Self Help

David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) on the ‘Post-SaaS era' E1856 - Inglês (gerada automaticamente)

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Matheus Puppe

· 9 min read

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  • David Hansson believes more startups will start like Basecamp did in 2004, realizing that remote work and AI enable effectiveness with fewer resources.

  • The window for raising large funding rounds has closed for many, forcing entrepreneurs to be scrappy.

  • Hansson’s company aims to move some software from subscription/SaaS models to one-time purchase models, addressing subscription fatigue and commoditization.

  • Examples given are collaboration tools like Slack that don’t innovate much but still command high annual subscription fees, when they could be sold as installable products for thousands instead of millions.

  • This model takes advantage of modern powerful and inexpensive computers/servers that can run complex software products locally instead of relying on cloud services.

  • It seeks to reduce centralization and bring back an internet where individuals can run their own instances of software independently.

  • Examples like WordPress show this model can work at massive scale while also introducing more competition through alternative or generic products.

So in summary, Hansson sees an opportunity to transition some types of established SaaS to product models, driven by factors like subscription costs, commoditization of the software, and advanced local computing capabilities. This could open the door for more competition.

  • The speaker would pay $700-7,000 for access to historical archives of communications between their founders, as they currently can’t access them.

  • They are impressed with modern computing power, citing their M2 MacBook Air with 1 TB SSD and 16GB RAM for $1,500-1,800.

  • They discuss how important compliance (SOC 2) is for software companies and recommend using Vanta to automate compliance and save time/money. Vanta offers $1000 off for this podcast’s listeners.

  • Domain names like that are short, common words would be very expensive, potentially $100,000-$500,000. This level of investment would require selling a lot of software.

  • 37Signals takes writing/copywriting very seriously. They write all their own books and content to communicate effectively as a remote company.

  • Once, their new company, will launch its first product by end of year. It will likely be a Slack competitor, and the speaker offers to let the listener beta test it with their 700 person organization.

  • They criticize how Slack and other products have become bloated over time by adding many requested features, compromising the core chat experience. Their goal is to boil features down to the core idea.

  • Many startups are now fully distributed or have employees working remotely from all over the world. This drastically changes the cost structure compared to having everyone in one office.

  • Salaries and costs of living vary wildly in different locations. Startups are finding people on sites like Fiverr and Upwork who will work for local rates, which are much lower than big tech hub cities like San Francisco.

  • Managing a distributed team is easier when they are all in one location and have an established office culture. But managing people in multiple countries with different salary and cost structures adds complexity.

  • Remote work is becoming more accepted and startups are realizing they can get more done with fewer, distributed employees by leveraging offshore and remote talent at lower costs. However, company culture suffers without in-person collaboration.

  • The full impact of remote work on business models and costs has not been fully realized yet. There is usually a lag between new technologies enabling changes and cultures/businesses adapting. But the pressure for more efficiency will likely increase.

  • Being able to do more with fewer resources through distribution, AI/automation, and remote work will likely force costs down across industries over time through increased competition.

  • Startups used to require around $1.5 million to get up and running, to pay for servers, office space, salaries for 10 employees, etc.

  • But when the speaker and Jason started their company Basecamp in the early 2000s, they did it with just 4 people on very low salaries ($35k-$45k) and minimal overhead by subleasing desks and working remotely.

  • This allowed them to keep costs extremely low and be profitable very quickly, even though conventional wisdom said you needed millions in funding.

  • They argue that constraints like low funding can actually spur more creativity and independence. Many founders now wish they could go back to the early startup days with just a small team.

  • Money is much harder to raise now, so founders will have no choice but to start lean like Basecamp did. This could lead to many more sustainable, profitable companies rather than betting everything on “unicorns”.

  • The speaker discusses how at Coinbase they went through a period of internal chaos with employees wanting to focus on social/political issues at work. But after resolving this two years ago by letting those people leave and refocusing on the core work, it has led to much greater enjoyment and focus.

So in summary, the speakers advocate for starting lean with minimal funding like they did, argue this can lead to more success than chasing venture money, and say refocusing Coinbase on its work after a period of internal issues has paid off greatly.

  • The person felt politics became more involved in their work in a way that felt existential to many people around that time. It built up steadily over time and reached a peak of craziness in 2020.

  • They looked back on conversations about politics at work and thought they were insane for allowing it. They felt pressured to go along with it because all companies seemed to be embracing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

  • When they decided to go “cold turkey” and stop political discussions at work in 2020, they received intense public backlash with thousands calling them names like white supremacist.

  • Now just 2.5 years later, it’s barely an issue for companies to say they don’t allow politics at work. The pendulum swung very quickly. Big changes like Elon Musk taking over Twitter helped accelerate this change.

  • The identity politics approach led companies and society down a “road to hell.” A meritocratic approach is best even if it requires leveling opportunities first. The disparate impact theory was flawed and led to chaos. Diversity at their company actually increased after focusing on merit alone.

So in summary, politics became intensely involved in work culture but changed very rapidly, and the identity politics approach was ultimately misguided and counterproductive according to this view. A meritocratic system is preferable.

  • The person finds public storms or “cancelations” akin to public hangings in France in the 1700s, which were popular spectacles at the time until they were abolished. They note cancel culture has become excessive.

  • There is debate around slowing down or accelerating AI progress. The person lands more on the side of acceleration and optimism. They view calls to slow progress as lacking concrete reasons for concern.

  • Large language models like GPT-3 demonstrate very human-like flaws by making factual mistakes, similar to how humans invent facts or draw flawed connections. This shows promise as it may reveal something profound about the nature of intelligence/consciousness.

  • Most people intuitively understand and want to use technologies like chatbots once exposed to them. This popular enthusiasm should guide progress more than concerns from a minority of “doomers.”

  • Advances like DALL-E show the potential for technologies to massively boost creativity and productivity by generating custom images, videos, songs, etc on demand. This could transform many industries.

In summary, the person argues for accelerating AI progress based on its promise, popular support, and view that concerns lack sufficient evidence. Human-level flaws are seen as an encouraging sign relative to our understanding of intelligence.

  • The speaker was shocked by recent AI developments like DALL-E and ChatGPT that can generate images and have natural conversations. They see this as even more significant than previous AI achievements like self-driving cars.

  • They used ChatGPT to generate an image logo for their son’s youth group quickly and easily. They were amazed that 10 years ago, creating a logo would have required hiring an agency for thousands of dollars but now it can be done instantly with AI.

  • The speaker had other examples of using ChatGPT quickly on the fly, like getting information about an Amazon marketplace manager role while on a call. They were impressed by how much more helpful and faster AI is compared to searching online.

  • They see AI as democratizing creative fields like design and writing by allowing more people to generate high-quality outputs. This could lead to greater abundance and productivity improvements.

  • The speaker is optimistic about how AI will transform education by providing an infinite tutor to answer any question simply. They gave an example of using ChatGPT to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while driving.

  • The pace of AI advancement seems implausible given software development timelines. This makes the speaker question if we are living in a simulation. Overall they have a very positive view of technological progress and see AI as an incredible development within their lifetime.

The speaker discusses how past generations faced more hardship and adversity compared to today. They bring up examples like Vietnam and Nazis to illustrate real physical trauma that meant something was seriously wrong, not just hurt feelings.

They argue that without facing challenges, today’s younger generations may lack grit and resilience. However, it’s also unrealistic to want past levels of suffering. The goal should be finding a balance and ways to introduce controlled difficulties.

Cold weather, unpredictable conditions, and allowing more child independence are suggested as modern substitutions. The benefits of discomfort are explained, like gaining appreciation for comforts. Embracing challenges like cold showers is said to leave one feeling alive afterwards.

Overall, the key points are that constant comfort makes people entitled, minor hardships build character, and the only way to understand is through experience rather than arguments. Finding alternative forms of controlled adversity in the current era could help avoid fragility while gaining life skills.

  • The speaker talks about wanting to go to Burning Man festival together with the listener. Burning Man emphasizes radical self-reliance and inclusion.

  • Some Russian billionaires set up an exclusive camp that didn’t align with the community values. However, the philosophy is to invite strangers to share food and experiences.

  • The speaker says cynicism is easy but the festival has beautiful art installations that show optimism and human creativity.

  • They encourage trying to understand challenging ideas instead of dismissing them. At Burning Man they saw an amazing art installation called the “tree of Tiner” made of LED leaves that was inspiring.

  • The speaker acknowledges some may criticize the resources used for art when they could help problems elsewhere. However, they argue life has room for both addressing problems and enjoying art/music. Dichotomous thinking limits possibilities.

  • In general, the speaker discusses moving past cynicism and open-mindedness towards experiences and ideas outside one’s current viewpoint. They seem to view Burning Man as exhibiting those philosophies through community and art.

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