hot Flickr Alternative 500px Raises 525K In Series A

Flickr Designer Publicly Criticizes Flickr’s Design

May 18th, 2011 05:33 admin View Comments

The photo-sharing space continues to heat up, and continues to leave dominant player in the space Flickr in the dust, innovation-wise. If one thing’s becoming clear, it’s that it must be really painful to work at Yahoo and have any sort of passion for good product design.

The latest example of this pain point comes from Flickr designer Timoni West, who has publicly criticized the service on her personal blog, in a post called “The Most Important Page On Flickr.” In the post Timoni links to the Flickr Contacts > Recent Uploads page and breaks down what’s wrong with it, namely that on a micro-level that there is no chronological way to sort photos, the thumbnail size is too small and there’s no way to see all of a user’s recent photos without visiting their profile.

But what West finds most problematic is that …

“The page fails on a fundamental level—it’s supposed to be where you find out what’s happened on Flickr while you were away. The current design, unfortunately, encourages random clicking, not informed exploration.

The page isn’t just outdated, it’s actively hurting Flickr, as members’ social graphs on the site become increasingly out of sync with real life. Old users forget to visit the site, new sign ups are never roped in, and Flickr, who increased member sign-ups substantially in 2010, will forego months of solid work when new members don’t come back.”

Power Flickr users, desperate for a platform to provide the sense of community that early Flickr did, are moving on to Instagram, 500px and the recently launched Mlkshk. As Flickr user and developer Buzz Andersen put it, “This highly perceptive post by @Timoni almost completely covers the reasons my use of Flickr has declined over time.”

Many feel like Flickr has swerved from its original course of being a community of photographers and photosharers to being a storage center. Jason Kottke (Kottke!) referred to the problem as such, “Flickr has become a shoebox under the bed instead of the door of the refrigerator or workplace bulletin board. “

Thomas Hawk is one of the early Flickr evangelists who moved on because of lack of community, leaving the service for 500px, “500px is like Flickr was in the early day. They care about the users. Flickr doesn’t anymore … [500 px CEO] Ian Sobolev is interacting with uses like Stewart/Caterina did.  Flickr censors, bans, deletes and talks down to their users.”

But West thinks (or rather, writes) that there’s still a glimmer of hope, that Flickr still has the ability to “kick ass in this arena.” But she modifies her assertion with “They just have to build it” and her statement is decidedly less powerful when taken in the context of “This post is largely taken from a proposed redesign I sent out last year” in the introduction.

Last year! With no such redesign in sight one can’t help but feel that West’s insightfulness is lost on Yahoo. And that Instagram should probably hire her to build its web platform.

Source: Flickr Designer Publicly Criticizes Flickr’s Design

Glassdoor Puts Numbers on Our Schizophrenic Job Market

March 29th, 2011 03:00 admin View Comments

Glassdoor is reporting an Employment Confidence Survey today that shows robust and increasing confidence in the job market– never mind most of the nation remains gripped in 9% unemployment with only a little hope of things getting better. 40% of respondents expect their company’s outlook to improve in the next six months and just 17% are concerned about a possible layoff, down from 26% in the first quarter of 2009. And there’s decent optimism that should they lose their jobs, 40% of them say it is “likely” they would find a new job matching their experience and pay within six months– the highest that number has been in six quarters. Glassdoor notes that “only” 35% of respondents expected to get a raise within the next 12 months, but given the top line economic data for the country, that still seems high to me.

While unemployment is getting better, the numbers say as much about who uses Glassdoor as anything else. While millions of Americans seem trapped on the less-desirable side of a skills-to-jobs-available mismatch, there’s a full-on talent war going on in Silicon Valley, where not only engineers but talented startup executives and worker bees are flooded with offers. Culprits for this talent bubble are certainly companies like Google and Facebook and Zynga who are hiring large numbers of employees as fast as they can, but also to blame is the relative ease of starting a company and getting funding– which takes an increasing number of engineers and potential CTOs and managers out of the job market.

To wit: According to Glassdoor, more than one-third of employees expect to leave their job in the next three years, 28% expect to do so in the next two years and 14% expect to leave in less than one year. Add it up and nearly 60% of respondents in what’s supposed to be one of the worst labor markets in our nation’s history plan to voluntarily leave their jobs in less than three years.

It’s a stunning picture of a whole different kind of dysfunction in America’s job market. Typically even if you feel your job isn’t a risk, the fear of shrinking options makes people clamp on to whatever job they have. But in this market, while millions lose their houses, those on the other side of that skills/need labor chasm have the world as their oyster and there’s little-to-no sense of clinging to your port in a storm. It’s another sign of how deeply a sense of employee/employer loyalty has eroded in our country in the last few decades. When my generation was coming out of college in the late 1990s, the idea of job hopping every few years was still a radical invention of the so-called “new economy,” but now it’s just how someone plans a career.

Part of this comes from employees: Entrepreneurship isn’t just mainstream in Silicon Valley, increasingly most professionals run their careers as if they’re free-agents, merely tied up in contracts from time to time. But it’s also employers faults. The rabidly-short term nature of the stock market has dramatically changed how companies view layoffs. Decades ago, layoffs were considered a last resort of a dying — or at the very least unprofitable– company. Today, they are a regular way to trim the fat, compensate for poor hiring decisions and meet quarterly numbers. Is it any wonder a dramatic shift in the use of layoffs has coincided with a dramatic shift in employee loyalty?

Companies gripped in the talent-war side of this economy are no doubt struggling to keep their best people. In the Valley this has taken the form of increasingly large retention bonuses, salaries and perks, and every single tech company will tell you that hanging on to employees is their number one risk factor. Part of this is the healthy churn of employees through the Valley’s ranks that keeps startups as competitive as the big companies. But part of it is in-demand employees revenge for decades of being increasingly expendable.

Glassdoor’s numbers also show another sharp divide in the labor market around gender lines. While nearly 40% of men are optimistic about a pay raise, only 30% of women are. Glassdoor ran the numbers for engineers and found good reason why: Women still make far less money than men. It’s less than the 20% gap nationwide, but worrying for a place that prides itself on being a meritocracy nonetheless.

Mike is coming in town today. Who votes I demand a huge raise?

(Photo by Thomas Hawk)

Source: Glassdoor Puts Numbers on Our Schizophrenic Job Market

California Judge Routes Campaign Robocalls Through Colorado

June 6th, 2010 06:58 admin View Comments

Thomas Hawk writes “Victoria Kolakowski, a current sitting law judge at the California PUC, is running for Alameda Superior Court judge in California. As part of her campaign she is robodialing people in California with a pre-recorded message. The only problem is that in Califorina robodials are actually illegal unless first introduced by a non-recorded natural person who gains consent to play the call. Ironically, the very agency set up to protect our privacy and enforce this law, the California PUC, is the very agency where Kolakowski works today. Kolakowski originally apologized for the calls but then later deleted messages on her Facebook account from people objecting to her use of these calls. Now Kolakowski is trying to argue that because ‘techincally’ she is routing her calls through Colorado from outside the state that her robodials are actually legal.”

Source: California Judge Routes Campaign Robocalls Through Colorado