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Stories from the trenches about tech startups and businesses.
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Y Combinator Icon Y Combinator

Now you can listen to Startup Playbook by Sam Altman (for free)

The book is free in Kindle format on Amazon AND you can listen for free on the web! We spend a lot of time advising startups. Though one-on-one advice will always be crucial, we thought it might help us scale Y Combinator if we could distill the most generalizable parts of this advice into a sort of playbook we could give YC and YC Fellowship companies. Then we thought we should just give it to everyone. This is meant for people new to the world of startups. Most of this will not be new to people who have read a lot of what YC partners have written—the goal is to get it into one place.

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Max Stoiber mxstbr.com

Regrets and lessons learned building Spectrum

Max Stoiber shares his regrets and lessons learned from tech choices made when building Spectrum. Yes, this is the same Spectrum recently acquired by GitHub. With the benefit of hindsight, here are the technology choices I regret and the lessons I have learned. … Changing these decisions would not have made Spectrum a better product by itself. Yet, it would have saved us time and allowed us to spend more time experimenting.

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Ben Thompson stratechery.com

The economic realities of open source

Ben Thompson, one of the voices behind Exponent and writer at Stratechery, covered the economic realities of open source from a lens of the music industry. More specifically, Ben talked about how the music industry’s revenue, medium, and distribution relates to that of open source in today’s world where AWS, Microsoft or Google are able to make money off of open source like MongoDB and Redis without having to share any of that money with the developers of the open source. He describes this conundrum for open source companies: MongoDB leveraged open source to gain mindshare. MongoDB Inc. built a successful company selling additional tools for enterprises to run MongoDB. More and more enterprises don’t want to run their own software: they want to hire AWS (or Microsoft or Google) to run it for them, because they value performance, scalability, and availability. This leaves MongoDB Inc. not unlike the record companies after the advent of downloads: what they sold was not software but rather the tools that made that software usable, but those tools are increasingly obsolete as computing moves to the cloud.

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Business Insider Icon Business Insider

Startups are going all-remote to lure top talent away from Silicon Valley

If you’re a listener of Founders Talk, you’ve heard first-hand the perspective of Zapier from co-founder Bryan Helmig when it comes to their remote-only workforce policy. In this story from Business Insider, Rosalie Chan covers not only Zapier, but also how GitLab and InVision are going all-remote, and how that’s playing into the exodus of top talent from Silicon Valley. In Silicon Valley, there’s a war constantly raging to recruit the very best talent. Startups and mega-corporations alike try to lure new recruits with the promise of lavish perks to go with their famously high salaries. By hiring only remote workers, though, startups are finding that they can bypass that battle altogether. Rather than go toe-to-toe with corporate giants in the major metropolitan areas, all-remote companies are finding success by recruiting from places that traditionally aren’t thought of as tech talent hubs.

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Harj Taggar triplebyte.com

Choose where to work by thinking like an investor

Harj Taggar, former partner at Y Combinator and founder of Triplebyte, shared some really insightful wisdom on choosing a startup to work for… I believe that most advice on choosing a startup to work for is wrong. Early employees at wildly successful startups suggest you assume the value of your equity is zero and instead optimize for how much you can learn. In this post I’ll argue that evaluating how likely a startup is to succeed should actually be the most important factor in your decision to join one. As a former partner at Y Combinator, I know a lot about how investors do this. What do you think? How have you made choices like this in the past?

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Isaac Schlueter blog.npmjs.org

npm has a new CEO

npm has faced some interesting challenges with project creator and co-founder Isaac Schlueter playing the role of leading the company AND the product. I’m excited to see how this new leadership and focus for Isaac plays out for npm and the greater JavaScript community. In this post, Isaac shares some backstory and details about this transition: Today, I’m happy to introduce Bryan Bogensberger as npm, Inc.’s CEO. He brings a wealth of experience in Open Source and a ton of excitement and expertise to help grow npm to the next level and beyond. Commercializing something like this without ruining it is no small task, and building the team to deliver on npm’s promise is a major undertaking. We’ve sketched out a business plan and strategy for the next year, and will be announcing some other key additions to the team in the coming months. Meanwhile, I’ve taken on the title of Chief Product Officer and I will be spending my time focused on the part of the problem that I love.

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Justin Jackson justinjackson.ca

Can you grow a startup on the side? Justin Jackson is trying...

In this post Justin Jackson shares his struggles, doubts, and uncertainties about where to take his startup. Sometimes we put too much financial pressure on a startup too soon and it fails — not because of lack of product/market fit, but because of financially poor choices. It’s been exciting to build and grow our app on the side. But it’s also been hard. With hundreds of paying customers, we’re dedicating more of our time to serving them. But, the business isn’t earning enough to pay us for our time. It’s been particularly challenging for me. Since 2016, I’ve supported myself with M4Devs and other courses. But my revenue’s fallen this year as I’ve dedicated more time to Transistor.

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GitHub spectrum.chat

GitHub acquired Spectrum and every feature is now free

I’m really interested to see how this changes GitHub Issues (if at all). Really dig this sentiment shared by Bryn Jackson, CEO of Spectrum, in their announcement post: We love you all for taking a chance on Spectrum. We couldn’t be the best platform for communities without having the best communities, so we’re incredibly grateful that you’ve trusted us to take good care of you. Congrats y’all!

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TechCrunch Icon TechCrunch

VMware acquires Heptio

Heptio is the startup founded by 2 of the co-founders of Kubernetes. We had been working on getting some time planned with the CEO Craig McLucki and CTO Joe Beda, but both were “unavailable” to speak. This acquisition might be one of the reasons why. From Ingrid Lunden’s coverage on TechCrunch: VMware acquires Heptio — a startup out of Seattle that was co-founded by Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie (two of the three people who co-created Kubernetes back at Google in 2014) Beda and McLuckie and their team will all be joining VMware in the transaction. More details can be found on the Heptio blog announcement. As for the terms of the deal, they “are not being disclosed.” For reference, when Heptio last raised money ($25M Series B in 2017) it was valued at $117M post-money. So, I’m estimating this deal to be in the $300M-$500M range. To Craig and Joe — first, congrats. Second, we’re still interested in talking with you. Maybe now is a better time and the details you couldn’t share before can now be more freely shared. This is an open invite, to you both! Congrats also to the team at Heptio for all the hard at work you’re doing to advance Kubernetes and cloud orchestration! What a ride the past few weeks for commercial open source in this recent wave of acquisitions.

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TechCrunch Icon TechCrunch

HashiCorp scores $100M investment on $1.9B valuation (becomes a unicorn)

Today is another day in the sun for open source! HashiCorp has announced an enormous $100 Million round on a unicorn valuation of $1.9 Billion. HashiCorp launched in 2012, which we covered around the same time with founder and creator Mitchell Hashimoto, and again a year later shortly after officially forming HashiCorp with Armon Dadgar. Ron Miller of TechCrunch included this pull-quote to give context to HashiCorp’s roots. After graduating and getting jobs, Hashimoto and Dadgar reunited in 2012 and launched HashiCorp. They decided to break their big problem down into smaller, more manageable pieces and eventually built the five open source tools currently on offer. In fact, they found as they developed each one, the community let them know about adjacent problems and they layered on each new tool to address a different need. Over the years, HashiCorp has been in our newsfeed and on our podcasts regularly — so dig into the archives while we make plans to sync up with Mitchell on the future plans of HashiCorp.

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Business Insider Icon Business Insider

IBM is acquiring Red Hat for $34 Billion

That’s a lot of Billions attached to a company built on the back of open source Linux. To give a quick reminder, we JUST DID A SHOW with special guest Joseph Jacks titled “Venture capital meets commercial OSS” and, of course, Red Hat was mentioned several times. They’re also on the $100M+ revenue commercial open source software company index we talked about. We’ll dig into this and keep you updated on this breaking news that’s just days off the heels of Microsoft’s official acquisition announcement of GitHub. Needless to say, this has been a BIG WEEK for commercial open source software companies.

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Amjad Masad repl.it

Repl.it just raised $4.5M and has 1M monthly active users

Repl.it is a startup I’ve never heard of but it really seems I should have. They just raised $4.5M to build out a “microcomputer to the cloud’s mainframe.” What is that even? When they started they didn’t know either… We started Repl.it as a side project with the straightforward goal of making it easy to get a REPL for your favorite language when you need one … however, our users wanted more. They misused our system for things it wasn’t meant for: they hacked games into our dumb web terminal, they made networked applications despite not having explicit support for it, and they kept asking for more. It’s crazy how big ideas start so small and simple. Now they have the backing of one of the most sought after venture capital firms to continue on their quest. The seed round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with Marc Andreessen and Andrew Chen championing the deal. Cloud-computing is one of the most significant paradigm shifts in our industry, yet it remains command-able only by relatively few professionals. It’s similar to when, prior to microcomputers, only big corporations and universities had mainframes. We want Repl.it to be the microcomputer to the cloud’s mainframe.

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