Today’s Wall Street Journal includes a great article on the cold war between Google and Microsoft (subscription required). The author looks at why Microsoft is launching a free, online-only version of Office, and why Google is responding in part by launching its own OS. He believes that “neither Google nor Microsoft really have an interestContinue reading “Deterrence”

What the Underpants Gnomes can teach you about business on the web.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kinds of businesses that will start and thrive in this economy. The bulk of web 2.0 companies were built (and bought) based on the thought that they would aggregate and re-sell people’s attention. As we moved through the business cycle, some companies developed exotic ways of targeting theirContinue reading “What the Underpants Gnomes can teach you about business on the web.”

Getting a New Team to do Cool Stuff

When I took on my current job I was given an established product team and a mostly-new engineering team. We also had a brand new engineering manager, QA manager, and program manager working with us. Our job was to launch an all-new version of Toolbar while we maintained our existing versions and continued to supportContinue reading “Getting a New Team to do Cool Stuff”


This month’s Fast Company features a cover story about Amazon’s Kindle. It describes how Amazon could use the Kindle to squeeze publishers out of the book value chain. It also talks about how Apple might respond, and what the ensuing battle might look like. Over the past few years I’ve been impressed by Amazon’s willingnessContinue reading “Evolve.”

Design by Objective

I’m a big fan of managing by objective. Wherever possible, I believe that PMs, engineers, testers and designers should begin their work by first agreeing to (or at least accepting) a list of user and business objectives that a feature or product should fulfill. This will be useful in framing the many discussions that willContinue reading “Design by Objective”

Rule 2: Don’t be a victim.

As a product manager it is tempting to blame failures on the action – or inaction – of others. This is dangerous because it allows one to avoid responsibility for the commtiments they make. To be a great product manager you have to be a good leader. That means holding yourself accountable. The best definitionContinue reading “Rule 2: Don’t be a victim.”

Rule 1: “No, you are not the user.”

For all my time at Yahoo I’ve had the good fortune of working under Tapan Bhat. I worked for him directly for the first year as we tried to sort out My Yahoo!. “My” was and is a pretty geeky product, with a lot of power user features. Our job was to figure out howContinue reading “Rule 1: “No, you are not the user.””

Joe’s Rules of Product Management

Something to blog about After nearly four years at Yahoo! I finally feel like I have something to blog about. One of the best things about my job is that I get to learn from some of the best minds on the internet. Periodically, something that I learn resonates so deeply, or describes my situationContinue reading “Joe’s Rules of Product Management”