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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.

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.

Jonas Van Schoote madewithlove.be

The different skills needed to be a successful CTO

What does it take to be successful as a CTO? The stories of founder/CEO transitions is plentiful, but what about the evolution of a company and the need for a CTO who has a vision of how to do things and the team and skills needed to make it happen?

A CTO at this point still needs to mainly look inward and know how to code, know the structure of the application and infrastructure, but the focus is shifting towards managing a team, establishing a culture and processes to be able to grow quickly. Growing also means hiring but also making sure that every hire is an effective team member as soon as possible.

OpenAI Icon OpenAI

Microsoft is investing $1 billion in OpenAI

Straight from the horse’s mouth:

We’re partnering to develop a hardware and software platform within Microsoft Azure which will scale to AGI. We’ll jointly develop new Azure AI supercomputing technologies, and Microsoft will become our exclusive cloud provider—so we’ll be working hard together to further extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-scale AI systems.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the value traded in large scale investments like these. What do both sides get? With this particular investment, however, it’s pretty obvious what Microsoft is getting (Azure++) and what OpenAI is getting (an expanded R&D budget). It’s also worth noting that this is specifically focused on Artificial General Intelligence, not merely advancing the current state of the art in Machine Learning.

Michael del Castillo forbes.com

Shell invests in Ethereum

This is a really interesting usage of blockchain technology to ensure you are really getting what you think you bought. Michael del Castillo writes on Forbes.com:

The fifth-largest oil and gas company in the world, valued at $262 billion, is investing an undisclosed amount in LO3, a New York startup using a modified version of the ethereum blockchain to make it easier for individuals to buy and sell locally produced energy using the existing network of power cables.

While the bitcoin blockchain lets users track the flow of value without the need of banks to audit the system, LO3’s platform, called Exergy, is designed to track the flow of energy as it is added to a shared, local energy network, giving the neighbors who purchase the energy absolute certainty it really came from a windmill, a solar panel or a gerbil running on a treadmill.

Thomas Claburn theregister.co.uk

npm, Inc settled its labor rights union-busting battle

With the settlement behind it, NPM Inc can now turn its attention toward repairing relationships with the JavaScript community and generating enough revenue to sustain itself.

I’d like to know what the current sentiment is towards npm after this settlement. Can they mend these community fences? Or, are you more hopeful of the “development of alternative technologies” as mentioned in this post?

Startups defmacro.org

Startup idea checklist

I’ve been tinkering with different startup ideas and needed a good checklist to think through them. There are great templates for this already: The YC application, Amazon’s internal press release, and Sequoia’s Writing a Business Plan. I found myself mixing and tweaking these templates because they don’t exactly match my model of the world, so I wrote up my own list.

These are great questions to ask yourself when you’re dreaming up an open source project as well.

Cryptocurrency libra.org

Welcome to Libra?

Facebook, VISA, Uber, and A16Z (amongst others) have officially announced their cryptocurrency:

Reinvent money. Transform the global economy. So people everywhere can live better lives.

Color me skeptical. Not of the value of cryptocurrencies writ large, but in the actors and entities behind this particular coin. One thing I believe to be true, though: ten years from now our idea of (and interaction with) money will be dramatically different than it is today.

Security troyhunt.com

The future of Have I Been Pwned

Troy Hunt:

It’s time for HIBP to grow up. It’s time to go from that one guy doing what he can in his available time to a better-resourced and better-funded structure that’s able to do way more than what I ever could on my own.

HIBP is an international treasure, IMHO. It’s pretty cool to see how it has transformed Troy’s life along the way:

HIBP may only be less than 6 years old, but it’s the culmination of a life’s work. I still have these vivid memories stretching back to the mid-90’s when I first started building software for the web and had a dream of creating something big; “Isn’t it amazing that I can sit here at home and write code that could have a real impact on the world one day”

GitHub dependabot.com

Dependabot has been acquired by GitHub

More news out of today’s GitHub Satellite event, this time from a security angle. The implications of this acquisition from the horse’s mouth:

  1. We’re integrating Dependabot directly into GitHub, starting with security fix PRs 👮‍♂️
  2. You can still install Dependabot from the GitHub Marketplace whilst we integrate it into GitHub, but it’s now free of charge 🎁
  3. We’ve doubled the size of Dependabot’s team; expect lots of great improvements over the coming months 👩‍💻👨‍💻👩‍💻👨‍💻👩‍💻👨‍💻

Congrats to Grey, Harry and Philip!

Andy Sparks holloway.com

Fundamentals of product-market fit

For the entrepreneurial type: this is a great dive into the fundamentals of product-market fit by @sparkszilla. The whole read is worth it if you’re interested in raising funds in the future. The heart of the article stems from three axiomatic theories:

  • Rachleff’s Law of Startup Success: Rachleff says, “The #1 company-killer is lack of market. When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins. When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins. When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.”
  • Rachleff’s Corollary of Startup Success: “The only thing that matters is getting to product-market fit.”
  • BPMF and APMF: The lives of startups are divided into two categories, before product-market fit (BPMF) and after product-market fit (APMF).

And the Vohra questionnaire to see if you have PMF is one I’ll keep on hand for the future. 👌

Fundamentals of product-market fit
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