Willem Van Lancker
Company building, investing, and design on the internet.
Head of Incubations at Thrive Capital
Oyster (acquired by Google)
Today, I lead incubations at Thrive Capital. We co-found companies in close partnership with amibitious individuals across industries and categories. I will share more on that here sometime soon...
As for now, below is a brief chronology of past work.
I previously co-founded Oyster. We built the first Netflix-for-books service — unlimited access to more than 1m books for $10 a month. I was our Chief Product Officer and designer for our first year through launch.
Our team led the way in mobile reading, discovery, and built a brand that celebrated the best of books. We also launched an editorial magazine called the Oyster Review and ran several service projects supporting reading education. I talked to the Wall Street Journal and The Verge about our products.
Oyster's design was recognized by TechCrunch as one of the "Best Apps of the Year" and was awarded a Google Design Award.
After three years of building the company and growing the business, Google bought Oyster to accelerate Google Play's efforts in their books business.
While at Google, I oversaw the Books business and design teams across Google Play. During that time we built and launched Google Play Audiobooks, created a new design system for the full suite of Google Play apps, and worked to double Books’ global revenue driven by international projects in Japan and Korea.
Over the past few years I have also collaborated with Greg Leppert on an open source resource for naming things called Onym. From this, we started taking on some select clients and created a newsletter on naming news. Names are a fun, specific type of design.
For fun I still do some work in branding and graphic design — which I started my career in and studied at RISD.
Earlier in my career, I was a lead product designer at Google Maps, where I worked on a complete overhaul of our web product and the launch of Google Maps for iOS, an app that people were really happy to get back on their iPhones. Fast Company awarded the app with an Innovation by Design Award and TechCrunch gave us a Crunchie for Best Mobile App.
I started my career as a designer at IDEO, Apple, and Adidas.
At RISD I studied graphic design.
The road is long and winding: be kind, pay attention, and enjoy the view.