Just before we were acquired, Dropcam was in the middle of a record year of sales, had a 4.5-star bestselling camera on Amazon, was rolling into large brick-and-mortar retailers with huge merchandising support, had innovative new products imminently launching, still had most of its financing in the bank, and our investors and team actively didn’t want to sell (it was my mistake to sell — but that’s a story for another day). We created positive ROI marketing campaigns, mass-manufactured a sophisticated hardware device, and built a cloud video service that processed more incoming video than YouTube. We pioneered one of the first hardware-service models in our industry with a 40%+ conversion rate paid subscription and better-than-Netflix churn — now a gold standard used by VCs looking for related investments. And we accomplished all of this while remaining a really great place to work.
And finally: protect the nerds. A computer programmer from Seattle is doing more to alleviate world poverty, hunger, and disease through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation than any other person in America right now. Nerds create vaccines. Nerds engineer bridges and roadways. Nerds become teachers and librarians. We need those obnoxiously smart people, because they make the world a better place. We can’t have them cowering before a society that rolls their eyes at every word they say. Ross needs better friends.
Well, but then there’s the argument: Apple is so rich, can’t they just hire more developers and testers to fix all the bugs? To paraphrase Frederick Brooks: No. Software development doesn’t work like that. Throwing ever bigger teams at problems usually just makes the problems bigger still.
Enough with calling Dean Potter crazy. Enough with being ruled by fears and disguising it as practicality. We live in bubbles of security and comfort that would be the envy of royalty from centuries past, yet we still find countless things to fear. We’re afraid to travel. We’re afraid of wilderness. We’re afraid to quit unfulfilling jobs and do what we really want to do with our lives. Not Potter. He ate fear alive.