Fast Company's Harry McCracken and David Lidsky Discuss a Cover Story

The following is an excerpt from a Slack conversation held between Fast Company technology editor Harry McCracken and deputy editor David Lidsky in June 2018 as the pair were deciding whether to publish the Steph Curry/Palm cover story, and if so, how and when. Published with permission.

June 8, 2018

Harry McCracken [2:44 PM]
From the PR person inquiring about cover possibilities (at least the notion of Steph Curry being on a FastCo cover is not inherently ridiculous):

. . . 

I'd love to offer you / Fast Company exclusive access to Stephen, including you in planning meetings for this new product and more. Happy to share more details with a signed NDA. Interested in learning more? Let me know and I can send over the NDA.

David Lidsky [2:51 PM]
sure. We can discuss with this person together or you can route my way

Harry McCracken [3:06 PM]
I’m going to hand her over to you

Harry McCracken [3:10 PM]
Look for something from Yulimar (aka Yuli) from Praytell

David Lidsky [3:16 PM]
Cool. Any guesses on who he’s working with?
LG?!!!

Harry McCracken [3:17 PM]
Kodak
Westinghouse

David Lidsky [3:18 PM]
General Magic

David Lidsky [6:26 PM]
Talking Steph Tuesday at 9a PT, thanks

Harry McCracken [6:30 PM]
Maybe it’s Lenovo

David Lidsky [6:31 PM]
Chinese market is big for nba
A bit fraught right now
Good guess

----------

June 12, 2018

David Lidsky [12:29 PM]
I know the brand Steph Curry is working with and you are not going to believe it

Harry McCracken [12:51 PM]
Orville Redenbacher?

I just visited with xiaomi

David Lidsky [12:52 PM]
clue: Our jokes about SV legacy brands were in the right neighborhood

I will say this: Yuli was not just taking a flyer. She was on the call, I assume her boss was on the call, and Steph's business partner was on the call. I had wondered if I would have to set up a 2nd call with Curry's people to learn more but he was on the phone

David Lidsky [12:55 PM]
what was the hottest company in the Valley in 1995?

Harry McCracken [12:57 PM]
HP?

David Lidsky [12:57 PM]
getting warmer

Harry McCracken [12:57 PM]
Atari?
Intel?

David Lidsky [12:57 PM]
this brand and HP have a checkered past

Harry McCracken [12:58 PM]
Sun

David Lidsky [12:58 PM]
when did Sun make consumer electronics?

Harry McCracken [12:58 PM]
Oracle

David Lidsky [12:58 PM]
you're stabbing in the dark
Palm

Harry McCracken [12:58 PM]
Palm
Whooooaaaaaa

David Lidsky [12:59 PM]
it is more interesting than it has any right to be
though it still may not get over the finish line
it's not a phone exactly

Harry McCracken [12:59 PM]
Now I'm sorry I handed them off to you
Who owns the brand?

David Lidsky [1:00 PM]
why?

Harry McCracken [1:00 PM]
Not really but I love the idea of a Palm revival

David Lidsky [1:01 PM]
I am trying to determine whether it is TCL or not. On the call, the talk was of two guys, so I think TCL may have quietly sold it to this startup but I need to confirm that. It may be that the people running things in SF work for TCL
TCL bought the name in 2014
it also markets BlackBerries

Harry McCracken [1:02 PM]
Lots of examples of China buying shopworn brands

David Lidsky [1:02 PM]
but there was no talk of an obscure OEM gadget maker

Harry McCracken [1:02 PM]
Like Sharp and Magnavox

David Lidsky [1:03 PM]
I think I figured out whom he's working with. Only gets more interesting

Harry McCracken [1:03 PM]
So we were right about the China aspect at least

David Lidsky [1:03 PM]
the former heads of Samsung design USA that we profiled in 2014

Harry McCracken [1:04 PM]
Dennis?

David Lidsky [1:04 PM]
yep
this is my bet
through facile googling

Harry McCracken [1:04 PM]
I know him
Did a fast track with him

David Lidsky [1:04 PM]
and Howard Nuk
who worked with him and came from the design firm Ammunition

Harry McCracken [1:05 PM]
It sounds fascinating but not obvious big Fast Company fodder

David Lidsky [1:06 PM]
they're trying to create a new device type

Harry McCracken [1:06 PM]
Has any dead brand ever come back and been interesting?

David Lidsky [1:06 PM]
Apple

Harry McCracken [1:07 PM]
It wasn't entirely dead

David Lidsky [1:07 PM]
in the tech space, no, it's especially tough
Steph loves high stakes and being counted out!

David Lidsky [1:09 PM]
it's not just associating a name with a thing as a sign of desperation.
as to what Steph is doing, we'll see, but this is actually better than I thought it'd be.
do you want to be attached as the writer if Stephanie wants to do it?

Harry McCracken [1:11 PM]
Yes

David Lidsky [1:12 PM]
and Palm remains a good name for a product designed to fit in your hand. You have to be 40+ to remember the old one
in any meaningful way
great

David Lidsky [5:27 PM]
Palm a startup again
These folks bought it from tcl

Harry McCracken [5:27 PM]
Wow

David Lidsky [5:28 PM]
Last time palm was a startup was 1995?

Harry McCracken [5:29 PM]
Pretty much
The first time I met them they'd -just- been acquired

David Lidsky [5:29 PM]
Kind of wild if still highly improbable
Writing up pitch for Stephanie tonight

Harry McCracken [5:30 PM]
It would be a fun story to write
What's the timeframe?

David Lidsky [5:33 PM]
A little complicated by Steph’s wife being due with another child in about 5 weeks
But if it’s local, easier
Wouldn’t close until early September

David Lidsky [5:40 PM]
Oh well on the indie front:

“Apologies, have a clarification for you - we have a global exclusive license to use the brand, but it's still currently owned by TCL.”

Harry McCracken [5:42 PM]
We can interview Stewart Alsop
He wrote about Palm a lot before they were a hardware company

David Lidsky [6:04 PM]
First mainstream consumer hardware hit

Harry McCracken [6:04 PM]
If we do a print story we should sidebar a chart looking at other brands that came back and what happened

David Lidsky [6:04 PM]
embraced design
First smartphone
Webos very ahead of its time

Harry McCracken [6:05 PM]
iPhone UI still shows heavy signs of Palm OS influence (and, now WebOS influence)

David Lidsky [6:05 PM]
Yes
Better said

Harry McCracken [6:05 PM]
Robust app platform
First pocket computer embraced by non-nerds

David Lidsky [6:06 PM]
https://www.fastcompany.com/1633094/palms-rocky-28-year-path-hp-timeline
Fast Company
Palm’s Rocky 28-Year Path to HP  (A Timeline)
Apr 29th, 2010

Harry McCracken [6:06 PM]
One of the best examples ever of the right product at the right price at the right time

David Lidsky [6:06 PM]
Agree agree agree

Harry McCracken [6:06 PM]
And then one bad move after another
Do you know Michael Mace? Very insightful guy who worked at Palm or maybe PalmSource or both

David Lidsky [6:07 PM]
Such a sign of how different valley is
Today palm would stay indie and just raise more and more $$

Harry McCracken [6:09 PM]
Also, I’m possibly the only person who remembers this and I don’t know if anyone ever reported on it, but US Robotics bought Palm as part of a vision to build out the connected home

David Lidsky [6:09 PM]
Wow!

Harry McCracken [6:09 PM]
You’d have docks in various rooms and would plug your PalmPilot into them to control stuff
I don’t know if they ever did anything at all with that, but it’s why the purchase happened

David Lidsky [6:11 PM]
Just thought it was a play to push more networking equipment
Enterprise

Harry McCracken [6:11 PM]
Home networking

David Lidsky [6:12 PM]
Maybe Klay can revive the Zoomer

Harry McCracken [6:12 PM]
Yup

David Lidsky [6:17 PM]
Refreshing my memory with my timeline, palm had arguably two sort of comebacks already, with treo 600 and pre

Harry McCracken [8:17 PM]
I assume you found this:
https://www.cabusinessgo.com/gg?utm_term=3971900
California Business Directory
California Companies List
PALM VENTURES GROUP, INC., free company information including address, contacts ,accounts, directors, & more.
They’re just up the street from here, near PCW (edited) 
https://trademarks.justia.com/875/32/copilot-87532323.html
trademarks.justia.com
COPILOT Trademark - Serial Number 87532323 :: Justia Trademarks
Computers; mobile digital electronic and computing devices; mobile digital electronic and computing device that serves as a companion to other mobile digital electronic and computing devices, namely, mobile phones, smartphones, handheld computers, tablets, electronic notepads, personal digital assistants, music players, cameras, and wearable devices; mobile telephones; smartphones; computer software; computer software for facilitating the sharing of content between multiple mobile digital electronic and computing devices

David Lidsky [8:20 PM]
Nice, not yet
Thanks

-------------

June 15, 2018

David Lidsky [10:55 AM]
good morning!

David Lidsky [11:00 AM]
Stephanie wants to go ahead w/Curry-Palm story. A couple of things to work out. Stephanie's instinct is to hold for December and have Curry front Secrets of the Most Productive People given the Copilot's angle into time well spent, etc. Need to get Jill on board with that idea, then go back to SC30 team and make sure that December is still ok by them, plus reiterate some terms. If all goes well, then we'd likely approach a bit like you did with Pichai piece that ran in that issue two years ago (though here we have the cover guarantee baked into the offer), with the personal productivity sidebar and the thread in the feature about the reader's personal productivity

Harry McCracken [11:02 AM]
Cool

David Lidsky [12:31 PM]
ok, spoke with Stephanie and Jill, everyone's cool if Curry were December cover, and Stephanie asked me to try to keep our options open as to which issue. Just spoke with Yuli and it sounds like that's ok on their end, though she'll loop in SC30 and Palm to confirm and start to work on dates. Stephanie/Jill love you on the story b/c you're not going to be besotted w/Curry as a star (I presume!)

Harry McCracken [12:33 PM]
It’s possible my lead will talk about how many runs Curry scores on the gridiron

David Lidsky [12:33 PM]
anyway, I think Steph time may not be voluminous but I am pushing for more on the project overall

Harry McCracken [12:34 PM]
Seems like there are several directions the story could go and it doesn’t necessarily require voluminous Steph time as long as it’s time well spent

David Lidsky [12:34 PM]
my hope is that you get two chances to see Steph interact w/team and probably one sit down interview with him
I have to manage photo, video needs too

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