In this video, our friend Naz from Clever programming interviews David Smooke about how he build Hacker Noon. Tune in for some insights!
[00:00:00] Clever Programming: Buddy. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. My name is NAS and this has got a programmer and I'm here with David here from hacker, and he's a CEO of hacking and he's the founder and CEO of hacker noon. And today we'll be speaking about his story, what, how he has built this company to be one of the biggest coding platforms out there for people to read it for people to get to know about coding for people to learn code.
And we'll talk about the struggles, the hardships, the hard times. We'll talk about the happy events and we'll talk about how you can potentially grow more into that potential. If that is what you want to do. If you're a developer here and you want to learn more about how to start a business, you're in the right place.
And you're somebody who just loves business, want to know what it takes or the business you're in the right place. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome, David. So amazing to have you here. Thank you very much for being on here.
[00:00:56] David: Hello, clever programmers. Very excited to be here. I appreciate taking the time reading hacker noon and I'm a, I'm an open book.
[00:01:05] Clever Programming: So David, how about you? Go ahead. Introduce us just a little bit more about now. What do you currently do at hacker noon and so forth?
[00:01:13] David: Cool. Yeah, my name's David Smith. I'm 33 years old living in Colorado and I run a remote company called hacker news. We have about 12 full-time employees and another 20 part-time employees.
We primarily employ editors and software developers. We publish about 40 stories a day ranging across all types of technology. So software development, coding programming, that's a big pillar of ours as well as startups business. And then also the decentralized movement and the movement towards a web 3.0.
I spend a lot of my day billing software. So I'm more of the product management side of things, editing stories solving the worst problems, whatever kind of funnels to me about the business is always the fun part of that job doing some sales trying to work more with great technology companies and making we really want to just make a better place to help.
So the relationship we have with contributors is they own their content. They bring it to hacker noon. We provide editing and distribution for those stories. And we build up a library and our readership and we have about 3 million readers a month. Wow. And we're building a lot of
[00:02:16] Clever Programming: software. Wow. That's beautiful.
Beautiful. And so now you talk a little bit of, a little bit about how can you and what you guys, are doing. And tell me a little bit more about what was the goal with hacking or what is the premise of hacker noon, and for those people who might not know hackers, maybe who haven't heard about it tell us what is your goal and what will the readers get.
[00:02:35] David: The original goal was to make a business that made money while I slept okay. But in my career where I really, he didn't want to be paid by the hour and working salary is still in my mind by the hour, you don't own the work you're doing, you don't own any of the upside or very little of it.
So I reached a point in my career where that was more my goal than saying, Hey, I need to solve this problem or that problem or anything like that. It was more as a mindset of I need to figure out a way to make a business that provides value and makes revenue and pays rent and makes more than it's been.
So a lot of the early days of this stuff was not about making the best place for technologists to publish, that, that wasn't where it started as the goal. But we found a nice niche around building a lot of. So I was building like blog licensing sites, blogs and different verticals, really, getting into content management systems.
And at my previous job, I, ran a WordPress blog with about 500 contributors. So I had gone through the back and forth of like how to manage a large network of contributors, how to help them well stuff. That's a lot when my bad crown came in with hacker noon. It was that right mix of a good name, a good industry, the people in technology, they know they want to talk about their technology and find other people who care about this stuff.
So there's the really good industry for much more of a community-based operation and then putting things in place to improve the content and making your stories better. Like the headline itself is going to change the whole trajectory of the story, how fast it loads is going to change it and what the featured images, how many grammar errors you have, how good is your word choice?
All these things impact the direction of the core of the story. We found a nice niche of what I'm calling the second human rule of making sure another human views it and improves the content. And that's something that I think the internet as a whole is lacking a bit, there's so many places anyone can post anything and just shout into whatever other void opens up at the time.
But having that barrier to entry and saying, Hey, a, human's going to look at it. It's going to take a couple of days. And then we're going to get a better result because we had two humans and editing is something that gets a little bit of diminishing returns. The first 20 minutes of editing story, you're going to provide more value than the next 20 minutes.
[00:04:41] Clever Programming: th the first 20 minutes, basically that the, the students read or people read. When you say 20 minutes, you mean was that like a log two, a two paragraphs, two paragraphs? Or what do you mean by that?
[00:04:49] David: How an editor can edit like a 500 word story and about 20. They come up with the basics and improve it, but whenever they spend minutes, 21 to 40, sometimes it's that they're not as big of improvements, like covering your bases is like the very first thing you need to do.
And also just answering the question should this be on the internet forever? That's important thing of maybe someone's no, that shouldn't be on the internet forever. Or reframe it as a different type of thing. And a lot more people are going to care about it or find it, so there's elements there that like an editor is just so helpful for publishing content.
[00:05:20] Clever Programming: Sure. So my interesting portion that we know from what you said there is, but Emma, by the way, before we go into a fully guys, if you do guys want to go and check out hacker noon, we had the links down in the description, there's a Hackman website you guys can go to and check out what they have.
They have some amazing articles I know around coding, around development, around the new, the new web, a decentralized web as well. So you guys, do you guys have a newsletter or like in there as well with digging subscribe?
[00:05:46] David: Oh, yeah. So if you sign up, you can choose your tags as you go.
And so we can, because our library is pretty big. We have about 75,000 stories and 27,000 tags. So it's helpful to sign up, create an account, and then you can pick your eight tags so you can customize your time. Yeah. And then the footer of every page is a newsletter. That's what the general that's possible.
[00:06:05] Clever Programming: was beautiful. So let me ask you this. Cause when you said that was really interesting when I asked you, Hey, what inspired you first to start this? And you're like at first I just want to, sit at home, not doing anything and just have a make money from me, right?
[00:06:17] David: Like that. I need to make money.
It has to pass the, I get hit by a bus rule. If it doesn't pass the, I get hit by a bus rule and it survives. Yes, you're running your services. You're selling your services, you're selling your time and that's cool. That's a good way to do it. You can make plenty of money, but it really needed to solve the rule of if I'm not a part of it, it still works.
And that's the thought I wanted to get to, I'll ask
[00:06:40] Clever Programming: you that. Cause there's a lot of students I talk to. So of course, as soon as I talked to a lot of students on a daily basis, students who want to learn coding Stearns who want to get into bootcamps and stuff like that. And there's a lot of people who say, I just want to, be on a beach and make a ton of money.
And that's, it doesn't actually work that way. Is it actually possible to create something where you literally do nothing and then it's just making money by itself?
[00:07:02] David: First and foremost, I couldn't do the beach thing. My brain's not wired that way. I'd be trying to sell someone something on the beach or once I get there, I'm like finding a new thing to do.
Just chilling on the beach. Like I probably couldn't handle that. That's just out. But
[00:07:17] Clever Programming: funny. What was the question? So the question is it actually possible right to, I'm not saying beach, but actually to make money in your sleep,
[00:07:26] David: to where and other people are doing things. With hacker noon, that little yellow banner on top, every page. Is about half our revenue and it's running all the time.
And so we sell it directly to large tech companies and large crypto companies. They buy directly from us. There's no targeting and we just put that ad up. And when I go to sleep, people can send you to visit the site, have an impression and click the ads. So that, I would say it's happening and it's possible.
That's great money machine. It's not like the fed. I can't just print money, whenever I want, but it's a decent business.
[00:07:58] Clever Programming: Good. That's good. That's good. So now let me tell you, and let me ask this right. You had this goal in mind, right? That you wanted to be able to not be on the clock and so forth.
At which point did a switched to a different model or at which point did you realize that, this is a lot more than just a business of, being able to make money while you're sleep. It came to more of a, you know what, this is actually a business of actually helping developers and making them one of the biggest platforms.
Where did you realize.
[00:08:25] David: I don't know if there's exactly one day. So it was weaning down my clients. So I had took on clients to help grow their internet presence and define who they are and, just help them grow up on the internet. And so I had this kind of service business and the goal was that the business from hacker noon would outgrow it.
So it's like it took the first customer was actually hired.com site takeover for the site. Yeah. But our newsletter and they did all this stuff. And so then it was like, okay, now I can wean off a couple of clients. And it was, the goal was to get off all the other clients that required anything that wasn't hacker noon and that hit it took about 15, 17 months, something like that through hacker noon to make enough revenue to be my full-time job.
And then I recruited my wife, which was probably the smartest move. She's much more intelligent than I am. She didn't pay for any education. She was sponsored from education from like full scholarships from like age 12 to 21 or something
so much smarter than me,
[00:09:18] Clever Programming: I guess that was a great pick in terms of hiring
[00:09:22] David: had people that were in and out of the project. An engineer Jade's Elowitz was running a lot of scripts. And then John Marshall was doing a lot of writing with me, so it was having these part-time people like floating around because they believed in it and helping it grow and exist.
And then when it was enough money for the two of us, it was a really nice spot. So we were we didn't have a software team. We were just managing a large community and we were doing a lot of editing, a lot of sales, and then we wanted to really expand to have our own software team. And that's where.
Yeah, that's where we, I guess we were going all in and going a little bigger and we did something called equity crowdfunding. I actually
[00:09:58] Clever Programming: remember that. I remember that.
[00:10:00] David: Yeah. So we did that and that's how we built our first software team. And the first two engineers, three engineers, we hired, none of them went to college.
They were all self-learned online shit, VU, cancel all that stuff and just building products. So I definitely like what you guys are doing. And it's I think more and more people are not valuing the education when they're hiring software developers, which is it really meant like we've pivoted a lot where we basically, every software developer we hire, we do a part-time project with them working.
Yeah. And we pay them for the project. We talk about it. We pick something we think would both be interesting. And then we worked from there about negotiating, like a long-term contract. And it just so quickly we learned like what people say in an interview, doesn't matter.
Like to me, the interview, like I, yeah, I just, every time I try and base the decision on the interview, I think I make a poor hiring decision. If I just look at their work and then do a project with them, I can see how they work. And at that point, I'm like, I know who I'm working with. I understand how they approach a problem, how they divide it, how they time it, how they line it up.
So there's I don't know where I got to this point, but because this is really,
[00:11:06] Clever Programming: this is actually really interesting. I'm very happy at this point because a lot of our viewers are developers, they're beginner developers, they're looking to get into companies. And, I think what you're talking about is great because this gives a lot of great insight about what companies are actually looking for.
So when you go, hell, let me ask you this. When you go ahead and hire hiring developers now at this point, what specifically do you look for and how does the process.
[00:11:27] David: Yeah. So the last process we did, we put it, we put the CR we stopped advertising jobs elsewhere. We just put the careers page on top of our site because that meant they were a hacker noon reader and they already understood what the site was.
So they want to work on it. That's interesting. That was one thing I realized that gets rid of the people that don't care about this. So if you don't already care about hacker noon, it's much harder to do anything with you. Cause you're, that's just, you're not already aligned. So just that already align the people that would, I would be talking to then we ran a one and a half hour tests that anyone could take.
And it basically said rebuild a page of hacker noon, and we gave them three page and some guidance and it can be done in like hour and a half. Maybe two. It depends, you know how into it you get. But we tried to tell them like, don't spend more than this, try, like instead of spending an hour interviewing, we can learn more.
If you do one hour of the, just build a page and run this little test, and then the people that built the best page. We interviewed and then from there we voted and then we hired,
[00:12:21] Clever Programming: when you say build a page, you mean build an actual website that high can.
[00:12:25] David: No, we just the story page. So if you look at like a headline is the story page is the most popular page on our site.
So that's the frame, the formatting it's headline, author, feature, image, body, social shares, emoji reactions, tags recommended content footer. So it was just kinda, and then people would, it was cool in the explanation though. Yeah. If I would keep going, I would do this next. I got to here. I took a short cut there, and then you get to talk to him about like, how did you build this thing?
And I've thought about this page a lot. So like whenever we have that discussion, it's a page I've thought a lot about, and they just spent two hours thinking about how to make a page like that. So it's that's the test that we run. My goal is. For them to spend less time, but also the us to learn enough to make a good decision that we're pretty aligned.
So that's the test we ran last time. We'll probably run it again.
[00:13:10] Clever Programming: That's really cool. That's really cool. And okay. You guys go ahead and you go through this process of having them submit a page where shimmy is really interesting, because a lot of us, for example, here at Keppra, we focus on colognes, like building website clowns, right?
So yes, there is the proof, there are people like website colognes, basically you're cloning your website. That's already there.
[00:13:28] David: Developer companies, the amount of times people have told us how to build the Uber clone. They just do the story submissions, just scoping for all these app development companies.
[00:13:38] Clever Programming: That's awesome. Okay. So once you went ahead, a new have them, let's just say this. Okay. Okay. A lot of these people, they build all these hacker noon, the website, right? Not the landing page, but of course, but that the article page. Okay. Of course, it's still a ton of people who are doing that.
What do you look for? What do you pick from there's a hundred people and you only have one spot.
[00:14:01] David: In that moment it's oh, I'm looking for details in the page that we chose or how clean their alignment is. You're learning where they prioritize backend, versus front-end even choosing what they say to admit and what I didn't get to.
Some people just throw out the footer all together. Some people would put it in a different footer. Some people would acknowledge they didn't. It was interesting to see if they acknowledge what they didn't get to. I always appreciate that. It's Hey, I have the time limit one. It proves that you listened to the time limit in communicate better because if the project keeps going, you could do it better.
You could spend three hours on it and send me something more beautiful and say, I'm so great. And I did it in 90 minutes. That's not as good will to actually talk about where they cut short, because the time limit forces that you can't do it perfectly in the time limit, but you can come close, you can get a good 80% thing out.
I think the instruction that we give you. Wow. So
[00:14:54] Clever Programming: you're saying that even for example, if I went ahead and I E interviewed for hacker noon as a developer, and you guys give me this
[00:15:02] David: you would do this before the interview. And I would say the second after the coding test and then their personal website is probably the second for me.
So the personal website, I think so one we're in publishing and I believe every technologist should tell their story around the internet. And that's part of the value we have of bringing traffic back to your corner of the internet. So if you don't already have put in the time to build your corner of the.
I don't think you're probably not a good fit here. So if you don't have a personal site for a business like mine, I want my software developers all to have a personal site already and they value and they understand the value prop that we have with our contributors, that they want to drive traffic to something.
And they want to talk about the projects they building. So other than the test, I would say number two is the personal. And some people, it also can be a buildup, LinkedIn profile. It could be your built, your get hub profile that you look at your corners of the internet. So it doesn't need to be a personal site, but firms that you do care about your corner of the internet.
And that means we're already going to be a little more aligned. The last one at the last engineer we hired Marcos, his first of all, his site was so funny. It was a picture of his actual office. And then he did this 3d thing where you look around the menu. Yeah. I'll I'll drop the line after this, but it was like, it was just unique and it was cool and it made him stand out and, and another one Jefferson who we just hired, he had a really cool, like pixelated eight-bit site where he built it.
And we do a lot of pixelated stuff in our design. So we right away when I visited the site, you feel this alignment of this respect for that retro old video game. And like his first time you found the internet. Those are the things we value.
[00:16:36] Clever Programming: I love that each and every company of course is different right.
In terms of what they value and what they want. They're, they see engineers in engineers. But what do you think is the number one thing that is the one is the most important thing that you guys look for in a developer? May that be when they're, coding it up or made that be one day are go to the interview.
What is the number one thing that you guys would look for?
[00:16:58] David: Since for me, since I'm more on the product management side and the writing side, I'm really looking for empathy and communication. So there's obviously the hard skills part of it. And I trust our test and if we tweak our tests for a different role, I think about it.
And I talk to people and I trust it. But whenever I'm in the stage, he knows the CEO hiring this small team of software developers. I'm really looking for empathy, communication, and people that choose to do it themselves first at this stage when we're only 11 full-time people, it's like everyone needs to be a top individual contributor and great right.
No one can be just a manager or no one can be, Hey, I need a designer and a backend developer in order to ship this feature. It's no, you're a full stack developer. You don't need both sides of support, no matter what, if one side isn't there, you can work around that, plug in and get it out.
You have to revisit and clean it up and reconnect it later. But like you're full stack enough that you got to the stage where you ship the feature and people start using it and you can learn to iterate. So that's more of the easiest way to show that is by having your own product out there, somewhere, having that thing functioning say, Hey, I worked on this project with these two people and you can play with it and you can play with the net, comes back to the personal site, like how you're collecting your information, how you're collecting your work.
Yeah. So that's how we look. That's really cool.
[00:18:14] Clever Programming: And what I'll really love about this is, the fact that you did say communication and, even though solves goes, there's something. It's something I very much talk about. So I, for example, I've had the pleasure of working. Sometimes split or something.
It's not so much pleasure. I like working with a lot of developers. Real quick in a startup company is I'm personally, I'd love to start a company. So I work with a lot of startup companies. And then we're also with the corporate companies and for a big portion, what I've realized is that it's honestly not just the biggest thing, not the biggest thing is not just about your skills around technical, but it's also your soft skills.
How good of a human being are
[00:18:52] David: you? Because what, in the smaller, the company, the more the individual contributor decides what they do and what they work on. And so really judging. Do you, are you able to level measure impact? Are you able to say, how does this impact readers, writers, sponsors, editors, admins, and think what will happen?
How do I measure this impact? And you're choosing what you prioritize and what you want. It's I, yeah. I want a brain that I believe in. I want to bring that cares about those users and cares and understands. Hey, when I do this, it's going to piss off 10,000 people by putting up, pop up
people in these big tech companies, put up the pop-up and then they say, Our subscription numbers went up by this much. So don't talk about the pop-up. Don't talk about how he did it. That's where character comes in and you choose the software development choices and it sucks. Sometimes you have to take on the weight of pissing off a lot of users when the thing breaks and these readers, there's a guilt that you have to be able to carry and you have to trust that you can like, Hey, all right, I know I messed up today.
I'm going to help these people tomorrow. Here's how I'm going to do it. That stuff is that takes some weight. And if you have a sociopath, that's saying you don't care about what happens to those things. It's like the business who knows.
[00:19:58] Clever Programming: It's actually really interesting enough. I worked this company once.
I'm not going to say well company, but I worked with this company where they brought on this lead developer, right? The lead developer is a great, great person, very technical. Basically it was about to come in and fully redo the whole system. Okay. And that was the goal is to make it a lot more secure, a lot more scalable.
Is it a developer came in really quickly decided to start to change a lot of different things, really good start to change all these different backend system. Next thing you know, within two weeks, the backend system has changed. The front end did not know about any of the backend system changes.
That thing was pushed live next to, everything's broken. And then next thing, 95% of the people were fired. So it's yeah, no, I was not fired. No, I was not fired. I was a full stack developer. The 5% of the state, there were only it's actually me and one of my friends, one of my friend, he were both full developers.
And so we stayed on, we helped the guy out. To bring him up, from what was going on with the whole, basically his system just going down fully. But I think it's just really interesting, right? It's just like the importance of one, how one person can really change so much in the company, especially when you're so small and to them, the importance of that communication that you're talking about.
So when you say communication, how do you test it? How do you see that in a person.
[00:21:12] David: Mostly texts. So I'm going back, I'm reading what they say they would do and what they did. So there's that element of communication of like accountability that you just want to look back and see what people prioritize and commit to.
Because it can't understate how valuable it is to be a good writer right now, the developers that I work well with are willing to write and they take the time to write and some of them are verbose and some of them are very witty and sharp, but clearly if you would read them and their developer or not, you'd say that person knows how to write.
So that the written word for me becomes really important for communication with software development, so that's. That's something I just value a lot. And the precision of your language and what you look at and how even the tone, like I'll have pet peeves, I'll see red flags of you. For example, if you write something out and it's a question, but you put a period, that's stuff on this stuff.
I look for those little subconscious things sometimes because it's okay, I get where you're coming from. You think you can command people. You say, okay, maybe it's a typo. Then you see it three, five times and you see it happen when things escalate. And you're like, okay, I get it. That's the that's what's going on there.
So there's the precision and the written word, and then going back, looking at old typos, it's funny and stuff like that. But when I say communication it definitely matters that we can meet and talk out our options and say, here's how we're going to de-scope, here's what we're going to prioritize.
If we de-scope that can we get to here? So discussions are very useful to have in, the in-person meeting. I actually, I'm now at the point in the company where Ling, my wife is the only person I've the only one I've met in person
[00:22:41] Clever Programming: Yeah.
[00:22:41] David: As we were expanding. And so
[00:22:43] Clever Programming: wow. And so w what countries, like where's everybody at?
[00:22:47] David: Michigan, Florida Ukraine. India, yeah.
[00:22:52] Clever Programming: From Ukraine. And I was also, I've been living Michigan for the past seven years.
[00:22:57] David: Yeah. Yeah. We got South Africa Amsterdam. Yeah. All over. Pretty much every time zone Japan, Australia.
That's a tough time zone for meetings. Okay. I have a question about, I
[00:23:09] Clever Programming: bet. It's not that easy to get everybody on board in a team meeting now like when everybody's telling me this so many different time zones
[00:23:16] David: one all hands meeting a month. So there's only one meeting that everyone is like mostly required.
Obviously if you have something important or deadline or something or personal, you can't make it, but yeah, it is tougher. You definitely want to do less meetings. Less meetings are good. I usually do two to three a day. I try to keep it to two max so I can get six hours of focused work on keyboard.
But yeah, it's, it is a little challenging for sure. And I appreciate like the sacrifices that people make with late meetings and early meetings. I don't want to abuse it. So I want to schedule like selectively, but like also, it is good that the teammates are willing to do that for each other.
[00:23:54] Clever Programming: That is true. That is true. So I want to stay on the topic of a little bit of of the interview side of a portion and kind of what you guys are looking for. Okay. What'd you guys look for in general? So soft skills, communication skills. Okay. Are there any other soft skills besides communication that you guys think are really important and someone who's trying to.
[00:24:13] David: Humility is the most. Yeah. It's just very hard to work with people who really believe the farts smell great. It's difficult, and you look across like, when people get really smart, it's easy to get really arrogant. And so that's something where it's like looking for that humility. Being able to confidently talk about your work, but not being able to just put yourself as this hero and ignore your faults and prop yourselves up in your stories.
So that's where it just gets hard. We've learned like the more humble somebody is, the more they can actually do a lot of times gaging, like where is this interview from reality to what output I will get. If you start to sense that they lack humility, you're going to sense that, okay, whatever I pay them, they're going to expect that what they deliver is a lower amount than the humility person is going to say, Hey, like I, I'm going to come in and I'm going to bring more than I promised and I with, more than I implied I'm able to do, I actually can do other things that I didn't even talk about, cause I'm humble. I talk. So that's where if you can identify humility you can usually build a team of really top contributors that like help each other out because the more arrogance seeks in seeps into the company, the more your team will be disjointed and it will be Frankensteiny and it will
[00:25:25] Clever Programming: break.
Yeah. Yeah. I agree with that. I agree. A hundred percent. How do you hope in your situation, how do you test humility? How do you test
[00:25:32] David: arrogance?
[00:25:33] Clever Programming: I guess I feel like that's really hard to test for know, unless you actually work with that person.
[00:25:37] David: You can just talk how I would, whenever they tell their stories of their past work, really look for how they relate to themselves in the team and how much they, how they use.
I, how they, whenever you ask them, like who helped do what? And just I dunno, it can also just be in little things I'm talking about. Other stuff, and really you don't learn it until that first project. And that's why we try and get them through the first project as quickly as possible. Our hiring processes, one, one to two interviews, never three, like we're not even going that far on the, these software development roles, because we want to make sure the test is good and value your time for the test.
I have the interview and then get in for a quick part as part-time project where we pick something and build it together.
[00:26:18] Clever Programming: I like that. I like that. So base, so I'm from the community humility portion. Okay. How, I'm very curious, I know you said that you see that the humility portion also from the project that they do, whenever they, somebody states the truth around, Hey, you know what, I just couldn't finish that in that one hour.
That as actually as a positive thing, not a negative thing. Yes, absolutely. I find that very interesting because a lot of people I'm here. Of course I've heard some people, Hey, just lie in the interview and then you're and then. You'll somehow get into it, from your perspective, it's a very different it's, just be as truthful as possible about who you are and, if they like your truth and who you are, then, you're a much better fit for the company.
Yep. Gotcha. Yeah, no, at that point, have you seen humility affect your so for example, if there was a person maybe who wasn't so humble, how do you see that affecting you?
[00:27:08] David: I think it's because our core metrics are words published, time, reading and revenue. So I think you can see it sometimes where people will put their projects, push their projects further, or meet imply their project is more important whenever it's like, Hey, we're all trying to get to these three goals, in, in the thing you're doing, it does tangentially relate, but it's you're trying to push a board because it's like the thing you love, it's your baby.
And it's your thing you want to do. And instead of helping others a little more moving towards those goals, you just push your thing more. So I think there's something where why we pick projects can start to become very selfish and you want to align the selfishness with the company goals. And so wherever it becomes when those alignments come off and it's I want to do this because I'm interested in it.
And it's not really going to impact those metrics too much. Sometimes you get down this rabbit hole of your interest is more important than the company's goals and moving those forward. So that's where you see it like, but its head. But it's yeah,
[00:28:06] Clever Programming: I don't know. That's good. No. I think it's, this is a great answer for a lot of people who are watching because of course, the, our audience is very much, some of them are focused, maybe there are more entrepreneurship, a lot of them are focused on getting ready, maybe for a job, they want to become developers. And so this gives them a lot insight about, who they need to be.
[00:28:24] David: And so software developers that can understand what are the goals of the company and be able to answer that smoothly.
That's where you can have the one sentence mission, and then you can have the core metrics, but it teaches you when you want to advocate for a feature. For example, someone, if a developer saying, Hey, we need to invest in this big time. I need to focus on this over that.
And it's because I think it's going to get us 10,000 new leads. I think it's going to open up this distribution channel to 10 million new readers. If you look around and you start to think, okay, it's moving our numbers in. And it does make sense to build that instead of this. So it's that overlap of like with software developers see how their work impacts the core metrics of the company, then they can make better choices.
And I always appreciate when I get convinced to do something else, because that's interesting, but you now have made a good case. That's a more valuable use of your time. Great. And you understood the questions I would ask about how it would impact those numbers. So that's a good moment.
And I always appreciate it when it happens.
[00:29:20] Clever Programming: I love that. I love that because this is what I love to do as I love to challenge those type of things. Okay. And this is what I actually teach to my students. A lot of times in the bootcamps, in the courses, I always say that no company really likes a yes person.
Like where it's always yes. I always say that this is just my thinking. And you can tell me what you think about this. Okay. I guess just how you said that, Hey, what, if somebody can tell you or maybe propose a different idea that they might think of a better that says a lot more than if just, and then if they were to just go ahead, you know what?
Okay, y'all do it. From my perspective, when managers, for example, managers or somebody who comes up with a feature and they're like, Hey, NAS, we gotta build this feature and so forth. My first question is usually what is the goal of that feature? What, why are we trying to build this?
And once, once I understand the golden, then usually what usually happens is, Hey, let's actually think about the, will this feature actually get us to that goal. Sometimes as you start breaking things down, you realize that it actually might not. Have you found that in your position.
[00:30:24] David: Yeah, absolutely. A lot of times as a good product manager, I'm basically a sounding board and I'm listening to, okay.
Where was the block? Okay. Where was the block? And then it's okay, let's also just weigh these two things. Let's talk out two ways to get to the same goal that are completely different. Let's just talk out each options. Should we consider what, why is this one? Good? Why is this one bad? Why is this one good?
Why is that one bad? So just that like little bit of back and forth is really fun. I will say that the people that say they're looking for, yes. People where that's coming from is they're looking for reliability because you do want reliable people. You do want to trust what, it's their shift for tech support.
They'll do it. You want to trust that, Hey, if the urgent bug happens, they can drop everything. If a minor bug happens and it's in the say, it needs to be fixed in 10 days, you just trust that you put it in the queue and a solution will be reached. So there is a reliability. Whenever people say that, yes, people think.
It's there is a reliability that if you can trust the person to show up and do the job, everything will go better. And building trust is really important to making more money and building up your relationships and proving that you're worth more money. So I don't want to dismiss that, but definitely the yes, man stuff is bad.
And if you don't trust, if you can't tell yourself why you're building this thing, because someone described how to build it there and told me to build it, you should probably look for another job. You may not today, but you probably will soon because it's just too it's too. Grainless that lacks the purpose and the reason that's the
[00:31:49] Clever Programming: purposes of just coding in general, right?
The whole, what I love about just coding is the fact that it's such a creative aspect or whatever you can put out can either make it or. It can really help out a company very much, or it can actually, not help out and I should make it do a worse, but we'll just a line of code.
You can create something that a lot of people can use.
[00:32:11] David: So I would argue this is old though, because like writing has been like this for awhile, or you read something to start your day, it's going to change your whole outlook, whatever you read in the morning paper is going to change the way you see the world that day, whatever, happy, open on your phone, whatever headlines, whatever social updates you dig into, that stuff is all like framing how you see the world.
And the written word like code is like this evolution of the written word, or like maybe it's a branch off or like a metaverse universe of the written word of speaking to computers is now its own language. But to me, I still group the bigger thing is together under the written word of that.
The biggest technology. I love that. I love that.
[00:32:50] Clever Programming: So now tell me this. Okay. Okay. When you guys interview, I know you, you had the project and so forth in terms of the actual coding aspect. When you guys talk to a person, what are the coding? And that I'm not saying what quality questions you ask, but what you focus on when you do get to talk to them in person, through Skype or through an interview.
[00:33:09] David: usually another engineer will do that part so they can get more technical. And they're really breaking down what portions of the tech stack do they know that we already have talking about the bigger problems and solutions we're working on to figure out what excites them, because it's also a matter, or we're broad enough that when you come in, we don't exactly know what you're going to work on.
Know it's the conversation of where interest and experience overlaps with possible projects. We've detailed or possible projects we come up with together. So that part and really, yeah, how they work with people before. And I really, the key questions I ask engineers is would you enjoy working with this person.
And if they, I can, how they hesitate a base, like we engineer that interviews the candidate. That's the first question I want to ask them. Because if once, if they trust that they're going to enjoy working with them, that's a sign that they're endorsing their talents. They're endorsing the mess.
They would have to be the more, the team is excited to receive messages from each other. Then everyone likes to go like if they're not excited to receive messages from the teammate, it's that's the moment where it's that's bad. That's that can create, people spending energy on like needless anger, or like just things that don't help the work itself.
And you're spending energy on it. It doesn't help the work. So that's the first one I asked them and yeah, we'll see a lot of the interview notes we'll have, you'll see Hey, there's gaps here and their knowledge, they seem to be really experienced there. And then we're also trying to gauge how quickly they.
So the ability to learn quickly is can't be under, can't be overstated and how valuable. Yeah. Like it doesn't, if you don't know Firebase, it doesn't mean you can't learn the database. Databases. It's so you're also judging Hey, what's something you got excited about. Learn really fast, like where's the project where you came into that project and you didn't have any experience with that type of code or TypeScript or whatever it is, but you were able to learn it quickly and, become the project leader and then ship the thing.
And like, when did you choose a technology and why asking people, why they chose the technologies they chose is also interesting because a lot of times it'll be like, that's what the legacy was. But at the time Hey, I found it and I had been waiting for the use case. I always love when people get to that I was really excited about it and I played with it and I was just looking for where I could put it.
That's it's like
[00:35:16] Clever Programming: the things we look for oh, there's that there's a new framework. Let's use it. I'm so excited to use that new framework. There's like a new frame that comes out every single month or so, which is not just so hard to keep up with, but it's also really fun. Like I just recently realized tailwind.
I haven't gotten the chest, but I'm like, holy shit. It's so cool.
[00:35:36] David: Yeah. I think that's come up three times in our slack of people, like finding it the same way of wanting to use it and not like having the finding, wanting to use it before they have a use case of just whenever they stumble on it.
[00:35:47] Clever Programming: So let me say this. Okay. And when you guys look for engineers, okay. Is it, other people who already have experience out of experience or what do you guys intake on? Any students who as soon students or people who maybe haven't had experience and what do you look for if somebody hasn't had too much experience in terms of, working at companies, but maybe they build projects and maybe they're coming from maybe their self-learner.
What do you look for in that? And that,
[00:36:09] David: I love self learners. Our first three engineers, I think didn't go to college. And they had more work experience in the beginning. And then we've had younger engineers that we hired that just finished bootcamp and had one or two jobs or finished bootcamp, had a couple of clients and was basically building stuff for other people and have their own projects on the side.
Oh, what are full, I call them full-stack intern, but we hired an 18 year old software developer and we just him to throw it on hacker noon. He wrote on hacker noon about how to improve our page performance speed. So we hired him to work with us.
[00:36:39] Clever Programming: How did you guys notice him? This? It just notice him because he wrote a article. Did you just notice him? Because he actually, so
[00:36:45] David: we wrote a story about Google lighthouse speed, and I was at the time digging into our Google lighthouse speed. So I was like, this is great. I'm just going to meet with him and see if he's not crazy.
And if he's not crazy, I'll hire him.
[00:36:56] Clever Programming: You guys heard it here first. If you're not crying, if you're not crazy, they'll just hire you.
[00:36:59] David: He built the free internet plugin. So if you type, if you Google free internet plugin, we build a Google search plugin. And what it does is it removes a paywall results from the Google search results.
And then you can customize it to add other sites or not that you don't want to appear. So instead of seeing the paywall site and clicking through and getting to the paywall, we just take out those results in penalize the companies that use paywall and make Google search actually free.
[00:37:24] Clever Programming: That's awesome.
That's great. That's great. So now, okay. You guys go through this whole process. At any point. I know you guys give them a coding question on any points that you guys test them on, besides the project on things like, Al gore there wasn't data structures, or do you guys not focus very much on that, on those, those typical coding, interview questions, they usually get like Google, which is can you create a recursive function?
Or can you create a link tree? Is there any focus on that?
[00:37:48] David: Not for the general entry-level software development role for us, but for, we are doing some stuff with recommended stories that would get to that level of complexity, but the people working on it are already on the team.
So we're not. We're not like pushing for a really machine learning heavy per people. Right now we're more in the stage where we like full stack developers that have expertise. So you're more full stack and you're better at something specific is like more of what we look for. But I think as to me, it's just as long as the companies keep the interview question, coding tests very short and not do too much stuff on the upfront.
It's a good sign. I just think a lot of time gets wasted on long interview, quite long challenges or that it's just, it doesn't respect. People's time enough. To me, if you're a company and if I can, if I can't learn enough in three hours with you I haven't designed my process long enough, like an hour and a half test or two hour test and one hour interview, or however that splits up, that's like a more reasonable thing of you want to hire this person or yeah.
[00:38:48] Clever Programming: Yeah. Yeah. And I love the fact, I love what you talked about. Previously, which is you just ask the person, if they're great to work with what'd you want to work with that person. I think that says a lot because like it or not, I think environment is something is the more, the most supportive things, besides any, even any tech, any technical knowledge.
Yes. Technology is important, but if the environment is just not right, that ruins the whole thing. Pretty much.
[00:39:10] David: Yeah. People that pick other people up are really valuable and it's hard to see until they get in the room, but it's it's worth its weight in gold. It just makes good logging in so much more fun.
And it's the thing is you're going, if you're working hard, you're spending a lot of your waking time with these people. And if you don't like them your day, you're not your mental health is not going to be good. You're going to rash lash out in other ways. And it's just a, you want to enjoy the people, even the screen, and they're not the same as going in the office in person.
If you don't enjoy when their thumbnail comes up and you don't enjoy reading their texts, you're not going to enjoy your day.
[00:39:48] Clever Programming: You heard it here first, be presentable on texts and be presentable on zoom. So that's really interesting, talking about how to get a job at some, something like an amazing place, like hacker noon, I think gives them a lot of insight around what they can focus on.
And the one thing we, the first thing we talked about, which is, Hey, go into a portfolio, make sure you have a good portfolio, some kind of a website. It really presents yourself. Put yourself out. I talk a lot about this too, my students and, I personally love that. If you share just what, people would just get to know you a lot better and plus you make a lot more connections, right?
Even for example, on how can you, are they able to themselves just go there, I'll go on there. And they're simply post topics and make make articles on
[00:40:29] David: there. So anyone can sign up and write a story. And then it submits to an editor and we accept about half the stories. For quality control. So that's, some of the stuff's not good enough and if the editor can get it to our level within 30 minutes, they'll help you and do it.
If not, they'll reject it. And they'll tell you a reason for why and saying, Hey, you improve that. It can come back. Yeah, that's, a lot of people in coding schools are writing on the platform. A lot of early software developers, a lot of hungry people that are saying, Hey, I want to prove that I know this and I put it out there and it's on hacker noon and hacker noon verified it.
In fact, checked it third party saying, I know how to do this. You have a
[00:41:09] Clever Programming: resume. You'll have a like this little logo says fact check by hacker noon. Great. I wanted to talk a little bit about, the story behind, behind how this was created and, even your back on yourself, because I'm very curious about what it takes, to build something of this.
I know this doesn't take, a little effort. No, does it take one, just one person to do this, let's maybe go from the beginning of okay. Where you were, how you guys started. Are you curling college? Are you currently university what you're doing at that point before you even gone to hacker noon?
[00:41:43] David: Yeah. So I went to university for economics and creative writing. So background on, business and the written word. Then I was a newspaper reporter and then I worked for a startup called smart recruiters. They shout out to them. They just raised 110 million this week. Yeah, but when I joined them, they, it was a five person team.
And I left the company when it was about 120 5:00 PM. So I just saw this growth phase of the company. And that was like three and a half years of just learning apprenticing from the CEO, learning how to grow an internet company. But, so I looked at that as like my graduate degree, if you want to look at it like, Hey college, I went to college for four years.
Then I spent about another four years just learning how to build an internet business. So that's my perspective and why I wanted my own internet business. And then I left that company and I was just trying to work with the best entrepreneurs I knew growing their business and having these different consulting contracts.
And at the same time I built the first app of this company was actually called map shot. Map shot the pictures on the background of the map. This is before apple had that feature Googled that feature of where the maps pictures were on the map. And the idea was to build a social network where the more likes and engagement, it got the bigger the pictures got and the more of the map it took up.
So it was just like smashed together a bunch of pictures. And it was like a way too much of a graphics challenge to like complete, it looks just like all these overlapping things and they would get gray. So you needed like all these complex rules about like the line where one image ends and the other one's begins, just ended up where I spent probably from from my own money.
I spent about 10 K just like trying to build this app software developers. Yeah. And it was like revenue from the marketing business. So I was like, Hey, besting, my marketing service business into software. So that, that ended up failing. But were you
[00:43:37] Clever Programming: doing any coding when you were doing that or was it just you were hiring developers separately and you had no
[00:43:41] David: idea mainly doing a wire framing and no I was like, try to look review the code and learn from it, but I'm not at that level, I'm more like visual and I'm like drawing these little pictures, making wire frames, trying to manage the feature functions of it and what to cut and what to keep and more
[00:44:00] Clever Programming: you're the idea guy.
You're the Steve jobs.
[00:44:02] David: I would not be a Steve jobs.
[00:44:04] Clever Programming: I'm saying if it was just I'm saying if it was just the idea of persons that I'm saying, because I know Steve jobs was not the best person as well, just in general, around some of the things.
[00:44:12] David: I was saying, Hey, I'm going to spend half my time working for other people.
And I'm going to reinvest that revenue into software, and I'm going to, I'm going to try that. And I'm going to build more sites. And if I don't have the ability to build the thing I want to build, I'm going to take some of the revenue from marketing and put it into here and hire that labor. So that was like more of my mindset about how to grow a business.
Like to me, a business is about bringing it has to have revenue in and it has to cost more than the input you spend out.
[00:44:37] Clever Programming: Otherwise it's not a profitable business. That's not the easiest thing to
[00:44:40] David: do.
[00:44:40] Clever Programming: Okay. Okay. So you went ahead and you were building this application. Didn't go so well. So what happened next?
[00:44:45] David: I just kept serving clients and then I was looking for other ways to build that. So I built a lot of sites with medium.com and their software and content management system. So that was a number of publications, most of which have all died. And then there's a blog licensing apps I tried to build.
And but it got to the point where like hacker noon was by far the best, like all the sites put together and all the apps I put together weren't as many readers as hacker noon. So this area of like technologists coming to a place and inventing a word, so the hacker noon, wasn't a word. It was a domain I bought for $13.
Yeah. The 1399 on GoDaddy.
[00:45:20] Clever Programming: Now it's probably worth a lot more, huh?
[00:45:22] David: Yeah. Yeah. It was a clean combination, it's hacker afternoon. So
[00:45:26] Clever Programming: where was this Spiration to call that one? Let's just think about this. Okay. Why did you want to create on the something on the coding side? If you will not been affiliated so much in the coding side, I know you were building websites and stuff like that, but Y create a publication.
[00:45:39] David: That read hacker noon for coding advice. Think hacker noon is just for coding. The library is pretty big and we just welcomed. And we said, Hey, you can publish anything about technology and an editor review it, and we'll distribute. It just naturally emerged as this underserved group that needs a little help with all their expertise needs to repackage.
It needs to have a better headline. It was just a group of people that like fit the service I was offering really well. To me, it was just, I wanted to create a tech technology site and say, Hey, anything about technology? You can publish here. I want to create a site where you can learn anything about technology and kind of have this vertical, because I tried it with a PSI, love you in poetry with a marketing site and all these SEO people.
And it was like the technology stuff is just more interesting and it's a better, it's a better model and it's more people they're on their keyboard all day. I'm to read their stuff is always appreciated.
[00:46:31] Clever Programming: I love that. And so basically they just your goal from what my perspective is, your goal was not necessarily to just go ahead and attract, developers.
Your goal is to be able to attract anybody who wants to be able to put on, any article around technology in general. It just may be because of the name. The name number one. And number two, they're the lack off, technology publication, complicated publication companies. They're brought them in just organically over time.
Is that how I was?
[00:47:04] David: That's pretty accurate. Yeah, pretty accurate. And I would just, I don't know if the other ones there's always a place to write, but even if it over the last 10 years, there's so many more places than there was 10 years ago, so much easier to get a site live and as hard as ever to get people to visit your site.
So there's that underserved thing of okay, what's the first thing when you do, when you're trying to market a site? That other sites have to drive traffic to it. So there has to be some trade off there of like, how do you build up, your webs on the internet, where you're bouncing traffic around to each other.
So I think that was an underserved group and the underserved, this led for predatory behavior and central. So like becoming the social network, it's all this power, like Facebook steals all the power from the publishers. And they're just saying, Hey, we're deciding where the traffic goes, which publisher we rank above another and a newsfeed.
And now that's a tough thing too. They took advantage of the trend just much better uniting the internet really fast, but then as their own vested interest of what stories they want to serve you and why, and you're not getting, Hey, what's stories is this site want to serve me?
[00:48:05] Clever Programming: I think that's right. Okay.
Okay. Okay. I see. I see. Okay. My interesting now portion of kids is okay. Great. So you went with hacker. No. You bought the domain name for $13, which I think is really interesting. And they are now serving, a lot of people are proposing articles. I know this is what people want to hear or people want to know right now, David.
Okay. There's one thing you want to know right now. It is. What technology did you use to build it
[00:48:31] David: right
[00:48:31] Clever Programming: now? No, before the.
[00:48:33] David: The first acronym. Yeah, medium, medium.com. We use their content manager. Oh really?
[00:48:39] Clever Programming: Okay. Okay. Okay. So it was me that initially,
[00:48:41] David: or they wanted people to just publish on medium.com.
When they started, I thought medium.com was going to set out to be right here, publish everywhere. And as they're bringing in all these back channel and big publishers, I thought that's a great model for writers to publish many places. And so I was much more bullish on their early software than whatever they're doing.
[00:49:04] Clever Programming: And so what happened? What did you use after.
[00:49:06] David: Firebase is our database. So Firebase and Versal, we're using both they're our primary two databases right now. But a lot of different technologies we've plugged in there. If you go to the about page, there's like a big logo thing and you can see all of them.
And we're starting to open source more of a lot of our own fonts open, we're gonna have a component thing coming up. We have the free internet plugin the text editor. We used a slate JS, and we also just built a new one with outline. So two different open for open source, text editors that we built and customize and add some different things in.
Yeah a lot of different things floating around. We designed our own emojis. We opened source those. So there's like pixelated emojis. So you can do different reactions. You can take them however you want. We pixelated all the social networks to clown on them a little bit of you can't put your perfect logo on our site and we're not putting your tracking pixel.
No, you can't do that. No. So there's some tracking Google and Google Spire based anyway. So if they want to steal our information, they obviously, whatever
[00:50:01] Clever Programming: they have all the information it's okay
[00:50:02] David: there's all these trade offs. It's oh, can you afford a software that costs $20,000 a month?
Or do you want to trade some of this information? And good, the Google analytics trade off across the whole web is like remarkable growth strategy, but I don't know how it's going to evolve. I'd rather pay them more and have a little more control over that, but we'll see how the internet kind of plays out.
Hopefully more of these smaller companies start to emerge and not get sold right away. And they start to emerge and prosper. And we have a little more diversity of large tech companies at the top. I
[00:50:32] Clever Programming: love that. And I see here in the comments Lynn smoke is that. Links, some links, some smokes. So she went ahead and she said, eh, basically what you guys are using is something called outline and next year.
Yes. Versatile Firebase, Prisma and fond. Awesome.
[00:50:49] David: Fun. Awesome.
I like to
[00:50:51] Clever Programming: ask that question because
[00:50:52] David: we've got some stuff coming out with them. We've got some stuff coming out with Grammarly. Yeah. Got one monetization floating
[00:51:00] Clever Programming: around in there. Have you guys, I know next year is a react GS. So you guys are using reactor. Yes. Kind of whip next years. So Verizon gets it too.
Go ahead. Are you guys are using Firebase actually fully. Do you guys use fibers as well to put it online?
[00:51:14] David: It depends where it is in the product. But so more of the root domain is on Versal and then app and different sub domains, authentication, Firebase, storage, and Firebase, a lot of user data of around all the stories, keeping the stories in a couple of different places, have a backup.
[00:51:30] Clever Programming: I know this is what a lot of developers like to hear is what technologies are you using about typology as okay, great. Oh no, take it back to where we left off from, which is okay, you started this hacker noon thing and you start to see people coming in through there, at which point then, you know what you realize that, okay, I want to take this a lot further and I want to focus in fully on it.
[00:51:50] David: What was the equity crowd funding. We opened up a software team and now we've doubled revenue three years in a row, and we've passed last year's revenue pretty significantly already. So we opened up where we could hire a few more people and really in solving our own problems. We want to build little different software applications.
So one of these is called slogging and you can see [email protected] and basically it's slack blogging, and it's turning our own conversations into hacker noon posts. So this is the flap that we've been using internally and with some hacker noon, right? So we published about 150 posts and it's about having a community discussion.
And then you click three buttons. You turned it into a hacker noon draft editor, reviews it and publishes it. So that came out of our tech lead, having 28,000 slack updates in a year and only 12 hacker noon posts. And it was like, okay, that's not a good ratio. Writing is sitting around. Yeah, fuck that. No one reads.
So except us were the core of the idea came from, and now it could go many different directions onboarding kind of our communities here to try it out and start publishing it, but it could become a standalone application slog on your own site, so right now it's all slogging on hacker. Yeah, that, and we looked to solve our own solutions and then see if that software can be useful elsewhere.
[00:53:04] Clever Programming: Okay. And so let me ask you this. Okay. When you, what happened get started and before you even hire your first engineer, tell me, who was working on it, it was just you, or were you using your wife or was it just you yourself who we know? What was the kind of the starting point.
[00:53:17] David: Outsourcing because software development was the first step and trying that, and that didn't really work.
So it that level of insight and editorial support was really helpful for getting these first group of contributors in and then feeling like someone else's on the other side of the screen. And, from there, it was like me and part-time people for about a year and a half, and then just me and Lang for another year and a half.
And then we did equity, crowdfunding, exp ex extended the team. Then we did one strategic investment from coil to implement web monetization and kick off a referral partnership with them. And coil is pretty cool because you pay coil $5 and then anyone that's web monetized, coil streams, that $5 to all the specific sites.
So all they do is add a meta tag to their site and we've had about 2000 writers. They add that meta tag to their stories and they get streamed a couple of pennies from that $5 subscription. So it's they're trying to look for, innovative technologies like that is pretty fun.
[00:54:34] Clever Programming: So backtrack on the quilt thing.
What was the purpose?
[00:54:36] David: The purpose is to create another feature for writers and try and be a part of more ways to monetize the content you own on the web. We want to provide more opportunities to writers. So that was like something we were pursuing as a strategic partnership and they believe in us and they want us to grow bigger.
So we reached an agreement and raised a million dollars from coil, kept our company entirely common stock priced it. So it increased the value of the company from the equity crowdfunding. And it was nice to get priced again, like all the hard work I'm doing. Can someone evaluate this thing and look how cool it is?
[00:55:07] Clever Programming: There's nobody in it. Nobody's see what's going on here. I want you so hard every single day, and nobody can see it.
[00:55:14] David: That was really cool because the the founder of coil used to be the CTO of ripple and he closed our equity crowdfunding round. We were doing an event at get hub or headquarters in San Francisco. I had never met him before the event ends and he just tweets out something like just ended, just was the last investor in the hacker noon crowdfunding round.
And the round was over. Cause it hit the cap. So it was like a cool, like I just found out his dad also invested in the round independently of him crowdfunding. Yeah, like a 60, 70 year old guy. That's just really excited about technology and reads the site. And I was like, that's so
[00:55:48] Clever Programming: cool. Does he now maybe make making articles on the site or no.
Is it just
[00:55:52] David: hasn't done his first one yet? Maybe that's a joke. That'd be
[00:55:56] Clever Programming: interesting. That'd be interesting. Okay, great. So you were, you guys did some crowdfunding and at which point did you guys realize, I know we need to hire now developers and in-house developers. And did you have any difficulties around that?
[00:56:08] David: Yeah, so we, whenever we wanted the equity, crowdfunding and pivot to our own software was all as one thing, it's saying, Hey, if we don't control the software experience, we don't control the site. It's not our experience. And people can steal it from us whenever they want, or you're just locked into a shitty experience.
If you tried to optimize our editorial flow within a word. It could be done, but it would be a brutal amount of work of our experience and our workflow into your workflows. You've already, WordPress has so many like the whole ecosystem it's built out. It's not exactly the most flexible to say, my site works differently than yours might interact differently than yours.
They need a different flow. They need a different experience. So that having that moment and having enough readers to believe in us, to help us make that step and having enough sponsors to keep this thing going. And it was, that was definitely a tough move for us. And we had to work really hard. Hopefully come out the other side, looking good and making a bunch more money.
And, we have employees now for the first time buying houses, which is super cool. We, I think we had three so far this year of the 11 go move into their own house. So that's super cool is like judging my impact on the world. You can worry working here, we're making enough money and have a good enough business that people can work here and improve their lives.
[00:57:25] Clever Programming: that's always one of the biggest impact, right? Even here at pro Glover program programmer, when we went ahead and started, clever program or it's like now seeing that, 1%, is getting an apartment in it's and they're improving their life in that way.
Another person is doing this or pulling off in that way. It's always just it's. So it makes a very different for why you do things like it makes it, you realize that this is why you do the things that you do. You know that as a team, if you, as a team can become successful and you run this business and you guys are all growing together, everybody is growing together.
Everybody, either, getting better in their skills, everybody's growing in terms of, their standards in life, they're getting better in, happiness. That's. I don't know. I don't know if it gets better just in general, that's pretty much what you want.
[00:58:11] David: feel like in life, I think more small, sustainable internet businesses would be just a great place to be in the models right now is still very much too heavy of invest in an idea and then grow the idea and then sell the idea to somebody else and sell the thing. So I think if more people would look at internet longevity and try and say, Hey, I'm a sustainable business.
I make more money each year at good. Maybe it goes up more. Maybe it goes up less, but it's enough that it keeps growing and you own it in 10 years, 20 years from now, it's still a business with all the shareholders that actually grew it, as opposed to saying, Hey, it got bought out and put into the shelf onto someone else's product suite and the Viet, the essence has.
Kind of sometimes that dies, in those types of stages. But back to the other question you were asking, our first engineers that we hired the very first leader, chief product officer, we had as my, one of my best friends. And I had worked with him for eight years. I was in the group and as wedding and he, I was actually a client of his, when his old startup, they actually hired me to do some writing and messaging for them.
His name is Dane Lyons and he since started his own company after rebuilding hacker noon where he's doing V1 labs where he's building all these micro apps and doing a micro app with NFTs right now. That was pretty cool. So that, and then he hired his old, best pair programming.
So that was his first hire of that. So there is the referrals are really valuable in the beginning. And then to me, it's referrals and inbounds are like, we're at the stage where that's all we need for people and all the early developers as companies get bigger, they want to. Hire recruiting firms and target specific skills.
And if I'm targeting anyone it's like me or Ling and we're like reaching out, talking to them, figuring out like, Hey, we admire you. It's not like we're not paying anyone else to do that. And we're not paying for any like recruitment marketing ads or we're not going to career camps and no one's really going out and the career camps are coming back.
[01:00:02] Clever Programming: They're Hey, they do United. Do you know anybody? Do you, anybody? Do you know anybody? Yeah. I agree with that. That's a really important aspect, in hiring. This is and I'll also, I talk a lot about this too, here on the clever program on YouTube and just in, in the bootcamp in general, a lot of time says, guys, your network is very important.
Your network around who, what what you know is probably one of the most important things you can be as a developer. It's really hard. For example, even for me, when I was applying for jobs, my first job I got, I look back at it and I'm like, most of the jobs that I had were pretty much through referral.
No, it's it's yes, I applied to a lot of these companies. I went to all these interviews and so forth, but the extra jobs I had were all through referrals and I think this has a lot. And so this is a lot about as well. I've been coming from David here is guys
[01:00:45] David: Greg referrals, but I've actually never got a job through referrals.
Part of the point of this whole thing was to never have to apply to a job again. And I just worked for my own. But the first job I actually got with smart recruiters, I had been applying to all these jobs, had no network as a 21 year old and just had oh, I'll check out my little bro. I didn't have much going on,
but what changed actually, because I was doing the traditional cover letter and resume, but then I just started reaching out on social networks and writing like three to four sentences about what I like about their business and how I could grow it. So that's actually how, like I cold message, I think, through LinkedIn for smart recruiters.
And I just told the CEO what I like about the model that he's putting out and what I think I grow. And then I got a message back in a day. Wow. Okay. If you actually tell them something to help their business, they're more likely to want to meet with you. I know
[01:01:34] Clever Programming: it's crazy how that works out when you want to help people, they just respond.
So it's actually really interesting links learning just recently counter. She said water employees recruit people from via a hinge and Tinder.
[01:01:45] David: I can comment on that.
[01:01:47] Clever Programming: Those are really interesting, okay, great. So you guys went ahead and now you're hiring people. Tell me a little bit now, in terms of what are some hardest, what are the hardest things that you have faced potentially when trying to build this?
Because of course like it or not, there's always challenging times. There's always difficult times. One of those tough times, because of course we've had some tough times. Of course, I'm sure you have.
[01:02:09] David: There's the unpredictability of traffic on the internet and specifically Google, our top source of traffic is Google.
And so like sometimes that goes up and down, they change an algorithm or they favor one side over another. So there's an element of what's in your control and what's not, as a business owner, you want to spend your time doing things that are in your control and positively, improving all the time, improving the growth, the ceiling of your business, but also, raising the floor and patching all the problems.
So there's that element of what you can control and what you can't. And so that's something that. I've worked on getting better at, and just being picking projects and doing things in a way where I'm impacting the business on the things that I control, because the bigger it gets, the less I control, the more people are out there just following and doing what they think their job is.
And the more it's just the things bigger. I, it's not the same as, Hey, all the labor going into it is me waking up at me sleeping. And so getting over that hump and how to be better at each stage of the business is definitely something I'm working on every day. Not distrusting you know how to do your job,
[01:03:10] Clever Programming: go for it.
Yeah. I'm guessing, of course it's not easy now as a CEO, you have to be, you have to know there's a lot of things you have to be aware of. Even though when this, when the team is smaller, it doesn't matter. There that's actually, even, I feel like harder sometimes because there's a lot more communication you probably will have with the people that you're.
And then you have to be on this side and this side. So definitely get that portion. What about, things around, what does the best times do you see? What are the things that you guys love when you're running a business
[01:03:35] David: like this? It's always nice to read the random, actual kind comment on the internet I'm doing not though.
And something just popping up. So there's a little, there's some endorphins there and some vanity of just like sweet, I'm working on this hard. It's not just sustainable for the people working on it, but the people using it are also gaining value. And they're saying, Hey, I'm glad this site exists.
And if hacker knew didn't exist, I wouldn't learn that. Or hacker noon. I published here and I got my job later. They're like little wins that happen in your life. Like just cherish them. This is an entrepreneur it's most of it is just running your head against the wall and moving the wall like slightly forward.
And so like when the flowers come, like smell take your time, enjoy it. So those are great. Working from home, I've been remote. I had the first, I had an office on floods street in San Francisco. And then when I had my daughter and got married, I moved out to the country in Colorado.
So just being able to work remotely with my wife and be in fresh air and be thankful to set up a good support system and sit in my own home office and, type here, like setting up a life that makes my work better. So I think that stuff is really a lot to be thankful for him. A lot more people are getting it now with remote jobs, but it's still a ton of back and forth and people get a job or they have to show up these places.
They have to work remotely sometimes in the office, others and the pandemic accelerated all this, but just having a good, healthy, remote work set up is something I'm extremely thankful for.
[01:04:58] Clever Programming: No, I agree. I agree. Remote work has been amazing. When COVID started. Yeah, it's been great. A lot. Me too, a lot of so focuses.
But. I mean for me personally, like I love remote working. I love being homeless. And I was like, oh my God, I cannot wait to get out,
[01:05:12] David: we walk a lot and have your other go-to places. And I don't, we don't have an office right now, but I wouldn't rule it out forever, like having a small office and mixing it up and having a couple of people meet there.
[01:05:22] Clever Programming: That'd be interesting. Yeah. That actually, especially if you get to do YouTube, when you guys had to collaborate together, for me, the collaboration portion is always the most important portion, when, if you wanted to make videos and collaborate and that's that's how, when all the brains come together and that's when the magic happens.
So let me ask you this. Okay. You've been, you've done some amazing things now with hacker noon. You do some amazing things right now. Where do you see the future of hacking of hacker nowadays?
[01:05:48] David: So we want to continue down the path. We're on becoming a better place to read, write, learn, and publish, and learn anything about technology and be this massive free resource.
I want to do a better job of reflecting the technology industry. So that means, right now we've done a good job of leveling up the people that are building and providing them with a voice on the internet and leveling up that voice and getting more discussion around the things that the people are actually building it or thinking about.
So we want to also hold the tech companies a little more accountable and also empower them to tell their story next to their whole web. So we built this tech company news pages where we're aggregating the discussion around every tech company. And what's, they're talking about on the internet and what people are talking about them on hackers.
So a little bit of that, like the character that greases all these wheels is the technology company themselves. They're the ones making the revenue. They're the ones, they're the industry that's growing head over foot as every industry needs more technology, help and more technology abilities. So there's, we want to get a little better at that and look more towards like how a terminal works for Bloomberg or how Crunchbase worked for tech crunch.
So a little more there and then more opportunities for contribute. And saying, Hey contributors, you can plug in your coil meta-tags, you can get subscribers for your newsletter here. You can drive traffic to book a call and get paid to book calls or book of customer and say, Hey, get a demo of my software.
So more explanation of who these people are and what actions they want on the internet. So to help them out. And then for the readers, just more customization of getting the content you want. The larger this library gets the harder it is to get to the thing you actually want. It's there's more ways to get into the library, but it gets complicated.
So that recommended stories, that clean user experience, that customization of hacker noon to making it your own and picking your own tags and getting recommended the stories you want and not the ones you don't and just building more softwares that like we reuse elsewhere and looking at. Solving our own problems and creating these assets that we can open source or build a company, or build a little team around.
And Hey this proves enough promising that we have like our own voting software. And, we bought this thing to vote on all the best contributors and have these awards around the internet and get sponsors to give things to the awards. And it's cool, that's another, we could use this voting software for many other things like on startup of the year for every startup in the world, which we're going to do.
So there's, that's where we're going. I just want to spend my time making it a better place to read, write, and learn and just build more software. And that's what I'm focused on and bringing in, more stories about technology.
[01:08:18] Clever Programming: love that. I love that. And so for you, I'm just very curious, right?
You loved building companies, you love building software. Have you what is your say on no, you have a, you coded, I'm just curious have you put, went down into that dark hole
[01:08:34] David: of coding? I can open a terminal and spit some stuff through and I can customize HTML. I can inspect and look at CSS and play with it and move around.
I'm not best to shitty coder. I know just enough about it to talk to a software developer just enough,
[01:08:51] Clever Programming: just barely.
[01:08:52] David: I enjoy more of the process of thinking about ripping stuff out and how software can grow. And now that the ecosystem gets bigger, the implementation of new feature is as important as the new feature. And how does it fit with every other piece of software? Where are the integration points? Where are you cannibalizing traffic?
Why is it leaving? Where could you put this? Instead, those questions in like throwing something in and looking at the results and looking at the numbers and then seeing if I need to rip it out or how I could change it, that's more of where I get the brain juice and the euphoria before that.
It's it's fun to break it and it's fun to fix it. And it's fun to break it and it's fun to fix it. That's much more where I get the enjoyment. I love it. I love it.
[01:09:31] Clever Programming: David, we've talked about a lot of things. If covered, what it actually means to create something like this, we have covered what it means to even work at a company like this, are you guys hiring by any chance?
[01:09:45] David: Yeah. So we're hiring a junior editors and a software development, a couple of projects going on opportunity to stay part-time or become. Full-time looking for full stack developers, people that care about the future of the internet. Love reading, hacker noon experiencing content management systems is great.
Versus we talked about a lot of the technologies on here. But yeah, people that are humble and empathetic and write a lot.
[01:10:08] Clever Programming: There you go, guys, if you guys are humble, if you guys empathetic, if you guys write a lot on hacker notes to make sure you guys are right, a lot of hacker noon may, should go down to a Lincoln discussion below.
Make sure you guys visit the YouTube. And she has visited a website, hacker noon.com. Okay. Make sure you guys are writing articles. I'm giving all you guys right now who are watching a task. Okay. You guys need to write a one article, every single person, at least write one article in the next week.
How's that for task guys? What do you guys think? I think it's a good task. I think it's a good
[01:10:42] David: task
[01:10:42] Clever Programming: Or a feature. Exactly. Exactly. So go ahead and write that and then let us know other than that David, it was very much a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for coming on here for explain your story. This was a phone conversation that we had and I'm looking forward to the future competition that we will help.
But other than that, thank you so much waiting on this. Not this one. Hold on, do this one. Hey, let's go. Thank you so much. Everybody hope you guys have a great day. This was NAS and Andy
and David from hacker noon. Probably guys have a good day. We'll see you guys later. Bye.