Tag Archives: ‘Essential’

Essential Products, Startup from Android Creator Andy Rubin, Lays Off 30% of Staff
October 18, 2018 12:01 am|Comments (0)

A startup founded by the creator of Android has laid off about 30% of its staff, according to sources that spoke to Bloomberg News. Andy Rubin started Essential Products in 2015 with Brian Wallace, formerly of Magic Leap, to create a smartphone with high-end design features that wasn’t associated with a particular operating-system maker.

Cuts were particularly deep in hardware and marketing. The company’s Web site indicates it has about 120 employees. A company spokesperson didn’t confirm the extent of layoffs, but said that the decision was difficult for the firm to make and, “We are confident that our sharpened product focus will help us deliver a truly game changing consumer product.”

The firm was Rubin’s first startup after leaving Google in 2014, which had acquired his co-founded firm, Android, in 2005.

Essential’s first phone came out in August 2017, a few weeks later than initially promised. It received mixed reviews, with most critics citing its lower quality and missing features relative to competing smartphones, such as a lack of waterproofing and poor resiliency to damage. The company dropped the price from an initial $ 699 within weeks to $ 499, and offered it on Black Monday in November 2017 for $ 399.

Analyst reports showed the company sold just 5,000 units in the first two weeks of sales, and 88,000 in the first six months. By comparison, over 400 million other smartphones sold in just the last three months of 2017.

The company canceled production of its second smartphone model in May 2018, and shifted to work on other hardware, reportedly including smart speakers. At the time, Rubin said that his company had “multiple products in development,” including mobile and home hardware. The company had a valuation of nearly $ 1 billion in 2017, and was seeking additional financing earlier this year. It may have been or may remain up for sale. The company didn’t deny reports at the time, and hasn’t provided more detail on its plans since.

Rubin took a short leave of absence from Essential in late 2017 after the tech news site The Information reported on a complaint lodged against him at Google in 2014 that alleged he engaged in a relationship with a subordinate. Rubin said the relationship was consensual and didn’t involve someone who reported to him.

Tech

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4 Essential Tools That Will Help You Run Your Business From Anywhere
January 31, 2018 6:07 pm|Comments (0)

In 2018, running a remote company is not as difficult as it may seem–and it is quickly becoming a necessity. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, 22 percent of employees work at least partially in a remote environment and the number–as well as the demand for remote positions–continues to increase. As the market shifts to accommodate this new style of work, it is crucial for businesses to understand how to operate successfully in an online environment.

The key is having the right tools… and knowing how to use them. After testing dozens of platforms with my fully-remote company, these are the select few that have stood the test of time.

1. Trello

Trello CEO Michael Pryor uses an analogy to describe what his product does: If you go camping in the forest, you need a map to navigate out of the forest and a walkie-talkie to communicate with your team.

Trello is designed to be your map. It is a project management tool that is simple in its workflow and user interface–it allows you to lay out tasks and clearly document what needs to get done, who is doing it, and what the current status is. Although simple in nature, Trello offers a tremendous amount of flexibility with integrations, Power-Ups, and customization via their API.

2. Slack

Communication is essential when running any company, and without a physical office, communication can be infinitely more difficult. Slack is your walkie-talkie.

Slack helps build team culture in a remote environment by providing streamlined, instant communication with your entire team. Beyond just communicating, it integrates with Zapier and hundreds of other apps to do everything from scheduling automated reminders to increasing morale with animated GIFs. At Leverage, we have automated reminders for team meetings and notifications that remind a contractor that they need to follow up with a client. A handful of Slack apps add another layer of functionality and help our remote team feel like a real community.

There is a key distinction between Slack and Trello. Trello is a project management software for “to-dos” while Slack is for communication. While you can communicate via comments in Trello, the purpose is to use these comments to facilitate work on a specific project, not simple day-to-day conversations.  Pro tip: Slack is for internal communication, email is for external.

3. Zoom

Even with Slack, there is still an important communication component that is missing–the classic conference-room style meetings. For that, we use Zoom.

Zoom is a simple video conferencing program that can handle everything from huge team meetings to small one-on-ones. The simplicity lies in the way that it ties urls to meeting rooms. You can easily send a meeting url to your team to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Each individual account also has their own designated meeting url–add in a custom domain like “meetwithXXX.com” and conducting conference-style meetings is a breeze.  

Zoom allows for recordings, as well as a fantastic webinar platform. It also has an app that lets you take your video conferencing on the go.

4. Process Street

Every successful company–no matter how big or small–has processes in place to keep things running smoothly. It is incredibly important to document all of the processes within your company so that if an employee is sick or leaves unexpectedly, another team member can easily complete their tasks. Process Street can be used to document anything from the simplest three-step process to the largest, most complex process you can dream up. It can also integrate with Zapier, so you can automate entire checklists or various parts of a process. At Leverage, between Zapier and Process Street we have completely automated many core processes–like our hiring system, for example.

It’s not just having the tools, it’s how you use them.

The most important part of any tool is how you use it–if you’re not using best practices when it comes to these four tools, you may be actually hurting your business.

  • With Slack, it is important to set up proper channels with the right people. Too many unnecessary people in one channel? You’ve got too many cooks in the kitchen and a bunch of people getting notifications–distractions–they don’t need.

  • Trello is invaluable for organizing large projects, but if you aren’t using it correctly it can do the exact opposite. Knowing when to separate a project into multiple cards and limiting boards to a minimal number of lists is essential to keeping things clean, simple and organized.

  • Zoom is a great tool for talking face-to-face, but it should only be used when a face-to-face meeting is absolutely necessary. A remote team has the benefit of eliminating the distractions of a physical office–so keep distractions to a minimum by using these meetings strategically.

  • Process Street can offer more than just documentation. By having other team members review documented processes you can easily pave the way for innovative breakthroughs. As a rule in our company, anyone who works on a recurring process must have another team member rotate in once per month. That way, we have a second set of eyes looking at every process within our company and pointing out any faults or inefficiencies that others may have missed.

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How to Make Sure Your Boss Thinks You're Essential to The Team
December 3, 2017 12:22 am|Comments (0)

Make yourself indispensable to your clients and employers. You’ve heard it before. But we live in a fast paced, global economy. And it’s  easier and faster than ever to replace a talented individual. This means it’s harder than ever before to become indispensable. There’s an easier way that doesn’t involve being a super talented genius.

You don’t need to be indispensable to be indispensable. You need merely to hold the only set of keys to essential elements of ongoing business.

The Problem With The Indispensable Argument

Even if you are indispensable, do your clients really believe that?

Companies large and small fire people all the time without knowing how critical they were to the business. People are irrational. And if so motivated, they’ll fire you even at considerable harm to their business. It’s not enough to be indispensable, you need to back it up with strong, material leverage.

What is material leverage?

In business terms, material leverage in business terms is an assisted advantage that exists outside of yourself but is perceived by others. The principle is simple. You legitimately own or control the linchpin of an ongoing transaction, or business and use it to influence terms of an engagement.

Examples include effective control over partnerships, pipelines, websites, apps, platforms, or databases. Or perhaps you have contacts that are essential to the other party’s operations.

Strong vs. Weak vs. No Leverage

The key to understanding the power of leverage usually rests on the amount of time, energy and attention required to replace whatever linchpin you own or control. The more time required, the more powerful the leverage.

No or Weak Leverage

If the resource that you own or control can be easily replaced in a day, you effectively have no leverage. If there is a whole marketplace full of easy alternatives, or the perception of one, you have no effective leverage or at best weak leverage.

Perception is more powerful than the reality. If the other party doesn’t perceive or understand the leverage, they won’t respond to your influence over it.

Strong Leverage

A good measure of strong leverage is if its value is worth more than your annual salary or fee. If your leverage is perceived to be worth 5x your fee, then they will likely bend your way. Not doing so would risk costing them considerably more. That’s strong leverage.

When & How to Use it

Basically if someone isn’t paying their tab, trying to cut you out, or you feel you’re about to be fired, strong material leverage can come into play.

Step 1. You have to decide what your goal is.

Are you trying to use your influence to keep a good deal going and growing, or is it time for you to cut ties? Decide now.

Step 2. Let them hear the branch creak.

Use your leverage as influence to resolve issues and negotiate, not to bully anyone. Do this by letting those involved hear the branch creak. This means to hint just enough of your potentially hazardous move to cause them to rethink their course of action.

If your goal is to keep things going, then you need to think of the use of strong leverage as more of a dance. It’s not a battle, it’s about keeping the appropriate amount of tension and pressure to move with your partner.

If the goal is to keep profitable engagements going as long as possible, don’t wield your leverage like a sword in battle. You may feel superior to the other party in the moment but you’ll lose the value of ongoing transactions with those involved in the process.

This is a more subtle art. The other party needs to hear the branch creak and contemplate their own peril. You need merely hint at your leverage and let them worry about perilous outcomes.

Remember, leverage only works if they and you both stay in the tree.

Step 3. Make the corrective action clearly known.

If you’re too aggressive, the other party may see no path forward and impulsively jump out of the tree on their own. They need to hear both the branch creak and know the corrective solution to make it stop.

Cutting Ties

If you decide to cut ties, the first move is usually not to pull the rug out from anyone. A longer exit, is often more profitable. Leverage allows you to negotiate the terms of an exit. You may have the other party simply pay you to keep your resources in play. This is more amenable as it buys everyone time to decide what to do next.

No one likes being under someone else’s thumb. But leverage buys you a seat at the table and an engaged audience, ensuring you can be heard out. Tread softly and carry a big stick.

Tech

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Latest iPhone 8 Leak Confirms ‘Essential’ Feature Upgrade
January 15, 2017 1:05 am|Comments (0)

Apple’s new iPhone has a feature upgrade that’s likely to fly below the radar…


Cloud Computing

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