Timeglider Acquisition

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I’ve got some big news to share today: Preceden has acquired Timeglider, one of the other big players in the online timeline maker space.

Here’s the announcement: Preceden Acquires Timeglider.

This was my first meaningful acquisition: back in December 2017 I did buy and redirect the domain for Timerime, another timeline maker tool, but the site had shut down several months prior so it was merely a matter of buying the domain. Timeglider on the other hand is an active business with paying customers, recurring revenue, IP, etc – which made this quite a bit more complicated and required lawyers and paperwork and whatnot. I learned a lot, but am also very happy it’s behind me.

Now comes excuting on it and recouping the cost in a hopefully reasonable amount of time. I’ll probably write more about the data and analytics piece of this in the future, but for now, just wanted to share the news!

Mazur’s SQL Style Guide

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Even though I work primarily in Looker these days, I do spend a fair amount of time writing and reviewing SQL queries. Over time, I’ve experimented with and adopted various ways of styling my queries. Things like whether to use CTEs or subqueries (CTEs), single vs double quotes (single), how to format joins, and a lot more.

I’ve attempted to distill my preferences into a guide which you can check out on GitHub: Mazur’s SQL Style Guide.

Like with any style guide, you’ll have to consider which conventions you want to adopt. For example, you might write queries that use both single and double quotes and not give it a second thought, but feel strongly about columns always using snake_case and never camelCase. In the end, the key is readability, but opinions will differ on what’s readable and what’s not :).

For those of you writing a lot of SQL, hopefully you walk away from this guide with some things think about.

And like I mention in the guide, if you find yourself disagreeing strongly with any of my preferences, I’d love to chat. Please shoot me an email if do.

Last but not least, I have a Matt on Analytics newsletter where I’ll occasionally (very occasionally at the moment) share new content like this. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you can sign up here.

JOIN Talk: Fostering a Data Culture with a Daily Metrics Email Report

A few months back I wrote about how Help Scout generates a Daily Metrics Report using Looker. I wound up giving a talk about this topic at JOIN, Looker’s annual user conference, and wanted to share the recording for anyone who wants to learn more.

Here’s the description:

How do you keep everyone in your organization informed about the performance of its key metrics when not everyone uses Looker regularly? In this session, we’ll talk about how to leverage Fivetran and Looker to build a daily metrics email report that will help educate end engage your entire team.

Huge thanks to Fivetran for inviting me to speak during their sponsor session and Looker for putting on the conference.

A Few Thoughts on Image Upload Usage at Preceden

One of Preceden’s most popular feature requests over the years has been the ability to upload images to Preceden and have those images appear on timelines.

A lot of competitors offer that functionality, but I procrastinated for almost 9 years for two reasons:

  1. It’s complex to implement, both in terms of actually handling the uploads and having them appear on the timelines.
  2. Most of the people that requested it were using Preceden for school timelines and that segment of users tend not to upgrade at a high rate. People using Preceden for work-related project planning timelines didn’t request it much. Therefore, it never was much of a priority because it likely wouldn’t move the needle on the business.

That said, since I’ve had more time to work on Preceden recently, I decided to finally do it. For handling uploads, I wound up using Filestack.com which simplified the implementation a lot. And updating Preceden’s rendering logic took time too, but in the end it all worked out.

I recently checked on the usage stats and – not surprisingly – it’s used most heavily by people using Preceden for education:

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For users that have signed up since this launched:

  • Teaching: 29% uploaded an image
  • School: 26%
  • Personal Use: 16%
  • Work: 12%

In other words, it’s used very heavily (which is great!) but not with the segment of users with the highest propensity to pay.

This dilemma comes up fairly often: do you build Feature A that will be used heavily by mostly-free users, or Feature B that will be used heavily by mostly-paying customers?

For better or worse, I never wound up focusing on one market or use case with Preceden: it’s a general purpose timeline maker that can be used for any type of timeline. As a result though, I often get into these situations. If I was just building Preceden for project planners, I’d never implement image uploads. If I was just building it for students creating timelines for school, I’d probably have implemented it years ago.

It also comes down to goals: if my main goal is growing revenue, I probably shouldn’t work on features like this. But if I want Preceden to be the best general purpose timeline maker then it does, but there’s an opportunity cost because I’m not building features for the folks who will actually pay.

I operate in the middle for product development: work mostly on features that will make money, but also spend some percentage of my time on features like this that will make it a better general purpose tool.

If I were to start something from scratch today, I’d probably pick a narrow niche and try to nail it. No general-purpose tools. I’d recommend that to others too.

Going broad is fun in a way too though, it just has it’s challenges :).