I was in Miami a few weeks ago and I was invited to give a presentation about Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. Having grown up in Miami and seeing how other cities in the US have gone out of their way to provide both financial and incentives to get the startup community growing in their cities, (Austin, New York, Boston, Seattle to name a few) I was happy to be provided with the opportunity to present in Miami.
The setting is pretty much the same, the City gives some property, tax incentives, financial incentives to organizations that are incubating, funding, and helping startups grow from early stage to series A.
My presentation was at The Launch Pad in Miami.
Here is the presentation in its pdf format >>
As usual, the e-mails, twitter direct messages and even Facebook messages have prodded me to write about who I thought deserved to win. If you don’t know what verdict am talking about. Well, obviously, the Apple vs Samsung verdict handed down on Friday, August 25th, 2012.
So who won? Apple did and Samsung’s, before Judge Koh adds additional ‘willful’ damages, fine came to about $1.05Billion. The jury found evidence of willful infringement on patents.
So I will pause for a minute and let you all know, (those of you who don’t know me well) I have been an Apple user since 1983. My first computer was an Apple //e. My second computer, a Mac 128, the rest you can sum up.
I have been programming in both camps, Apple and Microsoft, professionally since 1992. The first cross platform product I worked on was called Deneba Canvas. It was feature by feature parity on both Windows 3.1 and Finder 7. You are reading that right, Windows 3.1 and Finder 7.x – Mind blowing.
So my world as a professional developer has been writing cross platform ‘apps’ and before I embarked on my own entrepreneurship endeavors, my software highlight culminated with Adobe Illustrator, Flash Authoring and FlashLite for mobile devices, pre-iPhone. (Well, come to think of it, Adobe did never ship a truly working copy of Flash for iOS, more in the lines of ‘look we have something working’ crap).
“Hey, I don’t give a hoot to your background, get to to the point”.
I am, I am.
What has been interesting to read amongst all the blogs, along with all the ‘fanboyism’ is that just about in every blog comment there is always a ‘patent’ system needs to be reviewed and all hell breaks lose about the patent system. Then the fan boys kick in and it becomes a war of words and insults and everything else that you can think of, “overpriced”, “a loss for x,y,z”.. etc.
But here, Apple won. There is not going back. Even if Samsung wins the appeal, and by the time they get to the appels court, it will be too late. A clear decisive victory for Apple. But this is more than the jurors agreeing to the violation of patents, it was also about the look and feel patents, ‘dress patents’, design patents and what not.
I was kneed deep in shit, working with Nokia and Symbian and bunch of other device manufacturers from Asia, Europe and even Korea, back in the 2006/2007 timeframe (Flash Mobile Authoring and FlashLite 3.0). Writing mobile back then was as painful as having your molar extracted without any Novocain and with a pair of rusty pliers. Seriously. An aberration of the senses.
Then in 2007 Apple introduced the iPhone and development for the iPhone was what we were used to as developers of desktop apps. “Build”->Sync->onYourPhone. There. Bam. Done. Debug, not a problem. Profiler, not a problem. etc. (well it was later than 2007 when Apple introduced the SDK but you know what I mean). Nokia’s C++ was outrageously expensive, and as for the ARM compiler, we had a floating license because it was in the 5 digits to have a license of the ARM compiler back then. And it was not a ‘build->sync->on your phone’ it was not that easy.
Apple made it simple. And because of Apple and what they did to the mobile industry, I was able to found my ‘mobile app company’. Yes. Apple made it possible. And look around you. There are hundreds of entrepreneurs each day, from 13 year olds, to 80 year olds, getting into the business of app development, because one company, which was in the brink of death in the mid 90′s, had an idea and they executed against it.
Nokia, Rim, Adobe, even Google, and countless other ‘mobile’ companies of the mid 2000′s were in for the win. But they all got steamed-roll by a fruit company down the street from them.
We would not be where we are because of Apple’s vision. Some of you reading this, are in the mobile app development world because of Apple. Not Nokia, not RIM, not Adobe, not Google, not Samsung. It is because of Apple. Some of you are using my product to be in the mobile app business and making some ‘diaper money’ on the side, and because of Apple, it made my dream of becoming an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley a reality.
And guess what? some of you will read this on your mobile device, wether it is an Apple, or a Samsung device. And less than 5 years ago, you wouldn’t have thought of even remotely possible.
So yes, Apple deserved to win. And thank you Apple, and Steve for making this decade the mobile decade. If there is to be a person of the decade for 2010′s it should got to Steve, cos he change the world, and left a dent in the universe.
ps: why did you mention cross platform at the beginning? Because I am still doing cross platform development after all these years. But instead of Apple/Microsoft it is now for mobile, iOS/Android currently, and soon other mobile OS.
pss: Apple has paid out over $5bill to developers since the apps were allowed in the store. Bueller?
psss: But wait, there is more… This is the biggest Marketing mind set Apple could have ever dreamed of, specially on the heels of the iPhone 5 announcement and the purportedly iPad Mini in September.
psss: Yes I wish Leo “Disaster of a CEO” Apotheker would had never dumped the Palm WebOS B.U.
pssss: Injunction hearing set for Sept 20th.
psssss: Working with the Android SDK/NDK combination is as painful as working with the then Symbian SDK for Nokia. Arcane.
I have gotten a lot of e-mails regarding my Ten Commandments for Entrepreneurs. About nine months ago, I was asked, what lessons have I learned from running my startup and if I could share them. And it got me thinking and the truth is, there are a lot of lessons learned, but not enough time to share, plus given the context, it would have been difficult to articulate via a blog.
Maybe I will start a video series. But from the initial question and the exercise on coming up with the lessons learned, I came up with a list of the 10 Crucial Lessons Learned from Running a Startup. Here it is in simple PDF Form. I will follow up shortly with a voice over video articulating each slide.
I was on an Aussie podcast not long ago. Tech Webcast – Australia’s leading technology show. Listen at
I was also on reviewme.oz-apps.com, another great Australian technology and apps review site. Listen at
reviewme.oz-apps.com is doing a series of podcasts interviews. I will post them as they get published.
Well, I certainly hope so. In light of the recent analyst call where there was no mention of Flash or any Flash related products contributing to their bottom line as well as showcasing a new Flash Like HTML web animation tool called Adobe Edge, one has to wonder what is going on inside of Adobe and its strategy for building on top of the once al mighty Flash platform.
I have received a number of inquires about Corona SDK from Flash programmers who are frustrated with Adobe’s roadmap and song and dance about Flash and how with its Open Screen Project and its AIR marketplace will eventually dominate the app and distribution channels to help foster the Flash/Air/Flex cause.
It has been over 5 years since Adobe purchased Macromedia and Flash has become a second class citizen inside of Adobe. With all its engineering power and deep pockets, Flash still has mediocre performance on Android and abysmal performance on iOS devices. Only for developers to sit and wait now for more than five years.
Is Adobe Edge a symbol of Adobe throwing in the white towel into the mobile ring and giving up after all these years of trying to unsuccessfully attaining the once dominant runtime engine from the web world into “non-pc devices” or is it another bet in its arsenal of the MBA suites covering their asses in case these other platforms succeed. The argument here could be that Adobe is a big company and as any other company with deep pockets can, and will, fiddle with “emerging technologies” and they could afford to foray into un-charted, unproven “technologies”. Adobe after all, is a industry leader and a company that sets the standards. I would agree, but those days are long gone. Long gone.
Whatever it is, and however you see it or Adobe sees it, I will contend that this is a significant blow and a major black eye for Adobe for having spent $3.1 billion on Macromedia for Flash. Only to have Adobe fail to deliver and failed to capitalize on their strength on making Flash the de-facto mobile framework engine.
At the All Things Digital D9 conference, Shantanu failed to answer Mossberg critique of Flash having poor performance on Android devices, even on such devices as the Motorola Xoom. And how about the fracas on the RIMM Playbook using AIR as a core development tool on top of QNX. It is a joke. Not only that, but Shantanu played the “business model” card vs performance card when questioned about Jobs banning Flash from iOS devices. (See: Wired, April 30th, 2010 article)
Well for all of you Flash developers out there caught in the middle of the cross fire, unkept promises and a cloudy future, there is an answer for you, it is called Corona SDK, and now with SpriteLoq, you can take almost all of your Flash assets and convert them to Corona. Unlike Adobe, we are committed to deliver the overall best framework for mobile, we are focused, small, lean and we can adapt to change faster than the loud growling, chest beating, all noise but no action 800 pound gorilla.
We have had the number one game on the iTunes App store, we have the top games across all three major Android app stores, those of Amazon, Google and Barnes and Noble. We continue to have top apps across the board, and we have had a number of apps break past the one millionth download mark. A few days ago, around June 20th, Yobonja, makers of Blast Monkeys, notified us that their game blew past the 2 million download mark. They are currently tracking as the number four game overall on Android market place and number 2 right after Angry Birds in the Action games category.
Proven technology from the guys who brought you Flash-Lite.
We may not have the Adobe name but we have the un-relentless commitment on making our Corona SDK the number one framework for mobile game and app development across all major platforms, with significan focus and drive to make it happen.
Visit our “Flash Developers You Will [Heart] Corona” page to learn about Corona vs Flash and how easy it is to get started and porting your Flash games to Corona.
Lastly, don’t get me wrong. There is the “business” of Adobe and there is the “people” of Adobe. I worked with some of the best people in there, I hold high regards for them, smart, fun, witty, brilliant, extraordinarily brilliant. It has been said that if you want to get smart, hang around smart people. And Adobe has a bunch of them and I learned a lot from them. This is not about them. This is about the “business” of Adobe and their inability to deliver. Some of them are just caught in the quagmire of big business politics where the bottom line and cost saving measures is their modus operandi.
The “oh-so-ever-loose cannon”
[now in seclusion. whereabouts unknown] And for those who want to burn me in effigy, I will be more than happy to provide you with the gasoline and matches
But don’t just take my word.
More and more, Lua is proving itself as a great language for mobile development, and Corona SDK by Ansca Mobile has been a key ingredient in this movement.
Creator of the Lua Language.
I met Roberto a few years back when we first launched Ansca, thanks to Kore Technologies for putting the lunch meeting together. The entire Ansca staff was at lunch and I remember bringing my Lua book to have Roberto sign it. A year later, vacationing in Rio de Janeiro I met Roberto for dinner. By this time, I had a few screen fulls of Corona based games running on my iPhone and I showed him what our developers were creating with Corona and of course with the Lua programming language. He was happy to see how far you guys push both Lua and Corona to do some amazing games.
Lately, as Lua has broken into the top ten languages in the TIBOE Programming Index, the chatter box around Lua has increased both over at Amazon and other venues.
One surprising factor, to me, was that over at Amazon.com, when you search for Lua, the results show a related searches section and “corona sdk” shows up.
So yes, I would agree with Roberto. Corona SDK has proven itself not only as a great tool for mobile development, but it is also pushing Lua as the lingua franca for mobile development as well.
I was interview by the folks over at Experimental Dev Podcast Show on our flagship product, our Corona SDK.
Go listen to it here >>
I came across these set of images while doing a clean up of one of my folders and thought it would be interesting to share.
These are a set of images of my first foray into mobile. The images were done for a prototype bar tending application I was working on using an HP Pocket-PC (iPaq) running Microsoft Windows Mobile circa 2003.
Yikes! Glad am not known as a designer. But the constraints of yesteryears devices was also limited.
This time it is “La Estrella de Nicaragua” one of the leading newspapers in Nicaragua. The article is in spanish and pretty much says just what you all know. Where am from, what ANSCA means, how Walter and I started Ansca and talks about the success of Bubble Ball,(you know, the 14 year old kid) Robert Nays’s successful app written in our Corona SDK.
Tried to do my best to translate.
“Dweeb Carlos Icaza, Nicaraguan-nerd triumphs in the US in the world of cyber technology.
With the title “The impact of Corona SDK from Ansca Mobile”, el Diario Las Americas wrote about the monumental success of Carlos Icaza Arguello, a Nicaraguan professional in an article written by Nicaraguan reporter Sergio Boffelli.
Carlos Icaza is the co-founder of Ansca Mobile, creators of the Corona SDK. “Corona SDK has allowed 14 year hold Robert Nay from Spanish Fork Utah to create his successful game Bubble Ball a free app for the iTunes app store says Boffelli.
The success of Robert’s game has been featured all over the US, Europe, China and Chile, due in part to Robert’s game displacing Angry Birds from the top stop which was created by a group of 17 programmres.
Carlos Icaza says “Bubble Ball has been downloaded more than 8 million times, which I consider a phenomenon because it put Ansca on the map and now VC firms are coming to us thus proving what we set out to do a long time ago, we made Corona so easy, that even a 14 year old can write apps using our framework”.
In August of 1979, Carlos Icaza, then 13 years old arrived in Miami with his parents Carlos Icaza and Tere Arguello de Icaza and his sister Karla. The entire family, as with thousand of others, exiled from Nicaragua during the civil war due to the unrest brought about by the Sandinista Revolution. Carlos would have never imagined that his future would impact the world of technology in the US and worldwide.
He left behind friends, his home town of Leon, Nicaragua, and his family’s cotton farm, adding to the exodus of more than 1 million Nicaraguans whose talent and productive capacity displaced the country from the civil unrest and usurped government into the chaos of poverty making Nicaragua the second most poorest country in Central/South America.
At 15 years of age, now in exile, Carlos Icaza started programming classes and graduated from Christopher Columbus High Shool in 1984 in Miami, and as soon as he started college courses in Computer Science he was hired as a professional programmer.
As he grew, Carlos immersed himself in the world of programing and in 1997 joined Adobe as a software engineer and in 2004 Macromedia recruited him as Engineering Manager for their nascent mobile division.
A year later, when Adobe acquired Macromedia, Icaza had released FlashLite, Flash Mobile Authoring and Flash Cast. Flash Lite is now available in over a billion phones worldwide.
With his technological capacity and his desire to be an entrepreneur and work with more freedom he quit Adobe in 2007 and with his co-founder Walter Luh, who met while at Adobe, started Ansca Mobile in Palo Alto.
Where does the name Ansca comes from? It’s a family history, and the cotton farm where he grew up left an indelible experience on a very young Carlos Icaza, and the meaning of Ansca is “Algodoneros Nicaraguenses Sociedad Coooperativa Agricola” [Agricultural Cooperative of Nicaraguan Cotton Growers] and even though Ansca Mobile is a company dedicated to technology, Carlos has fond memories of Ansca that he has carried since his child hood.
Walter, his co-founder was also at Adobe and was lead architect of Flash Lite, has over 10 years of programming experience and aside from Flash Lite worked on Adobe Illustrator and Apple’s Final Cut Pro.”
The rest is the Bubble Ball success and how easy Corona is to use.
John Warnock (co-founder of Adobe) is not just known for being the mind behind Adobe, PostScript, and Acrobat. Prior to Adobe, he worked for Xerox PARC and was one of the foremost scientists in leading the effort for JaM (“J” being John; “M” being Martin Newell, famous for the Utah Teapot), the precursor to PostScript. We all know the Xerox PARC story. This is not about Xerox. Read John’s first document on Acrobat, codenamed Camelot.
Even before Xerox, John Warnock was already famous. He was known for the Warnock Algorithm, a hidden surface removal algorithm published in most computer science graphics books. Imagine having an algorithm named after you. That’s impressive.
He comes from an elite group of distinguished graphics pioneers that studied at theUniversity of Utah. From Martin Newell, to Phong, Gouraud, Alan Kay, Ed Catmull (Pixar), Jim Clark (SGI, Netscape), Jim Blinn (NASA), Kajiya, and others. The advances we see today in movies like Toy Story and Avatar comes from the early research papers most of these folks wrote in the late 60’s and throughout the 70’s. Seriously, you have to check out Blinn’s bump mapping work and some early papers on fur rendering by Kajiya.
So, let’s party like it’s 1999. Here I was, a nobody, (heck, I still am a nobody!), a number at an office, a four-digit employee at Adobe. I had been working for them for almost three years and I’d just started working in the Illustrator group. Here I was sitting down, probably a week into the Illustrator group, staring at a 21” NEC CRT monitor full of windows of code and trying to find my way around it. I was facing the south side, and I had my back to the door when I heard footsteps and a knock on the door. It was Illustrator’s director of engineering. And what happened next, left me with an indelible mark.
It goes something like this:
Dave (Director of Engineering): Carlos what are you working on?
Me: Learning the code.
Dave: Well, I have a project for you that’s rather important.
Me: Uhh… Okay. *GULP*
[Butterflies and nervousness start to creep in. A project of importance -- will I be able to deliver? What if I have no clue how this project works, and how it is put together???]
Dave: John Warnock wants to know why we don’t have a color picker in Illustrator.
Me: The John Warnock?
Dave: He just got off the phone with me and wants the Color Picker in Illustrator ASAP. I figured it would be a good way for you to break into the code.
[I s*** my pants]
Dave: Don’t worry. It’s just John.
Me: But, but, I don’t know how to …
Dave: Look, you’ve done this a thousand times. It should be relatively easy.
Dave: E-mail John and you two can figure it out. [Exits.]
Me: [I look and feel like I just saw a ghost, while continuing to s*** my pants.
That was it!
That was the moment that Warnock crystallized for me just how in-touch he was with his products and his engineers. It epitomized for me the “Warnock Influence.” He would roam the hallways at Adobe and chat with engineers. He would pop his head into an office and start talking with the engineer as if they had known each other for years. Chuck Geschke(Adobe co-founder) would do the same. A former co-worker during my Illustrator years came to my office one day and was in shock that Chuck had just called him after finding a bug in his SVG export code. It was not unusual to be sitting in the Adobe cafeteria, having lunch, and having John or Chuck come sit at your table and smack-talk.
I refer to the Color Picker story above often as an example of a founder who was passionate about his products as much as he was about his company and his employees. In another episode (not involving Warnock), I was at an event with that same Director of Engineering and, when introducing him, I said I work for him. He corrected me, simply saying “No, we work together.”
Coincidentally, Dave Lazarony — that now-former Director of Engineering for Illustrator(who later became one of the individuals responsible for making the Adobe Creative Suite) — currently sits on our advisory board and has been my mentor for a number of years. We first met around 1990 at a puny little company in Miami called Deneba Software (nowACDSee), makers of Canvas, a former competing product against Illustrator. I credit him with quite a bit of stuff, as it was him who pushed me to submit my resume to Adobe and eventually get where I am today.
Today, I don’t have people working for me — I work for my co-workers! My job is to facilitate and do whatever it takes to allow them to execute on their job tasks to their fullest potential, and empower them to grow and make decisions independently. And, above all, I get my hands dirty. I build, debug, add features, and fix bugs on our code base.
All thanks to an industry giant for teaching me a life lesson.