Changelog Media presents
Founders Talk: Startups, CEOs, Leadership
In-depth, one-on-one conversations with founders, CEOs, and makers. The journey, lessons learned, and the struggles. Let’s do this! Host Adam Stacoviak dives deep into the trials, tribulations, successes, and failures of industry leading entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators, and visionaries.
July 12, 2021
From disrupting the cloud to IPO
This week on Founders Talk, Adam is joined by Mitch Wainer, previously CMO at DigitalOcean and a member of the founding team. They talk about his journey as an entrepreneur and marketer, the early days at DigitalOcean, and everything that went into disrupting the cloud with blazing fast SSDs. Back in March (2021), DigitalOcean started trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) — this obviously earned Mitch and many others a very large payday. They also talk about the work Mitch is doing now with Welcome and Sponsored.
March 26, 2021
The journey to massive scale and ultra-resilience
This week Adam talks with Spencer Kimball, CEO and Co-founder of Cockroach Labs — makers of CockroachDB an open source cloud-native distributed SQL database. Cockroach Labs recently raised $160 million dollars on a $2 billion dollar valuation. In this episode, Spencer shares his journey in open source, startups and entrepreneurship, and what they’re doing to build CockroachCloud to meet the needs of applications that require massive scale and ultra-resilience.
February 23, 2021
Intensely focused on building a software company
This week Adam talks with John-Daniel Trask, co-founder & CEO of Raygun. Raygun is an award-winning application monitoring company founded by John-Daniel Trask (better known as JD) and Jeremy Boyd in Wellington, New Zealand. They have revenues in the 8 digits annually, and have done it with very little funding (~1.7M USD). Today’s conversation with JD shares a ton of wisdom. Listen twice and take notes.
November 23, 2020
Balancing business and open source
Raj Dutt is the founder and CEO of Grafana Labs. Grafana has become the world’s most popular open source technology used to compose observability dashboards (we use Grafana here at Changelog). Raj and team are 100% focused on building a sustainable business around open source. They have this “big tent” open source ecosystem philosophy that’s driving every aspect of building their business around their open source, as well as other projects in the open source community. But, to understand the wisdom Raj is leading with today, we have to go back to where things got started. To do that we had to go back like Prince to 1999…
August 3, 2020
Slow and steady wins
Jeff Sheldon is the founder and creator of Ugmonk. Jeff is a designer by trade, and an entrepreneur by accident. I been following Jeff’s journey for the better part of Ugmonk’s existence. I’m also a customer. Jeff and I hold several similar values near and dear to our hearts. In addition to my appreciation for Jeff’s product design abilities, and how he leads his business, I also appreciate Jeff’s awareness and focus on the long hard path.
July 3, 2020
From acquisition to full conviction
Guy Podjarny is the Founder of Snyk, a security platform that empowers software-driven businesses to develop fast and stay secure. Prior to Snyk, Guy founded Blaze which was acquired by Akamai and became CTO. We talked through the topic of acquisition — the sale, the merge, the learnings, and why Guy might not be planning for Snyk to be acquired anytime soon. We started the conversation with Snyk’s recent raise of $150 million dollars.
June 9, 2020
Leading GitLab to $100M ARR
Sid Sijbrandij is the Co-founder and CEO of GitLab — an all-remote company and complete DevOps platform. As a company, they have their eyes set on taking the company public to IPO and they’re very outspoken about their culture, open handbook, and how they work as an all-remote company. We talk through where Sid came from, the early days of GitLab, why IPO vs a private sale (like GitHub), what it means to put “family and friends first, work second,” how we should view work, and his biggest fear — the company failing.
May 8, 2020
Building a real programmable robot
The role of a father plays a pivotal role in a child’s life. Ian Bernstein is a former Founder of Sphero and is now the Founder and Head of Product of Misty Robotics — they’re building the first programmable robot for the home and business. It’s called Misty II. The journey of building Misty II started when Ian was 5 years old and his dad bought him an Apple IIe.
January 24, 2020
Becoming an accidental founder
Mike McDerment is the founder and CEO of FreshBooks. Believe it or not, Mike became a founder by accident. Like many of us, Mike had an itch that he just had to scratch. One thing led to another and soon enough FreshBooks became a key tool in the belt of many freelancers and agencies looking for an easy way to send invoices and get paid quickly online. We talk through the early days of FreshBooks and how things came to be, why they created a secret competitor to iterate on a bold idea for the future of FreshBooks, and we also cover what keeps Mike excited.
July 5, 2019
Mastering the art of quitting
Lynne Tye is the founder of Key Values, a platform where developers find engineering teams that share their values. To be more precise, Lynne is a solo-founder. She’s also a team of one. Lynne’s path to becoming a founder was anything but typical. She had plans to follow in her parent’s and sister’s footsteps to go into academia, and got two years into pursuing her PhD in Neuroscience before she made one of the best choices in her life — she quit. Lynne has mastered the art of quitting, at the right time of course, and she’s used that art as her secret weapon in her quest to become a founder.
June 14, 2019
Failing to build a billion-dollar company
Sahil Lavingia is the founder and CEO of Gumroad, a platform for creators to sell the things they make. Since 2011 Gumroad has sent over $200 million dollars to creators. That’s a big number. Sahil’s ambitions lead him to believe that Gumroad would become a billion-dollar company, have hundreds of employees, and eventually IPO. That didn’t happen. We talk through Sahil’s journey with Gumroad, why it failed to meet his goals, the path he’s on today and the things he now values…but to understand why Gumroad didn’t live up to his expectations, we really have to understand the backstory of Gumroad.
May 31, 2019
What are you optimizing for?
Saron Yitbarek is the founder and CEO of CodeNewbie — one of the most supportive community of programmers and people learning to code. Saron hosts the CodeNewbie podcast, Command Line Heroes from Red Hat, and she’s also the creator of Codeland Conference taking place on July 22 this year in New York City. We talk through getting started, lessons learned, mental health, developing and running a conference…but our conversation begins with a pivotal question asked of Saron…“What are you optimizing for?”
May 23, 2019
Building a hardware/software product company
Colin Billings is the founder and CEO of Orro where they’ve built the first truly intelligent home lighting system. It knows when you’re in the room, and adjusts the lights automatically for you. But Colin’s path to starting this company wasn’t a straight line. Like most innovative products, Orro has an interesting beginning — after-all, they’re going up against the giants.
April 19, 2019
Zero up-front costs for a CS education
What would be the impact on the world if a Computer Science education was available to you completely free of charge until you get a job in that field paying $50,000 or more? That’s the question that drives Austen Allred and the team behind Lambda School. Lambda School is a revolutionary new school that invests in its students and they completely align their interests with their students. Seems like a novel idea, right? But Austen’s path to Silicon Valley was where things began for him, so that’s where we’ll start today’s conversation.
January 25, 2019
Isaac Schlueter on building npm and hiring a CEO
December 21, 2018
Leading data-driven software teams and products
For the final show of 2018 I’m talking with Travis Kimmel, the CEO of GitPrime. Travis has spent years as an engineering manager. Travis’s mission at GitPrime is to bring crystal clear visibility into the software development process and bridge the communication gap between engineering and stakeholders. This communication gap is often an ongoing plague in product development lifecycle. We talked through focus, tech debt, leading teams, predictability, and more.
November 30, 2018
How $3.8M in seed funding started Gatsby as an open source company
Kyle Mathews is the founder and CEO of Gatsby, a new company he’s building around an open source project of the same name. Gatsby as a project describes itself as a flexible modern website framework and blazing fast static site generator for React.js. At the macro level — Kyle’s career has been focused on a better way to build and ship websites. It seems he’s done just that with Gatsby’s launch in late May 2015…since then he’s taken on a co-founder and a seed round of $3.8M to form Gatsby Inc.
September 21, 2018
Tidelift's mission is to pay open source maintainers
Donald Fischer and the team at Tidelift are on a mission of making open source work better — for everyone. To pay the maintainers of open source software they are putting a new spin on a highly successful business model that’s a win-win for the maintainers as well as the software teams using the software. In this episode we dig into that backstory and Donald’s journey.
September 16, 2018
From dropout to CEO of Sentry and taking on New Relic
David Cramer dropped out of high school AND college, but that didn’t stop him. He ended up teaching himself programming and eventually landed his first job as the webmaster of a World of Warcraft community website. What a beginning… We talked through “the rough slog” period of Sentry and how David powered through to traction and enough profit for him and his partner to go full time, raise three rounds of funding, and take on New Relic.
September 14, 2018
BONUS: Growing a successful sales team at Sentry
Here’s a bonus segment from episode #57 of Founders Talk with David Cramer, co-founder and CEO of Sentry. Check the feed for the full length episode (later today). We talked about sales in the full length episode, but this BONUS segment is a completely isolated conversation that’s not included in the full length episode — so don’t gloss over this thinking it’s just a teaser.