1. Reformatting and content archival (lag times of hours to days are no prob).
As an example, I put together http://yareallyarchive.com to archive comments of a ridiculously prolific commenter on a site I follow. I needed the content of his comments, as well as the tree structure to shake out all the irrelevant comments leaving only the necessary context. Real time isn't an issue. Up until recently it ran on a weekly cron job. Now it's daily.
2. Aggregating and structuring data from disparate sources (real time can make you money).
I work in commercial real estate. Leasing websites are shitty and the information companies are expensive and also kinda shitty. Where possible we scrape the websites for building availability but a lot of time that data is buried in PDFs. For a lot of business domains, being able to scrape data in a structured way from PDFs would be killer if you could do it! I guarantee the industries chollida1 mentioned want the hell out of this too. We enter the PDFs manually. :(
Updates go in monthly cycles, timeliness isn't a huge issue. Lag times of ~3-5 business days are just fine especially for the things that need to be manually entered.
This is exactly the sort of scraping that Pricenomics is doing . They charge $2k/site/month. Hopefully y'all are making that much.
3. Bespoke, one shot versions of #2.
One shot data imports, typically to initially populate a database. I've done a ton of these and I hate them. An example is a farmer's market project I worked on. We got our hands on a shitty national database of farmers markets, I ended up writing a custom parser that worked in ~85% of cases and we manually cleaned up the rest. The thing that sucks about one shot scrape jobs from bad sources is that it almost always means manual cleanup. It's just not worth it to write code that works 100% when it will only be used once.
Make any part of structuring scraped data easier and you guys are awesome!
Anything that is released at a certain time on a fixed calendar, you can bet that multiple parties are trying to scrape it as fast as possible.
If you can scrape this data( the easy part), put it in a structured format( somewhat hard) and deliver it in under a few seconds(this is where you get paid) then you can almost name your price.
It's an interesting niche that hasn't been computerized yet.
If you can't get the speed then the first 2 steps can still be useful to the large number of funds that are springing up using "deep learning" techniques to build a portfolio over timelines of weeks to months.
To answer the question of: > Wouldn't this require a huge network of various proxy IPs to constantly fetch new data from the site without being flagged and blacklisted?
This is why I gave the caveat of only looking at data that comes out at certain times. That way you only have to hit the server once, when the data comes out, or atleast a few hundred times in the seconds leading up to the data's release:)
- Product pricing data: Many companies collect pricing data from e-commerce sites. Latency and temporal trends are important here. Believe it or not, there are still profitable companies out there that hire people to manually scrape websites and input data into a database.
- Various analyses based on job listing data: Similar to what you do by looking at which websites contain certain widgets, you can start understanding job listing (using NLP) to find out which technologies are used by which companies. Several startups doing this. Great data for bizdev and sales. You can also use job data to understand technology hiring trends, understand the long-term strategies of competitor's, or us them as a signal for the health of a company.
- News data + NLP: Crawling news data and understanding facts mentioned in news (using Natural Language Processing) in real-time is used in many industries. Finance, M&A, etc.
- People data: Crawl public LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to understand when people are switching jobs/careers, etc.
- Real-estate data: Understand pricing trends and merge information from similar listings found on various real estate listing websites.
- Merging signals and information from different sources: For example, crawl company websites, Crunchbase, news articles related to the company, LinkedIn profile's of employees and combine all the information found in various source to arrive at meaningful structured representation. Not limited to companies, you can probably think of other use cases.
In general, I think there is a lot of untapped potential and useful data in combining the capabilities of large-scale web scraping, Natural Language Processing, and information fusion / entity resolution.
Getting changing data with low latency (and exposing it as a stream) is still very difficult, and there are lots of interesting use cases as well.
Hope this helps. Also, feel free to send me an email (in my profile) if you want to have a chat or exchange more ideas. Seems like we're working on similar things.
I have two main recurring scrapes:
- political donations. Every donation to a political party in my province above ~$300 is posted publicly on a gov't website (in a PDF). I use the data to run machine learning algorithms to predict who is most likely to want to donate to my party.
- public service expenses. My province has a "sunshine list" which publishes the salaries and contracts for all senior government officials. We grab it weekly (as once someone quits the gov't, their data disappears).
One tool that you could consider building is an easily accessible expense website, where people can enter the name of a public official and see all their expenses, including a summary of the total amount spent. There have been a number of massive expenses here in Canada related to this [1, 2].
 http://news.nationalpost.com/tag/alison-redford/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Senate_expenses_scanda...
No doubt the companies would justify this by saying e-mail isn't secure enough. The side-effect that it'll stop many users bothering to look at their bill isn't why they do it at all, no sir.
I've been considering making a web scraper that goes to the phone company, electricity company, gas company, broadband company, electronic payslips, bank, stockbroker, AWS and so on; logs in with my credentials; downloads the PDF (or html) statements; and sends them by e-mail.
Of course, such a web scraper would need my online banking credentials, so I'm not in the market for a software-as-a-service offering.
I've started working on a new website that will use data scraped from several vbulletin forums. I've found that even 2 vbulletin forums running the same version may have completely different html to work with. I'm assuming that it's the templates they are using that changes it so much.
I'm setting up the process so that the webscraping happens from different locations than the server were the site is hosted. The scraping scripts upload to the webserver via an api I've built for this. Mostly did this because for now I'm just using a free pythonanywhere account and their firewall would block all of this without a paid account. And then also none of these sites would see the scraping traffic coming from my website, etc...
Well-formed HTML is the exception rather than the rule and page navigation is often "interesting". Sometimes the school's system will use software from companies like Sungard or PeopleSoft, but there's customization within that... and of course, there's no incentive for the schools to aggregate this information in a common format (hence MyEdu's initiative), so there are plenty of homegrown systems. In short, there's no one-size-fits-all solution.
* NOTE: If you do attempt this, I insist that you teach throttling techniques from the very start. Some schools will IP block you if you hit them too hard; other schools have crummy infrastructure and will be crushed by your traffic. Scrape responsibly!
Managed to bag a lot of stuff over the last couple of years for not much money.
If someone bags this up as a service I'd pay for it.
I have a dream to use something closer to OCR against a rendered page, rather than parsing DOM. That way it would be less custom, and I could say, for instance, "find 'protein', the thing to the right of that is the protein grams".
I, personally, don't know how to do this, but I'd be willing to pay for a more generic way to scrape nutrition data (email in profile :) )
I'm one of the team behind the crawl itself. Last month (July) we downloaded 4 billion web pages. Thanks to Amazon Public Datasets, all of that data is freely distributed via Amazon S3, under a very permissive license (i.e. good for academics, start-ups, businesses, and hobbyists). If your hardware lives on EC2, you can process the entire thing quickly for free. If you have your own cluster and many many terabytes of storage, you can download it too!
People have used the dataset to generate hyperlink graphs, web table content, microdata, n-gram and language model data (ala Google N-grams), NLP research on word vectors, and so on, so there's a lot that can be done!
: http://commoncrawl.org/: http://webdatacommons.org/: http://statmt.org/ngrams: http://nlp.stanford.edu/projects/glove/
Here is an example of the (un-finished) side-project: http://recappd.com/games/2014/02/07
I'm far from the only person scraping this data. Look at sites liked http://vorped.com and http://nbawowy.com for even better examples.
Anyway... it turns out that flight APIs are ridiculously non-existent. I ended up scraping two different airline sites, but since it was against their terms, I never took the site any further.
One thing I am having a hard time scraping backlinks to websites. Currently using bing but they are paid after like 5000 queries. I really wonder how other companies like seomoz do this daily against millions of websites.
pre-crawled copies with distributed processing platform could be cool. you could come up with a better search engine with programmable rules that are edited collaboratively (like wikipedia)
but twitter is so vast you may want to categorize account.
But reddit is a good source for a lot of info.
maybe instead of trying to change up the content, try to change up the method. ie. do a talk on running crawlers/scrapers to seed your database at an interval. (instead of just "scraping").
2. Gathering basic data that should be freely available anyway (like currency exchange rates, global weather, etc.). Always this is done carefully and with a light touch, with maximum respect for load inferred on targeted systems. Again, haven't bothered in about five years.
3. Automating content acquisition. For search engines, media libraries, etc. This is more like ten years ago. These days there's so little call for it... maybe if I ran a boutique hotel chain in a copyright-isn't-respected jurisdiction and wanted to provide a fat library of in-room entertainment...
- cygwin, plus the cygwin X server, plus urxvt (for the 256 color support, makes a big difference for old eyes with syntax coloring), plus tmux. I generally do as much as possible with a urxvt full screen running tmux (which is now a first class citizen of cygwin, yay).
- For things that must be windowed, like Excel etc, try Winsplit revolution. It's not FOSS, but you're already on Windows.
Unfortunately Winsplit can be had from all sorts of downloader sites, and it's hard to know which ones are safe. This article has a link to the author's site, but it goes to the wayback machine (which still seems to have a download). I don't remember where I got it. http://alternativeto.net/software/winsplit-revolution/
That link also has some alternatives to winsplit, maybe something there will like you.
In my experience, it is very difficult to get data science and analysis work (except in tech/web analytics) unless you understand a specific industry segment. I have been able to get data analysis contract work by focusing on a specific industry niche.
Identify a niche, do data analysis in that niche on your own, share your findings with the people working in your niche, participate on forums in your niche. Stay patient, keep diving in data analysis for your niche, and leads will come to you. Clients need to know you exist, you know their business, and you have unique/interesting insights that can help them in their business.
Become a data-backed industry specialist instead of just a generic data scientist/analyst. Kaggle, Elance and oDesk are not worth spending time on for data analysis work unless you see a project in your targeted niche.
(laracasts.com is a great place to get your feet wet)
I don't know of it's too late to get tickets yet since these are late October and September. It's good to check up on these early in the year, just in case.
Edit: On Northeastern, you can check out last years highlights to see if this is what you're looking for http://2013.northeastphp.org/
Let me know if you have any questions about how I got it to work (for the most part, the biggest issue I see you encountering is encrypting drives on OSX).
I've just got it to a point where I've been dogfooding it for a year or so, and feel comfortable promoting it more, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that (other than packaging it for various distros, and submitting it to them).
Beside the maintenance regularity on it, what's wrong with it?
Bacula is actively developed. http://www.bacula.org/git/cgit.cgi/bacula/log/?h=Branch-7.0 No risk of being unmaintained at some point, since they build commercial stuff on top of community Bacula.
Now: visit https://news.ycombinator.com/news , and find several titles interesting, so I click on them and read them. Rarely do I find it necessary to visit https://news.ycombinator.com/newest to get to titles I find interesting.
There is nothing specific about the experience that I can pinpoint other than that my interest in front-page articles is significantly higher now. My default go-to hacker news page is now /news and not /newest
Write a Rate Counting Proxy Service for a REST API that does the following:
* Stores state of requesting IP and a count of API calls made.* Makes appropriate tradeoffs to limit I/O per request.* Highly concurrent* Maintains counts offline when shutting down/starting up.
I was asked to do the assignment in Java, despite not really knowing a lot of Java. It was a fun weekend project and I've continued to use it as a good "learning project" in other languages.
For example, many folks might (or used to) think that building out a simple GUI with 3 buttons in C++ was easy (until they saw the code and didn't understand most of it compared to building an integer loop that adds 2 numbers).
IMO, go for something simple like advanced math functions. The basics almost always exist in most languages, so try out something like a rate calculator, etc.
Just curious, is there a particular language you were thinking of learning?
If your doubtful about what way of disclosure would be the most prudent (and you sure don't want the disclosure to backfire on yourself) get in touch with someone who's bigger and has lawyers backing you up (like the EFF but that's just the first idea that popped into my mind, any tech news site might even pay you for exclusive coverage)
1. Automation will have a big impact on medicine, but it will be an ongoing process, not something that happens overnight. If you're doing a joint MD/PhD(EE) program, then you'll presumably at least have some technical qualifications that would make you more appealing to a company that is working towards the automation of healthcare.
2. You might be able to start a business on the side, but not as a resident unless residencies become immensely less stressful and time-consuming. Part-time work as an oncologist may be hard to negotiate early in your medical career, but I am not a doctor (though I did investigate similar questions a few years back, and this was the impression I got from speaking with doctors and MD/PhDs). Financial feasibility... as an MD/PhD, you shouldn't have much in the way of personal debt (since the PhD covers the MD tuition as well), and I wouldn't expect you to be dipping too close to the poverty line.
Realistically, it depends a lot on whether you have a specific business idea in mind and what your drive looks like. Those aren't things that you can plan very well 20 years in advance.
From what I have seen, physicians are generally not tech-savvy and are fairly behind-the-curve when it comes to automation. Even many of the things that are currently possible to automate, like EMRs and some aspects of diagnosis, aren't. Since any technology that replaces what a physician does has to be approved by the FDA, it moves very slowly. I think it is a long time before large numbers of physicians are put out of work by technology. Especially since the quantity of MDs is artificially limited.
That said, radiology is probably one of the first specialties that will be automated. Already, some image recognition algorithms have been shown to outperform trained radiologists at recognizing, e.g., cancer. So, if you're purely after job security, it might not be the best specialty to choose.
But with a tech-heavy background like an EE, you have plenty of options. MD/PhD + tech background is a perfect preparation for research, if you're into that. Or you can help develop systems to automate various aspects of medicine. Although it will put people out of work, in my opinion automation in medicine is a very good thing for society because algorithms don't make mistakes (other than the inherent limitations of the algorithm), don't get tired, and you don't have to pay them, so automation should lower soaring health care costs. You can always go into a biotech firm as well.
To answer 2), yes, physicians (at many places) have good flexibility with their hours. The only thing you might have to worry about is who owns IP, especially if you work for a university health care system.
I think you want to go into MD-PhD, but I would suggest against it if you are more interested in the technology than what is best for patients. A lot of technologists are having problems conceptualizing this because they don't understand the limitations of current technology and what dealing with patients entails. Instead of trying to be a leader in this type of field you should focus more on potential problems technology can solve much better for patients by improving outcomes and decreasing costs. The biggest problem in medicine right now are the insurance companies and healthcare administration practices which are quite costly and provide little patient benefit.
1.) Technology is only going to have as big of a impact on medicine as doctors and patients allow. If you want to make an impact on healthcare focus on developing technology where you can convince doctors that outcomes and costs are better. If you look at past clinical research done, a lot of technology did not produce the beneficial outcomes perceived by the inventors. Clinicians are skeptical of technology without proper evidence suggesting its usefulness. Your technology will have to navigate this system.
2) MD-PhD gives you a lot of flexibility with doing this type of thing, but I would suggest that you focus more on helping patients than building a business. Likewise, I would suggest trying to become more involved at an academic hospital that could support your intellectual property pursuits, give you access to the patients your technology can help, and help find the resources you need for new developments. Neurosurgeons with engineering backgrounds are probably the most successful in this respect.
You have a long ways to go and the journey is not easy by any means. Good luck. Questions are welcomed.
As Xaa has written, most doctors are not focused on technology. They will use it, understand it but especially the older ones do not embrace the possibilities automation or innovation can offer. That coupled with slow development and access to the market makes us lag behind other high-tech/high-impact industries (for example aviation).
Do not underestimate how hard it is for automation to completely take over a doctors job. In 50 years we will still need radiologist. The tools you will develop will support your and others workflows, making healthcare better. And if it replaces a certain task, others will arise, as for example radio frequency ablation has a growing role in oncology. (and is often done by a radiologist!)
Furthermore there are legal implications. Surgery will not be completely automated (fire and forget)in the next decades, simply because of this. A surgeon always has to be present. For example: the most chosen approach for robotics in orthopedics is assisted surgery, where you move the tool and the robot blocks you from making bad moves.
So, as an MD/PhD you will be a bridge between two completely different cultures. I sometimes joke that the engineers we talk to have a solution for a non-existing problem and doctors no technical solution for an existing problem. It's actually really hard to understand each others fields. So in this you are valuable!
You seem very motivated! I can only draw conclusions on my choice, but I can recommend it! If you have any questions ask away.
I'm waiting until Sept before I jump in with Swift but that's only because I've got one more release before iOS 8. After that, I'll move to Swift for all my new code.
In this case I think it changed hands to the building owner. They failed to pay the rent so I think pretty much everything inside changed hands as there was a bailiffs notice on the door.
It looks like the new company which is in there is actually re-using their old tables and chairs.
My suggestion is to go for the blue ocean. Either blog in a sphere that is not crowded, or be significantly different than any existing player.
Easier said than done maybe, but have a goal in mind and strive to be the absolute best. I dont agree with the "just write".
Here are some blogs to read to get you started:
It won't make a blind bit of difference initially but if you expand, so will tooling and deployment costs and investors don't like that. Anything that takes off the bottom line is a problem. Microsoft licensing, particularly dev tools and SQL is incredibly expensive and an order of magnitude more expensive on deployment and diagnostic time than anything else.
We're like that now. Our SQL licensing is shaping our architecture not on technical merit but avoiding core license costs. That is beyond bad but we can't justify a 200k spend on licenses and kit to get rid of 2008R2.
Inevitably bits of Python are now appearing around the edges of the product and trying to stab the core. There are a couple of postgresql machines doing ancillary work. All the staff are slowly moving their operational task over because there isn't a purchase process.
This is the price of success though :)
Edit: just to add that the last two companies I worked for are Python/java/postgres houses now after being end to end MS outfits. The staff change over the lifecycle of a product. You can afford better people after time and better people seem to prefer to use other platforms even if they market themselves as .Net people.
Edit 2: also once you're locked in, volume licensing looks cost efficient. Then after a couple of yeara you get a call from the sales guys at MS who want to do a 'soft audit' (which it says they can so in the VL agreement). Then battle commences between MS, yourselves and the disty who handles your VL over how much you owe. This usually starts at 150k-ish for an SME and your ops team will be down for days whilst they work that down. Our liability was less than 10k which is within the VL safe zone but other companies are less lucky. Also the VL settlement says you can't discuss it but fuck them - the company this was against is dissolved.
Actually I look at my post and I couldn't possibly recommend it. If we'd started differently we could afford to be employ and sponsor postgres core team staff for example and gave second to none support and a positive impact on the community. Instead, pockets are lined elsewhere.
There are of course licensing costs if you run on Windows and don't use MONO but these shouldn't really be an issue in comparison to all your other costs
Also there are a lot of ASP.Net/C# developers around (just look at odesk) which will help you build your team faster (unlike Ruby or Scala developers, which are great languages, just harder to recruit and also attract higher wages).
My advice... build a proof on concept as quickly as possible - if .net is your thing then use that vs. wasting time learning something else. The chances are that your concept may need to be reworked so why waste time...
It didn't come up until their senior engineer said we should rewrite everything in Angular.js and Java. The tech management guys quickly said, "Sure, maybe, but for the foreseeable future, we will SSO between the two systems and plan for deeper integration later."
Hands on engineers care a lot about tech choices and sometimes have actual good reasons. At the business level, nobody cares as long as you can meet the business need.
This hits hiring as well. Someone mentioned the quantity of .NET programmers, and while this is true the quality is extremely, extremely poor on average. Having had to hire .NET programmers, the best success we have had, result wise, is to hire !.NET programmers (e.g. the hiring process started being about abstract problems that could be solved with anything, etc) and let them loose with C#/etc. If we limited ourselves to the .NET skillset we got tonnes of applications, almost all of which were terrible.
But, as perspective, MS Dev tools cost about $10K per dev + $3K per year per dev after the first. Engineers costs $100K+ per year. +10% productivity covers the tools. If it costs you a month to retool or saves you a little on salary or lets you hire a little easier, you have paid for the tools. So what matters are things where you get x3 productivity or x3 better ability to hire.
Also, I think you are asking the wrong question. The problem you are trying to solve drives the platform decision and language (even DB) are only a small part of the equation. Amazon works just fine with C#/.Net and it is cheap to free at first. To get a fair comparison at scale, you need to include the price of EC2 instances against a dedicated self-hosted database server. Depending on your application, you'll get very different answers.
In your shoes (based on limited info), I would try to get into the BizSpark Cloud program. It is free MS software plus a big credit on Azure for three years. Then count on the price war between Amazon/Google/Azure to keep prices in line.
The software world is so diverse now that you could never predict who would be interested. If you ended up writing your product in a JVM language, you may end up with a Ruby suitor, etc. It's always best to just use the tool that you'll be most productive with, and will result in the best product.
I make my PoCs with Python on Google's App Engine. It's zero management and any individual idea is far more likely to fail than to be an overwhelming success, so it's reasonable to think about costs if and when the idea gains traction.
Another thing you should consider is how the stack you pick will affect your ability to hire great talent in your region.
Note: I really hate .Net (and Windows) but these are not decision one makes based on passion.
Use what gets the job done, think a little about scalability and modularity from the start. Don't optimise until you have plenty of data. Over thinking things like this will prevent you from the initial release.
If it works, great. But like all projects, you might have to throw away significant portions of your system away to grow. Being too tied to one specific technology will defeat you.
It's all about the product and users.
You don't want to be struggling to show hello world on a page with an unknown framework compared to building your actual product with a language you know.
I've written many projects in PHP and .Net.
My latest startup is all .Net and the right choice.
For example, I would not work for a company whose stack is built on top of PHP or .NET, regardless of pay. Not because these are "bad" technologies (in fact, they are a lot more stable than the hot technologies, often resulting in shorter time to market and cheaper labor), but simply because working with these technologies doesn't benefit me as much personally/professionally as working with some of the upcoming frameworks. I probably wouldn't enjoy my work too much either. To quote rubiquity from another HN thread, "people that work for other people aren't trying to build that business, they're trying to build themselves within that business."
I'm a .net dude at a startup though and to be fair long term costs should be factored in, but can be mitigated. For one BizSpark is an absolute must to get started, and once you graduate there are the Action Packed for a few hundred dollars a year.
I would however suggest you look rather at using oss where possible even from . Net. We have used MySQL, Mongodb and redis on Linux because it keeps scaling costs down, and to be frank they' re better supported on the platform.
We also leverage BitBucket and TeamCity rather than TFS for cost reasons.
Having said that both Azure and AWS have fairly scalable windows and SQL hosting services.
Sign up for Bizspark and you don't have to worry about licensing for 3? years.
Personally get to market fast, fast, fast. Between dreaming and loss of velocity meaning stalling... You just need to keep constantly moving forward.
Rob Walling's HitTail product was for the longest time an classic ASP app, he purchased, revised, and iterated on the product without switching the stack. Only recently did he rewrite the app in Rails, when it made sense to do so.
The primary concern, if you are funding this and building this yourself, is getting to market. Each day is coming out of your pocket. Choose the technology stack that gets you off the ground fastest. A suitor is not going to reject your company because you aren't using the "hot" technologies.
The stack really doesn't matter and should be least of your concerns at this stage. I used to work for company whose stack was .NET. They got acquired a year back for 1.6 B dollars.
I don't think a potential suitor would be put off by your choice of technology, but if your choice of technology slows your growth, then that will definitely put off a potential acquirer.
You don't want to put yourself in a position where you have to buy another SQL Server license instead of hiring a developer, or use the developers you have to invent contrived architectures in order to reduce licensing costs.
If there is any chance you might run into that kind of problem before getting acquired, I would rather bite the bullet now and get started on a platform that doesn't artificially limit my architectural choices.
I am currently working on a start-up where we started with .NET running on Azure and SQL server with Android and iOS clients.
After going through some realistic usage patterns and the cost of licensing, we ended up deciding to switch over to MongoDB/Python and Linux VMs.
It was painful to do the switch and the time we lost was not insignificant. However, in our case the time lost was a fraction of the future operating costs so we bit the bullet.
The stack you know is the best stack to use. After that, the stack that costs you the least is the best one to use :)
If you are truly successful at some point you will need to rewrite and you can change to a different stack then if it makes sense (it will be painful, but hopefully by then it means you will have the resources to do so)
If you have users, lots of it, it trumps everything.
I have friends who hated PHP ended up joining Facebook.
Get to market ASAP.
Getting acquired is the least of your worries.
If you not a technical founder and your goal is being acquired than technology does matter. For example, if you are in the market where, Oracle or Salesforce are potential acquirers then do not use .Net. Be more SQL / Java oriented.
And if your end-goal is getting revenue and profit, then it does not matter.
For that reason .net doesn't seem to fly much in the B2C area, but is quite common for B2B stuff.
There are a ton of developers doing .NET or Java EE for large companies everywhere. Having that talent pool available is more convenient than having to recruit in more obscure platforms.
It's about making something people want -- even if you have to do it using clipboards, rubber bands, and duct tape. If they want it, you can figure out the tech later. That's the easy part. The hard part is connecting with people you can help.
There's supposed to be an OSX client, but I haven't used it.
No. They're not. You don't get to screw around with other people's lives and continue to possess the title of "good guy". If they were good guys, you would be receiving tens of thousands of dollars for your difficulties, and such would have enough of a runway on that such that you wouldn't need to ask us for advice. Please do us all a favor and let us know who they are beyond "a YC startup" so that none of us find ourselves in your shoes.
As it stands, if you had one of the other offers you were interested in, let them know that the company that you had taken reneged, and that you would love to work with them. Hiring good engineers is hard (and expensive) enough that any decent company won't mind being your second choice.
1. Those jobs may still be open, reasonable people wouldn't hold taking another job against you. Work is work, and those who step back into discussion with you will show you a reasonableness that you will value more than before.
2. Situations like this is why sign-ing bonuses were invented. If you're COO of anything, you should also be able to negotiate a proper separation agreement, something like 6 months severance after 6 months of service. The signing bonus covers the initial bump, and then everyone has a window to see if things are copacetic. After that, it's a real relationship with consequences for dissolution.
3. You should be interviewing and considering companies as much as they're evaluating you. There's gotta be more to this story, some of which may be evident as you ponder what really happened. You've gotta develop that antennae. Asking to speak to a company's founders or advisors is a reasonable thing to do, certainly for a COO role that involves international relocation.
4. The "best guys" I've ever worked for f*cked me or our companies over. It's an important qualification to an extent, but character and vision and stability are secondary factors that will wag the dog, so to speak. Especially in startups. Startups are risky, and not always due to market forces or the brilliance of the business idea. Give yourself a good long notch in your work belt.
Other than that, I agree with everyone who is saying to get back in touch with the offers you turned down. Even if they've all hired someone else already, talking to people who wanted to hire you in the recent past is a great way to kick off a job search.
You have a masters in CS and 6 years of management experience. You are so far from fucked.
(2) Reach out again to the managers behind some of your past job offers. We have hired people who previously passed on us then had the other gig fall through or run out of funding. Many of those old offers will reappear and you'll be fine.
-- Treating co-founders and employees with fairness and respect.
-- Not behaving in a way that damages the reputation of his/her company or of YC.
-- Keeping your word, including honoring handshake deals.
-- Generally behaving in an upstanding way.
The OP made a serious accusation against a YC company. I assume YC can pretty easily figure out which company this is. I would expect that YC would investigate and take action if warranted.
If you got this job, it's extremely likely that you will get another. Don't get me wrong, it's going to suck to explain to people you promoted the startup to that you actually don't work there after all, but it's not the end of the world.
I was given a job offer at Pixar (back when Pixar made their own hardware). I really wanted to go there but my first son was born and I just didn't feel Pixar was quite stable enough so I turned the job down. Turned out I was right because, if I had taken the job, I would have learned Pixar was getting out of the hardware business and I would have been let go two weeks after starting.
The job I took instead was with Silicon Graphics. I was hired for my video expertise. Was sent to training, set up in a local office, and then the company did a re-organization and my new boss was in Dallas instead of Detroit. My new boss decided he wanted a Fortran programmer and not a video expert so, three months after hire, I'm gone.
These are not "good guys". They are at best short-sighted, unprepared, and unprofessional. Hiring decisions are important and difficult; the best spin I can see is that they do not know who they need and are very unprepared for this step. (Want a worse spin? Someone they know has suddenly become available and they wish to give them the employee #1/Coo badge.) This behavior is a big red flag.
(I've been in similar situations before---I'm thinking of a research group at ORNL right now---but rescinding an offer is significantly worse.)
As other people have said, don't worry about your personal situation. Most of your contacts will likely have understood your original decision and find the thing offensive as well.
On the other hand, I don't think you'll be able to convince your wife to move to the US again. Tell her we're not all assholes, though.
Mentor whiplash gets the founders all frothy that they need to do X, Y, and Z _immediately_ or their company will fall apart. Unfortunately, it changes to A, B, and C a week later after meetings with another 30 people. These founders aren't bad people. They just have no idea what they're doing. They got shoved into this crazy new accelerator experience, and they're being told by their heroes that they need to XYZ and ABC immediately, and they freak out and they make decisions too quickly.
Founders joining accelerators, do yourself a favor: the minute you think you NEED to hire one of those first employees, wait a week. Wait 2. Chat with some people informally. Don't setup a coffee meeting and ambush them with your whole team. Just breathe and take your time. Building your team is the most important thing you are ever going to do. This is not cliche. The process of building one, especially that initial core team, should be respected. Talk to some people. Do some contracts with them. Take it slow.
guybrushT, this sucks for you more than most given that you (and your wife!) were moving from another country. The founders should have been more careful. If you still wanna move to the states, I'd more than happy to introduce you to a bunch of startups in Boulder. We're always looking for developers here. Shoot me an email: ryan at ramen dot is.
If you got accepted a job offer, and within 2 weeks got a job offer for more money, and at your dream company, would you feel obligated to stay with your initial decision?
If you made the rational (but arguably unethical choice), do you think your reputation should be tarnished, and future employers think hard before extending an offer?
I know it's not the exact situation as the OP, but situations are rarely so straight forward, and often have nuances that we aren't aware of.
To the OP, at the very least, you probably dodged a bullet. So blessing in disguise.
So did you have an official contract, equity deal, etc? I doubt there's much you can do about these decision not to take you on after all, you probably need to grieve for the job and move on, but you should certainly hold them to their legal obligations, especially if they had to give you notice (which they should be paying you for).
I'm not sure why you say you like the founders when they treat people like this. This is a serious blow to your life that they are responsible for.
Hopefully, when you turned down the job offer, you did so in a classy way. As a hiring manager, if a candidate I extended an offer to, reach back out to me after declining, and said their situation changed, I would consider making a new offer. True you lose negotiating leverage, but I would expect a percentage greater than 0 of companies that would re-engage with you.
> Told my friends/family about the job, and that I will be moving to America
This is a minor issue. Plans change. They'll get over it. Hopefully they didn't throw you a going-away party yet :)
> Reached out to all my contacts (including everyone who was trying to hire me) and attempted to sign them up for this YC service
No good deed goes unpunished. But seriously, you did the right thing by trying to help out this company. I don't see this as a problem.
> I reached out to several people (e.g. at Google, FB, Partners at a management consultancy (i.e. my former employers)) asking them for a potential investment into this company ("Use our personal networks" was a key strategy), some of these helped me find a job that I turned down
I'm sure those same potential investors will circle back around to you, and decline investing, given that you are no longer with the company.
The lawyer gives you two things:
1) He knows if you can be compensated for the damage;
2) It would give YC an opportunity to take care of this matter.
Oh, and by the way: I don't know their side of the story, therefore I don't want to judge; however, it is very likely that they lied to you - letting someone go after two weeks is weird, and I don't believe that "it's not about you".
In truth though, regardless of the appearance, bridge burning is never a good idea. NEVER.
I personally know a nursing home company that fired an employee in an unprofessional way. 20 years later she became the person in charge of nursing home licensing in that state. Guess whose licenses got revoked?! 20 years later, millions of dollars in losses.
That story may be an outlier, I don't know... but a simple evaluation of the risks and benefits of burning this bridge indicate very strongly that you should not burn it.
The argument people make about "having the right to know." to be able to avoid that company is really just self-serving curiosity. I am curious too. But...it's really only appropriate to share that info. to an individual, in private, if you feel they are truly at risk of the same unfair treatment.
Just my two cents.
Know exactly what skill-set the founders were looking for; what lifestyle choices they were looking for is probably also related. You can turn this into a conversation that helps both parties ask better interview questions.
Ask that you stay on, making your salary for several weeks as a contractor. If this isn't possible ask that you get paid reasonable living expenses for a few weeks. This provides a little runway for your job search. (Be wary though that this might raise your hopes.)
Always ensure that you get paid. For that one week before they hired you, for the two weeks you were on.
For your network that you asked for investment from, you need to secure that a) you are no longer part of that company b) if an investment is made, you deserve an advisor's fee (5-10% pre round is typical)
Probably a visa issue. Maybe a money issue (they don't dare admit that to any outsider, and employees are outsiders, so get the polite happy faced response management gives the rest of the world). Probably the all-too-typical inexperienced management issue most startups have.
When you choose to join a startup, you have to have a strong tolerance for surprises, some good, many bad. ALL of them are nice-seeming guys (nobody'd work for them otherwise). ALL of them have cool-sounding projects (will they work? Will they step on Big Legal's toes and die in deposition-induced agony? Will another 100 companies jump on the bandwagon before you can get it out there?)
It's a VC-self-serving myth that startups are succeeding at an increasing rate. See: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/corporate-america-hasnt-... for the actual stats.
Keep in mind that chasing startup dreams may not be healthy for family life, especially given that the failure rate for startups has been increasing, not decreasing.
Of course, it's always made to sound like success is just around the corner, but your most recent experience should give you a good idea whether your family's risk tolerance makes it worth it to you and those you love. The odds of dreaming turning from a bunch of extreme hidden hard work into extreme hidden burned-out failure are high. The startup world's only prescription for that is that you rest up a bit, then do it again.
There's a reason some people take the corporate jobs, save up, and only then follow their dreams.
Too many people are wasting their precious youth following the "fail early, fail often" mantra that is counterintuitive for a reason.
VCs make their money on the ones that succeed. The ones that fail don't cost VCs all that much, once you start counting actual funded startups that have passed all due dilligence and cashed the check. It's hard to filter out all those who are really only braging about funding on the way, because they've got to be convincing about already having it to have any chance of getting it.
But a steep price is being paid in wasted best years caused by startup failures. I count as failures, even these smaller "pivots" such as one where an employee is let go because different talents are needed (their stated reason to you). You wasted your time? No skin off their noses, they get to be the nice guy to somebody else they can use.
The startup world's harm is as cruel as any harm the corporate world can do. The startup world is just far less honest about the harm that it does to individual startup employees, preferring to say whatever they need to, keeping everybody's dreams alive until they absolutely can't anymore.
If I were in your shoes, I would immediately re-establish contact with the recruiters who previously made you offers, and let them know you were grievously misled by this other company, and you are interested to know if their offer is still available.
You may also consider engaging a lawyer. If it were me, I would demand payment for all time worked, plus additional monies to compensate you for your opportunity cost of turning down these other offers, especially if you left a previous job to work for these guys.
For example,if you are doing a h1b transfer, please wait for the h1b transfer to complete before you resign from your previous position.
Which one is it?
I'm not saying it's this persons fault, but I don't necessarily think saying the founders are not good guys (aka bad guys), I think it's more about being assertive and protecting yourself.
In my experience, I've never handed in notice without a formal offer and that's for local jobs. If you add moving abroad to that, then there are definitely some extra steps needed to protect yourself.
I sincerely wish you the best in finding somewhere else, and it's a horrible situation, but if you had a similar offer in a month, would you do it differently?
What the consensus on the best way for someone to avoid this? Immediate vesting if let go? Some predefined severance agreement? 6 mo/12 mo contract? I understand it's a big decision for a startup to hire employee #1, but how can I protect myself in such a future case?
Your situation is frustrating, but there's plenty of opportunity for smart, motivated, talented people. To help with your frustration, try to flip the story in your mind. This company is going to have to find a way to succeed without your knowledge, experience, and help. That's their problem now.
Good luck to you.
I was offered a job in Singapore by a start-up. I filled all the legal documents required including the employment pass application that I sent them back. Weeks later I got a standard email from HR saying they offered the job to another candidate. I was shocked they eventually withdrew their offer.
The problem was I talked about my friends, family, that I'm moving to Singapore (from Europe). My girlfriend who is living in Singapore was happy, along with me, till the point I told her the offer has been withdrawn.
It is interesting to mention that the CTO of the company is the one who had approached me first whether I'm interested in exploring positions with them. However when it comes to withdraw the offer he never turned up.
I'm happy I didn't make business with them. I found a much better company to work with and moving to Singapore next week.
I wish the best to you, it's for sure you'll overcome this with favorable outcome.
You even said that you "found a job that you turned down" earlier. So it sounds like things worked out fine. Of course it was hard on you. But changing a job always is.
I don't know what your home country is, but I do know that there are millions of desperately poor unemployed people in India, 25% youth unemployment in Spain, and a pretty tough labor market here in the US for some low-skilled workers. We should be thankful for what we've got. And part of the reason we've got what we have in Sillicon Valley is a culture that allows experimentation. Quickly setting up a company is only possible if you can quickly tear it down or retarget it when things aren't working out.
You mentioned that you have a postgraduate degree in management. Well, you should know that what you're getting into when you join a startup is different than if you join a big, established company. Be a man (or woman) about this. Don't ask for special treatment.
And for the record, I had an employment offer yanked during the crash of 2001. Fun times.
In french we say "un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l'auras"."One given is better than you'll get two."
Bref, you have opportunity and to your wife telle the things frankly and breath you'll find job soon.
I wish you well for the next things.
There's 500+ other jobs available, you can just as readily find another one.
Big companies usually do not fire for no good reason because of liability. Small companies don't have to worry as much because they don't have any money to sue for.
However these "good guys" are establishing their corporate culture now, and we hacker don't want to get dicked over too.
What precisely does that mean?
IANAL, but I know that if you and they signed on the dotted line, apart from the ethics, you have legal rights. Probably fewer in the US than other places, but some protection.
If nothing was signed, then I don't think you "officially joined" as COO. From their perspective, it might simply be more of an episode of serious miscommunication, than any untoward behavior on their part.
trust me...i KNOW fucked...i got caught with some recreational substances a few years back and am probation for three felony possession charges. 25y+ of software development and it's impossible..IMPOSSIBLE..for me to get past any HR for ANY decent job.
so chill out...enjoy a week off...and get hired next.
No, they're not. "Good guys" don't fire someone without a severance after 2 weeks for no reason, especially not after you've put your reputation on the line as you have.
I let all job offers go (I had a few good ones)
Try to get those offers back. Explain what happened. If there's another solid option you can take, then you don't need to worry. Try to get a month or two of severance from the YCs but don't worry too much if you can't, and don't jeopardize success in your next gig by putting your energies into an all-out legal fight. If you're turned down, however, document it. This is going to help you make a case against the YC founders. The words you want are detrimental reliance, and to make that case, you need to establish damages. A job offer you had, that you lost, constitute damages. You relied detrimentally on the offer (later rescinded) from the YC company. That's a stronger case to make than wrongful termination, which often involves venturing into the undefined behavior of at-will employment.
Then-- if you can't get a severance on the order of 3-4 months, plus reimbursement for any relocation (both ways) or visa costs you've-- get a lawyer involved and sue.
No you're not. There are no positive or negative events in life. All events are neutral. It is within your power to see them as positive. Reality doesn't care about your "destiny."
So besides my airy fairy comment above what I mean is when something bad happens you have to take massive action to get the result you want. So when young founders make DUMB decisions that screw you over you apply to 40-60 jobs a day and find a better job. You take MASSIVE action to make the situation a positive one.
You have NO time to waste complaining about what happened. Your time needs to be spent working your butt off finding new work. That means 40-60 jobs per day. That also means you should look at investing in assets so your income isn't reliant on an employer or anyone for that matter.
Life will always do this to you. Always. How you react to situations like this is what defines you. Nobody can escape this. Everyone will have ups and downs in life.
Now. Right now. Today is your time to take massive action. Not sit on hacker news or the internet all day. Not complaining to your wife. Now is your time to make this a positive situation.
If you don't believe me don't do what I say and see what happens.
That really really sucks.
"Deal was to work remotely, till we all figured out the visa." Honestly, that was the problem. You were dispensable, in the mind of the founders. Lesson: iron out all details before starting.
"I joined as employee #1 of a YC startup." The founders know this. If they become the next Dropbox, employee #1 becomes a millionaire or better. Even if it fails, it prestigious. Do you think that caused you to take a job that may otherwise have not taken?
Got interviewed, he wanted contract. I told him I'm only looking for permanent. 2 months later, project got cancelled and I got the boot.
That is the major reason why I first learnt to avoid charismatic/nice employers; I was fed up of being f*cked in the ass nicely. Then I matured and learnt to trust but check.
most standard contracts would be being broken by this behaviour. if i were you i'd squeeze them for having dicked you over...
Some potential companies may look favorably on it. Companies are staffed by people, people are diverse in opinions.
I've found this kind of temporary traffic burst from high-profile sites is often very transient traffic, people clicking on a link out of curiosity because they saw it somewhere, with a very high bounce rate. It's the kind of traffic from people who open 30 tabs and then briefly visit each one. Doesn't matter (at least for my sites) whether it's Reddit, Slashdot, HN, an NYT Blog, etc.almost never has the same CPM as "regular" traffic, regardless of the burst source. Visitors who come via organic search or bookmarks are much more likely to spend more than 1 second on the page and read/interact with something.
20k visitors for the front page of Reddit sounds low, though. I've hit the front page (with http://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/2ac8ba/who_... , also a default subreddit) and I received 150k visitors.
Failure is not an Option - Gene Kranz Flight: My life in Mission Control - Chris Kraft A Man on the Moon - Andrew Chaikin
Ranges in topics from Helium 3 fusion to mining the gas giants for fuel to the implications of braking on spacecraft with solar sails.
* In Search of Planet Vulcan, by Richard Baum and William Sheehan * The Northern Lights, by Lucy Jago
If you prefer something a bit lighter, Men from Earth by Buzz Aldrin was pretty good.
Correct me if I'm wrong but the main user cases I can see;
1) To transfer contacts across platforms. The main traffic I guess would be iOS <-->Android. Given there is already an easy way to do this via a gmail account you're not in a great place to take much market share.
2) To do a back-up. Again this can be done in real-time via Gmail or via their csv download.
Both of these have free alternatives with relatively easy user experience. You will find it difficult to win organic traffic as your business is within popular keywords with established brands. You could buy sales via advertising but I expect you would be paying $4-$10 per download. So without ongoing revenue in the model (I hope you're not monitising the contacts downloaded...) you can afford to advertise. And even if you could I don't see people people paying for this app in any significant volume.
I find products like this interesting and a good example of where tech / marketing and accounts people should have a chat before building a product. I had a chat with a person recently where he was building an ad revenue driven app. I pointed out if he changed his audience slightly to a in-demand audience cohort the click revenue per ad would go from about $0.75 to $10.00.
Anyway - if you building another app feel free to ping me for a marketers view. It's all opinion and I could well be wrong. For the success of your product hope I am.
I come to HN for the startup culture discussions. Even though my field is pretty far from the software/tech field, it's pretty amazing how much of the startup experience remains the same.
For those interested, my startup, Transatomic, is developing a molten salt reactor that's cheaper than coal and (hopefully) as cheap as natural gas, just without the greenhouse gas emissions.
We just closed our first round of VC funding from Peter Thiel and Founders Fund a few days ago. More details here:
I agree with all of your reasons for visiting HN. I've mentioned this before on another thread, but the guideline that posts should be "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity" tends to produce a lot of content that I find interesting, and I'm sure there are many more people like us here.
One thing that I will add is that I wish that people posted more non-programming jobs in the monthly Who's Hiring. Even if you just posted the approximate job title it'd be better than omitting it entirely. Every month I control+F>"mechanincal engineer", and there are almost never more than one or two posts, despite the fact that I see some of the same companies posting these positions on different job boards.
Reading HN gives me things to mull over regarding my own hesitant steps into the world of promotion, sales, and making a business happen on the web.
Also I used to dabble in programming back in the days of the C64 and Amiga. I will probably never do any major programming projects but I like to keep up with tech news, and this is a decent source for some of that.
I would also classify myself as a wantrepreneur. I have a few apps I am currently executing on, but I can only say that my skills in programming for web and mobile are swiftly increasing. This is only the case because HN has convinced me of the certainty of self-enrichment that comes from startups.
I visit HN for the insights into the other tech industry and for non-inflammatory(hah) discussions about current topics. I read comments before I click links, as I typically find the opinions of HN members to be as or more on-topic than the content within the link itself.
Best place to get news about the trends shaping our world, and muse over natl security implications.
I enjoy the tech startup world and have plans to start my own in the very near future. Currently using various sites to learn to program myself (Codeacademy, Bento, Dash). I think it is important to know what your site is doing and be able to respond to issues.
Why do I read HN? Mostly, because I like and enjoy working in the technology space (defined broadly) and hope to build a career in tech. HN is great at giving me a view over the other side of the fence.
I've been reading HN for around 5 years. I'm here because I love technology, and love seeing what people are doing with it. Outside a few email lists and Twitter, there's no other site/source that I've stuck with for so long.
What do I get out of it? Aside from always learning new things (I have very little use for lambda calculus or univariate linear regression in my life, yet because of HN I know a lot about both). I spend a lot of my time now working with / mentoring / investing in Melbourne-based startups, and the comments and links I read on HN give me perspectives and thinking and experiences from a global startup community that I wouldn't always have access to.
Of course those opinions and perspectives and experiences are almost always skewed, this place is a filter bubble, but if you keep the bias in mind it's a phenomenally efficient filter of quality information and thinking.
I would definitely agree with point A.
The odd gem, like .
Advice or pointers from other HN readers.
I do not work in the software industry, but I would call myself a hacker.
The term "hacker" can be interpreted in imaginative ways, I wouldn't be surprised to find hackers in your area of work.
Historically have done very little investing in tech, but I'm interested in it and HN is a good way to keep up with the industry.
I look at startups as businesses or industries where the rate of change is much faster than normal. I think as an investor you're really a student of business and that makes startups a really fascinating area to observe.
One fight I've been watching with interest in the CA legislature is the anti-Uber/Lyft legislation currently pending. We're in the last three weeks of session now and I'm very interested to see where that ends up and whether Gov. Brown signs it. There's nothing more fun than watching a policy fight you don't have a dog in.
I hope Hacker News will grow big.
I'm here because I like to learn about things. Not just products/services that I found out about from here that helped me in life (airbnb, hipmunk, leaky, freelancer) but simply ideas (I've learned relevant things about religion, games, science, warfare, education, driving, the basic income, and so on.)
I'm also here because my wife is a hacker and I like to be aware of what she's reading and thinking about.
What am I doing here? I've been programming since I was 11 and still do it often. You have to as an actuary.
Besides I have some web skills and I'm using to build a startup doing risk management for farmers. In this startup I'm responsible for the whole stack.
I see HN as a way to keep up with IT in general - especially that all my other colleagues talk about totally different kinds of news. I find discussions well-balanced most of the time, and sometimes wonder "what do HN commenters say?" when I get to a news using other routes.
Yes I am a wantrepreneur, if there is such a word. It's pretty cool to (have the perception of) knowing two industries and try to piece them up together.
For me HN is a view in the dream-land of the cool kids :-) I love it! Also the most high-quality discussions/views I read on tech or even politics often come from HN.
(I count myself as a hacker. I code and maintain a number of (poor quality) projects.)
I love this site for many reasons, e.g. searching "site:ycombinator.com <search term>" is one of the best sources of finding modern opinions on languages, libraries, the state of coding in certain places, and most of all some of the best opinions on what can act as good introductory materials on anything software/langs (in addition to stackoverflow).
It's nice to have a finger on different tech scenes and where people, sometimes, are willing to call each other on BS. Oppositely, it's cool to see posts about a product/service and see that the actual company actively responds to comments here in a lively fashion.
One of the biggest reasons for me has been seeing whenever's the occasional open academia article or movement starting to spawn, whether it be open access, open data (e.g. [dat](http://dat-data.com/)), or my favorite, open code. There's an unbelievable amount of reinventing the software wheel that goes on with a ton of PhDs, and the FOSS community proves that doesn't have to be the case. Trying to take the lessons it's learned to the sphere of science is something that an increasing amount of people are thankfully interested in, and this site is one of the only ways I've heard about initiatives in that regard - most notably, [Mozilla Science Lab](http://mozillascience.org/)
I write software(originally PC based and now web based) to make my life easier. I started coding Basic at a very young age. It came naturally to me. I took a C++ class in high school, but aside from that I'm completely self taught.
I'm here because I'm fascinated by the industry and the people. You can't get a better cross section of what is happening in this industry then on this site.
Also, maybe one day I'll develop a product that is useful to me and useful to others. So having some background on start-ups could help, right?
But I hack too, it's fun.
I wouldn't consider myself 100% not a hacker though. My weekend list is to get some webscraping done to support a future project, and check out Home Depot for materials to build a cold-brewing setup.
I come to HN because I enjoy coding, and the level of discussion is still probably the best out of any online community I know of (excepting a few very specialized ones... the r/haskell community comes to mind).
I love this community. I've had amazing conversations in the comments and taken a few of those to email or twitter as well. I know that I would eventually see most of what I read here elsewhere, but this is the only place on the internet where I read the comments.
Fast forward to today, I'm now a qualified secondary school teacher in the UK, teaching Business, Computing and Japanese. I get the urge to come back to full-time programming from time to time, but genuinely love being out of 'burnout' mode.
I really enjoy coming here because I still love keeping on top of tech and entrepreneur news, want to stay ahead of the curve, and hey, you never know, I might find a company that is looking to 'disrupt' secondary education in a way that I 100% believe in. Haven't seen it yet, but some companies are getting close (Khan Academy, looking at you!).
It also keeps me from spiraling into my "I'm not doing enough!" mentality that I have for myself, and inspires the wantrepreneur side of me.
I enjoy reading about new tech and business - I like the mix of that and other general interest stories. Mostly I come here for the comments - I read comments before most articles, and I tend to only read the articles if there is a good discussion around them.
Anyhow, for the sake of adding to discussion: I browse HN for the interesting links, especially reading others' blogs, and the distinct lack of memes you find on other link-sharing sites like Reddit.
I can't recall exactly how I stumbled on HN, but I stick around for the discussion. I regularly learn things on HN as opposed to merely learning of things as I might with other sharing sites.
I was about to say community instead of discussion above, but I actually have a pretty negative association with that word as it seems to entail a monoculture which HN isn't - at least not in the ways that matter to me.
Specifically, it seems possible to speak freely on HN (for the most part) without being buried or banned in short order.
I was enamored with the heavy startup culture on HN for a while, but what I've gleaned suggests to me that if I'm ever to partake it probably won't be as an employee. If anything, a founder hoping to leverage domain-specific knowledge and personal network in creating a long term business.
Hacker News is a fantastic community, filled with rational, clever and moderate contributors who write stuff which is a a pleasure to read and learn from.
The rest of the popular web seems in thrall by the new stuff and doesn't see things quite so rationally. Its not easy to pull the wool over the eyes of the HN crowd. I love that kind of interaction, where people have a level of understanding that allows genuine technical merit to be apparent.
My new full time job is designing machines to keep sick people alive whilst their bodies are repaired. Something I'd never thought of doing 10 months ago when I worked in consultancy.
I consider consumer technology one of my hobbies, and hackernews lets me keep up with the latest trends in software engineering. I've always been particularly fascinated with technological forces that can have big impacts on the world at large, and new uses/trends in software have played a huge role in that. I like to think that hackernews keeps me grounded to what's the latest and greatest in the world where the "big things" can impact people on a much shorter timescale than the work I currently do. I plan to go into the tech industry when I graduate, and I'm highly considering an internship next summer.
edit: I guess it kind of goes without saying, but what I get out of HN in particular is a combination of keeping my foot in technology and reading interesting news.
I get stories and perspective. I love reading a story, having my own take, then jumping in the comments to see how others view the same information. There are so many lessons I would rather learn from someone else rather than from my own experience...that's why I'm here.
Also, thanks for posting something I am qualified to answer, it prompted me to finally stop lurking.
I don't particularly care about startups, but then, the beauty of this site is that I don't have to! There's enough here that I find myself perusing the RSS feed and culling stories that, if I had enough time available, I might be interested in. For those articles that I do select, however, I usually read through the associated comment threads, as I find the various opinions and clarifications most enlightening!
My primary job is not to write code or develop applications, but being able to write scripts and small utility applications really comes in handy when analyzing data. I write lots and lots of SQL and regular expressions for work, I do tons of grepping / sedding and am quite comfortable with bash, but I don't consider that coding.
Programming is also as a hobby for me, I have some side projects which are mostly Python and JS stuff, and a little Java. I also have an interest in functional languages. So there's loads of interesting content for me hear.
For me a hacker is someone who see something and want to mod it , dig in it. A hacker is someone who is curious and is active and don't take things for what they are given for. And a hacker is also someone who doubt. There are mechanical hacker, even grandma tips are hack for me. So it would be more relevant to ask who is not a tech guy. Or consider himself / herself a techguy.
Hn give me interesting inside and news. And it's always good to be on the edge than other people on different subject. I always have one day or two in advance for the news to other people thanks to HN.
So why would someone artistically-minded come to HN? Because the world is changing--in law, in technology, etc. And being on top of that is ALWAYS helpful, especially with such a knowledgeable community.
I was drawn here because of the name, became disappointed that it was hacking in the sense of coding, stayed because I have nothing better to read. Since Paul Graham has his own forums, I wish Bruce Schneier or Brian Krebs had their own for people like me.
I'm also a wantrepreneur with a vision to create better calculation tools for architectural acoustics and noise control. I enjoy seeing new JS libraries on here that help fill in those puzzle pieces and reading the perspectives of others on political and cultural topics.
And oh, did I forget to mention the static-blog-generator-pr0n? :P
I don't know a line of code, know a bit of security, but am always interested in how things work and what kind of WiFi is being run in my neighborhood, so I consider myself a hacker.
I have a small translation/localization company in the middle on Japan and I use as much free software as I can and try to promote them the most I can in the translation community. I learned a bit of basic, pascal, assembly in the 80's and when programming your calculator was the coolest thing you could do in High School.
there seems to be about a 60/40 split between straight tech/programming stuff and more general/non-technical information in a pleasantly-mixed churn. i find HN to be a good motivator to look at other fields through a "hacker" lens and think in an architectural/programming/entrepreneurial/system-level manner.
I hang around HN because I am interested in the hacking/innovation mindset that is popular here especially as it could be tied into the structural/mechanical world.
I totally agree with A, B, and C, but I also really enjoy just the interesting articles I wouldn't find elsewhere. Here I can actually learn as opposed to school (Can I use that as a verb? I can break the rules if I want!).
Trying to get a travel focused startup off the ground (http://www.planitwide.com).
Been fascinated with all things tech for a while and am constantly in awe of people who can build stuff. I also firmly believe that inspiration comes from the most random sources and HN fits the bill for both of these things.
Here because of reason A from OP, but also because I am always keeping an eye out for new tools I can use for data analysis in my thesis.
From the community, I get a surprising amount of non-tech/hacker news, stories and comments and new insights about life and work that I didn't imagine otherwise.
Currently I have a company that provides R&D and Manufacture services for salons that want to launch their own label of hair products.
An HR guy* and a social scientist! I could make an easy punching bag.
*More on the strategy and data-analysis end, less on administration. I barely know what HR Generalists do.
Wark defines hacking 'as an abstraction, the construction of different and unrelated matters into previously unrealized relations. Hackers produce new conceptions, perceptions and sensations hacked out of raw data. Everything and anything is a code for the hacker to hack, be it programming, language, poetic language, math, or music, curves or colourings  and once hacked, they create the possibility for new things to enter the world. What they create is not necessarily great, or even good, but new, in the areas of culture, art, science, and philosophy or in any production of knowledge where data can be extracted from it.Wark argues that (new) information comes from the hack. It doesnt matter if you are a computer programmer, a philosopher, a teacher, a musician, a physicist, if you essentially produce new information - its a hack . In this sense, hackers are creators and they bring new ideas into the world. The aim of the book is to highlight the origins, purpose and efforts by this emerging hacker class, who produce new; concepts, perceptions, and sensations out of the stuff of raw data.'
I'm usually here for the news and generally high quality discussion.
The level of discourse is usually high while covering a very broad range of subjects. Subject specific communities still exceed HN competency in their respective domains, but nowhere that I've found covers such a diverse range of topics with a relatively high competence.
Unfortunately there are still some very obvious biases regarding certain subjects, but at least the community entertains other points of view.
Although I'm an engineer by training, HN has led me to explore many domains to which I wouldn't otherwise have been exposed. Furthermore, there are some incredible individuals here who I'd never run into otherwise, and discussions with them are extremely satisfying.
Overall a great community, though sometimes limited by the bias of its origins.
Recently I took a job as a web developer (I know... career path isn't in my vocabulary, I just do what interests me at the time and let the chips fall where they may). It's my first real programming job.
I built some SAAS applications for farms which I maintain and plan to expand in the future. These apps showed what I can do and helped me land my current full time job.
After a week of not hearing back from them, I got in touch by email and they said they were stalled (though they hadn't contacted me to say so) because the email and phone number on the whois for the domain weren't exact matches with the ones on the application.
Ok, fair enough. Fixed.
But then (days later) we were blocked because they couldn't look up the business license. So I sent them a direct link to the Washington State department of whatever search, with the business license number I'd given them already pre-filled.
But then (days later) we were blocked because the phone number and business address weren't to be found in any online phone book services. Can't call you on the number listed on the businesses website or whois. Need phone book.
But phone book listings are free. You can add one for any business, fictitious or otherwise, by supplying a name, address and phone number at yp.com. They just take still more calendar time.
Add in a few more meaningless steps like that and I was verified (without ever having to mail them that passport scan or anything else that would actually verify me or my business).
I guess they need to justify charging all that money. But mostly it's just a giant hassle that makes you glad you bought the longest duration cert possible to avoid having to go through that again any time soon.
- a bill showing the address
- a phone call to the phone listed on the bill
I deal with multiple certificate authorities as a partner and typically you won't need much else. If you're applying as a company, you might need a notarization but this is uncommon.
I can sell you a code signing certificate for $75 from Comodo, but I've never actually applied as an individual. Shoot me an email, in my profile.
Edit: As per 220.127.116.11 of the Comodo CPS, they require:
- A photo ID "which discernibly shows the Applicant's face" to verify your name.
- "A government ID, utility bill, or bank or credit card statement" to verify your address. "Comodo MAY rely on the same government issued ID that was used to verify the Applicant's name."
Comodo also states that they may "[require] face to face verification of the Applicant's identity before an authorized agent of Comodo, an attorney, a CPA, a Latin notary, a notary public or equivalent."