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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.

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.

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?

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.

Vercel Icon Vercel

Vercel raises $40M to "build the next web"

Congrats to Guillermo and the entire team on this big vote of confidence!

When responding to investors, we told them the stories of our customers, from independent developers to Fortune 10 companies, and the lessons we learned this year about how Next.js and Vercel help teams collaborate and move faster with greater flexibility.

It’s fascinating how front-and-center Next is in Vercel’s story.

Related: we have an excellent episode of The Changelog coming down the pipeline with Guillermo and JS Party regular Amal Hussein discussing where the web is headed in 2021 and beyond.

Something to look forward to. 😉

Medium Icon Medium

Death of an open source business model

Joe Morrison:

Until yesterday, I was still clinging to a few shreds of romantic optimism about open source software businesses. Mapbox is the protagonist of a story I’ve told myself and others countless times. It’s a seductive tale about the incredible, counterintuitive concept of the “open core” business model for software companies.

We’ve discussed the challenges with open core on many occasions (this episode of The Changelog on Nextcloud immediately comes to mind), but most of those conversations center around the tension of balancing commercial and open source interests. This Mapbox open core story, on the other hand, has a different villain:

Today, we’re gathered here on the internet to mourn the death of the open core business model. We’re here to tell stories of the before-times, to reminisce about how smart we thought we were. We went against consensus, and we were wrong. Because, open core is dead.

Cloud killed open core.

Ina Fried axios.com

Making sense of the $28 billion Salesforce-Slack deal

If you missed the news…Salesforce is buying Slack for $28 billion. To be clear, the deal is $27.7 billion in cold hard cash plus Salesforce stock. But who cares about money, amirite? Why does this deal even make sense?

Ina Fried for Axios:

[Salesforce] CEO Marc Benioff characterized the move as a bet that the pandemic-driven shift to remote work isn’t a temporary blip but rather a permanent transformation.

Slack has the lead in its still-nascent space, but was facing a challenge of its own — namely that Microsoft’s rival Teams was bundled into Office subscriptions. As a standalone company, Slack couldn’t easily manage such a move, nor could it afford to get into a price war.

I liked what Aaron Levie (Co-founder and CEO of Box) said about this deal and the future of work:

What’s amazing is that even though the current wave of enterprise software to power the future of work has been going strong for 10+ years, we’re still in the very earliest of stages in this market. The last decade has been about building the tools that power new ways to work from anywhere, collaborate with anyone, and automate workflows and business processes in the cloud. The next decade will be the era when organizations adopt these technologies en masse and transform their enterprises. While many of us in Silicon Valley and similar ecosystems have been using tools like Slack for years now (and even Microsoft Teams, more recently), 90%+ of the world’s digital workers are still not leveraging these modern platforms for the majority of their work. While it’s hard to imagine, we’re still in the early innings of this market.

Jared Mauch YouTube

How I started a telco to get fiber to my town

Jared Mauch was tired of waiting for high speed internet access to his very rural house in the outskirts of Ann Arbor, MI so he started a telco to get fiber to his town.

Development was happening in and around Ann Arbor putting new subdivisions nearby. I expected broadband would reach my new home eventually (Cable, DSL, FTTx), but…nothing came. I know…start a telco! – source slides

Jared covers everything in this video – the research, planning, finances, pre-builds, getting customers, internet access, construction, contractors, and running all the fiber.

Tieshun Roquerre tieshunroquerre.com

What I learned going through YC as a 17 year old

In addition to everything else shared, I really appreciate what Tieshun has to say about failure and how it’s acceptable in this post.

My company ultimately didn’t succeed (we realized we needed to build a services business more than a technology business and that’s not what we set out to do), and that was entirely okay. Most YC companies fail and it’s baked into their business model — YC partners were even willing to fund my next business. This surprised me because school trained me to avoid failure at all costs — a single bad grade could tarnish my GPA permanently. The consensus goal was to get the right grades and internships to build a good resume, without any gaps that could tarnish the record.

Silicon Valley’s willingness to embrace failure is unintuitive but entirely logical. Startups aren’t like school because there’s no guaranteed playbook for starting a successful company — you need good execution but also experimentation and luck.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) github.com

Unsplash makes available 2M+ images for research and machine learning

They’ve split the dataset up into two bundles:

  1. Lite, which you can download w/ a click, but is limited to 25K image
  2. Full, which you have to request access to and is limited to non-commercial use

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a great resource for anyone training models for image classification, etc. Second, it’s a nice business model for Unsplash as a startup.

Adam Wathan adamwathan.me

How Tailwind CSS became a multi-million dollar business

Adam Wathan shares the backstory of Tailwind CSS, from humble beginnings to a multi-million dollar business. Thankfully, if you read the story, Nathan hated Sass enough to do something about it. Sometimes changes to our tools force us to change as well, and that change JUST MIGHT lead to scratching a multi-million dollar itch.

We’re also about to cross $2 million in revenue from Tailwind UI, our first commercial Tailwind CSS product which was released about 5 months ago — a bit under two years after the very first Tailwind CSS release.

Here’s the story from the beginning, while it’s still fresh enough to remember…

Clojure building.nubank.com.br

Nubank and Cognitect are joining forces

Edward Wible, Nubank’s CTO, shares his perspective on the future of Clojure and Datomic, and how the powerful ideas that guide these technologies helped shape Nubank’s culture and business.

Funny timing. Just the other day José Valim was telling us how Nubank is big on Clojure:

Come to think about it, they are one of the biggest cases of large companies using Clojure at a really large scale… So it’s actually interesting to hear about everything they are doing with Clojure, and the interesting cases, and how they are using the Clojure stack… And they write about it, they give talks, so it’s very interesting to check that out.

So in that sense, if they brought me, maybe they would be bringing Michael Jordan to play soccer… 😆 That’s not going to be a good fit, right?

If you’re wondering if José is audacious enough to compare himself to Michael Jordan… he didn’t. I did.

Vlad Mihalcea Twitter

You can write a software book and make over $100k

Here’s what worked for Vlad Mihalcea…

  1. I started a blog first. This allows you to practice your writing and build an audience.

  2. I self-published my book because publishers only wanted to give me just 10% from the profit. I used Leanpub to write and sell the book while I was still writing it and Teachable to sell it when it was done. Leanpub gives you 80% royalties. Teachable gives you around 95%.

Check his Twitter thread for the other twelve (12) things he did to make money with his book idea.

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