In 2007, my brother @startupandrew called to ask if I wanted to start a company with him. He needed a co-founder. I wanted to say yes but I didn't have a lot of savings and his startup ideas seemed kind of half-baked.
His first idea was a Fiverr-like website to match customers to businesses offering online services. He quickly gave up on that idea and started working on a secure mobile payments app. It was years ahead of its time but way too ambitious for founders with no banking connections.
By 2009, he was working on a lost-and-found service called SendMeHome. You'd buy stickers from SendMeHome with unique identifiers on them, then if your stuff got lost the finder would go to and contact you.
When this didn't get traction Andrew and his co-founder @JamesTamplin added a "story mode" where items could be passed from one person to another, with a post on the site for each person, a la They hoped an object would get to a celebrity like Bill Gates.
Here's me in grad school in 2009 making bacon in a SendMeHome frying pan. After I used it I was supposed to post about the experience and then pass it to someone else. Shockingly this company also failed to get traction!
Later in 2009, Andrew and James started working on a new idea: a service to add a Facebook-style chat box at the bottom of any site. I was skeptical. But in 2010, I hosted a discussion on my blog using the service, called Envolve.…
In 2010 someone firedbombed Andrew's car outside his and James's apartment in Palo Alto. Money was so tight they moved out and lived with our Aunt in the East Bay. When I visited him in January 2011, Andrew and I both slept her spare room. Andrew and James both seemed exhausted.
On June 27, 2011, Andrew started "International Bring Your Pineapple to Work Day" as a company holiday. A decade later, June 27 is recognized around the world as Pineapple Day.…
Envolve was not a total failure. It had some customers. But it wasn't growing quickly enough to cover their living expenses. They found it hard to scale because customers were constantly asking for custom modifications to integrate the chat with their own sites' login facilities.
So in late 2011, they pivoted again! Building Envolve taught Andrew a lot about how to build scalable real-time services. He used that knowledge to create a real-time database product called Firebase. I wrote about it in April 2012.…
Then everything started working. They got into Y Combinator in the summer of 2011, providing enough money to pay themselves a salary and hire a couple of employees. Here's Andrew (left) with two early employees in April 2012.
Firebase raised $1.1 million in 2012 and $5.6 million in 2013. When I visited Andrew in early 2014 they had a big office in San Francisco with about two dozen employees and space for a bunch more. Later that year they sold the company to Google.
Firebase is now a major Google cloud computing brand with hundreds of employees working on it. The brand now includes the original database product as well as a suite of other tools for mobile and web development.
Andrew stayed at Google for three years, made sure the product was positioned for long-term success, and then quit in 2017. He wasn't cut out to be a middle manager.
After leaving Google, Andrew was exhausted. He played a lot of video games and did a lot of traveling. We toured Central Europe together in the Summer of 2018.
Then in January 2020, he started a new company with several other Firebase veterans. I'm not allowed to tell you what they do but I've been using their product since October and it's great!
They are growing and looking to hire software engineers. You should apply! I am biased but I think my brother would be a fun guy to work for. It's a remote team so you can join them from anywhere in the US, no relocation needed.…
Here Andrew's co-founder @JamesTamplin explains the origins of Bring Your Pineapple to Work Day.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @binarybits

12 Jan
Mobileye, a leading vendor of autonomous vehicle technology, is basing its safety case on an elementary statistical fallacy: multiplying together two probabilities as if they're independent when they're not.
Mobileye is planning to build two different self-driving stacks—one based entirely on cameras and the other based entirely on radar and lidar. Then after testing the two separately, they'll combine them into one system.
The theory is that if one system has a 1/10,000 chance of crashing in any given hour and the other system also has a 1/10,000 chance of crashing, a combined system has a 1 in 100 million (10,000 times 10,000) chance of crashing per hour.
Read 6 tweets
12 Jan
The Senate's 50 Democrats (and Kamala Harris) have the power make the District of Columbia a state if they want to.…
DC statehood would also need a majority in the House of course but that should be doable. The House passed a DC statehood bill last year with every Democrat voting yes except Colin Peterson. Peterson lost his seat in November.…
Joe Manchin, previously one of the Senate's strongest Demodratic holdouts, now says he's open to DC statehood: "I don’t know enough about that yet. I want to see the pros and cons."…
Read 4 tweets
10 Jan
One of the many indefensible things about Ted Cruz's behavior last Wednesday is the fact that this supposed "constitutional conservative" was pushing a plan for an electoral commission that would have been wildly unconstitutional.
The Constitution says that electors shall vote in each state, then transmit their vote certificates to Congress. Then Congress counts them. There is no provision for Congress to send the certificates back to the states for a do-over.
So even assuming this electoral commission somehow got approval from Democrats and found clear evidence Trump won the election, it's not clear what Congress could do about it. The Constitution allows for only one electoral college vote and the winner is president. End of story.
Read 4 tweets
8 Jan
Maybe Twitter should alert it's users that some of the claims in this tweet are disputed.
I have emailed Twitter to ask whether the tweet violates Twitter's rule against hateful conduct. Image
Email from Twitter spokesperson: "This Tweet is not in violation of our policies." Cc: @jbarro Image
Read 4 tweets
19 Dec 20
There's an under-appreciated interaction between macroeconomics and manufacturing economics when it comes to renewable energy policy.
A basic factor driving progress in renewable energy is the learning rate: the more of something (batteries, solar panels, windmills) you make, the cheaper it gets.
In the early years, this was the policy rationale for heavily subsidizing green energy technology heavily even though it didn't otherwise pass a basic cost/benefit calculation.
Read 12 tweets
7 Dec 20
Waymo is in a weird place right now. They're now operating an honest-to-goodness commercial driverless taxi service. No safety drivers. No rider non-disclosure agreements. A pretty big service area (~50 square miles). But it's growing very very slowly.…
Three years ago, I thought that if Waymo "solved" the self-driving problem first, as seemed likely, its big challenge would be scaling up quickly enough to grab territory before other companies came to market. I was wrong.…
Waymo has driverless cars that can operating in most situations in the Phoenix suburbs. But for some reason they don't seem to be trying very hard to scale up. They haven't provided a clear answer about why not.
Read 14 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!