The Carnivorous Plant Resource Launched!

Venus flytrapsI have a quirky hobby – I cultivate carnivorous plants. I’ve grown insect-eaters for more than two decades, and still find myself fascinated by their unique biology and the mechanisms they employ to thrive in inhospitable conditions. Many carnivorous plants use movement to snag or tangle unsuspecting prey, some leverage digestive enzymes to break down soft tissues, while others form symbiotic relationships with animals, bacteria, and microorganisms to capture nutrients and minerals that are otherwise lacking in their natural soils. It’s all a huge, fascinating lesson in biology and the adaptability of organisms to their surroundings. Plus, gardening is just plain relaxing.

The Savage Garden book by Peter D’Amato was my bible as a child enthralled by these plants. It was an excellent source of knowledge and a go-to reference when I had questions. But sometimes my questions went beyond what was written in those pages and I turned to the internet and online communities for more data. I would poke around a handful of online resources for carnivorous plant enthusiasts, but all lacked a certain level of… polish. The International Carnivorous Plant Society has a great amount of information, but no great means to navigate the website and hasn’t been updated in years. Other websites focus on one specific type of carnivorous plant, or are optimized more as retail stores than educational resources. Very few of any of these sites are mobile optimized for easy viewing on smaller screens. None have an extensive database of local carnivorous plant society events and meetups for engaging hands-on fun.

So, I built something to solve for my needs with the hope that it will also solve the needs of other enthusiasts, curious minds, and inquisitive gardeners. It’s called the Carnivorous Plant Resource, and it launched this week as a database of carnivorous plants, a reference with growing instructions, and much like the plants themselves, an evolving curiosity that will adapt to visitor’s needs.

Check it out at carnivorousplantresource.com and let me know what you think. The goal is to have an expanding resource of carnivorous plant knowledge that is easy to navigate and answers all of your questions, regardless of whether you are an experienced grower or brand new to the fascinating world of Venus flytraps, Sundews, Pitcher plants, etc. Your feedback is not only welcomed, but encouraged. Please also follow Carnivorous Plant Resource on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for fun updates and more info!

Cheers, and happy growing!

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P2P Gifting – A top Send Money use case

Historically, we’ve optimized the PayPal Send Money flow for speed of completion and experience simplicity. It’s an efficient flow that handles oodles of edge cases, compliance considerations, and radical business goals in one tight, scalable package. However, we’ve done a poor job of capturing customer intent, or the emotion behind why you’re sending that $100 to your sister. Is it her birthday? Maybe her graduation? Perhaps it’s the holidays and you can’t make it out to see her this year. Well, today we’re taking the first step towards tackling this problem with the launch of P2P Gifting; a new experience targeting customer delight by capturing intent and conveying it to the money recipient in a beautifully animated user experience.

For launch during this festive holiday season, we lined up gorgeous themes crafted by celebrity designer, Jonathan Adler. It’s a great way to give the gift you know your sister wants – money – with a warm, inviting experience that forgoes raw efficiency for a little more fun. Take it for a spin and let me know what you think of our first take.

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4th Annual SpoOktober™

Dearest boils and ghouls,

We’re quickly approaching All Hallows’ Eve, a time when specters materialize, werewolves prey on the flesh, vampires sip crimson spirits, and David organizes only the best October activities for all! I will be personally attending all ghoulish events, and hope that you can make it to a few for a creepy awesome time. Plan to raise the dead at our Halloween party on Saturday, Oct 29th, even if you’re too terrified to attend the haunts, below.

Let me know SOON what haunts you will attend so I can organize carpooling details! Absolute coolest haunts highlighted in blood red.

Weekend #1
• Sat, Oct 1:  Fear Overload, Scream Park (7PM, San Leandro) $25 (starting October off with a bang! This haunt has 2 mazes and live entertainment)

Weekend #2
• David & Shasha’s 1 year anniversary weekend. (David sharing October with any event other than a Halloween-related one = true love)

Weekend #3
• Fri, Oct 14: California’s Great America Halloween Haunt (7PM, Santa Clara) $32 (8 mazes + rides. How can you beat a Haunt + rollercoaster combo?!)
• Sat, Oct 15: Spooky Movie at the West Wind Capitol Drive-In (timing and movie TBD) $8 (can’t beat the price, and this covers a double-feature!)

Weekend #4 (Southern California)
Thu, Oct 20: Dark Harbor (7PM, Long Beach) $20 (Classic Queen Mary haunt that makes great use of the ship and surrounding area. They have food, adult beverages, and music making it a great spot to hang out even after walking through their 6 mazes. Arrive early for small lines and the discounted ticket price!)
• Fri, Oct 21: Delusion (12:15AM, Los Angeles) $75 (sold out, but this is my all-time favorite haunt, so try to find tickets! It’s essentially an interactive play with movie-quality special effects. They used to change locations every year, but this year they have a permanent home, so I expect it to be even more robust!)
Sat, Oct 22Regin of Terror (7PM, Thousand Oaks) $19 (This haunt from my hometown punches waaay above its weight class, with 95 rooms, and 21,000+ sq ft of haunt! The attention to detail in this haunt is greater than any big-budget amusement park you’ll go to.)
Sat, Oct 22: The 17th Door (10:30PM, Tustin) $27 (a newer attraction, this is my 2nd favorite haunt due to the unique story telling and immersive, waiver-requiring, experience) 
• Sun, Oct 23: Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (7PM, Los Angeles) $44 (great for those who scare easily, this haunt is a 2.5 on the 1-10 “Scare-O-Meter.” This price includes multiple haunt attractions at the same location.)
• Bonus: Tension (Location is a mystery, but probably around LA.) $125 (Sounds super creepy, but still debating this one. If anyone would like to attend, let’s figure out a time and I will go with you)

Weekend #5
Fri, Oct 28th: Pirates of Emerson (8PM, Emerson) $30 (A Bay Area classic setup in the style of a mini-carnival, this haunt has 5 mazes + fun side-show attractions and food.)
Sat, Oct 29th: Party at the Feff’s! + Dead Time Dreams $20 (party starts at 7PM) More SpOoOoKy details to follow!

Here’s a look back at last year’s fiendishly fun 3rd SpoOktob™:

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Happy Haunting!

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Killing friction in P2P’s onboarding flow

Launched a new flow on Tuesday that takes our unilateral onboarding flow from >15 steps (more like 17/18) down to 4 or 5. It’s a huge step forward in user experience, removes a boatload of friction, and should lead to a nice spike in onboarding conversion. Stoked to launch it alongside the new PayPal app as a 1-2 punch for P2P-based net new actives.

The use case:
A new customer has to signup to claim money that an existing customer sent to their mobile number via P2P on web or mobile.

The backstory and status:
We modeled the flow after our highly successful email unilateral claim flow I launched last year, which resulted in a signup conversion increase of 1500 bps and a US claim rate increase of 58 bps. It is the closest analog we have to this new flow, so I expect to see a nice conversion spike here, as well.
As of Tuesday 2/23/2016 at 1PM PST, we’re 100% live in the US, UK, FR, IT, ES, and 20% in AU and CA. This simplified experience will go a long way in supporting the increase in unilateral mobile transactions generated by the new mobile app. It was a great team effort and I need to call out Hayden Padgett from the Tesla product team, as well as Anshuman Agnihotri, Arnab Banik and Ruchi Kunwar as our go-to engineers on this project.

The big improvements our new customers will experience:
• Cuts mobile signup from >15 steps down to 4 or 5.
• Auto-confirms the recipient’s phone number at the end of the flow, removes the need for a separate confirmation flow, and results in immediate deposit of funds into the new account.
• Provides a claim-money-contextual UI optimized for mobile experiences and ease-of-use.
• It’s so simple, I can’t think of any more bullet points to write about it.

Below screenshots feature an after/before breakdown and demonstrate the leap forward in customer experience.
P2P mobile onboarding

The Followups:
As always, we’ll continuously track and optimize the flow, but we already have improvements planned:
• More prominently feature the “Login” button for existing customers w/o confirmed mobile numbers
• Auto-confirmation of mobile number at “Login” step
• Mobile-specific CTA on Success page (ex: “download the PayPal app”)
• Improved messaging for Risk declines and pending transactions
• Rollout in additional P2P receive-to-mobile countries

Long story short, feel free to send tons of money to non-PayPal customers, because it’s now super easy for them to setup and account to claim the money. 🙂

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Audible P2P for the Connected Home & Digital Personal Assistants

Industry standards for the connected home are solidifying, but mainstream adoption will be segmented down OS lines. The obvious, dominant players are iOS (Homekit), Android (Brillo + Nest line of products), and Amazon (open source Echo? Please?). PayPal is uniquely positioned as an OS-agnostic platform that allows you to send money to just about anyone, so I built a righteous hackathon project with Mark Stuart in 2014 that enables voice-controlled P2P money transfers.

A similar concept would work in a smartwatch or plugged directly into your device’s personal assistant (Siri, Google, Cortana, etc). It would be even faster than pulling a wallet out of your pocket to pay with cash. Edge cases would be handled audibly or textually by displaying compliance disclosures and error cases on the device’s screen.

With these use cases in mind,  we designed and built this working prototype in about 24 hours:

 

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