Watch a game like never before with baseball extras for X1 Platform

This week one of my development teams launched a new feature in partnership with Philly startup OneTwoSee that I’m particularly proud of.

Excerpt from my post on the Comcast Corporate Blog:

When I sit down to watch a baseball game, it’s fun trying to think like a major league manager, guess- along with player moves and assess each pitcher-batter match-up. Secretly, I really just want to be a better coach of my son’s little league team. But unless the station I’m watching shows a specific relevant stat or I take my eyes off the game to look something up on my phone, my armchair decisions are usually based more on gut than data.

Until now…
X1 Baseball Extras Animation

Our Xfinity Sports App on X1 has always been a fun, helpful companion to the main event, but starting today we are dramatically improving the experience for baseball lovers by re-engineering the app to give fans more data and statistics than ever before.

With the addition of the Baseball Extras, the new X1 Sports app will be one of the most in-depth, TV sports companion tools in the country, providing pre-game matchups, live batter-by-batter stats, and full post-game analysis – all on the same screen as the game itself, for no extra charge. Read more… 

Here’s a roundup of some of the coverage:

Posted in comcast, tv

Getting Products out from under the MIDDLE of the Bell Curve and Exceeding Expectations (SVPMA)

Given the key role Product Managers play in creating the environment for their teams… what must they do to avoid the bell curve of mediocre products that unfortunately are the norm? I shared my perspective as the guest speaker at the SVPMA (Sept 3, 2014) based on my own experiences and other authors/speakers that I trust.

Presenting @ SVPMA

I discussed specific ways to set clear goals and establish the right metrics. Dipping into my eBay days, I shared a little known story of the importance of asking for forgiveness rather than permission in driving innovation that resulted in the launch of the eBay iPhone app.

Some other takeaways from this talk include:

  • How to focus on the right, few, customer adoption metrics (e.g. AAARR). More is often not better and can distract from the main goal
  • How defining your product’s purpose often improves working relationships with designers and engineers so you aren’t left arguing about the “what” or the “how
  • How to avoid getting in the executive micromanagement web especially if they are distracted by the “flavor of the month” or “pet feature” ideas
  • How to drive stealth projects or go through quick business case or product prototyping within a big company.

I was pleased to host the event at Comcast Silicon Valley where I work.

A full review of the talk posted on the SVPMA website.

Posted in comcast, ebay, leadership, plaxo, talks Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Speaking @ SVPMA on Sept 3

svpma_logo

I’m speaking at the Silicon Valley Product Management Association next month on the topic “Getting Products out from under the MIDDLE of the Bell Curve and Exceeding Expectations”.

In my talk I’ll discuss how Product Managers play a profound role in creating the environment around product development teams. I’ll explore various ways they can influence these products to move up from mediocrity and how to avoid micromanagement and “flavor of the month” feature ideas.

I’ll discuss specific ways to set clear goals and establish the right metrics. Dipping into my eBay days, I’ll share a little known story of the importance of asking for forgiveness rather than permission in driving innovation.

Some other takeaways from this talk will include:

  • How to focus on the right, few, customer adoption metrics (e.g. AAARR). More is often not better and can distract from the main goal
  • How defining your product’s purpose often improves working relationships with designers and engineers so you aren’t left arguing about the “what” or the “how
  • How to avoid getting in the executive micromanagement web especially if they are distracted by the “flavor of the month” or “pet feature” ideas
  • How to drive stealth projects or go through quick business case or product prototyping within a big company

In addition to speaking, we’ll be hosting the event at our Comcast Silicon Valley Innovation Center in Sunnyvale.

Join me and RSVP for the Event

Event: Sept 3rd from 6:30 – 9:30

Posted in comcast, events Tagged with: , ,

I’m riding to help end MS and need your support

bike_trainingcrew_2014

I’m doing a 2-day 90 mile bike ride (Sept 20-21) for the second year to support an end to multiple sclerosis (MS). I am riding with and in support of my son’s godfather who was diagnosed about 6 years ago. 

Generous donations from people like you last year helped me raise $2,800 which combined with other riders came to over $2M to help in research and treatment!

You can help by sponsoring me today thru a tax deductible donation.

bikems_supportme

Update Aug 18, 2014: I reached my $3,000 fundraising goal! Going to stretch to $4,000…

 

Posted in personal Tagged with: ,

Running an Innovation Center at a Fortune 500 Company

I recently spoke on how to run an innovation center within a large company at both the Lean Startup conference in SF and the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit in NYC. As part of the leadership team running the Comcast Silicon Valley Innovation Center, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t especially within a BIG company.

How can you apply Lean Startup principles at your company? I have 6 pieces of advice:

  1. Ask for forgiveness, not permission
    The eBay mobile app almost didn’t get built as the mobile team was restructured away shortly before Apple announced the App Store in 2008. By “hiding” a small team of people building MVP (Alan Lewis, Ken Sun, Karlyn Neal) enough momentum was established that the Exec team went along.
  2. Build credibility thru projects–then scale
    The Comcast Silicon Valley Innovation Center was built out of an earlier acquisition made a couple years earlier in Plaxo. By running projects under the Plaxo brand and then Comcast Labs, credibility in the approach was established with the executive team. Over time its scaled to include higher profile projects, such as SEEiT.
  3. Don’t just swing for homeruns
    We take a VC mindset for “funding” concepts at the center. Ideas can come from anywhere (often Hack Days) and get evaluated using a Lean Canvas. Receiving “Seed” funding means we might assign a few engineers for a month or so. If they prove their hypothesis they might get “Series A” funding where they could build an MVP. Meanwhile we’re always looking for an “exit” which could be an “acquisition” from another internal business unit–so a solid “double” in baseball helps offset the “strikeouts” that might occur.
  4. Adapt Lean Canvas for your company
    I adapted Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas to better fit within the enterprise. Cost included the number of FTEs / time and Revenue includes indirect improvements to retention/acquisition. Finally a new cell was added for “Strategic Fit” which evaluates how well the concept fits within the corporate strategy and who on the Exec team will sponsor it.
    leancanvas_adapted
  5. Watch out for corporate antibodies
    Organizations are just like the body and will attack what they see as “foreign objects” (different ways of doing things). You need to be aware of who’s toes you might be stepping on and building allies at the exec level is important. It’s also helpful to understand resource allocation is often a “zero-sum-game” so don’t scale your resources too fast or they become a target for others looking for funding.
  6. Use vanity metrics (but don’t believe them)
    As you analyze using rate-based metrics that ruthlessly look at acquisition, activity, and retention is the only way to go. However its important that you present your product fairly alongside others at the company. Shining a bright light on all things wrong with your project may not give you the time you need to pivot and get it where you want it to go. So occasionally, its useful to share “vanity metrics” alongside the equivalents of other products at your company. 😉

Here’s some of my favorite tweets about my talk:

Photo taken by @RedHatInnovate

Photo taken by @RedHatInnovate

As with the rest of this blog, the above are my personal views and not that my employer. 

Posted in conference, talks Tagged with:

The Making of X2

A heart-warming behind the scenes look at how we at Comcast are building the future of TV from the perspective of some of my colleagues.

Want to join in? We’re hiring: sv.comcast.com

Posted in comcast, tv Tagged with: ,

I’m riding to put and end to MS. Support my team.

bike_trainingcrew_bannerHi Friends and Family,
I’m doing a 2-day bike ride (Sept 21-22) to help end multiple sclerosis (MS). I decided to ride with and in support of my son’s godfather who was diagnosed a few years ago. If you are familiar with MS you know that while there are treatments available to try and slow the disease their effectiveness is sporadic and there is no cure .

If you can sponsor me and my team in this ride, your donation will go toward treatment and cutting-edge research to both stop and reverse the damage done to the nervous system by this disease. Ways you can help:

  1. Make a tax-deductible donation to Bike MS.
  2. Investigate if your employer offers a matching program.
  3. Share this link with someone else that might be able to help.

If you can’t help financially now, maybe you’re a cycler and you can offer me some advice before I hit the road for 90 miles. Thanks! :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIQTCCaz7lM

UPDATE: Thanks to all who supported me in 2013! We raised over $2,800, which with the rest of the riders that weekend, contributed $2 million to research and treatment of MS!

Posted in personal Tagged with: ,

A fun new way to pick a flick, together

Today I’m demoing at the NCTA Cable Show  in Washington DC  a slick new “app” we built to help groups of people pick a movie to watch at home, called Movie Night. Tony Werner, Comcast’s CTO, invites me and my team to demo on stage.

If you’re like me, you’ve been on the couch trying to pitch to your spouse or friends movie ideas only to either end up settling for a movie you’re not thrilled about or just give up altogether. So a few of our best engineers and designers were also interested in this problem and over the last 6 weeks put together a collaborative experience that gets everyone in the room involved–and having fun while doing it.

Movie Night Screen

This is just one of a number of innovative products we’re incubating using Lean Startup methods in Silicon Valley as part of Comcast Labs. If you’d like to join us, let me know… we’re looking for more product, design, and engineering talent.

Video of Presentation (jump to 21:50 – 33:28 for Movie Night)

Photo of demo on stage 6/12/13 (by Josh Kennedy):

On Stage Demoing Movie Night

Posted in comcast Tagged with: , , ,

March Madness on X1

I love seeing the Sports App on X1 our team here made while it’s March MadnessX1 Sports App for March Madness

Whenever you want to catchup on the tournament just launch the app on your TV, browse all the live games, and click on the one you want to watch (no need to remember if its CBS, TNT, truTV, etc).

Then while you watch that game you can decide to keep a detailed “game cast” for a 2nd game up so you can decide when you want to hop around.

While we’re working on lots more improvements to this popular app, its great seeing the basics work during a big event like this.

Not at home? XFINTY subscribers can stream all the games live to a tablet or computer:

Posted in comcast

I’m hiring! Join our team!

I’m on the lookout for a strong mobile PM to join our team focused on redefining how people enjoy, discovery, and interact with TV. Here’s a short job description I put together as well as an example of one of the products you’d manage in the role.

What's On TeamHere at the Comcast Silicon Valley Innovation Center we’re also hiring designers and engineers. It’s a great team with some of best I’ve worked with so if you or someone you know might fit the bill ping me.

Posted in comcast, jobs Tagged with: , ,


Preston builds apps that shape Comcast's next generation mobile and TV experiences at its Silicon Valley Innovation Center.

Former GM of Plaxo.com (acquired by Comcast), User Experience Design leader at eBay, Microsoft PM. MBA from UC Berkeley.

Danville Dad of Three.