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I got my first $50/mo customer (alexwest.co)
236 points by Malfunction92 on May 6, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 183 comments

So, I checked out Cyberleads[1], and...this dude is just literally (and brazenly) selling a list of startup executives' emails without their permission or consent. Not sure if that's even legal, but it's definitely scummy, and I hate when I get cold (and frequently, also technically SPAM) emails like the ones this guys is enabling.

Here's a direct quote from the site[1]:

  Every day, we scour the web and find every single startup that just
  raised money. We collect information about these companies, like
  revenue, size, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, CEO information,
  emails, and much more.

  We then further investigate, and verify manually every entry on the
  list. Every single data point is checked, every single email is
  verified. Manually. By a human.
1. https://www.getcyberleads.com/

Edit: added quotes.

You must now create a $75 a month service for people like yourself who want to know when an email of theirs has been burned. Use his list to sell yours.

My list of list of list inclusion trumps your second order list. I use my work emails sometimes for conference registrations, those always get burned and I get spam mail immediately. Conf registrations are the worst.

I use my own domain and have a catch-all. I usually enter the domain name as the identifier. I.e. here it would be news.ycombinator.com@mydomain.test

I sometimes do the same. It's weird to me that some places immediately sell your email and other orgs do not. Like a graph database conference seemed to lead to a lot of new spam.

It’s not some conference, it’s some asshole who has the ability to implement that kind of behaviour. I bet loads of people working at that graph conference didn’t agree but either didn’t know or didn’t have a say in the activity.

If you use Google Mail (and the email field in the form lets you) you can do <youremail>+<whatever tag you want>@gmail.com to track stuff like this.

It works for common spam, but it does not really work for curated lists because they can remove it.

(I think it is also an RFC standard, not just gmail, but don't quote me on this).

Not an RFC standard but it is a "de facto" standard. Everyone implements it, the config line for it is just commented out on postfix, super easy to use.

Spammers aren't dumb -- this gets stripped.

Next logical step would be having <youremail>+<secretKey>@gmail.com as the real email and <justyouremail>@gmail.com as spam box.


I use this service a lot.

Clearly you like them because you use them a lot.

Anything about them you mislike?

That is a great idea. I really want my email hosted some place and that I could write my own "post arrival" simple business logic.

> That is a great idea. I really want my email hosted some place and that I could write my own "post arrival" simple business logic.

You can do this in gmail with filters, unless I'm missing something about the use case.

Maybe it's too early, but I don't get it. If the spammer doesn't strip "+<secretKey>" then you get spam in your real inbox. Btw, what is so secret about the secretKey if you post it on the internet?

You give different secretKey to each recipient. This way you know who leaked your email.

I’m pretty sure you can insert or strip periods ‘.’ in gmails too

Use temporary email alias? That's what I have been doing.

I actually think this is a decent idea, so made a quick little landing page to gauge if people are interested. http://unsolicit.me

Even better. Give me a quick one-button "here's a lawsuit against you" as a response for my email being in that list. I'd gladly pay hundreds of dollars to 1) remove the pain and 2) punish a business like this.

Interested, but your price point is way to high. It’s also pretty easy for me to go to each vendor you mention on the landing page and fill out the opt out request form they are mandated to provide.

It is too high if you are paying for it personally. As a company benefit for top execs and managers? $25 isn't so bad given that the alternative solution is an executive assistant.

Is there a service to make quick little landing pages to gauge if people are interested?

I can't access the Google form.

Sorry about that, it should be fixed now

Yo, I would pay for that.


The other project, GitGardener[1] is... not necessarily sketchy, but it's obviously designed to make your Github look "better" than it really is (not that the contribution chart matters for anything, but that seems like what the service is trying to convey).

1: https://www.gitgardener.com/

I'm not gonna lie. From the perspective of somebody that commits every day with purpose, this is even more scammy then selling email spam-list. This invalidates my hard work.

Hopefully you have more to show for your hard work than some green squares on your github profile that nobody really cares about.

It only invalidates your hard work if the purpose of your work is to populate your GitHub commit history.

your hard work should be finished products not npm module spam of the next left-pad

My thoughts exactly, if you're holding yourself to commit every single day your commits are probably not meaningful or are so broken up that reading your repos history is a nightmare.

Just because you can commit every day means absolutely nothing if the commits are garbage.

They should add a feature that releases daily

It's pretty gross that someone is trying to monetize this. There's actually FOSS version that draws pixel art in your contribution history: https://github.com/gelstudios/gitfiti It's pretty funny, though it doesn't look like its actively maintained anymore. To quote from one of the issue threads:

What better way to demonstrate that the commit graph is a not an indicator of a profile's importance? Hopefully someone who sees gitifi style art in the graph will immediately realize that they should take it with a grain of salt, and instead read the code.

It's not gross. More power to them if they can find someone who finds it worthwhile to pay them $10/mo for it. Or even $10,000/mo.

You're right, gross is a strong word. I don't mean to bash a dev who is producing something they are passionate about while at the same time providing a service to others.

What I will say is that that over-incentivizing active commit histories leads to weird market solutions like this one. The problem isn't a product that populates your commit history for a fee, the problem is an over reliance on arbitrary GitHub commits as a proxy for developer talent.

I had a previous employer that started counting commits. Doesn't matter what you do, if you had to spend you whole day interacting directly with a customer(or even at that customer location trying to figure out some issue), nothing mattered. Only the number of commits. Not even the commit size mattered.

So I started doing tiny commits to counter that.

I would gladly use this thing as a f* you before leaving.

Your story brought to mind this bit of Apple folklore[0], wherein Bill Atkinson, the author of QuickDraw, reported his weekly LOC as -2,000 after implementing optimizations.

[0] https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Negative_2000_Li...

That's pretty common, my contribution to my current work is surely in the negative as well due to the massive amount of spaghetti code I had to refactor.

Oh good lord, that's just filthy.

But man would it be hilarious to grill someone during an interview about this. "Oh wow! You're coding even on holidays! How about we do a quick look at your commits and you can tell us about your progress on some of these projects?"

I know some people who use g̶i̶t̶ ̶g̶a̶r̶d̶e̶n̶e̶r̶ gitfiti to draw on their commit history. Like NES and Atari sprites, like Pacman or Galaga. It's just meant to be a funny subversion of people who take GitHub graphs a little too seriously.

I've never had someone ask about my GitHub and it's on my resume. Probably because it's fairly inactive and I regularly take down projects I'm not proud of.

What's the benefit?

Is someone getting a interview or a job because they have a trivial useless repo spammed with commits?

I can't imagine anything more suspicious looking than that! I'm guessing the US isn't the target audience here.

There are hundreds of companies, many of them quite large, that do this. ZoomInfo, DiscoverOrg, Hoovers, Data.com, Clearbit, UpLead, etc.

Like it or not, sending unsolicited email is how millions of sales professionals make a living. Before email it was unsolicited mail, voice mail, or phone calls. Outbound sales is an essential part of the world we live in.

Honestly, I'm surprised that this is news to you.

He didn’t say it was new to him, he said it was scummy, and he’s right. Spam is a scourge, whether it is in the form of email, phone calls, or people knocking on my door. “Outbound sales” steals people’s time, attention, disk space, and electricity. It may be an unavoidable (certainly not “essential”) part of our world, but the people who do it are making our world worse.

If you call the local bike shop amd try to sell rocket engines,then yes,it is useless. However,there are plenty of good business matching to be done that way. Not all are bad.

Sorry, they are. They are all bad. The bike shop many not be in the market for rocket engines, but they do use wrenches, and pencils, and valve covers. Imagine their phone rings every five minutes, throughout the work day, with people trying to sell these useful things to the bike shop. It's not any better just because the things are useful. If it's me, I'm not going to buy from a cold caller, ever. I already have suppliers. If I need a new supplier, I'm going to find one. You are making the world worse.

I assume that your business doesn't advertise, yes? Since advertising is a scourge that steals time and attention.

When I look for the new supplier for my bike shop, if word of mouth doesn't yield one, I'll probably be guided by some form of advertising. Do you really not understand the difference between making information available to interested customers by advertising, and calling people up, annoying 1000 people to get that one sale? Advertising can be a scourge, but it depends on how you do it. There is no way to spam that is not a scourge.

You’ve never reached out to a targeted, relevant industry contact in pursuit of a potentially mutually-beneficial endeavor? If so, have those individuals always anticipated your communication in advance?

There are many many companies that sell email addresses and phone numbers and even cell numbers of executives - it's a huge business. Google "B2B contact database" for a list but DiscoverOrg, ZoomInfo and UpLead come to mind.

"lots of people do it" != "it's ok"

True. Copyright infringement is done on a massive global scale by search engines and everyone uses those.

Is indexing content and providing search results actually considered copyright infringement in any jurisdiction?

Yes, look at Google publishing news snippets in France

On a scale of unicorn to Nazi, helping businesses connect with each other is pretty far from Nazi.

Im pretty sure almost every one on Cyberlead's list sends annoying "drip campaign" emails.

“At least I’m not as bad as the Nazis” could justify some pretty unacceptable things.

How do these places get this information in the first place? It seems like it wouldn't be economical to get insiders to do it, and guessing firstname.lastname@company.com seems too unreliable

I'm curious what law do you think is being violated (I'm in the US?)

I'm not an expert, but the FTC definitely regulates how emails can be sent (SPAM laws). I'm not sure if the act of creating a list and selling it without the consent of the emailees is regulated, however.

The CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t generally prohibit unsolicited marketing emails, but rather it has various restrictions on the behavior and content of those emails. It’s probably less restrictive than most tech-savvy people think. L

That said, there is a restriction against sending messages to harvested emails, although I’m not sure how that’s defined or what legal precedents there are regarding that.

In the EU it's against E-Privacy

And "Git Gardener" is just spamming GitHub to make yourself look busy. I detect a pattern here.

To his defense, a lot of the executives on his list probably buy similar lists to spam a lot more people (endpoint users).

Indentation is for short monospace code snippets, not blockquotes.

HN cannot render blockquotes, it breaks the page layout.

I wonder how many people in this thread are upset by Cyberleads selling people's emails and GitGardener making people's Githubs look better... but at the same time commit piracy all the time and make all sorts of excuses for it.

Scummy is a cheap shot that everyone agreed not to do, but one selfish prick decided they deserved it and now our collective trust for each-other is diminished.

If you pirate something like indie games, music, films... that's pretty blatantly scummy.

Otherwise, go ahead and argue that pirating is lazy, unethical, selfish, etc.... but it's definitely not "scummy."

"Most" or at least "many." I marvel at the sanctimony around here when it comes to SPAM, particularly because I am 100% certain that if a person works for a company with at least one salesperson then unsolicited outreach is a tactic that is helping pay their salary.

As if the email addresses weren't already publicly available on one web page or the other.

Wow, I wonder if we made it on the list after we recently closed a 50M round.

For 0.0001% of the round amount, I suppose you could find out...

Hey there, Alex here. I completely understand where you are coming from.

I'm not an expert on laws, GDPR, when consent is needed, by whom, etc.

This is a side project that just started gaining a little bit of traction, and I'll certainly look into all the above.

However, the emails I add are publicly available, found on the internet. Not from some leaked database.

I also have prices high in order to keep spammers away and have a small handful of customers. I only have about twenty, and they are targeting different kind of startups.

Work email addresses are considered personal data under GDPR


However, b2b marking may be allowed under the GDPR. Form your link:

> Recital 47 of the GDPR states that “The processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for a legitimate interest”. However, if you intend to rely on legitimate interest rather than consent, you will need to apply the following three-part test:

> 1. The purpose test: Are you processing personal data in pursuit of a legitimate interest?

> 2. The necessity test: Is the processing proportionate to achieving your aims?

> 3. The balancing test: Is your legitimate interest overridden by the rights of the person whose data you’re processing?

This is the correct answer for B2B emails in Europe.

> I'm not an expert on laws, GDPR, when consent is needed, by whom, etc.

> This is a side project that just started gaining a little bit of traction, and I'll certainly look into all the above.

You are selling a product without even knowing the legality of doing so?

Never heard of ask for forgiveness than for permission?

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic. If you are, I applaud the subtlety.

For those nodding in agreement, ask yourself whether this line of thinking would hold up in court.

The GP has a point though. You can't operate a hotel without a license (AirBNB), you can't run a taxi business without a license (Uber), you can't keep other people's money like a bank without a license (PayPal). The list goes on...

Isn't this exactly survivorship bias?

Not exactly, but mine was a tongue-in-cheek comment anyway.

Move fast & break things at its best.

A small suggestion then: why not re-apply the same fundamental technologies and techniques, but to targeting public figures who are perhaps deserving of a little more scrutiny and contact than they're getting?

Rather than facilitating cold-calls to startup founders/leaders (which, let's face it, is generally a waste of their time and which they probably don't deserve that kind of punishment), why not expose the emails/contact-info of executives for bad actors in the marketplace, companies that have recently been sued or charged with crimes or civil complaints (by the SEC/FCC/etc.), companies that have had exposes written about them, etc.?

I'm not saying this will be a more profitable service or anything btw; in fact I'm quite certain it will have much less profit opportunity. But maybe this is something you can do to buy back some goodwill, to counterbalance the profit-seeking and cold-call/spam enabling side of this project.

Are you basically advocating facilitating the spamming of a certain section of "morally bad" individuals? I'm not sure this is the kind of advice that will lead to a less controversial business.

There is sentiment that goals are bullshit and somewhat destructive. My take is, it comes down to setting the right goals.

I've bootstrapped a moderately successful SaaS and have enjoyed many revenue milestones along the way but those were milestones not goals. The goals are lifestyle based. Things like "I want to never have another traditional job" or "I want to be debt free" are much more powerful than "I want to hit $2000 MRR".

That said, look, building and selling things is amazing and I suggest everybody do it. If you only have a little time, build small things and sell them cheaply. But there is a self empowerment that comes from creating your own income that has an impact far beyond the actual dollars themselves.

Congrats Alex, good goal or not, it's a notable achievement.

> there is a self empowerment that comes from creating your own income

This is something that's rarely said (or snidely dismissed as "lifestyle business") but is so very important.

Realizing that you are not completely reliant on someone to employ you, that you can derive income from multiple streams and then actually seeing it happen is an incredible feeling.

> you are not completely reliant on someone to employ you

I don't think that's where the feeling of empowerment comes from. Instead of doing a good job to impress your boss you do a good job to impress your customers. That feeling, I believe, comes from the fact that generating your own revenue stream makes you a "one man team". You pulled all the right strings, you pushed the right buttons, you spoke to the all right people. You took your idea from back of the napkin drawing to actual functioning and successful business. You don't get to do that as an employee.

It is more regarding to impress your own customers than bosses (or customers of your boss). The former is about something you did right. The second is (in many cases) about asking for a raise. The last is mostly showing what a team (or even others) have done.

By the way, most jobs are not about impressing bosses. You can make a career just doing your work. The right people will notice, specially in small companies.

I was just oversimplifying but the core idea remains. You should take pride in your work whether you are on your own boss or work for one. But sometimes taking your own idea from 0 to fruition gives you a special kind of pride. The "I wore all the hats and made it" kind. And indeed, the right people will notice regardless of where you are.


I'll agree that what I wrote was essentially the executive summary. I think we're saying the same thing in different ways.

Interesting, reading this I was thinking that I would have indeed set different goals. I would have strived to create a good app for me first, and to make sure that people can use it and that they find it useful too. That would have been my goal. Not a 50$/month customer.

I came to a simple realization: Only intrinsic motivation lasts. Achieving external rewards and arbitrary goals feels nice for a while, but it always wears off quickly.

Now I don’t have goals anymore. My idea of personal growth is to keep rearranging my life so that I'm doing fewer things I'd rather not be doing.

No goals. Just anti-goals.

In this video by Brandon Sanderson [0] he talks a little bit about goals and I follow something similar. At one point he talks about setting goals that are actually in your control. So you wouldn't set a goal like "become a famous author" (although he says that would be nice). Instead you set something you can control like "get better with each book you write". Then you break those goals down into tasks.

I think he says something like "if I was 100 and looked back and wrote 100 unpublished novels, would I be happy with that?". I think using something like that as a guide for setting goals is good because it keeps you pointed in the right direction and makes the goals things you can actually control.

[0] https://youtu.be/oH9sJrAVeC0

I think "be a famous author" is a goal, and "get better with each book" is a strategy. In my view: the goal is a target, and the strategy is an action in attempt of reaching it.

But the goal isn't to be a famous author, it's to write quality books. It's a different mindset. Becoming a famous author is something that is out of your control. Instead of focusing on the outcome, which you can't control, you focus on the thing you can. Doing quality work for something you enjoy. Sure, selling the book and it doing incredibly well would be nice, but honestly there is too much luck involved. It's obviously something you would think about when you are writing, and like, but it shouldn't be why you write.

I don't write software side projects because I think they will turn out to be the next big thing or make me famous and rich, I do them because I get enjoyment out of writing code that solves a problem (usually my own).

The thing worth mentioning is that becoming a famous author and writing quality books are different goals, achieved through different means. Cynically, I would say that they're unrelated, but in reality I'd say writing quality books is one avenue towards becoming a famous author but likely the least reliable one. Similarly, getting rich writing books is also another separate goal, which can also be achieved without the other two.

Thus, I disagree that goals like "becoming a famous author" entirely out of your control. There are definite steps one could take towards such a goal, but as with anything in life there's never a guarantee. Granted, you do have less control over the outcome if your goal depends on other people, like becoming famous, but those steps still exist and could include things like networking extensively, spending a lot of time self-promoting, polishing your image, hanging out with the rich and famous, etc.

The problem, I think, is that a lot of people tend to think that goals like "becoming a famous author" and "writing good books" are the same, or that the latter will automatically lead to the former, and when they figure out that the strategies for getting there are different they become disillusioned.

I pretty much agree with everything you are saying and I do think a lot of confusion comes from conflating the two goals together. I think I was speaking more from personal experience that taking on goals that are more in my own control leaves me feeling more fulfilled. I also tend to get better results that way because I focus on the process.

Is it not possible to be intrinsically motivated to achieve your goals? I get what you're saying, but I feel like there's a middle ground.

Then motivation is intrinsic, what remains outside is a measurement tool you use.

Interesting topic, deeper than the OP message.

But you can be very motivated and ruining your life, as much as you only focus in arrive to your goal and reject the present (especially if you don’t like your current situation, don’t enjoy the ride and only want to reach the goal to let yourself to be happy)

It's not so much about not having goals at all but about not having a bitter present

This is going to sound weird but there's this great interview with Seinfeld and Obama where they talk about the "answer" to "why do you keep doing this stuff when you're so successful and have 'made it'"?

Which I think is the real question OP is asking: "Why if I've hit this goal do I keep doing this? Why does it feel so unsatisfying?"

I've linked to the spot in the interview but the answer is to really enjoy the work and the process.

I feel this myself (as someone with a decent sized SAAS), that I still really enjoy helping people, answering support emails, getting on calls with them. It feels more satisfying than arbitrary revenue goals.


Yeah, and the two are linked. Seinfeld's focus on the process and craft meant he got exceptionally good at it. The money was a byproduct, not the goal. The motivation was intrinsic and about improving his craft. To which there is no end. So he continues.

This discussion with Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK and Ricky Gervais is worth watching for anyone interested in that aspect of comedy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKY6BGcx37k

Be wary of survivorship bias.

Not everyone that focuses on the process makes lots of money. However, some of the people that make lots of money do it as a byproduct of focusing on the process.

We're all familiar with the stereotype of the dev who's obsessed with polishing their code that nobody is using.

This talk always reminds me of this, https://youtu.be/il1sgQUtYs8

Weird Q: Do their heads look too big for their bodies in these shots to anyone else? Is it camera work? Super slimming suits?

Sounds similar to this:


"The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes."

Thanks for this -- I continuously get reminded that many of our behaviors have actually been studied and it's worth knowing them to forward our direction in life. This is a good one

Yeah, it's a great feeling when you find an existing name for a concept you've partially observed yourself, where sometimes you're sure there must be a name for it already...is there a name for that? It's also great because now you can read up on it and usually find a whole branch of related stuff you never knew existed.

This is a concept that matches my lived experience, and I find it's very useful to keep in mind.

> From now on, I have no goals. Nothing. I don't care about anything. I don't care about followers. I don't care about revenue. I don't care about anything. I just want to enjoy my every day life. Enjoy the process.

Nothing brings joy to entrepreneurs more than the “process of building” and crafting products.

Your paragraph reminded me of Steve Jobs reply to Kara Swisher when she asked for his thoughts on surpassing Microsoft in market valuation.

He said: “It doesn’t matter. It’s not what’s important. It’s not what makes you come in the morning. Not why any of our customers buy our products. It’s good to keep that in mind and remember what we are doing and why”

01:02 https://youtu.be/i5f8bqYYwps

I totally agree :)

I am always reminded of David Foster Wallace who wrote a successful novel while still in his early twenties, and before even finishing his MFA. He had to recalibrate his entire life expectation wise when he achieved his goal in his 20s and found it empty. Where do you go when you are just 'starting out' in life but have already grabbed this thing that was supposed to complete you, and it doesn't change anything.

As much as I enjoy DFW's way with words (and I do mean that in a complimentary manner), I think his approach mostly serves as a warning as to what can happen when you get too deeply stuck in your own head with no pressure release valve to viewpoints other than your own.

Has anyone else looked at his GitGardener project and thought it seemed pretty shady? I'm not sure I understand why github would allow it.

It's also completely unnecessary. You can just create a repo and backdate commits to do it instantly.

Like this for example:


> GitGardener is at $151 MRR.

TIL people are willing to pay for fake GitHub activity.

At first I tried to misunderstand the GitGardener website. But no, I think this is what it is.


And Cyberleads sells emails lists (see my other comment). I don't think we should be condoning this guy's behavior..

Why not if employers look for it?

Because it's not particularly ethical? Doesn't seem less deceptive than lying on a CV to me.

But is it what the market wants, though? If customers are paying, then I think the answer is obvious.

you can also buy stolen credit card numbers on the darknet, the customers are paying.

But I don’t need it. If I really needed it, maybe I would buy it.

Sorry, are you saying that it's a good thing to sell stolen credit cards because there is a market for them?

Good? Is it a good thing to sell caffeine-laden energy drinks to kids & teenagers? Good and bad aren’t the steering properties of the market. Demand is. Demand can also be artificially created, hence the github commits that potential employers are interested in seeing.

Is forcing people to contribute on github ethical? Aside from only looking at one social coding platform vs [gitlab/azure/sourcehut/self-hosted], it takes the viewpoint that one writes and publishes code on github -on top of- their day job. Since not all companies put their private code on github.

What if I have a family? What if I have -any- other hobbies than just programming all day? What if I have other obligations or just want to -relax- after work?

I wouldn't pay for a service like this (I would write a simple script, can't be that hard), but I don't find it unethical either. You want to be lazy and just look at some numbers? Here are your numbers. I'd be willing to bet that it never comes up again once hired. Actually, I just wouldn't apply to a company that places that much weight on github contribution history. But if I had zero industry experience and was just trying to get any job, the situation might be different.

Of course, but it looks like a so politic. In modern world we have a "fake" life. We already happy on the internet. I didn't see sad post on social media.

Because the employer is looking for a signal of quality. This manufactures the signal without the quality. The fact that the signal is a flawed proxy for quality to begin with doesn't change that using this product is deliberately deceptive.

I just checked one of the author's projects and it's a service to automatically feign activity on GitHub to... make the activity grid on your profile look active. Is this some sort of post-ironic jab at the SaaS industry I'm not getting or people actually pay for it unironically?

I think the point is that it creates positive feedback and that helps people remain motivated. One of the reasons I give my team for trying to break up a large task into smaller subtasks is the enjoyment of completing something and closing out that task. It makes the overall goal seem like something achievable.

How is faking GitHub activity positive feedback? That's like a service which retweets random tweets to look active on Twitter.

Are we sure that this gitgardener stuff is even allowed by the GitHub ToS? I mean no offense to the OP of course, but clearly some people are clogging the site already by creating entirely fake users, with zilch useful contributions to FLOSS or the dev community. I don't think GH would look kindly on this sort of activity.

This article would be WAY better in paragraphs that each contained one of the sub-themes of the article as a whole. He starts by talking about tweeting and it looks and feels like the article was written as tweets too.

His Twitter posts are formatted in a similar way, so I think it's just his writing style. https://twitter.com/alexsideris_

I kinda liked it, it got me to read the article. Nothing wrong with adding some personal style to your writing.

OP, congrats on hitting your MRR goal!

Is this an ad for a company masquerading as a story about how marketing finally worked for said company?

I like this. I like the writing style, I like the humility and the openness, and I like the recognition that chasing goals is ultimately an exercise in futility. You spend almost all your time unhappy because you're not yet at your goal, and then as soon as you achieve it, you're unhappy because you're not at the next arbitrary goal. It's madness, but it's basically the way almost all of us live.

I've been spending more time meditating and reading about mindfulness recently, and it's helped me become aware of just how infrequently I'm truly happy and present. I can be in the most idyllic setting and situation, and part of my brain is wondering how I can improve it, or what I can do to feel that way all the time, etc.

Why is it so difficult to turn off the past- and future-oriented parts of my brain and just be? To just enjoy this?

Pretty much the human condition. Seneca was writing about it in the first century, Buddhists were talking about it from the inception of their religion.

What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless. A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.

From Ecclesiastes, one of the few parts of the Christian scriptures that still interests me.

I was thinking I like the blog format, actually: more like Tweets than like 'My Manifesto About Software, Life, the Universe, and Everything: Volume I of MDXXIII.' It just has an inherent digestibility and modesty that makes it really appealing.

Also it makes me think I may try this tweet-style writing also, and modify my CSS to look more like his, because I like it a lot.


> Me and my girlfriend wanted to watch a movie on Netflix (...)I watched the film on Netflix.

I'm starting to notice this pattern a lot both in person and on the internet. How long until Netflix becomes a verb? It doesn't add to the story, but somehow people feel compelled to advertise the service they use.

>It doesn't add to the story, but somehow people feel compelled to advertise the service they use

People think of virtual sites and services similarly to how they think of physical places. This link has been identified during the web's infancy: you don't download documents online. You navigate and visit a site. Those words are used for both physical and virtual activities. You "go somewhere".

The site or service conveys details about the nature of the activity too. Watching movies on Netflix may paint a mental picture of adults relaxing while watching a relatively mature show. Watching movies on Disney Plus might imply that the adults were spending time with their kids or whatever. Same to real life locations again, you might tell people that you went for a drive down the beach rather than a drive through the city. These simple details can help say a lot about the nature of the drive.

Saying it's on Netflix indicates that they didn't go out and see the movie in a theater.

It's already a verb, ever heard "Netflix & chill"?

well said about the goals. goals make you feel like a failure if you don't meet them, and leave you wanting when you do, and worst of all, don't tell you how to reach them! Systems over goals every time.

regarding your luck, you may be aware of the 4 kinds of luck (https://medium.com/@ameet/the-four-kinds-of-luck-ea729970d71...) - by putting your reps in, you exposed yourself to type 2 luck, luck that just happens randomly, but it happens because you did something. good for you!

At one point, I was helping a great speaker build her first conference, which was a smashing success. When we turned on the ticketing platform on, orders started pouring in

In parallel, I was building my first side project, or more precisely I was starting to add pricing for the first time to a side project

As a result I had, at the same time, a stream of several thousands of euros, and MY FIRST 19€ from something I BUILT MYSELF

I was incredibly more proud of the latter. There is a sense of pride, of accomplishment, in thinking that you've built something useful enough for someone to open their wallet for you

Good job on your part and keep sailing!

If any of that is profit you've surpased WeWork! Congrats! :)

There was a period (before Feb 2018) where 'more than twitter, less than facebook' was my standard answer to the question of how much profit my startup was making.

Anecdote: After I released my fist software in 2002 I received an order by fax. Unfortunately my HP Office Jet had an error and refused to print the fax, so I called HP customer service. They told me to shut the device off and on again. I told them that this is not an option, because there is an order worth real money inside the device's memory. So the great guy at the other end of the line told me to take out the cardridge and give it a good wash and rub. I placed it back in and the Office Jet started printing the order. It was a 1000$ order by Lehman Brothers! I am still telling my friends that this was the final straw that broke Lehman Brother`s neck several years later :)

Some products should not be built. Here are a couple examples of such products.

When we started our subscription design firm for Software companies, I used to share milestones publicly (mostly on Reddit back then). We grew to 5 figures a month in the first year. Like OP, I realized that the goals (and those milestones) were extremely short flashes of fun that didnt last longer than maybe a few minutes. It wasn’t after I stopped sharing business milestones and just focussed on daily improvement that things felt so much better. Not only that, it helped the business grow better as a result.

how do you decide to pivot on a feature/goal if you focus only on the daily improvements? how do you connect the daily improvements to something bigger?

So the the insight was: Instead of focussing 80% of the time on the big goal and 20% on what's right in front of me, I flipped that around. So yes there are longterm goals and stuff we work towards, but instead of every day hoping you're there, you set the goal and then focus on much smaller incremental steps on a daily basis. These incremental steps, in a way, become goals, that give you continuous feedback and satisfaction (instead of 1 big high, followed up with a deep low)

He was not powerless, he was putting work for 2 years until he got lucky. People hope they will stick in week or two into something and will get lucky.

Cultivating an email list and writing a program to generate fake git commits?

gitgardener is downright unethical as well?

Not sure if that's outdated but the home page says:

   I have a goal I'm working towards. Mine is to achieve financial independence in 2020.
   I've reached $800 MRR so far. My goal is to reach $2k MRR.

Please ensure <a> tags (you know, links!) actually work on your webpages. I hate copying and pasting on iOS...

On a brighter note, I appreciate your writing style; short, sweet, and clear.

Congrats Alex, any chance of a cheaper tier for Cyberleads, maybe limiting it a single country?

Hey everyone, Alex here.

I was caught a bit by surprise to be honest, as I did not post the article myself.

The article is very sloppy and it shows, so sorry for putting you through that! I also left-aligned the text as people requested.

I'm happy that people enjoyed it and can relate :)

GitGardener appears to be for letting job applicants trick employers into thinking that have legit projects on git, while Cyberleads enables spammers to shit into the inboxes of startup execs.


'shit into the inbox'? jesus do you only like emails from your mother?

I don’t like unsolicited commercial emails, so yes, that’s correct, I only email with mom.

ya'll honestly be overreacting.

"i want people to put in work to find my email address" - all the derps in this thread

> I tried many things. Reddit. Facebook Groups. Quora. LinkedIn. Direct Sales. Twitter. ... On the 21st of April, completely unexpectedly, a tweet of mine blew up big time.

"Fortunate favors the prepared." The highly random nature of internet karma should probably be more well publicized by now. If ten years ago, I gave myself all the blog posts I'd write over the next ten years, I would not have predicted correctly which ones would be most popular. Not that I write for the pageviews, or even write all that often. If you think of it as a multiarmed bandit problem, you kinda have to publish without a goal in mind in order to have enough arms to pull to find and iterate on the few good ones. This is why IMO, it helps to have a few input goals as well as outcomes.

AFAICT, content marketing is basically posting good stuff and hoping some of the traffic rubs off on your sales funnel. Like that Sparkfun rotary cell phone from way back when, though obviously it helps when you sell the parts to your ironic nobody-would-buy-this product online.

> I smashed my infamous $500 MRR goal. It was a huge mental barrier for me. The sad thing is that once again I was tricked. I was chasing this goal for more than two years, and now it means nothing to me. It's dead. Cold. Meaningless. Like it was never there in the first place.

Elsewhere on his site Alex describes his goals as 'humble' but that may be part of the psychological problem here; even he believes they're not the same as even modest success. $500 MRR feels meaningless because it _is_. Why does 500 MRR matter? If you borrow the OKR framework, perhaps he would reframe the Objective (goal) as 'build a business capable of sustaining my preferred lifestyle', and then the MRR target would have meaning as a key result?

The Objective/Key-Result framework provide two major benefits:

First, it gives you the means to tie your metrics to something meaningful, and the ability to fact check your assumptions. Make more money isn't necessarily meaningful, but 'quit my day job' or 'send my kid to art school' can be. Perhaps the $500 MRR goal feels meaningless because the lifestyle goal _is_ the real Objective, but the $500 MRR Key Result is insufficient to meet it.

The second thing it does is provide a process for breaking Big Problems into smaller ones. You'll probably need multiple strategies to reach any important Objective, and the KRs help you break them into smaller steps. Which themselves can be treated as Objectives with their own KRs. Using https://stripe.com/atlas/guides/business-of-saas#the-fundame... as a guide for how to break down the 'big number' can help, but there is no predictive formula for maximizing it.

Please left align this text!

I couldn't get through the blog post.

Here's why.

Nearly every thought is a separate paragraph.

Throw in center alignment and it's enough to drive me batty.

Decent blog post content, though.

Do you know why?

Let me let you in on a secret.

People LIKE reading text formatted like this.

No, they LOVE IT.

It's so easy to read.

So seductive. So .... enticing

Every line like honey. So much sugar. It makes you want more

And it's easy to write.

Easy to read.

Always feels like something is coming.





In my mobile device it's just irritating how much padding he has. It's basically 3 words at a time. I'd need a phablet to get through this piece even though it's enjoyable righting.

When switching to "Reader Mode" in your favourite browser, the text will be left aligned. :)

Drop into the chrome dev console, go into the source and change the alignment it takes a second. Don’t need to tolerate ridiculous formatting.

Firefox Reader Mode saves the day, again

Please don’t left align this text because some stranger on HN told you so.

When that stranger is giving good advice, however .. There's a reason large bodies of text are left aligned and not center aligned.


Public existence of such tool proves that quick glance at commit graffiti tells you nothing. And that's a good thing, because otherwise solving of big problems that require several days to produce a single commit would be discounted.

>hiring fraud

Committing to junk repositories is fraud too?

Boo to all of the people on this thread who are hating on what you've built. Why can't you build a business selling emails, or automatically posting to GitHub?

If you hate getting spam emails, hit "spam" and get that domain blacklisted, it creates a natural balance where the quality of cold outreach grows. And I doubt real hiring decisions are being made from git commit history badges.

Kudos for going out there and adding value to the people that are paying for your products.

Because "automatically posting to GitHub" is the exact kind of bullshit that a society driven by capitalism comes up with. Employees lying to employers lying to investors lying to customers, all so they can make themselves slightly richer. No value is being created, no progress is being made -- it's all just a house of cards.

Then there are people like you praising it, and just because the goal of capitalism -- to amass as much wealth as you can -- is being met. Even though it's a complete fucking waste of human potential.

Makes life seem pointless.

Yes, with that kind of attitude life does seem pointless.

My opinion is that not everything we do in life needs to aimed towards the lofty self-actualization of mankind... or even the lofty self-actualization of one's self, which is the point being made later in the blog post.

Sometimes you wanna build something and see what happens. Hell yea I'll praise that.

Most human progress is made incrementally and in all directions, with many of the paths failing. The original versions of many extraordinary things seemed like meaningless branches of a capitalistic society.

There was a time when people played chess over telegraph, and considered telegraphy as a technology nothing more than a strange novelty.*

* For more, I highly recommend checking out the book "The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers"

Playing chess with a friend across the world is not a waste of human potential. Writing a script so you can lie to your next employer is.

[...] that a society driven by c̶a̶p̶i̶t̶a̶l̶i̶s̶m̶ humans comes up with. [...]


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