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Dalton Caldwell, you should move to New York and re-rethink app.net (waxman.me)
96 points by nottombrown 645 days ago | comments


dalton 645 days ago | link

Here is how I responded to Michael via Twitter:

"I don't want to move to New York because my wife and son live here with me, and we have a whole life outside of tech that matters.

The thing about imeem and picplz is they seemed really stupid and insignificant at first too. But the issues they tackled ended up being about something very important and fundamental. At least in my opinion.

imho everything worth doing looks stupid and insignificant at first: http://daltoncaldwell.com/the-makings-of-history-are-banal "

Source tweets:

https://twitter.com/daltonc/status/224947883009515521

https://twitter.com/daltonc/status/224948252141830145

https://twitter.com/daltonc/status/224948783891496960

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waxman 645 days ago | link

Thanks for responding, Dalton. I really appreciate it.

Responses to the responses below :)

"can't argue with that :) meant Valley v. New York more as ideas than places, but you should at least come visit for inspiration

I actually agree with that :) I like the Paul Graham line that many huge startups start off as "toys"

seriously best of luck with http://app.net , I don't want to come off as a dick

I just find the idea of crusading against ad-supported models with an awesome team inspiring, but not necessarily the api idea"

Source tweets:

https://twitter.com/wxmn/status/224958061226360832

https://twitter.com/wxmn/status/224958718230544387

https://twitter.com/wxmn/status/224958289140658176

https://twitter.com/wxmn/status/224958976733888512

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dannyr 645 days ago | link

waxman,

Have you actually lived in the Valley?

The "bubble" indeed exists but there are so many things about the Valley that outweighs that negative.

What are the chances in NYC that I go into a cafe and meet a startup founder?

For me, being in the Valley means I'm surrounded by people who understands what I'm going through. It keeps me motivated.

I haven't been to NYC for years but I'm pretty sure that when I walk in a cafe there, I won't think that the people there are probably building the next great web startup.

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potatolicious 645 days ago | link

> "What are the chances in NYC that I go into a cafe and meet a startup founder?"

As someone who lives in SF and is moving to NYC, your odds are pretty low. But I think there's a better question here:

What are the chances in SF that I go into a cafe and meet a startup founder working on something big and impactful?

I don't know about you, but my time in SF has netted me a lot of opportunities to talk to founders who are working on [insert social/mobile/local thing here] which IMO simply aren't big enough (or original enough) for me to care. For every Square there are dozens of Square copycats who aren't really executing anything substantially different. For every Zynga there are dozens of startups in SF egging their exact formula and not really mutating it in a meaningful way.

Certainly very, very few are working on anything that has relevance outside of the tech community, with impact IRL - I'm talking about the AirBnbs and the Squares. Stuff that will change the lives of people who aren't plugged into the pulse of the California tech scene.

SF is full of startups, sure, but the vast majority aren't doing anything interesting. I'll trade quantity for quality, though I'm not asserting where one might find higher quality between SF and NYC.

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kurtvarner 645 days ago | link

[...] though I'm not asserting where one might find higher quality between SF and NYC.

Thank you for including this.

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achompas 645 days ago | link

What are the chances in NYC that I go into a cafe and meet a startup founder?

You have great odds if you're in the right area (Union Square/Flatiron). Probably no different (or not significantly different in practice) than the Bay Area.

That said, are you randomly approaching people in cafes to accomplish this?

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dannyr 645 days ago | link

I don't really approach people but I overhear conversations.

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carterschonwald 645 days ago | link

I do both! It's really fun and easy to happen in the union square area.

That said, I find myself have so many tech company comvos in NYC that I'd not want to have any more tempting me. That said, fun techie convo and hangouts at the high end of the spectrum (the only sort of tech folks I enjoy having as good friends) are a bit sparse, but they're sparse population wise everywhere (though the absolute number of folks in that possible pool is likely larger in the sf area. )

I must confess that the large population of young college grads who are neither engineers nor dudes is also a fun attribute of union square area

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boise 645 days ago | link

I just moved to NYC from the SF and love going to a coffee shop and NOT seeing everyone with laptops covered with stickers and talking about MVPs and their upcoming seed round. The valley is a great community, but the diversity in NYC is refreshing and gives good outside-the-bubble perspective. I think that's one point of this post is making.

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badclient 645 days ago | link

The thing about imeem and picplz is they seemed really stupid and insignificant at first too. But the issues they tackled ended up being about something very important and fundamental. At least in my opinion.

Such a cop out. Any start-up founder of the most stupid start-up could reframe like you have and claim to be working on something "very important and fundamental."

You can't be the guy hating on ad start-ups and turn around and suggest your own ad-supposed start-ups were exceptions because you found them "very important and fundamental."

Of course, you have every right to love your own baby even irrationally(every founder must have some dose of delusion to not give up). But too much of it doesn't help us achieve clarity about your position and message on this topic.

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qq66 645 days ago | link

I don't think that it's a cop-out that any founder could use -- imeem and picplz were not successful companies, but the issues they tackled were successful issues, in that Spotify and Instagram are (currently!) thriving companies that found the "magic sauce" to succeed in that space.

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danso 645 days ago | link

>imho everything worth doing looks stupid and insignificant at first: http://daltoncaldwell.com/the-makings-of-history-are-banal

Those aren't particularly good choices...because I doubt those announcements were considered banal by the authors or by their intended audience. Particularly the announcement of the Web, which you quote in part as: "However, it could start a revolution in information access"

A better example would be the origins of something like Facebook, which sounds like it was geared towards scoping out the attractiveness of Harvard classmates and has grown into something far more ubiquitous and all-encompassing.

In comparison, the Web hasn't really outpaced its initial predicted scope -- a "revolution in information access" -- but of course, its makers dreamed big.

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dalton 645 days ago | link

What I learned at imeem re:the music industry is that problems with "content industry" have nothing to do with technology, and have everything to do with social/political/regulatory issues. The music industry behaves the way they do because they have a financial incentive to do so.

I think that attempting to solve the fundamental financial incentives of the operators of our core social communications infrastructure is as important as those other announcements.

Rather than just sit on the sidelines and complain about the fact that the companies controlling the building blocks of the social web are erratic and financially incentivized to screw over their entire user+developer ecosystem (or die), I am going to try to do something about it.

Even if I fail, I will be proud that I put my money where my mouth is, and did everything within my power to do fix something I see as a HUGE problem, a problem that affects a lot more things than some would appear to believe.

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untog 645 days ago | link

Eek, Valley vs Alley flamewar approaching!

The downside here is that the article doesn't really do a great job of explaining the "move to New York" comment. I live in NYC and I agree that the tech scene is far less of a bubble than the Valley, simply because we are surrounded by so many different industries. Everyone in the Valley is in tech, but I have friends here in NYC in fashion, banking, media... you name it. I don't think it's a coincidence that a lot of NYC startups touch on these industries.

But when you say:

They talk about real problems. Like loneliness or stress or sickness or unemployment or high prices or lack of education.

It sounds bad. Like, "typical arrogant New Yorker" bad. There is a valid point being made here, but I fear that it's going to get lost.

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abbasmehdi 645 days ago | link

"Like loneliness or stress or sickness or unemployment or high prices or lack of education."

I actually experienced this first hand recently while on a long trip spanning multiple cities in the US and Canada. People seemed to have a very different set of problems/concerns on top of their minds outside of SV. It was weird at first, but then it became very refreshing. I am not a New Yorker and will dare make the same comment as Michael Waxman (disclosure: Michael is a friend) - step outside SV and people's problems switch away from Socialcam vs Viddy to I can't make my mortgage, I'm getting sick, our kids won't move out etc.

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chipotle_coyote 645 days ago | link

Because people in Santa Clara County don't have issues relating to housing and health care?

I've seen this argued before by various people from Alex Payne to Buzz Andersen and I'm starting to feel like it may be a good idea to add an asterisk to this assertion: this is a function of the people in SV that you happen to be talking to. It's true that many of the startups in Silicon Valley and San Francisco are focused on "social media" and this leads to an awful lot of circle jerking that may be sharply lessened in other places, but it's not too difficult to find all sorts of startups out here that are focused on less abstract problems than how open the Twitter API is.

(Also, I think that just as people out here can miss the circle-jerkiness of the Silicon Valley scene, people in other cities sometimes tend to miss their own brands of it.)

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abbasmehdi 645 days ago | link

I think you have a good point - cities might be statistically similar but getting out to another city might help in stepping out of your usual circle, which is not to say you cannot do the same while staying in your hometown.

Side note: This reminds me of a conversation I had with Wesley Zhao, a co-founder of Family Leaf, who said he finds it refreshing to hang out with normals while working on Family Leaf in Palo Alto. It's great advice for a tech founders to actively seek this out IMO.

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BadassFractal 645 days ago | link

I just don't think you can ever have a rational New York vs SV debate without folks getting really passionate about their life choices.

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untog 645 days ago | link

I suspect you are correct. Different people have different priorities, and this is A Good Thing.

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ryguytilidie 645 days ago | link

I think its funny that New Yorkers always tell me how they're surrounded by a variety of industries whereas all us San Franciscans know is tech. My office in SF is in the Financial district, with probably 50 banks within a 10 block radius. 3 blocks over is Union Square, which has a Niemann Marcus, Macys, Nordstrom's, Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton, (essentially you name the high fashion company, its there), 2 blocks the other way is Chinatown, one of the biggest concentrations of Chinese culture. To imply that those of us out here are living in a bubble where all we can experience is tech makes me think one just needed to grasp at straws for why NY is better...

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SeoxyS 645 days ago | link

I'm with you here, I think San Francisco is an awesome and diverse city. But I think that people who talk about Silicon Valley being insular are talking about the actual valley: Sunnyvale to Menlo Park. And they have a point; if you're in the valley, you're definitely missing out on the many advantages of being in a real city surrounded by real people (whether it's NY or SF).

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untog 645 days ago | link

I think the distinction here is SF != SV.

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swanson 645 days ago | link

Is a direct email to Dustin Caldwell not a better medium for this content? Aside from beating the "wasting smart people on advertising" horse to death, what value does this provide as a blog post and why is HN upvoting it?

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stephengillie 645 days ago | link

This is straight spam and phallus-waving. It's like this is a gaming forum or something.

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localhost3000 645 days ago | link

it's a ruse to get some HN airtime so that you'll learn (and maybe even remember) the name of the guy who wrote it...just like 2/3rds of the rest of what gets posted on here...don't hate the player. we're the suckers up-voting it so he can get some tech scene name-recognition.

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shmageggy 645 days ago | link

Are there any forums like HN but more focused on areas that are, as the author put it, more "steeped in reality"? I love having the ability to follow some of the best minds in SV's tech scene, but ultimately I would be much more interested in things like (off the top of my head) cancer research, sustainable energy, or education than the latest social network.

I understand, as other posters have mentioned, that work in HN-friendly areas can potentially have important effects, such as the democratic empowerment enabled by social media for example, but I'm sure there are amazing technical things being done in all sorts of interesting fields that don't get much traction here.

Also, I think the author is misunderstanding the business model Dalton is proposing. The platform will be paid for via subscriptions; the crowdsourcing aspect is just there initially to ensure a critical mass of participants, something crucial for venues with network effects.

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cletus 645 days ago | link

I almost missed this post (meaning I scanned the title and didn't read it). I'm glad I didn't. It's a good post. I like it for a number of reasons:

1. Speaking as someone who lives in NYC, I too think it's got a lot going for it. Housing (at least compared to SF; I'm less familiar with how horrible the housing market is further as you go towards San Jose), infrastructure, a more balanced mix of people (the Valley is more dominated than NYC by 20 and 30 something male engineers), etc;

2. This post in some ways echoes my own feelings about Twitter {eg [1]). Twitter seems to suffer this dichotomy between being a service and being infrastructure. One of my arguments is that the messaging infrastructure that ultimately dethrones SMS is too valuable to be proprietary.

Of course to be clear Dalton seems to be talking about a "real-time notification API", which is a little different to messaging but it shares a lot of the same problem domain.

I think this is important infrastructure but it's going to be a thankful (and probably fruitless) task, particularly in building an open, well, whatever.

3. It echoes my own view that something like a "better Twitter" is really a "small problem" [2].

I see Dalton has responded and there he has roots in his current community. You can't argue with that. But I'm all for promoting NYC as an alternate tech hub and the idea of tackling big problems.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4186157

[2]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4244709

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toddmorey 645 days ago | link

I don't think NYC (or any location) offers real advantage towards thinking bigger. May I humbly, and with good humor, present Michael's own endeavor--Grouper: "a social club that arranges drinks between two groups of friends who don't know each other."

I do like that the tech community worldwide seems to have a new concern with tackling larger and more important issues. I'm excited to see what emerges.

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rudiger 645 days ago | link

Off-topic: Anyone else noticing the proliferation of Svbtle[1] blogs on the front page of Hacker News today? I counted three in the top ten links just now.

[1] - http://svbtle.com

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dangrossman 645 days ago | link

Well, yeah. Dustin managed to convince a whole bunch of startup founders and investors to use his blog platform. They were already people HN was interested in reading. It's no surprise they're still people HN is interested in reading.

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rrbrambley 645 days ago | link

I don't think it's completely off topic. I'm not trying to be snarky, but he says "The world doesn’t need a slightly better Twitter, just as the world doesn’t need a slightly better ad model." as he writes on his slightly better blogging platform. I think there's always room for new and improved versions of existing services, but they just have to stand out and have the community behind them to succeed.

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jonny_eh 645 days ago | link

Especially since most innovation is "slightly better x". Facebook was just a slightly better social network, google a slightly better search engine. That's how great things start.

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dinkumthinkum 645 days ago | link

I think that is point was dead on. We don't need this crap. However, maybe he just doesn't listen to his advice. :) But, the advice is stll good.

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dr_ 645 days ago | link

There aren't many new York startups that are aimed at solving the so called serious problems you mention. A large number of them are focused on online fashion sales, with a mixed bag of other things. Foursquare is in NY, but it's mindset in terms of revenue appears to be no different than any company in the Valley. Tumblr hasn't really figured it out yet either. Hopefully this will change but as of now the various industries you are exposed to in NYC hasn't resulted in startups serving all of them. Otherwise you'd see a whole slew of financial startups but that hasn't been the case. The one that comes to mind at first is banksimple (or simple) which was trying to tackle a behemoth of an industry that needs change, but even they took off for Portland. Sometimes a revolution comes from the outside.

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achompas 645 days ago | link

I'm a big cheerleader for NY tech (hence why I live there now), but you see a different flavor of "goofy problems." Instead of social apps, you get advertising or fashion startups. Companies on the west coast (SpaceX, Tesla) are tackling big problems just like companies on the east coast (Foursquare, Tumblr) are tackling "goofy problems."

Ultimately, tackling serious problems involves understanding your own values. Some "non-serious" startups handle incredible architectural issues and produce amazing technology (memcached, Cassandra, Solr) that improves our lives in subtle ways. Similarly, serious startups produce can have high-risk, pie-in-the-sky goals (SpaceX) that may not materialize.

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mcmatterson 645 days ago | link

I fear michael may be misunderstanding the depth / underlying intent / happy follow-on effects from the app.net proposal. I don't see it as a 'better Twitter' so much as I see it as an app-friendly social network touchpoint, basically OpenFeint with less of a gaming bias. This is a separate consideration than how 'real-world' the product is, but one that nonetheless merits mention.

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lnanek2 645 days ago | link

I'm native NY/NJ, but have been in the SF area the past month for conferences and hackathons. I have to say that tech is much more mainstream here. Whereas hackathons in NYC are largely white guys, here you see a lot more women and other cultures involved. One group of Mexican participants put together a cool 5 player tank game running on a bunch of devices in many modes and all demo'ed it on stage.

An iPhone using business major friend here I was hanging out with picked up my Nexus 7 from a pile of devices at the side of my room and fell in love with it. Back in NYC there'd be much less interest and willingness to try something other than a fashionable, everyday-person-celebrated-and-marketed iPad.

So yes, there are blind spots in that people think the world in general is much more interested in esoteric tech (like APIs), but there are also much more real world things and histories getting dragged in and overlapping as well - much like how colleges and universities are always arguing that diversity is a strength worth biasing admissions toward.

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budu3 645 days ago | link

Can you please let the man at least launch first before you start tearing down the project?

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54mf 645 days ago | link

A better Twitter is insignificant, but a dating service with a gimmick isn't?

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