Monday, May 27, 2013

Launched: One Today by Google

Just over a month ago, my team at Google and I launched One Today, a new mobile app that encourages people to make charitable giving a part of their daily lives. The gist of the app is this: Every day, One Today serves you a new charitable project. If you think it's worthwhile, you can donate $1. If you're really excited, you can challenge the community to donate to the project by offering to match their donations. We're currently in a closed pilot, but one month out, I'm optimistic about the future of One Today.

It's been fascinating to launch a product at Google and work through the inevitable issues that spring up right after. Things that you would have never expected, like realizing no one remembered to write the email that people get when they sign up for the waiting list, all of a sudden become big issues. During my last stint at Google, I worked with a team of engineers to build a product for small business owners in emerging markets, but I had to leave right around the time we launched, so I never got to see the aftermath. In many ways, the timing of One Today was fortuitous: I picked up right where I left off the last time around.

Another surprising turn of events that happened right after launch took place in a meeting with my manager. The week after we launched, he and I had sat down and I brought up the "what now?" question. I had come on to help with this launch. There was another product manager on the team, and after the surge of launch work calmed down, there wouldn't really be a lot of use having two product people on the same small team. Already we had begun to duplicate each other's work. He listened to my concerns, asked me some questions, and told me he'd think about the situation.

What surprised me happened the week later: I had my usual one-on-one with him, and he told me that the product manager I'd been collaborating with closely would henceforth be focusing on the other initiative he works on, and that I'd be taking the lead on One Today. I was so taken aback – I'd only been back at Google for two months – that my response was literally, "Oh, shit." So just when I thought things would be calming down, they've been quite the opposite. It's been a lot of work, and a lot more responsibility, but I'm excited for the new role. Onwards and upwards!

One month into its life as a Google product, One Today is alive and well. I can't share any of the internal numbers, but I've been very happy with what I've seen. The reaction from our users and the press has been absolutely wonderful too. We have upwards of 250 reviews on the Android Play Store with an average rating of 4.9 / 5 stars, the highest of any Google app on the market. Reviews like these always make me happy:

Not that I can really take credit for any of these; by the time I came on, most of the heavy lifting had been done. Now's the hard part for me: making sure we continue to move in the right direction, listen to our users, and iterate to the point where we're confident we can launch this successfully in a big way. Here's to the challenges ahead!


1 comment:

Unknown said...

congrats ben! i love this app and use it daily (with my 8am notification). it's beautiful, works really well (barring a small issue in the payment pipeline), and really feels like time well spent. exactly the sort of thing i want to help grow!

some thoughts:

1. it will be even more compelling out of closed beta - i want to be able to share/challenge particular projects with particular friends/circles. this could also be a good way of growing your g+ network!

2. each month, it'd be fun to see global summaries of impact. maybe even get the benefitting charities to send back pictures and responses from actual oneToday impact. a summary blog post?

thanks again. more soon :)