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Paul Graham paulgraham.com

What I've learned from users

Here’s Paul Graham with some wise advice he’s learned from YC’s users — this also tees up a large conversation on this Friday’s episode of The Changelog (talk to your users).

I recently told applicants to Y Combinator that the best advice I could give for getting in, per word, was. Explain what you’ve learned from users.

Here’s why that makes sense.

That tests a lot of things: whether you’re paying attention to users, how well you understand them, and even how much they need what you’re making.

But giving this advice made Paul consider what he has learned from YC’s users (the startups they’ve funded). This one is almost cliché at this point, but still quite true.

Focus is doubly important for early stage startups, because not only do they have a hundred different problems, they don’t have anyone to work on them except the founders. If the founders focus on things that don’t matter, there’s no one focusing on the things that do.

Devon Zuegel devonzuegel.com

What startups can learn from pirates about compensation

Devon Zuegel draws a comparison that I would’ve never thought of:

Pirate crews developed a surprisingly similar approach to compensation in the 17th century. Just like many startups, they also balanced equity incentives with other mechanisms that would be familiar to a startup employee today, such as bonuses.

These surprising similarities offer an interesting frame through which we can reflect on why startup equity and bonuses are structured the way they are. We can learn a lot about the theory of compensation in modern companies by looking at how pirates designed incentives to organize and motivate their work.

Maybe it’s time to stop hiring “frontend wizards” and start looking for “frontend pirates” instead, matey.

Startups bip.so

How Segment found product-market fit

A very cool case study of Segment’s long journey to creating a product that people would actually pay money to use.

By now they burnt $500K and were left with only $100K. They wanted to tryout something for one last time with the $100K. One of their Co-Founders suggested that they try to productise their open source library. Peter, the Co-Founder & CEO didn’t like that idea at all. This open-source library had only 580 lines of code, compared to the other 2 products which had 100x more lines of code and a very grand vision on how to define an industry.

Side note: what is this bip.so thing that’s hosting the content?!

The Changelog The Changelog #503

Building Reflect at sea

This week we’re talking with Alex MacCaw — he’s well known for his work as founder and CEO of Clearbit. In May of 2021, Alex shared a personal update with the world on his blog. After much reflection, he decided to step down as CEO of Clearbit to go back to his roots. In his words, “I love the early stages of company building. Hacking together code, setting up the Stripe account, getting the first customer. That’s my jam.”

We talk with Alex about this portion of his journey at Clearbit, the Catamaran he bought in South Africa and then sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, and the new thing he’s building called Reflect that let’s you keep track of your notes, books, and meetings.

Startups blog.southparkcommons.com

Move fast or die

Most of our audience knows that we operate on the mantra “Slow and steady wins,” and yet there’s lessons to be learned by reading a post adjudicating the need to “Move fast or die.” Let me explain…

There’s a key phrase that sets this post and its lessons apart from us here at Changelog Media — it’s “Here’s how we did it at Facebook.” Clearly, we are not Facebook, so we should not operate on advice that’s focused on Facebook. However, we can learn something.

Of the the five lessons shared, each can be appreciated, but one in particular stands out.

We embraced asking for forgiveness, never for permission.

This, to me, is synonymous with “Hire people smarter than you,” because it assumes everyone can bring something to the table that former wisdom might not. It gives permission to try something new and see if something beautiful comes as a result. That’s a good thing.

Bob Wise blog.heroku.com

Heroku's "next chapter" doesn't include free plans

It is a very good thing for Salesforce to be more focused on Heroku’s future, but the glaring detail shared by Bob Wise today is the era of free on Heroku is over.

Here’s what they announced:

  • They launched an interactive product roadmap on GitHub
  • They are focusing on mission critical and will discontinue free product plans and delete inactive accounts
  • They are starting a program to support students and nonprofits
  • They will continue to contribute to open source projects, notably Cloud Native Buildpacks and offering Heroku credits to select open source projects through Salesforce’s Open Source Program Office (OSPO)

The Changelog The Changelog #502

Fireside chat with Jack Dorsey ♻️

This week we’re re-broadcasting a very special episode of Founders Talk. Adam was invited by our friends at Square to host a fireside chat with Jack Dorsey as the featured finale of their annual developer conference called Square Unboxed. Jack is one of the most prolific CEOs out there. He’s a hacker turned CEO, often working at the very edge of what’s to come. He’s focused on what the future has to offer and an innovator at scale. He’s also a Bitcoin maximalist and has positioned himself and Block long on Bitcoin.

Greg Kogan gkogan.co

Being swamped is normal and not impressive

Greg Kogan:

I used to think being swamped was a good sign. I’m doing stuff! I’m making progress! I’m important! I have an excuse to make others wait! Then I realized being swamped just means I’m stuck in the default state, like a ball that settled to a stop in the deepest part of an empty pool, the spot where rainwater has collected into a puddle.

Good analogy. Better sentiment. Reminds me of Woody Zuill’s thoughtson productivity vs effectiveness.

The Changelog The Changelog #498

From WeWork to upskilling at Wilco

This week we’re joined by On Freund, former VP of Engineering at WeWork and now co-founder & CEO of Wilco. WeWork you may have heard of, but Wilco maybe not (yet).

We get into the details behind the tech and scaling of WeWork, comparisons of the fictional series on Apple TV+ called WeCrashed and how much of that is true. Then we move on to Wilco which is what has On’s full attention right now. Wilco has the potential to be the next big thing for developers to acquire new skills. Wilco aims to be the ultimate simulator to gain new skills on a real-life tech stack. If you want to skip ahead, you can request access at trywilco.com/changelog — they are moving our listeners to the top of the waiting list.

Founders Talk Founders Talk #93

Building the best mountain bikes in the world

This week Adam is taking the show off the beaten path to speak with Adam Miller, the founder and CEO of Revel Bikes. Yes that’s right, this episode features a founder of a bike brand, not a tech brand.

Adam Miller’s journey to create Revel Bikes is paved with many ups and many downs, a failed partnership, super scrappy weeks and months traveling the world to find the best manufacturing partners, the latest innovations in suspension tech and modern geometry to hit the mountain biking scene, a strong team that’s been with him every step of the way (many of which are as close as family), and truly some of the best premium bikes available on the market today.

BTW, Adam (host) is an owner of a Revel bike — he has a T1000 colorway Rascal that he’s ridden on downhill trails, all-day epics, and everything in-between. If you enjoy this episode, please us know in the comments.

Startups scrapingfish.com

How much money do Indie Hackers products make?

Only 5% of Indie Hackers products make $100k/year…

A sobering statistic, but with a caveat: this only accounts for the 937 products that have their revenue verified by Stripe. The 5% is low, but that’s for a high bar of $100k/year. It gets worse:

A prevalent thinking is that making money as an indie developer is hard and most of the products end up with no revenue at all. Products on Indie Hackers seem to confirm this as more than 54% of the products are not making any revenue at all.

The post also breaks down the best performing product categories. ‘Wearables’ looks like a good one.

(We love the Indie Hackers community and know how hard it is to make it on your own. This post is not intended to denigrate anyone, just provide information.)

Founders Talk Founders Talk #92

Enabling a world where all software is reliable

This week Adam is joined by Robert Ross founder and CEO of FireHydrant — the glue layer between your tech stack and your teams to mitigate and resolve incidents at scale.

Robert shares his journey to become a software engineer, his time at DigitalOcean, this idea of incident management as a platform and how he shifted his focus from creating courses on incident management to recognizing the value of the software he was creating for the course — what is now known as FireHydrant. We also talk through his first experience in raising capital, what happens when the bar is raised on the reliability of the world’s software, and why their mantra is “Hire great people, who build, sell and market a great product, and you’ll have a great company.”

The Changelog The Changelog #495

Actual(ly) opening up

Adam and Jerod are joined once again by James Long. He was on the podcast five years ago discussing the surprise success of Prettier, an opinionated code formatter that’s still in use to this day. This time around we’re going deep on Actual, his personal finance system James built as a business for over 4 years before recently opening it up and making it 100% free.

Has James given up on the business? Or will this move Actual(ly) breathe new life into a piece of software that’s used and beloved by many? Tune in to find out.

Startups herman.bearblog.dev

The problem is that your users hate MVPs

Building products is a difficult and time-consuming effort. Figuring out what the problems, finding a potential solution to that problem, and then building that solution all take a decent chunk of time and effort. It’s due to this process that the minimum viable product was born. The motivation for building an MVP is still valid. Build something small and easy to test, launch quickly, and pivot or trash it if it doesn’t perform as desired.

There is another, less selfish way.

I read an article by Jason Cohen a few years ago which changed the way I think about product development. Instead of building MVPs, we should be building SLCs. Something Simple, Loveable, and Complete.

I like the thinking behind SLCs. So simple, so loveable, so…

Hat tip to Henry Snopek for linking this up in the #gotimefm channel of Gophers Slack! When it comes to thinking about your projects, Henry says:

I like to use MVP for fast projects, and SLC for “effective” projects…

Yeah, I like that framing too. So simple, so loveable, so…

Founders Talk Founders Talk #91

Fireside chat with Jack Dorsey

Adam was invited by our friends at Square to interview Jack Dorsey as part of their annual developer conference called Square Unboxed. Jack Dorsey is one of the most prolific CEOs out there — he’s a hacker turned CEO and is often working at the very edge of what’s to come (at scale). Jack is focused on what the future has to offer, he’s considered an innovator by many. He’s also a Bitcoin maximalist and has positioned himself and Block long on Bitcoin.

What you’re about to hear is the fireside chat Adam had with Jack at Square Unboxed 2022. Jack and Adam discuss the vision Square has for the developer platform and why it’s so central to the company’s strategy.

The Changelog The Changelog #491

Stacked diffs for fast-moving code review

This week we’re peeking into the future again — this time we’re looking at the future of modern code review and workflows around pull requests. Jerod and Adam were joined by two of the co-founders of Graphite — Tomas Reimers and Greg Foster.

Graphite is an open-source CLI and code review dashboard built for engineers who want to write and review smaller pull requests, stay unblocked, and ship faster. We cover all the details – how they got started, how this product emerged from another idea they were working on, the state of adoption, why stacking changes is the way of the future, how it’s just Git under the hood, and what they’re doing with the $20M in funding they just got from a16z.

Startups kenkantzer.com

Learnings from 5 years of tech startup code audits

Ken Kantzer was part of ~20 code audits of companies that had just raised their A or B rounds of funding:

It was fascinating work – we dove deep on a great cross-section of stacks and architectures, across a wide variety of domains. We found all sorts of security issues, ranging from catastrophic to just plain interesting. And we also had a chance to chat with senior engineering leadership and CTOs more generally about the engineering and product challenges they were facing as they were just starting to scale.

In this post he shares some of the more surprising things he’s learned from the experience. There’s a lot to digest in this post, but I’ll highlight my favorite to whet your whistle:

Simple Outperformed Smart. As a self-admitted elitist, it pains me to say this, but it’s true: the startups we audited that are now doing the best usually had an almost brazenly ‘Keep It Simple’ approach to engineering. Cleverness for cleverness sake was abhorred. On the flip side, the companies where we were like ”woah, these folks are smart as hell” for the most part kind of faded.

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.

Emacs fugue.co

A CEO's guide to Emacs

Josh Stella:

For those who haven’t used Emacs, it’s something you’ll likely hate, but may love. It’s sort of a Rube Goldberg machine the size of a house that, at first glance, performs all the functions of a toaster. That hardly sounds like an endorsement, but the key phrase is “at first glance.” Once you grok Emacs, you realize that it’s a thermonuclear toaster that can also serve as the engine for… well, just about anything you want to do with text.

Clément Delangue huggingface.co

Hugging Face raised $100 million for open/collaborative machine learning

Big news from our friends at Hugging Face:

Hugging Face is now the fastest growing community & most used platform for machine learning! With 100,000 pre-trained models & 10,000 datasets hosted on the platform for NLP, computer vision, speech, time-series, biology, reinforcement learning, chemistry and more, the Hugging Face Hub has become the Home of Machine Learning to create, collaborate, and deploy state-of-the-art models.

What will they spend the money on? Good stuff:

Thanks to the new funding, we’ll be doubling down on research, open-source, products and responsible democratization of AI.

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.

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