A couple days ago we organized a meetup for CTOs in Stockholm on the topic ”Future of Mobile Tech” with speakers from Realm, Spotify, Unity and Volumental. For those who weren’t there here are some highlights from the evening.
Creandum’s “C-bar” has become an institution where we look to gather superstars from Nordic/European startups to mingle, share experiences and discuss hot topics. We believe it’s important to take an active role as facilitator to further strengthen the Nordic startup ecosystem – it benefits all of us and makes our community stronger. Previous C-bars have largely been CEO or Product related and this time we decided to bring 50 CTOs together.
Brian Munkholm who’s VP Engineering at Realm was first out and certainly had everyone’s attention after letting us know that the second most deployed database in the world is that of his company (the most deployed is SQLite) – pretty good for a product that’s been around for less than a year and still is in beta. So what’s the product? Realm is an embedded ondevice database and addresses some of the drawbacks of traditional server-side databases: User experience (e.g. load time, which is faster with Realm), connectivity (no need to be connected to the Internet for the app to work) and server costs (everything is run on the device). The basic thinking is that we’re walking around with pretty powerful devices in our pockets that we could use for data storage to a much higher extent than we do today. Brian lets us know that use-cases related to IoT, Wearables, Drones and VR constitute the next frontier for Realm. He admits that there are non-trivial challenges to be addressed for example related to sync but he’s confident they’ll be able to tackle that well. Just like UX and design, he believes architecture also benefits from a ”mobile first” approach. I think he’s right.
It’s apparent how much weight Creandum portfolio company Spotify puts on quality – an insight gained not only from using the app but also from listening to Mattias Arrelid and Andreas Mattsson when they talk about their “Stop the line” policy which would make any Toyota quality engineer beam with pride. Compliance might not yet be 100% but just as “location, location, location” are the three most important parameters when buying a piece of land, “quality” seems to occupy the first few spots at Spotify. The majority of the talk however is focused on how Spotify, over the past couple of years, totally rearranged their organization for mobile (while growing significantly, reaching 60m users a couple of months ago). Mattias and Andreas gave us the full story how they pushed out decision making in the organization when moving to independent full-stack feature teams that could ship on mobile. After tackling challenges related to team integration while creating a more formalized release process this setup has been instrumental in helping them scale the organization to the level they’re at today. Neatly packaged story telling with a good portion of learnings and wisdom – an HBS case waiting to be written.
Unity and Volumental rounded off the evening by respectively diving into mobile graphics and depth cameras. Renaldas Zioma from Unity gave us a lecture about mobile computation, how GPU performance is improving faster than CPU performance and what the GPU will be used for in the future, incl. augmented reality, eye tracking, scanning faces for emotions, robotics (i.e. less for pure graphics calculations). Miro Kobetski at Volumental is pretty certain that depth cameras are coming to smartphones sometime soon even though there are still power consumption issues which impacts battery time. Whether the use-cases will be customized wearables (one of Volumental’s business areas), gaming or something else is yet to be seen.
All-in-all, great discussions and deep-dives in the future of mobile technology by Nordic startups, each one a global leader in their field, each one happy to share their experiences with the rest of the community. We look forward to the next meetup!