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I'm a product manager working on transforming commerce in eBay's innovation lab.
I co-founded CoPress, consulted at McKinsey, and code on the side.
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Scripts to help you get to inbox zero

Scripts to help you get to inbox zero

Mailbox zero is a holy-grail for most working people, even inspiring snarky essays in The New Yorker. The only way I’m able to keep up with the endless flood of messages is by making processing as easy as possible, which means getting mail out of my mail software and into applications where I do, and track, real work: Evernote and Omnifocus.

To do this, I’ve been building a number of Applescripts to automate this process, and make it as easy as possible. Here’s how.

Outlook

Outlook for Mac can access scripts stored in your script menu folder, but this folder is a bit hidden. The fastest way to find it is to hit Cmd-Shift-G while in Finder and typing “~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Outlook Script Menu Items/” — this will bring the folder right up.

That said, dumping scripts in this folder isn’t all that useful. It’s not much faster to have to select the script menu any time you want to take an action (though you could — it’s the scroll icon in the menu bar of Outlook). The real secret is assigning scripts to hotkeys, which you can do by ending the file name with something like cE (just before the .scpt).

The “c” bit is the first part of the hotkey — in this case, control — and “E” is the second part. While in Outlook, if I hit control-E, it’ll trigger the script with that file name. “cm” will do the same thing with command instead of control.

I’ve put the scripts I use and wrote on Github. One script archives all your mail to a single folder (I’ve given up on sorting archived mail — search works just fine). The second sends the message to Evernote, which is fantastic for archiving. I also use Rainer Burgstaller’s fantastic Outlook to Omnifocus script.

Mail

The only way I know to add hotkeys to Mail is with the excellent Mail Act-on plugin. This lets you do basic tasks — like sending mail to an archive — straight from Mail.app, which simplifies things!

Sending to other apps requires the use of AppleScript, just like Evernote. To add a script (once you’ve installed Mail Act-on), open up rules, and add the action of “Run AppleScript”. On the right, you’ll see a drop down menu with a list of all the AppleScripts you’ve installed into mail. The bottom one is “Open in Finder” which will send you right to the proper folder.

Save any script there, and you can set up a rule like this:

Rules_and_milesskorpen__Miles_Skorpen_

I’ve got one Mail.app script up now, exporting files to Evernote. It nearly duplicates the Outlook script, with some minor modifications. You can find it on Github.

April 13, 20140 comments
Product strategy for lean startups

The key question for a start-up, Des Traynor of Intercom argued at a product strategy meet up earlier this week, is “how will the world be different if you succeed?” Finding your mission is just as critical as having a vision or niche.

 

February 22, 20140 comments
Uber’s business model: What does last month’s SF price decrease mean?

Uber’s business model: What does last month’s SF price decrease mean?

In January,  Uber announced it was dramatically slashing rates for UberX cars. With the new rates, UberX cars are the lowest priced transportation option I can find in San Francisco.

Techcrunch and other venues posited that this was a purely competitive move: Consumers were trying out alternative services like Lyft, and Uber needed to be cheaper to compete. While I’m sure that’s part of the story, I think there’s something more going on.

The ride share service is brutally competitive — and not just on the consumer side. It puts enormous power into the hands of drivers, because people don’t just want low rates but also supply. One impact of this is that the economic surplus will probably accrue to drivers — services will compete to pay them a larger and larger percentage of the total charge just to get them driving for their service, rather than a competitor.

Moreover, since the people using services like Lyft and UberX are extremely price sensitive, the best way to get new customers is to lower rates. Overtime, you’ll probably see movement like this:

Profit curve for ride share businesses

 

Prior to January, it looked like profit for ride share businesses would slowly decline as prices dropped and drivers took a larger and larger percentage of revenue.

Uber’s January move changed that — they jumped from A straight to B on my chart, instead of slowly bringing down prices. Since they didn’t reduce the absolute dollar value of driver revenue, the drivers effectively take a higher percentage of revenue.

So what? Uber just kicked off a price war … because it is one they can win. 

See, the above curve is  only true for community drivers. Black car services are a totally different market — you differentiate on service and convenience, not  price. This is a market Uber owns.

Uber’s main concern is about winning marketshare & press in the broad taxi service (possibly because they see a future with driverless cars, where capital is more important than labor, and they’ll win back their profit margin), and about making money via Uber black car. 

Which gets to another reason for the price decrease: To better differentiate its services: Uber vs. UberX.

Uber Business Model

Prior to this price decrease, Uber had better service but otherwise wasn’t much different — a bit more expensive.

By lowering prices (and forcing its competitors to do the same), Uber actually might have reduced the number of cars on the road. Suddenly there is a huge competitive advantage for the black car service — they’re simply more available, all the time.

February 14, 20141 comment
SF Rental Prices

Set aside growth rates for a moment, and just think about those figures in absolute dollars. On average, it costs over $11 million to build a building in San Francisco. Permits, labor, and materials all cost a lot more here. To get an 8% return on that construction, it would need to generate $930,505 a year in rent. For a ten unit building, that works out to $7,754 a month in rent.

SF building costs have grown at an astonishing 18% per year since 1994, versus just 6% for the entire state of California, reports Digits to Dollars. I’d always thought the issue was housing starts, but apparently we’re roughly in line with the state (which probably is still low compared to population growth, but far better than I’d imagined).

February 11, 20140 comments
LinkedIn InMaps

LinkedIn InMaps

One of LinkedIn Lab’s coolest products is InMaps, a tool which visualizes your professional network. I’ve tracked how mine has evolved over the years, and here’s the latest installment. There aren’t huge changes, but its clear how business development and product management in the Valley provides lots of random connections, which have filled in the zone between my core eBay and McKisney networks.

Professional Network, February 2014