hagelin / Karl Hagelin

Here because Merlin Mann said so.

There are no people in hagelin’s collective.

Huffduffed (16)

  1. Episode 76: Merlin Mann | Circulating Ideas

    Steve chats with Merlin Mann about his history with libraries, the importance of the library as a community space, why libraries aren’t dead, and checking in with the Library Elf. Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster based in San Francisco. Merlin created 43 Folders, co-hosts Back to Work, Roderick on the Line, and Reconcilable Differences (and appears on…

    http://circulatingideas.com/2015/09/22/episode-76-merlin-mann/

    —Huffduffed by hagelin

  2. Success and Failure at Fog Creek – Podcast - Fog Creek Blog

    In this podcast, coinciding with Fog Creek’s 15th Anniversary, we take a look back over the years at the various successes and failures we’ve had at Fog Creek.

    We discuss the early days of Fog Creek and how we recovered from a doomed first product. As well as dealing with technical debt, the missed opportunities we’ve had along the way, and what we’ve learned from them. We also get into how we develop new products and the impact of bootstrapping, before finishing with tips for those starting companies themselves.

    Contributors

    Joel Spolsky – Co-Founder of Fog Creek, CEO of Stack Overflow and Founder of Trello 

    Michael Pryor – Co-Founder and President of Fog Creek, Board Member at Stack Overflow and Trello Founder and CEO 

    David Fullerton – Former Fog Creek Developer, now VP Engineering at Stack Overflow 

    Justin Gallagher – Former Fog Creek Program Manager, now VP Product at Trello 

    Jack Bowman – Veteran FogBugz Developer at Fog Creek  

    Allie Schwartz – Host of the Podcast and VP People at Fog CreekContent and Timings

    Introduction (0:00)

    Early Successes and Failures at Fog Creek (2:00)

    Developing Products for the Long-term (15:00)

    Missed Opportunities (25:02)

    The Impact of Venture Funding (36:12)

    Hiring Smart People Who Get Stuff Done (41:27)

    Transcript

    Introduction

    Allie:

    Welcome. My name is Allie and I am the VP of People at Fog Creek Software. This is a conversation about Fog Creek’s first 15 years, some of our big successes, how they happened, and some of our failures and what we learned about them. With us today are a bunch of people who worked at Fog Creek or still work at Fog Creek, and who were involved in the spinning off of the two products that came from Fog Creek and are now currently huge, successful companies of their own. I am going to introduce them and then they’re going to say a little hello, so that you can hear their voices. First, on my left, is Joel Spolsky. He is one of the founders of Fog Creek, Trello and Stack Overflow. Say hi, Joel.

    Joel:

    Hi, Allie.

    Allie:

    Hi. Next, we have David Fullerton, who is the VP of Engineering at Stack Overflow and he started his career at Fog Creek.

    David:

    That’s true, as an intern.

    Allie:

    As an intern.

    David:

    Hello.

    Allie:

    Hello. Then we have Justin Gallagher, who came to Fog Creek in 2010 as a designer.

    Justin:

    PM at the time.

    Allie:

    A PM.

    Justin:

    Yeah. On Stack Exchange Enterprise.

    Allie:

    Which I didn’t even know.

    David:

    That’s right. He worked on Stack Overflow too.

    Allie:

    Wow. Stack Overflow and FogBugz, and is currently the VP of Product at Trello. Hi, Justin.

    Justin:

    Hello.

    Allie:

    Hello. Now we have Jack Bowman, who also came to Fog Creek in 2010. First job straight out of college and he is one of our developers on FogBugz.

    Jack:

    Hi, Allie.

    Allie:

    Hi, Jack. He’s five years at Fog Creek, and he’s one of our old-timers, hilariously.

    Joel:

    Shocking.

    Allie:

    Last, but certainly not least, we have Michael Pryor, also one of the founders of Fog Creek, Trello and Stack Overflow.

    Michael:

    I’m just more like a bookkeeper. I was the bookkeeper at Stack Overflow.

    Allie:

    He was the bookkeeper at Stack Overflow and currently, the CEO of Trello. Hi, Michael.

    Michael:

    Hi, it’s great to be at this Quinceañera party. It’s awesome.

    Allie:

    Yeah. It’s great. Every day is a Quinceañera.

    David:

    We need music.

    Early Successes and Failures at Fog Creek

    Allie:

    We’re going to start just talking really broadly. Joel, can you talk to me a little bit about … Fog Creek has had a lot of successes. Probably more than a lot of companies, although there have also been some …

    Joel:

    Sure. Companies have gone out of business with fewer successes than we’ve had.

    Allie:

    That’s true. We’ve had some failure too, but more successes than most companies. Do you have anything, just off the top of your head, that you think is one of the largest contributors to that?

    Joel:

    You mean why we have so many successes?

    Allie:

    Yeah.

    Joel:

    I guess it could be my brilliance.

    Allie:

    True.

    David:

    That’s what I was going to say, Joel.

    Joel:

    Yeah, go on. Sorry, okay. No, it’s really all about the people, Allie.

    Allie:

    Yeah, true.

    Joel:

    It’s about get the best people first and then good to great things will come from that.

    David:

    I think that’s the defining … Joel doesn’t want to toot his own horn, but I think the defining feature of a Joel and Michael company is putting people first, choosing people very carefully and then setting them up for success and letting them pursue the ideas. Everybody talks about people first and all that stuff, but I think the way that … The specific way that that’s actually done in Joel and Michael companies is a big piece of the success of all three companies.

    Michael:

    It’s also we’re looking at this from hindsight. We’re going to get to the failures, I bet, coming up, but it’s easy to point out the successes when we gloss over all the times that we failed. In fact, if you think about one of the first products that we even created for our company was a giant miss.

    Allie:

    Why don’t you talk about the first product you ever created?

    Michael:

    When we started Fog Creek, we were consulting and that was actually successful.

    Joel:

    Well, for 10 minutes.

    Michael:

    Right, it was successful for 10 minutes and then what happened was we were doing consulting and we thought we’re bringing in big bucks. We’re basically bringing in twice as much as we’re paying, and with the extra money, we’re going to invest it in building other products. That was 1999? 2000.

    David:

    Great time to start a company.

    Michael:

    Then, essentially, the market blew up and the first thing that people cut was their spending on outside consultants. There were actually a lot of companies, Scient, Viant…

    Joel:

    Razorfish.

    Michael:

    Razorfish. There were a lot of consulting companies out there.

    Joel:

    MarchFirst.

    Michael:

    It was easy for us to get jobs or get a business very early on, and so we hired two people, and then basically when the consulting dried up, we were like [gasp], okay, reset.

    Allie:

    Right.

    Michael:

    Then we thought, we were working on a product at the time. It was a content management system called CityDesk that we were building because it was much too hard to build websites at the time, because you had to install all these Perl scripts and you needed root access on the server. We were like, oh, you can just run it on your desktop. That’ll make it easier. It was, but also the people that were building those tools also realized that it was hard, and so they basically started hosting those things. So you got Blogger and Movable Type and TypePad and all that stuff. It was just a total miss to try to build a desktop app for content management.

    David:

    We made a reasonable bet, but it was the wrong bet.

    Michael:

    Right. We’ve done that a couple times, where we couldn’t get … We’ll probably cover some other things that we did that with.

    Allie:

    We certainly will.

    Michael:

    It was lucky at the time, because we had this other product that we were building, which was a bug tracking app, that Joel had built previously at a different company and then he used it at Viacom. What was it called then? JoelBugz?

    Joel:

    VisBugz?

    Michael:

    VisBugz. Then we used it a Juno, where Joel and I met.

    Joel:

    Where it was JunoBugz.

    Michael:

    It was JunoBugz, and then we used it at Fog Creek, so we called it FogBugz, and we’re like, we can make a couple bucks off this.

    David:

    You guys are really good at names, by the way. I’m just saying.

    Joel:

    They all had Zs.

    Michael:

    Joel’s a really good namer.

    Joel:

    I’m also good at setting prices for things, by the way, we discovered after 15 years.

    Michael:

    FogBugz is this slow and steady thing that was slowing gaining ground at the time and we had to cut back the company to just Joel and myself. We’re working out of his grandmother’s basement.

    Joel:

    It wasn’t a basement.

    David:

    I thought it was the brownstone.

    Michael:

    Bottom two floors. You’re right. Ground level. Garden apartment.

    Joel:

    It had a nice garden. Yeah, exactly. It was a garden.

    Michael:

    It was quaint, but it was just the two of us. Not that much money coming in, but every month we would make a little bit more than the previous month, and so that just started to build.

    Allie:

    With FogBugz, you talked about CityDesk a little bit and why it didn’t make a lot of sense, but FogBugz is the next thing that came out, it sounds like, from the Fog Creek mini-factory that was there. It still is our flagship product. It’s really been the thing that sustained us for a really long time. I’m wondering if, Joel or Michael, you have any thoughts, if you’ve ever thought about really what is it about FogBugz that’s allowed it to be this one big product that’s kept this company running.

    Joel:

    Wow, that’s a good question, I think I’m…

    Allie:

    I’m smart, Joel. You hire smart people.

    Joel:

    Part of it was that we had the right audience. The important part is not just having the right product, but also being able to market it in some way or get it to the right audience. There were probably 20 bug trackers that you could get in some shape or form when FogBugz first came out. Although, to be fair, probably in those days, those were like Windows apps that you installed and you had to probably get a special server.

    David:

    Yeah, web-based, there were only a few …

    Joel:

    There wasn’t a lot of web-based. There was Bugzilla. Yeah, but it was a matter of the blogging that I was doing at joelonsoftware.com, which gave us a big audience of people that might be willing to use it. Then I think the product sort of hit the right mark, because whenever it took an opinion on something, it took the opinion that, I think, made people more successful with their teams. Some of the things that were kind of hard-coded into the way that FogBugz works and is still hard-coded into it today, like the fact that when you resolve a bug, it doesn’t just disappear, it goes back to the person who opened it so that they can check if you really fixed it. That came from our knowledge since the beginning, that 90% of the time, the person who’s fixing the bug thinks they’ve fixed the bug. They’ve actually either fixed something else or for whatever reason, they haven’t actually 100% eradicated that bug and so it has to go back to the original person who checks it to make sure that what they think was broken is not broken anymore. That’s just built in to FogBugz, and in fact, some of our big competitors have that as a configurable option, as opposed to something that’s built in. FogBugz just kind of tricks you into doing the right thing.

    Allie:

    Yeah, so it sounds like FogBugz benefited from the fact that the people who built it were the people that would use it.

    Joel:

    Yeah, and also that we had … What I was doing on Joel On Software was writing blog posts for developers, saying, if you’re wondering, a good way to run a development team or how to manage your little software company or how to beat Microsoft at their own game …

    A lot of those were the kind of blog posts that I was writing in those days, so I got a big readership of people that were interested in improving their software development skills.

    Allie:

    Right. David, Stack Overflow, I think is really similar to Fog Creek in that you have this connection to your community, it sounds like, in the way that Joel on Software was a big connector for Fog Creek and the community of people that used FogBugz.

    David:

    I guess an interesting question for me, sorry … What was different about Stack Overflow from what we were doing on FogBugz? I think the biggest … Well, there were a few shifts. One was the shift to continually releasing software, actually, that FogBugz wasn’t doing at that time that I think led to a natural process of listening to people, taking their bug reports, tweaking things, showing it to them, seeing what they think, taking more feedback, tweaking it and seeing what they think. The other big thing was that really, really close connection with the community. I think it helped that it was developers building something for developers. That always helps, but listening, having that really close relationship to the people using the thing, to the community, was something that just didn’t really exist when we were building FogBugz.

    We knew how we used it and we tended to assume, because it was opinionated software that that’s how everybody else used it, but I think, looking back, I never really, as a developer on the FogBugz team, had a really good idea of how different customers were using the software in different ways. Versus with Stack Overflow, with just having this open community involved in building the product, having a site where they can go and talk about it and suggest ideas and report bugs, and talk about what they’d like to see fixed. That gave and gives more insight into what’s wrong with it, what’s not working, what’s working well, what do they like about it, what do they not like.

    Allie:

    Right. Justin, I’m wondering, as Trello was growing, you know, Trello now has, what, like 10 million users? Is that right?

    Michael:

    Eight, we’re supposed to say publicly right now, until…

    Allie:

    Eight million users as of August.

    Michael:

    Until tomorrow.

    Allie:

    I’m wondering, same question to you. As you were building Trello, was that part of the thing in your mind, the community of users? Because it’s a very different thing, right? Trello is really, of the three, the one that appeals to the biggest community of not developers.

    Justin:

    Yeah. We definitely took the stance from the beginning that it wasn’t going to be a tool for just developers. We always had that as part of the plan. Doesn’t mean developers can’t use it, it’s just not only for developers, but it’s for anybody who’s collaborating on something with anybody else and it gives you this nice visual interface for it. That includes us. We are part of that audience. It’s not like we’re building a tool for grocery store managers and none of us manage a grocery store. We do have some example of how people want to use it and how they do use it. We do try to talk to people. We’ve always tried to … We get lots of support emails and things like that, but we try to interview people and talk to them about how they’re using it and build it up in a way that uses that, but still try to stay true to the original vision of the product, as well, those two things.

    Michael:

    I just want to bring up something. When you were talking about Stack Overflow and Trello, I was thinking about how Stack actually was almost a big miss, because when we first started out, in typical fashion, we were a software company. We built the software and then we sold it to people. The initial vision of … We built … Stack Overflow existed and we had this huge developer site, and we had built this community engine and our thought was, oh, great. We’ll license this Q&A engine to anyone that wants to build a site for whatever group of people they want. We were headed down that path…

    Joel:

    You mean making Stack Overflow into software that you could buy.

    Michael:

    Yeah. Basically selling the software behind Stack Overflow and it took us a little bit of time to realize but we did finally realize that the most valuable part of Stack Overflow was this community of developers. It was not the Q

    —Huffduffed by hagelin

  3. Podcast: The New Industry Analysts, Who Are They? (Part 3) | Kea Company’s Influencer Insights

    Over the last couple of years we have been witness to the rise (and fall) of new research initiatives. What defines them, and what drives them to take on the market as they do? Hosts Thom and Derk Erbé are joined by Phil Fersht, Michael Coté, William Tincup and Horace Dediu. The panel drills down on…

    http://keablogs.com/2015/08/27/podcast-the-new-industry-analysts-who-are-they-part-3/

    —Huffduffed by hagelin

  4. Podcast: The New Industry Analysts, Who Are They? (Part Two) | Kea Company’s Influencer Insights

    Over the last couple of years we have been witness to the rise (and fall) of new research initiatives. What defines them, and what drives them to take on the market as they do? Hosts Thom and Derk Erbé are joined by Phil Fersht, Michael Coté, William Tincup and Horace Dediu. The panel drills down on…

    http://keablogs.com/2015/08/20/podcast-the-new-industry-analysts-who-are-they-part-two/#more-895

    —Huffduffed by hagelin

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