Lyft, this really sucks…

I have been a faithful customer of Lyft for the past several years, charging literally thousands of dollars of rides over that time. And then today I order a Lyft that goes to the other side of the building I’m in (a rather confusing Seattle city block), and the driver calls me in the lobby of the building, and I spend 2 minutes trying to figure out where he is, and then I get this message on my phone:

You know, it really burns me. This what they send me as a loyal customer who has been consistently recommending their service for the past two years and who has never before had a no-show.

I’m not saying Lyft drivers shouldn’t be compensated for no-shows. I get that. But the problem is that Lyft (and other massive automated services like it) have no ability to actually understand their customers and their circumstances. For example, to recognize that this was not a “no show” but actually a very frustrated “Your rider can’t find you!” that was already a major hassle for me (on a deadline for another critical appointment), not just the Lyft driver.

And not only does Lyft show any understanding for the problems this caused me—it charges me.

And then to rub salt in the wound the email has a “no_reply” address and Lyft has no one you can actually call and explain this too (which I’d be willing to do even though the value of that time would be 10X the fee they might credit me).

So instead I took the time to write this and tell everyone who reads this just how faceless an action Lyft just took.

The silver lining is that I spent the next two Lyfts after this discussing with my drivers their frustrations with Lyft. And I realized that the opportunity for the next Lyft (or Uber) is growing every day. No matter how great their benefits, the days of having big impersonal centralized platforms in the middle of our relationships are numbered because they are going to be replaced by decentralized and much more personal platforms that simply do it better and cheaper and give a much bigger cut to the drivers that do the real work.

I can’t wait.

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Am I Completely Missing Something or Did AirBNB Map View Just Go Away?

As heads-down as I have been working on SSI (self-sovereign identity) for the past 18 months (that’s why no posts during that period), once again a broken customer experience has provoked me to break that spell (last time it was the %$#@ wifi on United Airlines).

This time it’s AirBNB. It’s not perfect in many ways, but as an alternative to hotel rooms, it’s been a godsend. For both personal and business travel. So it’s become a mainstay of my travel planning. Until the last few times when I’ve gone to find the closest AirBNB listing to a destination (usually a conference site) and…

…no map view of listings. Just a flat table.

I thought I must be missing something, so yesterday I searched high and low on the page and then did some web searches to see what I was missing. But it appears it’s just…


What I did find, however, was postings over the past two years from dozens of AirBNB users asking “what happened to map view?” So apparently it’s not something new.

Have I just been brain-dead this whole time? Not seeing that this most OBVIOUS way of showing listings has gone missing?

Or am I totally missing something in the AirBNB UI?

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United Wifi: How Can It Be So Bad?

United-WifiI just flew United non-stop from Seattle to Washington D.C. (Dulles) and back. I realized too late after booking the trip that this was the airline on which I had never successfully connected to their in-air wifi. Since it was a five hour flight, I decided I would bear down this time and finally fix the problem (after all, I’ve worked in the Internet business for over 20 years).

So, on the outbound trip, I literally spent TWO HOURS trying everything I could to get a connection. Absolutely nothing worked. After I gave up in frustration, a helpful flight attendant (who I could tell had spent many hours trying to debug wifi connections for passengers) make the suggestion to forget the United wifi network at the end of the flight.

So I did that and then tried to forget all about the whole experience—too many other things to worry about after missing 5 hours of productive online time during that flight.

Yesterday came the return flight. After we reached 10,000 feet, I dared to try to connect again to see if the flight attendant’s tip worked. And amazingly—it did! For the first time in seven flights, I was able to successfully connect to United wifi. And in fact for the next two hours it was the smoothest and fastest I’d experienced on any airline.

And then…poof! The connection just stopped working. As soon as it happened, my heart sank. Back to United wifi hell. I spent 45 minutes trying every combination again, including completely forgetting the United wifi connection and rebooting my Mac from scratch.

Nothing worked. I even confirmed with the flight attendants that the wifi was still working. It was just my connection. So…

Dear United: in-flight wifi is so important to me that I regret to inform you, despite being a loyal member of your United Mileage Plus program, I will no longer fly your airline until someone credible informs me your wifi finally works.



Posted in Customer Service, General, travel | Tagged , | 2 Comments

What He Said (about Sovrin)

phil-windley-headshotI joke with Phil Windley that half my blog posts are about his blog posts. But there’s a good reason for that. Phil’s a prolific blogger because he’s a prolific thinker, and there is a very high signal-to-noise ratio in those thoughts.

Lately what Phil’s been thinking and blogging about is self-sovereign identity— specifically Sovrin, the new public permissioned ledger for self-sovereign identity that was announced last month at the Ctrl-Shift Personal Information Economy Conference in London.

Phil is chair of the Sovrin Foundation Board of Trustees (I am Secretary), and in that leadership role he’s published a series of blog posts that stake out the philosophical, political, technical, and practical underpinnings of self-sovereign identity. Here’s a quick guide to these posts, in chronological order (oldest-to-newest):

  • Service Integration Via a Distributed Ledger explains how reading and writing claims (provable information about a person) to a distributed ledger can solve some big problems.
  • Governance for Distributed Ledgers explains how permissioned distributed ledgers solve some of the challenges we have seen with non-permissioned blockchains.
  • Decentralization and Distributed Ledgers explains why it is misguided to think that decentralized system that have to be governed aren’t really decentralized.
  • How Sovrin Works explains just that, using a real-world example.
  • When People Can Share Verifiable Attributes, Everything Changes returns to the theme of the first post listed above and explains why this will be the engine driving widespread adoption of self-sovereign identity systems.
  • On Sovereignty is his most recent post that goes straight to the heart of why “self-sovereign identity” does not mean that the individual is in control of everything, but rather that the individual is a peer with equal rights as all other sovereigns (other people, organizations, governments, etc.)

I crave getting more time to blog on these same subjects vs. just being heads down building Sovrin. But until then, all I can say is: “what he said”.

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Even Just Two Days Can Be a Vacation

“Summer vacation” this year consisted of just two days—the only two days my two sons could free up to take off with my wife and I. There wasn’t even enough time to go out of town, so finally we had a real “staycation”. The first day we did classic Seattle tourist gigs like Waterfall Garden Park, Pioneer Square, the Underground Seattle Tour (a real hoot), the Seattle Center Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit (mind-blowing), and dinner at the Pike Place Market (Shiro’s new place Sushi Kashiba—fantastic).

The second day was even more domestic: together we disassembled one of the icons of the boy’s childhood—the treehouse we spent a whole summer building fifteen years ago (but which now had become a full-blown hazard due to a rotting floor).


Yes, there were some sad moments—but all of us sweating together on it (it was a record-breaking Seattle afternoon) made it more of a wake than a funeral. And we left the swings (far left of the picture), which were always the most-used part of the whole contraption anyway. Given the size of the beam they are hanging from, those swings should be still be there for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

Afterwards, as I lounged in the pool-temperature water of Haller Lake, I didn’t regret for a second that I only had two days of vacation. Rather I marveled at how much beauty, joy, and satisfaction one can soak in from even the briefest breaks from the grindstone. Which is why I make it a habit to blog this as I reminder to myself after every vacation—no matter how short.

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Zootopia Is My Happy Place

ZootopiaI don’t think I’ve had such a good time at the movies since Little Miss Sunshine. If you just want to smile—and laugh—and clap—and feel like dancing all over the theatre—don’t miss this. And don’t watch it at home (which you will want to do a thousand times) until you’ve had the full movie theatre experience.

As my wife and I were walking out, one of the ushers said, “This movie should be required viewing in America.” To which I said—with a completely straight face, “I can’t believe it only got 98% on Rotten Tomatoes”.

It’s a 100.

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The Offer Letter of Your Dreams from eShares

eshares-offer-letter-coverIronically, this post has nothing to do with my company going live with eShares online equity management service yesterday. The only connection is that it may be the reason (in some scary way I haven’t figure out yet) that this Medium story from eShares CEO Henry Ward appeared at the top of my Medium news feed later that day.

No matter—this post is about the most stunning offer letter you have ever seen. One that is sure to set a new standard across the startup industry.

I don’t want to spoil it for you by showing/telling more—it’s a quick read, so just click through and take a glance. You will immediately see why I recommended it.

I’m impressed by eShares as a cloud-based equity management tool so far (it’s not perfect—we’ve already caught and reported a few bugs—but it’s 1000x better than handing cap tables and stock certificates the old manual way). But now I’m even more impressed with eShares the company. Keep an eye on these guys.


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