Happy to walk!

January 18th, 2009

European stays European. One thing that I haven’t and don’t plan to give up since moving to the United States is my desire to have things in walkable distance from the place I live. My first residence in Berkeley was in walking distance to Campus and all the crazy shops out there. It stayed somewhat similar with my stay at Schwab Residential Center at Stanford. And when I moved out from there in 2005, the first thing I was looking for is a place with shopping and other possibilities nearby. My first home in Mountain View had a Whole Foods store, a Target, a fresh grocery retailer, a Trader Joe’s and Safeway – everything in less than half a mile. Even my next home in San Mateo was kind of walkable, though the choices were a bit more restrictive.
When first moving to Los Angeles I thought okay – it doesn’t half to be walkable, but at least I should be close to major attractions. So when I found my first apartment on Mid-Wilshire I figured the relative vicinity to West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Downtown would be cool.
It wasn’t. I realized that taking your car out the garage in Los Angeles is an exercise in frustration. Traffic moves slooooooowly.
Thus when I moved to my new apartment in Santa Monica, I specifically looked for walkability and having a lot of stores, restaurants, cinemas and other things to do nearby.
It turns out, this might very well be one of the best places to walk in all of Los Angeles county!
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(Map from walkscore.com)

In a fun turn of events though, I did decide to buy a bike yesterday and can’t wait to take it out for a spin.

Joining MySpace in August

July 3rd, 2008

After the big bomb has been dropped, here is part 2 of the story. Where am I heading?
I have always been interested in social networks, having signed up for a Facebook account right when they came out (and when they were restricted to just Harvard, Stanford and a few other universities) and used MySpace and LinkedIn for years. So I concentrated my search on social networking and video companies (a second big area of future growth in my opinion). Having gotten multiple offers, I finally decided to go with… MySpace.
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For me, it basically were three reasons that drew me to them:
– I genuinely liked all the MySpace folks I met throughout my interviews, from the SVP of Engineering to Products and many in between. Thanks for inviting me to your pizza Friday, guys!
– MySpace is a massively used product, in scale with Google, Yahoo or Facebook.
– The opportunity is just awesome. I am fortunate enough to be on the intersection of Social Networking and Mobile, THE future area of growth for social platforms.

So I am happy to announce that starting August 4th, I’ll be joining MySpace as their new Product Management Director for Mobile!

MySpace is coming up with a lot of new products and features, for example last week a new homepage design launched:
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Here is a look at the current MySpace mobile website (m.myspace.com):
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This is MySpace’s current building with Fox Interactive Media in Beverly Hills 90210:
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Apparently a parking nightmare is awaiting me there.

Starting in June 2009, we’ll be moving to a new campus in Playa Del Rey though, as Techcrunch already reported recently:
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All FIM companies in Southern California will move to the new facility starting from June to December 2009. The site will house over 300,000 square feet of commercial space and is part of a development called Horizon at Playa Vista (a rendering of the development is above). The area is quickly becoming LAs media hub, with EA, Rubin Postaer and others now with offices in the area.

Okay and I thought I was crazy. Apparently there are a lot more crazy people out there who are tracking the long voyage of our BMWs from Bremerhaven all the way to Port Hueneme, CA on board of Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s Pacific Breeze.

Here is a video of her going through the Miraflores locks on the Pacific terminus of the canal:

This will give you an idea of the stages of progression from entering the canal through the Gatun locks and Lake Gatun all the way out to the Pacific ocean through the Miraflores locks:
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And here are a few pictures at various stages of the route:
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Gatun locks near the Atlantic entrance of the canal

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Passing through Centennial Bridge

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Exiting Miraflores locks towards the Pacific Ocean

Now if THAT doesn’t make you want to use public transportation, then I don’t know.
Something to look forward to, in times of rising fuel prices. Here is a small collection of train riding experiences from around the globe:


Trains in China


Trains in Tokyo


Trains in India


Trains in Bangladesh


Trains in Melbourne


Trains in London


Trains in New York City

and of course, let’s not forget the awesomeness of Thai transportation reported earlier.

The tale of three Venetians

April 20th, 2008

Okay – this post is a sign that I’m not afraid to admit silliness. So a few days ago I was watching a TV documentation about the new Venetian resort in Macau:
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Supposably it’s even bigger and nicer than the one I’ve been to a few times in Las Vegas:
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Now the kicker though:
A couple of days later when reading a magazine article about how Venice, Italy is about to sink when the sea level rises just a few inches I had my brain stop for a second or two.
When looking at the Piazza San Marco…
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…I actually thought…

Oh my! There’s a Venetian in Venice too now!

Yea. I know. … Don’t say anything…

As requested, here are a few more pictures of BMWs impressive new delivery center – the ‘BMW World’ in Munich. It’s funny, the only other folks I met that were there as early as me was a friendly elderly couple from Los Angeles, who were there to pick up their 535i (about 4 hrs later).

Yesterday I dropped off my car at E.Harms in Frankfurt to have it trucked to Bremerhaven hopefully shipped to Port Hueneme this weekend. The whole delivery time is estimated to be around 8 weeks. Urgh.. those will be tough!
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Yes, people are THAT crazy here. I guess the (now-revised) $5K-if-you-buy-a-envirofriendly-but-freakin-ugly-Prius (TM) program has been successful…

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I love going to LA. Usually I spend more time in the West LA area, but this time I used our Anaheim hotel location to focus more on the OC. The LA area beach cities are awesome – may it be Manhattan Beach, Newport or Laguna Beach – everyone has their unique flair.

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Ulf hugs Donald hugs Ulf

February 6th, 2008

I know as a kid my Disney hero clearly was the underdog: Donald Duck. I just looooved the guy. It took me a few… well… decades really, but I finally managed to get a little hugging and photo shooting done with Donald tonight at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA! And oh yes, that’s Pluto in the back trying to sneek into the picture as well.

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Google goes Disney

February 4th, 2008

Tomorrow I’ll be on my way (thanks to the support of the Virgin America folks) to LAX and then to Anaheim for Google’s yearly ski-trip! Oh wait. There’s no skiing in Anaheim. So what’s this all about?
Disney
Well it turns out that Google with it’s 16,805 employees is now so big that we cannot by any means rent enough rooms in Tahoe, so it was decided to give us a choice this year:
– Camping at the Pinnacles National Monument south of Salinas, CA (bring your own tent!)
or
– Disneyland! Google’s got the whole park just for Googler’s after 8pm on Tuesday.

Nuff’ said. Gotta pack my bags!

PS: I decided to rent a car, so as to be more flexible. Don’t really wanna hang out at Disneyland all day…