Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Small is the New Big...

I’m excited to announce that Small Society, a highly respected mobile agency, is joining the @WalmartLabs mobile team. Small Society embodies what has made us successful in 2011 and will help us accelerate that success in 2012.
As I reflect on why this is such a great opportunity, it is clear that there are three things that matter most to building great teams:

Talent Matters
The power of current mobile SDKs means that small groups of talented people can deliver incredible products. This has always been true in software development, but the concentration factor is even more pronounced in today’s smartphone apps. When looking to expand our team, we were incredibly selective.
As we got to know the Small Society founders, they impressed us with their understanding of mobile platforms, their passion for building great products, and their awareness of the unique opportunities for mobile in the retail space. They’ve delivered apps for huge brands, from the Democratic National Committee to Starbucks, all from a small office over a kebab restaurant in downtown Portland. We quickly realized that Small Society could be a potent addition to our existing @WalmartLabs Oregon office.
“Portland?” you say? Yes–Portland! When we acquired Set Direction in April 2011, one of their employees was a crack iOS developer based in Portland. Since then, we have recruited a few more talented developers in the area. Our Portland office works closely with the rest of the team here in Silicon Valley, and together we will deliver world-class experiences for all of Walmart’s global businesses.

Product Matters
What we loved about our first interactions with the Small Society founders was their laser focus on product. They showed us their portfolio and they critiqued ours; it was refreshing to meet a team with concrete ideas on how to make our experiences stronger. The conversations were facilitated with working software more than PowerPoint­–it was great! We didn’t talk about abstract “this is the way it should be done” concepts; instead, we looked at what they had already done and how their product development skills could be applied to our businesses. We came away impressed. One example we looked at was the Zipcar app. The app is a spot-on intersection of technology, brand and business. Named one of Time Magazine's “50 Best iPhone Apps for 2011,” it enables Zipcar members to find and book a Zipcar quickly, but also to honk the horn and lock or unlock the doors—all from their iPhone
From the other side of the table, with our millions of weekly customers across dozens of countries and businesses that range from groceries and pharmacy to financial services, we offered them an unparalleled variety of challenges, and they too were impressed.

Customers Matter
At Walmart, our target market is one of the broadest in the world. If you go to Walmart every week for all your groceries or if you live 100 miles from the nearest Walmart but want everyday low prices shipped to your front door, we want to be your mobile experience be your mobile experience be it iPhone, iPad, or Android.
We’re here to serve people with busy lives and much bigger concerns than the coolness of our apps. If we provide them a way to save time, save money, and get done with their shopping so they can enjoy their loved ones, we’ve achieved success. We obsess over the small details so our customer doesn’t have to. We saw that clear customer focus in the Small Society portfolio and in the people we met.
A focus on talent, product, and customer­s embodied in small teams of talented people – this is what has mattered most to us as we have built the @Walmartlabs mobile team. Our ambitions aren’t small – we believe that mobile can have an impact on every part of the shopping experience for Walmart customers, whether in-store or online. We’re very excited to have such talented new team members to help us make that impact.