March 2012 Archives

Do you really need a full-time hire for that?

This post is directed at startups that have not yet reached product/market fit.

I have nothing against hiring for the right reason--when it is clear that doing so will advance critical path quicker and/or with higher probability. When that's clear I've extolled (and am practicing) inbound hiring; when it isn't clear I think the right answer is not hiring until it is clear.

Hiring seems to be the preferred use of seed funds (by investors and founders), whereas I'd prefer a focus on customer acquisition. I realize I'm the outlier here, but even though it's the norm I nevertheless cringe when I here something like this:

Me: what's the use of funds?

Founder: we'd like to hire a designer, n front-end programmers to do slick JavaScript and round out our product, n back-end programmers to help us scale, and a data guru to help us model all the data we're generating and/or build out these complicated algos we need.

Let me unpack why this bothers me so much. 

The way of life effect

Every now and then I start using a service that really changes my life. I don't mean just because it's awesome, but that it literally effects my behavior so significantly that it makes noticeable changes in the way I conduct my life. Here are a few examples. 

Why you should choose an ambitious startup idea


I believe that ambitious startup ideas have similar success probabilities to their less ambitious counterparts, if not higher success rates. No, I don't have any real evidence. Call it a highly educated guess.

DuckDuckGo FOSS Donations 2011

I recently made most of DuckDuckGo's 2011 FOSS donations: half directed by our company and half directed by our community. Over fifty nominations were made on, which like last year we grouped into a theme and culled for biggest perceived impact.

The theme for this year is open data/information, inspired in large part by the SOPA/PIPA debate and related activities. To that end we donated $940 to each of the following projects.