An occasional review of technology, markets, and ideas.

Features vs. Companies

In 2011, Steve Jobs famously met with Drew Houston in a bid to acquire the company. After Houston responded that they were really enjoying building the company, Jobs trolled Houston and claimed they were a feature rather than a product:

"And so he started trolling us a little bit, saying we're a feature, not a product, and telling us a bunch of things like that we don't control an operating system so we're going to be disadvantaged, we're going to have to figure out distribution deals, which are risky, and sort of a bunch of business-plan critiques. But then he was like, 'Alright, well I guess we're gonna have to go kill you, basically.' Maybe not in those words, but pretty close." – Business Insider, 2017

Given that Dropbox is now a multi-billion dollar company, it's hard to deny that it is more than just a feature. However, the question about whether a company is producing something that is a standalone product or is simply a feature of a broader product offering is instructive.

Clubhouse: Product or Feature?

Insider reported that Clubhouse – the audio-only social network – saw new downloads dramatically slow:

Clubhouse saw about 922,000 downloads globally in April, a 66% dip from 2.7 million installs in March and a surge of 9.6 million in February, a Sensor Tower spokesperson shared with Insider.

Given the seeming overlap in the networks of people using Twitter and Clubhouse as well as the proposed $4bn acquisition of Clubhouse by Twitter, it's worth asking whether Clubhouse is a product or a feature.

If people come for the tool and stay for the network, but the tool is cloned by Twitter and the social network of Clubhouse is a subset of Twitter's given the lack of an Android app until May 9th, it seems to suggest Clubhouse would have been far better plugging into Twitter's existing social graph.

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Jamie Larson