Crowdsourcing my next move: serendipity, friends and free will.

Or yet another “Road Not Taken” conundrum (cf. poem by R. Frost copied below).

[TL;DR]? Skip to the last paragraph!

As Appsfire co-founder COO and CTO, I spent over 5 years within the confines of the App Store ecosystem, building app recommendation and promotion solutions. It has been an amazing ride, obsessing about pixel perfect UI and delightful UX, working with great people, both passionate and hard working, and backed by top angel investors and funds. Along the way, we managed to reach over 10 million users directly through our app, and over 100 million users indirectly through finely crafted native ad units, globally and in 13 languages. A few weeks ago, we sold the company to the Mobile Network Group. With that, and after 5 years, it is time for me to move on to my next new new thing.

Each of us would like to believe that free will helps us move on to the next step in life. However, that free will only act on a limited set of options layed out in front of us, or options that we somehow manage to generate forcefully or through serendipity.

Our professional careers are paced by a sequence of experiences, each of which hopefully chosen. For the luckiest among us, and it’s certainly my case, we get to choose from a set of possibilities that lie within our scope of interest and skill sets, so as to maximise a variable mix of interest, personal growth, income and social recognition. I believe this applies to all of us; entrepreneurs, artists, independant workers and employees alike.

Unfortunately, our free will is constrained by a finite set of choices, even though in principle, the realm of possibles is very large. Sampling for more options creates an opportunity cost. As time passes, we typically settle on a single choice and go down the rabbit hole for a non-trivial amount of human time!

There lies the problem. When comes the time to choose a new partner in crime, a new venture, or a new job, we are inherently constrained or enabled by our own immediate context: network, geography, funding, state of mind, health and age… We are also largely dependant on exogenous factors we do not control such as availability of people to meet, job openings, the state of the economy, the maturity of a given ecosystem…

I currently have a finite number of eligible leads of various forms: projects, requests, offers… rushing into the most compelling one is akin to settling on a local optimum; computer scientists and mathematicians know that this means trouble!

It’s the people, stupid!

No matter how much technology, it all comes down to people.

First of all, I believe few people know themselves well enough to save their lives! I am constantly reminded that I have a long way to go. It gets better with age or therapy, but there is a shortcut: our first and second social circles collectively know enough about us especially when it comes to the public/professional persona. Among those people, a number of them have a genuine and altruistic interest to help. Applied to social networks, these people are commonly referred to as friends or followers.

Therefore, I am invoking the wisdom of my crowd and friends to contribute to my serendipitous search and expand my set of choices to come. Let’s see how this pans out!

In the coming weeks, it will be about meeting the right people at their right time, join forces and embark on a journey to grow, learn and deliver economic value while having fun. I really shouldn’t go at it alone, so I need help, your help!

The manifesto!

Let me invite you into the process of expanding my scope of options. First, a few tidbits about me to give you some directions... My LinkedIn profile is just a click away if you’re looking for more interactive media and specifics.

30+ years tinkering with software: and software still rocks my world! I have dabbled in financial software, cartoon animation technology, social networks, mobile apps, recommendation engines, mobile advertising… specific fields within their own niches. Yet software is the glue that binds post-modern humanity with its knowledge and big data economy. We’re still in the early days though, there is so much more to achieve by bridging processes, things, and people… pure or hybrid models in myriads of permutations. Mobile first is already a thing of the past as the Internet of Things is about to make the immobile as important. And machine learning to get out of the closet to assist us and hopefully one day help us reach our next stage of evolution.

15+ years an entrepreneur: a mindset really, an ability to challenge the status-quo, the established, the obvious. Being an entrepreneur is an ephemeral moment however, one that lasts a single day at first, the time it takes to incorporate an idea into a new venture. I have been an entrepreneur a handful of times. For most of the time, I believe an entrepreneur is a manager, an executive, able to make tough decisions under constraints. Entrepreneurs can be intrapreneurs, or innovation catalysts in a world that badly needs more outside the box thinking and initiatives. The entrepreneur is also a relentless salesperson, a closer, one that teaches the market about its innovations, an evangelist, one that convinces and closes deals with early adopters, one that seals one or more rounds of fundraising, and occasionally completes an exit with key stakeholders.

100% passionate. Hybrid software engineer + MBA. If it involves a software product that solves a problem or expands the realm of possibles, I’m game! Better yet, if that product transacts and people are happy to pay for it, even better — proof that there is value in it!

100% white hat. There are things that I don’t do. Period. I’m also a strong believer in economic karma: doing right by the end-user, the supplier, the paying client, the employees; shortcuts only bring you so far…

100% global yet 100% local. I am based in Paris, and like it that way. The World is neither flat nor small, it is however hyperconnected, around the clock, relentless, hypercompetitive and ineluctantly open to free-trade.

Here is my non-exhaustive list of interests: social fabric and networks, education and coding, media and awareness, slow computing, privacy, makers movement, economic empowerment, singularity, entrepreneurial funding and ecosystems, enterprise 3.0 and its digital mutation…

There it is. This is the professional me in a nutshell.

Crowdsourcing my next move…

This is both an experiment and quite possibly an effective way to expand the realms of possibles.

Indeed, you can help me reach out and maximize my ability to meet the right people at the right time by suggesting up to 3 leads (could be co-founders, recruiters and headhunters, could be companies/entities to look into, could be job postings or an articles mentioning an opportunity, etc…). Feel free to go wild, use your intuition to suggest any lead you think I should investigate in my search…

Many thanks!

PS: stay tuned for what happens next…

Prologue

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874–1963)