Heuristics to Generate Startup Ideas

Looking for startup ideas? 🤔

Initially came across this fun list via Twitter:

His actual post, is embedded in his Tweet, but you can visit the list here. But in particular I enjoyed #8:

Turn open source projects in to SAAS businesses — Find open source projects that are very popular and turn these in to out of the box services for enterprises, e.g. PagerDuty is like Nagios.

Great entrepreneurial advice, and easily serves as a fun jumping-off point for any viable hack-a-thon. Any hacker or eager founder can find some amazing open-source projects and inspiration on Github.

My personal favorite startup adage, for any would-be-founder is, be the arms dealer.

Thoughts on Microsoft Acquiring Github

The Octocat is dead, long live the Octocat.

So, this just happened. It’s official. Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Quite the price tag.

I’ve used Github for years. I’m sure many of you have too. It’s really a remarkable place. Millions of users, all humming at their own pace, piecing code together. Hundreds of millions of unique repositories of codebases, open-source projects, communities, and amazing software.

I’m a little concerned and sidewinded by the sheer magnitude of this story. Github has largely been hailed as the neutral library of the world’s code. Communities and enemies alike have been forged in fiery maelstroms of pull requests and pithy “+1” comments on issues. But, for the most part, Github has been a great product. Apart from the occasional server downtime or DDoS attack from China, it’s been great. And personally, the community has largely been life-changing for me. If it weren’t for the community, I probably wouldn’t be where am now.

I can say with certainty, I’m a better developer because of Github.

It’s important to note that Github has been the center of decentralized projects such as Bitcoin Core, or IPFS. Which may be problematic for many organizations realizing that their codebase is hosted online by none other than Microsoft now. I’m sure the irony is not lost on them either. The Hacker News discussion is pretty temperate so far. Very few are conflicted, and even fewer hate it. But, going forward, I believe Github will have an uphill battle regarding trust.

So, what are we to make of the new proprietor? Will Microsoft make sweeping changes to how the product operates? How will repos change? Will repos become a signal for Microsoft to source talent on LinkedIn? I’m so curious to understand Satya Nadella’s motive for acquisition. Microsoft is so huge, and we’ve all seen the negative side of acquisitions before. You know, like LinkedIn.

Ugh. Damnit. That’s the stuff of nightmares right there.

From The Verge:

Microsoft is the top contributor to the site, and has more than 1,000 employees actively pushing code to repositories on GitHub. Microsoft even hosts its own original Windows File Manager source code on GitHub. The service was last valued at $2 billion back in 2015, but it’s not clear exactly how much Microsoft has paid to acquire GitHub.

So that makes sense. I had no idea Microsoft was such a huge contributor. At any rate, Microsoft has never been great at shipping their own creations. Hell, Microsoft never even developed DOS. They bought it. From that perspective, I’m less worried than say if Google or Facebook had acquired Github.

What feels like eons ago in 2014 when Nadella joined Microsoft, John Gruber wrote:

Satya Nadella needs to find Microsoft’s new “a computer on every desk and in every home running Microsoft software”. Here’s my stab at it: Microsoft services, sending data to and from every networked device in the world. The next ubiquity isn’t running on every device, it’s talking to every device.

I thought this was noteworthy to dig up from the Daring Fireball archive. Namely because of the (very) timely news that Microsoft is now more valuable than Google. Sure, market cap fluctuates — regardless, Nadella is penning Microsoft’s new message, and it’s in permanent marker. It’s true that Microsoft in recent years has taken a backseat in services, but only because they’ve gobbled up the best talent in the world. Microsoft is and will continue to, play the long-game. This was a bold and genius move.

I’m apprehensively optimistic about this. Like I said, trust is an uphill battle. Don’t disappoint us Microsoft.

Further Reading:


Is Foundwork a Dribbble-esque network for artists and galleries?

A long time ago, in a state, not too far away… my girlfriend, my buddy Zac, and whole host of contributors — built Adhoc. Initially it began as a sort of contemporary artist database. Filled with interviews and editorials. We had submissions out the whazzoo and it was a lot of fun meeting new artists, and we even put together a couple of shows.

But after a while, each of us decided to abandon the project. Not out of malice or anything, but to focus on other things that began to take shape. Such as graduate school, moving to new places and among other things, building new web projects. Life goes on, ya know?

We left Adhoc online for posterity, of course. What do you take us for, we’re not monsters!

From left to right: Me, Leah, and Zac, 2015.

I often times can’t help but think about what Adhoc could have become. When things began to wind down, I pondered about the ripe for disruption area of art galleries. Galleries desperately need something between Basecamp, Shopify and LinkedIn. Something public, but something private. A common e-commerce framework they can all get behind, shared between gallerists. Every single gallery manages inventory and their web presence differently.

Folio, by Artsy is a close winner. But I feel like it misses the mark for two reasons:

  • No e-commerce solution for artists or galleries
  • Not really a network

Recently, Zac showed me Foundwork. It’s a neat place. It looks like Foundwork is in the very early stages of building a network amongst artists. Anyone can signup to get in contact with artists. There’s nothing useful here for galleries apart from artist discovery. But if there’s any semblance of what I wanted Adhoc to look like down the road — this is it:

While there’s no e-commerce solution in place, contacting the artist is built-in. Furthermore, Artsy has a writeup and interview with the founder, Adam Yokell:

“What if there was a tool that helped artists become more visible to an interested base of curators, gallerists, and academics?” Yokell tells me, over coffee on a recent morning in Brooklyn. And further, he adds, “What if curators and gallerists could search more broadly—but still deliberately—for an artist or artwork that resonates with their interests, or helps to develop their program, or relates to an exhibition they’re curating?”

I think this could really be the start of something cool for artists (and moreso for galleries). It looks like this network is built upon Rails too. Which I totally endorse. Super rad. My only question is, will there be artist > gallery associations down the line? For example, is an artist becomes represented by a gallery, does the profile reflect that? For now, I don’t think so.

I don’t know if they have a roadmap for this artist network, but I do know building associations between two models is simple and efficient. A possible example:

class Gallery < ApplicationRecord
  has_many :artists, dependent: :destroy
class Artist < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :gallery

I’d love to see this product evolve into into a network that whets the appetites of both gallerists and artists. Kind of like what Dribbble accomplished for designers and agencies when they announced Teams. It seems that right after that, Dribbble really took off.

Looking forward to checking back in with Foundwork down the road.

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