Derrick Ko

Product Manager at Lyft. Product guy. Founded a startup.

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Bridges and Dreams

A real engineer builds bridges.

A financial engineer builds dreams.

And when those dreams turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it.

-Andrew Sheng, Chief Advisor to the China Banking Regulatory Commission

Definitely one of the most poignant quotes of the film.

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An Injection of Emotion

I was doing my usual rounds through the social networks when I noticed the stark difference of emotions at play.

Twitter streams are filled with shared thoughts of humor, anger, arrogance, sadness and intrigue. While Pinterest boards visually focus on two very powerful emotions - love and desire.

But when I look at Facebook, I see effortless brain dumps of disparate content. Facebook is sharing in the purest form. They have made the act of sharing ubiquitous (‘Like’ button) and effortless (Open Graph). They have designed a product so efficient that we can’t help but share on it.

Facebook has sacrificed emotional connection in the quest to make sharing our second nature. While as engaging as ever, the product has the emotional depth of a paper resume.

It’s emotion that keeps Twitter and Pinterest so relevant and compelling in the face of Facebook. The effort you put into crafting and...

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In the age of the Facebook IPO, the smaller network resonates. And that’s especially true on mobile, which is the most personal form of computing.

Facebook -> Path -> Everyme -> Pair.

The social network niches are filling up.

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This can’t be a good idea

Teaming up with internet entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg, Bravo captures the intertwining lives of young professionals on the path to becoming Silicon Valley’s next great success stories.

Here we go again.

Reality TV’s goal is entertainment. Not portraying the truth or providing real educational value. If a “Jersey Shore meets The Apprentice” edit gets the ratings and viewers, the producers would happily do it.

At least the reactions are positive.

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A New Experience

When Dustin contacted me about joining Svbtle, I couldn’t have been more excited. For one, I was looking to move out of Posterous (the instability since Spaces was killing it for me).

But more importantly, I’m thrilled with Svbtle’s focus on the experience of producing and consuming great content. It’s something that has - up till now - been sorely lacking among the services and platforms out there. And to be able to join an amazing community of bloggers is always a privilege. Thanks a lot Dustin.

To my readers, I trust that you’ll enjoy the new experience as much as I do.

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A Champions League Winner. Who Codes.

When I was coaching the youth teams of Real Madrid, I was using Commodore 64, Spectrum, all these things.

I had Visual Basic. I was creating my own programmes and I had all the information there.

Rafa Benítez. Ex-coach, Liverpool, Inter Milan. (via Soccernet)

That was in 1986.

Technology was hardly mainstream back then. Prozone was still over 10 years away. But Rafa Benítez had an itch to scratch. He wanted the edge. So he developed software on his own to aid his coaching.

The concept of Moneyball doesn’t translate well to soccer at a marco level. Unlike the repeated set pieces of baseball and American football, soccer is too fluid and has too many variables during play. So it’s the use of statistics and data off the pitch that has transformed the game.

Many managers embrace technology now, but Benítez started back in 1986. I have no doubt that his experience of building such...

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An Open Letter to Angel’s Gate

For those not in the loop, Angel’s Gate is a reality TV show where a respected group of angels cut deals with founders who pitch to them. Episodes are up on YouTube.

Dear Angel’s Gate,

I know that deep down, you’ve genuine intentions to build up the local and regional startup scene. You guys were all entrepreneurs, so I know that somewhere deep down…you actually care. And it’s TV magic at work.

But I digress.

What benefit do you truly bring to the ecosystem? Does turning fundraising into American Idol actually help anyone? These are founders who are driven by passion and have created something of value. But yet, you see value in scheming, lowballing and talking down to them on public television. The questions you ask, the way you analyze and suggestions you give - they aren’t particularly relevant for an angel. You glamorize what entrepreneurship isn’t about.

It’s clear that you...

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850 Million. Trained.

“Facebook has trained 850 million people to sign up and create a profile.”

Ben Silbermann, co-founder of Pinterest.

Now take a step back and soak it in. Think about what that means for your product.

Think beyond just sign up and profile creation. 850 million people have been exposed to concepts, user interface elements and patterns as seen in Facebook. We no longer have to worry whether users “get it” when we throw in walls, lists, or friend pickers. Even esoteric behaviors like photo tagging and status updates have become mainstream.

In this kind of landscape, we should focus on discovering ways to evolve our users’ experience. Especially in ways that would better showcase the product we are building. Just like how Pinterest took the newsfeed and evolved it into the very effective, simple and much imitated grid.

Thanks to Facebook, there’s a whole generation of users trained in...

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Scaling Up

We are out to make Startup Roots Singapore a success once again.

In 2011, we were a startup looking to prove our model. In 2012, we are still a startup, but this time we are looking to scale.

We aim to double our intake this year. Without compromising our standards that had made the first year great, that means doubling our applicant pool.

So we expanded the team, by eating our own dogfood. Our newest team members are all Startup Roots alums. In fact, they have already taken ownership of our key operations. Things are definitely shaping up.

Sharon, Laurence, Div; welcome. Startup Roots 2012 is going to be awesome.

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The Wrong Focus

The Singapore startup ecosystem has a huge shortage of talent.

A while back, I answered a question on Quora: “What’s lacking in the startup infrastructure in Singapore?” In short,

Much like the US, the top paying and most “prestigious” jobs are in banking, law firms, and medicine. As such a large proportion of top talent aspire to and eventually join those industries. But unlike the US, Singapore has a tiny population, so the effects of this talent drain are profound.

Similarly, engineering isn’t prestigious enough, and it’s hardly a student’s first choice of a career. That’s perhaps a fundamental aspect of the problem.

The government and local universities heavily promote entrepreneurship, which is a good thing. This is done through various programs, initiatives, and easy funding. However, there hasn’t been a comparable push to encourage students to work in startups, which is...

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