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Stories from the trenches about tech startups and businesses.
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O'Reilly Media Icon O'Reilly Media

O’Reilly Media shuts down in-person events division

From Laura Baldwin (President, O’Reilly Media):

Today, we’re sharing the news that we’ve made the very difficult decision to cancel all future O’Reilly in-person conferences and close down this portion of our business. Without understanding when this global health emergency may come to an end, we can’t plan for or execute on a business that will be forever changed as a result of this crisis.

…and they are making the move to online-only.

…we believe the stage is set for a new normal moving forward when it comes to in-person events. We also know we are poised to accept that challenge, having already delivered a version of our Strata event on-line to over 4600 participants last week. With over 5000 companies and 2.5 million users on our learning platform, we look forward to innovating and bringing together the technology communities and businesses we serve in new and creative ways.

Jennifer Yip lunchbag.ca

The biggest mistakes I've made with Lunch Money (so far)

Love this humble transparency from Jennifer Yip on her journey so far with Lunch Money.

This whole journey is a learning process and I’m grateful to be able to share mine transparently. It’s important to not only celebrate the highs and stay humble, but also face the lows and forgive yourself.

I’m sure there are many more mistakes to be made on the horizon and I look forward to writing and laughing about them in another 6 months!

Startups gkogan.co

Simple systems have less downtime

As a former naval architect and a current marketing consultant to startups, I found that the same principle that lets a 13-person crew navigate the world’s largest container ship to a port halfway around the world without breaking down also applies to startups working towards aggressive growth goals

Tagging this one Startups because that’s what Greg is talking about, but the principle applies to any and all systems, including software systems.

Sam Altman blog.samaltman.com

Hard startups

Sam Altman shared an interesting post last week about hard startups. I think some of the wisdom shared could be expanded to starting a side project or a successful open source project. Let me give a terse example…

I remember when Instagram started to get really popular—it felt like you couldn’t go a day without hearing about another photo sharing startup. That year, probably over 1,000 photo sharing startups were funded, while there were fewer than ten nuclear fusion startups in existence.

Compare sinatra/sinatra to rails/rails and you’ll be reminded of all the Ruby frameworks that started up while Rails went “nuclear fusion.”

Here’s my favorite wisdom shared by Sam — because it’s easy to start, but hard to remain committed and finish.

Be willing to make a very long-term commitment to what you’re doing. Most people aren’t, which is part of the reason they pick “easy” startups. In a world of compounding advantages where most people are operating on a 3 year timeframe and you’re operating on a 10 year timeframe, you’ll have a very large edge.

Startups joisig.com

23 rules to run a software startup with minimum hassle

Rules is a catchy/harsh way to position these, but there’s a lot of lessons to be learned by putting some thought into what he’s saying.

Over the last 5 years of bootstrapping, I’ve tried a lot of things, and discovered there are many ways to create hassle for yourself that wastes time and energy and distracts you from building value in your business… If you want to absolutely minimize hassle as you run your software business, you can stick to each one of these rules, which I present in no particular order.

Here’s a sampler:

  • Rule #1: Recurring revenue is the way to go
  • Rule #7: Choose simple, boring technology
  • Rule #14: Don’t take in any investors

Michael Lynch mtlynch.io

My second year as a solo developer

Michael Lynch:

Two years ago, I quit my developer job at Google to build my own software business. A year later, I posted an update about my finances, happiness, and lessons learned. Today marks the end of my second year, so it’s time for another update.

This is a deep dive into all that Michael is doing to make more money then he spends (not quite there yet, but looking like soon). I’m impressed by how he frugally he lives and how hard he works in an effort to live the kind of life he wants to live.

My second year as a solo developer

TechCrunch Icon TechCrunch

Hugging Face raises $15 million to build their open source NLP library 🤗

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.

Backstage Backstage #9

Ten years of Changelog 🎉

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.

The Changelog The Changelog #369

Five years of freeCodeCamp

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.

The Changelog The Changelog #368

Finding collaborators for open source

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.

Startups grafana.com

What $24 million means for Grafana's open source community

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.

What $24 million means for Grafana's open source community

Startups cdixon.org

The next big thing will start out looking like a toy

This is an #oldread (2010), but it came up again in two contexts (Ron Evans’ Gopherbot and Chris Anderson’s Robocars) that made me give it another look.

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.

Startups broadcast.listennotes.com

The boring technology behind a one-person internet company

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.

Kyle Mathews gatsbyjs.org

Gatsby raised $15M in a Series A funding round

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).

Gokul Rajaram Medium

The overlooked but essential paradigm underlying great software companies

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.

TechCrunch Icon TechCrunch

Automattic raises $300 million at $3 billion valuation

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…

Cloudflare Icon Cloudflare

CloudFlare files its S-1 to the SEC as it prepares to IPO

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.

Matt Mullenweg ma.tt

Matt Mullenweg on acquiring Tumblr

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.

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