re: katz

brain dump of my business and life musings on the past present and future. enjoy, question, argue and share.

Developers have inherited the earth - if only we could protect their rights with the 2nd amendment as well as the 1st

To say that developers will inherit the earth is no longer an accurate statement. They already have. My role at Geeklist has made it all the more clear. The new revolution is not in the streets, it’s not in the squares or parks, it’s not on university campuses. The new revolution is on mobile devices, your laptops and exists in the clouds. The new revolution is owned and controlled by developers. Software engineers that build the technology the world is now completely dependent on.

The recent passing of Aaron Swartz rocked the tech world and developers alike, throwing the true builders and creators of the internet into an impassioned outpouring. (Find some in this search on Storify or some cool links in this community aaron swartz) Now we face a very new form of activism. Hacktivists are in control. Wikileaks started a global controversy and shocked the world with the power a small group can have by sharing sensitive informtation.

Yesterday Anonymous took a bold and revolutionary ‘wikileaks-style’ move in honor of Swartz. It’s now official. A group of developers ‘hacktivists’ have used their skills to launch a revolution. Anonymous Hacks U.S. Government Site, Threatens Supreme ‘Warheads’

 It’s about time. Considering we are all glued to the screen of a mobile device or laptop all day the only way to get anyones attention nowadays is with an innane cat video, a twitter flame war or by hacking/taking control of a government’s web page, seizing sensitive data and demanding change. I’m not suggesting I agree with the tactics. I’m not writing to condone the behavior. I am writing to point out the obvious. Those who build todays technologies will own tomorrow’s future and be in control.

Developers can be more powerful than any army and reach into places the best special ops or spies could never reach. Why? Because developers have inherited the earth. Everything we touch, see, hear, interact with in any meaningful way is somehow influenced by a developer… and this is only the beginning. The top 9 of 10 best paying jobs worldwide are engineers. Parents around the world in emerging nations and deteriorating economies once dependent on industrial work are telling their children “Learn to code”. It’s the one industry where the world will demand more and more skilled workers over the coming decades. 

Today it’s official. The wars of tomorrow will not only be fought with drones, but with the worlds best hackers. I suppose the last 007 Bond movie wasn’t so far off. 

Now if only we could protect the rights of developers with the 2nd amendment…as well as the 1st. - rekatz

A requiem for a tech link site

In response to recent growing Hacker News disdain from peers. 

For years I got my daily fix of Hacker News. PG was a legend of the Valley for me and YC an admirable semi-exclusive club of amazing success stories. Many we work with and many friends have had tremendous success going through the program and building great businesses. This doesn’t speak to the YC success or failure as while the recent class of 80+ companies is certain to be full of success stories and their investors full of success. (Disclosure: we never applied to YC nor tried simply because we had two seasoned founders with many successes under our belts and felt respectfully it wasn’t our cup of tea, but we admired and loved HN and the people at YC) 

As an entrepreneur for 15+ years, I really admired the HN community support and its relationship to startups and hackers. Something all founders and tech leaders need. From outside of Silicon Valley it was very inspiring to watch.

When I started Geeklist about 1 1/2 years ago with my co-founder we broke into the Silicon Valley scene and hustled like nobody’s business to get known, get ahead, build a great product, raise funds and do the things all entrepreneurs must do to reach their goals. One of the tools we looked towards was HN. We got some initial love in there, but oddly once they (YC) invested in a company that was built to do badges but began copying our every step, the HN love shut down. It absolutely could be unrelated. I don’t know. Articles we posted/very relevant news even picked up by Huffington post, TNW and other media outlets, were repeatedly removed and shut out. At least with no transparency to voting or the ‘karma factor’ we had no way to know why. Along with that came the barrage of complaints from many influential developers and tech leaders we knew about the voting system, the mystical ‘Karma’ system and basically the fact that something once so simple and pure, full of positivity and support, became a place to lambaste, harass, condescend, denigrate and shut down intelligible and news-worthy items, startups and human beings. But that’s not the worst part because comments can be ignored… it’s just that feeling like this community was supposed to be for all start-uppers and techies and we’ve realized it’s really not. I don’t know who it’s for anymore. 

Like Friendster, MySpace and the ever famous Digg along with forums and bulletin boards of past… things evolve from what once was innovative, cool and positive, causing new generations of innovators to learn from the mistakes of their elders and build something better. Something more relevant. Something more useable. Something more friendly and more open…

Thank you Paul for Hacker News and everything you and YC have always done for startups. You’ll always be loved and respected by me… but for the disenchanted tech and startup link absorbers like me and so many of our close (and not so close) friends there is something new.

Welcome to Geeklist Links. Tech news, startup releases and developer links and resources, organized into your own categories, shared in tagged communities, saved, ^5’d, upvoting and down voting, with complete transparency. http://geekli.st/#link - built by developers for developers and the tech world. Note: It wasn’t built in response to HN, we built the ability to share resources and organize them… then came the HN hatred and the natural addition of a reddit-style voting system after our community demanded it. We love our community…very much and they are usually right. Good night HN, I’ll still read and try to post there… but I have lost the dream of it being for me anymore. 

[Inspired in response to a great post on HN by Steve  id=4396747 ]

Written by Reuben Katz - these views I own and fwiw I also founded and own a big part of Geeklist. I posted this here because these views do not necessarily reflect those of my team or company. Just me. My email is rkatz@geekli.st

When Imitation is not Flattery but Forgery

I like to embrace competition and I love a good match. In fact I have tremendous respect for founders who go out and dive into a competitive market because they know they can solve the problem better than anyone else through innovation and better design or better service. Companies have been copying many of Geeklist’s innovative ideas from day one, but in new ways, respectful ways. We found an early startup which had recently pivoted into music using our exact strings (they respectfully said to my co-founder, Christian, “we learned from the best” - flattery.) we’ve had companies use our vision of giving props to founders in achievement format in Super Bowl ads (see previous blog), we’ve had other companies outright take our achievement card concept and two weeks after we launch go out and launch achievements too. 

But I not only have no respect for forgery, as a designer and artist it makes me sick. There is a thick line drawn between being influenced by a design and innovating with something similar or using it in a new way and just plain forgery. 

Then I thought of our bad-ass front-end engineer, pouring hours and hours into getting it right and really innovating with a great design which I’d never seen done quite in that way. (geekli.st/chrisstumph) He built a slick and very friendly search mechanism that looks fantastic. This company, who doesn’t even deserve the attention, has crossed the line of fair play and should be questioned by investors and users as to how innovative are they, really? 

Here is our search on Geeklist which has been live for months:

Here is the new search coderly copied from us, released two days ago and announced on Angellist.  

Here is another comparison. http://cl.ly/3H3w252k252r221h2q0j 

Big Hi 5 to our own designer for telling me “Heh, imitation is the highest form of flattery. I think it’s awesome. The only down side is that they are an obvious competitor.” - You rock Christopher for the positive outlook. But well, they are no competitor to us and it is not flattery in this case. It’s abhorrent behavior in the startup world to not only take an idea, but then copy the designs. I love competition, it motivates me, but this is not how to compete.

I like to be associated with companies that innovate and are originators of great ideas as you are only as good as the company you keep. This War-time CEO is protective of his team, investors and Geeklist… and I’m taking names. 

Best Buy or Geeklist? Who created the 'I created...' When does imitation go beyond flattering?

An amazing commercial is directly inspired by Geeklist, as far as I can tell. The Best Buy commercial uses a great concept. One founded by Geeklist in April of 2011. Ironically the agencies Copywriter at Crispin Porter + Bogusky is also a Geeklist member!  http://geekli.st/pug or @pug on Twitter… coincidence? 

For the REAL list of “I Created…” one only need do a search for “Created” on http://geekli.st (here: http://geekli.st/search?q=created&type=all&facet=all) and you find the creators of amazing technologies from around the world. Best Buy made a great commercial on highlighting great creators. At Geeklist we made the real deal. A Real-Time Showcase of the worlds Greatest engineers.

Thank you Best Buy for taking our vision and sharing it during the Super Bowl! (A little credit to our co-founder Christian Sanz and myself for inspiring your ads may have been nice too. #justsayin)

Viva Geeklist!

Startup founders are relentless and a bit mad

It’s 4am and you’re not even remotely tired. You’re cranking away at the next visionary idea for your new business, designing, hustling, coding, writing, tweeting… whatever it might be that you have the uncontrollable urge to finish for your, well for you. There is no particular deadline. No boss to fire you or give you shit for not finishing. It’s just you. Working. Or not.  

If you’re passionate about your new startup it most likely never feels like work, so why classify it as work? Of course it’s not a hobby. It’s a passion. Who else goes sleepless for days, gets madly obsessed when talking about their project, looses complete track of time while doing ‘their thing’. In fact, I don’t know a single founder who looks at their watch waiting for the end of the day. I can’t imagine doing it myself. I stopped wearing watches when I started doing internet startups in 1999. Don’t get me wrong, I love watches, the design, the mechanics… but I just don’t wear them. Why? The only reason I care to know the time is when I have a meeting, flight or event to be at. For that I have a calendar in my phone that beeps at me. Losing track of time for a founder is critical. It means you’re properly engrossed in your project. It also means you have to have understanding friends and family… good luck with that.

So now you have all of this passion, loss of time, lack of sleep, rants about your industry are now commonplace in your conversations. Sounds to me like a group of people we consider artists. Like Lautrec, Basquiat, Van Gogh, Modigliani, inventing, creating the next work of art through feverishly maddening bouts of passion and sleeplessness. Seeing the big picture of the world while completely withdrawing from it and getting lost in their art… much like your startup. All relentless in their quest to create something.

Founders, you are artists. Creating an image, building hype, a business, a following, a movement out of your imagination. Before entering business entrepreneurship and never looking back at 22 years of age, I was an artist who studied painting, graphic design and illustration. Yes, a BFA. Not an MBA. A designer and painter turned businessman. I dedicate this blog to the artists in the startup world and the arts world alike.