2012 in review

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Years in review

For the third year running, I’ve listed some memorable events for me during 2012. It has become a way to remember and manifest everything that has been going on. Even though many events are more documented than ever, they still seem to disappear in my memory for some reason. This is an attempt to counter-act that. For those of you that are curious, you can read about 2011 and 2010 too.

 

January

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Swedish winter, on a good day.

  • Read an article about Stephen Colbert in the NYTimes and became even more fond of his work. Followed him very closely all year.
  • Was very impressed by Soundcloud raising $50 million and remembered sitting at a coffee place in Stockholm telling one of the founders that I thought their name was “too generic” when they were sketching on the first version. Guess I got that one wrong.
  • Listened obsessively to a short video with the Swedish rap duo Grillat & Grändy in a car rapping. Subsequently listened to the whole track once it was out.
  • Started preparing for me moving to the US. We had spoken about it during the autumn but things fell into place with my visa and a little earlier than we thought. Hired an office assistant for Toca Boca to help out in the minor chaos that was going to occur, which turned out to be a good move.
  • Toca Boca was on Boing Boing for the first time.
  • Started to understand that I had formed my first own relationships to kids. When we visited Tina and Anders, we spent more time with their daughters than with them. A special and new feeling.
  • Had a big interview in The Guardian about Toca Boca reaching profitability. A proud moment.
  • Found First Aid Kit which was a little surprising since that’s not usually my sort of music.
  • Learned why I might be having a hard time with cilantro.
  • Finished the month by watching a both funny and interesting interview with Hisham Matar by my friend Rakel Chukri. 

 

February

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The F-Train in San Francisco.

  • Facebook filed for their IPO which was the talk of the town for everyone, including me.
  • It became official that Miriam and I was going to move to the US, and I was interviewed in Giga Om about starting a US office for Toca Boca.
  • Spent a weekend with my parents to say my goodbyes, and documented more of the madness in the interior. My plane broke when I was going home so the stay got extended a little.
  • Met with Rovio again and was extremely impressed.
  • Flew to New York to speak at O’Reilly TOC together with Nat Sims from Night & Day Studios. Also stopped by Swissmiss-Tina to deliver a Toca Boca t-shirt to Studiomates in Dumbo. Looks like it was appreciated!
  • Launched Toca House to great success! #4 on iPad in the US on the first day.
  • Had good timing with advertising Toca Boca on The Deck, as Daring Fireball got a major Apple scoop
  • Flew to San Francisco to find an apartment, bank account and everything else in a week. Managed to miraculously fix everything in time. Got massive help from a Russian immigrant banker that could relate to the difficulties of moving to the US. Also had one of the tastiest meals of the year at Mission Chinese with Megan.
  • Through a Twitter search I found this strange image, implying that someone had presented about Toca Boca at the Korean Mobile Awards. A few tweets back and forth, and I ended up visiting them later that year.
  • Shared spot #7 and #8 with Emil on the toplist of Swedens most creative people in digital.
  • Bought a US phone that I realized ran on the CDMA network and thus didn’t work in Sweden at all. Brilliant. Google Voice saved the day.
  • Laughed hard with Fredrik Strömberg on Twitter, one of the funniest and sharpest people on there.
  • Discovered that Kaffeverket had a second location in Stockholm, a few years too late.
  • Had one of the most memorable meetings of the year with Jonas Bonnier. He told me our plans for Toca Boca expansion were fine, but was disappointed that the currency was SEK and not USD. When we left the meeting our figures were approximately seven times higher.

 

March

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A shot from the outskirts of Stockholm in March.

  • Went to Malmö for the day to have my last board meeting with Good Old. We decided that the time had come to get a professional board. A good decision.
  • Had a two day conference with the Toca Boca team were we talked about making magical products. A recurring theme over the year.
  • Went to Austin and SXSW and was underwhelmed. Admittedly I did rookie mistakes and did the conference the wrong way, but the level of the panels and talks were embarrassingly low at times. Worst of all: Rainn Wilson rambling about “a journey” in an incoherent and unimpressive way. 
  • One big SXSW exception was David Robertson from Wharton that spoke about Lego. That is worth listening to again. Also – eating at a BBQ with “you don’t need no teeth to my beef” written on their wall.
  • Was interviewed in Sydsvenskan about moving to the US.
  • Flew my first flight with Southwest and landed in Oakland, in the rain. 
  • Bought a Nike Fuelband and used it every day until now in December. I liked that it gently nudged me to make better decisions about my activity. But it ended fairly quickly – the numbers just became numbers, and the measurement felt arbitrary at times. Think I’m taking a break from it for a while.
  • Sat at my new desk in San Francisco for the first time.
  • Settled on a deal to sponsor Tattly that would make temporary tattoos with the Toca Boca logo. Did this over the phone in a parking lot outside a scruffy Austin pub. The project was later launched in May.
  • Said no to several proposals for collaborations with major companies. At the time I was worried that I had made a big mistake, but looking back now I’m certain this was the right route to take.
  • Went to a neighbour and found a life-size jester doll in the sofa
  • Had a fun St Patricks day with Olof that was in town showing a beautiful dance film at a festival.
  • Took one of my favorite photos of the year. Summarizes SF well, I think.
  • Became very fond of the Dixie Chicks version of Landslide and played it a million times over the year.
  • Experienced American customer service over the phone and had an unusual freak-out at O’Hare Airport. Sprint had turned my phone off for the third time in a month and that was apparently too much for me. Felt a little sorry for the person on the other end of the line afterwards.
  • Submitted four Toca Boca apps to Parents Choice awards and won three gold and one silver.
  • Ended the month by flying back to Sweden. Missed my flight over the Atlantic due to bad weather and got rerouted through Copenhagen instead.

 

April

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Spring light with some snow left, near my parents in Resteröd, Sweden.


  • Miriam came to San Francisco! We officially moved somewhere here.
  • Started following the upcoming election and learned a lot about the US while doing so. This was one of many strange statements.
  • Spent most of the month flying around meeting with people from our new industry. I figured that there was no point being in the US and not meeting with everyone.
  • Flew to Boston to go to the Sandbox Summit conference. Last time I was in Boston was 1997 and I met with a friend staying there for the summer. I participated in a press exhibition and met several parents that called their kids to say that they had spoken to Toca Boca. People took pictures of me to send to their kids. Strange feeling.
  • Went to the Mamabear conference in Mountain View, one of many new meetups around children and technology.
  • Flew to LA (first time with Virgin America!) and was on a panel at Digital Kids Conference. The big takeaways were the people I met around the conference. Also took a nice shot at LAX.
  • Found a video of a kid kissing a Toca Boca app to start it, and then goes and hugs a cat. Brilliant.
  • Listened to Peter Thiel at Pando Monthly and was inspired, even if I didn’t agree with everything he said.
  • Was interviewed by Apple with a film crew that was so big that I assumed that they were there for someone else. I walked right passed them and caused from confusion. Got completely cut from the clip anyway.
  • Discovered whatshouldwecallme and laughed a lot.
  • Spent my 31st birthday in a beautiful Mendocino with Miriam.
  • Started working out with a personal trainer for the first time in my life.

 

May

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Toca Boca x Tattly.

  • Found Filip & Fredriks podcast months after everyone else. Really liked it and listened to all the following episodes after that.
  • Met with DIY in the Mission, and saw the best conference room of the year.
  • Got to try out Mint.com the way it was intended and was disappointed. Consumer finance has so much more to do.
  • Started to listening to more and more modern classic instrumental music, like Ólafur Arnalds.
  • Toca Boca passed 10 million downloads and I was interviewed about it in The Guardian.
  • My chairman visited San Francisco which led to a lot of good restaurants and planning for the rest of the year. Started the recruitment of my first employee for the SF office.
  • Took a weekend down south and stayed at a nice place in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
  • Flew to Toronto and took a nice shot of the ceiling at YYZ. Almost took a flight with Porter, just to try it out. Spoke at the inPlay 2012 conference and had a generally great time in Canada.
  • Went to Maker Faire in San Mateo that was about 1000 times bigger than I had expected.
  • Managed to catch a video before it went viral, for once! This proposal went from 5000 to 355 000 views in one day. Now over 17 million. 
  • Went to Monterey to speak at Dust or Magic Appcamp. Met a new little friend called Catalina who named me “Toca Boca Man” and proceeded to search my bag everyday for more swag.
  • Met with Jeff Braun, founder of Maxis, that left me thinking a lot about organization and building companies.

 

June

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Near Big Sur.

  • Ingela visited from Korea and we went to Big Sur. Almost stayed in a yurt, which was a new acquaintance for me. The weekend after we went to the wine country instead.
  • Ranted about people making safe predictions.
  • Went to Walmart for the first time in my life. No rush to go back.
  • WWDC in San Francisco, and we knew that it was possible that we could be featured somehow. Apple had met me in SF and gone to Sweden to meet with the studio too. The end result was better than we could have hoped for – massive feature in the intro video of the keynote and Emil did a great job with the interview. I sat at home watching the liveblog on my TV, shouting with joy when I realized that we were in it.
  • Had a massive rant in the comments of a blog post about Amazon
  • Had my first Kimchee Burrito. Great.
  • Was interviewed by the biggest news agency in Sweden, TT. 
  • Read an amazing story about how Mexican cocaine drug cartels work: 
  • Found The Recipe by Kendrick Lamar and Dr Dre. Listened to it nonstop for a while.
  • Interviewed candidates for the job, but had a hard time finding the right fit.
  • Wrote a blog post about creating luxurious digital products.
  • Caroline came over to SF and spent two weeks with me working with strategy and forecasting. Great fun.

 

July

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Sea Ranch, California.

  • Finished up with Caroline, and tried to tie up a bunch of loose ends before signing off for the spring. 
  • Decided to hire a Data Analyst for the SF office.
  • Wrote about selling a company and staying on to finish your work.
  • Rode in my first UBERx, the hybrid service that I used frequently the rest of the year. Wrote a blog post about Uber and how opportunities arise when trust disappears.
  • Was interviewed in the Swedish radio show Ekot: 
  • Holiday! Went to the beautiful Sea Ranch in Northern California. Amazing architecture and a fantastic place overall.
  • Had our first wedding anniversary! In the same city as the year before.
  • Went to a great exhibition at De Young about Jean Paul Gaultier. Very innovative use of video projections on mannequins
  • Got a great write up in Macworld US about Toca Boca, describing us as “sort of digitized versions of the Fisher Price toys”
  • Flew East and spent a week in New Jersey with dear friends from Stockholm that were house swapping.

 

August

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West Village, New York.

  • Finished the holiday with a week in New York and ate our way through the West Village. Loved Takashi the best. Overall it was one of those stays that you never want to finish.
  • Andrey came over and we worked together as the first, tiny version of the SF Growth Team.
  • Toca Boca released our first music video that has now been seen over 550 000 times.
  • Went to an event called Boardgames on a Boat. It was exactly what it sounded like.
  • Saddest day of the year was when I found out that my friend Pontus Schultz had passed away in a tragic bicycle accident. Time ran out much too soon for such a fantastic person.
  • Flew to Stockholm and landed in rain.

 

September

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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.

  • Was in Sweden for a few insanely intense weeks. Every day was booked solid. Nothing much to say about it other than that it was necessary. Was happy to get on the plane and fly home again. A lot of the stuff that happened this month I can’t really share unfortunately. Both good and bad.
  • Had maybe the best meal of the year together with Miriam on her birthday, at Atelier Crenn. Took over four hours and was blissful.
  • My chairman, in a state of irritation, said that I “only like things that are complex”. Probably the best description I’ve heard so far.
  • Spoke at Apps for Kids meetup in San Carlos and got loads of questions from the local app community.
  • Hired Jason! My first employee in San Francisco. Worth the wait.
  • My parents visited which was a nice touch of home in this new city.
  • Found an amazing quote that followed me the rest of the year.

 

October

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Air show during Fleet Week.

  • Had two days of planning in Half Moon Bay with Jason. Always good to start things off with something off site, I find. While having a drink, we ran into Robert Scoble that interviewed us on the spot but never posted it.
  • Started working extremely long hours, something that lasted indefinitely it seemed.
  • Was impressed by a guy that had decided to set up a hot dog stand outside a medical marijuana dispensary. That’s knowing your customers.
  • Listened to a interesting interview with Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram.
  • Launched Toca Tailor which made #3 on iPad in the US – outselling both Disney and Rovio.
  • Flew to Sweden for a few days of meetings, and then back again.
  • Wrote about the notion of getting something for free on the internet, and who actually is getting the better deal.
  • The Giants won the world series which was apparently a big deal. I live close to AT&T park so it was hard not to notice.

 

November

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Shibuya crossing, seen from my hotel.

 

December

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  • Appreciated the printed Sunday edition of the New York Times a lot. Felt old while doing so.
  • Discovered Sarah Jarosz by watching late night cable. Listening to her for most of the month. It reminds me of the old british folk that I listened to growing up.
  • Wrote a blog post about having a mute button for email.
  • Spent a disproportionate time on the phone with lawyers of different sorts. Not my favorite occupation.
  • Did a video interview with Venture Beat about how Toca Boca designs our apps.
  • Got more and more annoyed (and a little disappointed) with the amount of studios ripping off our work and design. Swedish studios too. It’s not a good look.
  • Toca Boca was featured on Techcrunch for the first time. A bit of a milestone for me as I have read it for so many years now.
  • Found this lovely little quote from Bill Murray.
  • Released Toca Hair Salon 2 which got the royal treatment from Apple, and loads of happy fans to follow. Also, this was our first app on Kindle Fire. It made it all the way to #2 on iPhone in the US.
  • Celebrated Christmas away from home for the first time ever. Felt different but has been very relaxing so far. Got a picture from home to remind me what it was like there.

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Another eventful year. A big thank you to all of you that were a part of it.

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