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Β· 2 min read

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Speed of light is a fundamental constant in the universe. Speed of light in vacuum (c) is same in all inertial reference frames. This is a fundamental postulate of special theory of relativity.

Here's an illustration to explain this concept. Irrespective of the speed of the source of light or the observer, the speed of light is always the same. This is very different compared to other objects in the universe.

For example, if you are in a car moving at 100 km/hr and you throw a ball at 10 km/hr, the speed of the ball as observed by someone outside the car would be 110 km/hr. But this is not the case with light. The speed of light is always the same.


Why this is the case is a "mystery". But this has been confirmed by numerous experiments most famously by Michelson-Morley experiment.

You can consider it as a speed of casuality. Anything which affects anything else in the universe is limited by the speed of light.

What would be interesting to ponder is : How would physics be different if those rules were slightly different? e.g If c was a slightly smaller number? What if c was millions of light years per second?

So much of what we experience in this universe depends on values of these fundamental constants. What the world would have looked like if they were different?

Β· One min read

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Fear is a strange thing. It undermines our belief in ourselves. But it also protects us from doing things which can hurt us.

That is the reason, why evolution has selected this trait across generations.

If it has been preserved across generations of evolutions, it must be good - right? Well the answer may not be so simple.

More often than not, fear is a mental construct. It originates from our thoughts and torments us there.

Authors of famous books and series have also opined on it.

β€œFear is the path to the dark side … fear leads to anger … anger leads to hate … hate leads to suffering.”

β€” "The Phantom Menace," 1999

β€œI must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

― Frank Herbert, Dune

Β· 4 min read

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I recently came across a discussion on an online forum whether funding in startups is like "food" or "oxygen".

This intrigued me.

Why? Let me share more context.

So basically, the question was is fundraising or let's say investor capital like "Oxygen" as in you die if you don't have it? Or was it more like food? You can survive with less food for a good amount of time. Sometimes it may well be healthier for you. And eating more food may lead to myriad issues like obesity, diabetes, etc.

You don't die with less food​

If you think about it, you don't die with less quantity of food. You need an optimal amount of food to function at your best. Many would say occasional fasting is good for health.

Especially if you are in an environment like ours, where for many people, availability of food is not a problem.

Compare this to current environment where availability of venture capital is plenty, esp. in today's low interest rate regime. A fair question to ask is - are startups more at risk of "overeating" and developing diseases like obesity, diabetes or more at risk of dying without capital.

It also depends upon what kind of system a startup is. Is it an antifragile/self-regulating system like a human body? Which has systems in place to weather long periods of low food environment, or is it more like a factory which produces more output if you feed in with more input? Does pushing more capital into the startup lead to more output?

Or is capital like oxygen? If you reduce oxygen supply, you start feeling nauseaus and your brain doesn't function at the optimum level. And an increased level of oxygen increases your performance.

Startups - Like Factory or Human Body​

To me, startups are complex organisms with many areas of interdepending forces. Capital is just one part of it. The team and team motivation is another big piece on what a startup can achieve with a given amount of capital. Is the org a heavily bloated one or like a fit athlete who doesn't have extra flab on him? What is the market like - is there a natural pull for the startup's product?

Though startups are not really as antifragile as the human body. By defintion, a startup is an experimental business which still needs to prove itself. So, it is fragile by definition. And that's why more than 90% of startups fail.

But even then, capital seems more like food than oxygen. You can survive an extended period of low capital if you have a good team in place and users are loving what you make. Sometimes less capital may be a good thing. It makes you more agile and sharp. Hungrier. Makes your will stronger.

Of course, many founders would say that you need some capital to get started. And I agree.

But as one of our group partners in YC oftentimes told us, raising more capital doesn't mean that you have more runway. Having more capital sometimes leads you to burn it in different ways, try do multiple things simultaneously and distracts you from focusing on the core metrics.

Example from Economics​

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I recently found a great analogy for this in a presentation by the Norwegian Prime Minister. Norway is an oil-rich country and does well in all economic indicators like per capita GDP.

Such countries face something called The Oil Curse. Oil-rich countries - because they have a good source of income from oil, tend to become overspenders and heavily dependent on oil. Because of this, other areas of the economy suffers, and when oil output reduces they are not ready for the consequences.

This may sound brash but in his own words -

States which earn too much money, tends to spend too much too fast

Β· 3 min read

I had come across a tweet mentioning something about turpentine and Stripe. I remembered it had resonated with me at that point. But then I lost it.

Today, I went digging for it again. And yay, found it! This is the tweet thread I was looking for.

Written by a Stripe ex-employee, it explains certain key aspects of how Stripe works.

The one which struck me most was: Turpentine!

The context:

Picasso said, β€œwhen art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.” Stripe is obsessed with turpentine.

It's fun to talk about startups in terms of market size, trends, TAM, disruption, etc. Sounds cool, doesn't it?

But as I am getting more experience building one, I am realising that startups are more like knife fights in the back alley, rather than planned invasion. Everyday is a new challenge. You win at things you never dreamt of, and sometimes loose which you thought to be certain.

Who wins is decided by who is the most dogged and has the best tools at hand. And thats why turpentine! At a startup you are always looking for the cheapest turpentine. Anything which gives you an iota of advantage against the rest.

You can't get this by just paddling on the surface. You need to go deep. Really immerse yourself in the problem. What users are doing, where they are finding your product. Then only you find areas which may have been unexplored by others.

At the end of the day, in a fight - no matter who you are. You have to win the fight on that day. There are lot more details in the real world, then a plan on paper would show you.

A map is not a territory.

And thats what gives a startup an edge. Because the team has the will to win. Because they know they will die if they don't put their best fight. Because they refuse to say "ENOUGH".

Β· 2 min read

Dev communities thrive on meetups. These are places where you come to know about interesting things other people are working on, people working on them and build a professional and social network.

Before COVID hit the world, all my Saturday mornings were infallibly reserved for meetups. And Bangalore, being the tech hub it is, gives you a good buffet of meetups to choose from.

With coming of COVID though, things are a lot different. We are confined to our houses and dev communities are trying to figure out new, interesting ways to interact online. In this context, I was pleasantly, surprised when I came across a DevOps meetup which is organized on Animal Crossing. If you are not aware, Animal Crossingis a popular social simulation video game. Here is what wikipedia has to say about it:

Animal Crossing is a social simulationvideo game series developed and published by Nintendo and created by Katsuya Eguchi. In Animal Crossing, the player character is a human who lives in a village inhabited by various anthropomorphic animals, carrying out various activities such as fishing, bug catching, and fossil hunting.

I am pretty excited to see how this meetup will turnout. If you want to attend, just for the heck of it, here's the link

Β· 2 min read

I recently stumbled upon this interview from Andrew Ng, arguably one of the guys single handedly responsible for making Machine Learning popular and accessible.

In his interview, there is a beautiful excerpt which I want to highlight. When asked:

Do you have any helpful habits or routines?

He answers: Reading 6 research papers a week seems like a lot, but I think if one can read even one research paper per week, that will germinate lots of new ideas.

Especially for folks who operate in technical domains like I am (my startup is in a domain called observability, this practice would give them new ideas to think about, and possibly innovate on.

While entrepreneurs don't have the luxury to engage in deep research and compare results, they could learn a lot just by grokking through the research papers and at least understand what the basic concepts are. And then let the human mind do its magic πŸ¦„. May be on some opportune day, when you are talking to a customer, hearing his issues and wondering how to solve it, one of these ideas will present itself before you. Boom! πŸ’₯

Adrian Colyer, who has been CTO at VMWare and currently is venture partner at Accel, has actually brought this idea to practice. He runs a blog - The Morning Paper where he discusses interesting computer science research paper every week.

There's also a meetup group which discusses research papers periodically and has chapters in many cities of the world. Fortunately they also have a chapter in Bangalore. I will try to attend one their meetups, once in-person meetups are back again, hopefully 🀞

So, which research paper are you picking today?

Β· 3 min read

Splunk recently released Remote Work Insights - Executive Dashboards. An organization can create interesting dashboards by collecting data from tools like Zoom, Okta and the VPN software. This can enable executives to figure out how well their remote tools are working and where people are spending time.

For example you can create dashboards like

  1. Number of Zoom meetings active in the org at a time, classified by type of meeting (Scheduled meeting, personal meeting room, etc.)
  2. Duration of zoom meetings and a histogram of its duration - This can suggest how long are meetings going, how much time an individual is spending on meetings.
  3. Are meetings getting extended from their scheduled time - Can help executives figure out if time in meetings are being utilised well. Zoom meeting etiquettes training can be introduced to check that.
  4. Single Sign On systems like Okta can tell which apps are people using most. This could help executives detect which SaaS tools are actually being used and which are lying idle. This can help rationalise their SaaS spending.
  5. Integrating with VPNs can also tell number of people logged in via VPN, location from where they are logging in, etc.

Splunk Remote Insights - Dashboard Now, Splunk had to face lots of flak because of this. People got enraged that this is a corporations trying to extract work from their employee, that too when everybody is struggling on their own. But if you look carefully, I am not sure that is the objective. They are not trying to monitor if people are doing their jobs. They are just trying to figure out if people have enough access to do the work, are they facing any difficulties, etc.

It is very similar to how you monitor an app or service. Remote working tools like Zoom, VPNs, etc. are providing a service. How do we figure out if they are working well for the employees? If certain location shows high number of failures in VPN logging, there might be some issue with the VPN provider or network of that area. If people are spending too much time on meetings, then there needs to be some sort of training to be more productive over Zoom.

Since, this is a new experience for many teams, monitoring the tools more closely only helps to figure out issues and solve it.

This is what I call "Tools Observability" and we get more remote friendly, this will get more important.

Β· 2 min read

Today I attended a SaaS Virtual Happy Hour meetup organized by Nathan Latka of GetLatka. It was a really fun event. The attendees were SaaS founders and investors. Every few minutes you would be paired with a random person in the group and you will chit-chat for 3-4 minutes.

There were ~70-80 people who were live for ~1 hr event. I met 5 people from different corners of the world. Poland, London, New York City & Germany. Two of them had recently been to India. One even has a dev team in India.

It was curious meeting people from different parts of the world whom I would not normally meet. You could say that 3-4 minutes was a very small time to chat on any thing in detail - but it was good to get to know about the other person.

The session was powered by this SaaS product - . Do check it out.

A remote only world is creating new platforms and formats of interaction. It is also making the world flatter. Since, there are no local meetups now, I can now attend any virtual meetup, webinar happening around the world.

For someone who is building a global SaaS product, this is really a blessing πŸ˜€

New formats of virtual interaction are emerging with extended lockdowns :)

Β· 2 min read

I was recently watching a TV series, Billions. It is broadly around the life of a hedge fund manager.

In one of the episodes, Connerty, who plays a US attorney engages a performance coach to improve his performance. He is going through a rough patch professionally and wants to win more rather than lose.

For one of the sessions, he was swamped with work and sends an email to his coach suggesting that he couldn't come for the session today. This infuriates the coach and he comes rushing into his office. What he says to him is rather profound.

Connerty said to him that it was impossible for him to show up as he is swamped in work.

To which the coach replies:

Are. You. Dead? Because then, may be it would have been impossible for you to show up. There is always a story to tell yourself. You say that word impossible to me again one more time, and I will kick it out of your mouth along with your teeth. It is true. Many times we tell ourselves why something is not possible, why we can't do it. Why something is so hard. But the fact is that unless we are dead, we can always do something. anything. Its all about the story we tell ourselves.

So, next time, when you are telling yourself why something can't be done. Think again πŸ™‚

Β· 2 min read

As we start building a devops tools business, understanding the user is everything for us. Our users are developers and site reliability engineers who make the software in production, work as it should.

The important point to understand about developers is that they are very curious by nature and always trying to learn new things. They operate in a domain which is very dynamic. The tech flavor of the season changes every few years and they need to keep updating their skills to stay relevant.

Also, they smell any marketing or selling from far. You just can't "sell" to developers. Period. They will only use your product, if it makes life easier for them, saves time or peaks their curiosity. And that's where the role of developer advocates comes in.

Developer advocates help other developers learn about the product by writing blogs about it, giving demos in meetups or helping people with their use cases. They are not trying to sell anything. Rather they just want their product to be easily understood by other developers. They also play a huge role in giving user feedback to product teams.

This roles is pretty new in the Indian SaaS ecosystem. I don't think we have as much experience about it, as we have for inside sales or landing page optimization.

I have created a public twitter list, where I am adding some great dev advocates I came across on twitter. Would love suggestions on who else to add here.

Looking forward to learn more about how can we help developers be more product and do their tasks with ease.