Founders Talk

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In-depth, one-one conversations with founders, CEOs, and makers


Founders Talk Founders Talk #90

From GitHub TV to Rewatch

Connor Sears, founder and CEO of Rewatch, joins Adam to share the journey of creating Rewatch. What began inside of GitHub to help them thrive and connect is now available to every product team on the planet. Rewatch lets teams save, manage, and search all their video content so they can collaborate async and with greater flexibility. We talk about where the tool’s inspiration came from (spoiler alert, inside GitHub it was called GitHub TV which you’ll hear during the show), how teams leverage video to reduce the constraints of communication, how Connor and his co-founder knew they had product-fit and how they grew the team and product, and of course the flip side of that — we talk about some of Connor’s failures along the way, and knowing when it’s the right time to take a big swing.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #89

Leading GitLab to IPO

This week Sid Sijbrandij, Co-founder and CEO of GitLab, is back talking with Adam about all the details of their massive IPO last October 2021. To set the stage, this episode was recorded on Feb 1, 2022. During the show Adam mentioned they IPO’d at a $13B market cap, but they actually ended their opening day at approximately $15B. That’s a massive win for open source, GitLab, Sid, and the rest of the team. For loyal listeners you know we’ve had Sid on this show before, so of course we had to get him back on the show post-IPO to get all the details of this new journey.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #88

Making an open source Stripe for time

This week Peer Richelsen, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Cal.com, joins the show to talk about building the “Stripe for Time” — with a grand mission to connect a billion people by 2031 through calendar scheduling. Cal has grown from an open-source side project to one of the fastest-growing commercial open source companies. We get into all the details — what it means to be an open source Calendly alternative, how they quantify connecting a Billion people by 2031, where there’s room for innovation in the scheduling space, and why being community first is part of their secret sauce.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #87

Building an investment platform for everyone

This week Adam is joined by Joe Percoco — the Co-CEO of Titan, a premier investment manager for everyone. Titan is an investment company, a media, and a tech company, all rolled into one. Mid last year, they closed a $58 million Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) at a $450 million valuation. They currently have $750 million in assets managed and more than 35,000 clients.

Why should Titan exist? In Joe’s words, “Wall Street ignores everyday investors, and caters only to the ultra wealthy. This divide doesn’t sit well with us. So, we built Titan.” On today’s show Joe shares the journey, the why’s, the how’s, and the sequencing it might take to get to a $1 trillion of assets managed.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #86

Bringing observability superpowers to all

This week Adam is joined by Christine Yen, co-founder and CEO of Honeycomb. Christine and Adam recorded this show late last year, just after their Series C funding round. They talk about the superpower of observability for developers, how she and Charity Majors got to the place to found Honeycomb, the state of their platform today, what exactly observability is, and their goals for the future of Honeycomb.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #85

Making the last database you’ll ever need

This week Adam is joined by Sam Lambert, CEO of PlanetScale. Now that PlanetScale is in general availability, Adam had to get Sam on the show to talk about the behind the scenes of building this database platform, how this is the last database you’ll ever need and what that means for developers, why serverless, its open source underpinnings with Vitess, and a preview of what’s to come.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #83

Making the Web. Faster.

Today Adam is joined by Guillermo Rauch, founder and CEO of Vercel. They talk about building the platform that’s making the web faster and lets front-enders do their best work, his framework for leading as a CEO, what’s next for Next.js and Next.js Live, and how everything for Vercel is built on “Develop. Preview. Ship.”

Founders Talk Founders Talk #82

Journey to CEO, again

Today Adam is joined by Evan Kaplan, CEO of InfluxData. Evan’s journey to become the CEO was not by way of founder, in this company. Evan has founded several companies in the past, and he’s been in a CEO position for more than 22 years. But InfluxData was founded by Paul Dix, and Paul knew years ago that his role (best role?) was to lead the technical and product direction of the company, which lead him to Evan. Today we share that story as well as a glimpse into operating the business that built the defacto platform for building time series applications with deep roots in open source.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #81

The future of code search

Today Adam is joined by Quinn Slack, CEO of Sourcegraph. He’s been tracking Sourcegraph for years now and knew one day they would hit Unicorn status, and that happened this year. They’re just off a massive $125M Series D funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz at a $2.625B valuation to bring code search to every developer. The future of code search has never been more clear and we’re excited to share today’s show with you.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #79

The acquisition of a lifetime

On today’s show Adam is joined by John Nunemaker (an old friend). For some of you listening you might remember John’s appearance on The Changelog #11, which was basically forever ago. Or his company Ordered List — they made Gauges, Harmony, and Speaker Deck which was quite popular in its time — so much so that they attracted the attention of Chris Wanstrath, one of the co-founders of GitHub to acquire Ordered List. The rest as they say is history. Today, John and I go back through that history to see what it was like to be acquired by GitHub and how that single choice has forever changed his life.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #78

Leading Auth0 to a $6.5 billion acquisition

This week Adam is joined by Eugenio Pace, co-founder and CEO of Auth0. Auth0 is a for developers, by developers identity, access, security, and authentication platform built for the cloud that secures billions of logins every year. Mid 2020 they raised $120 million at a $1.92 billion valuation after being told no several times. Then, earlier this year in March they announced they were being acquired by Okta for $6.5 billion, in a bold and future-thinking all stock deal. This episode is full of wisdom, inspiration, and tactical advice that Eugenio has used to build Auth0.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #77

From open source to commercially viable

This week Adam is joined by Asim Aslam, the founder of Micro - a new cloud platform entirely focused on the developer experience of consuming and publishing public APIs. Asim’s journey spans many years of open source work on Micro. His sole focus right now, is evolving that work into a commercially viable business. This episode is jam-packed with stories of great timing, grit, resilence, success and failure, and, of course, lessons learned.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #76

From disrupting the cloud to IPO

This week Adam is joined by Mitch Wainer, previously CMO at DigitalOcean and a member of the founding team. They talk about his journey as an entrepreneur and marketer, the early days at DigitalOcean, and everything that went into disrupting the cloud with blazing fast SSDs. Back in March (2021), DigitalOcean started trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) — this obviously earned Mitch and many others a very large payday. They also talk about the work Mitch is doing now with Welcome and Sponsored.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #75

The journey to massive scale and ultra-resilience

This week Adam talks with Spencer Kimball, CEO and Co-founder of Cockroach Labs — makers of CockroachDB an open source cloud-native distributed SQL database. Cockroach Labs recently raised $160 million dollars on a $2 billion dollar valuation. In this episode, Spencer shares his journey in open source, startups and entrepreneurship, and what they’re doing to build CockroachCloud to meet the needs of applications that require massive scale and ultra-resilience.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #74

Intensely focused on building a software company

This week Adam talks with John-Daniel Trask, co-founder & CEO of Raygun. Raygun is an award-winning application monitoring company founded by John-Daniel Trask (better known as JD) and Jeremy Boyd in Wellington, New Zealand. They have revenues in the 8 digits annually, and have done it with very little funding (~1.7M USD). Today’s conversation with JD shares a ton of wisdom. Listen twice and take notes.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #73

Balancing business and open source

Raj Dutt is the founder and CEO of Grafana Labs. Grafana has become the world’s most popular open source technology used to compose observability dashboards (we use Grafana here at Changelog). Raj and team are 100% focused on building a sustainable business around open source. They have this “big tent” open source ecosystem philosophy that’s driving every aspect of building their business around their open source, as well as other projects in the open source community. But, to understand the wisdom Raj is leading with today, we have to go back to where things got started. To do that we had to go back like Prince to 1999…

Founders Talk Founders Talk #72

Slow and steady wins

Jeff Sheldon is the founder and creator of Ugmonk. Jeff is a designer by trade, and an entrepreneur by accident. I been following Jeff’s journey for the better part of Ugmonk’s existence. I’m also a customer. Jeff and I hold several similar values near and dear to our hearts. In addition to my appreciation for Jeff’s product design abilities, and how he leads his business, I also appreciate Jeff’s awareness and focus on the long hard path.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #71

From acquisition to full conviction

Guy Podjarny is the Founder of Snyk, a security platform that empowers software-driven businesses to develop fast and stay secure. Prior to Snyk, Guy founded Blaze which was acquired by Akamai and became CTO. We talked through the topic of acquisition — the sale, the merge, the learnings, and why Guy might not be planning for Snyk to be acquired anytime soon. We started the conversation with Snyk’s recent raise of $150 million dollars.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #70

Leading GitLab to $100M ARR

Sid Sijbrandij is the Co-founder and CEO of GitLab — an all-remote company and complete DevOps platform. As a company, they have their eyes set on taking the company public to IPO and they’re very outspoken about their culture, open handbook, and how they work as an all-remote company. We talk through where Sid came from, the early days of GitLab, why IPO vs a private sale (like GitHub), what it means to put “family and friends first, work second,” how we should view work, and his biggest fear — the company failing.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #68

Becoming an accidental founder

Mike McDerment is the founder and CEO of FreshBooks. Believe it or not, Mike became a founder by accident. Like many of us, Mike had an itch that he just had to scratch. One thing led to another and soon enough FreshBooks became a key tool in the belt of many freelancers and agencies looking for an easy way to send invoices and get paid quickly online. We talk through the early days of FreshBooks and how things came to be, why they created a secret competitor to iterate on a bold idea for the future of FreshBooks, and we also cover what keeps Mike excited.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #67

Mastering the art of quitting

Lynne Tye is the founder of Key Values, a platform where developers find engineering teams that share their values. To be more precise, Lynne is a solo-founder. She’s also a team of one. Lynne’s path to becoming a founder was anything but typical. She had plans to follow in her parent’s and sister’s footsteps to go into academia, and got two years into pursuing her PhD in Neuroscience before she made one of the best choices in her life — she quit. Lynne has mastered the art of quitting, at the right time of course, and she’s used that art as her secret weapon in her quest to become a founder.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #66

Failing to build a billion-dollar company

Sahil Lavingia is the founder and CEO of Gumroad, a platform for creators to sell the things they make. Since 2011 Gumroad has sent over $200 million dollars to creators. That’s a big number. Sahil’s ambitions lead him to believe that Gumroad would become a billion-dollar company, have hundreds of employees, and eventually IPO. That didn’t happen.

…we were venture-funded, which was like playing a game of double-or-nothing. It’s euphoric when things are going your way — and suffocating when they’re not. And we weren’t doubling fast enough to raise the $15M+ Series B we were looking for to grow the team. For the type of business we were trying to build, every month of less than 20 percent growth should have been a red flag. But at the time, I thought it was okay…

We talk through Sahil’s journey with Gumroad, why it failed to meet his goals, the path he’s on today and the things he now values…but to understand why Gumroad didn’t live up to his expectations, we really have to understand the backstory of Gumroad.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #65

What are you optimizing for?

Saron Yitbarek is the founder and CEO of CodeNewbie — one of the most supportive community of programmers and people learning to code. Saron hosts the CodeNewbie podcast, Command Line Heroes from Red Hat, and she’s also the creator of Codeland Conference taking place on July 22 this year in New York City. We talk through getting started, lessons learned, mental health, developing and running a conference…but our conversation begins with a pivotal question asked of Saron…“What are you optimizing for?”

Founders Talk Founders Talk #64

Building a hardware/software product company

Colin Billings is the founder and CEO of Orro where they’ve built the first truly intelligent home lighting system. It knows when you’re in the room, and adjusts the lights automatically for you. But Colin’s path to starting this company wasn’t a straight line. Like most innovative products, Orro has an interesting beginning — after-all, they’re going up against the giants.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #63

Zero up-front costs for a CS education

What would be the impact on the world if a Computer Science education was available to you completely free of charge until you get a job in that field paying $50,000 or more? That’s the question that drives Austen Allred and the team behind Lambda School. Lambda School is a revolutionary new school that invests in its students and they completely align their interests with their students. Seems like a novel idea, right? But Austen’s path to Silicon Valley was where things began for him, so that’s where we’ll start today’s conversation.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #61

Isaac Schlueter on building npm and hiring a CEO

With JavaScript in every corner of software development and npm in every corner right along with it, the rise of npm can be drawn as a hockey stick up and to the right with Isaac Schlueter at the top grinning ear to ear. After reading their recent announcement to hire a CEO, I knew it was time to talk one-on-one with Isaac about building npm and the journey of hiring his successor.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #60

Leading data-driven software teams and products

For the final show of 2018 I’m talking with Travis Kimmel, the CEO of GitPrime. Travis has spent years as an engineering manager. Travis’s mission at GitPrime is to bring crystal clear visibility into the software development process and bridge the communication gap between engineering and stakeholders. This communication gap is often an ongoing plague in product development lifecycle. We talked through focus, tech debt, leading teams, predictability, and more.

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