Episode #441: Cognitive overhead, the age of inference and a photo app named Flock – with Bump co-founder David Lieb

Episode #441

It has been over 2 years since I last sat down with Dave Lieb, co-founder and CEO of Bump. During that time, Bump was named one of the all-time most popular apps in the AppStore (it has been downloaded over 120 million times), they have released 2 versions of the app and have launched another app – an always-on photo sharing app called Flock – and have found another group of strong investors in Andreessen Horowitz. Above and beyond all of these accolades and the success, I think the more epic transformation that has happened is the behind the scenes thinking that has gone into the decisions Dave and his team have made.

It is hard to build a mobile-first business if you aren’t facing the tough questions head-on each and every single time you launch and use your own app. This kind of scrutiny ensures you don’t stray too far from the intended purpose – the original reason – the app was built. Between versions 1 and 2 of Bump, as the feature list grew and complexity increased and ease of use decreased, Dave and his team realized that the original intent was being obscured by the need to add new features. It was time for them to refocus, get back to the core and make Bump do what it was good at, again.

Dave says it was always there, the focus on cognitive overhead and it’s impact on product use, but it seems that over the past year it has become so much more than a focus for his company – almost a mantra for new feature and product development going forward. One such product is Flock. This is one of those simple, “aha!” products that makes sense. If you truly believe that the mobile devices we carry are able to improve our abilities as fallible humans and that we are in fact ushering in the age of inference, what Dave and his team are doing with Flock is a signal of what is to come.

We dive into the last two years of Bump and the lessons he’s learned from them: The “feature temptation”, the fallout from the refocus, the development of Flock, the focus on cognitive overhead, the inference age, and where Dave sees it all going in the near future. This is a smart episode – full of Star Trek references and market insights from one of the most popular and well-used apps — ever.

In case you missed the other episodes

How $44 in marketing has generated 25 million downloads for BUMP – with co-founder and CEO David Lieb



Here is a quick reference of what we covered in the show. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip

1. Bump over the past year – back to simplicity 1:58
2. How the new features were increasing cognitive overhead 3:40
3. The “add a feature” temptation and it’s impact 6:30
4. How did you decide what features to cut from Bump? 7:40
5. Who was the descenting voice during the transition 9:50
6. What was the Bump process for removing features and the impact 11:55
7. Were these decisions market driven? Were there changes in the market? 13:05
8. What about the API roll out? Why do that? Did it confuse or complicate the business? 14:40
9. What happened to your numbers when you moved from Bump 2.0 to Bump 3.0 17:25
10. What is your success metric? 19:15
11. Do you have to market yet or is it all word of mouth still? 21:05
12. How do you replicate the success Bump’s world to mouth 24:10
13. Where did the idea for Flock come from? 25:40
14. The path from the age of intent to the age of inference 27:00
15. Will you actively market Flock? 30:15
16. What are the key lessons you’ve learned during the rise of Bump and the creation of Flock 33:40
17. When did the language shift for you? When did you mature your thinking to where you are now? 36:58
18. The next shift in computing is: Inference 41:40
19. How does voice play into the age of inference 43:52
20. Why sci-fi predicted only 90% of our future – what was the missing 10% 45:20

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About Dave Lieb
David Lieb BumpDavid is CEO and cofounder of Bump Technologies, which he founded along with Andy Huibers and Jake Mintz in the fall of 2008 while a first-year MBA student at the University of Chicago. Bump is a platform technology that allows two mobile phones to connect or interact by just physically bumping them together.

Previously, David served as a technologist and algorithm designer at Texas Instruments, where he helped develop digital display devices for projectors and large-screen televisions. Prior to TI, David taught robotic vehicles to see, learn, and drive themselves while a research assistant in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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