Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Category: Business (page 1 of 4)

I’m really enjoying watching Casey Helbling and the team at Software for Good evolve their mission and business. They just transitioned to a B Corp structure.

We’re celebrating the new year in a big way: Today, the much-anticipated Minnesota Public Benefit Corporation Act went into effect, and Software for Good was one of the first to file as a benefit corporation in the state of Minnesota.

If you are not familiar with a Benefit corporation, Wikipedia of course has a great overview.

The purpose of a benefit corporation includes creating general public benefit, which is defined as a material positive impact on society and the environment. A benefit corporation’s directors and officers operate the business with the same authority as in a traditional corporation but are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders but also on society and the environment. In a traditional corporation shareholders judge the company’s financial performance; with a B-corporation shareholders judge performance based on how a corporation’s goals benefit society and the environment. Shareholders determine whether the corporation has made a material positive impact. Transparency provisions require benefit corporations to publish annual benefit reports of their social and environmental performance using a comprehensive, credible, independent, and transparent third-party standard. In some states the corporation must also submit the reports to the Secretary of State, although the Secretary of State has no governance over the report’s content. Shareholders have a private right of action, called a benefit enforcement proceeding, to enforce the company’s mission when the business has failed to pursue or create general public benefit. Disputes about the material positive impact are decided by the courts.

Allowing a company to pursue things beyond pure profit and shareholder return, without having to be a non-profit, makes a lot of sense. It provides an opportunity for companies to be better citizens.

Nearly everything in this Minimum Vacation Policy post from Travis-CI is spot on. I’ve never been a supporter or believer of the unlimited vacation policy. Having managed teams for a long time I know that the majority of people faced with uncertain guidance like “unlimited” just will never take it. The dialogue inside someones head is something like:

Is it really unlimited? Of course not, there is some limit. What is that limit? I don’t know. Well, I better not take any time off.

Even worse I think this type of policy is a punt on the part of the leadership team to not actually specify what the operating practices for the organization are. Oftentimes this is considered “cool” but I think it’s really just shortsighted.

The idea of instituting required vacation each year however is interesting and is probably a very healthy thing. I think you can get much of the same affect by having the leaders in the organization set a good example of taking time away and disconnecting.

Titans of Tech 2014

Titans of Tech - Jamie Thingelstad

Nasdaq SPS Commerce Market Bell Ceremony

On Tuesday of this week I got to be part of the SPS team ringing the market bell to start the trading day on NASDAQ! It was a ton of fun. There should be a bunch of additional pictures coming soon. (see me on the left side of the photo)

CTO = Culture. Technology. Operations.

This is a guide for CTOs and other technology managers responsible for a software engineering organization. The purpose of this checklist is to help the CTO cover the areas of culture, technology and operations in their teams. It is presented in the form of a memo to direct reports.

I’ve got a ton of respect for Rajiv and anyone in a technology leadership role should read this whole article.

minnov8 wrote an overview of the SPS Omnichannel event last week. I know Steve and he highlighted my joining SPS and the big stuff we are working on!

Star Tribune in April 1999 on BigCharts Acquisition

I’ve been cleaning through old files and found the copy of the April 30, 1999 issue of the Star Tribune that I had saved with the article about BigCharts being acquired by CBS MarketWatch. I couldn’t just recycle this before running it through the scanner. Phil sure had some hair back then. :-)

Star Tribune 1990430 BigCharts 1
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Please Charge Me Something

For Christmas the brother-in-laws on Tammy’s side pick names. There are only four of us but we like the simplicity of just getting one name to pick better. For a couple of years now we’ve used a website called to handle the name drawing, sending emails and even handling exclusions so you don’t get the same person every year. They sent an email asking for feedback and I felt like sharing some thoughts with them and decided I should share them publicly too.

I like your service a lot and if I had more name drawing groups at Christmas I would use it for sure. I’ve suggested your service to others and I know that at least some of them have used it. Everything went very smooth and I think you have the right email confirmations in place to make sure you don’t get “busted” email picks in spam folders.

With that said, I have a concern that your service makes enough revenue to be around. My alternative to using your service is to write a small script that will pick names and send emails. It would be ugly. Probably break a lot. Would likely not get delievered right. I’d rather use your service! I see that I can keep a wishlist and I’m sure that generates affiliate revenue, but I’m not sure many people do that. I know we don’t.

I would rather just pay a small fee for each name drawing group that I have. Maybe a $1? $2? I’m not sure what the right amount is, but I have a hard time seeing how you would make $1 off of our group now, so at least for us that would be an increase.

In addition to making me feel like your service will continue to be around, it would also give me confidence that you are not dropping remarketing cookies in my browser (you aren’t right?) and that my friends and family are not having their email addresses sold to others (which your privacy policy assures me is not happening already).

While I have your ear let me also thank you for not littering the site with link ads. Thank you for not requiring the use of Facebook connect or login with Twitter stuff.

That’s it. The service is nice and works really well. Just charge me something. :-)

My hope is that they have thought about charging before but assume that nobody would pay. It’s the Internet right? Nobody pays. But they do. They pay in droves for the right thing. This website is worth as much to me as many iOS apps I’ve bought for $0.99. Maybe if they hear customers saying they would pay, they can see the path to something that pays the bills and is worth keeping around clarify a bit.

Perceived Project Progress

Our remodeling project is scheduled for 12 weeks. I’m very familiar with project execution, that is a big part of what I do for a living. Watching the progress of our remodel I’ve been thinking about real versus perceived project progress. The chart below reflects the relationship.

Perceived Project Progress

When we build software there is a decent amount of time getting groundwork put in. You have to get the build process working right, get your integration tests working, get version control working the way you want it. You probably need to use some framework code. It is a lot of stuff that doesn’t really feel like progress to a non-technical person.

Then you start framing out the software. Big swaths go in place, but mostly just stubs. Everything looks like it is coming together really fast, but it is largely a façade. Things are just in place to make sure it all comes together right.

At the end, it feels like the thing is so close to done but it just keeps dragging on. The edge cases have to be handled, error handling needs improvement. You need to log things. Not to mention that final design of the visual elements. This is where people get frustrated.

I fully expect the same thing to happen with this remodel. It seemed like a long time to get the structural stuff rolling. This week it seemed like a lot started to happen, and with the framing right around the corner it will feel like we are almost there. Then, things will take a very long time to get the light switches all wired up right and all the final punch list items completed.

While I ride the Perceived Progress line I’m going to try to keep a good grounding on the Actual Progress line. It is the only one that matters after all.

Attract Customers with WiFi Name

A while back we were traveling and I noticed that this coffee shop, Kavarna, didn’t just have its name in its WiFi network as most do. They smartly were telling anyone that could see the WiFi signal to come on in and use the network.

Smart. More places should do this. How about “Free Refills” in your WiFi network name?

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