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David Sacks sacks.substack.com

Building out your SaaS org

David Sacks shared frameworks for Series A, B, and C stage SaaS startup orgs, saying they can be “helpful as a starting point.”

You’re the founder of a nicely growing SaaS startup which has just raised a Series A, Series B, or Series C funding round. You need to hire rapidly to seize the opportunity. But how much should you hire, what roles should you hire, and what should the org chart look like when you’re done?

Career revenuecat.com

The case for location-independent salaries

Miguel Carranza from RevenueCat lays out why he and his co-founder decided to provide equal compensation for the same role regardless of location. Here’s the bullet points of their reasoning:

  • The quality of the work is equivalent
  • Immigration can be a challenge
  • Keeping up with the competition
  • It’s simpler
  • It’s part of our company mission

Read his post for the details along with some downsides of this approach.

Productivity typesense.org

The unreasonable effectiveness of just showing up everyday

Kishore Nallan:

When I first started working on Typesense six years ago, I set myself a simple rule:

I shall write some code everyday before or after work.

That’s it. No deadlines, no quarterly goals, no milestones.

Looking back, I cannot believe how much I’ve been able to ship over the past 6 years by just following this one rule.

This rule has served me well in my career as well. Showing up consistently and putting in the work pays dividends over the long-term that you just can’t see over the short-term. I’m reminded of the two best times to plant a tree: twenty years ago and today.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #76

From disrupting the cloud to IPO

This week on Founders Talk, 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.

Devon Zuegel devonzuegel.com

What are startup cities for?

Devon Zuegel on startup cities:

While the startup cities industry is still small, it is already quite heterogeneous. Each project has its own distinct set of goals, motivations, and scope. However, this diversity isn’t fully captured by the vocabulary we use right now.

To help myself create a mental map of the industry, I’ve grouped these motivations into 5 categories. I’ve also included examples of places that personify each motivation.

She goes on to discuss each of the 5 categories: economic opportunity, competitive governance, lifestyle, community, and technological & social experimentation.

I think it’s interesting how many of these categories also apply to online life. Related: cloud cities?!

Startups tinyacquisitions.com

A place to buy and sell tiny projects worth less than $5k

Sometimes you start a thing and lose interest. Or maybe it brings in some cash, but not what you’d hoped. Rather than let it languish and eventually die, sell your thing on Tiny Acquisitions.

Sometimes you want to start a thing, but don’t have a good idea. Or maybe you’ve tried a few times, but nothing that generated income. Rather than start from scratch with an unproven idea, buy a thing on Tiny Acquisitions.

The Changelog The Changelog #445

Funds for open source

This week we’re talking with Pia Mancini about the latest updates to the mission of Open Collective. Earlier this year Open Collective announced “Funds for Open Source.” The idea is simple, make it easy for companies to invest in open source, and they will. Also, since recording this episode, Pia and the team at Open Collective along with Gitcoin announced fundoss.org as part of Maintainer Week announcements. And right now, they have a matching fund of $75,000 dollars funding open source that you can support.

The Changelog The Changelog #443

Exploring Deno Land 🦕

This week we’re joined by Ryan Dahl, Node.js creator, and now the creator of Deno - a simple, modern and secure runtime for JavaScript and TypeScript that uses V8 and is built in Rust.

We talk with Ryan about the massive success of Node and how it impacted his life, and how he eventually created Deno and what he’s doing differently this time around. We also talk about The Deno Company and what’s in store for Deno Deploy.

Stack Overflow wsj.com

Stack Overflow sold to tech giant Prosus for $1.8 billion

I hadn’t heard of Prosus prior to this announcement, so if you’re at all like me, this is for you:

Prosus invests globally across a range of online platforms focused on areas such as food delivery, classifieds and fintech. It also maintains a more than $200 billion holding in Tencent. Prosus’ parent company, Naspers Ltd., acquired the Tencent stake in 2001 for $34 million.

Turning $34 million into $200 billion is quite the feat. They’re a savvy bunch, if nothing else. Joel Spolsky also wrote about the acquisition on his blog, ensuring us that everything is going to be okay:

Prosus is an investment and holding company, which means that the most important part of this announcement is that Stack Overflow will continue to operate independently, with the exact same team in place that has been operating it, according to the exact same plan and the exact same business practices.

I hope he’s right, but color me skeptical. Stack Overflow surely isn’t perfect as is, but it’d be a huge set back to the software world if it were to decline from here.

Stripe Icon Stripe

Guide to managing founder stress

Stripe Atlas has a wide array of guides to running an internet business that are totally open and free for everyone. This guide, written by Dr. Sherry Walling (a clinical psychologist), on “managing founder stress” covers everything from running smart (not just hard), coping with chronic stress, mastering the ups and downs, and a reminder that as a founder you are not alone.

If you like this guide, then you’ll probably be a fan of my podcast Founders Talk too.

Paul Graham paulgraham.com

Crazy new ideas

Paul Graham on preposterous sounding ideas and how easy they are to dismiss:

Most implausible-sounding ideas are in fact bad and could be safely dismissed. But not when they’re proposed by reasonable domain experts. If the person proposing the idea is reasonable, then they know how implausible it sounds. And yet they’re proposing it anyway. That suggests they know something you don’t. And if they have deep domain expertise, that’s probably the source of it.

Such ideas are not merely unsafe to dismiss, but disproportionately likely to be interesting. When the average person proposes an implausible-sounding idea, its implausibility is evidence of their incompetence. But when a reasonable domain expert does it, the situation is reversed. There’s something like an efficient market here: on average the ideas that seem craziest will, if correct, have the biggest effect.

I’m not a big ideas guy. Never have been. Adam is, though. And I freely admit that many of his ideas sound preposterous to me at first. But I’ve learned over the years to hear him out, because he’s usually on to something, even if it’s not fully-formed yet. And it turns out I’m pretty good at taking partially-formed ideas and helping firm them up. This is one of the reasons why we make a good team.

Having new ideas is a lonely business. Only those who’ve tried it know how lonely. These people need your help. And if you help them, you’ll probably learn something in the process.

Raj Dutt grafana.com

Grafana, Loki, and Tempo will be relicensed to AGPLv3

Raj Dutt, CEO and co-founder of Grafana Labs:

Our company has always tried to balance the “value creation” of open source and community with the “value capture” of our monetization strategy. The choice of license is a key pillar of this strategy, and is something that we’ve deliberated on extensively since the company began.

Over the last few years, we’ve watched closely as almost every at-scale open source company that we admire (such as Elastic, Redis Labs, MongoDB, Timescale, Cockroach Labs, and many others) has evolved their license regime. In almost all of these cases, the result has been a move to a non-OSI-approved source-available license.

We have spent the first months of 2021 having sometimes contentious but always healthy internal debates over this topic, and today we are announcing a change of our own.

They’re switching to AGPLv3, which is OSI-approved, but like Heather Meeker said on our SSPL/Elastic episode, is often on the DO NOT USE list at large tech firms. Raj continues:

Ensuring we maintain these freedoms for our community is a big priority for us. While AGPL doesn’t “protect” us to the same degree as other licenses (such as the SSPL), we feel that it strikes the right balance. Being open source will always be at the core of who we are, and we believe that adopting AGPLv3 allows our community and users to by and large have the same freedoms that they have enjoyed since our inception.

Read the entire post for more details on what is being re-licensed, what isn’t, and what it all means. They also have a Q&A on their blog answering other common questions and concerns.

Mikael Cho unsplash.com

Unsplash is being acquired by Getty Images

Mikael Cho:

This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down. Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand and division of Getty Images. The entire Unsplash team will be staying and building Unsplash in the direction we have been. The main difference now is we have access to the resources and experience of Getty Images to help accelerate our plans to create the world’s most useful visual asset library.

I’m a huge fan of Unsplash, but I can’t help but be skeptical of how this plays out in the long term. I’ve heard it all so many times before. My fingers are crossed, though. If you haven’t listened to Mikael and Unsplash’s story on Founders Talk, now’s a good time. It was an excellent conversation.

Deno deno.com

The Deno team takes funding and starts a company around the project

Ryan Dahl and Bert Belder announcing the Deno Company:

Deno is not a monolithic system, but rather a set of technologies that we believe can be repurposed to a variety of needs. Not every use-case of server-side JavaScript needs to access the file system; our infrastructure makes it possible to compile out unnecessary bindings. This allows us to create custom runtimes for different applications: Electron-style GUIs, Cloudflare Worker-style Serverless Functions, embedded scripting for databases, etc.

In order to vigorously pursue these ideas, we have raised 4.9 million dollars of seed capital… This investment means we will have a staff of full-time expert engineers working to improving Deno. We will ensure that issues are addressed, bugs are fixed, timely releases are made; we will ensure Deno is a platform others can build on with trust.

Deno will remain MIT licensed: no open core. It appears they will commercialize through infrastructure and other offerings. Maybe deploy is the first of these?

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.

Tom Cleveland tjcx.me

I wasted $40k on a fantastic startup idea

I’m not gonna lie, it does sound like a fantastic startup idea. But there are so many things that can go wrong when trying to start something new and Tom Cleveland does a super job of telling that story in this brutally honest post:

Things are going great. My friends and family all tell me they love the site. Even some strangers on the internet love it. “I know right,” I tell them. “So how much would you pay for this?

“Hahahahahahah,” they say in unison. “Good one!”

Stick around to the end for lessons learned. Where did he go wrong?

Startups blog.excalidraw.com

One year of Excalidraw

I love posts like these from startups/projects that share how they’re doing over time:

Excalidraw started as a way to procrastinate on January 1st, 2020, and ended up being a fully fledged whiteboard product only one year later! In this post, we’ll go over the most important features that made Excalidraw great at being a virtual whiteboard for sketching hand-drawn like diagrams.

They detail their open source tech stack, new features the team shipped last year, cool things people are doing with the tool, and more.

(The tool itself, btw, looks totally rad and is definitely something I’ll be toying with over the coming weeks.)

Sahil Lavingia sahillavingia.com

No meetings, no deadlines, no full-time employees

Once again, Sahil Lavingia shared proof that we can think differently about the future of work. Sure, not every company should operate the way Gumroad is operating, but there are plenty of insights to be drawn from their experience.

Recently, I pitched the whole company about going full-time, because it felt wrong to grow any larger without full-time staff.

Nobody accepted.

I realized then that I was trying to copy the status quo–to try and fix something that wasn’t broken–so that I could feel better about doing things the “normal” way. But the deal we already had in place was better for what our people prioritize: freedom over growth, sustainability over speed, life over work.

I recently spoke with Sahil on Founders Talk #66 about failing to build a billion-dollar company. I highly recommend that episode.

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