Chris Sacca on TWiST

Jason Calacanis interviews Chris Sacca on This Week in Startups. It’s an amazing, 2-part episode full of straight talk about the current state of startups. There are many great stories and interesting nuggets of information sprinkled throughout. I’m still listening so I’ll update this post with my favorites sections but feel free to share your favorite bits in the comments below.


Part One shownotes

Three things that are in the “founder gene”

  1. Ev Williams doesn’t see that failure is a possibility. He’s like one of those free climbers they can climb a mountain without ropes but they never fear the consequences of a fall.
  2. Travis Kalanick (founder of Uber) is an unreasonably fast-moving person. Travis will show you the expansion plan and it makes me nervous.
  3. Kevin Systrom (co-founder of Instagram) is magnetic. Look into his eyes and there’s no doubt he’s going to succeed with his vision for his company.

20 mins into part one, Chris talks about how he dug himself out of a huge financial hole where he was millions in debt.

1 hour in Chris talks about his fund, Lowercase Capital, and how he has nearly $1B under management. His newest investments are in content production companies, a space he’s been watching closely for years and now thinks is ripe for investment. The capital costs of producing content have come down dramatically and you now have high production shows such as This Week in Startups and Leo LaPorte’s This Week in Tech that can be produced at a fraction of the cost of what they used to cost just a few years ago.


Part Two shownotes

Chris managed Google’s $4.7B bid for wireless spectrum. Thanks to their participation, the FCC added the stipulation that the winner of the bid honor open device and open access. Chris reminds us that this is why Verizon LTE iPhones are unlocked.

At 1:50:15 Chris and Jason turn to talk about the sorry state of middle America and how it’s been impacted by politics. Chris refers to a post by Spark Capital VC Bijan Sabet and his post of what it was like to attend a private event with Barak Obama.

 

Three Days of Terror at Pinboard

Pinboard has a three-day trial period, and I was now having nightmare visions of spending the next ten days sitting in front of the abysmally slow PayPal site, clicking the ‘refund’ button and sniffling into a hankie.

Anatomy of a Crushing

In the middle of the great del.icio.us exodus of 2010, the small bookmarking site Pinboard faced a crushing influx of new users. Co-founder Maciej Ceglowski writes in detail about how he and Peter Gadjokov kept the site running and lessons learned along the way.

"Senior Vice President for Bad Decisions at Yahoo had decided to give us a little help."

Yes. I’m a pinboarder too.

Peaks and Valleys

There’s a great post over on TechCrunch about what it’s like to be a startup entrepreneur by Mark Suster with the usual, quick checklist of necessary qualities and caveats of what is in store for anyone that’s thinking of going down such a path. Checklists are good but nothing gives you a sense of what it’s like more than this breathless passage included below. Try and read the entire bit in one breath and then, maybe, you can appreciate what these guys go through day in and day out.

 

Snap.  Great story on TechCrunch!  Inbound calls from partners, people who want to join,“atta boys” from friends.  You knew it all along.  Your vision was right.  VCs are calling wanting meetings.  La vita e bella.  Uh, oh.  Fawk.  Facebook DID NOT just announce that!  Scoble is saying your best days are behind you?  No, I think we can still be huge.  We’re just going to have to change our focus a bit.  Weekends.  Evenings.  Regroup.  Team losing a bit of confidence in you.  VCs pushing out your meetings a few weeks.  WTF?  Just a month ago they were all emailing you!

Well, you still have 6 months runway.  What if we pivot slightly?  Not a total change – just a different way of making money.  What if we dropped the code that would compete with Facebook and instead go after this other area?  Relaunch.  Oh, man.  Our user numbers are up.  Awesome!  Loving this new direction.  It’s all good.

But … only 2 month’s cash left.  Let’s just not pay ourselves for a couple of months.  The junior devs need it.  They’re month-to-month.  I think we can be like the Maccabes and stretch this cash.  Do we tell our team? Can they handle knowing we only have 3, maybe 4 months cash? Or if we say that will they all be putting out the word to their friends to look for their next gig?

Great new product release. Another good article.  VC meetings going well.  Holy sh*t!!! We just landed the biz dev partner we’ve been working on for 9 months.  They love us!  Awesome!  $2 million in VC.  Life couldn’t be better.  All your buddies want to join.  No.  Google DID NOT just acquire our main biz dev partner.  What?  Google doesn’t know if they’re going to honor our contract?  We now have to re-convince everybody? But we had a term sheet !!!

You can’t believe it.  Eight beers that night.  Maybe even tequila.  And the next morning – water off a duck’s back.  We’ll find a way.  Startups weren’t mean to be easy.  Back to work.

– from Should You Really Be A Startup Entrepreneur?

How about you? Are you ready for the ride?

Are you a Hacker or a Hustler?

Micah Baldwin has a great post on what it takes to make a successful startup. One of the first questions you need to ask is if you have both a Hacker and a Hustler.

A Hacker is more than a code monkey, who can quickly build software and find interesting ways to hack together code. Thats a developer. Thats someone who is definitely an important part of a startup, but not critical to its success. A Hacker is someone who looks the problem, and solves it in a unique and special way. A Hacker finds the process of problem solving exciting and interesting, and spends the majority of their time looking at the problem in multiple ways, finding many potential solutions.

<snip>

A Hustler on the other other hand is a relationship builder. Someone who can build direct relationships with their customers. They arent really promoters, although they do a lot of promotion. They arent salespeople, although they do a lot of selling. They are passion people. They have the ability to articulate their passion clearly and in a way that gets other people equally passionate.

Micah also writes about the current Posterous campaign, releasing a blog import service every few days, building buzz over the weeks. Bold and audacious the campaign has certainly generated its fair share of buzz, shaking a mostly complacent blog platform industry into reaction. The snarky headlines of each announcement are targeted perfectly towards the users of each platform and leave you wondering where they will aim next.

Riffing ideas like two jazz musicians

Todd Sampson and Eric Marcoullier of MyBlogLog fame are a classic Hacker & Hustler pair. It was great working with them and to see how these two childhood friends bounced ideas off of each other. Eric (the Hustler) was brilliant at latching MBL on to the latest meme trending on Techmeme as a way to garner attention and Todd (the Hacker)  never ceased to amaze me with his unique insight on the problems of the day. If you haven’t had the chance to try out their latest idea, definitely check out OneTrueFan, the browser plug-in that talks back.

So which one are you? The Hacker or the Hustler?