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Laser Etching at TechShop

I Laser Etched Daleks and Patapons into a Moleskine notebook for my daughter last night. Epilog 45 W Laser (raster, p25, s50) at TechShop.

Here’s a photo!

Intuit and Homestead

At Homestead, we’ve been working with Intuit for years in various capacities. We share a lot of the same values and there is a lot of overlap between our customers. Both of us count small businesses as critical to our success and we’d like to think that those businesses can find success using our products.

Today, we announced that Intuit is buying Homestead. This relationship is really something special. To understand how special, read Justin’s (Homestead’s CEO) post on the subject, specifically these lines:

A suitable acquiring company for Homestead has to be a place that we all can feel as strongly about as we do about Homestead. It has to have a set of core values that matches the Homestead Creed. It has to have a hiring policy similar to our “no jerks, no idiots” rule. It has to believe in giving back to the community. It really helps if we can keep our brand, our offices, our wacky traditions, our identity. And we absolutely have to keep all of our people, and be able to maintain the sense of ownership and pride that we all feel today.

I’m happy to report that Intuit passed all of these tests with flying colors.

We will continue to be Homestead (great products, customer focused, quick release cycles, killer talent, quirky culture) while having the support of a large company that shares our values and motivations and has resources we’ve only been able to dream of.

On a personal note: I’ve been working with several Intuit team members on and off over the past several months and they are great people, passionate about their customers! Here’s to a healthy future together!

More commentary: Thai (my boss), Gordon, Andrew, and others.

10 free passes to the 2007 Small Business Summit and some travel money?!

Justin is a keynote speaker at the Small Business Summit in New York City and he wants to bring along the first 10 people that email him. Sounds like a great time!

Also, I’ll pay the entry fee ($149) for the first ten of you who email me describing your business and why you’d like to attend. If you don’t live in the New York area I’ll kick in $200 towards your travel expenses as well.

The Starbucks Machine in Homestead’s Kitchen

Last week Elizabeth (my hero) on the admin team here at Homestead put a Starbucks machine in our kitchen.  It grinds, brews and pours each cup on demand.  Great, great stuff!  It also brews hot cocoa that tastes pretty good!  Tenshi, an anonymous Homestead blogger shares her opinion of the coffee and cocoa on her blog, here.

Homestead’s 8th Annual Talent Show (2006)

Our 8th Annual Talent Show was last month.  Thai, our CTO, hosts the show almost every year and Justin, our CEO, peforms every year.  Along with the retreats and anniversary parties, the show is part of our culture and an opportunity to learn about and laugh with our coworkers.  It’s awesome!  Roger uploaded the acts to YouTube this year – now everyone can join in the fun!  Justin and Dave did a great version of Paul Simon’s Graceland (retitled HoldLand) that rivals their Demo ’05 performance.  Also impressive:  Aubrey’s song and Ron’s short film.

Justin’s Blog – CEOUnplugged

Justin (our CEO at Homestead) is doing a great job with his blog. I wonder if he read Robert’s and Shel’s book, yet…

Some things I’m looking forward to:

  • Frequently, Justin tells stories about interactions he’s had with customers. I’d love to see some of those stories on his blog.
  • He often has interesting comments about conferences he attends. I’m sure those observations will creep in.
  • One of Homestead’s most important goals is to be active in community service. Last month we moved from monthly participate-at-your-own-discretion events to quarterly-mandatory-most-of-the-day events. I’m excited about the change, because 100+ participants can have a much bigger impact than a handful. I’d like to see Justin talk about these events and the other community service actions we take. One of my favorites: each employee was given several hundred dollars to donate to charities of their choice (I picked Child’s Play).

New, Major Features Every 4-6 Weeks

As Thai alluded to on his blog, we release changes to the Homestead.com site and the SiteBuilder/SiteBuilder Lite software at an extremely fast rate: our ‘small change’ cycle is every 2 weeks and our ‘big change’ cycle is every 4-6 weeks.  Our release rate is not nearly as rapid as myspace, I guess, but it’s certainly one of the fastest for an established software company with tons of paying small business subscribers.

That article about myspace is interesting because it implies the only reason frequent updates would anger users is if something breaks.  In my experience, many users are also resistent to updates that force them to alter the way they interact with the UI.  In general, we try to add features and update features without forcing users to re-learn the interactions they are already comfortable with.  I wonder if the younger crowd over at myspace is more resilient and more welcoming to changes that force them to re-learn or if myspace has found that they, too, try to keep the common interaction experiences unchanged.