son: dad what’s for dinner?
dad: dinner? nope. i said 1000 RTs or no dinner. sorry
son: we haven’t eaten in days
dad: 1000 RTs or we starve
Tom Waits at the Tropicana, ca. 1976/ 1977
"He finally ushered me around, and he’s got his piano in the kitchen, and he only uses the kitchen range to light his cigarettes, and then there’s this refrigerator where he keeps his hammers and wrenches and nuts and bolts and stuff like that. He opened the fridge door and with an absolute poker face he said, ‘I got some cool tools in here.’ Bette Midler on visiting Waits
Flickr was a treasure chest of innovation, but Stewart never even intended to make the damn thing. He’d set out, instead, to make a game called Game Neverending. It was a financial failure. Flickr was merely based on a set of features broken out of the game, but it took over the company and his life. You may have heard the regrettably trendy term pivot, where a startup abruptly shifts to a new strategy and suddenly thrives. This was one of the original pivots.
History has circled back on Stewart. After a few years at Yahoo, he quit and went back to work on his neverending game. This time he called it Glitch, it looked amazing and had a vividly imagined story line, but was conceptually similar to Game Neverending. Years passed. The game failed. Again. Then (again!) he broke out something he and his team had created by accident while making the game.
It’s a communications application, based on the system they created while building Glitch. It’s called Slack.
This is fascinating to me. His dream startup has accidentally become an incubator, spinning out other startups. Maybe there’s a model for repeatable innovation here.