Having coffee with Bob Thordarson is a real treat, and if you are an innovator or entrepreneur and you haven’t met him yet… do it. Bob is dumb enough and nice enough to actually meet with you, even if it’s of no use to him. Unlike me, where I really don’t like having a meeting unless absolutely necessary.
Bob is quite the entrepreneur with a couple of successes under his belt. Then he discovered web apps and we’ll see what happens. But he has some cool ideas. I have known Bob for about 10 years and I think he’s a cool web app dude.
Here is my interview with him. I think we should let him in our little club.
D: Bob, do you consider yourself a web app dude?
B: Yes, I think so.
D: How long have you been working with web apps?
B: 3 years this month actually is when I had the first hair brain idea.
(Sidebar: What’s a hair brain?)
D: What prompted you to do that?
B: I thought it’d be really easy and low cost to get to market. These things are cheap aren’t they? Why not? It turns out that sync across platforms is a really difficult problem to solve and a very complex engineering problem.
(Sidebar: should we tell him that this isn’t really the web part of the app?)
D: Was that the original idea?
B: The original idea was a calendar management teal that we never shipped. The premise was that it’s really difficult to coordinate with 3 or more people to set a common a time that works for everybody… (blah blah blah) without all the back and forth stuff. You end up with a communication loop that would go on for a while before reaching a decision on a common time. The app was going to streamline that process.
D: So how did that lead to what you are doing now?
B: Like many good ideas, several other businesses had that concept all at once. As we were developing a couple of of other services came to market and beat me. So we said, what can we do that’s different and utilizes what we did so far?
B: We built an Outlook tool and Google tool and Mac tool and decided that we could build an app that would synchronize cross platforms… Which lead to Syncacross..
D: So what is Syncacross?
B: Syncacross is a toll that will sync contacts calendars and tasks across your mobile, desktop and web supporting outlook, mac, gmail, google apps and your phone. Out of Syncacross we have about 1000 beta users and one thing our users said we did really well was to merge contacts and remove duplicates. So many said that was a great service, let’s spin that off into it’s own service. And it’s actually the first commercialized product that we are shipping.
D: Sounds like you are shipping multiple things. What ties this all together?
B: What ties this all together is Blucapp.
D: So is that supposed to be some sort incubator and builds apps?
B: Yeah, so we are trying where we have multiple apps all in the productivity space, each has it’s own brand and they are tied together…
D: How many web apps are you working on right now?
B: Two web apps. We have more ideas but I got to be focused. All of these will be around contact and calendar data.
D: What do you like about web apps?
B: They are fluffy. (I laugh this time) I like them because software is an incredibly creative media to build a vision and bring to life in a very fast way. Which is malleable, which is a curse.
D: Let’s change subjects… How much time do you spend at coffee shops?
B: (laughter… which is a sign of guilt). I work at a variety of coffee shops. Zoka is my favorite. I’m now at a Tully’s and I frequent Starbucks now because they now have free wifi.
D: You didn’t answer the question. Fess up!
B: In a 40hr week, I’m probably at a shop 10 hours a week? Maybe more… 15?
D: What cell phone do you have?
B: iPhone 3gs – and I’m waiting for the hardware upgrade before I buy v4.
D: What don’t you like about web apps?
B: Wondering when Microsoft (or the web community’s ability to put a stake in the ground) will officially kill IE6.
D: What technologies are you using in your web apps?
B: LAMP Stack + Flash front end
D: What is your app’s business model?
B: Virtual company + Freemium model + engage with distribution partners that
can drive the sales funnel
D: What web apps do you use on a daily basis?
B: Dropbox, Remember the milk, Hootsuite, Gist, Media Piston, MindMeister, Google Trends, YouSendIt
D: What’s your favorite web app? (not your own)
B: Media Piston
D: Qn the personal side of things… What do you call your home town?
B: Seattle, WA
D: Do you use dude speak?
B: Whoa Dude, who doesn’t man?
D: Favorite color?
B: Blue, no red….
D: Favorite car?
D: Favorite book?
B: Catcher in the Rye
(Conspiracy Theory… are you an assassin?)
D: Favorite movie?
D: Favorite band?
B: David Byrne
D: Favorite type of cheese?
B: Spanish Manchego
D: Favorite quote?
B: Hold your breath, Make a wish, Count to three – Willy Wonka
That’s Bob… He’s in.