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Finishing

I start a lot of projects. I finish few of them. permalink

In soccer a forward's job is to finish; to put the ball in the back of the net. Goals are the only thing that matter. permalink

The theory when it comes to startups is to take a lot of shots with the hope that one of them will go in. Build a startup during a hack-a-thon. Ride a bus to Austin and by the time you arrive an LLC will have been formed. Its easy: just pursue absolutely anything and make sure you call it a startup. permalink

I don't subscribe to those theories. permalink

Good things take time. There are no short-cuts. permalink

There is a huge difference between working on a project because you want to say you're doing something and being obsessed with an idea you have to build. permalink

Also: not every good idea you have should be built. permalink

Now for an example. permalink

Cloudgram permalink

In the fall of 2008 I had a new idea: an email service for cloud based applications. At that time if you hosted an application on Amazon's servers and needed to send an email there weren't many options. Amazon's cloud was seen by the rest of the internet as a giant blacklisted entity. I presume many abused the ability to dynamically spawn servers with new IP addresses and soon entire octects were banned. If you wanted to send email you'd have to hit up SoftLayer, ServerBeach or The Planet and run your own dedicated hardware. This would not be a cheap option if all you needed it for was just to send email. permalink

I saw an opportunity to offer an email API that would be priced on a usage basis. Companies would use it to avoid the minimum dedicated cost of $72/month and keep their own deployment simple. This service would eliminate the need to maintain an email system and be vastly cheaper than the status quo. permalink

On December 11th, 2008 I bought the domain cloudgram.com. I figured CloudGram would be a good name: emails as telegram messages being sent through the cloud. permalink

My first version was actually an HTTP based API until I went to use it myself as a developer and found that it sucked. Then I realized that the API for email was really SMTP. I built an SMTP server with Java and OSGI. It would accept SMTP calls, increase the meter by one for the authenticating account and deliver the message. permalink

Everything worked and worked well. In January 2009 I had everything in place to launch this new... new.. startup? permalink

Did I really want to go through with CloudGram? I don't even give a fuck about email. What am I going to do: deliver email for a few years and hope I cash out? permalink

Sending email is such a pain. The further I dug the more I realized the industry was shit. You have to make deals with ISPs, get on whitelists and constantly haggle. permalink

The more I thought about it the more I realized that Amazon would eventually fill this hole and offer it as a service. This pain couldn't continue for much longer and they would beat the shit out of me on price. permalink

I ran the service for myself and a few other people in a long extended beta for almost a year. I never launched CloudGram. permalink

Delivering email is creatively bankrupt. I didn't want to be in that business. permalink

In the summer of 2009 a new startup called SendGrid came about with the same idea. They went on to raise $27.4 million dollars. They are a big company now. A former Oracle executive is now their CEO. They still fucking deliver email. permalink

Amazon released their own email service in 2010 at cut rates just as I had predicted. permalink

Taking a shot permalink

I now spend more time thinking about a project than actually developing it. permalink

I am about to release a project that I've been working on for 18 months. permalink

It is an idea I became obsessed with and had to build. I tried to talk myself out of doing it several times. I have thought out almost every detail ten times over. permalink

The biggest reason in favor of doing fans.fm is that it is a combination of all my passions all wrapped up into one idea. An idea that I would actually love to work on full time and see through. permalink

I haven't taken many shots lately but this one I am going to take and want to finish. permalink