AngelList is essentially a public market for private, early-stage tech stocks––without actually being a transaction processor. It is the single most important innovation in venture capital in the last 5 years.
Imagine if Evan Williams (founder of Twitter) designed a NASDAQ competitor just for web startups, minus any govt regulation. What would it do? How would it work?
-Lots of Investors: AngelList has something close to
700 1,200 angel investors signed up so far. These are not random people. Literally, it’s all the top people you’ve heard of, plus a ton you haven’t. But most of them are really, really good.
-Structured Pitches: AngelList pitches are not a free-for-all. The submission format forces entrepreneurs to get to the point and allows for only a short list of fields: Product, Traction, Team, and Social Proof.
-Frictionless Intros: Investors who see a startup’s pitch can get intro’d to the startup with a single click. Investors can also “vote” for startups they like (typically after they’ve heard the pitch in person), and declare if/when they’ve actually invested. (Yes, it really is that baller.)
-Social Dealflow: Investors are encouraged to connect with and follow each other, a la Twitter. Each time an investor asks for an intro, votes or invests in a startup, it goes into the activity stream of that investor and everyone who follows him/her. This makes it easy for investments to “go viral.”
-Limited Curation: Babak Nivi, Naval Ravikant and Brendan Baker actually pick out what they think are the best startups and blast them out to investors via email. This is hugely effective, and great for the startups that make it into their email blasts.
Honestly, in my view, AngelList is the best thing to happen to startups since…the internet. The guys who run it are awesome, accesible and no-bullshit. The community is excellent. The money is real.
With all that said, I have one feature request:
-Investor Rating System: Not all investors are the same. TheFunded tried to do this in a half-ass sort of way, but given AngelList’s transparency, I think it’s the perfect venue for entrepreneurs to rate investors and offer feedback. Markets work best, after all, when everyone is operating with “the shadow of the future” in their mind
TLDR version: The idea that technology by itself can change the world is a delusion. For technology to have an impact in the world, humans must wield it, sometimes in conjunction with lethal force (or the threat thereof).*
Ten days ago, as we were checking out office space on Market Street, I met a woman at a coffee shop. Her office was in the building next door to the space we were checking out. She was educated, blonde and pretty. I asked about the neighborhood. We bantered.
To my co-founders’ annoyance, I stayed, picking her brain for a little. Turns out, the woman works for a mayoral candidate. Here’s what I learned from her:
-Arnold Schwarzenegger is no longer the governor of California
-Jerry Brown is the governor
-Gavin Newsom is no longer the mayor of San Francisco
-Gavin Newson is now California’s Lieutenant Governor
-Someone else is the mayor of SF
Maybe it sounds crazy, but this was all news to me. I literally had no idea. The more we talked, the more I looked like an idiot. Blondie was not impressed, “Are you serious? You don’t even know who the governor is?” Crash and burn.
This anecdote, however, illustrates a larger point: I live in a bubble.
Two years ago, I was a fresh grad out of the Columbia political science department, one of if not the top poli sci programs in the world. Although my focus was on international security, I was a political junkie. I knew who the important governors were. I knew who the up and coming congressmen were. I knew about instability in Central Asia and Russia’s imperial ambitions in the Caucasus.
Two years and a startup later, I don’t even know who’s the governor of my own state. Where I used to visit NYTimes.com thrice a day, I now visit once every 10.
Two weeks ago, Chris Dixon wrote a blog post entitled, “Predicting the Future of the Internet.”
Predicting the future of the Internet is easy: anything it hasn’t yet dramatically transformed, it will. People, companies, investors and even countries can’t stop this transformation.
I left a warning in the comments: “Government CAN stop the internet and the information revolution… Progress and rapid technological innovation is not an inevitability––it’s pre-conditioned on a certain set of political circumstances that are frail and fleeting at best.”
I don’t think many people in the tech world ever seriously considered this idea until this past week, when Egypt turned off the internet.
And really, it’s not an argument that you hear too often. Everywhere, you hear the techno-optimists and cyber-utopians discussing how technology changes everything, how Twitter & FB can cause revolutions. And you see it too: Corporate empires get crushed, new ones arise in their place; protests happen on the street, governments fall after the masses are mobilized on Facebook.
Who in this world of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and their hangers-on is going to argue that what we do is not the most important thing on earth, that we are not in fact the center of the universe? I mean, if I’m at all a representative sample, it’s not like we’re even talking to the politicos or, for that matter, anyone outside our own insular little world who might have a different view.
Our great creation, the internet––this vast network and everything built on top of it––was supposed to free our minds, to expose us to vast and new ways of thinking. But the reality, at least for me, has been different.
The internet hasn’t really expanded my field of vision, it’s deepened it.
In 2008, I was wannabe journalist with a dream about technology and a chip on my shoulder. I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship or startups or venture capital.
Two years later, I’m the CEO of a funded company in Silicon Valley. How? I taught myself on the internet. I’ve read blogs voraciously. I’ve turned FB messages into meetings, Tweets into investments. I am deep, deep into this world of startups. The amount of information I can consume is enormous. So enormous, in fact, that I can now consume a diet composed almost entirely of niche-specific information and still be missing out on something important in the industry.
In the short term, this is great: I now know a ton about what’s going on in my part of the world. Perhaps more so than anyone ever could before.
The long term is where the echo chamber bites you in the ass: Inevitably, something important happens outside of your niche that has the power to change it completely. Maybe it’s an energy crisis that drives up the cost of shipping and thus clobbers eCommerce. Maybe it’s the government shutting off the internet.
My point here is that while it’s easy––and in fact natural––for us in the tech world to overlook it: Politics really fucking matters. If it so chooses, the state can kill “the cloud” with the flick of a switch. Congress can tax eCommerce into oblivion. The FCC can kill YouTube. The FTC can regulate Facebook.
We’ve been deluded into thinking that all this innovation is inevitable and unstoppable. It ain’t.
And beyond that, information sharing is not an end in itself. Governments don’t fall because you tweet @ them. They fall when people with guns organize themselves on Facebook.
The internet is only a trigger.
The internet was invented because military generals wanted a resilient command and control system for our nuclear forces. The internet itself is not a weapon; it is not a force upon itself. No, the internet is only an enabler, a lever that, if used properly, can connect and inspire people––real human beings made of flesh and blood––into action.
Fred Wilson wrote a post this morning entitled, A Frightening Week.
I suppose I am a “cyberutopian” at heart as Evgeny Morozov calls us. I believe in the power of technology, particularly communications technology powered by the internet, to make the world better, safer, and more open and free.
This past week has shown that the cyberutopian view is naive and that those who are not interested in a better, safer, more open and free world will use technology to further their interests too.
So this has been a frightening week and one that shows that the fight for human rights all over the world will not be delivered a decisive win via the internet.
Fred, I agree. Securing that freedom requires people with guns and training in the art of violence. And that’s a combo you can’t get on the internet. It’s not allowed.
*What makes the state unique is that it has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force & violence. Even when force is withheld, the threat of it gets people act. Kinda like when a cop tells you to step out of the car.
SpeakerText needs help. Seriously.
The amount of non-technical work and stuff we need to do to make SpeakerText succeed has grown beyond my capacity. In fact, it’s hurting productivity, and not just for me. Tyler still acting as company bookkeeper, and Swanson spends a lot of time sending emails and doing lots of urgent but non-strategic non-technical work.
Funny thing is, while we’ve talked about hiring non-technical folks eventually, we never saw it as a priority. In fact, the whole idea of hiring a non-engineer felt wasteful, a luxury that we couldn’t really afford.
Last week, this changed. For the last month or so, I’ve been meeting each Thursday with a guy named Marc Randolph. He is the original Founder/CEO of NetFlix, which was seed-funded by his buddy Reed Hasting (who took over as CEO after his departure in 2003). Marc gives me advice on matters both big and small. A helpful dude, he is.
Anywho, Swanson joined me for this last meeting, which mostly covered big picture stuff. But then we started bitching about feeling overwhelmed with minutiae. “Hire someone!” Marc suggested.
Swanson’s brow furrowed. “Wait, hold on a sec,” he said. “You’re saying we should actually hire a non-technical person…right now? Like, is that OK?”
“Yeah, totally,” Marc nodded.
Swanson paused, a quizzical look passing over his face. “Before we hire engineers??”
“It will be like adding another engineer to the team, but better,” Marc explained. “You and Tyler will actually be more productive, and that productivity increase will happen right away. There’ll be no learning curve like there will be for a new engineering hire.”
Swanson’s face lit up. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning. “So, hold on a sec here. You’re saying we can hire this person? We can pay them money to this job and that’s not some crazy luxury expense?”
“Yeah, totally. You should have done it already,” Marc nodded.
When we left the meeting, Swanson was giddy. “OMG, if I didn’t have to do all this bullshit work, I’d so much more productive!”
We talked about it over lunch. This is a person we need. And in talking about it with other startup founders, it sounds like this is a person that a lot of startups need.
When it comes to hiring, I tend to think a lot about what’s in it not just for us, but for the other person, for the dude (or dudette) we want to hire. And so I thought about it: What value could possibly come from someone with a lot of talent doing by the bitchwork that we really don’t want to do?
As it turns out, a lot.
For one, we’re a hot, fast growing startup. There’s value in just being there at the ground floor when things are taking off. We just closed a seed round with some top tier investors (announcement coming soon) and in that kind of environment, it’s inevitable that you see things, you see & become part of the process––and that means you learn stuff about how companies are actually built.
Honestly, I wish I had a job like this after graduation. I would have learned so much, saved myself so much headache and so many “school of hard knocks” lessons.
The reality is, we need people who can do more than just bitchwork. I’d expect the random admin stuff to amount to 30% the job, give or take. The rest of the job is going to involve actually talking with customers (30%) and figuring out how to acquire new ones (30%). Think customer support and brand building.
God knows we need help when it comes to customer support. And inherent in customer support is customer development, i.e. figuring out what customers really want, need and will pay for. That’s how you build a company, really.
And finally, there’s that last 10%, the really fun part that only really happens when you’re in an early stage company: plotting world domination. In big companies, this kind of thing the exclusive domain of upper management. No fresh grad is going to be talking grand strategy with the CEO of Google. But when you’re sitting next to the founders 12 hours a day 6 days a week, you’re naturally part of the conversation. And believe me, world domination is something we think––and talk––about a lot.
Basically, it’s the perfect gig if you’re web savvy, hungry and you want to break into the startup world but don’t know where to start.
SpeakerText is hiring people to work out of our new San Francisco headquarters. Backed by some of the top investors in Silicon Valley, we’re a fast growing tech company with paying customers and a real business model.
The Job: Hustler (Entry-Level)
Designed for recent graduates with lots of raw talent and ambition, the entry-level hustler position requires strong people skills, extreme web savvy, detail orientation and a scrappy JFDI attitude.
On a day-to-day basis, you’ll spend most of your time either in front of a computer or on the phone alongside to the CEO and the engineering team, participating in the early growth phase of a hot technology company a la The Social Network. Here’s a rough breakdown of how you can expect to spend your time:
-30% Talking with existing customers
-30% Figuring out how to acquire new customers
-30% Random office tasks
-10% Plotting world domination
Hustling isn’t a job, it’s a state of mind. Whether you want to start your own company one day (which we encourage) or not, being part of Team SpeakerText means embracing the JFDI spirit. We will empower you to get things done, and won’t always give you a ton of direction as to how. You will be held accountable for the results and rewarded accordingly.
Compensation includes a living wage, healthcare, and stock options.
You will learn the following within 18 months:
-How to think strategically about making money on the internet
-How to talk to customers
-Basics of entrepreneurial finance, including the venture capital process
-How to run an online marketing campaign, including how to use MailChimp & the Twitters
CEO’s note: If you’re non-technical and want to break into the world of startups and entrepreneurship, this is the perfect job. In fact, this is the job I wish I had when I first graduated from college, knew I wanted to start something but hadn’t the faintest clue about where to begin.
The Company: SpeakerText
SpeakerText is an online video transcription service powered by semi-automated assembly line software that combines artificial intelligence with crowdsourced labor. Crazy as it sounds, the humans are teaching the machines to become smarter and slowly working themselves out of a job.
The upside of all this technology is that SpeakerText not only makes video accessible and searchable, but it also enables sundry applications like this one that lets you share video quotes that link back to that exact moment inside the video.
Company culture is something we care a lot about. We hire really smart, really hardcore people who like to have fun (e.x. our CEO is a Columbia grad who dropped out of college twice to work on an ambulance in East LA, then fight forest fires in Alaska).
1) Visit http://speakertext.com and check out what we do.
2) Email firstname.lastname@example.org with links to your online resume & web presence, include a brief, non-generic spiel about why you think this might be the gig for you.
SpeakerText is an equal-opportunity, work-hard, party-hard employer.
Follow me on Twitter.
ATTENTION: SpeakerText is hiring web developers and ML hackers. If scaling a semi-automated, virtual assembly line that combines AI with crowdsourced labor sounds like your idea of a good time, click here.
People who say that lawyers are a commodity good don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Lawyers are not a commodity. There’s no need to overpay, but do not skimp. Lawyers are expensive, and it’s tempting to go cheap when you’re small and broke. I get it. I’ve been there. But your legal docs are the hardest things to change, and sometimes, they’re unchangeable.
If you’re outside of Silicon Valley, make absofuckinglutely sure that you’re using a startup law firm with a Silicon Valley presence. Your cousin Andy’s friend who went to Harvard Law will not do the trick. The really smart lawyer your bud Jim knew at Goldman Sachs will not do the trick.
If you’re in tech, you need a startup lawyer. Period. And not’s because it’s rocket science, but because it involves nuance and long term issues that don’t apply to the rest of the normal business world, which is to say: there’s a chance you’ll raise venture capital and/or sell your company.
I started the company that became SpeakerText in October 2008, just a couple weeks after the
apocalypse Lehman collapse. I was still working on an ambulance at the time, paying the bills by being a paramedic in NYC. In December, I got my first lucky* break.
It was 4am. I was working 10w, tour 1 –– the Upper East Side overnight. Around 0300, we got the call for a cardiac arrest. Old lady. Cancer patient. When we got there, the family spoke with an aura of acceptance. “She’s dead,” said her son. But they didn’t have the Do Not Resuscitate order on hand. Fuck, I thought. We have to work her.
I hate working dead people.
I tried to get the medical control doc to let us pronounce. He got pissed, said ‘no dice.’ And so we did the whole CPR rigamarole. I felt bad for the family. Let the woman rest in peace, I thought. What a shame.
And so we performed the obligatory medical theater. Sometime around 345am, I pronounced.
Of course, it was my job to do the paperwork, and so I started talking to the son. He was a nice guy, in his 50s or so. Amidst checking the boxes and transcribing her medical history, I asked him my favorite question: “So, what do you do?”
Turns out he’s a lawyer. A corporate lawyer. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was actually a very powerful senior partner at one of the top firms in the US.
“Do you work with startups at all?” I inquired.
“Startups?” He responded, a bit exasperated. “Who’s doing that?”
Lehman had just melted down. The end of the world, it was.
“Well, I am” I said, and proceeded to pitch him what became SpeakerText.
He was intrigued and gave me his number, said: “Call me. I might be able to help you out.”
A few days later, I called. And emailed.
I didn’t want to push, so I left it at that. The man was in mourning, after all, and while I was & am a determined motherfucker, I wasn’t going to be that guy.
A month later, he called me back. “Sorry I didn’t respond earlier,” he said. “I just wanted to say that I was really impressed by you and that
Woot! Free lawyers! And good ones to boot Hot damn!!!
Over the course of 12 months, they helped me form an LLC and then converted that into a C-corporation called SpeakerText Inc.
Our engagement ended in December 2009. And boy was a I proud.
In March, I went hunting for a new lawyer: the kind you pay for.
“If you had paid for these docs, I’d tell you to sue for legal malpractice.” This is what the pros at Wilson Sonsini told me.
In our incorporation docs, there were two fatal mistakes, the combination of which was our saving grace.
#1 I failed to file a 83(b) election with the IRS.
The 83(b) election is something you have to file so that when you have equity vesting in place, you don’t have to pay an increasing amount of taxes with each month your shares vest. If you don’t file an 83(b), the IRS will classify all the shares that vest each month as income…at their current market value. Thus, if your stock price goes up, then you owe the IRS more money each month. But the shares are illiquid, so if the share price goes up a lot, you become increasingly fucked.
I was setup to be increasingly fucked. That is, if SpeakerText went anywhere.
#2 The company issued more shares than the board had authorized.
We had issued 25,000 shares but only authorized 2,500. Whoops.
The upside of this is that it was such an egregious, astoundingly sloppy move that it nullified everything else, including the 83(b) election screw up. Thank gawd.
Our new lawyer, Heather Miles, cleaned it all up back in April. We were lucky, she explained. My ass was saved by the sheer grossness of our previous lawyers’ incompetence.
Heather reached out to our previous counsel to ask about the 83(b). “What’s an 83(b)?” was the response.
It’s not that our previous lawyers were bad people. Sloppy, yes. Incompetent, yes. Well pedigreed, also yes. Part of the problem is that, as pro bono clients, we had gotten kicked to a very amicable first year associate that handled our work.
Regardless, the real point is this: they weren’t specialists. They had never done incorporation work before. They didn’t grock the nuances. And as a result, they fucked up.
It’s like in medicine. Pediatrics have a fundamentally different anatomy and different problems than adults. Same with lawyers. You can’t just scale down the tactics you’d use in a big company. You need a specialist. Spend the money. It’ll save you in the end.
The other good thing about a really good lawyer is that they can help you negotiate terms with investors and customers. They can be the bad cop to your good cop. They can provide you with normative leverage, which is awesome. “I can’t do that because my lawyer says it will fuck me when we raise a series A,” is a wonderful thing to be able to say.
I submitted this comment to the Securities & Exchange Commission after seeing this: Is The SEC Going To Significantly Raise The Accredited Investor Thresholds?
Our economy is in the tank. People need to create jobs. And while some banks are lending, most smaller entrepreneurial business do not and often will not qualify for bank loans.
Enter the individual “angel” investor, sometimes a dentist, often a successful entrepreneur. The good ones don’t just give you cash: they give you advice, they give you knowledge. This is what American entrepreneurs need––and they are what America needs.
Entrepreneurs and the companies they create will be what save these United States of America. And while we are a scrappy, resourceful bunch, we need access to capital to get started. And when we’re tiny and our business model is unclear and our prospects of success are the most uncertain, individual investors willing to make a bet on our success are how we survive.
The harder you make it for rich or even semi-rich guys to invest because of regulations, the less investors there will be––and fewer companies will survive or get started in the first place. Fewer companies means fewer jobs. And no one wants that.
So please, don’t make it harder for rich guys to invest in small, dinky companies like mine. American needs us, and we need them.
This is the time for public comment. In theory, they’re listening. Now’s our time to speak up. Do it here.
Last night, as I was reflecting on a contentious debate we’d had during the day (technically about server migrations, actually about pent up interpersonal frustrations), and after a fleeting moment of panic, it occurred to me how common this kind of shit really is.
It’s easy to lionize people, to paint your heroes––in your mind––with the magical dust of immortality and––abetted by the echo chamber that is the web––forget their actual humanity. Humanity that is sometimes flawed, sometimes frail. When you compare your very real, not-so-adequate-today self to the built up, pedestalized image of someone else, you’ll always come up short.
Which brings me to Chris Dixon, the celebrity entrepreneur/VC. We entrepreneurs who cut their teeth on the east coast in this latest wave of startups have come to lionize the man and hold him up as something of an idol. The truth? Cool guy. Very smart. Excellent writer. Already built up one company and sold it. But the man’s still human. Strip away the marketing and he’s still playin’ the game, just like the rest of us.
His current venture, Hunch, hasn’t really taken off, despite having raised nearly $20mil in venture capital from the top names in the biz and having lined up an all star team of technical geniuses. His co-founder Caterina just bailed, or is in the process of maybe-kinda-sorta-not-really doing so. Business Insider says they had a personal falling out, but that’s not confirmed.
And Hunch, well, Hunch is cool and “interesting” from a technology perspective, but I haven’t quite figured out how it solves an actual problem or need. I think I used it once, maybe, 6 months ago. No one on my team uses it and no one I know actively uses or has talked about it. From all appearances, the product seems to be “a vitamin, not a painkiller,” and more of a feature than a product.
Not saying they’re doomed, but I am saying they’re not a clear success just yet. ‘Product-market fit’ is still an aspiration, not a reality.
Sound familiar, maybe like 99% of every startup you’ve ever met, no?
Now, I’m not saying this to knock Dixon or Hunch, but to point out a larger truth that I think is easy to overlook amidst all the adulation & hype: CELEBRITIES ARE HUMAN. COMPANIES––NO MATTER HOW ‘HOT’––ARE RUN BY HUMANS. Humans that can fuck up and piss each other off and fall flat on their face. Humans like us…just sometimes with more money or buzz or prestige.
As a founder, it’s easy to come up short when you compare yourself to an illusory ideal. But that’s not reality. No one has a perfect track record. Businesses are run by humans. A startup is a human institution. While a good CEO can hide the warts, the truth is rarely as pretty or elegant as the narrative pedaled to the press.
And so, when you’re in the struggle and you want to kill your co-founder(s) and you haven’t nailed product-market fit and you wonder why you ever thought you could succeed in the first place, remember: That’s what being the man in the arena is all about. This kind of shit is normal. Hell, not even the great Chris Dixon is immune.
Only in hindsight will people––yourself included––romanticize the struggle, say your success was always assured, and imbue the affair with shimmers of glory.
I remember seeing this interview with Carol Bartz at TC Disrupt: NYC (above).
Arrington: What is Yahoo?
Bartz: What is Yahoo? Yahoo is a company that is very strong in content. It’s moving towards the web of one. We have 32,000 variations on our front page module. We serve a million of those a day. It’s all customized. Our click-through rate went up twice since we started customizing this. People come to check the things they like. “You can just get it together.” Yahoo is one site people always stop at.
And with that, I decided that Yahoo! would not succeed with Carol Bartz at the helm as CEO.
Mind you, I’m no management guru. This is my first time wearing the CEO hat, and I screw up a plenty. So take that as a strong qualifier to what I’m about to say…
The CEO must, first and foremost, define and communicate a clear vision of and for the company.
What is [insert company name]? If no one inside or outside the company can answer the question, then there’s a problem. And problems of that magnitude typically arise from the CEO.
For a while, Drop.io was one of the hottest startups in NYC.
But for the longest time, I had absolutely no idea what they did. Mind you, this is when I was living in New York and actively involved in the local startup scene. If anyone was in a position to understand what they did, it was I.
One night, I attended a crowdsourcing meetup at the Drop.io HQ. Drinking beer afterwards, I asked a Drop.io engineer: “Maybe this is a stupid question, but what exactly is Drop.io anyway? What do you guys actually do?”
“Well, Drop.io is a lot of things. We have a robust chat application. We do real-time file synchronization. We…” And he proceeded to list out 10 more seemingly unrelated features. I’m sure he understood his particular task, but there didn’t seem to be any theme or story that unified all the products & features into an actual company.
The New York VCs seemed to love Drop.io, to the tune of $10mil over 3 rounds of investment. Word on the street was that they really just loved Sam Lessin, the founder. Apparently so does Facebook, as Sam’s name was singled out in company press announcement.
I don’t really know Sam. I’m happy he found a place to park the company’s assets and hopefully get his investors their money back.
But it seems like Sam––as much as he is described as a genius and fawned over by the people who actually know him––failed on the marketing front. Not just externally, but internally too.
From what I could gather as an outsider, Drop.io was the limitless company, a product that did everything for everybody, or tried to, anyways…and because of that, after December 15, will end up doing nothing for no one.
This is no personal dig on Sam, mind you, as I’m sure he tried his best.
But a big part of being a CEO involves requires you to decide on a core message––your founding story––then go out and repeat it ad naseaum to everyone who will listen, including bloggers, customers, investors, random people at bars, prospective hires, etc.
It takes repetition for a message to stick, and that means you, as an entrepreneur, have to repeat yourself over & over again in a disciplined and uncreative manner. Uncreative repetition is not why you become an entrepreneur, but it’s necessary to success so long as you wear the CEO hat.
It’s like being a political candidate: You have to go out and give the same damn speech time and time again. And if you want people to believe in you, you gotta do it with gusto. It ain’t easy, and it takes a special temperament to do it.
If you don’t? Well, then no one knows who you are or why you exist. And if they don’t know that, they won’t believe in you or your hallucination, they won’t part with their money, they won’t join your company, they won’t follow you down the dark hole of unknown that is being a startup. They won’t care.
And you fail, selling scraps of the dream, piece by piece, to the highest bidder, if anyone bids at all.
I am fairly organized when it comes to work, but I’m not what you’d call a neat freak or a huge planner. M2 is similar, although I think he’s a bit cleaner on the personal side and a less organized when it comes to planning for work.
M2′s biggest gripe to date has been my habit of, umm, not always putting dishes away.
When the two of us go out, whether it’s to pitch investors or buy groceries, we become a live comedy routine. There’s lots of bouncing back & forth between us, invariably some sort of escalation, and eventually we go overboard and tell whatever poor soul we end up performing for about one of our imaginatively farcical business plans, the most SFW one being Perpetual Puppy, “the genetically engineered dog that always looks like a puppy!”
Tyler, on the other hand, is a serious planner. And he’s very clean. As it turns out, he’s also a very talented software engineer, and his performance is more consistent than either M2 or I.
He really hates it when I leave stuff out.
When it comes to socializing, Tyler is a bit more reserved. He hates pitching. Dear god he hates pitching. The artifice & repetitiveness of it all just grates on him. He takes a bit to warm up to new people, but when he finally does, the result is lots of “bro-ing out.” We are now at the ultimate level of “brosef”-ness.
For example, right now Tyler is making LOLcat noises and announcing a Foursquare check-in to our bathroom. (He just joined. God help us.)
To be honest, it’s pretty amazing how this has all worked out.
But it has not been without friction.
At the end of July, we loaded up the Penske & drove cross country. It was epic, but not exactly “awesome” in a fun way. Tyler hated it and hated us. I wanted to punch him. For a few days, we stopped talking to each other.
Then we got over it.
For a while, M2 & Tyler were closer. Then one weekend M2 left for a friend’s wedding in Texas. Tyler & I bonded over an evening of shooting pool at Antonio’s Nut House in Palo Alto. Paul Graham showed up with an entourage. After nervously debating which one of us should approach him, he approached us en route to the bathroom. We said hi. PG responded with a surprised, awkward smile. We bonded. It was fun.
Often times, I see startups where the founders are all alike. Three geeks. Two MBAs. Etc. That’s not us. I mean living together might be easier if it were, but I think we’d be less successful. If Tyler wasn’t the corporate treasurer…well, dear god.
But even more than that, on a personal note, I am grateful to be part of a team. I remember living in NYC back in the spring, doing SpeakerText with an overseas partner & some freelancers. Despite the titles, I felt like a solo founder with a team of remote developers. It was so lonely. The work was rewarding, but not fun…not fun in the way it is now. There was no Tyler making LOLcat noises and shouting “Broskis!!!” every 15min. There was no M2 perpetually one upping my crazy ideas. There was no team.
And goddamnit, it feels great to have a team, to have friends, to have broskis.