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Sparked by an interesting Twitter discussion, I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about different proof-of-work mechanisms.

When I say proof-of-work, I’m not talking about consensus algorithms like the ones that some crypto currencies use. I’m talking about social networks.

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As part of my job at Stripe, I get to work with many early-stage startups and help them figure out their monetization and pricing strategies. While most founders have a clear product vision and have thought through things like their go-to-market strategy or hiring plans, surprisingly few have an idea about what their pricing should look like.

Interestingly, this is not just the case for early-stage startups but also more mature companies. Back when I ran pricing workshops at Google Play, many startups didn’t have an active pricing strategy — despite multi-million dollar run rates in some cases.

Pricing is not just perceived as a boring, but also as a complex subject matter that requires someone with a math PhD. Both of these assumptions aren’t true. …


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The Sense is still one of my all-time favourite product designs. It reminds me a lot of the Beijing National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron.

Unfortunately, the Sense never delivered on any of its other promises: The app UI wasn’t great, the personalised sleep insights & recommendations didn’t feel right and they never released the API they promised in their Kickstarter campaign. A few months ago the company announced it was shutting down. The email with instructions on how to export your data? I’m still waiting for it. My Sense is now nothing but an expensive paperweight.

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There seems to be an interesting trend with quantified self devices: They either look great but don’t perform well (see Sense, Jawbone Up, Vessyl), or they perform well but lack good design (see Garmin, Zeo, Fitbit). …

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