Max Engel: a Blog

Aug 17

Daimler's solution for annoying out-of-office email: delete it -

While this is a bit of a blunt instrument, it is great to see companies working to ensure that time away from work can actually be an opportunity to recharge.

Mar 10

New City, New Job, New Horizons


I’ve started 2014 with some substantial life changes: I got engaged in January, moved to New York City on March 1st, and started a new job two days later.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined Honest Buildings to lead the product charge. I’m honored to be joining a brilliant team with the backing of a world-class board on disrupting the commercial real estate industry. From the moment I first spoke with Riggs (our CEO), I knew that he was building a transformative company and that this was a rare chance to be a part of something special. In New York City alone, commercial real estate construction spending is supposed to reach $37.3 billion this year, which is a signal of just how massive this opportunity is.

I’m confident that the time is right to blend technology, passion, and know-how to help create a new marketplace that will redefine the way commercial real estate projects get done.

While I’m sad to have left my SpinMedia family and all of my friends in LA, I’m excited to be in NYC working on an amazing project in a great city with good friends.

Oct 17

Also: Exposing ourselves -


Values are about taking chances — if it were an obvious choice, you wouldn’t need a value to guide you on how to make it. Value choices are rarely about right vs. wrong, they’re more often about one right vs. another.

To clarify our approach and our values, we (the Bloomberg Beta team) wrote up…

A thoughtful and radically-refreshing take on the importance of transparency in driving innovation forward.

Sep 07

Why cards are the future of the web | Inside Intercom -

A very insightful read on the UI paradigm of cards. The author, Paul Adams, was the original creator of the “Circles” concept for Google+ and later went on to do interesting work at Facebook as well, and this is another interesting analysis of a new usability trend in application design.

Aug 08

How Medium is building a new kind of company with no managers -

I find the concept of a flat organization really intriguing. I still am not sure how this would work in publishing-focused world like the one I currently live in, but I do think this is a great framework for a product-focused startup.

Additionally, I strongly agree with the focus on transparency, engaging with employees on a personal level, and democratizing problem-solving while removing committee-based consensus-building.

May 24


May 20

On the Yahoo! Acquisition of Tumblr

I’m always wary of an acquisition where the new parent insists that they’re going to let the acquired company remain separate and autonomous. It seems to indicate that the purchase was a defensive maneuver.

While certainly an understandable position to be in, I do wonder the long-term strategy for integrating Tumblr into Yahoo!. There are certainly opportunities around native advertising and providing reach for the network and a preferred means of content creation. However, I hope this ends better than the Flickr story.

Honestly, the last time Yahoo! bought a social platform for self expression it was Geocities, and we all know how that ended… 

Apr 17

Pandora’s Biggest Weakness, Potential Opportunity


From a discovery standpoint, Pandora is built upon the concept of reinforcing existing taste and presenting a variation on a theme. In practice, this means that a listener is exposed to music they’ll like, but not necessarily new music. Pandora could add a means by which it scans a users music library to determine existing artists already in their collection. Then, truly “new” discovery could occur, and a listener could stumble across new bands and purchase new music.

Additionally, Pandora is inherently a passive music experience, and so there is little engagement with the product outside of the minimal amount of interaction necessary when listening to a station. While they’ve dabbled with social elements through the website, it would be interesting for them to focus on other threads of music discovery. For example, Bandsintown lets me link my taste profile to Pandora to help me explore local concerts. I think Pandora should more deeply explore ways to bridge offline and online music experiences.

Finally, Pandora should explore the ways in which they could act as an intermediary platform to connect labels and artists with listeners. For example, Pandora is sitting on a trove of valuable analytics that get generated as a byproduct of user interaction. This data could be immensely valuable if packaged correctly, and the music industry would be willing to pay for access to a service that would help them better understand their consumers. Similarly, there has been a great deal of activity in the direct-to-consumer music marketing space, and Pandora could also explore how they could offer better services in this area to allow a band to better engage with their fans.

Read More

I’m participating in a virtual roundtable series on about Pandora. Here is my response to the first question.

Feb 25

3 Trends Shaping the Future of Product Development -

Here is a guest post I wrote for about the major trends shaping the development of web products in 2013.

Jan 25