In episode 596, Rob Walling is joined by Einar Vollset and Tracy Osborn for a bootstrapper news roundup episode. They cover a wide range of topics from Google’s decision to bring employees back into the office (and the potential implications for bootstrapped companies), founder salary data trends, email management strategies, and much more.
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Topics we cover:
[0:59] The State of Independent SaaS Report & Livestream
[5:38] Google is ending work from home options for most Bay Area employees
[12:11] How much do startup founders pay themselves?
[14:51] The impact on having cofounders and salaries
[19:41] Why you are probably using email wrong
[26:21] Rob’s system for filtering emails
[30:45] Twitter is making it harder to choose the reverse chronological feed
[37:37] Practical strategies for working with and getting money to your existing developers in Ukraine and Russia
Links from the Show:
- Google mandates workers back to Silicon Valley, other offices from April 4 I Reuters
- What do startup founders pay themselves? I Sifted
- Twitter makes it harder to choose the old reverse-chronological feed I The Verge
If you have questions about starting or scaling a software business that you’d like for us to cover, please submit your question for an upcoming episode. We’d love to hear from you.
We got some interesting insights and ideas that we threw around, as well as we talked a bit about Twitter, how they are now favoring the algorithmic timeline and almost kind of burying the reverse chrono timeline, and how I didn’t even really know that the reverse chrono timeline was still available.
This was a fun episode to record. I had Tracy Osborn—program director from TinySeed—and Einar Vollset—my co-founder at TinySeed—back on the show, as I have for the past many news round ups to hear their thoughts and opinions on the stories today.
Before we dive into that, the third Annual State of Independent SaaS Report comes out next week. We’re doing a live stream straight from MicroConf Growth in Minneapolis. If you have not headed to stateofindiesaas.com and entered your email to be notified, you should do that now because I’m going to be going through all kinds of cool findings from this year’s report.
We changed up almost a quarter of the questions. We asked some differently, we’re doing some different analyses, so this report is going to have new insights and findings. We also asked a bunch of sentiment questions about, as a founder, how are you feeling about hiring this year versus last? What do you think about no-code? We had five or six like that, some really interesting data to share. I hope you’ll join me for the 30-minute live stream next week. Head to stateofindiesaas.com to make sure you are notified. With that, let’s dive into our bootstrapper news roundup.
My first panelist, the only person I know whose Twitter handle is a complete sentence, Tracy Osborn. Welcome to the show.
Tracy: That completely threw me off. Thanks for having me.
Rob: That was the goal. Do you want to tell folks your Twitter handle?
Tracy: Yeah, @tracymakes.
Rob: Tracy, it does indeed make. My second panelist, that man with the most mispronounced twitter handle on the planet, Einar Vollset.
Einar: That’s right. Hello. Thanks for having me.
Rob: Yes, indeed. Before we dive into these awesome news stories aimed at bootstrap and mostly bootstrap startup founders, I want to do something with you that I think is fun. It’s something I discovered two days ago, I was on a call. I believe it might have been an interview with a TinySeed applicant, and they mentioned Deel. Have you heard of Deel?
Rob: It’s like a payroll, contractor payments and all that stuff. Somebody mentioned it and I was like, oh, I’m going to go to their website. I know they’ve raised a kajillion dollars. They’ve actually raised $629 million. I said, I’m going to deel.com. It’s misspelled, so certainly, they own the dotcom. I want both of you to type in deel.com. It’s not porn. I want to hear your reaction, but don’t tell people what happens because I want every listener after you to go to deel.com.
Tracy: It went to letsdeel.com. It redirected for me.
Rob: It redirected?
Tracy: Yeah. I went from deel.com to letsdeel.com.
Einar: It redirects to letsdeel.com.
Tracy: Did they hear you play about it?
Rob: What a trip. This is fascinating. I typed it in. Because if you go to Google and type in deel URL or just type in deel, it goes with letsdeel.com.
Einar: That’s right, yeah.
Rob: That’s what appears in Google. That’s their canonical homepage. Deel.com, for me, two days ago and now, today, it continues to go to a Rickroll, to YouTube, to Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up.
Tracy: Are you sure? Wonder if kids did get into your hosts file. It switched out for you.
Rob: It’s so bizarre. I showed my kids last night. I’m actually going to disable my Wi-Fi, come on Wi-Fi, do gown, just to make sure. When I went through the other day, it did it. It may be cached at this point at the router.
Tracy: I can only imagine if it’s on their end. There might have been a bug or something like that. That is so funny. It does go there. Al right, so Rob is showing us his phone and his phone is showing you to Rickroll.
Rob: Is someone trolling? Is someone messing with DNS?
Tracy: World’s weirdest A-B test.
Rob: Yes. What I thought was that a competitor had bought their deel.com and was just Rickrolling it, had private domain registration, and had done it. I wanted the two of you to see it and laugh. I wanted to do the biggest Rickroll I’ve ever done and have every listener go to deel.com.
Now that it’s out, that everyone knows, I am curious for folks to go to deel.com where they are. And it’s like, am I the only person? Did I just hit it? Did they get hacked? And I hit it right at the point where it was a Rickroll and then it’s cached in my DNS now? That might be the thing. It’s so bizarre.
All right, shall we get into some actual news stories? This first one is that Google is ending work from home options for most of its Bay Area workers. In fact, a bunch of the larger tech companies are doing that within the next month or so.
I had a tweet a couple of weeks ago saying that I think this bodes well for bootstrappers that this is happening, because that’s always been one of the big advantages of being a bootstrapper. You tend to do it remote and therefore, you can hire people at reasonable salaries. I know that during Covid, obviously, salaries have gone crazy. I’ll kick it to you first, Tracy. Do you have agreeing or disagreeing thoughts on this whole concept?
Tracy: It’s like nature’s healing and that whole meme. I feel like it’s completely unexpected. It was unexpected to me for it to go back to this because looking in history, pre-Covid, Yahoo, they had this whole thing where they allowed people to be fully remote. Then Marissa Mayer, I believe, became the CEO. She took it away entirely and everyone had to go back to the office.
There’s this huge corporate inertia towards always being in person at the office. Covid was an interesting experiment. There are interesting times to see these companies trying out other ways of working. Just a couple of years of a strange time during a pandemic is not going to change that overall large company corporate feeling of being at the office is where people get work done.
It doesn’t surprise me that these big companies are going back to these policies. It’s not on here, but I want to see data in terms of overall. Somehow, all the companies in the world, if there’s going to be a percentage, the percentage of people who do part-time remote work or fully remote is going to stay higher than it was before. I feel like that is a good thing.
I don’t expect big companies to ever go that direction just because it’s the anti way big companies work, so I’m not surprised by this. But what my hope is, is that overall, Covid has led people to seeing the light in terms of the advantages of having remote work.
Rob: There have to be a lot of companies that were against remote work and then did it because of Covid, shut down offices and are never going back. I think that’s what you’re saying. It’s like, how many are out there?
Tracy: Exactly. But Google, they have their giant campuses, they have all these things that are around being in-person. They probably have some policies for people to work from home. I’m pretty sure that happened with my husband who worked at Google. He had the ability to work from home every now and then. But their inertia towards working in the office is too strong for this to be a permanent effect, the fully remote to be permanent.
Rob: What do you think, Einar? Is TinySeed going to set up headquarters in Minneapolis and everybody’s going to move here?
Tracy: I want that.
Einar: In Minneapolis? Why should it be in Minneapolis?
Rob: I want it there. The cost of living is lower.
Tracy: If I could get a portal so I could work in person two days a week, I would absolutely do that for TinySeed, but I wouldn’t want to do it five days a week.
Einar: I think that’s the thing. I think the idea of what people are saying is they want to do 2–3 days a week in person and then 2 days at home. I think the challenge for big companies is, how are you going to pull that off in terms of now you’re going to have empty office space 50% of the time? I think that’s probably the challenge.
To play devil’s advocate a little bit, on the bootstrap side, we’re always like, it’s the best. Work from home. I’m also curious whether some of these bigger companies have actually started to do some serious analysis of their own productivity and whether they’ve actually found out that this is crap, for whatever the culture that we built before Covid. Whatever happens isn’t as productive when we go remote.
Fundamentally, I don’t think there’s anything inherent with being an in-person company versus a remote company. But I think if you’re built from the start to be in person, then I can totally see how some of these companies found that productivity has gone down. That’s not good for them.
Tracy: It also depends on that team because I feel that developers can probably work better as fully remote because they’re at their home. They’re not in these open office plans, having all these distractions. They have that deep work time to work on code. Whereas folks who are more on the marketing side of things where there maybe have to be more meetings, more in-person time trying to work fast, ask someone a question, that kind of stuff where they would be losing productivity from being separated from their co-workers.
Rob: Yeah, the in-person stuff is designed for collaboration. It’s like if you don’t have self-motivated people or if you need a lot of collaboration. Sometimes, I think you’re on dev teams where you can go and code for weeks and not need to do a bunch of collaboration. And then there are points where you do need to design or architect a new system and that’s when you need to be in front of a whiteboard.
The best work arrangement that I’ve ever had was what we had in Fresno with Drip and it was two or three days a week. We all decided, well, let’s all come in on Monday, Wednesday, and then Friday was optional or something like that. We put all of our collaboration on those two days, and then all of our deep work the other days.
I hired really motivated people who were just super loyal to the company. They weren’t going to go home and screw around. Versus I have worked at a company that had a couple of days, two days a week were remote. There were several hundred employees and there were definitely people who were just taking the company for a ride. I don’t know if that’s inevitable at scale. I don’t know if that’s just always what happens. Some people just can blend into a team and not pull their weight, but kind of.
Einar: Wasn’t there the story about this guy who worked at Verizon or something and basically just outsourced his job? Then the only way they found it was with a security scan because there was an outbound VPN connection to China or somewhere that never went down? In big-enough companies, there’s always going to be that situation.
Tracy: I was going to bring up Silicon Valley, but that’s a real life version, like people sitting on the roof.
Einar: Rob, it sounds like we should all move to Fresno. That’s what you’re proposing here. Have an office in Fresno. You got to live within 20 miles of downtown Fresno.
Rob: The issue is that once you have one day in an office, then everybody needs to live within a 60-minute drive, in essence. As we continued to hire, by the time we hit 10 people, half the team was in Fresno and half was not. They were remote because I couldn’t find great marketers, more great developers or couldn’t afford them at the time. So we did become half remote, half not. That definitely posed some challenges with communication.
Next story is about what startup founders pay themselves. There is a new report from Seedcamp, where they have a relatively small sample size. There are 185 founders from pre-seed to Series A, so pre-seed seed and Series A. Of course, when they say founder salaries, it has to be funded by the founders.
Bootstrappers are not mentioned because that’s not even a thing. This gets my go. When I go to Quora and search for a startup founder or startup questions, they’re all about raising funding. But that aside, I’m intrigued by this.
It’s in British pounds. It’s like the average pre-seed founder salary across the UK, the rest of Europe, and North America. The average salary for a pre-seed company is £49,000. That’s about $65,000 and then seed is just under £70,000. We’re looking at about $90,000 and then Series A, £106,000, which puts us at about $136,000–$140,000.
Einar: I think all those numbers are too high. That’s just because the dollar has been slightly off because of the war.
Rob: It’s like 1.3 right now, I believe. But wait, you think those are high in Europe and UK because down below, it starts breaking it down. When you see the massive disparity, it’s all the same in pounds to not confuse everybody. Pre-seed, Europe average is £36,000. North America average is £73,000 and UK is just under £50,000, so pretty big differences there. Einar, you grew up in Norway and often identify as European. What do you think about this whole discrepancy?
Einar: I’m not surprised in the slightest, to be perfectly honest with you. I think a lot part of this is partly because of the cost of living, probably. It’s probably higher in places like the UK than it is in Poland or other parts of the EU.
Actually, one of the most interesting parts is actually not exactly what the difference is. Also on top of that, I think just generically salaries, particularly for developers, are different. If you’re a senior software engineer who works in the US, you’re probably going to get paid more money than if you’re a senior software engineer working anywhere in Europe. I think that’s true.
The alternative to being a founder, I think, is a higher salary in the US. Naturally, that tends to pull up salaries that people are willing to give themselves. I think of this data, I was looking through it. I think one of the most interesting data points impacted the number of co-founders on salary.
Did you see this piece? It basically says, oh, the really weird thing is a pre-seed. A single founder pays themselves more than two founders, or three founders, or more, but that then reverts that seed. I’m curious what you guys think about that. That is probably the most interesting data point for me. I wasn’t surprised about the US, UK, and Europe discrepancy as much.
Rob: Anything, Tracy?
Tracy: I’m distracted by the fact this graph has one column for five co-founders. Sorry. I can’t stop staring at it. There are so many co-founders. Rob, I’m going to get my brain ordered. You start.
Rob: I wonder if that’s just a data anomaly because it looks like by the time you get to Series A, one founder, two founders…
Einar: It’s about the same. The big difference is pre-seed to seed. My theory is that I think if you just raised a pre-seed round, I think with two founders or more, you’re all like, oh, let’s not spend too. You don’t want to really ask for the salary. You think it’s fair because you’re on the team, versus maybe if you’re just one of you, you’re like, yeah, this is what I need, so I’m going to take it.
Tracy: What about the fact that we know from TinySeed, generally VCs are like, oh, two founders or more. Is there maybe a difference in terms of the amount of money you get at your seed round that would affect how you can pay your two co-founders as compared to how much money a solo founder might get in their seed round?
Rob: I don’t know the valuations. I don’t know if they vary based on founder count.
Tracy: I would like to see how that kind of worked out. Because if companies with more than two co-founders receive more seed money, then it stands to reason that they would be able to pay themselves more as compared to a solo vendor. But I could be wrong, too.
Rob: I agree. I haven’t heard of that. Usually, I think it’s based on market rates and metrics. It’s like, you’re growing this fast, this much MRR, and this kind of a range. Accelerators are the only things I’ve heard of that vary it based on founder count.
Tracy: Maybe when you have another co-founder or when you raise your seed round, you bounce off each other, like, cool, we raise money, we can raise our salaries, and you increased that number, as compared to a solo founder who probably still has some of that anxiety, which I say as a former solo founder. That’s also probably not true, but in my head I can see that situation happening.
Rob: Another element of this is they had some quotes from people basically saying, look, if you’re going to start a company like this, make it sustainable. Don’t pay yourself so little that you’re not having a decent standard of living or that you’re worried about cash.
There’s that famous tweet from Rand Fishkin, where he’s the running Moz. They’ve raised tens of millions in venture and they’re doing $40 million a year as a SaaS company, and he says, my net worth is $15,000 in cash in the bank. I think he had a rented apartment and my car. That’s it.
They were going to raise another round and he was like, should I take some secondary? Kind of like he felt guilty doing it. And people were like, you need to get some money out of this. At least feel comfortable. Even a few $100,000 can make you so much more comfortable.
I don’t mean comfortable, like, I’m going to go spend this lavishly, but if this all goes to […], then at least I’ll walk away with something and I’m not sweating it if I need to buy a new car. The last thing I want a founder worried about is personal expenses, as long as they’re living within reasonable means.
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All right, let’s check out our next story. Title is The Clickbaity: You’re using email wrong. I picked this up on Hacker News. It’s basically a short blog post. It’s a three-minute read that says at the top. It says you probably don’t like email, the author of this post started using Hey and some of their concepts, so he adapted them into his fast mail account.
His inbox is where all the emails sent by humans end up. Then he has a paper trail folder that contains notifications, invoices, and everything that you don’t want to delete but are not really interested in. He said it has about 1600 unread emails right now. They’re not meant to be read, but he will look them up when he needs to. Then there’s a news feed which handles all the email newsletters that come in.
He does it by just being smart and thinking about it in advance. He has separate email addresses because you can say firstname.lastname@example.org. Google will forward it and then you can easily just filter and label that. But you have to think about that when you sign up for things.
See I’m already signed up under all these accounts. For me, I would have to filter by sender or something just every time I got one looped in. I’m teeing this one up. In volleyball, this is a bump and a set. I am teeing this up to Tracy Osborn.
Tracy: I’m sitting over here bouncing waiting for you to call me. This is not a new concept. This article is so funny because this pops up every year or so and goes higher in Hacker News.
I wrote an article very similar to this for Gmail like 10 years ago. I want to pull that up and compare and contrast it. The clickbaity headline aside, it’s something that I believe really strongly in terms of email process. The point is that your inbox should only be things you don’t expect.
As this article says, it does make your inbox so much more of a joy to experience because you know everything in there is either going to be unexpected emails from other people, which is something that usually you want to click on. It’s not newsletters, it’s not spam. Ideally, all those things are all in a different area and a different filter or something like that.
When you come onto your computer and you see you have, say, 16 or so emails, it’s a different feeling than if you think you come on, and there’s 120 emails, and everything is all mixed up together. I’m a process person. This is something that I don’t think I would get through my day if my email wasn’t organized in one way, shape, or another.
You can do this in Gmail by doing that plus sign. But as Rob said, doing filtering based on the sender is something you can do in hindsight. Honestly, for anyone who has too many emails, I would say just archive all and then start setting all those filters at that point. Because if you have thousands of things in your email, you’re not going to see it anyway.
You might as well just archive it and be like, woohoo, I got to inbox zero. Then you can start setting up those filters for things that have already come in and you can use the plus sign trick for things that are future-focused.
Overall, I want to say, if there’s any point where you’re looking at your email and you have this sense of dread to your email, I think it’s totally worth spending half an hour to an hour just cleaning things up and then setting it up so you don’t have to have that dread anymore. I don’t think it’s worth it.
This article is great. This is why Gmail now has different inboxes too because we’re trying to force this on people without making them go through the effort of setting up those filters. But really, the filter stuff in Gmail is really great. Hey does this well.
You can use these tools that these people work on. If you’re using Gmail, it’s also simple. I don’t understand people who have thousands upon thousands of emails. Just archive them.
Rob: What do you think, Einar? Do you have copious amounts of filters? Inbox zero?
Einar: I actually don’t. I’m very much an inbox-zero-everyday kind of guy. I have a very strong sense of despair when I open my emails in the morning.
Tracy: But then you get more emails than I do. You probably know that most of those are ones you have to react to.
Einar: The weird thing for me is that that’s true to a degree. I’m very harsh on subscribers. I use one of these Unroll.Me or whatever. I’m very quick to unroll. The problem I’ve been having, at least, since TinySeed, I think, mostly because now my email is in various official places, so random people find them.
I’ve been added to a lot more things that I’m like, I never signed up for this. It’s never happened before in my life. I get a lot of pitches that I was like, they’re not spam, but they’re also poorly researched and cold out round. I probably wake up and I probably have 150 or 200 emails in my inbox.
Tracy: Do you respond to those pitches?
Einar: No. In some cases, they’re right. […] of big numbers. Occasionally, there’s a really perfect pitch for me. But most of the time, I just go through and I archive everything without responding.
Actually, one of the things I’ve been wanting for a while is an email that you can use for things where you know it’s going to be compromised, but it’s like a whitelist system. I want to be able to say, okay, I know I have to put my email the Secretary of State data. That’s just kind of has to. But if I could put up a special email address that’s like, yeah, if you’re not on my email list, you’ll get a bounce back that says, you’re not on my whitelist, please apply if you think that’s wrong.
Tracy: I think that’s what Hey does, right?
Rob: Hey doesn’t bounce it but they…
Tracy: It is a whitelist?
Einar: I want it bouncing. You were telling me, Rob, that this is not possible because it breaks email protocol or something, but that’s what I want. I want to be bounced out of all the cold email automation systems because that’s what happens. If you get a hard bounce or even a soft bounce, you get unsubscribed automatically. That’s what I want for most of my email.
Rob: I think it’s three soft bounces, usually. I don’t know that it breaks email, but it isn’t in the spirit of how email is supposed to work, right?
Einar: I know that. It’s very selfish, but that’s what I want for some of my emails.
Rob: I kind of want that too, actually. I started blogging in 2005. Within a couple of years, I was on dozens of lists I didn’t sign up for. Being on the podcast, just TinySeed. I get probably five new things a day that I didn’t sign up for.
That is not including cold pitches that I’m getting for not even companies. I got a few company stuff, but I got a lot of, I have this product, it’ll be great for you, blah-blah-blah, just cold email outreach. I unsubscribe a lot of it. I do a lot of hand filtering, unfortunately, but the system that I use has two labels in Gmail. One is _this week and one is _updates.
All of the investor updates that I get, I think I get about maybe even north of $80 or $90 a month. They go directly into _updates. Then once a week, I have an hour on my calendar where I sit and I go through as many as I can get through. I just do that every week. I’m never caught up, but it’s fine. I’m never too far behind.
I have the same thing for this _this week, although that is a manual filtering process. Right now in my inbox, anything that’s there is important and I need to respond to it soon. If it can wait until this Thursday, then I have an hour and it is all this week’s email. It’s just a way that I prioritize stuff.
Oftentimes, that’s my family emailing and asking for something or there’s a Kickstarter thing that I need to go fill out or need to figure out which rewards I want to get. Again, it’s just a low priority. It isn’t a blocker for anyone that I’m working with and doesn’t need to get done ASAP like everything else.
Einar: I have something similar, but it’s more generic. One of the main things I have is there are things that you got to do, but it’s just admin. It’s a pain in the ass, and it disrupts flow, and whatever.
I just give myself the permission that I have two hours on a Monday, where I’m just doing admin […] and just blocked out just to do admin crap. I know anything that’s admin, you got to fill in this thing, or pay these taxes, or your 401(k), or something. I’m like, great, let’s not worry about it now. Let’s do admin time, basically.
Tracy: Do you use keyboard shortcuts for going through email or is it a mouse?
Tracy: God, so good.
Rob: Yeah, I use keyboard shortcuts. Absolutely.
Tracy: It’s just like, boom, archive, archive, archive.
Einar: I’ve never used keyboard shortcuts ever. No. I don’t use it for anything. I don’t use it for coding when I was coding.
Tracy: As a designer, I remember being in my beginning design classes using Photoshop and the people who are teaching Photoshop learned the keyboard shortcuts. I remember being like, no, I don’t want to use keyboard shortcuts. And here I am so many years later from university. Keyboard shortcuts for Photoshop, keyboard shortcuts especially for Gmail, just knowing the archive one, and the next email one means it’s so much easier to fly through that initial trunk of emails that are in your inbox.
Einar: I do all my email processing on my phone. That’s my problem.
Rob: It’s fast on the phone. I will open it up first. First run through is it because it’s just left, swipe left, swipe left. I delete a lot of emails.
Einar: I don’t need to delete anything.
Rob: When I search, I just don’t want much. There are things that just should be deleted. I don’t delete email threads, but it’s like a notification from Airtable that the editor finished the podcast. But then when I search for a thing, then I get like thousands of results and that’s a pain in the butt.
Einar: If only someone would build me the product that I really want, which is a SQL connector so I can do SQL queries across my most important database, which is my email, but nobody seems to be doing that.
Tracy: You want that everywhere, yes. You want it in email, you want it in every table we’ve ever used at TinySeed.
Rob: They would sell one license. You’d be the one customer […] have to build a whole business on you.
Einar: I don’t believe that. Come on.
Rob: No one else would do that.
Einar: Are you telling me people don’t write SQL queries against their email? That’s ludicrous, Rob. Come on.
Einar: I will fund this startup.
Rob: Oh, boy. Out of your own? I will veto that. You do that out of your own pocket. No TinySeed funds will go towards that. But if someone wants to build a submittable competitor, that’s a whole tangent.
Einar: That’s totally fine.
Rob: Yeah, I mean submittable is not great. We have looked at every alternative that does all the things we need and we have not found anything that works.
Einar: It’s turning into a request for startup. What else do we want to build in this world? I just want more startups, actually. It goes completely against TinySeed, but there are these accelerators now, which you can apply without an idea.
Tracy: Just back the founder?
Einar: Yeah. It’s just like, you seem smart, do one of these things. I don’t know. It’s interesting.
Tracy: It’s kind of like an entrepreneur in residence, right?
Einar: Yeah, the VC funds one, but that’s typically like, I already succeeded in some way, shape, or form, and now I get setup […].
Tracy: I’m already a success. I’m obviously going to be a success again.
Rob: All right, let’s head to our next story. Twitter makes it hard to choose the old reverse chronological feed. This is on theverge.com and subheading, you won’t be able to default to the chronological timeline. I just got sucked into the algorithm. I didn’t even know you could go back to the reverse chrono. Do you go?
Einar: Reverse chrono is the only way that I rush.
Tracy: Twitter doesn’t know why you use it.
Einar: They put on the Twitter on the Twitter iPhone app now. They put these two tabs, which is bad enough in itself. For me, the latest, the one that I use doesn’t even load any tweets. So I’m forced to look at whatever optimized algorithm thing they’re doing.
On top of that, whoever did the design didn’t manage to figure out that they’ve added a navbar, but it now hides part of the topmost tweet. I’m like, does nobody use this app? Where do you spend all your money?
Tracy: The team that is implementing the KPIs of trying to get people sucked into Twitter, and clicking on their ads, and whatnot is definitely a different team than the people who work on a user experience stat. It sucks. Twitter is dead to me. I don’t want to say that. I’m completely over at this point. It’s just really annoying because I know.
Einar: Wow, I’m not crazy here. I still spend hours a day on it arguing and things. Come on. What else would I do with it tonight? Oh, baseball’s back. Did you hear that the lockout ended yesterday? Good times, April 8th […].
Rob: This is where we stop following Einar Vollset on Twitter.
Einar: April 8th, baby. Come on.
Tracy: In my opinion, the dream of Twitter is over, at least the dream of people who used it more than five or so years ago back in its previous iteration.
Einar: In the old days.
Tracy: In the old days. It is a different product now. When I see things like this on The Verge where it’s like, ah, they keep moving forward into this other direction. This other direction is where Twitter is, and will be, and will never change.
People being loud about losing chronological tweets is why Twitter has been forced to continue to have some way for people to access that list. But obviously, they’re trying to make it harder, and harder, and harder until people just give up like I am and then move on to a different product.
I’m not being very negative here, but this is something. In the last month or so ago, it’s just like the dream of Twitter is over. I want another thing. If you wanted to use it to see your friends’ updates, this is not the product for it anymore. Twitter has evolved to a different product.
Einar: That’s not what Twitter is for. That’s never what Twitter has been, for me. Twitter has always been where I pick random fights with people like me, like to argue on the Internet. What are you talking about?
Tracy: Twitter loves that. Look at all the engagement you’re giving them.
Rob: I don’t know. What is the tool then, Tracy?
Tracy: No, there needs to be another thing.
Einar: That was FriendFeed. That’s what it was before they got acquired by Facebook.
Rob: The next thing came out, it’s TikTok. It’s not going in the direction that you’re thinking.
Tracy: I agree. Tiktok has kind of replaced that early Twitter. Talking to other people, I have refused to download TikTok. But I use Instagram instead for friends stuff.
Einar: We should just start doing TinySeed marketing on TikTok and make Tracy head of it, I think, maybe.
Rob: Yes, that would be great.
Tracy: And I can do the little dances I see, like cross post it over to Instagram. Yeah, that’d be great.
Rob: I’m going to confess here something I’ve never told the two of you.
Tracy: You’ve never actually followed us.
Rob: No, I’m definitely following you. It is probably once a week at most that I actually hit my feed on Twitter.
Tracy: Oh, same.
Rob: I look at mentions and the notifications of people liking things and then reply. And then I tweet things out that I’m thinking about or whatever. Today, I was asking about aside from Steli Efti or in addition to Steli Efti, like who’s someone that’s creating great sales content? I do stuff like that. The news feed—that’s what they call it on Facebook—I just don’t find anything there I like ever. It’s not interesting.
Einar: How many people do you follow on Twitter? I’m curious.
Rob: 300? 200?
Einar: I see. I follow a thousand people and I think it’s too much. I’m thinking about maybe declaring Twitter bankruptcy, deleting all my followers, and start again.
Tracy: I’m actually in the process of doing that. Ever since I came back from vacation, I’ve been slowly deleting people because I would jump on and I’d be like, oh, and I realized I was following way too many VC people.
Einar: These are robbing our guys. Such […].
Tracy: It’s like constantly doing these thought leadership kind of performative tweets. I would go onto it and I’m just like, […].
Einar: That’s why you got to mute the word, a thread, or the thread symbol. That will make your Twitter experience much better.
Tracy: No wonder you don’t see anything I do on Twitter for TinySeed.
Einar: Wait, we do threads?
Tracy: We do threads, yes. For every article we’ve ever released, we have a thread version of it.
Rob: And that’s why he doesn’t see it.
Einar: We tweet them?
Tracy: That’s the thing. I use Twitter for TinySeed and that thought leadership thing is what works for TinySeed and we have a lot of, I think, clouts on Twitter through the TinySeed fund account. My personal account, though, before you say anything about me losing the fact that I was verified before and now I’m not. This is not related to that.
Einar: Hey, were you verified, Tracy?
Tracy: It’s a different product now. I see things like this in The Verge, where it’s like, oh, wow, Twitter is really focusing on these other KPIs and like, yeah, no duh.
Rob: They’ve been doing that and breaking the product ever since. But at least you didn’t delete all your tweets by accident, right?
Tracy: You have a lot of tweets. I went on it. I don’t know if those are cached, but I found ones that are quite old. I was wondering if you got some of them back.
Rob: No, Einar doesn’t listen to podcasts about this. I told him on a podcast a couple of weeks ago.
Einar: I don’t listen to your podcast? You release a podcast every week.
Rob: That’s right, every week.
Einar: I don’t have time.
Rob: Yes, you do.
Einar: I don’t have time for that because I have to go into my inbox, and get the inbox zero, and need to check Twitter for who to argue with.
Tracy: He’s too busy fighting people on Twitter and doesn’t listen to your podcast.
Rob: I have better systems. This episode is off the rails. Everyone has to adapt.
Einar: This is the best episode so far.
Rob: We will lose all our listeners if we have more episodes like this.
Tracy: Get to know how it is like at TinySeed by listening to this episode.
Einar: This is what it’s like, yeah.
Rob: This is like a weekly update meeting, except we’re missing Alex and Xander. With that, I think we will wrap up for the day. I think we’ve hopefully given the people what they want. Do you guys have stuff you want to chat about? Let’s do it.
Tracy: No, sorry.
Einar: Let’s see, baseball, Ukraine war maybe? Although, there is something interesting there because that is actually, I think, applicable to a lot of the TinySeed-type startups, bootstrappers, and stuff is the challenge now because so many people have developers in the Ukraine and particularly in Russia. How do you get those people money?
Obviously, there are people in the actual warzone and things. But even people far away from the front line, how do you get them? Upwork is closing. They’re terminating old Belarus and Russian contracts by the end of this month or sometime next month. How do you get money to people? I think across the board, that’s going to be a problem, particularly as sanctions tighten further.
Einar: That doesn’t work either because the problem is, how do you get money to them? Coinbase shut down all the crypto wallets out of Russia, so people can’t cash out.
Rob: They can have a bunch of crypto, but no money.
Einar: The only thing I’ve seen that still works, I think, is Deel, which is interesting because that’s the one with Rickroll at the start of the show. Other than that, I think if that starts to become a problem, I don’t know what’s going to happen. There are so many startups. I have teams in Russia or Ukraine, at least partially.
Rob: Yeah, and we have a few TinySeed founders in Russia and Ukraine. Obviously, our hearts go out to everyone there.
Tracy: Yeah. Reading our updates recently has been really rough because it seems like every update we’ve been getting for all the company, they have people in Ukraine or Russia, or they are developer teams and developed people on their team in those areas. It’s been rough.
Rob: Yeah. Our thoughts go out to all the folks there, obviously. No easy answers on the payment. I don’t know what’s going to happen. This is why this is such a mess. Yeah, so deel.com, I guess, if you want to check out the potential Rickroll.
If you want to hear about arguing and the San Francisco Giants, follow Einar Vollset on Twitter. We’ll put his Twitter handle in the show notes. And of course, @tracymakes is Tracy Osborn’s handle. Thanks to the two of you for joining me today.
Tracy: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Einar: Thanks for having me.
Rob: Thanks for joining me again today. I am @robwalling on Twitter. If you want to connect and obviously if you’re not subscribed to this show and you enjoy this episode, you should subscribe. Check us out every week. We’ve been shipping episodes since 2010 and hope to continue doing it for at least another decade or two. I’ll be back in your ears again next Tuesday morning.