VR’s biggest stories in 2017


Here’s how hectic the world of virtual reality has been in 2017: while writing up this list of the biggest stories to break this year, I could have sworn Palmer Luckey had parted ways with Oculus more than 12 months ago. There’s been so much to keep up with that even some of the year’s industry-shaking stories managed to slip through the cracks.

VR has had an interesting year filled with some amazing ups and unexpected downs. These are the most essential stories that will shape the industry as we head into 2018.

Oculus’ lawsuit goes awry

Oculus did not have a great start to 2017. The year began with Facebook’s VR division being taken to court by ZeniMax Media, the parent company of gaming publisher Bethesda, which itself owns id Software, the former home of Oculus CTO John Carmack. ZeniMax claimed that Carmack and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey had used Bethesda resources when working on the first versions of the Oculus Rift – which the two collaborated over online in the early 10’s. When Carmack joined Oculus later on, ZeniMax claimed, he’d stolen Bethesda technology.

When news of the lawsuit first broke many had assumed it wouldn’t get far but, after a fascinating few days of legal battling, which saw Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg take the stand and thousands of intriguing tiny details about the early days of Oculus pour onto the web, the court ordered Facebook to pay ZeniMax $500 million in damages. Currently, Oculus is attempting to appeal the decision while ZeniMax works to cut it off at every turn. We haven’t heard the last of this story.

Palmer parts ways with Oculus

In late 2016 a report surfaced claiming that Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey had funded a political smear campaign. Luckey denied these accusations in part, but the news shook the VR industry to the core. For the past six years, Luckey had been the face of VR, the industry’s very own golden boy. In space of just a few days, though, he vanished from sight; social media accounts were left unused and Luckey was noticeably absent from major events like that year’s Oculus Connect developer conference.

Towards the end of the year Oculus had told us that Luckey had a new role within Oculus which would soon be revealed. A few months into 2017, however, we broke the news that Luckey was parting ways with Facebook for good. No reason was given, but it’s largely assumed 2016’s controversy kicked these events into action. Since then, Luckey has formed a new company working in the security sector, but has also kept one foot firmly in the VR industry. He’s back on Twitter, where he regularly talks about the industry (and sometimes even his departure from Facebook) and has even appeared at events like 2017’s Connect. Where will 2018 take him?

The Oculus Rift’s rapid price drop

Oculus told us 2017 would be all about content but, looking back on the year, the biggest story for the Rift has been all about price. In January the Rift itself was $599, which got you the headset, a tracking sensor and an Xbox gamepad. A pair of essential Touch controllers along with another sensor cost $99, bringing the price up to $698 for a 180 degree-tracked VR system with hand controls. Adding on a third sensor for 360 degree tracking on par with the HTC Vive brought you to around $770 (about $30 what Vive itself cost). Over the course of past nine months, though, that price has fallen at an unusual pace.

At GDC in March, Oculus took $99 off the price of the Rift and Touch, making it $599 all-told. That, we assumed, would be the new price of the headset for at least another year. Just four months later in July, though, Oculus held a lengthy Summer Sale promotion in which the Rift with Touch was discounted to just $399, cutting a huge $200 off the price. It was a surprising move on Oculus’ part that also saw the company introduce the Rift/Touch bundle in one box (ditching the Xbox controller). During the promotion Oculus also confirmed the new permanent price for this bundle would be $499 once the deal was over. This didn’t last long; a few months later the price yet again dropped to the now-permanent $399. Oculus even slashed another $50 off for Black Friday and other recent sales.

The dizzying rate of discounts had to be seen to be believed, and it’s left HTC Vive in a tight spot; the company cut price to $599 during Oculus’ Summer Sale but the company widened the gap yet again after that. Where does that leave Rift in 2018? Will we see more price cuts? Or does this mean new hardware is in store?

Sony shares PSVR success while Oculus and HTC stay silent

Trying to determine sales figures for VR headsets is like trying to get blood from a stone. Since launch both Oculus and HTC have remained frustratingly tight-lipped about the sales of their respective headsets, leaving us to study unofficial and unreliable sources like Steam Hardware Surveys as vague barometers for how each is performing. Sony, though, was a different story; about five months after PSVR launched the company announced it had sold a million units. Much more recently it also passed the two million mark.

Those might not be the most impressive numbers, but Oculus and HTC’s silence leads us to assume it’s a fair bit better than what PSVR’s PC-based rivals have achieved (the silence is kind of deafening at this point). Perhaps, though, we’ll finally see a bit more transparenct between Oculus and HTC in 2018.

The VR ecosystem expands as the standalone race begins

The Rift, Vive and PSVR may be enjoying the majority of the limelight for now, but VR has quietly grown far beyond these three headsets in 2017. Microsoft, for starters, recently introduced a new line of Windows-based headsets in partnership with companies like Lenovo, utilizing inside-out tracking. LG, meanwhile, provided a glimpse of the next SteamVR headset that we’re excited to see more of in 2018.

Perhaps the bigger story, though, is birth of the standalone VR headset. This new category of all-in-one devices that don’t need a smartphone, console or PC to run represent a new hope for getting as many people as possible into VR. It’s a broad category in and of itself; cheaper headsets like the Pico Goblin that used old smartphone parts and feature mobile VR-like three degrees of freedom (3DOF) tracking are already rolling out while the $199 Oculus Go promises to shake things up in early 2018. More elaborate devices are also on the way; Oculus’ Santa Cruz prototype is shipping dev kits with 6DOF tracking and hand controllers next year while Google works with Lenovo on a Daydream standalone headset with its own WorldSense tracking. HTC, having pulled out of another Google partnership, recently released the 6DOF Vive Focus in China with 3DOF controls, but there’s no word on a western launch just yet.

This story originally appeared on Uploadvr.com. Copyright 2017

The PC Gaming channel is presented by Intel®‘s Game Dev program.

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What Are The Best Customer Success KPIs?

As you can probably imagine, I’m asked all the time what the best Customer Success KPIs are.

What metrics should you use to know if your Customer Success initiative is working.

Here’s the deal. I’m not an analyst… I’m a consultant.

Companies hire me to help them rapidly acquire good-fit customers, keep those customers longer, get them to buy more over that extended lifetime, and get those customers to advocate for them, too.

That’s called Customer Success-driven Growth.

The reality is, though, that every company is at a different stage as a company, with their Customer Success initiative, etc. so wha the “best” metric for one company at one point may not be the best metric for another company (or even the same company) at a different time.

Let’s dig into this, but first I have to address something serious…

Customer Success is NOT a Metric

Recently I saw an article that referred to “Customer Success” as a metric.

Umm… Customer Success is NOT a metric.

For the person who wrote that,… wow… what a fantastic way to diminish the true value of Customer Success. Not sure what they’re trying to do, but that’s garbage.

I really hope this new positioning doesn’t catch on, but it might; a lot of people seem to want to diminish the value of this incredibly important business function.

But I digress.

I look at Customer Success first as an Operating Philosophy… and when operationalized through Customer Success Management, this philosophy becomes a powerful Growth Engine.

If you want a way to ensure you acquire the best customers, keep them longer, have them buy more over that extended lifetime, and to bring in other customers through advocacy – aka Exponential Growth – you cannot look at Customer Success simply as a metric.

Metrics are very important – as I’ll cover below –  but they are just the things you look to ensure Customer Success – and your other valuable business initiatives – are working.

So let’s talk about…

Reality-based Key Performance Indicators

You need to start by determining the Performance upon which you are looking for Key Indicators.

When looking for KPIs to focus on, I take the company’s goals – sometimes even short-term goals, like cash flow or churn – and operationalize around those.

I covered this in a TON of detail in my post on Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization.

The reality on the ground often precludes you from focusing on “best practices” and rather on what’s most important now.

But when pressed for the most important Customer Success KPIs are, here’s what I say.

Customer Success KPI Best Practices

In a perfect world, there must be a financial metric, but to ensure we don’t fall into the Account Management trap, that metric should be sanity checked by a customer-centric metric.

That customer-centric metric should be Health Score, Success Vector, Ontrack, etc.

The financial metric should be Net Revenue Retention or NRR.

NRR is simple (in theory).

If you start a month off at $1k in revenue from existing customers, end the month at $1.5k from those customers, you had an NRR of 150%.

But it’s “net” of any revenue you lost in that month when customers left or stayed but paid less for the privilege (discounts, down-sells, etc.).

And it’s “net” of any revenue you gained through up- or cross-sells.

> 100% NRR and you could turn off new customer acquisition and not just continue to exist, but grow. In theory.

< 100% NRR and your company is shrinking. In reality.

The former is preferable.

The post What Are The Best Customer Success KPIs? appeared first on Customer Success-driven Growth.

Ask HN: Good resources about legacy code?

Hello HN: I got offered my first consultant job for a company with a really old&bad (no documentation, spaghetti, monolithic…) PHP codebase. Most parts of the codebase is working fine in production but some parts have to be replaced. Can you recommend any good books/papers/websites on how to get started? i don’t need language-specific material.

i need methodic/abstract advise.

What Are The Best Customer Success KPIs?

As you can probably imagine, I’m asked all the time what the best Customer Success KPIs are.

What metrics should you use to know if your Customer Success initiative is working.

Here’s the deal. I’m not an analyst… I’m a consultant.

Companies hire me to help them rapidly acquire good-fit customers, keep those customers longer, get them to buy more over that extended lifetime, and get those customers to advocate for them, too.

That’s called Customer Success-driven Growth.

The reality is, though, that every company is at a different stage as a company, with their Customer Success initiative, etc. so wha the “best” metric for one company at one point may not be the best metric for another company (or even the same company) at a different time.

Let’s dig into this, but first I have to address something serious…

Customer Success is NOT a Metric

Recently I saw an article that referred to “Customer Success” as a metric.

Umm… Customer Success is NOT a metric.

For the person who wrote that,… wow… what a fantastic way to diminish the true value of Customer Success. Not sure what they’re trying to do, but that’s garbage.

I really hope this new positioning doesn’t catch on, but it might; a lot of people seem to want to diminish the value of this incredibly important business function.

But I digress.

I look at Customer Success first as an Operating Philosophy… and when operationalized through Customer Success Management, this philosophy becomes a powerful Growth Engine.

If you want a way to ensure you acquire the best customers, keep them longer, have them buy more over that extended lifetime, and to bring in other customers through advocacy – aka Exponential Growth – you cannot look at Customer Success simply as a metric.

Metrics are very important – as I’ll cover below –  but they are just the things you look to ensure Customer Success – and your other valuable business initiatives – are working.

So let’s talk about…

Reality-based Key Performance Indicators

You need to start by determining the Performance upon which you are looking for Key Indicators.

When looking for KPIs to focus on, I take the company’s goals – sometimes even short-term goals, like cash flow or churn – and operationalize around those.

I covered this in a TON of detail in my post on Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization.

The reality on the ground often precludes you from focusing on “best practices” and rather on what’s most important now.

But when pressed for the most important Customer Success KPIs are, here’s what I say.

Customer Success KPI Best Practices

In a perfect world, there must be a financial metric, but to ensure we don’t fall into the Account Management trap, that metric should be sanity checked by a customer-centric metric.

That customer-centric metric should be Health Score, Success Vector, Ontrack, etc.

The financial metric should be Net Revenue Retention or NRR.

NRR is simple (in theory).

If you start a month off at $1k in revenue from existing customers, end the month at $1.5k from those customers, you had an NRR of 150%.

But it’s “net” of any revenue you lost in that month when customers left or stayed but paid less for the privilege (discounts, down-sells, etc.).

And it’s “net” of any revenue you gained through up- or cross-sells.

> 100% NRR and you could turn off new customer acquisition and not just continue to exist, but grow. In theory.

< 100% NRR and your company is shrinking. In reality.

The former is preferable.

The post What Are The Best Customer Success KPIs? appeared first on Customer Success-driven Growth.

You Can’t Solve Upstream Problems Down Stream

When it comes to Customer Success, I’ve seen a lot of things.

I’ve seen what works (and what works REALLY works… it’s amazing).

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen what doesn’t work. A lot.

In 2017 I heard “Customer Success doesn’t work” way more than I ever expected.

The main reason I saw for Customer Success “not working” wasn’t org structure, comp plans, operations, wrong CSMs, etc.

No, the main problem wasn’t a CSM Org problem at all.

It actually starts further upstream.

You Can’t Solve Upstream Problems Down Stream

The biggest contributor to churn is the acquisition of bad-fit customers.

The biggest drag on growth I see is trying to make bad-fit customers successful.

A huge drag on per unit margin is investing resources in bad-fit customers.

Bad-fit customers are those customers that lack Success Potential.

But this is…

Not a Customer Success Issue

This is a company issue.

This is a growth velocity issue.

This is a Customer Lifetime Value issue.

This is a CAC efficiency issue.

This is a company valuation issue.

This is a CRITICAL issue.

This is all about..

Downstream Failure

When a company knowingly acquires bad-fit customers – customers without Success Potential – they set up everyone downstream for failure.

Yes, Customer Success Management is setup for failure.

But let’s get real… nobody cares about that (yet).

(un)Luckily, there’s more.

Onboarding, training, pro services, support… anyone else that works directly with customers is also setup for failure.

But so is product, marketing, and… sales.

Bad-fit customers can wrongly influence direction (since what we’re doing “isn’t working”), but there’s something else.

But it’s a cycle as…

Downstream Failure Creates Upstream Problems

Those customers that churn out (or otherwise stop doing business with you) create negative market sentiment and this makes it harder for the next sale to happen.

So it actually hurts sales.

Oh, and you’re setting your customers up for failure.

Stop knowingly acquiring bad-fit customers.

It won’t end well for ANYONE.

The post You Can’t Solve Upstream Problems Down Stream appeared first on Customer Success-driven Growth.

How to close apps on the iPhone X

It’s a common misconception that closing out apps on your iPhone helps extend battery life. This isn’t really true-iOS suspends inactive background applications qui5te effectively. Re-starting apps from scratch takes more time and can result in shorter battery life than simply un-suspending them.

But apps aren’t always perfectly well behaved. Sometimes they freeze or the interface gets corrupted, and you need to start over fresh. Those sorts of situations are the only times you should really close apps.

With no home button on the iPhone X, how do you do it? Simple:

1. Bring up your list of all apps by swiping up from the bottom of the screen and pausing for a second. You’ll see cards for all your apps pop in.

To read this article in full, please click here