Open source is not a business model, but there sure are a lot of businesses running on open source these days. This is a quick round-up post of Opensource.com’s top 5 articles on the topic for 2019.
Congrats to Clément and the Hugging Face team on this milestone!
The company first built a mobile app that let you chat with an artificial BFF, a sort of chatbot for bored teenagers. More recently, the startup released an open-source library for natural language processing applications. And that library has been massively successful.
The library mentioned is called Transformers, which is dubbed as ‘state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing for TensorFlow 2.0 and PyTorch.’
If any of these things ring a bell to you, it may be because Practical AI co-host Daniel Whitenack has been a huge supporter of Hugging Face for a long time and mentions them often on the show. We even had Clément on the show back in March of this year.
On this special re-broadcast of the freeCodeCamp podcast, Quincy Larson (freeCodeCamp’s founder) interviewed Adam and Jerod in the ultimate Backstage episode to celebrate a decade of conversations, news, and community here at Changelog. Yes, this month we turn 10 years old! We go deep into our origin stories, our history as a company, becoming and being a leader, the backstory of our branding, our music from Breakmaster Cylinder, and where we might be heading in the future.
Today we have a very special show for you – we’re talking with Quincy Larson the founder of freeCodeCamp as part of a two-part companion podcast series where we each celebrate our 5 and 10 year anniversaries. This year marks 5 years for freeCodeCamp and 10 years for us here at Changelog. So make sure you check out the freeCodeCamp podcast next week when Quincy ships our episode to their feed. But, on today’s episode we catch up with Quincy on all things freeCodeCamp.
Jeff Meyerson, host of Software Engineering Daily, and the founder of FindCollabs (a place to find collaborators for open source software) joined the show to talk about living in San Francisco, his thoughts on podcasting and where the medium is heading, getting through large scale market changes. We talk at length about his new project FindCollabs, the difficulty of reliably finding people to collaborate with, the importance of reputation and ratings systems, and his invite to this audience to check out what he’s doing and get involved.
Grafana Labs has raised a Series A and wrote up on their blog what it all means for the open source world.
With this fund raise, we are committed to investing even more in the open source community. That goes hand-in-hand with pushing forward with our vision of building an open, composable observability platform that brings together the three pillars of observability – logs, metrics, and traces – in a single experience, with Grafana at the center. This will allow users to choose their favorite combinations of observability tooling and bring them all together in one UX – an industry first.
The reason big new things sneak by incumbents is that the next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a “toy.” This is one of the main insights of Clay Christensen’s “disruptive technology” theory. This theory starts with the observation that technologies tend to get better at a faster rate than users’ needs increase. From this simple insight follows all kinds of interesting conclusions about how markets and products change over time.
It’ll take some time to plumb the depths of this list, but if you’re
desperate searching for a good idea, it might just be worth your while. 🤞
It maybe is even the listing of approximately all startup ideas
Awesome piece by Wenbin Fang, creator of Listen Notes:
Most of time, the biggest obstacle of building & shipping things is over thinking. What if this, what if that. Boy, you are not important at all. Everyone is busy in their own life. No one cares about you and the things you build, until you prove that you are worth other people’s attention. Even you screw up the initial product launch, few people will notice. Think big, start small, act fast. It’s absolutely okay to use the boring technology and start something simple (even ugly), as long as you actually solve problems.
Congrats @KyleMathews and team, wow.
Why the excitement and growth? The answer is simple. Gatsby was founded around a big idea, and that idea is starting to go mainstream. We believe that the basic architecture of websites is being reinvented. The dominant web architecture, the LAMP stack, was founded at the dawn of the web before paradigm-shifting technologies were invented, like virtual machines, AWS, smartphones, Git, Node/NPM, React, and Serverless—elements of modern engineering we now take for granted.
For those interested in the deeper backstory on the formation of Gatsby, check out Founders Talk #59 with Kyle Mathews (the creator of Gatsby).
Truly great software companies are self-serve first. Let’s dig into this assertion and why it makes sense.
“Self-serve” is a term I hadn’t heard before being recommended this excellent piece by Gokul Rajaram, but once I heard it, it immediately resonated with me.
A self-serve product is one where a customer can go through the full product experience — from signing up to first use to activating new features to managing their account to upgrading and/or cancellation — all without ever needing to interact with another person… Self-serve first is when the entire company is built around self-serve, when self-serve is the core foundation of the company.
Gokul explains four reasons why he thinks self-serve first is the way to go.
This raise comes from Salesforce Ventures — and it’s another clear win for commercial open source and the future of the open web.
Funding rounds are something special for Automattic. While the company has been around for nearly 15 years, it hasn’t raised a ton of money. It closed a $160 million Series C round back in 2014 and raised little money before that.
Automattic and the WordPress open-source project have a shared history. Many people are familiar with WordPress, the most popular content management system on the planet. The company contributes to the open-source project and also runs some of the most popular services on top of that project, such as WordPress.com and the Jetpack plugin, WordPress.com VIP (which TechCrunch uses) and WooCommerce.
Here’s an interesting quote from Matt Mullenweg (Founder and CEO of Automattic)…
What we want to do is to become the operating system for the open web. We want every website, whether it’s e-commerce or anything to be powered by WordPress. And by doing so, we’ll make sure that the web can go back to being more open, more integrated and more user-centric than it would be if proprietary platforms become dominant…
This video from Kevin Hale (YC Partner) is in my “watch later” list on YouTube. Add it to your list too if you desire to build successful working relationships with your cofounders.
Today, our network spans 193 cities in over 90 countries and interconnects with over 8,000 networks globally, including major ISPs, public cloud providers, SaaS services, and enterprises. We estimate that we operate within 100 milliseconds of 98% of the Internet-connected population in the developed world, and 93% of the Internet-connected population globally (for context, the blink of an eye is 300-400 milliseconds). We intend to continue expanding our network to better serve our customers globally and enable new types of applications, while relentlessly driving down our unit costs.
There’s a lot of interesting tidbits in this filing. I love this lead-in to the industry analysis section:
The Internet was not built for what it has become.
Kudos to Verizon (words I never expected to type) for how they handled the process. I couldn’t think of better hands to receive the once-vibrant social network and shepherd it into the next era:
Automattic is still a startup — I’m sure there are deep-pocketed private equity firms that could have outbid us, but the most likely outcome then would have been an “asset” getting chopped up and sold for parts. (This is a caricature and there are PE firms I like, but it’s not a terrible stretch of the imagination.) Instead, Tumblr has a new chance to redefine itself in 2019 and beyond. Its community is joining with WordPress’ 16-year commitment to open source and the open web.
What does it take to be successful as a CTO? The stories of founder/CEO transitions is plentiful, but what about the evolution of a company and the need for a CTO who has a vision of how to do things and the team and skills needed to make it happen?
A CTO at this point still needs to mainly look inward and know how to code, know the structure of the application and infrastructure, but the focus is shifting towards managing a team, establishing a culture and processes to be able to grow quickly. Growing also means hiring but also making sure that every hire is an effective team member as soon as possible.
Straight from the horse’s mouth:
We’re partnering to develop a hardware and software platform within Microsoft Azure which will scale to AGI. We’ll jointly develop new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, and Microsoft will become our exclusive cloud provider—so we’ll be working hard together to further extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the value traded in large scale investments like these. What do both sides get? With this particular investment, however, it’s pretty obvious what Microsoft is getting (Azure++) and what OpenAI is getting (an expanded R&D budget). It’s also worth noting that this is specifically focused on Artificial General Intelligence, not merely advancing the current state of the art in Machine Learning.
This is a really interesting usage of blockchain technology to ensure you are really getting what you think you bought. Michael del Castillo writes on Forbes.com:
The fifth-largest oil and gas company in the world, valued at $262 billion, is investing an undisclosed amount in LO3, a New York startup using a modified version of the ethereum blockchain to make it easier for individuals to buy and sell locally produced energy using the existing network of power cables.
While the bitcoin blockchain lets users track the flow of value without the need of banks to audit the system, LO3’s platform, called Exergy, is designed to track the flow of energy as it is added to a shared, local energy network, giving the neighbors who purchase the energy absolute certainty it really came from a windmill, a solar panel or a gerbil running on a treadmill.
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.
I’d like to know what the current sentiment is towards npm after this settlement. Can they mend these community fences? Or, are you more hopeful of the “development of alternative technologies” as mentioned in this post?
I’ve been tinkering with different startup ideas and needed a good checklist to think through them. There are great templates for this already: The YC application, Amazon’s internal press release, and Sequoia’s Writing a Business Plan. I found myself mixing and tweaking these templates because they don’t exactly match my model of the world, so I wrote up my own list.
These are great questions to ask yourself when you’re dreaming up an open source project as well.
Facebook, VISA, Uber, and A16Z (amongst others) have officially announced their cryptocurrency:
Reinvent money. Transform the global economy. So people everywhere can live better lives.
Color me skeptical. Not of the value of cryptocurrencies writ large, but in the actors and entities behind this particular coin. One thing I believe to be true, though: ten years from now our idea of (and interaction with) money will be dramatically different than it is today.
It’s time for HIBP to grow up. It’s time to go from that one guy doing what he can in his available time to a better-resourced and better-funded structure that’s able to do way more than what I ever could on my own.
HIBP is an international treasure, IMHO. It’s pretty cool to see how it has transformed Troy’s life along the way:
HIBP may only be less than 6 years old, but it’s the culmination of a life’s work. I still have these vivid memories stretching back to the mid-90’s when I first started building software for the web and had a dream of creating something big; “Isn’t it amazing that I can sit here at home and write code that could have a real impact on the world one day”
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.
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?”