Archive for April, 2006

Work and Play in Pattaya

There must have been a great deal of miscommunication between Team Swoosh and the citizens of Bangkok who directed us to Pattaya. We were looking for a house with fast internet access on or close to the beach. But the locals must have understood this as, “We are looking for a throng of Thai ladies, boys, and lady-boys on or close to the beach”. This is the only explanation I can think of for the highly recommended Pattaya.

After arrival, it did not take long before Travis declared Pattaya ‘the Tijuana of Asia’, and Team Swoosh concentrated their efforts on work rather than establishing headquarters for the longer term. Shielded from the outside world the Swooshers thoroughly enjoyed an office in the lobby of a Marriot Hotel while staying in a $10/night guest house across the street. We had the cheapest internet access in town, yet a plan was quickly set in motion to share our one wireless connection. scissors + patch cable = crossover cable. Clearly, we were not thinking because the amount we saved on internet access was negligible. The real cost of our Marriot office was in the drinks we ordered. The drink prices were reasonable as well, but only by western standards. Life was good, but only in the lobby.

Pattaya seems to offer little more than cheap thrills and a run-down rotating restaurant. I have spent two years in various parts of the developing world and nowhere have I seen a sex tourism destination as thriving as Pattaya. The city certainly does not have the saddest and most desperate looking sex workers, but it seems to have the most. That said, there was no play in Pattaya unless you consider Travis’s late night excursions to ‘make phone calls’.

With morale dropping quickly, we left Pattaya to the old white men and their escorts in search of the paradise on the postcard in the first post.


Customers Know no Time Zones

Of the 3 million clients we’ve deployed as part of the Red Swoosh grid, several hundred had an issue last night. After the 911 emergency-hotline batphone call came in from a customer of ours, we hit battle stations and had a war room going down across from the Wild Orchid.

It was morning for our customer, but not for us. It was almost midnight. We spent 4 hours in a Siam fire drill - 11PM to 3:30AM finding out that a group of our customers’ URLs were 404′ing from their datacenter. We alerted them of the issue, and it was resolved quickly thereafter.

Swoosh Aphorism #103: When your customer makes a mistake, it’s time to look in the mirror.

Customers only make mistakes when you believe your tech’s issues stop at your front door. If your interface is too complicated, your monitoring not sufficient, or you’ve built a product that solves a technical problem but hasn’t adequately solved the customers’ problems. . . you will lose sleep. Don’t fix a problem, build a solution.

Travis - chief swoosher

Pain and Pleasure

Of all the factors by which to differentiate between tourists and travelers, I find masochism to be the most compelling. Tourists try to reduce pain and discomfort while travelers seek it out. Given this seeming paradox, how could they ever interbreed? For this reason our world is gifted with Khao San Road.

Along its endless row of brazen lights and pumping bass, there’s both the best and worst of everything in the city. Dingey bars compete for your attention alongside opulent nightclubs and questionable dining establishments. The only constant to be found is your currency conversion rate — which favors you very heavily, no matter where you’re from.

In a typically schizophrenic fashion, we have a love hate relationship with the place. We first arrived at Khao San from the airport simply because it’s impossible not to — step into any taxi with a confused look on your face and you’ll turn up here sooner or later. Our plan was to use it as a stepping stone to Pattaya, where we hoped to find a remote beach compound surrounded by nothing but jungle and high-speed internet lines.

Not surprisingly, we returned days later, hopes and dreams crushed by the depravity of Pattaya beach. Joined by new members and with a couple nights rejuvenation under our belt, we aim to head out again tomorrow morning to Krabi Peninsula — as much an antithesis to Pattaya as can be found. Let’s hope the results are more to our satisfaction.

Offshore Yourself

Every small start-up has thought about it. For us, it was around a lunch table at an Indian buffet lunch spot in San Mateo. One of the engineers said, “we should move our office to a totally decked out compound in some exotic locale.” It would have enough bedrooms for everybody, wireless access in the rooms AND at the infinity pool :) . . .okay, that’s a bit much but a location that’s secure enough that we don’t have to worry about being kidnapped or robbed. Ideally somewhere close to the beach with ubiquitous/constant access. Ultra-cheap because it’s in the developing world. Inspiring because we’re somewhere incredibly different and new. Team-building because we’ll be with each other 24×7 going through this adventure together. Productive because we’ll be spending 15 hours a day developing new products and services. We would call it Swoosh Phuket, or Swoosh Cabo, or Swoosh Samoa. . . We basically would Offshore ourselves!

Why should any company ever do this? No doubt that for the right developers, this would be by far the most exciting way to build technology. . . ever. But us entrepreneurs all know that’s not enough. We’re here to build a business, to change the world, to scale and grow and be profitable. So when do you take a trip like this? At the core of any adventure or journey from Homer’s Odyssey to our Swoosh Offshore experiment is the concept of regeneration. Over time we all get into our routines, we get used to how we did things yesterday, and so we do them the same today. After too much time every business gets rigid in its thinking and its execution. For a start-up, rigidity is a death-knell. Especially for Swoosh. . . . we started our company 4 years too early. . . only now is the market catching up to our ideas and technology. That’s potentially 4 years of rigidity built into my company. We need renewal as bad as any large tech company that’s gotten used to business as usual.

Re-launch your company. Rewrite your core client software; rewrite your backend systems, re-think and redesign your website and customer touch-points. Renew your thinking. Renew your inspiration. Renew your creativity. Breathe life into your company. Innovate your routine. Rebrand. Refocus. Regenerate. This is what you do when you offshore yourself. This is the Red Swoosh experiment for the next 6 weeks. We’ll be blogging from Thailand.

Keep up with our adventures, our product & technology development. . . and let us know what you think. . .

Travis - chief swoosher

Do I remember operation Red Swoosh? (in pirate)

Yar, I been born a privateer; from the Yeer one nine nine nine I been working fowards me own agenda- which be developin' me own operatin' system capable of handling an abnormally large number of apostrophes in ratio to other punctuation. Yar, it bein' more efficient than' typin' the "g"...
Also, I be makin' a music playin' automaton, like be with a player piano, yar; but be with neither a piano nor player; but be with a computer machine, yar. And it does well ta show you what music you have pirated from the internet with real pictures, yarrr.

Then the fools that run that thar pirate academy I studied at done offered me a damn letter of Marque to be plunderin' the intellectual property of them that be the new united nations of New England. But over thar, I meet a new capum'- name of Scurvy Dave- who made me an offArrrr : ter work fer him, and make a real difference to the architecture of the very fabric of thar inter-nets. I say-ed, "Aye!" ter him, and "fare-thee-well" to scurvy pirate school!

Evar since then, I be workin' me dream, in the land where ships run on two iron rails, rather then the sea, and motor-cars drive along roads that bend around and around on themselves for some reason, apparently. Yar.