Last week’s Argonauts Gang Part II features Jason Calacanis with the Gillmore Gang. Jason makes the comment that, “I heard you could buy a review at TechCrunch” which gets Michael Arrington to write about it and Jason responds. Apparently, this caused quite a swirl over the holiday weekend.
Jason definitely takes transparency to the extreme. I’m sure he’s said stuff which he has either regrettted saying or has been misinterpreted. But, one thing’s for sure, he must have gotten the fortune cookie my wife got this past weekend: “It is better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.” You can always correct mistakes, but you can’t get things done unless you do something, and Jason is definitely a do-er. For example, now that he’s part of the AOL family, he’s shining the light on some pretty dark places like the new AIM Triton and AOL Search.
A fellow AOL’er, Shawn Christopher suggests that he thinks Jason’s straight-forward approach is somewhat disrespectful. You know, you might be right, Shawn. Sadly, AOL is an extremely reactionary company. “Proactive” might as well be a four-letter word. I’m guessing that Jason understands this, that you kinda-sorta have to “force the hand” of business to react and you do that by airing things in public, not behind closed doors where suggestions can be ignored.
You’re right, maybe it’s not very nice. Maybe it’s even disrespectful. But, as an employee and shareholder myself, perhaps it’s time for “A little less conversation, a little more action, please. All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me.” — Elvis (Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube, Lyrics) In times where AOL is being touted as the number one worst tech product of all time according to PCWorld, perhaps the time for ignoring our glaring faults is long gone?
Jason takes care not to disparage the talented engineers that work on our products. I bet if you ask him, he’ll tell you that he respects them all a great deal. But, our products are a different story. He takes an objective look at the products, focuses on a metric that’s measurable (i.e., placement of first organic search result, memory footprint of Triton), and then asks for change and improvement. How many times have you had your management make vague and overarching edicts like “make it better” without any clue what “better” is? Jason at least gives feedback where improvements are straight-forward to evaluate and measure. That’s golden, in my book.
Lets start focusing the conversations around how we can make AOL products which are clearly hurting, better. Suggesting we shouldn’t be openly discussing problems and listening to our customers’ feedback is also disrespectful: of our customers.
I agree Jason does a good job at transparency…and I’m sure as I told him that he means well but you made a good point. Sometimes we say things that afterward we say “Doh!” about. Growing up as kids I’m sure we said something and someone took it outa context and then another person put it in a different context until it made us sounds like we were the worse person on earth (heck even some of our spouses do it). However it’s a matter at that point of people believing (and knowing) who we really are.
A podcast can’t do this. I agree Jason had 100% good intentions on saying what he did…just one of those moments where I think it could be taken extremely (and I think Mike feels this way as well) out of context. And as an exec in our organization I think maybe that isn’t a good place to be , where people can/will take you at the first thing you say.
The web is fickle like that, one minute Jason says a lighter AIM should be made, and the next minute AIMLight is already in beta…though I’m more worried about it just appearing that he hates our own products. You know the saying…”The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
Shawn: I think people should focus more on what a person accomplishes than what they say. To use exhausted cliches, “talk is cheap; actions speak louder than words.”
Well said, Dossy.