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Adam Stacoviak changelog.com/posts

The founders of Octobox are "walking a tightrope" as they move towards sustainability

Building an open source business is hard. Octobox co-founders Andrew Nesbitt and Benjamin Nickolls know this all too well. They’re walking a preverbal “tightrope” with the introduction of new pricing in order to move towards sustainability. By all accounts, Octobox is a success. It’s a thriving open source project that’s being adopted by the software community using GitHub. It has a growing community of maintainers and contributors. Organizations like Shopify run company-wide instances for their own use. Octobox is also run as a SaaS that hosts more than 11k users. But there’s one tiny little problem…Octobox is not sustainable (yet).

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Y Combinator Icon Y Combinator

What’s the second job of a startup CEO?

Most startup founders get stuck in their first job as a CEO. The key to getting past developing a good product and achieving product-market-fit is to develop a good company. As noted in this recent episode of Founders Talk with Isaac Schlueter, and this post from Ali Rowghani the CEO of Y Combinator Continuity, getting the company part is hard. Your first creation is a product, your second creation is a company. A Phase 1 startup CEO is the Doer-in-Chief. You must be deeply involved in both building the product and acquiring users/customers. A CEO’s first job is to build a great product and find a small group of people who love it and use it enthusiastically. As a Phase 2 CEO, you need to transition from “Doer-in-Chief” to “Company-Builder-in-Chief.” This is how you scale as a CEO, and CEO scaling is the first step in company-building. For most founders, this is very difficult. When you’ve been a successful Doer-in-Chief, it’s hard to stop.

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Founders Talk Founders Talk #61

Isaac Schlueter on building npm and hiring a CEO

With JavaScript in every corner of software development and npm in every corner right along with it, the rise of npm can be drawn as a hockey stick up and to the right with Isaac Schlueter at the top grinning ear to ear. After reading their recent announcement to hire a CEO, I knew it was time to talk one-on-one with Isaac about building npm and the journey of hiring his successor.

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Travis CI Blog Icon Travis CI Blog

Travis CI has been acquired

Congrats to our friends over at Travis CI. A dollar amount wasn’t mentioned for this acquisition and I don’t know enough of the backstory to be able to tell if this, is in fact a good thing or a bad thing for Travis CI. It sounds like there aren’t any planned changes coming out of the gate with the acquisition, so that’s a good start. Regarding the state of Travis CI open source, Konstantin had this to say… Open source is at the heart of Travis CI. We will continue to maintain a free, hosted service for open source projects, and will keep building features for the open source community. Additionally, our code will stay open source and under an MIT license. This is who we are, this is what made us successful.

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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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Founders Talk Founders Talk #60

Leading data-driven software teams and products

For the final show of 2018 I’m talking with Travis Kimmel, the CEO of GitPrime. Travis has spent years as an engineering manager. Travis’s mission at GitPrime is to bring crystal clear visibility into the software development process and bridge the communication gap between engineering and stakeholders. This communication gap is often an ongoing plague in product development lifecycle. We talked through focus, tech debt, leading teams, predictability, and more.

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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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Founders Talk Founders Talk #59

How $3.8M in seed funding started Gatsby as an open source company

Kyle Mathews is the founder and CEO of Gatsby, a new company he’s building around an open source project of the same name. Gatsby as a project describes itself as a flexible modern website framework and blazing fast static site generator for React.js. At the macro level — Kyle’s career has been focused on a better way to build and ship websites. It seems he’s done just that with Gatsby’s launch in late May 2015…since then he’s taken on a co-founder and a seed round of $3.8M to form Gatsby Inc.

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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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The Changelog The Changelog #320

Venture capital meets commercial OSS

Joseph Jacks, the Founder and General Partner of OSS Capital joined the show to share his plans for funding the future generation of commercial open source software based companies. This is a growing landscape of $100M+ revenue companies ~13 years in the making that’s just now getting serious early attention and institutional backing — and we talk through many of those details with Joseph. We cover the whys and hows, why OSS now, deep details around licensing implications, and we speculate the types of open source software that makes sense for the types of investing Joseph and other plan to do.

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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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The Changelog The Changelog #310

Open sourcing the DEV community

We talk with Ben Halpern the founder and webmaster of dev.to — a community for developers to talk about software. Last Wednesday they open sourced the codebase of the dev.to platform, so we wanted to talk through all the details with Ben. We talked through the backstory, how Ben realized this could become a business, how the team was formed, their motivations for open sourcing it and why they didn’t open source it from the start, the technical stack, and their vision for the future of the site.

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The Changelog The Changelog #309

Rebuilding Exercism from the ground up

Adam and Jerod invite back Katrina Owen after years away focusing on Exercism—a 100% free platform for code practice and mentorship with over 2500 exercises and 48 different language tracks. They talk to Katrina about how the platform has changed, the direction it’s taken, the backstory on the recently launched version 2, and how she plans to turn Exercism into a sustainable business. Also, what happens if that doesn’t work?!

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Founders Talk Founders Talk #54

From side project to $7.25M for Unsplash

When Mikael Cho started Unsplash from its small beginning as a Tumblr blog and side project, he had no idea it would have such a huge impact and ultimately disrupt the photography industry. In this episode, Mikael shares the backstory of Unsplash, how it got started, keeping things focused, levers of growth, flipping the marketing funnel, turning free into a business, raising $7.25 million to build a new economy for photography, and the impact of an API.

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Founders Talk Founders Talk #53

Danielle Morrill on starting over from zero

Danielle Morrill joined the show to talk about how she’s starting over from zero after the recent acquisition of Mattermark to FullContact where she held the role of CEO and co-founder who walked away with “zero dollars and a job”. We talked through the details of the company, the acquisition process, the deal — which she brokered herself — as well as her outlook on the startup grind and silicon valley today, and what she’s planning to do next.

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