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Gillmor Gang: Electrical Banana

By Steve Gillmor

Thanks I’m giving for the start of the first big online season. Yes, the pandemic has put in place a gigantic move to the digital for our immediate and accelerated future. We all know how this plays out in the required state of things pre-vaccine. But there’s an undercurrent not so hidden there of a dynamic answer to my wife’s stubborn question: Where’s my Jetpack?

She’s a child of the 60s, a post-Beatles time of imploding dreams and dashed expectations. James Bond got to fly a Jetpack, but the telltale burned gasoline exhaust made the effect an artifact of what wasn’t going to happen. In an electric decade and noise-canceling AirPods, maybe it’s more likely to surface than not, but if so, what’s the next Jetpack?

My vote is for the electric newsletter, a notification engine that knows what I’m tracking, projects the trends circulating my core peers, and invests proactively in the products we want to accelerate. It’s a self healing economy, a research coordinator, a humor and media rewarder. On the Gang, we use a blend of live streaming, backchannel notifications, and everything up to but not including a newsletter.

From its earliest days, Twitter promised a future where RSS authority would be mined in a social context. What I mean by that is RSS delivered the ability, the chair in the sky opportunity Louis C.K. described, the chance to explore the world alongside the artists formerly known as accredited journalists. It was always a tough sell for the displaced gatekeepers, but flash forward to today and you can see they’re all bloggers and podcasters now.

The moment the meritocracy window opened, the definition of success moved to the readers, the viewers, the social enterprise as Marc Benioff insisted. Software as a service mined those social signals as fuel for what the iPhone delivered in the mobile wave. Now the mobile economy is expanding to the silicon on the desktop. M1 seems like an evolution, but its entry point on consumer laptops is designed to produce network effects in the same way Office 97 boosted Windows 95 into orbit.

So where is this electric newsletter if it’s so important? As a vehicle for finding stuff I didn’t know I cared about, newsletters suffer from too many of them with too few business models driving them. Subscriptions derive revenue but reduce the network effects of advertising supported subsidy of firewalls. You get reach but quantity explodes. Context glut is not a pretty thing, either.

Our early attempts at constructing a Gang newsletter spawned the realtimeTelegram feed; its group-shared notification stream valuable as much for what we skipped as when we dipped in to it. As a framing device for the Gillmor Gang recording sessions, we could anticipate both what we wanted to talk about and what we wanted to avoid. Trump fatigue gets burned off in Telegram, while science and innovation get drilled down on and fleshed out in advance.

Adding a Twitter feed (follow @gillmorgang) pushes Likes and retweets into the mix. The live recording stream generates Facebook Watch Parties and additional comments. An edited version here on TechCrunch adds this related commentary. But where’s the newsletter for all these live pieces?

Perhaps the answer goes back to the Jetpack? It may not be the Jetpack we are looking for, but rather the components that make up this stream as a service. A Jetpack offers the dream of instant teleportation without the traffic jams or being polite about your Uber driver’s musical taste. Zoom already offers some of that promise, where saving the commute opens up hours in your day. Zoom-enabled shopping and delivery management will go a long way.

As Donovan presciently proclaimed, Electrical Banana gonna to be the very next phase. My electric newsletter is the perfect definition of a pipe dream. It’s not so much as when it’s going to get here as what.

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, November 20, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

Gillmor Gang: Apple Tacks

By Steve Gillmor

When the music’s over, turn out the lights. Back in the day, The Doors were one of a number of 60s rock groups to surface around the intersection of blues, R&B, and a cultural shift that challenged our notions of who was in charge. The Doors were a four-piece that sounded like something bigger. The keyboard player, Ray Manzarek, created that sleight of hand by collapsing bass, drums, guitar, keyboard, and vocal to drums, guitar, vocal, and bass on his left hand and melody on his right.

In the studio, they often augmented the sound with a traditional bass sideman, but the overall feel of the left hand driving the feel and the right the upper notes produced a unique sound and hybrid of musical styles. They were not my favorite, but the night I caught them at a New York club called Electric Circus, I lurked stunned behind Manzarek as he performed this magic trick cum laude into the night. Years later, I remember every note. It feels like I cheated the bounds of the universe.

Since the election, I’ve been hoping for a sense of completion, of triumph over the bounds of the terror of these times. Surely, a big part of it is the pandemic, which doesn’t care how close it was in Georgia or when or if Trump flies off to Florida for the holidays. But news of a second robust vaccine trial suggests the tough times, though not over by any means, may be in sight of an end or at least some version of a plan to get there.

Not so much for Trump and his fearful enablers. There’s much to look forward to: Inauguration Day, or as I like to call it, Eviction Day. A bailout of the 20 million unemployed that keeps them in their homes and on a pathway to economic recovery. A rational approach to the science of the virus and how to slow it while we figure out how to distribute the vaccines. A majority government for a change.

Instead, every last step will be fought tooth and nail. The early breath of fresh air is still lingering, but there’s no doubt this will be for every inch of the way. Come to think of it, did we really expect anything different? No, we expected the worst, and we got it. But this is not about the politics for me. It’s about finding a place to breathe, to invest in a future we can accept, to relearn how to be kind to ourselves in setting our expectations.

I’ve always held a fascination for technology for just that reason — to experience the combined shouts of innovation and inspiration that lead to breakthroughs in what’s possible. Even in the darkest depths of this crisis, the vaccine trials offer a glimpse at the leading edge of new approaches that will span not just the current virus but advances in efforts to battle cancer and other more traditional enemies. In politics, some of the citizen-based fundraising efforts of Bernie Sanders and media innovations like the Lincoln Project suggest ways of countering the negative effects of social networks and misinformation attacks.

In the more conventional reaches of tech, Apple’s M1 transition from Intel to Apple Silicon chips is unmistakably thrilling. Seeing the wave of computing acceleration spurred by the iPhone and iPad merging with the Mac on the desktop is so inspiring. For the first time, I’m delaying the new iPhone because I lust for the new Silicon version of the MacBook Air. Why? Because of what it doesn’t have, a fan. It’s like the taxi scene in Star Wars, you know the one where they’re not the droids you’re looking for. Then: no wheels.

Now: it’s not about the fact that you can run iOS apps on the Mac. It’s that you can write apps that take advantage of the whole platform, not just mobile but not Mac, or Web but not etc. The trade offs between the two platforms are evaporating. Notifications may be useless still on the desktop; that will rapidly change as app makers get used to the system-wide features spread across the merged platform. Video editing can move seamlessly to and from iPad (LumaTouch) and back to the Mac (X86 emulation mode), creating a production ecosystem and rendering farm for the new streaming renaissance. Work from home goes portable, plug and play as you travel and collaborate.

This will happen because Apple Silicon is such a game changer that it will be impossible to disrupt. Instant on, silent computing, virtual memory so invisible that you can swap huge loads in and out of memory, all kinds of attention to how people really use computers in this mobile era. The iPhone and iPad changed the way we thought about things. Now the Mac thinks that way too.

The only way I can justify the upgrade to the latest iPhone is by reupping to the Apple monthly payment contract at the end of the first of two years. So, Apple, how about you put the M1 MacBook Air on that plan, That way, as the ecosystem expands across the new modular software/hardware economy of speed, silence, and computing that just works, I can upgrade every release to the latest and greatest. The Apple Tax never had it so good.

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, November 13, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

Gillmor Gang: Check, please

By Steve Gillmor

When we recorded this Gillmor Gang, it was Day Four post election, or midweek in counting the late incoming mail and other provisional ballots. We were largely convinced of the Biden victory, but that nagging doubt instilled in us by 2016 still pervaded the Zoom session. Saturday’s street party felt more like it, and the sheer joy of Kamala Harris’s historic ascendancy was palpable.

As we sit yet another day later, the perception that Trump will never concede is matched by the equal feeling that we could care less. The air slowly leaking out of the tire doesn’t seem particularly impactful, but the moment when the metal rim connects with the concrete will bring things quickly to the reality. What’s really stark is the network chatter about Trump’s silence, that he has no plan. Is this new? He’s never conceded anything, and his plan is to disrupt any plan.

Still, we are so used to wallowing in this mess that we feel lost in our fatigue and good luck. Even as we recorded, processing the size of the vote on both sides took some effort. We understand the pandemic-mandated mail-in surge, but why the closeness of the numbers? Part of the surprise is how engaged the opposition is given the horror of the death toll, the clarity of the lies and evasions, the totalitarian suppression of information.

The presidency is at its heart an emotional transmitter: here’s what the deal is, here’s what we need to do, here’s what we’re going to do. However chaotic Trump’s message is, he is easy to understand. Biden was successful enough in his pitch to suggest he saw the world in similar ways, replacing fear with collective hope. Two distinct messages, one basic approach: fix the other guy’s mistakes. It’s not a beauty contest, but an ugly contest.

On Saturday Night Live, Dave Chappelle explored this odd coalition. He had a quizzical look that raised and answered the musical question: can I get away with this? Only occasionally funny in words, he was deep in courage and rigorous in opposition to conventional partisan wisdom. Are we ready to see it both ways, not just one way, our way? Smoking, swearing ugly, he peered out into the moment with that questioning expression: am I getting away with this? Should I?

As counting continues, we take a break to watch a Netflix series, The Queen’s Gambit. Binge chess, with a mesmerizing mix of mid 60s sets and soundtrack, and the hypnotic rhythm of timer competitive chess and coming of age of a teenaged future Grand Master girl. The counterpoint of Trump’s silence and time travel tracking shots in and through a Vegas hotel chess convention produces a comforting feeling that this transition has room to breathe. Waiting for the consensus to develop in an intricate chess match soothes us as we wait today for political reality to firm up.

The stakes are high, and the outcomes unknown. We may not know how the war with the virus will go, but at least we’ve somehow given ourselves a reasonable chance of resetting the clock. As we recorded the show, we had enough data to guess the result, even if we still don’t know the precise steps to January 20th.

The election data suggests Trump will have leverage to primary Republicans who openly challenge him. How he parlays that to his personal advantage will likely include a run at some version of TrumpTV, though his usual play is to license the brand. He may find that difficult with the prospect of going head to head with Murdoch, Fox News, and the Wall Street Journal. That group may require Trump to concede in order to make a deal.

But enough, already. Lame duck is a great place for the Donald to try and blast his way out of the sand trap. Democrats have earned a well-deserved respite for the holidays, thanks to the Biden team’s relentless focus on winning the Electoral College for once. Who knew? They did. And the moment in chess when the loser offers resignation comes not at the bitter end but three or four moves before.

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, November 6, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

Gillmor Gang: Something Goes Right

By Steve Gillmor

Here we sit in the valley of predespair, 2 weeks ahead of the election and God knows where we are in the pandemic. As my partner Tina says to me on this once glorious sunny day (the view formerly known as the Pacific Ocean has been replaced by the fog like a Zoom background) we seem to be better prepared for something to go wrong than right.

We’ve learned how to stay socially distant, half-learned to wear a mask, unlearned how it might be a good idea to stay home and let things just happen. The last four years seems like a bizarre experiment in what not to do, the triumph of the worst of our instincts and fear of the other. For my generation, the thought that we would be tested so apocalyptically had never entered our mind. Free love, social media, mind-altering drugs — all ideas that seemed good at the time.

Too good to be true, it turned out. In the stampede to enjoy the fruits of our labors, we turned success into the failure of others. The space race may have spawned the computer industry, but it also reinforced the notion that we beat them to save us. And the tech boom saw us undermine the very soul, the soundtrack of how we marked our lives. Thanks, Napster.

Today, East v. West is Apple v. Android, a detente that Washington distorts into trust v. loyalty. Which is worse, the silence of the social giants or making mistakes in the open? I’m sick of beating up on Twitter for our failures, even more so our toothless tut-tutting of Facebook for spreading the lies we support by staying put.

So, let’s try something going right for a change. Take Spotify and their new plan to embed full versions of our musical heritage in podcasts. This is a complicated offer, to be sure. You can’t use partial versions of songs, talk over any portion of the song, or place ads within 60 seconds of music. Ads must have at least 10 minutes of non-music content between them. More importantly, these shows are only available on Spotify’s Anchor podcasting service.

But what really stands out is the attempt by one of the two major music streaming services to create a composite product reconstituting a post digital radio business. If Apple Music were nudged to support the idea, it would resuscitate a major platform of the tech crowd with a mashup of DJ and playlist content. This in turn would create new leaderboards or charts in old record biz terms that would jumpstart new and catalog music in media. Already we see some of that energy in Saturday Night Live clips where audience numbers are shifting to mobile and online viewing. Composite ratings of broadcast and digital are growing fast.

This evolution from broadcast to online ratings success may presage how live entertainment venues and audiences obliterated by the pandemic adapt with hybrid live/digital events. We’re seeing this act out in real time with the election, where early voting and election day registration have produced record turnout for both the safety of mail and absentee voting (mostly Democrats) and more traditional party switching (mostly Republicans or former Democrats more engaged by Trump.) This “new normal” in politics may not bear immediate fruit, but it’s at a minimum a harbinger of things to come.

Fast forward to a future dinner party in an AR/VR augmented version of our favorite restaurants, with autotesting and contact tracing making it safe enough to reconstitute weekly gettogethers not just of local friends but virtual guests from around our town and beyond. Courses are served by delivery and robot waiters as we watch party our favorite artists and comedians both professional and amateur. Election night becomes a vote-from-home proposition, with the electoral college results calculated in realtime.

As the concession speeches wind down, a vanquished candidate references the Paul Simon song:

When something goes wrong
I’m the first to admit it
I’m the first to admit it
But the last one to know
When something goes right
Well it’s likely to lose me
It’s apt to confuse me
It’s such an unusual sight
I can’t get used to something so right
Something so right

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, October 16, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

Founders don’t need to be full-time to start raising venture capital

By Natasha Mascarenhas

“More than 50% of our founders still are in their current jobs,” said John Vrionis, co-founder of seed-stage fund Unusual Ventures.

The fund, which closed a $400 million investment vehicle in November 2019, has noticed that more and more startup employees are thinking about entrepreneurship as the pandemic has shown how much room there is for new innovation. To gain a competitive advantage, Unusual is investing small checks into founders before they’re full-time.

Unusual, which cuts an average of eight checks per year into seed-stage companies, isn’t doling out millions to every employee who decides to leave Stripe. The firm is conservative with its spending and takes a more focused approach, often embedding a member from the firm into a portfolio company. It’s not meant to scale to dozens of portfolio companies a year, but instead requires a methodical approach.

One with a healthy pipeline of companies to choose from.

In an Extra Crunch Live chat, Vrionis and Sarah Leary, co-founder of Nextdoor and the firm’s newest partner, said lightweight investing matters in the early days of a company.

“There were a lot of teams that needed capital to start the journey, but frankly, it would have been over burdensome if they took on $2 or $3 million,” Leary said. “[New founders] want to be in a place where they have enough money to get going but not too much money that they get locked into a ladder in terms of expectations that they’re not ready to take advantage of.” The checks that Unusual cuts in pre-seed often range between $100,000 to half a million dollars.

Leary chalks up the boom to the disruption in consumer behavior, which opens up the opportunity for new companies to win.

Unusual Ventures’ Sarah Leary and John Vrionis join us Extra Crunch Live now

By Natasha Mascarenhas

Today at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT, Unusual Ventures’ Sarah Leary and John Vrionis are joining us over at the Extra Crunch Live stage!

The Unusual Ventures team has investments spanning the consumer and enterprise space, including Robinhood, AppDynamics, Mulesoft, Winnie and more. That short list could be the basis for a fascinating chat, but I also want to hear their thoughts on the democratization of venture capital, their appetite ahead of the election and the future of remote work. A big goal of mine is to squash some of the buzzwords we hear on tech Twitter so we can get an honest take on where one VC firm is sitting right now in a chaotic year.

As we wrote last week, this year has been everything but business as usual for the venture and tech community. And we still have an election ahead of us! I’ll ask Leary and Vrionis to share their framework for working through a looming event such as a presidential election and get their ideas on how early-stage is working more broadly.

Thanks to all of you who have joined us for our ongoing live chat series, which has brought on big names in tech such as Sydney SykesAlexia von TobelMark Cuban and more (all recordings are still accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers to watch and learn from).

If you’re new, welcome! You’ll be able to ask our experts questions live as long as you’re an EC member (sign up for Extra Crunch here).

Come hang, bring snacks and prep some good questions. We’d love to have you.

Details

Below are links so you can make it:

Gillmor Gang: Home Stretch

By Steve Gillmor

On this edition of the Gillmor Gang, the live recording session was briefly interrupted by a rolling upgrade from Zoom. We’ve been using Zoom to virtualize what we’ve been doing for years with a combination of video switching hardware (Newtek’s TriCaster), a bunch of Mac Minis hosting Skype, an audio mixing board, and a backchannel pushing the switched Program Out to the members of the group. At first, we partnered with Leo Laporte on his fledgling video network. Subsequently, I copied Leo’s early studio setup to make the transition to streaming.

At that point, streaming was an emergent model. No Netflix, no Facebook Live, certainly no transition from RSS and podcasting to what we see now as Streaming From Home is adopted. Not just by the technocrati but mainstream cable networks, the remnants of broadcast television, and commercial streaming networks like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney +, and even Apple TV +. Cable news uses a version of our studio model to bring together roundtables where even the hosts are using Zoom’s background replacement feature or the like to simulate their usual broadcast locations. The 4 or 5 second delay over TCP/IP gives away the tech, but just as with the smaller delay we’ve gotten used to with the translation from landline to satellite and now to cell service, we accommodate this seeming lack of attention being paid.

There are limitations with this new virtualized studio, but with a great deal of tweaking, the relative ease of onboarding Zoom offers, and the ubiquity of use that the pandemic has mandated, a new experience has emerged with recording the show. It’s more relaxed, a subtle hybrid of a “show” and a conversation among friends. As I’ve mentioned before, we use a multi-streaming service called Restream to do just that with the edited Zoom feed to broadcast the live session on Facebook Live, Twitter/Periscope, and via an embedded YouTube window, to our newsletter feed on Telegram. After postproduction, we release an edited, sweetened, titled version on TechCrunch.

From the beginning of the Gang, back in 2004 when it was an audio production only, we leveraged an early social network called FriendFeed, to engage listeners in a realtime chat. FriendFeed was essentially a blend of Facebook and Twitter, so much so that Facebook ultimately acquired the startup and made co-founder Bret Taylor CTO. Those playing along at home might recognize Bret now as President and COO of Salesforce, where he went after his next startup, Quip, was acquired. The FriendFeed backchannel lasted for a few years, opensourced at the time but eventually shut down by Facebook.

To explain the magic of the backchannel, I refer you to a book by an old friend, Harvey Brooks, bass player and right-place-right time musician who recorded with a dazzling set of greats from Miles Davis to the seminal first stop on his journey, Bob Dylan. In an age without liner notes, he’s a living example of the magic of producing the right notes at the moment of creation in the studio. With Dylan, that moment came in the recording of Dylan’s first fully electric record, Highway 61 Revisited. He’d just recorded the single Like A Rolling Stone when Harvey was recommended by his friend Al Kooper, who had famously sat down in front of an organ he’d never played before and survived Dylan’s recording process.

Dylan would run down a song with the musicians a couple of times and then begin recording. The players would glean the structure of the song by watching the artist’s hands; Harvey quickly made notes of the chords in the first couple of run throughs. Then it was off to the races with tape rolling. Often that first take would be the keeper. To break it down further, my analogy would be that this was Dylan’s version of the backchannel, where each player’s intuitive feel would be communicated not just to Dylan but to the other musicians, who often were strangers to each other as well.

In recording the Gang, the trick if you will is to capture that moment between the first time you hear something to the time where other takes don’t improve on that spark of creation. A later take may be more studied and practiced, but it may lose that magic of the spark. In the case of the conversation, it’s not quite an improvisation, but what takes it somewhere else is the backchannel, where we all live and communicate between sessions. It’s not quite a newsletter, where the goal (or at least my goal) is to provide stepping stones between rocks in the stream and not the pebbles that form the rush of news and attitude that overwhelms us.

These days Trumpstock is everywhere, not to be avoided but necessary to be survived. Then there are the glimmers of tech, like the media story about Disney’s reorganization around streaming. The ripple effects of surviving the pandemic’s direct hit on Disney’s park revenue and the need to shift investment to Disney + content production are a major signal of where winners are going to emerge in the entertainment industry’s move to a direct relationship with consumers. The backchannel is a powerful tool for giving us direct access to the underlying information required to make strategic decisions about where and how we live as we recover.

Sometimes the winging-it approach bears fruit; sometimes it crashes and burns as elements of this loosely-coupled cloud mashup unexpectedly shift. In this case, our carefully constructed production flow broke down just as we went live. It took some time and a restart to regroup, and a post show debugging to figure out what had changed in a Zoom autoupdate. This is the process. It’s not perfect, but it works when it works. When it doesn’t, it gets better. Join us on the backchannel.

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, October 9, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

Discuss the unbundling of early-stage VC with Unusual Ventures’ Sarah Leary & John Vrionis

By Natasha Mascarenhas

This year has been everything but business as usual for the venture and tech community. And we still have a presidential election ahead of us.

So, why not listen to the aptly-named experts over at Unusual Ventures? Partners Sarah Leary (co-founder of Nextdoor) and John Vrionis, formerly of Lightspeed Ventures Partners, will join us on Tuesday, October 20 on the Extra Crunch Live virtual stage.

Thanks to all of you who have joined us for our series of live discussions that has included tech leaders like Sydney Sykes, Alexia von Tobel, Mark Cuban and many others (all recordings are still accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers to watch and learn from).

If you’re new, welcome! You’ll have a chance to participate in the live discussion if you have an Extra Crunch subscription.

Unusual Ventures’ investments span the consumer and enterprise space, including companies like Robinhood, AppDynamics, Mulesoft and Winnie.

For this chat, I plan to spend some time talking to Leary and Vrionis about how early-stage venture capital has changed with the rise of rolling funds, community funds and syndicates. Unusual Ventures claims “there’s an enormous opportunity to raise the bar on what seed-stage investors provide for early-stage founders,” so we’ll get into that opportunity as well.

And if we have time, we’ll discuss remote work, building in public and the U.S. presidential election.

So, what are you waiting for? Add the deets to your calendar (below the jump!) and join me next Tuesday.

Details

Gillmor Gang: Over 2 U

By Steve Gillmor

The pandemic shook up our and virtually every other video news production process as Zoom became the focus of our daily lives; slowly but surely we’ve altered the production process to reflect Zoom’s easy on boarding and semi-casual approach to virtualized meetings and conversations.

We now use a series of interweaved services to broadcast the live Zoom recording session over ReStream, which in turn streams to Twitter/Periscope, YouTube, and Facebook Live. Some of the show’s regulars share the Facebook stream using Watch Party, aggregating comments and viewership metadata of their friends and cohorts. Once the session is over, we add music, titles, and pointers to the Gillmor Gang Telegram Backchannel, and embed the YouTube mix here on TechCrunch.

Much of this live-streaming strategy has been workshopped with people like Brent Leary who with his CRM Playaz partner Paul Greenberg produce a growing series of livestreams on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networks. Brent joined the Gang in late 2019. On this Gillmor Gang episode, Brent switches gears from yet-another-TikToc segment to a new streaming target, Twitch. Just before he bails to co-host a Playaz show, I ask him to explain the latest project they’re cooking up. Here, in his own words, is more:

CRM Playaz Executive Roundtable Convo Livestream…Not Webinar….or Panel

We’re seeing broadcast media use streaming platforms to do their jobs while they shelter in place and social distance. And while some of this has the look and feel of a Zoom conference call we’re all experiencing way too much, as time goes on they also are beginning to make these livestreams look like regular broadcasts to a certain extent. Which means that if they can take cues from us amateurs to do their broadcasts, we can do the same, or at least attempt to, by making our “programming” more tv-like.

So, Paul Greenberg and I, underneath the umbrella of our CRM Playaz video podcast, had an idea. To bring senior executives from the five leading vendors in the CRM industry – according to industry market share – together for a free flowing conversation about the state of the industry seven months into the pandemic. Kind of like what you might see on a cable news segment…but of course there’s no way you’d see a bunch of execs talking about CRM on CNN, Fox or MSNBC. But we’re gonna do it, complete with a post-roundtable show directly following the discussion with a number of rapid-fire panels of industry analysts and thought leaders sharing their thoughts and opinions on what they heard from executive convo.

Now we aren’t talking webinar here, or something stiff and controlled like you’d normally see from a traditional panel of high level execs. Not that there’s anything wrong with a traditional webinar or panel. But these streaming platforms give us the ability to put a different lens on things. Maybe create an environment for a less polished but just as substantive group convo which goes wherever it needs to – and goes with humor and flexibility and twists and turns…and comradery. And maybe there’s an audience of folks out there in their comfortable home office taking it all in and also participating with their own commentary that might also become a part of the conversation. And those are the cues we can take from the broadcast media – to make these business livestreams more comfortable, more communal, and more real… and less staged and sterile.

So we’ll see how it goes on October 8th at 1:30pm et, as we are excited to bring together a group of folks who are not only leaders at the leading vendors, but also people who have personalities and senses of humor to go with all the experience and smarts. Because when you get into what will no doubt have serious interactions on important subjects, we think you can do it in a way that allows us to be human – and possibly smile at seeing a dog or cat in the background – Anne Chen of Salesforce knows what I mean. Or laugh when a little kid of one of these high-powered execs come stomping into the room looking for his mom or dad. And maybe catch a glimpse of something you just wouldn’t experience in the traditional settings you’d normally see a panel made up of folks like:

  • Suresh Vittal, VP Experience Cloud Platform and Products, Adobe
  • Alysa Taylor, CVP Business Applications and Global Industry, Microsoft
  • Rob Tarkoff, EVP/GM of #CX, Oracle
  • Bill Patterson, EVP/GM #CRM Applications, Salesforce
  • Bob Stutz, President, CX, SAP

So if you’re into CRM, or just curious to see how this all comes off, you can register to join us for the livestream at https://www.linkedin.com/events/crmplayazexecutiveroundtableconversation/ (https://www.linkedin.com/events/crmplayazexecutiveroundtableconversation/). And let us know what you think in realtime…

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The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, September 25, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the notification feed here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

Gillmor Gang: In The Bag

By Steve Gillmor

This may be counterintuitive. I hope so. I remember the day I first started using Twitter. My friend Gabe Rivera suggested it would be a good idea to sign on to the fledgling network. Basically it was a land grab — claim the real estate of my name. I most likely was aware of the fundamentals of the new service, but wary of actually making some sort of overt splash. Why would I want to, as the frame of the day went, announce what I was having for lunch?

But I knew Gabe was right; I should get in line for the day it became clearer what good this was for. As Professor Irwin Corey would say Adam first said to Eve: stand back, I don’t know how big this is going to get. So I did, and sat back for almost a year. Eventually some thread caught my eye, or my ego encouraged me to think somebody might be interested in what I was having for lunch. That led to a series of discoveries we all made about how this thing might work, if it could just not crash from its unscalable neo-scalable scripting language roots.

One of the most interesting things to do in those early days was to misuse the network for creative purposes. If the logic of posting was to deliver meaningful content that would be of interest to larger audiences, we knew where that was headed. Celebrities, verified accounts, a triple A version of the big leagues of mainstream media.Logical maybe, but not what I was interested in. To the contrary, I relished the exact opposite, an experience where the result was something other than what we already had. One trick I had was to talk conversationally to the tiny audience of those I was pinging with their username.

This may or may not have predated the @mention, but the intent was to send a message to someone who was notified of the attempt by a notification. Alternatively, following a small but targeted series of accounts created a stream of posts from people who shared some implicit common interests. Either way, eventually these @mention clouds became a rich source and object of breaking news, jokes, and a stew of social energy. I enjoyed the occasional response, and would reply in place as though I was having a private chat. The theory went: if this annoyed people, they would unfollow me and be happier for it. Many did, and were.

Skipping ahead to now, I still use Twitter in this way for the most part. I set my notification stream to display a subset of my follows, first around 50, then 100, now upwards of 4 or 500. It is annoyingly disruptive of the top of my screen; reading an ebook book is an intermittent experience at certain hours waiting for the stream to slow down when I’m trying to read the first couple of lines of a page. But what I get is an almost subliminal collage of random stuff from a not-so-random group of what reminds me of a coffee house circle of friends in college days. The major news media breaks through repetitively when someone dies or succeeds, but also there are the mutterings of entrepreneurs and thought leaders, captains of industry who relish the direct channel, politicians of the digital underground, comedians, culture cowboys and cowgirls, right, left, and centrist.

It’s a living breathing thing, and it’s different from everything else. Facebook is what you think of it, but I’m sadly grateful for its function as the glue between family, friends, and a shared personal history. Never mind that it’s impossible to find something once it flits by. I hate it yet appreciate it nonetheless. But Twitter is an imperfect pacemaker in my chest, beating with the pulse of the nation, the notifications starting in Europe, then the East Coast, finally the Valley and Hollywood before I get sidetracked by reality and over the hill to the next day.

As Michael Markman quotes Jerry Seinfeld on this Gillmor Gang episode, “It’s never in the bag, and you’re never out of the running.” Yes, Trump dominates the service, and every other network as we careen toward the election. Twitter fills in some of the pandemic’s gaps in traditional campaigning. Some are good with Twitter; some are not. But when the shouting’s over and the ballots counted, Trump may or may not be left standing. Twitter surely will. Just don’t call it Shirley.

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The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, September 11, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the notification feed here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

Gillmor Gang: Table Stakes

By Steve Gillmor

I quite like the iPad Pro 11 inch with the Magic Keyboard. In the Land of Pandemic, where every day is Saturday, the tablet is king. With no real purchase on the chaotic flow of life, the rules — any rules — of the road are very dear to me. Structure is arbitrary but mandatory. Strategy is Niagara Falls: slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch. What exactly do I mean?

First, the tablet is a strange beast. Caught between the laptop and the phone, you’d think it would be a constant compromise. It’s not. Each time I add a step to the workflow, it re-cements itself as a coherent whole. In a world ruled by the next notification, context switches are disruptive; hand-offs are not. One minute the iPad is a media grazer. The phone rings. Answering it on the Watch frees me from the tether, answering on the iPad offers a click of the phone icon in the upper left to move to the phone.

I know it sounds a bit nuts to explain or even discuss, but add up the iterative improvements of this platform and you achieve some real productivity. Not the enterprise kind, nor the media hacker kind, but the palpable sense of progress in fashioning a place in this new digital world. Slowly but surely I’ve moved process after process to the iPad Pro. Gillmor Gang production, or more precisely editing, mixing, rendering, posting, annotating, testing, now all on the single device.

To begin with, I decided to junk Final Cut Pro as the editing platform, simply because it ran only on the Mac. It’s much more powerful than its replacement, LumaFusion, but once I plug the software into the iPad, it lights up the improved features of iOS 13 and the Files app. The Magic Keyboard peripheral adds a USB connector to plug in an external drive, and while it’s a bit of a trudge to get it to work almost like OS/10, soon it’s easy to move files over from Zoom on the Mac where the camera is positioned better in the center of the display.

I used to doubt Apple would provide remedies for these weird design gotchas, like the camera on the side of the display in landscape mode. The Magic Keyboard doesn’t let you position the iPad in portrait mode, and it wouldn’t work anyway with Zoom in 16:9. But then again, the keyboard cases up until the Magic Keyboard don’t support backlit keys. Now the iPad Pro is my main writing tool, its slightly underpowered keyboard winning out over my MacBook Air. The Magic Keyboard is expensive ($300), but Apple’s attention to detail reinforces my commitment to the evolution of the platform.

The Keyboard’s trackpad is similarly goofy in its implementation, sitting uneasily between the touch platform of the screen and the keyboard alts and text editing precision of the Mac. You learn quickly how to navigate between the two worlds, however, intuiting that future implementations should build on the elements of the hybrid that work. I’ve followed the press musings about the future of Mac OS and iOS, but now I’m growing comfortable with the assumption that inexorably the shift in power has tipped over. Perhaps it’s the price performance in the move off of Intel to Apple’s in-house chips.

Or perhaps it’s the feeling that momentum patches problems out of a desire to keep locked in to the process flow of modular apps and services. I’m using Quip to write this, knowing the iPad version doesn’t yet provide a word count feature like the Mac version does. So I went searching for Apple’s bundled Pages app and got the answer. My assumption is that these common services will soon become table stakes.

Beneath the tech veneer, the iPad reminds me of the power of directed evolution. As trivial as a backlit keyboard seems in the overall scheme of things, that Apple knew all along what the blocker was on this platform augurs for the future extensions we know are coming in this Work From Anywhere moment. Not just the big ideas but the little ones, that grow through steady adoption into giants of a shift necessary to contain unexpected catastrophes and minor scrapes of the regular kind. I wasn’t sure why I felt driven to spend so much time unifying my tools and strategies for virtualizing my computing experience. Now that we live full time in this moment, it’s these little things that count.

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The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, September 4, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the notification feed here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

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