• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Dokkio Sidebar (from the makers of PBworks) is a Chrome extension that eliminates the need for endless browser tabs. You can search all your online stuff without any extra effort. And Sidebar was #1 on Product Hunt! Check out what people are saying by clicking here.



Page history last edited by ExposureTim 15 years, 5 months ago

CalacanisCast Beta #13


Special guest: Jason Shellen (Google)



Jason: We’re here at the Calacanis Compound here in Brentwood with none other than Jason Shellen who was one of the founders of Blogger and then went to work at this little company called Google!


Jason Shellen: Back when they were little.


Jason Calacanis: Back when they were little. When you joined how many people were working there?


Jason Shellen: There were 600.


Jason Calacanis: 600. And now there are thousands.


Jason Shellen: Now there’s over 10,000


Jason Calacanis: Over 10,000? That’s incredible! And then while at Google he notably launched the Google Reader.


Jason Shellen: Correct.


Jason Calacanis: Which was much maligned at the start if I remember correctly. People were like, ‘what’s this thing?’


Jason Shellen: It was an acquired taste.


Jason Calacanis: It was a little funky with some new ideas but now it’s become a force. Is it the biggest reader now?


Jason Shellen: That’s what some of the independent folks are saying now. Hitwise and Feedburner and people like that, so there have been a couple of independent confirmations so it’s probably the biggest.


JC. That’s pretty, pretty awesome vindication for you! A nice feeling?


Jason Shellen: We…we knew that a lot of the features would probably take a little while to flesh out and play around with different UI’s but luckily Google stood behind it as a Google Labs product and it’s still on Labs right now. It’s not off yet so …we’re still playing around with the format. And we’re number 1 so…


Jason Calacanis: That’s awesome! So that’s amazing that it’s in the Labs but it still, according to most people the most popular and the largest one and for Google it’s still in the Labs—


Jason Shellen: The thing is, you know it’s good for, you know, US and English only readers but there’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure its internationalized and things like that it hopes to get off Labs some day…


Jason Calacanis: Yeah I’ve been a Bloglines user since the beginning and always loved the Bloglines. Very simple UI (User Interface) then I played with Google Reader and then it wasn’t enough to get enough blog lines and then now I’m sort of 50/50 between the two and it’s sort of exactly the experience I went through with GMail which was, you know, it took...


Jason Shellen: Took a little while and...


Jason Calacanis: Took a little while and then all of a sudden I was like, “Oh I get it.” I really was like against the AJAX nature of it was something that people would have to get used to I guess for Google Reader. There’s the popping and open and closing of stuff—


Jason Shellen: Sure.


Jason Calacanis: A little bit of a different type of UI than Bloglines I’d say.


Jason Shellen: Definitely. And I was a Bloglines user for a long time but there are alot of, and actually before that, different desktop-based feed-readers you know like most technologists we were trying to solve the problems for ourselves you know.


Jason Shellen: You know. Bloglines doesn’t do this… or wouldn’t it be great if it worked more like, you know, your mail app’ or things like that.


Jason Calacanis: Right.


Jason Shellen: So, a lot of those different ideas made it slowly into the product.


Jason Calacanis: Yeah, I’m waiting for the day that Google mail (Gmail) and the Reader sort of are one item.


Jason Shellen: There’s a, there’s a Greasemonkey script where I think you can do that today if you wanted to.


Jason Calacanis: Really? I’m gonna go grab THAT greasemonkey script. That’s very nice!


Jason Calacanis: And I just got…I just paid fifty bucks to Google for the Apps, which is amazing. Ten Gig! Amazing, like, mind-blowingly good!


Jason Shellen: And they claim 99.99 % uptime.


Jason Shellen: That’s awesome.


Jason Calacanis: I’m, We’re all very excited because way back that was one of the things back in 2003, Evan Williams and I we felt like when we joined Google that we had a little bit of that,”oh and by the way here’s Area 51’ type of experience. Like, “Here’s where we keep the spacecraft’


Jason Calacanis: Right.


Jason Shellen: And that was one of the products was 'Hey we’re building a different kind of mail app and by the way if you want to use it just let us know.’ And so we’ve been using it for all of our corporate mail at Google for a long, long time. So we really, really believe in the power of like, you don’t need Outlook, you don’t need a heavy bloated thing… you could use this web-based app and it’s been great.


Jason Calacanis: I have to say that the 'Office' suite, the spreadsheet, the word processor, absolutely, like 90% of what I need already and it’s only been like, what, like a year or less than a year with those applications? They’ve really, really significantly curtailed my Microsoft Office usage.


Jason Shellen: So, I don’t know if you feel like I do that, you know, that every once in a while you’ll get a Word document from someone you’ll almost feel the need to say, ‘Hey, I opened it and by the way it’s all text. Why did you put it in a proprietary format?’


Jason Calacanis: Exactly!


Jason Shellen: You make me open an application? So now rather than me looking like a jerk with my family saying hey don’t stick things in a proprietary format…


Jason Calacanis: Exactly. Exactly.


Jason Shellen: Now view as HTML or 'Open In Google Docs...' and that one - I think that integration is gonna be major.


Jason Calacanis: Yeah. It’s pretty significant. I can’t wait until you guys come out with like a PowerPoint kind of a thing. I know you can’t talk about new products but…


Jason Shellen: I have no idea what you’re talking about!


Jason Calacanis: Yeah, but it’s gotta be in the works at some point. And the other thing that I think is interesting is there’s a…do people at Google use a version of Ubuntu on their desktops? I mean, right? That’s common knowledge, right?


Jason Shellen: Ubuntu


Jason Calacanis: Ubuntu. And do you use that as your desktop or no?


Jason Shellen: No, I don’t.


Jason Calacanis: But a lot…Do a lot of people use it there? Do they like force people to use it or is it just like this Opt-In kind of a thing?


Jason Shellen: I don’t know what the percentage of the option is with non-engineers but I would imagine that, that’s mostly engineers that—


Jason Calacanis: Mostly engineers.


Jason Shellen: People who are comfortable with, you know, shell scripting and that sort of thing.


Jason Calacanis: I got to think. This is the crazy prediction I made last year at CES. I said they’re gonna do an Office and I asked Eric Schmidt, I said, ’Hey dude, (after Larry gave his talk) are you gonna do (this is in the green room afterwards) are you guys gonna do an Office or an operating system? And Eric Schmidt’s like, ’absolutely not, Jason. That’s crazy.’


Jason Calacanis: Now they do that and of course I’m still predicting and I’m holding to my prediction that Google will launch an operating system for users and offer it for free to computer manufacturers. I think that’s just so obvious, but we’ll see. Time will tell.


Jason Calacanis: So you your old pal, Ev, he’s on a tear of late! Huh?


Jason Shellen: Yeah. He’s been like that for a while.


Jason Calacanis: Evan Williams. He’s a smart guy, right? I’ve never really spent time with him but I kind of like the guy. He’s like a real entrepreneur.


Jason Shellen: Yes, he is. He and I met for the first time in what was probably October of 2000 and I was already a Blogger user.


Jason Shellen: So, I was of the founder 2.0 generation.


Jason Shellen: You know, if Where if funding ran out, one of founders walked, and things like that. So I was there at the beginning but at least seen that there was something there, something amazing there and he and I hit it off very well. I understood that he was a great entrepreneur and had great a great idea and just needed a lot of help on the, you know, maybe the strategy side or the business side of things so we made a good team early on but I’ve always thought he was a very smart guy and his latest one is a lot of fun.


Jason Calacanis: Yeah. When I first met him I was like, “I don’t know about this guy? He seems a little bit reserved, a little quiet“

Jason Shellen: He can be quiet, yeah.


Jason Calacanis: He can be quiet. But then I like,, I read his blog and he’s a great blogger. I mean he actually writes really….blog posts worth reading. He’s been doing this thing back and forth with the guy from HotOrNot, James Hang, about what it takes to be a real entrepreneur and he launched Odeo which was going to be like the podcasting version of Blogger. It didn’t quite work out as well as he thought, with the investors, and he bought it back?!


Jason Shellen: Right.


Jason Calacanis: Which is crazy gutsy! Then this new thing, Twitter, which seems to be really taking hold in San Francisco, huh?


Jason Shellen: Yeah. I mean, that’s …you just described Blogger.com’s success. It started out in San Francisco with these crazy kids who could code HTML anyway so why would they need a blogging software? It was that instantaneous nature. So, by the same token could text you and, you know, you could text back and forth all the time but it’s more fun when there’s a little bit of context to it or you’re meshing together.


Jason Calacanis: Yeah.


Jason Shellen: Sounds like I’m selling twitter for them but I really am…I really was one of ---


Jason Calacanis: It’s a great product!


Jason Shellen: Yeah. I was an early user and you get to watch groups in friends and ----


Jason Calacanis: So the basic concept is I can create essentially like a mailing list of SMS members. People can join my little SMS list and then I send a text message to 40404---


Jason Shellen: Right.


Jason Calacanis: On my phone and just say like, ‘I’m eating sushi with Jason Shellen or taping a podcast you can send to your list right now and the 20 people you accepted for your list would know you’re taping a podcast right now.


Jason Shellen: Exactly.


Jason Shellen: And they DO know. I twittered---


Jason Calacanis: Did you twitter?


Jason Shellen: I did.


Jason Calacanis: Oh wow! That’s hot. People are going to be like

The PR people are emailing right now: “Don’t tell Calacanis anything about the operating system. That’s our next year’s CES announcement.”


Jason Shellen: Yeah, it’s fun. They’re a mix of Google people and people outside of Google on my list. The thing that’s interesting is someone came up with something called Twitter-ific, which is essentially like, ignorable IM. So there’s a thing that sits on your desktop, you could type into it if you want to or you could just receive the updates as well. Or you could just leave it alone and ignore it. It’s kind of interesting to have IM in the space of…you know, it’s not grabbing my attention away from anything---


Jason Calacanis: It’s just sort of sitting there away from…it’s like a message board, like what do they call those? Like graffiti boards in the early days…tag boards in the early days, yeah.


Jason Calacanis: So, how long have you been at Google now?


Jason Shellen: It’s been over four years.


Jason Calacanis: Four years?


Jason Shellen: Yeah.


Jason Calacanis: That’s quite a ride to be at Google pre-IPO and post- huh?


Jason Shellen: Yes, certainly. When they were a private company there was a lot of data-sharing internally and, you know, hey we made this much this week. You know, there were beer-busts and things like that. We still have that sort of open nature but, you know, a beer-bust isn’t quite a beer-bust when it’s not 300 people and it’s now like, 1,500 or 2,000 people. But it’s fun in that you know, I feel that the teams are closer now so like I’m part of the new business development group now and that team is like a fairly tight team. So I see that happening across the company where you kind of go, alright this is my crew.


Jason Calacanis: Definitely. Definitely different being at a big company, huh?


Jason Shellen: Certainly.


Jason Calacanis: …having spent a year at AOL.


Jason Shellen: And having heard Google being referred to as a big company is odd too.


Jason Calacanis: Yeah. Because it’s still like Google


Jason Shellen: I mean, it’s still a startup atmosphere.


Jason Calacanis: Yeah. Yeah. But it’s gotta be a fun place to work? I mean, people seem to love working there.


Jason Shellen: It is. Yeah, sure. Last week, last Friday we had Hillary Clinton come by and do a fireside chat just for Google employees. That was fun. The week before, we hosted Will I Am from The Black Eyed Peas. He gave a tech talk on how he makes beats.


Jason Calacanis: Wow!


Jason Shellen: So, I got to hang with Will… And talk about sort of the behind the scenes stuff of what he does everyday. So, for me I get to see some pretty amazing things but almost every Googler has a chance to take part in any of those amazing experiences.


Jason Calacanis: And, and is it still free food and tons of stuff everywhere?


Jason Shellen: Free GOOD food!


Jason Calacanis: Free GOOD food! Organically... Man, I went there and I was like, I went to the dessert thing and…I’m telling you there were like organic, you know, apple pie. And it was like vegan, organic blueberry pie. Then it was like, no flour, you know, whatever flaxseed pumpkin pie. I mean, you could basically be one of seventeen strains of vegetarian/vegan/health-conscious/ and there was a pie for you there.


Jason Shellen: Right. They made…and it varies café by café, there are more than now seven, I think eight, at the Mountain View campus alone now. You know, they get world-class chefs there. There’s a restaurant in San Francisco called Gerry Danko and they’ve had one of the top chefs come and----



Jason Calacanis: Actually, I think the time when I went there was…when I came to visit you? When I came over with Brian Alvey and we hung out a little bit----


Jason Shellen: That’s right!


Jason Calacanis: And we went to see a whole bunch of different folks. We went walking to the cafeteria and I’m not even kidding you, there were people, there was Grateful Dead music on and people were literally dancing as we walk in and I’m like oh there’s other people like are walking around dancing and it was kind of crazy.


Jason Shellen: Definitely.


Jason Calacanis: Yeah.

Alright, well I think Jason’s got to get back to the office here in Santa Monica.


Jason Shellen: I do.


Jason Calacanis: And so I love the fact that you just drop in and do an impromptu podcast. Good luck with everything.


Jason Shellen: You bet.


Jason Calacanis: Congratulations on Google Reader.


Jason Shellen: Thank you.


Jason Calacanis: Kicking ass! And that’s…just got to be a great feeling? It started out and people were like, ‘Oh I don’t no!’ and now it’s just like BOOM we’re #1!


Jason Shellen: You know, I can’t say that it wouldn’t have felt as good if right out the gate it was a huge success but …yeah it does mean more when we sort of work towards a goal.


Jason Calacanis: Yeah.


Jason Shellen: And the other thing is sort of, you know, the original vision that we had for the product is… it’s still being fully realized so I’m not the product manager anymore I handed it over to another great product manager, Nick Baum, and he’s got his own ideas and so I’m sure the way that it will be shaped.


Jason Calacanis: Right. People can go check that where? http://reader.google.com?


Jason Shellen: Reader.Google.com.


Jason Calacanis: So everybody go check out reader.google.com and you can import your OPML and all of that kind of stuff.


Jason Shellen: Right. So if you use something else in the past---


Jason Calacanis: You can export and all that kind of stuff. OK, well, somebody’s knocking at the door so I guess we’ll have to end this right now and thanks for swinging by.


Cheers. Bye.

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