Jim Harrer

STARTUPS, TURNAROUNDS, APPDEV, AGILE & LIFE...

Jim Harrer is a serial entrepreneur, founder of two startups and has been the turnaround CEO for three Corporate Turnarounds. He discusses Technology, Customer Development, Product and Program Management, Organizational Development and Technology.

Help me find my next adventure…

I’ve decided to leave TrueBlue, Inc. where I have been part of their IT Leadership Team for the past 2+ years as their VP of Application Development.  This was a difficult decision as I really enjoyed working with many of the people at TrueBlue. Plus, their mission to put anyone who wants to work, to work, is a truly honorable profession.  A $2bn+ enterprise, I will continue to be a champion for the company, as well as a shareholder – I wish them continued success.

When I joined TrueBlue in 2013 they wanted to bring an entrepreneurial spirit to their application development team in IT.  As a past CEO of enterprise software applications, I had sold to CIOs of enterprise IT for over 20 years and didn’t give moving into an IT role a second thought.  Boy, did I have a lot to learn and was constantly humbled by what I didn’t know about IT. I learned a ton and want to thank all of the IT pros, especially in IT Ops, at TrueBlue who took me under their wing to teach me. I think I got it and at the same time, I got to teach and mentor a lot of smart, talented developers as we pushed each other to improve our craft in SDLC.  I’m proud of the progress we were able to make in two short years and know I left the team, and our internally developed applications, in better condition than when I arrived.  Still, moving on is always hard, but it’s time for someone else to take them to the next level.

What’s next?

I’m not exactly sure, but I’m excited by the possibilities.  It was fun and challenging working in IT, focused on modernizing legacy applications, solving scalability and reliability challenges, tools, perfecting agile SDLC in the enterprise and DevOps. But, I have to admit, I miss having more involvement in the problem we’re trying to solve. So…

I would like to get more deeply involved in product management, roadmaps, features, design and working more closely with sales and marketing to either introduce new innovative products or work with an existing team to help take an existing product line to the next level. I miss connecting with customers, finding their pain and figuring out how to improve an existing product or create a new product to solve the pain.

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If your website can't respond to spike demands, it's time to consider Windows Azure.

My wife Debbie and I caught the premiere of NBC’s The Biggest Loser the other night. For those that follow the show, Jillian Michaels returns as the senior screamer on the show. I like watching the show because of its use of embedded product placements and am always curious what they’re going to do next.

TheBiggestLoserThis year, The Biggest Loser has a totally redesigned fitness center, with all of the equipment provided by Planet Fitness, a low cost, neighborhood gym model, available as a franchise. They appear to be out lifting 24 Hour Fitness, the previous equipment sponsor on the show.

As the premier was airing with Bob, Jillian and Dolvett beaming over the new gym equipment by Planet Fitness, I decided to visit http://www.planetfitness.com/ to see if anyone had purchased the rights for Central Oregon, where I live. I’ve been a gym goer since I was 14 and have thought about owning a neighborhood gym for the past 20 years. But that is another blog post, I digress.

windows azure on JimHarer dot comWhen I attempted to go to Planet Fitness, their site crashed. The premier had over 1 million viewers; I suspect this was a spike the Planet Fitness IT team may have not expected. I'm sure the sales and marketing team were happy their product placement created demand, yet immediately went into shock when their web site crashed.  I want to suggest a better way. If Planet Fitness would have moved their website to Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud Platform, they could have easily adjusted the amount of computing resources around their original air dates on both east and west coast premiers. Once their website and member portal is converted to take advantage of Windows Azure elasticity, it’s really as easy as logging onto the Azure management portal and moving a slider up and down to allocate more or fewer server instances.  You have the advantage of extra computing resources when you need them without paying for a maximum build out of a datacenter only to be fully utilized when the Biggest Loser airs.

If your business is a B2C (Business to Consumer), and you’re approaching the tipping point, your IT staff should be moving your customer facing web properties into the cloud. IT staff are always resistant to change, especially outside their comfort zone.  This is when you need a team of skills-based consultants who have been there and done that, successfully.

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TWiST Podcast featuring Nolan Bushnell on Atari, Chuck E. Cheese, Brainrush and Education (traditional, online and distant).

This is an exceptional episode on ThisWeekInStartups featuring Nolan Bushnell. Nolan is know for many things, including founding Atari, being Steve Jobs' boss, starting the restaurant chain Chuck E. Cheese's and, most recently, creating the educational startup Brainrush.

If you're an educator or interested in education, online education or distant learning, this is an excellent podcast to watch. You'll get to learn about brain decay and other cool things.

If you're just old enough to have used an Atari 2600 or played Combat or Pac-Man for countless hours, this is a great podcast to watch.

Finally, if you're 50, 60 or 70 years of age and still courous about the future and what can be, instead of focusing on what is, this podcast is worth your time.

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Facebook's Stock, their float and the importance of a solid Investor Relations (IR) strategy.

I took a mini vacation for the past week, I came back to several emails regarding my thoughts on Facebook and why I was holding on to the handful of shares I purchased in the IPO.  I didn't think the post would generate so many negative emails. Before I respond, I want to make it clear, I don't edit comments left on this blog.  I would prefer you post comments, rather than send me emails debating my blog posts so others reading this blog can also chime in. You can post as a guest if you don't want to leave your name. 

Facebook's Overhang

Several of the emails I received felt I didn't emphasize the amount of stock which would flood the market through the rest of the year. To recap, prior to last Thursday, Facebook had 421 million shares in it's float, on Thursday they unlocked 268 million shares which is what helped drive the stock to an all time low of $19.05. In October, another 192 million shares will unlock and then right before Thanksgiving, a large block of 1.2 billion shares will unlock.  As many of you pointed out in your emails, this is a fundamental supply and demand problem.  One email went on to say that technology fund managers may also reallocate their portfolios this quarter, which will add additional downward pressure in September. Another said that some fund managers no longer believe they need to have Facebook in their portfolio and pointed to the mass exodus on Zynga and Groupon from popular tech funds. 

I can't argue with these comments and the fact the Facebook brand is taking a school yard beating right now. In hindsight, the overhang in the stock should be a concern to any investor thinking about $FB.  I can't agrue with supply and demand. Who is going to buy this 1.4 billion of new stock? Does anyone know the answer? 

Another email said I didn't spend enough time pointing out Mark Zuckerberg's lack of maturity and that I should have suggested he would better serve his shareholders as a Chief Technology Officer, not the CEO.  I see his point, however I don't have enough information to agree or disagree. I don't know Mark or his BOD. Call me old fashion, I invest in people and am usually LONG in my investments, therefore I haven't given up on Zuckerberg just yet.  Their BOD must have faith he can hold the top job.

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Facebook Q2 2012 Results Analysis From The Cigar Club

facebook buy sell holdSo last night the peanut gallery, uh sorry, my cigar club, wanted to talk about Facebook's Q2 2012 results.  Here is a recap for those who don't know:

Facebook, Inc ($FB) reported pretty flat year-over-year earnings growth. They earned 12 cents per share in the quarter that exceeded the consensus estimate by three cents. However, including stock-based compensation, payroll taxes and income tax adjustment, Facebook lost $.08 cents per share compared with earnings of $.011 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue jumped 32.3% year over year to $1.18 billion, slightly better than Wall Street's estimate of $1.15 billion. The year-over-year growth was driven by strong advertising revenue (84% of the total revenue) that climbed 28% year over year to $992.0 million. The rest of the revenue from payments & other fees in the quarter. The strong upside in advertising revenues was primarily driven by an 18% increase in the number of ads delivered based on growth in the user base and an increase in average number of ads per page from the prior-year period.  Cash flow from operations increased by $242 million.

How are investors taking the news this morning?  Facebook is down 14.14% to $23.05 (7/27/2012 @ 11:32 EST) check it now

My weekly cigar group went into last night's smoke pretty depressed.  A couple of them got in on the IPO of $38.00 and thought they had purchased extra special rare gold on May 18, 2012 when it appeared on NASDAQ's wall.  Half of the group of six passed on buying Facebook after hoodie-gate, they're words not mine.  I was on the other side of the fence, I purchased a small block, in the after market when it first dipped.  So the group is pretty equally divided three and three, stockholders of Facebook vs really old money who love Wells Fargo and AT&T.  Yes, that is a dig and I will pay for it next week.

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