Everywhere and Beautiful: What's Shaping the Next Internet?

“The Internet made your PC or desk interactive, but didn’t do anything for the rest of your life,” said Dave Morin, the co-founder and CEO of Path. “Mobile is with you all the time. The platform goes from being at your desk to being with you your entire life. Mobile is not about clicking through pages, but a device that’s walking around the world with you.”

The PC could almost be considered a failure, Morin argued. Personal computers maxed out at 1.5 billion users while there are currently 6.1 billion mobile users globally.

We are thrilled to announce that Dave Morin and Loren Brichter are joining the Sparrow board of advisors. 

Dave is a former Apple employee, an early Facebooker who co-invented Facebook Connect and Facebook Platform. He is now CEO/co-founder of the wonderful personal network Path.

Loren is the founder of Tweetie, acquired by Twitter two years ago. He keeps spreading his UI/UX/coding magic on iPhone, iPad and on Mac. 

We are honored that both Loren and Dave accepted to advise us and excited to have people with such amazing track records joining us. We are sure their experience and knowledge will benefit to all Sparrow users.

Facebook Metaphors: New Spatialism

I often compare Facebook to a large and impersonal shopping mall, with a lot of noise and the cloying stink of Cinnabon and cheap candles getting deep into your sinuses. Others use other metaphors, and ex-Facebooker Dave Morin is probably influenced by the value of his stock portfolio when he recently compared Facebook to a town:

Jessica Roy,  Former Facebook Social Design Evangelist Says Facebook Model Is ‘Self-Serving, Egocentric’ via Betabeat

The discussion started with this prompt:

[by Dave Morin, the founder of Path] Facebook has built the cities, they’ve built the town squares, and they’re more of a general social network, he said. Path, on the other hand, is more like the home, as if adding each friend is filling out your dinner table.

On Twitter, Mike Karnjanaprakorn–CEO and cofounder of Skillshare–added, “If Facebook built the cities and Path is building the houses, Skillshare is building the schools.”

Mr. Miller started a discussion about this approach to design on Branch, and Mr. Morin and Mr. Karnjanaprakorn both weighed in.

“The Internet is like the Wild Wild West. But over time, you can see certain infrastructures being put in place. AOL created the roads, Facebook created the Town Square, PayPal created the bank, Twitter created the newspaper, Path is creating the home, and Skillshare is creating the school,” said Mr. Karnjanaprakorn. “We still need a sheriff.”

Mr. Morin agreed. “I think Mike hit the metaphor on the head,” he said.

But then another voice chimed in. It was the voice of Mr. Fisher, whose former title at Facebook was “Social Design Evangelist.”

“On the contrary, Facebook is NOT a town square,” he wrote. “In fact there’s little sense of community at all. It’s centered on individuals and their friends which is a very self-serving, egocentric model that does little to help people actually work together, as would a town.”

Da-yum. That’s definitely a burn coming from someone a source says wrote Facebook’s social design guidelines.

It appears Mr. Fisher is building his own version of a town square, which is probably why he doesn’t like the idea of Facebook overtaking that moniker very much. His LinkedIn lists him as the founder of Townsquared, Inc., a ”social platform that helps organizations grow niche communities.”

I am interested to learn more about Townsquared, certainly, but this seems to be nothing more than entrepreneurs caught up in metaphorical chinese checkers; all of them are trying to jump over Facebook to some better, warmer, more productive social matrix, at least conceptually.

The mall metaphor works for me because I dislike malls and spend as little time in them as possible. But malls somehow seem to be filled with people, looking in the windows, checking each other out, trying on cheap shoes, and eating bad pizza. Or maybe the suburban sprawl metaphor (from 2009):

Facebook Is The New Suburbia by Hugh McLeod

New Spatialism:  Reclaiming Social Space In Web Media via stoweboyd.com

Using an analogy from city planning and architecture, we need a rethinking of the basics: something like the New Urbanism movement, that tried to reclaim shared urban space in a way that matches human needs, and moved away from gigantic and dehumanizing cityscapes of the mid and late twentieth century, where garbage trucks seemed more at home than a teenage girl walking a dog.

So, we need a New Spatialism movement, to rethink web media and reclaim the social space that is supposed to be central to so-called social media. Some web media may just remain what it is, like an industrial district at the edge of town. But at least some parts of web media should be reconceptualized, and reconstructed to get back to human scale. Just as New Urbanism is about organizing streets, sidewalks, and plazas to support the growth of social capital, New Spatialism would help us channel interactions on line to increase sociality, and thereby increase the growth of social capital.

New Spatialism is based on the idea that our primary motivations for being online are extra-market drivers: we are not online for money, principally. We have created the web to happen to ourselves: to shape a new culture and build a better, more resilient world. And we need better media tools than we have at present, to make that a reality.

As usual, when the techies start talking about online shared space, they lose their way because that haven’t actually studied urbanism, nor anthropology.

This is the era of game mechanics: where entrepreneurs stopped solving problems and decided to start creating them.
—  Dave Morin co-founder of Path Via Twitter and actually I saw the retweet from Justin Smith founder of Inside Network. I don’t know if this is attributed to himself, or if it should be attributed to someone else since he’s quoted it! But it sure is interesting to me, and is the reason I’ve opted to open my tumblr blog with it. 
Path uploads your entire Address Book: why it was obvious, why it's okay and why it's not.

A little while ago, the story broke on Techcrunch: Path is uploading your entire Address Book to their servers in plain-text. Path’s Dave Morin, a grizzled Facebook veteran and inventor of the now-ubiquitous Facebook Connect, is understandably taking a fair amount of heat for this.

The reason? People feel betrayed. Nobody asked them if that was okay. There’s no “opt-in.” Nobody reads the Terms of Service or Privacy Policy (although a quick scan of both doesn’t turn up any references to this feature.)

Here’s the thing about this feature though. Anybody who’s used Path knows it has a way of magically connecting you with people you know who are also using Path. It connects you with them regardless of your status as Facebook friends. When I first installed Path and saw the list of folks it recommended I add, I knew it must’ve mined my Address Book. Any developer would’ve been able to look at this feature and know how it worked.

This feature was something we wanted to use in PartyFoul, but I struck it from our roadmap simply because I knew we’d have to implement it this way and I was opposed to uploading the user’s Address Book data.

That doesn’t mean I think this feature is evil. It’s not. It’s almost necessary. Building a “friend graph” is hard work. In social apps, you’ve gotta do stuff like this to make sure your playground is fully stocked with kids your user can play with.

So how can it be good and bad? Well, the bad is simply this: we shouldn’t desensitize ourselves to privacy issues. Sure, Path probably isn’t doing anything malicious with the contents of your Address Book. But they sure as hell aren’t asking if they can have it first. Their reasoning? Apple doesn’t explicitly prevent it. That’s not good enough of a reason.

Dave Morin has been incredibly responsive in the discussion of this topic, and he’s responding favorably to the suggestion from other developers that they “hash” the data – that is, use the data for matching purposes, but don’t store it in a human-readable form. They’ve also got an update in review at Apple that’s going to allow users to “opt-in.”

I’m sure this is nothing more than a slight PR stumble for Path, but I hope it makes more than a few people angry, and I hope it reminds developers that a user’s data isn’t something you should just quietly abscond with. If you need it, okay, you need it. Politely ask for it.


“In the early days of any social network, you experience this sense of intimacy. And at some point, they transition and become media companies”

“Capture that moment of social network in time”

“Lock the intimacy of the community in a situation where it feels like that forever”

“Stay in the problem long enough till you find the right solution. It’s going to take time to solve hard problems. You have to stay in the problem long enough to get to the most simple solution. Simplicity takes time.”

Dave Morin on Twist with Jason Calacanis

The Phones Of The Tech Elite Are So Newsworthy

Vanity Fair is doing a series called My Phone, where the ‘technology elite’ are asked about what’s on their phones. No kidding.

This is a bit over the top for Rebecca Greenfield, who takes exception to the premise, and less so to the specific: Dave Morin, CEO of Path. 

One sample of the hyperbolic mouthfeel of the series:

Ringtone: None.
“I don’t use a ring of any kind on my phone. This is so that I am always on offense and never defense.”

And now, Greenfield, the pit bull:

Rebecca Greenfield,The Problem with Silicon Valley CEO Excess, in 15 Sentences

Morin, of course, is just symbolic of a larger class shift still unfolding as a result of the latest tech bubble. It’s a new nouveau riche that pretends to eschew extreme wealth, while still managing to spend in excess. That’s great for a very certain type of economy — namely, the insular tech bubble economy. The gap between the rich and poor minorities is increasing, for example. In fact, it’s having a lot of deep effects on the Bay Area, as Ellen Cushing explains in this feature for the East Bay Express. “The very rich have always, to a greater or lesser degree, been guilty of excess, but what’s changed is that the Bay Area’s new wealth doesn’t necessarily have the perspective, the experience, or the commitments of the group it’s replacing,” she writes. “And that brings with it a whole host of disparate side effects.”

There are many reasons why I left San Francisco.

On Bakrie's Investment in Path

Some facts about Path’s Bakrie investment.

Anindya Bakrie led this move.
$25 million is spread among eight investment companies.
Bakrie Global led the round, which means as an individual investor, the group put in the most money this time compared to the others.
Nobody is saying how much each investor put in.

Path has raised $65 million so far. $10 million in series A, $30 million in series B, and $25 million in series C according to Morin.
The $30 million was raised in 2012 at $250 million valuation, although AllThingsD said it was $40 million.
If it was a $40 million round, that meant $75 million raised total.
Path closed a $7 million down round (lower/flat valuation than previous) in late 2013 from a number of investors including Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. Not sure if this $7 million is included in the $25 million just announced.

The $25 million investment closed this month from Bakrie et al at a valuation higher than $250 million but not disclosed, possibly up to $400 million.
Path was looking to raise $50 million at $500 million valuation in July 2013.
TechCrunch reported In July 2013 that Path was negotiating with an Asian private equity group.
According to TechCrunch, Path actually closed that $50 million round but TC also reported today that the series C didn’t close until today. Conflicting reports.

This means Bakrie’s investment may be significant but doesn’t necessarily make it the largest individual outside shareholder and it’s share in the company isn’t as big of a deal as many Indonesians would make it out to be.

Cross posting this to my Tumblr and will include reference links here later. – Read on Path.

Watch on pnicholson.tumblr.com


Ex-Facebooker Dave Morin: You can’t be friends with everyone