Interesting insider Q&A with Paul Sutter, co-founder of Quantcast. Via Hacker News:
Q: What methodical process did you follow for your startup? Did you first test the market using tactics similar to the lean startup approach?
A: Basically, make a list of known problems that you’re well suited to solving, rank them by criteria, fail a lot, bang your head against the wall, and eventually things start to stick.
Continue reading Solving problems with startups
Joel Spolsky wrote his first blog post in a year today, announcing Trello, Inc., a spin-off company for the successful project management product Fog Creek Software developed, Trello.
Trello has announced a $10M+ venture financing round and they are going to expand the product and team. This was a bit of a surprise to me, because Spolsky had always been critical of the VC-funded tech startup industry on his blog over the years.
But in the blog post, he explains, he has really been critical of the kind of company that this industry typically breeds. So, he has made his life’s work creating companies with a different “operating system” altogether.
Continue reading Joel Spolsky’s business operating system
I wrote this to a friend five years ago, a few weeks after I had quit my job to embark on the crazy ride that has been Parse.ly’s founding story.
You said to me, “I am glad that you left because you sounded unhappy there.”
But you know, I wasn’t exactly unhappy.
I was just bored.
I’m eager to work on my own stuff. I had a good work environment and I learned a lot. I was making money, had flexibility about hours and work from home, and was respected on my team.
But I had a couple of realizations. First, I didn’t see a future for myself in financial firms. I just don’t like their core business enough; in fact, I think their core business is somewhat superfluous and that financial firms should be way, way smaller than they are. They should make less money, have less power, etc.
Second, my specific project had this split personality. On the one hand, it wanted to be this cutting edge framework to really empower application developers throughout the company. On the other, it was a lost project — lots of code, lots of ideas, but no solid product and no real customer.
Continue reading 5 years ago, I was bored
Damnit, Google. Sometimes, you make product improvements that are awesome. Other times, you make “improvements” that are downright depressing regressions.
In an effort to stop the annoying sensation that happens when you are on a Google Hangout video conference and you hear nothing but your colleague’s “tap-tap-tap” on their loud programmer keyboards, Google added a feature to the software that automatically detects when someone is typing and auto-mutes them.
This is a nice idea, but what about when talking while typing is what you actually want to do? In this case, Google provides no recourse. And indeed, recently I gave a walkthrough to my team of a new code project, but constantly cut out because as I was showcasing ideas in code (and even simply navigating code with my keyboard using vim), Google would constantly mute me and make me cut out. Damnit, Google! You suck!
Well, Internet users unite! We have a working fix for this “feature”.
Continue reading Disable Google Hangout’s auto-mute on typing
Parse.ly released streamparse today, which lets you run Python code against real-time streams of data by integrating with Apache Storm.
We released it for our talk, “Real-time streams & logs with Apache Kafka and Storm” at PyData Silicon Valley 2014.
An initial release (0.0.5) was made. It includes a command-line tool,
sparse, with the ability to set up and run local Storm-friendly Python projects.
Continue reading streamparse: Python + Apache Storm for real-time stream processing
A software engineer at LinkedIn has written a monster of a blog post about “The Log”, a building block for large-scale data systems. The concepts in this post are near and dear to my heart due to my work on precisely these kinds of problems at Parse.ly.
What is “a log”?
The log is similar to the list of all credits and debits and bank processes; a table is all the current account balances. If you have a log of changes, you can apply these changes in order to create the table capturing the current state. This table will record the latest state for each key (as of a particular log time). There is a sense in which the log is the more fundamental data structure: in addition to creating the original table you can also transform it to create all kinds of derived tables.
At Parse.ly, we just adopted Kafka widely in our backend to address just these use cases for data integration and real-time/historical analysis for the large-scale web analytics use case. Prior, we were using ZeroMQ, which is good, but Kafka is better for this use case.
We have always had a log-centric infrastructure, not born out of any understanding of theory, but simply of requirements. We knew that as a data analysis company, we needed to keep data as raw as possible in order to do derived analysis, and we knew that we needed to harden our data collection services and make it easy to prototype data aggregates atop them.
I also recently read Nathan Marz’s book (creator of Apache Storm), which proposes a similar “log-centric” architecture, though Marz calls it a “master dataset” and uses the fanciful term, “Lambda Architecture”. In his case, he describes that atop a “timestamped set of facts” (essentially, a log) you can build any historical / real-time aggregates of your data via dedicated “batch” and “speed” layers. There is a lot of overlap of thinking in that book and in this article.
LinkedIn’s log-centric stack, visualized.
Continue reading The Log: a building block for large-scale data systems
Paul Graham put up a new essay, one of his longest, called “How to raise money”. It gives a good glimpse into the mind game that is startup financing.
I thought it was particularly interesting how he documented three different ways in which investors say “no”, without really saying no.
Continue reading How investors play the option
Parse.ly made its funding announcement — a $5M series A, led by Grotech Ventures and with participation from FundersClub, Blumberg Capital, and ff Venture Capital. Read on for the full list of links to our coverage.
Continue reading Parse.ly Press Coverage – August 2013
There’s some hoopla lately about “weird” startup names in the Wall Street Journal, with specific coverage of “.ly” domains in The Atlantic Wire:
The latest start-up boom has led to the creation of at least 161 companies that end in “ly,” “lee,” and “li,” which is, naming consultants tell us, 160 too many. There’s feedly, bitly, contactually, cloudly, along with a bunch of other company-LYS […] and all but the first ever “ly” name are “just lazy,” Nancy Friedman, a naming consultant, told The Atlantic Wire.
Continue reading Parse.ly: brand hacking