FiftyThree turned many heads when their first project, Paper, named app Apple years. Although the feat less surprising when you hear a track record of founding ': this is the designers and engineers behind products such as PowerPoint, Word, Excel, Xbox, and Photosynth.
We caught up with Georg Petschnigg, who founded FiftyThree after 10 years at Microsoft, to find out how he was ready to go out on his own, why maps team projects such as TV episodes, and why passion is the most important.
Your team has a pretty unique way of working, how do you make sure new members fit the bill?
There is a simple question we ask when we think about bringing new people to our team: they are both at least two things? And it could be something like software development plus playing trombone, or visual design plus filmmaking. This is important because it is truly humbling to be good in yet another discipline, if you are only good at one thing that's easy to believe that you really understand and experts. But when you try to learn something new, like any other language, you immediately humbled. And it's really important to us, because we believe that creation actually happens when boundaries are crossed.
Talk about being good at two things, one of the co-founders is a filmmaker / UX designer. How does it work?
Yes, Andrew Allen is an award-winning filmmaker who ended up working with the software because he felt like it was the media narrative really underutilized. His draw for interaction design is actually really motivated by his work as a filmmaker and story approach worked very well with us.
Now when we plan our work, we plot out each project like an episode of the TV show. Our first episode is called Ideas Begin on Paper. We first create a storyboard that shows someone catches their ideas throughout their day in New York of the first. We use a storyboard to frame our development work and when we finished we actually shot video to go along with the launch. Instead of trying to explain what we built for our customers once that is done, we will explain it internally first and build from there ways that we understand what we're building and why every step of the way.
When we release additional colors (above), the time limit we depend on nature, so we are writing code we pay attention to the temperature change and the race to finish before the leaves change color. It really is really thrilling to have these reminders around you and also humanize the whole process, not just working towards the 1.3 milestone. This episodic approach means that the product experience is not complete if the narrative is not met.
Leaving Microsoft after 10 years to start your own company is a major leap forward, what was that like?
We are thinking about starting FiftyThree, and knew we wanted to start his own company for three years before it actually did. Part of our preparation includes ready to work for 18 months without pay. It is a commitment that we made to give precise shot. The way I rationalize it is that it's just like going to graduate school. You can go get an MBA for $ 150,000 and two years of your life, to travel the other person, or you can take the money and time and go make your own dream.
The most frightening day is the day before you go, but the best day is the day after that. Once you leave you can really devote time and energy to the things you love, and you feel much more whole. A day after leaving I was like, "I should have done this sooner." And I say that as someone who has a great 10 years at Microsoft-it's not boring at all. I have worked on some incredible projects, but not a single day since leaving when I did not feel 100 percent clear about what I do and the purpose behind it, which is a source of deep inspiration and I would not ever let it go.
You and your co-founders have worked on some of the most technologically advanced products such as the Xbox 360, Microsoft Office, and Sonos which take years to develop. What advice can you share to make it to the finish line?
There is a tremendous joy to be had in polishing and completing specific projects. You have to owe it to yourself to complete, which is why it is important to go after your project personally most passionate. I mean take New York for example - everything is so fast in this city, and every press release about the next overnight success, but there is no overnight success. It just took time. You have to accept that your life is limited. You will only work on a project or in a number of places in your life, which is why you need to make each one of them count. You owe it to yourself to take your ideas to a certain level. That's where the magic happens.