45+ Unconventional Tips on Fundraising from Danielle Morrill of Mattermark

Danielle unleashed a Category-5 tweetstorm on fundraising today, but twitter isn’t showing parent/child replies right for me, so following the thread got difficult. Made this for my own sanity; publishing here in case it’s useful for others. Here it is, in order (including some of the asides):



Continue reading

SF Bay Area day trips with no car (or planning!) needed

I had breakfast yesterday, one table over from an adorable older couple from Pittsburg, so obviously Ashley​ and I made friends. They had such a great SF vacation plan. All their day-trips were tours with no car needed (to Napa, Carmel, Pebble Beach, Muir Woods).

Why don’t we do these day-trips while living here?? Not just “let’s be tourists in our own city!” – I didn’t realize you don’t need to spend the time/$$ on car, hotel, planning yourself.

Have you done a great day-trip like this? Or know a good site to find them? I’ll update this post with the best ones I hear from or find myself. Ideally:

* leave from downtown SF
* provide all transport/food/tours
* NOT a party bus
* diverse fellow tour-takers

Typing Instructors for coding

I’ve been thinking a lot about typing lately. I skipped typing class in high school because… well mostly because it was in between me and programming class, and I wanted to program, damn it! The principle of the school was convinced: I’d had a 286 or better since I was in elementary school, that seemed legit. I could type fast enough, wasn’t looking that often, and I’d get enough practice while coding anyway, right? So I skipped two semesters of pre-reqs and jumped into the deep end.

I was half-right. Typing didn’t keep me from graduating with great grades, or getting great jobs. But 15 years later, I was at that same plateau. I could mostly touch-type in email and chat, but when programming, sometimes typos meant I couldn’t quite get into flow. I’d hit hiccups on number signs, symbols, and more involved vim commands (Is anyone out there touch-typing commands like this?



Whatever tools you use… master them.

My intern host at Google told me once “whatever tools you use… master them.” This conversation was about text editors, but the keyboard is an even more basic tool. Long story short, I developed a new-found appreciation for the fundamentals.

So I went looking for the ideal programming typing instructor. This is subjective, obviously, but my ideal would be fun, relaxing, self-paced, effective at teaching me, and it would weight symbols like these more heavily:

 < > [ ] { } . ; $ ^ && || # @ = + - " '


Here’s what I came up with, roughly in order of how much I’ve used them and how much I can vouch for them: Continue reading

Push notifications on Tiiny, Kevin Rose’s new app

Tiiny is a fun new mini-app by Kevin Rose’s new company, which creates a wall of fun looping micro-videos from your friends and follow-ees that somehow feels very familiar…

It’s new, so there’s a TON of notifications on the app, which gave me some serious notification fatigue. But perhaps more interestingly, I don’t even remember allowing push notifications. At first I thought I was crazy, but it came up again on the ProductHunt thread. In a (very informal) poll I just did around the office, only 1 in 6 people remembered allowing push notifications in the on-boarding flow.

But it turns out we all definitely did. The notifications popup shows at the exact moment that we’re shown the wall of our friends loading.

The notifications popup shows at the exact moment that we're shown the wall of our friends loading

My working theory: it’s a novel instance of classic misdirection. We’ve been trained by years of popups to quickly dismiss them (Sure you want to close this tab? Review our app! Really delete this file? Join my mailing list!…). Combine that with the powerful draw of gifs popping up in the background, most of which are faces looking directly at you, and you’ve got a powerful misdirection effect. If this is actually a repeatable phenomenon, then with great power comes great responsibility. What do you think: real phenomenon or coincidence? Evil genius, or happy accident?

Ag. A (somehow even) faster grep

The Silver Surfer (creative commons image)

The Silver Surfer (Marvel Comics)

I still remember when I used ack for the first time. It was shortly after I moved to SF, and Brian Rue swore by it. I was as skeptical before trying it as I was blown away after – usually at least 10x faster than grep, and better at ignoring useless files by default.

Adam Morse just told me about Ag (aka “The Silver Searcher”), which somehow embarrasses ack on performance, the same way ack embarrassed grep years ago. It also knows about .gitignore files, and can plug in to vim and TextMate just like ack.

On mac, it’s just…

Install homebrew

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/Homebrew/homebrew/go/install)"


Install Ag

brew install the_silver_searcher


And you’re off! (other install methods available). I don’t have time for extensive performance tests, but at first glance, ag looks 20 times faster than ack, and 200 times faster than grep

time grep -inrH “testing” . time grep -inrH “emissary” .
real 0m2.875s real 0m2.922s
user 0m2.420s user 0m2.358s
sys 0m0.170s sys 0m0.230s
time ack testing time ack emissary
real 0m0.303s real 0m0.293s
user 0m0.267s user 0m0.265s
sys 0m0.026s sys 0m0.024s
time ag testing time ag emissary
real 0m0.013s real 0m0.014s
user 0m0.007s user 0m0.008s
sys 0m0.009s sys 0m0.009s

Notes from Rob Bailey’s #StartupBD Keynote

10 Bizdev Hacks
Rob Bailey, CEO of DataSift

1 – Ride the wave
More fun than swimming
Think about underlying trends your company is riding (not creating)
Think about partnerships that can attach you to waves
(e.g. Datasift w/ Twitter, Twitter w/ iOS)

2 – Get to know your partners
What are their strategies?
Backchannel on where they’re going (birthday parties, events, meet ups)
Position yourself as helping them get to where you know they’re trying to go
(eg. Datasift finding Marketers will invest more the more they understand the channel. So Datasift spent time explaining twitter to CMOs)

3 – Ask a ton of questions
Know police interrogation techniques
Either to use them, or avoid them being used on you
(Hey your revenue’s around $10M right? gets you a lot better than “what’s your revenue?”)
Former usually gets you at least a “higher” or “lower”
Questions let you not reveal your position.
2-3x more questions asking than answering

4 – Use social to stalk, er, learn.
LInkedIn is great, but people are more guarded.
Everyone should have LInkedInPro (best is everyone who’s seen profile)
eg. Which VCs most interested? If 5 VCs had seen his profile, but were saying they weren’t that interested, that’s prob just negotiating tactic
eg. a VC of one of their competitors posting a pic of new office space
Follow your clients/competitors’ bosses on Twitter
Watch who’s tweeting AT a company, see their clients
Spikes in pos/neg sentiment
Hiring: Looked for BD people in SF with Klout score >= X
Jobvite posts – VCs like seeing you’re hiring
They’ve definitely used Instagram, twitter, Facebook for subtle

5 – Learn from smart engineers
Ask your smartest engineers who their smartest engineer friends are
“Jam sessions” with engineers, UI people on product have been “most productive hours of his life”
Helps to understand the tech side of business

6 – Hire an expensive law firm.
They have 2 law firms. “Honda” and “Rolls Royce”.
Almost always use Honda
NDAs, normal stuff.
Big deals, corp structures, limitation of liability, etc: Orrick
Difficult to agree on a term: Called Gunderson (his lawyer at the time) – who’s the best smartest person on X at the firm? 16 minutes in, he nailed it.
Use their awesome conference rooms if they’re in the city
In general – think about side things you can get out of your vendors

7 – Find unconventional ways to open doors.
Twitter is in its quiet period pre-IPO
He posted big blog post about importance of twitter IPO
Timing worked out such that media asked him for quotes and such
Twitter really appreciated it, even though they couldn’t have asked them.
Twitter competitors called him up to talk about what Twitter was doing.
Basically just take advantage of every angle

8 – Get everyone pulling for your deals
Eng, product, legal, office manager, everyone should know why you’re doing it
eg. Eng planning before deal, not after.
Engineers could also get drinks with other engineers, end up finding out useful info
Like how interested they are, what aspects are important, what’s feasible technically

9 – Look at every BD deal for M&A possibilities
Urban Airship deal with SimpleGeo came out of nowhere
Big company M&A can take years to build relationships

10 – Have fun!
Think it’s stupid and obvious
But you work really long hours
Remember you’re doing what you love, working with really smart people


Q: Any companies that seemed like competitors but ended up doing frenemy/coopetition deals?
Factual – started out competing on places DB, ended up convincing execs that building their own places DB was bad idea.
Talked with their BD guy, met Elad Gil at a conference randomly, that’s what ended up working.

Q: How do you decide deal terms?
Align incentives
Look at similar deals elsewhere?
“fair is where you end up”
Start with what you think will be representative, rebalance as you go to represent value being exchanged

Q: Reaching out?
Host or go to events, hackathons
Blog posts
“I want these 30 companies to call me. What do they want to hear about?”
Webinars (e.g. with Guy Kawasaki who was one of their investors, or other big name you’re connected with)
Never cold calls.
Sometimes a big company in their space closes massive investment round, they might send a whiskey bottle and say we should talk. But it would come from CEO, not a sales guy.

Boy Scouts of America

As a child, my parents didn’t allow me to join the Boy Scouts of America in protest of their discriminatory policies towards gays. As an adult, I’m glad they didn’t.

It’s very inspiring to see this (not gay) Eagle Scout’s letter as he returns his Eagle Scout badge because he “cannot in good conscience hold this badge as long as the BSA continues a policy of bigotry”.

Even more inspiring to see the measured & mature method in which he goes about it.

Randomized Garfield comics

Someone “noticed that Garfield comics make just as much sense if you throw random panels together, and sometimes are actually pretty funny. He got a cease and desist letter. So he made the code available for people who wanted to try it for themselves.”

This is one of the mirrors:


I don’t think they make “just as much” sense randomized, but since the ones that DO make sense weren’t all that much funnier, it works surprisingly well. Clever enough that it’s worth sharing (and viewing source if you’re a coder).

I suspect it’s possible to do with Cathy comics too… maybe I’ll try that this weekend 🙂