Hello World! seems the most appropriate title for the inaugural blog post of Qi hardware. These past 45 days a small group of us have been beavering away building yet another open company. What started in a small apartment in Taipei in late May is ready to go live. During that month of too much coffee, too little sleep, take out chinese, delivery pizza, appetizers at the Lava Lounge on Bryant street, simultaneous Skype calls and Google chat, cursing at google docs and the US trademark office, walking down Market street with a epson printer on my head and blow up mattresses for visiting teammates, we managed to accomplish a huge amount. So, some hat tips are in order.
I’ll start with Xaingfu who has been coding away on our first product. He is currently working on getting the kernel up and running on the hardware. Adam Wang comes next. He is a production engineer , the guy who makes sure that devices can actually be manufactured. He’s working in Taipei, documenting our first product, NanoNote, putting the design into kiCAD , and researching the options for the second version of the product. More about that later.
Next is Yi Zhang. Yi is buzz saw with sharp eye for detail. She got my attention late one night before a demo for Openmoko’s new product. Earlier in the day I suggested a last minute addition to the demo software. At 1 AM Yi was still there. Everyone else had left the building, but Yi pressed on and finished the task. That kind of loyalty to finishing one’s job made an impression on me. It didn’t take any intuition to see that she would be a great addition to Qi hardware. For all of June, Yi was here in San Francisco. She helped me get incorporated, file trademarks, select a fulfillment house, select a shopping cart and accounting system, work the logo selection, and work with our vendors. Software engineers are very versatile.
None is more versatile than the next addition to the team: Mirko Lindner. During my last two weeks at Openmoko I shared an apartment, crazy hours, McDonalds, coffee, cigarettes, old danish linguistics and some sinister plots about killer apps for twitter with Mirko. A former student of literature and self taught programmer, Mirko was responsible for implementing the last UI design on the FreeRunner. As a former student of literature and self taught programmer myself, I was struck by his creativity. We spent many hours discussing how we would have done the UI differently, if given the chance. Old UI guys never die, they just bitch about other people’s design. At Qi it wasn’t clear what role I would put Mirko in, since we don’t plan to do UIs. He’s got web skills, so I put him to work on that and then a whole host of product marketing tasks and art design tasks cropped up. From the mundane— creating a business card, to the complex—designing a keyboard layout, to the artistic— selecting and designing logos and creating a giftbox. With 11 years of product marketing experience I figured I would be the best man for the job. Wrong! I did the first keyboard and Mirko shot back his version. Can you say pass the torch? I did. My very first boss gave me advice I will never forget. “Hire people who are better than you!” In the course of a week Mirko has completed the color scheme for the company and the product, redesigned the keyboard, designed the outer box, and completed all the artwork required to make it a shipping product, did taglines for the company and product, and started the web page. He just needed a little freedom.
I’ll end with Wolfgang Spraul, former VP of engineering at Openmoko, now Chief Operating Officer of Qi Hardware. After cleaning up some unfinished details at OM, Wolfgang has travelled the world informing many of our past hardware partners of our plans to start this new venture. His travels took him around the world; and, after a short stay in Argentina with Werner, Wolfgang arrived on my doorstep–with a fever of 39C and a smile on his face. The Qi was with him. What’s next?
We believe that an army of david’s can conquer goliath, that by enlisting the help of the open source community we can build better products. We are going to open more of the process to the community. That starts here and now. You can watch us pull things together or pitch in and help. All the openings are volunteer right now.