Robert Scoble: Life and Tech #42: Learning from’s Founder and CEO

February 26, 2016

By Robert Scoble Feb. 25, 2016

“Focus beats resources every day of the week.” That’s what Shaan Puri told me when I met with him this week. He’s the founder and CEO of, a video chat service that has gotten fairly popular quickly. For instance, he says that every big Google+ Hangout show has already moved to Blab.

Check out this interview with him, where he packs in a TON of tips about how to take on the big companies

What did I learn?

  1. To grow you must have simple social behaviors that let users share easily.
  2. Startups often have an advantage because they don’t need to serve a corporate master. Blab has ways to share into both Twitter and Facebook. Now imagine getting that approved at Facebook or Twitter.
  3. Having a single investor lets the exec team focus on users instead of worrying about upcoming fundraising. Xochi and Michael Birch are his only investors. They started Bebo, sold it for $850 million and backed Puri to build another great consumer success.
  4. Know what you can do as a startup and what you can’t. We had an interesting discussion about captions in videos. YouTube didn’t do that until several years into its life, he said, while pointing out he has to prioritize feature requests and do more important stuff first.
  5. Find a user need that isn’t satisfied yet. People like getting together and talking, he noticed, and Blab is aimed at that.
  6. Make it hyper easy to share to your existing communities (in this case, Facebook and Twitter).
  7. Being in San Francisco helps consumer startups like his. He says he regularly bumps into other entrepreneurs. “Here doing something different is normal.”
  8. Finding a technology advantage is important. He’s running on Web RTC, which lets him have high volumes of people talking in real time where other video systems have a delay.


Think businesses have all joined the modern world? Doppio Group Founder and CEO Erik Kiser knows different. He’s been doing the “boring” work of taking big companies, particularly in supply chain or retail, from ordering off of paper to doing it in the cloud. His interview shown here is telling. It shows that there’s still plenty of places in the world that software hasn’t “eaten” yet.


A “shocking” wearable that helps you get rid of negative behaviors. The details shown here.


At this week’s Mobile World Congress, Samsung got ahead of Apple and is the first company to demonstrate end-to-end 360 video. They already have the Gear VR headset, but this week they announced a Gear 360 camera too.

Gear 360 (credit: Samsung)

Other notable things from MWC? LG brought out a phone with two cameras, which provides much sharper resolution and more zooming features. Apple is expected to announce the same later this year.


On Monday morning you’ll find me trying to get through to HTC to buy my Vive Virtual Reality System. Details are up at Engadget.

Vive (credit: HTC)

Man, the robots from Boston Dynamics are sure getting crazy cool.

Boston Dynamics | Atlas, The Next Generation


Andreesen Horowitz investor Chris Dixon wrote a great primer on what’s next in computing.


Join me at the Upload VR SXSW mixer.

I did an interview with the Voices of VR podcast about what I see happening in VR and AR.

I also did an interview with GeekWire Radio and two tech journalism greats (Todd Bishop and John Cook) while on a trip to Seattle last week.

I interviewed Bertrand Nepveu, CEO founder of VRVana, who showed me glasses with the widest viewing angle I’ve seen so far.

I’m also doing a ton of travel over the next couple of months. South Africa is next week. Texas for SXSW. Sun Valley for Dent. London for Smart IoT. New York for Datacenter Dynamics. Mumbai, India for Click Asia Summit. New Orleans for Collision. Israel to see startups. And more, details are here.

See you on the road!


As a Rackspace futurist, I keep my finger on the pulse of Silicon Valley and global trends, to offer insights into what’s coming next in tech and why it’s important to you.

Since 2009, I’ve traveled near and far, meeting with startups, innovative companies and visionaries, as well as evangelizing the Rackspace managed cloud story.

I read all my email at [email protected] and anything done in response to this newsletter goes to the top of my inbox. I’m also at +1-425-205-1921 or on Facebook.

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And props to Hugh Macleod and team for creating art each week. Find more at gapingvoid.