It was 3:30AM and I had just gotten back from a few drinks with Mike Butcher, Tarik Krim and a few other friends. I was having a glass of water and checking emails on my iPhone. No email caught my eye, so I opened Twitter to see what’s going on in the world. In a matter of seconds tears started dropping into the glass of water after seeing my Twitter stream flooded with the news that Steve Jobs died. A few seconds later, Tarik called me. The only thing I could tell him on the phone was “wow”. The only thing he was able to say was “yeah”, and we spent the next couple of minutes in silence.

Never in my life have I cried for someone I have never met, before yesterday. There’s no consumer brand I love more than Apple, and there’s no person that has inspired me as much as Steve Jobs.

Rest in peace, mr. Jobs.

A bit of love for my friends

My dad’s always told me that if I want to be successful, one of the things I need to do is surround myself with successful people. And I must say, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some amazing people over the past few years. People that ship products, get things done, sign clients and sell their companies. Successful people.

This week I’d like to congratulate Ciprian Morar, a fellow Romanian and old friend for signing a three-year deal with Travelzoo (a NASDAQ company) as their main technology provider. Secondly, big congrats to my friend (and investor in Brainient) Alex Hoye for selling Latitude Group. And last but definitely not least, big hug to my bud and flatmate Lucian Tarnowski for… well, you’ll find out what for, soon ;).

Excellent work, gents. Keep them coming.

Selling by storytelling, the Steve Jobs way

The other day, I discovered an interview with Steve Jobs from exactly 26 years ago. Yes, 26 years ago. He was 29, and Apple had just launched the $3,000 Mac. The interview itself is superb and I strongly recommend you  read the whole thing, but what really struck me is how well he prepared his stories, even back then. Here are a few of examples:

About the computer:

Computers are actually pretty simple. We’re sitting here on a bench in this cafe [for this part of the Interview]. Let’s assume that you understood only the most rudimentary of directions and you asked how to find the rest room. I would have to describe it to you in very specific and precise instructions. I might say, “Scoot sideways two meters off the bench. Stand erect. Lift left foot. Bend left knee until it is horizontal. Extend left foot and shift weight 300 centimeters forward .” and on and on. If you could interpret all those instructions 100 times faster than any other person in this cafe, you would appear to be a magician: You could run over and grab a milk shake and bring it back and set it on the table and snap your fingers, and I’d think you made the milk shake appear, because it was so fast relative to my perception. That’s exactly what a computer does. It takes these very, very simple-minded instructions–“Go fetch a number, add it to this number, put the result there, perceive if it’s greater than this other number”–but executes them at a rate of, let’s say, 1,000,000 per second. At 1,000,000 per second, the results appear to be magic.

About the mouse:

If I want to tell you there is a spot on your shirt, I’m not going to do it linguistically: “There’s a spot on your shirt 14 centimeters down from the collar and three centimeters to the left of your button.” If you have a spot–“There!” [He points]–I’ll point to it. Pointing is a metaphor we all know. We’ve done a lot of studies and tests on that, and it’s much faster to do all kinds of functions, such as cutting and pasting, with a mouse, so it’s not only easier to use but more efficient.

About life:

There’s an old Hindu saying that comes into my mind occasionally: “For the first 30 years of your life, you make your habits. For the last 30 years of your life, your habits make you.” As I’m going to be 30 in February, the thought has crossed my mind.

Selling is all about telling a story that’s relevant to the person you’re telling it to, but at the same time creates an emotional impact or connection. If you look closely at the paragraphs above, you’ll notice that the stories involve the interviewer directly. It may not make the person buy whatever you’re selling directly, but it might make people pay more attention to whatever your saying.

Sequoia Capital’s founder: We don’t choose people, we choose markets

If you look at the fastest growing companies in the world, especially in the technology sector, you can notice one common theme: they’re all riding a trend. Zuck realised that people will want to stay connected with their friends by spending the least amount of time possible, Andrew Mason spotted that people are willing to join other people in order to get massive discounts, Ev & Biz noticed there are a ton of girls who would like to stalk Ashton Kutcher. In theory, it sounds pretty simple.

However, I think trendspotting is incredibly difficult but pays off massively, if you manage to have the right team and the right product at the right time. Don Valentine, the founder of Sequoia Capital makes a similar point in a speech he had at Stanford a few months ago:

We have always focused on the market: the size, the dynamics and the nature of the competition. Because our objective always was to build big companies. If you don’t attack a big market, it’s highly unlikely you’re ever going to build a big company.

We don’t care if people went to school or how smart they are. We are interested in their idea about the market, the magnitude of the problem and what can happen if in fact the combination of Sequoia and the individuals are correct.

We don’t choose people, we choose markets. And once we choose a market, we choose the best product in the market.

I strongly recommend that you watch the entire speech (about 1hr long), when you get a chance:

I got the best Christmas present in the world this year

For the past couple of months, 40-50 of my friends have been secretly “cooking” me a Christmas present, led by my best friend in the world, Sabina (which some of you might now as The Girl With Her Peals On). Yesterday evening Santa delivered the video below, which I think is absolutely brilliant, as it involves two of the things I care about the most in this world: friends & video. Enjoy:

Thank you SO much Mom & Dad, Claude London, Lil Bulgac, Lucian Tarnowski, Loredana Gal, Sorana Urdareanu, David Abelman, Victor Anastasiu, Oliver Shapleski, Jeh Kazimi, Joshua Green, Thomas Hoegh & Arts Alliance, Teodora Poptean, Cristian Manafu, Alena Dundas, Vladimir Oane, Nicoleta Dragan, Ciprian Mocanu, Andy Young, Iulia Poptean, Ciprian Morar, Dragos Bucurenci, Alex Van Someren, Cristi Lupsa, Alina Gal, Jason Goodman, Mihaela Dragus, Hanna Ruth Wallis, Doru Mitrana, Catalina Rusu, Lea Bajc, Vlad Stan, Lippe Oosterhof, Brainient & Mihai Sava, Mihai Iova, Cristina Pop, Andrei Blaj, Misha Plesco, Kolea Plesco, Andrei Baragan, Andrei Soporean and, of course, Sabina.

Keeping a clean soul

The title of this blog post sounds a tad spiritual but trust me it’s not. Quite the opposite, actually.

A few days ago I was speaking to a friend about the fact that, as we go through life, we lose the innocence we had when we were kids. Which is not entirely bad, because after all – we are not swans. We are sharks. However, with the loss of innocence we also lose the ability to see the best in people, the desire to smile (back) or the willingness to help each other.

As I was walking to the office this morning I saw a mother walking her two 5-year-olds to kindergarden, probably. All 3 of them had the happiest faces I’ve seen in a while which make me realize something: to keep our innocence, we should spend more time with kids. And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t done that in many, many years. Which gives me an idea… (and no, it’s not that)!