79: TZ Interview – Patrick McKenzie / The Long Tail of Optimization

Justin and Jason interview Patrick McKenzie, founder and developer of Bingo Card Creator, about how he grew a hacked together software project into a successful SaaS business through the expert application of website metrics and optimization.

  1. Nice interview guys. You still have a habit of talking over people, probably because you are used to a discussion show but thats about the only critisim I can come up with these days.

    Patrick sounds like a very calculating individual. I would not want to be going up against someone with that level of depth (plans within plans) in cards or any other endevour. This shouldn’t come across as a bad thing by the way, just someone who really thinks things through very carefully, and researches before jumping in. Certainly someone to respect.

  2. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    Just started to listen and imagined this exchange:

    Patrick: I didn’t even use source control until a year into the project
    Justin: You’re a man after Jason’s own heart with that statement!
    Jason: Ok so you built this very first version….

    This is honestly why I love this show. You guys need to totally fight about technical stuff more.

  3. Jason says:

    @BAMS – Where you been?! I missed your comments! Yeah, Justin tried to goad me into it, but I didn’t bite this time. I think I’m just getting tired of that one. 😉

    On another note, I’m thinking it might be time to invite on another UFO expert. What do you think? 😉

  4. Jason says:

    @ Ben – I wouldn’t talk over Justin if he’d just shut up and let me talk already. I mean, what’s a brother got to do to get a little airtime?! 😉

  5. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    @Jason lol, I think UFOs are cool but how about a real alien technology like Lisp? I’d love to hear what some people are doing with Lisp. Especially in the web world.

    I guess I was encouraged to comment today because while I was out walking today, I thought about why I enjoyed your show. In case you were wondering:

    * Technical penis size fights (HTML blog, source control, etc)
    * Interviews are really good and getting better all the time
    * Technical stuff

    Keep up the good work. This interview is great so far. I like that Patrick felt free to disagree. A lot 🙂

  6. Bopinder Abu Morpalinder Singh says:

    Also Justin, if I hear you say one more time that you can’t be more successful with Pluggio, I’m going to come over there and shave your face.

  7. @Jason LOL

    Im with BAMS, you guys need to argue over stuff like source control and the like some more.

    Here are some topics to add to lisp,

    JVM vs .NET
    GIT vs Subversion
    Apple vs Microsoft OS
    Android vs iPhone
    Soccer vs Football

    One of those should start something.

  8. Justin says:

    @Ben Boyter – It’s funny we’ve been discussing that. We’ve found if we “try” to disagree it doesn’t quite work. The best thing we’ve found so far is to keep switching it up and talk about stuff we find interesting and the rest of it seems to happen naturally! 🙂

  9. Justin says:

    Although I’ll tell you one funny conversation we had the other day…

    Justin: “We should try to disagree more, I think it could make the show better”
    Jason: “No. That would be lame”

  10. William says:

    I loved the quote about 27 minutes in,

    Justin: I get the feeling that I’m talking to some James Bond level evil genius..
    Reply: I’m not evil….

    Great interview guys!

  11. You guys should look into getting Ryan Dahl, creator of Node.js, on the show. I have been hacking away with Node.js and love it. If you guys gave some air time to new and offbeat tech things, I think you might expand your listenership even more. Keep up the great work, love the podcast.

  12. Jason says:

    @ Jacob – Actually, I sent him an email a few days ago inviting him on the show, but he hasn’t yet replied. If you have any pull with him, or know anyone who does, then see what you can do to convince him to come on. I think it would make for a great interview.

  13. Ayoub M. says:

    Thanks guys, this one of the best podcasts I ever heard. honestly you are the best.

  14. Robin Gorry says:

    Another great show, Your interview style really gets the best out of your guest, your shorter leads in to questions make the conversation flow much better and your guest have the most air time.

    Very enjoyable and informative.

  15. Neville says:

    Gentlemen, you have out done yourselves! This has been my favorite episode to date. Great stuff. Thank you Patrick.

  16. Jason says:

    @ Ayoub, Robin & Neville – Thanks so much for the positive feedback! Justin and I both really appreciate it. 😉

    Patrick was indeed a very interesting guest. I guess it’s like Daniel Adams said – “Ninety percent of directing is casting”.

    The trick I think is just to invite on people who we’d really like to talk to and the rest just sort of works out. 😉

  17. Very good show, thank you J&J and Patrick! I noticed Justin is asking more questions now, that’s great, don’t give all bandwidth to Jason 😉

    I really like the idea of a panel discussion show. If you guys could get Patrick, Peldi and Jason Cohen on the same show it would be just awesome! And maybe someone who will disagree with them a lot, unless Jason wants to be that guy 😉

  18. About the panel discussion show, how about a video cast?

  19. On a side note about the video cast…

    @Jason, what do you think about Patrick using WP for Appointment Reminder? Do you think it was a smart move or do you think it would have been better if he would had created the site on his own say with RoR since he has so much experience with it.

    Also, in my personal opinion I dislike the automated appointment reminders, my dentist uses it and I get reminders even after the appointment has been fulfilled. Most likely a bug in the software but I guess in a way it is like the bankers from a small local branch who know you by name and those who are from a big corporation who, well you are just a number.

    Great idea for saving money to the small service companies.

  20. Another great show delivering a ton of value for all of us.
    Patrick was a great guest, he speaks very clearly and with much thought. I very much enjoyed his scientific approach to everything: conceive an experiment, measure, analyze, repeat etc.
    Although I had A/B testing on my to-do list of things to learn and practice, Patrick was the catalyst for me to dig into this. Since the show I have looked at his ABingo Rails plugin and it looks fantastic! One of the A/B experts Patrick is referencing is Ben Tilly. His presentation on A/B testing is very good. It would be great to have him on the show! This is a topic that seems straightforward at first blush but is actually more complicated to get right that one thinks.

    Another thing I noticed is that Patrick totally revealed part of the “magic function”. :
    magicFn(idea) = ( implement(idea) + abtest(idea) + refine(idea) ) * (stay(motivated) * min(4,years) )

    Jason, your math background could probably refine that function to something more accurate! 🙂

    I have started to go through Patrick’s many blog posts: so much good content there! So again thanks for bringing him on the show.