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Do you need a co-founder? (Google Docs list) (spreadsheets.google.com)
230 points by jayliew on Jan 14, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 133 comments

This has been possibly the coolest use of Google Docs I have seen

and a way to hijack all of our gmail account names

doesn't have to be gmail - I added my HN username and @twitter. (Plus, you can obfuscate your email yourself)

He's not referring to the data entered. When you share a doc you can see the Google username of everyone viewing it.

Proving the point: terXX.Xones charlXXXbbard laXXXedel syXXXdr larXXXalan daviXXXbert.gordon shaXXXhern JusXXXilly boXXXox BjXXXnGT mnXXXr johXXXns sdXXXf iamXXXingo notorioXXXeeky hasseXXXntanfous patriXXXcuto jXXXn chXXXis maXXXk jayXXXrn richXXXdjg xkeXXXeth mucXXXra abXXXczo proXXXich MattheXXXlair87 roXXXiku ageXX.Xunky

If you're going to throw your hat into the co-founder pool with information on how to reach you, I think your Google username is the least of your concerns.

Seriously, did you know getting on the interwebs reveals your IP address :p Someone could run a full suite of penetration tests on your IP addr to get to your end-point or router.

What about the people merely clicking the link, to view what it is? It reveals their email address/name for anyone to see. That's behavior unlike any other public page on the web.

But that is the point of a directory listing of people - people who enter their info want to be found and contacted.

If you don't want to be contacted, then don't add your information. I'm not sure what you're suggesting is the problem, but perhaps you can suggest a solution?

You obfuscate your email addr so that it's human-readable and not spam-bot readable. Or just add your twitter username instead, or whatever choice you prefer.

You're missing his point.

You reveal your Google Account (and e-mail address for most people) just by viewing the page, without typing a single character into the page.

You could always log out first, before clicking on it.

I see.

Basically, the consumers of the content (the people just wanting to see what's on the list) want to be completely 100% anonymous. I wonder how the producers of the content (the people entering their information on the spreadsheet) would feel about that.

Well there you go, as suggested above.. you can always logout first - or create a dummy account. Google sign-in is arguably one of the commonly used on the Web, even if you're really anti-Google .. having a dummy account would be real handy.

Excess paranoia, on the other hand, is another topic.

Maybe I'm just not creative enough but what could be so bad about folks knowing my gmail account name?

I am king of Nigeria and has been taken to jail by the new leaderships. I have many money hidden but need your hel to get it. Will make us both rich!!!!

Please contact med hurriedly so we can go get money together.

Your style is all wrong, it's more like:

"Dear Sir,

I am writing to in a matter of utmost urgency and secrecy. My name is Olamilekan Smith, close personal advisor of the deposed aristocrat Charles Bartholomew Richards ii. In his haste to escape persecution he hastily imposed upon me the task of securing safe transfer of his considerable monetary assets to an international bank account..."

Hm, what would be a story that would deceive a HN user? Maybe something about starting a company?

I startup founder be from Nigeria. Have found intellectual property for crunchpad mega-tablet in prison. If 100,000 of your dollars send me, can free and make us million. CEO you can be.

Their English is usually a lot better. I believe English is one of nigerias national languages.


Makes me wonder if there is an upper limit to the number of people who can concurrently view/edit a google doc

I'm consistently getting a message saying "Viewing in simple list mode due to high traffic to this document" so whatever that limit is, we hit it. I guess I'll have to wait before I can add my info. Bummer.

You can still edit. Click the "add" button that appears under "Row ^" in the upper left.

appended to the end of the url: "toomany=true"

This makes me wonder why all the hype about Wave when docs can already do this.

I love Wave, and still can't figure out what I should be doing with it.

if you do, let me know! I guess it will be useful when the early adopters start playing with it around as well :)

Makes me think so much more could be done with profile pages on HN.

What should I add? I'm open to suggestions.

A resource like this Google Doc, but limited to people with a certain karma threshold. A way to connect potential founders that are geographically separate. I know that cofounders should know each other so not a start up dating site, but a place where people looking to throw their hat in the startup ring can make first connections with other like minded folks. Current solutions like meetups get overcrowded with the unskilled "idea guy" who needs someone to build his half baked social net. HN would be a great filter.

Whatever you do, I would shy away from making it more mainstream. For example I don't like the idea of "friends" or profile pictures.

I don't want this to turn into a mini-facebook.

* I need help with: "A,B,C" (text field) * I'm pretty good at and willing to help with: "X,Y,Z" (another text field) * I'm in Seattle, WA, USA

I could certainly add this myself, but it wouldn't be possible to see all info on one page for many people - that kind of thing requires scrape-friendly format that enforces some kind of structure on the input text.

Checkbox to make email displayed publicly in a spam-protected way!

tags/area-of-interest of some sort. Eg:

Fashion, e-commerce, education.

You could find someone with experience or interest in education, read their comments and submissions and get a feel for how they think.

Maybe an 'open for solicitation' checkbox.

Basically that's all I can think of. Some way of finding people by criteria.

Just a few ideas:

* A little structure could go a long way (for scraping).

* A field for startup name

* Picture

* "Next >"? Sometimes I wish I could just page through profile pages by karma descending. Random might be fun too.

* Last N tweets? (The Hacker News twitter list http://twitter.com/tlrobinson/hackernews is fantastic, but I wish the linkage between twitter profiles and HN profiles were more transparent)

fields: about, email, 3 urls, location text, location lat/long, looking for people with, interest areas, skills, comments, (pre-existing HN metrics: karma, posts, username, date created)

You'll need an API to access it, or else a viewer on site that presents as a sortable, paginated table.

Perhaps links to other profiles, people most commenting on/with, friends, etc.

How about categories for the posts? Something like the ones jacquesm used.

With a verification string placed by users on their profile (as with Google Webmaster tools), a social network could be run interdependently. It would scrape.

I think that has been abandoned.

Yea that is an excellent idea, thats what i was trying to get at on my first post.

A generic social network would work, where users can verify against one or many domains or sets of urls. To reach someone's page, you would type in: site.com/verificationstring edit: the string would have to go in the <head> otherwise it can be faked on ugc sites

agreed. that or if pg opened up an api for authentication, really retrieving stories,etc. I'm pretty sure we would build some great apps.

If we could just agree on a format, the "about" field on profiles could be used to embed information.

If anybody wants to do things to this doc (install Pivot Tables gadget, rearrange columns, do crazy sorts), but is worried about messing up doc for others, remember you can copy it out for yourself with File -> Make a Copy.

(Yes it will be slightly out of date eventually, but you can then copy it out again.)

This is actually quite dangerous. You can use GData to load the document retrieve all contributors and authors.

You can also retrieve the viewers using a cronjob.

GData returns a "Person" objects in 3.0 http://code.google.com/apis/gdata/javadoc/com/google/gdata/d...

and when you know that google docs generates a revision for just clicking around you can retrieve all revisions and email addresses using http://code.google.com/apis/gdata/javadoc/com/google/gdata/d...

Anyway, it is a great idea... but really not a good idea to use a google doc :-)

So by quite dangerous you mean that anyone can find out that you've looked at and/or edited that page.

Definitely a privacy issue for many people, but I'm not sure I would qualify it as quite dangerous.

I dunno. I visited the Doc knowing it was in Googlelandia, and before I edited anything, I knew it was logged. I feel privacy data is most dangerous when triangulated from multiples services/tools.

It's good to be concerned, but if anything, entering your data here is a far more open book than submitting to any other site that asks these questions.

Does anyone know a board like HN with a designer bent? It looks like more than half of the people filling out the spreadsheet would like to meet up with someone with design skills. It might be worthwhile to share this link on a board with designers.

one of the more popular hangouts on the net for designers is MediaBistro - it has a bulletin board that might be an appropriate place for this: http://www.mediabistro.com/bbs/

watching this being edited in real time on the spreadsheet is fascinating.

Yep, it's amazing how well its coping with what's going on. I watched someone deface it partially and then someone fix it again. Very cool.

On the other hand, we used google spreadsheets as an issue tracker to guide working with clients. It fell over repeatedly over the course of an hour phone call on all ends (5 or so people viewing). It's really bad at keeping connections alive.

I want to turn it into a massive gave of Pong.

Technical entrepreneur seems to be most wanted character class.

I'm going to keep rerolling until I get all 18s.

Weird. You'd expect HN to be overstocked with those, just because of its target audience.

This spreadsheet is going to get seriously diluted with every bastard and his dog. You might need a password or something. Louis Gray's tweet is doing the rounds: http://bit.ly/info/hackerbrain

Sharing the doc was not an intent to dilute, but to raise awareness. Apologies for any issues. There is a definite interest in plans from the members of this community.

It's fine, my own entry got mangled a bit by pure accident, but I just re-filled it and it's fine.

Thanks for sharing the awareness Louis.

This is exactly the problem I'm working on. If you're interested in this topic and would be willing to alpha test or otherwise help out, please drop me a line at http://startupsquare.com

Looks like a great concept. We need more such initiatives. At what stage is the project at the moment?

Alpha alpha alpha. We're going to be letting people in within the next few weeks and the start tuning!

Quick! Someone write a Marriage Problem Solver that can take this spreadsheet as input!

I am surprised that many tech founders are looking for tech instead of business

Easier to go from tech to business than the other way around.

The problem with this line of thinking is that a founder can have the "coolest" tech idea ever, but without any business sense (growth), he's just swimming around in the same circle, over and over. They're complementary skills, not opposing, and neither one is "greater" or "less" than the other.

Maybe it takes business sense to realize the potential of an idea, and so the spreadsheet selects for techies who have business sense too.

Funny, I hear that a lot but I did not find so much of a hurdle. I guess I did start with some tech. I ran a BBS, then stopped coding and did marketing in the entertainment industry for 10 years, then went right into IT security. I don't think there is anything inherently more complex in Applied Cryptography than there is in some of these absurdly obfuscated balance sheets.

Well if you are a single person looking for a co-founder, getting a business person straight up means that your still solely responsible for getting a product out, I guess either you are doing something you can manage, can afford to outsource some code, or you want a co-founder who can help.

Agreed. It's usually best to find somebody with an offsetting skill set. While getting another tech founder will certainly increase your ability to produce quality technology it does not always lead to being able to properly identify a great idea with great potential.

I think that having complementary skill sets is important, but I'd say that after technical skills, interaction design skills are probably more important than business skills. Like they say: first get to product market fit, then grow the business. Getting to product market fit requires someone who understands user needs and interactions (product design) and someone who can implement the solution (technical). A product/interaction designer, though, will probably have some frontend development skills, so perhaps I'm arguing for two technical people.

I think for a business guy to NOT know design is un-excusable. Meaning how the user interacts with the app. He/she doesn't need to be able to code but to be able to mock up the UI for sure.

I agree, but one techie may not have all the tech skills he/she needs. Front-end expert needs back-end expert (and vice versa). Being an expert in both worlds is not as common. That's true for practically everything in life. But sure, given that you have your tech requirement satisfied, you'll be more well-rounded with a business guy too.

The best teams have well rounded/varying skills. Look at Ideo.com (company that invents stuff) - they look for well rounded individuals with passion. So while a team with more techies will produce better tech - not necessarily something that will be successful, a team that's more rounded has a higher chance to produce something that will succeed with inferior technology. That being said, web companies do not fail these days due to a lack of tech. So I implore those who know tech to look for people with differing skill sets and vice versa.

Right. But at least with one general knowledge techie and one general knowledge biz guy you can get a good read on tech issues/requirements and market opportunity. Thus once you get to this point you know what you need more of and more importantly you know what you don't know.

Can we do one of these for Angel Investing?

That's actually an interesting comment, are you an angel investor?

For co-founders, everybody wants to pair up .. but for investors and entrepreneurs, the dynamics would appear different, right? In the sense that there's more entrepreneurs than there are investors, and since investors have a finite amount of money, they don't want to be too easily accessible since they can't invest in everybody (and don't want to be pitched to all the time)?

If you are on the investor side of the table, do shed some light :)

I'm on the investor side of the table in that I have money and would be happy to invest in a worthy start-up. I'm young and fairly inexperienced, but I don't mind being pitched, and I would be happy to share my email address with interested parties.

I think nothing could be more valuable than making funding more accessible to companies that could one day change the world; especially if it could be done well. Maybe we should get to work on this idea...partner. :)

!! Did you guys see that? I believe an angel investor just said he wants to be pitched :)

bpick, if you're looking to angel-invest the YC startup community is a really good place to start scouting, you're at the right place! I don't see any contact info on your HN about page. Can you tell us all how to reach you? My contact info is on my about page

Contact info updated. I'm waiting for my cellphone to detonate.

Trying to reorganize the locations in a useful way. Started by country but this raises the problem that Canada - Pacific - Vancouver isn't close to US - Pacific - Seattle in the list. Other ideas?

Have people use lat/lng? You can add two new columns for latitude and longitude populated by:

  =GoogleLookup("address to geocode", "latitude")
"Address to geocode" can probably be made using the existing city/country columns.

Then you can automatically make a map directly from spreadsheet data: http://gmaps-samples.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/spreadsheetsma...

I hope this Doc stays around indefinitely, so those of us looking for a co-founder in the future will have a resource. It's worth posting a link to it every so often.

Yup, I will be keeping it up indefinitely, I don't see any reason why to remove .. but if it ever came down to that, I will ping the HN community so that everybody knows.

I guess anyone looking to build a co-founder dating site has to figure out what value they are adding on top of this spreadsheet!

One of the reasons that the Bootstrapper Breakfasts have been helpful to bring teams together is that it's a low key way to have a serious conversation with one or more potential cofounders and form an impression based on more than a paragraph or two on a "dating site."

From folks who have attended a Startup Weekend or similar event, I hear that it's a good way to learn how someone performs under at least a moderate amount of pressure.

I am less sanguine about "dating site" although a lot of folks have contributed to the spreadsheet so it will probably help potential co-founders become aware of each other.

I also think you can form a reasonable impression of someone from reading their blog and HN comments but not everyone who has the strengths you will need to get startup off the ground is necessarily interested in contributing to a forum.

anyone looking to build a co-founder dating site has to figure out what value they are adding

1. Better search (by location, keyword, whatever)

2. time-based, so that old entries from years past don't pollute the current directory

3. protect anonymity but preserving a way to get in touch

4. more details available so you can make a judgment call more easily

5. a way to look at projects or people, depending on what your approach is

That's a good start. I'd say #2 is critical, because the Google Docs list will become obsolete within weeks.

http://fairsoftware.net/publicUsers is a list of people, and http://fairsoftware.net/publicProjects is a list of projects. You can navigate back and forth.

Permalink: http://CoFounderGoogleDocs.com

I figured that some time from now, people will remember 2 things: "co founder" and "google docs". Feel free to bookmark / delicious

I am URL forwarding to this spreadsheet from http://hackerbrain.com/

This is a great idea. I ran an article on Hacker News a couple of months ago looking for a co-founder at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=941606.

It was on HN for maybe 1 day on the weekend, so I was concerned I was missing out on the perfect person to work with on a startup.

Having something like this (or, better yet perhaps a wiki that tracks edits) is an excellent idea. Kudos Jayliew !

I'm not sure how many Torontonians are on HN, but I put out a call in there anyway. Hope to make some meaningful connections. Thanks jayliew!

You're welcome! I know I'm scratching not just my own itch, but helping others too .. it's a great feeling. Obviously I got lucky too .. it's not like I coded Google Docs. A reminder that despite all our technical and business talent - luck remain an important part of our endeavor. We can however work to maximize our odds and exposure to luck!

Hi, yeah, I'm the king of Kensington and I just need...just joking. Big ups faramarz

I hope you don't mind, I added a "comments" column.

Not at all, I was pondering about that earlier and decided to defer the decision to the public ;)

It looks like most people are looking for a good designer / UI specialist. If only there was an HN for designers focusing on starts ups!

Great idea, but IMHO it would have been much nicer if people had created new sheets based on their location and then added the Info, so that it would have been much easier to browse.

Or course, location+skill wouldn't have hurt either. In the current format, it could potentially become unmanageable and not very user friendly.

I'm just going to create a sheet for SF-BayArea see if people adopt it :).

I believe there is the option of sorting it by city and adding the content once it is filtered. :)

yeah, but the problem is that people will not necessarily use same names for their location. E.g. SF, SFBayArea, SFBA, Silicon Valley, etc. all refer to the same location but are different.

On the other hand, if someone really wants it s/he would be able to find it :)

I wonder if it would be feasible to construct a database where they enter the zipcode instead, and set a parameter that determines which area you belong to. (Eg. if you live in 94107, any zipcode within 60 mile radius would be considered the "Bay Area".

So, a while back I created a bartering webapp with location aware searching using Django. I did it mostly as a learning process so I could become more familiar with Django, and I never really marketed it much, and it really doesn't get any use now.

With that being said, if you wanted to get on there and create a profile, add a post saying that you're looking for a founder with XYZ skillsets, or that you're available to be a cofounder, other people could search for you based on keywords or tags plus their relation to your zip code.

http://www.igwyn.com (I've Got What You Need).

Not meant to be shameless self promotion, but it might actually be helpful for people.


A lot of people (including myself) are willing to move to other cities. The way it's setup right now adds a level of fuzziness in a very simple manner that makes it more useful IMO.

As one who tried to capture a cofounder in the past, I would insist on listing the primary area of interest (i.e. social media, search etc) and also what obstacles you from progressing on your own (i.e. lack of particular skill, lack of money etc), as it greatly streamlines the further interactions

Just create a new column, I think it's a good idea too

I'm not putting anything in there, so maybe it isn't appropriate for me to add columns. Though I've noticed the Primary Areas of Interest made it into the spreadsheet already.

I copied (almost) all entries from the doc in a semantic wiki: http://www.startuplinkup.com Please go and search your entry there, refine it, rename it, etc. Hope this is more manageable than the google doc. Follow @startuplinkup.

for people just leaving twitter names, how do i send them a message. Sorry I may be one of the only people that only reads twitter (strictly stalker), never use it for actually do messaging or anything else. I followed them, but still don't know how to send message

type "@thatotherpersonsusername hello there"

Would it be appropriate to create an open source community project which would keep the current simple interface of google docs but support more users and perhaps store info such as blog links/HN links to posts along with a standardized location?

This looked very interesting, so we coded up an app based on some of the comments - it's at findmycofounder.com, more details on Twitter (@FindMyCofounder). We figured we could launch this in 24 hours or so, do try it out in a couple of hours.

Just tossed my info on there. Not actively looking for a cofounder -- mostly because I don't think it's likely I'll find anyone with the right skills/temperament -- but it's worth getting out there anyway.

Can't win the lottery if you don't at least buy a ticket :)

Is it working? Some line is missing and empty and some lines only has a word "Java," (may be merge during typing...)

May be it is better to build a one / 2 pages UI for that...

Hmm, this could be a webapp. A way for people who are a pre-seed startup seeder, if you will. Startups.com (or something similar) might want to jump on this.

Again, it's all about critical mass and people knowing where to look.

We launched exactly what you are asking for a year ago. It's there, people are using it. But not everyone knows it. Look at my profile if you don't know which site I'm talking about.

a good friend, Tristan, is working on something like this: http://startupsquare.com/

oh man.. don't be typing in 'asdfdsaf' into the rows!

hilarious :D

Just wish there was a online directory similar to the one shown in Google spreadsheet, that is as simple, intuitive and cleanly designed.

Is there a site dedicated to finding a cofounder ?

http://fairsoftware.net/find-cofounders-for-your-startup and http://www.meetup.com/Co-Founders-Wanted-Meetup/ are dedicated to finding co-founders. The first one is for worldwide online, the second link is for Silicon Valley in person.

This was posted originally in this thread http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1046134 - can someone write me a script so everytime someone asks that question, I can auto-reply? ... ok bad idea... spam... never mind :-)

I'm working on a project like this, initially but not exclusively for tech. If you'd be interested in helping us improve the service, we'd definitely appreciate the feedback. You can DM me @startupsquare or find us at http://startupsquare.com Thanks!

theres been several attempts along the road, but nothing has stuck.

Imho, this spreadsheet captures the very bare essence of a co-founder dating site. Find your co-founder with nothing more than your browser's "Control-F"

i think most sites should be reduced to being this simple

Thanks, added a brief entry. Don't exactly need a cofounder right now, but would not mind others reaching out.

anyone on here interested in a company that does hardware mixed with software based upon ubuntu?

It seems you can edit without even signing in to Google Docs. Are your edits then anonymous?

Very chaotic with 33 people inside. I'll wait my turn for a while.

Just pick an empty row and start editing!

Wasn't this supposed to be done in Wave? ;-)

Cool way to use Google Docs


We need a wiki-style spread sheet so that changes can be reverted. I've seen several rows cleared of their info (80-83), not sure if it's by vandals or not.

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