Om Malik

A technology writer, Founder of Gigaom, and Partner at True Ventures

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 16, 2015

Discussion

Hi All, Om here. I'm a partner at True Ventures, a Silicon Valley based early stage investment group. Prior to joining True, I started Gigaom and pioneered tech news blogging. I was also on the founding team of Forbes.com and have covered the rise of the commercial Internet from its very early days. I frequently write for Bloomberg, FastCompany and The New Yorker and comment about recent technology developments on Bloomberg TV. Ask me anything!
Alex Mather@alex3780 · Founder, The Athletic
Hey Om. Ev Williams recently was quoted as saying "The individual website won’t matter. The Internet is not going to be about billions of people going to millions of websites. It will be about getting it from centralized websites." Do you agree with this? Is this really where publishing is going?
@thevelorama I can't find this interview (on Gigaom.com) I did with Ev where he said that we vacillate between centralization and decentralization. I think we are in the centralization phase for now. :-) That said, individual website has to evolve into something new. For 25 years it has been somewhat static. My view is that a new web-model emerges in next few years.
Ray Garcia@raygcreative · Founder @teleporme
@om I completely agree with that. I know for me, I've stopped visiting just one website and now rely on apps like Flipboard or even my twitter feed to just get information I care about from multiple sources all in one place. Let's face it, there's tons of great content out there and it's more convenient to get a curation of it in the places I frequent the most.
mekalav@mekalav · Curator
@om Is it this one ?
Ryan, thanks for having me and delighted to join your amazing community.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@om thank you! This was fun. 🙏
Matt Mullenweg@photomatt · CEO, Automattic
@om How do you clear or remove things from your life?
@photomatt It is a process. I eliminate people and things that are not net-positive to my life. I feel that I have so little time left in my life, I can't waste it on things that don't work for me. If I don't use something once a month, I know it is something I don't care for. I am willing to try anything, but when I find something I stick to it. I give away a lot of things to salvation army. Past 12 months have been purging things/people that don't make life better.
Marcin Perlak@marcinperlak · CEO at qcadoo.com
@om are you getting rid also of the tech gadgets regularly ?
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@Om what would you do if you were 25 in 2015? AND what life advice would you give your 25 year old self?
Parker Woodward@parkerwoodward · Working to automate b2b referrals
@eriktorenberg great question!
@eriktorenberg Wait you mean to say, I am not 25 :-) I think as every 25 year old, I though I knew the answers. The problem was I didn't how how to ask the right questions. I think my one piece of advise to my 25-year-old self would have been: respect those with experience, ask more questions and be more open to learn from them.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Great advice, Om. I know Erik didn't ask me but to volley off of that response, I've more recently* learned to ask for help. It's easy to do and easy to avoid. *I'm 28.
@rrhoover And you feel better for it, right :-)
Taufiq Husain@taufiqhusainca · Managing Director at Polar Hills.
Hey Om, what's your best advice to early stage founders to get press for their startups? Everyone says the same advice everywhere suggesting that their product must be the best in the market, but I've sometimes seen worse products get coverage while better ones don't. What are these press-friendly founders doing differently? Is it mostly about building relationships and how do you suggest founders go about building relationships in the first place (considering they could be introverted, long-distance or doesn't have any industry relationships). Thanks!
@taufiqhusainca I think I might have to write a blog post for you, for this isn't the forum. Stay tuned.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Welcome back to the states, Om (catch his recent travel on Instagram)! Mobile has significantly changed the way we live. What nascent technology has the greatest potential to drastically change the way we interact and communicate with our friends and family? Does this excite or worry you (or both)?
@rrhoover I am always excited about new technologies, mostly because they open up lot's of new possibilities. That said I worry about what is the overall impact. We are starting to see that we socialize less and less in real life. Or that we spend too much time on the screens and are too dependent on the phone to get stuff done. But "Mobile" from a broader perspective, is about reducing friction in our daily lives. It is about making the mundane tasks easier, and simpler. So from that perspective, I do find it overall additive to our society.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@om agreed. We've transitioned much of our communication and in some cases, built relationships that only exist in the digital world. The natural inclination is to feel uneasy about this -- it feels "less human" -- but does it really matter? What if our entire life existed online? Is that wrong? Why? (I recently saw Ex Machina, which inspired some thought about the future of technology, relationships, and the inevitability of AI's influence on culture)
@rrhoover I feel we always feel "less human" when using new technologies. Remember, people freaked out our photography back when Kodak started pushing it. I don't overthink it. We use technology, technology doesn't use us. When the equation flips, I am going to worry.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@om well said 😀
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey @Om! Thank you for joining today. What's something you've changed your mind about in the past 6 months?
@eriktorenberg Thank you. That is a good question. I change my mind about a lot of things, but when I arrive at a thesis, I tend to arrive at that after long deliberation and research process. One of the things where I have changed my mind is a lot of the on-demand services and why they can't outpace the actual speed of physical demand. I was overtly optimistic about some of these services.
Ouriel Ohayon@ourielohayon · CodenameDjango, CEO/ isai (VC)
Hi @om beyond the obvious ones, what are the most useful app(s) you have discovered and still used in the past 12 months?
@ourielohayon Quip, DarkRoom, Typed, Slack,
Hash_tag_jeff@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
Hi @Om - can you tell us a little about your experience with GigaOm? I was close to a few of your writers and there was a lot of work done there that I wouldn't consider typical of a tech website.
@jeffumbro It is hard to talk about that without feeling emotional. I loved everyone and basically we had a culture of digging deeper and writing for our only customer: the reader. Sometimes it took a lot longer to get things done, but we were respectful of our reader's time. Bad articles are a waste of time for everyone, and I am really proud that our team worked hard on making the pieces as good as they could in limited amount to time.
Markus Schwed@markusschwed · Co-Funder / Dev, CompanyMood
Hello @Om Are you planning or have you already invested in German / European startups?
@markusschwed We have investments in Sweden, Finland, UK and Portugal. Not in Germany. I think Poland and Romania are two other markets with a lot of creative energy.
gunish@gunish · CTO
@om What is the best way to get introductions to your UK Investment wing ? :-) (I have found the entire experience of trying to find introductions / warm intro's a little tedious, especially when you are super busy trying to solve the world's biggest problems) ...
Andrew Courter@covrter · Highly
Hi @Om! As a writer – mostly published online – what kind of feedback did you value most (or least) after putting your words out into the world?
@covrter Honest feedback. Not everything I write is good, or makes sense. Not everything that is put out there by me is well done. I appreciate when people share their feedback, politely of course and state the reasons why they disagree. I think I learn from other people's disagreements.
Liat Mordechay@liatmord · Co Founder CMO at 24me
Hi @Om, when you're looking to invest in a startup, what are the key elements that you're looking at?
@liatmord Since we do seed and early stage investments, the answer is very simple: People first and foremost. Ideas come next and the potential market comes third. I think seed investors who are in for the long haul, you need to love the entrepreneur to have a fair and honest and constant communication while building the company.
Hey @om what are your favorite books?
@alfink92 I read about a book a week and often publish the list on http://om.co I find it is a good way to learn. I don't think I qualify books as my favorite book :-)
Praval Singh@praval · Product/Marketing Guy at Zoho.com
You've been using Macbook 12" for a while now. How do you rate your experience with it, as compared to Macbook Air 13"? I have mixed feelings. :)
@pravalIt is definitely underpowered for big tasks but I think it is really useful when you travel as much as I do. Every pound you save is good for the back. I like it mostly as a lightweight solution, for emails and drafting notes and writing blog posts. I love the screen though -- so fantastic. I like the keyboard more than the Macbook Air keyboard.
Praval Singh@praval · Product/Marketing Guy at Zoho.com
@om Thanks. I agree with you. Can't think of going back to the Air (until they come with an Air + retina!)
Marcin Perlak@marcinperlak · CEO at qcadoo.com
@om did it replace the iPad in your situation? As @photomatt sometime ago has written that MacBook 12" + iMac + iPhone is sufficient nowaday and there is no space left for iPad?
@marcinperlak yes it did. I rarely carry the iPad anywhere. I think it became difficult for me to work on iPad. I have an iPhone and a Macbook Air. Plus Macbook Pro for photo editing.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hey @Om thanks for joining here today. I love your instagram photos.. Any chance of hosting a photo walk in SF :)
@neeeharika I think that is a great idea. Sometime in October when the schedule is a little lighter. I will post time and place on Instagram. :-) Thank you for following me on Instagram and your encouragement.
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
@om Great ! i am ineesta there .. looking forward to it in October :)
Nick Mayberry@nmayber · Director, Tandem Capital
What are your thoughts on the growing crossover between VC firms and content? (Obviously relevant to you, but also a number of TechCrunch writers going to VC firms, VC firms hiring for platform/content positions, etc. etc.)
@nmayber That is a really good question. My working theory is that most VC firms are looking at writers as a way to create awareness about their brands and their portfolios and capabilities. As the competitive for entrepreneur attention is increasing, most firms have to show that they are different and have a different value proposition. Writing blog posts is a good and effective way to tell your story. I think for writers, the reality check happens when the access they had as writers starts to vanish and the writing becomes a little more narrow and focused. I hope that answers your question -- if not, I am happy to elaborate.
Nick Mayberry@nmayber · Director, Tandem Capital
@om Many thanks! Do you think this is a passing fad or longer-term trend?
@nmayber Wait till the market turns south. Then you will know if it is fad or not ;-)
Nick Mayberry@nmayber · Director, Tandem Capital
@om Tick tock ;-) Thanks for letting us steal some of your time today.
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@om Hello Om. Thanks for doing this AMA. Do you think there is anything significant you could have done to save Gigaom? If yes, what could you have done?
@erictwillis @erictwillis If I had to do anything different, I would have stayed all through to get the job done and not left in January 2014.
gunish@gunish · CTO
@Om what do you think are the biggest challenges a VC firm faces while deciding which companies to invest in ?
@gunish Making the right assessment around people. I think it remains the biggest challenge as this is not scientific. You learn from experience and learning to read people.
its ok@uronplanetearth · artist
@om favorite song right now?
@uronplanetearth i still love everything by John Coltrane. I love Nicholas Jarr and waiting for his new album. Ditto for Joss Stone's upcoming album.
its ok@uronplanetearth · artist
@om coltrane keeps life going