Today at Comcast we announced the acquisition of Philly-based sports startup OneTwoSee will join the rest of my Sunnyvale-based team to form what I think will be the best sports technology team in the business. From my post on Comcast Voices:
They not only bolster our efforts to build a best-in-class sports TV experience but also underscore our commitment to partnering with and investing in the local start-up community in this great city. I’d like to personally welcome Jason Angelides, Chris Reynolds and the rest of their team; they will retain their Philadelphia offices – just across the street from the Comcast Center – and report up through me.
OneTwoSee has played a huge role in our efforts to make X1 an awesome place for sports fans. In the past year, we’ve worked with them to reengineer our X1 sports app – initially launched with the platform to help fans check scores, standings, and schedules for games – into an interactive and immersive companion experience giving fans more data and statistics than ever before.
Usage of the sports app is now up fivefold from the winter of 2015 and now used by one in four X1 households on a weekly basis.
I’m so happy that Comcast’s been so supportive of my team’s efforts including this latest move. And if you don’t believe my words, here’s a mug shot of me with the founders as we announced the news…
My team’s hitting a nice cadence with releases and following our Baseball Extras launch in June we built an experience optimized for the football fan. As product manager it always feels great to ship… but to see your product well received but customers and the press is absolutely golden.
Here’s an excerpt from my official announcement:
For the NFL and NCAA football season, we’re making the X1 Sports app the ultimate football companion. We are dramatically enhancing the experience for football fans, providing more data, real-time stats and visualizations, than ever before: pre-game player and team comparisons, injury reports, fantasy stats and leaders, win/loss probabilities to full post-game analysis including drive chart summary.
What’s more to get the word out we’re traveling around the country (SF, Boston, DC, Seattle, Chicago, Pittsburg, Atlanta, and Philly) where we’re joined by home town athletes to talk about what this means for fans in that city. It’s a blast not only showing off my team’s great work but meeting some of the NFL’s finest.
Thrilled for my team’s announcement this week introducing XFINITY Games powered by EA. This is just the latest example of how we at Comcast are expanding and opening up the X1 platform for creating so many experiences beyond what you’d expect from TV. Probably the best way to understand the value proposition here is thru this short video:
I had a blast helping with the rollout to journalists and here’s a few excerpts from this week’s coverage of this new X1 feature:
As many of you know I ride each year in support of a cause close to my heart: raising awareness and money to support an end to multiple sclerosis (MS). I got involved in the cause in support of my son’s godfather who was diagnosed a number of years ago and thru conversations with you have learned how many others are impacted by MS.
This year I’m stepping up the distance to ride 120 miles over 2 days including a spectacular route over the Golden Gate Bridge and up the coast before heading into Sonoma. I also am captaining my own team in an effort to rally other folks at Comcast to join the hundreds of other Comcasters around the country that also ride for their own fitness and this cause.
Now for how you can help… You’re support will go toward treatment and cutting-edge research to both stop and reverse the damage done to the nervous system by this disease. Three ways:
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉