Archive for November, 2014

This isn’t the death of the web, it’s the birth of the native web

Posted on November 25, 2014. Filed under: startups, venture capital, wildcard |

Something interesting happened a few days after we launched Wildcard last week. We released the first ever “native card browser” on November 13th, a serious departure from traditional HTML based web browsers, and 4 days later the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “The Web is Dying; Apps are Killing it.” This is by no means the first time this concept has been suggested, but the debate flared up in the wake of our launch, with a wave of follow on posts discussing the future of the web and its health as it relates to a mobile first world. I can’t say that Wildcard is responsible for provoking this instantiation of the debate, but I do think our product and message reached the community of folks who are thinking about the future of the web, and the timing/language that flowed through the posts I read suggests to me that Wildcard was present in people’s minds during the conversation.

Two years ago when we started building Wildcard, the debate of native vs web was in a very different place. It was not a forgone conclusion that almost 90% of our internet consumption in 2014 would occur within apps, and a large contingent of “web purists” still held hope that HTML5 would win out over native. At the time we bet on the native ecosystem, but aspired to bring some of the most important properties from the web (like discoverability and sharing/linking) into this new reality. We thought of cards as the native analog to webpages, and didn’t aspire to kill the web, but rather to modernize it into what was clearly a superior user experience on mobile (app/native technology).

I was pleased to see in the most recent wave of this discussion, a general acceptance or recognition that in today’s mobile era, the web as we know it, is pushing down stack to a more infrastructural position that is powering new, native interfaces that are easier to interact with on mobile. I liked the supposition that just because users are interacting with the information from the web in a different interface or format, that does not mean that the web is dead or dying…to me this arc read more like an evolution than than an extinction.

I have largely tried to stay out of this debate, mostly because I am sensitive to my lack of historical context associated with the development and emergence of the desktop web. There are so many smart people who lived through it, who are intimately familiar with it’s definition, properties, and ideals…and my study of the internet really only began in 2005…I feel really confident building what I hope the native web or native internet becomes…but less comfortable pontificating on how that future does or does not jive with the past.

So this is all to say, I was pleased to see thoughtful posts like this and this pushing forward a more flexible and updated definition of “the web” and I hope that Wildcard can play a small part in defining an interaction paradigm that recognizes today’s hardware and context while delivering on some of the things we lost in the migration from the web as we knew it to this more modern, native consumptive pattern.

For ease, i’ve pasted a bunch of the media from this latest conversation:

“The Web is Dying, Apps are Killing It” – WSJ, Chris Mims
http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-web-is-dying-apps-are-killing-it-1416169934

“Follow Up: The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations for the Web” – WSJ, Chris Mims
http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/11/18/the-soft-bigotry-of-low-expectations-for-the-web/

“The web is alive and well” — Quartz, Zach Seward
http://qz.com/297418/the-web-is-alive-and-well/

“Native Apps Are Part of the Web” — Daring Fireball, John Gruber
http://daringfireball.net/2014/11/native_apps_are_part_of_the_web

“The Web, Still Dying After All These Years” — MG Siegler
https://medium.com/five-hundred-words/the-web-still-dying-after-all-these-years-66cc2c9db8c9

“Is the Web Dying, Killed Off by Mobile Apps? It’s Complicated” – GigaOm, Matt Ingram
https://gigaom.com/2014/11/17/is-the-web-dying-killed-off-by-mobile-apps-its-complicated/

“The Web is Dying! Wait, How Are You Reading This?” – Slate, Will Oremus
http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/11/17/sorry_wsj_nyt_the_web_not_dying_apps_not_killing_it.html

“Rumors of the Internet’s death have been greatly exaggerated” – Daily Dot, Ben Branstetter
http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/web-dying-app-takeover/

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The Dopamine Squirt You Got From Fab’s Failure

Posted on November 21, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I read this morning that Fab was selling for $15M, half cash half stock, 18 months after raising $150M at a $1.5B valuation…As I clicked through to the article, I felt the same disgusting feeling you feel when driving by a car accident and trying to catch a glimpse of the blood and gore. It’s an ugly behavior…a guilty, sensational, non-empathetic lust to watch the wreck in all it’s gruesome detail…and for some reason we, here in startupland, can’t get enough of the high profile gore. We say that failure is acceptable in this world, and when a seed funded company doesn’t make it to the A round, we generally embrace that human and try to lift them up as opposed to scrutinizing his fall, but when fancy people fail, when a high profile person’s new product flops, or a company once on a tear, hit’s a bump in the road, it’s such an easy story, or off color comment, or joke to crack…that we actually bond over watching the car crash together…it’s just a sick behavior.

What does this say about our tolerance for exploration? How can we encourage risk taking, and pushing the envelope when we behave like this? Why does past success or praise somehow strip a founder or company of their right to be imperfect? This world loves to jump on the bandwagon when something is hot, and loves to jump off and judge when the same thing cools off…and there’s this implicit “i was right about this” or “i saw this coming” or everyone else who was bragging about “being right” on the way up was actually wrong and somehow their loss levels things out and becomes my gain…it’s just such an ugly, detached relationship to the creative process…and it only really exists in people who are just far enough a way to look at the thing that’s being judged, as opposed to the process of creation, the risk taking, the attempt…which comes in many flavors, and in my opinion is beautiful even when it ends in defeat.

I know absolutely nothing about Fab…i’m not an investor, have never met them, didn’t bother to read what went right and what went wrong…but if it’s not Fab this week, it’s something else last week or next week…and I’m a little tired of the sensationalism and expose (ex-pose-ay…i don’t know how to make that e character w the thing over it), camera rolling in your face, snickering that comes with a visible defeat. Next time you find yourself judging someone else’s attempt at creation from your arm chair, rather than lust in the savory details, get off your fucking ass and create something instead.

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Launch Day

Posted on November 13, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

After a year and a half of incredibly hard work, recognizing that we have MANY years of work ahead, today we are releasing the first version of the Wildcard card browser. If you have an iPhone, you can download it here, and if you’re reading this on a desktop you can click this link and scroll down to receive a text with the appstore link.

I believe that one day Wildcard will replace whatever legacy browser you are using on your phone. It’s clear to me that the browser is the worst user experience on every iPhone owner’s homescreen, and the rise of card technology and card design I believe represents an answer to this reality. While 1.5 years of work may seem like a long time, it is still early days for cards and the native internet…every major platform (Twitter Cards, Facebook OpenGraph, Pinterest Rich Pins, Google Cards, Facebook Applinks, etc.) is working on their version of solutions, and every publisher and developer is being asked to rethink their dependance on legacy webviews in a mobile world. For publishers, cards represent a native interaction with a user that hasn’t installed their app yet, deeplinks represent a native interaction with a user that has, and mobile webviews represent the worst first/last impression you will ever make on a new user.

For consumers, native (app technology) has clearly won, but we’ve lost discovery, and browsing, and easy movement between experiences…the most fundamental thing about my desktop web experience was and still is that I can open a browser, type anything into that box, and get back relevant results that are actionable and usable without installing new software…that is a super power…and it’s what Wildcard hopes to return to you in this mobile first life we are all living. Why should you have to wade through a sea of blue links to broken pages and inconsistent experience when every other app on your phone is beautiful, clean, fast and easy to use. Your web experience should be like that too, and Wildcard is a better way to get what you need from the web.

Like any new technology, this is a Version 1. A beginning of a better mobile web experience, but not without plenty of room for improvement. I sent a note to our team earlier this week, after reflecting about what today’s launch represents, and I wrote that this release is about putting out the first chapter of product that we are deeply proud of, standing behind it, and writing the rest of the book in the open, with participation and feedback from users, developers, publishers, and the market as a whole.

I stand by that thought. Most specifically, Wildcard represents direct access to and discovery of a burgeoning native web. The access part—the browser—we’ve got down pretty well. The discovery part—card search—we’ve done a ton of work to bootstrap in the absence of being live, but it needs users and your help to take it to the next level. Card search feels kind of similar to when Apple launched Siri. Awesome new technology, didn’t nail it 100% of the time, but when she did it was great and she improved every day. That’s what Card search is gonna feel like for a while too. You’ll also start to notice that new cards will be popping up in Wildcard…soon you might be able to find a ticket, check a yoga schedule, etc. etc…so keep searching and watch as things unfold.

Last thought, if you are a publisher or developer or anyone with an online presence who wants to create, manage, or control your cards in Wildcard, or in general…we’ve got great tools for you to do that and we hope you’ll take advantage of them. And if you’re an app that is chomping at the bit to display cards instead of mobile webviews inside your experience, hang tight…we’ve got something coming for you…

Thanks so much for giving Wildcard a try. The more you use it, the faster it will become what you want it to be.

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    About

    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)

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