145: TZ Discussion – Bad Cop, Sensitive Cop

Justin and Jason discuss why staying up late can screw up your life, how Skype is almost the full realization of the magical CTU tech of the TV show 24, Peter Cooper’s Javascript Weekly newsletter, the prospect of migrating Appignite to a single-page web application, the advantages of leaving a problem unfinished at the end of a work session, Justin’s idea for a collective version of Groupon for websites codenamed Groupio, the high-cost of the context switch, whether AnyFu should be incorporated as an LLC and some ideas about vesting and founder death, Justin’s review of Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness, using Twitter’s location based search streams, the science of extreme life extension and Leslie Kean’s History Channel documentary Secret Access: UFOs on the Record.

  1. Hey Guys,

    Good episode. The Bad Cop/Sensitive Cop thing was hilarious.

    BTW, Evan Williams’ incubator-like company is named Obvious Corp.

    Also, I checked and Group.io looks to be available. Unfortunately, .io extensions are $99 per domain so I wont be snagging up that one.

    Thanks for a great show!

  2. Jason says:

    @Joe Norton,

    Yeah, I thought the bad cop / sensitive cop thing was pretty funny, too. You should’ve heard Justin being sensitive to our designer, Daniel – like he even gives a shit. “Daniel are you okay? How are you feeling?” It was very weird and I was like what the hell are you talking about, Justin?! 😉 I guess that “sensitive touch” is what he means when he says he’s really good at managing techies. Yikes. 😉

    Thanks for the clarification on Obvious Corp. I had that in my mind, but I wasn’t sure the new version of the company post Twitter was still called Obvious.

    Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the show. 😉

  3. Pro TV Watching Tip: Only start watching a show when it’s off the air. I waited a long time to watch Friday Night Lights and just got off that train a few months ago. Before that it was Arrested Development. I can’t go near The Office or 30 Rock because I don’t know how long I’ll be on the hook.

    Good show, I can’t wait to see AnyFu!

  4. Hey Guys,

    Just listened to this episode. You received good advice from the guy who mentioned the contracts – if you really do have to sign contracts with everyone who signs up with AnyFu then it seems to me that you’ll want to have an LLC from the start.

    Obviously I’m not a lawyer, but I question the assumption that you’re going to need contracts with everyone who signs up. Elance and odesk do not make everyone sign contracts. They have a terms of service you agree to that they can amend at any time. I don’t think there’s anything beyond that (you’ll have to verify; I signed up too long ago to remember).

    If that’s the case, then IMO you could get away with the partnership. However, realize that you have no liability protection without the LLC, so if you think someone could blow up a server and cause $100k in damages then perhaps the investment in the LLC is worth it. Of course, if you’re “judgment proof” as Jason put it…then that’s another story.

    So yeah…sounds like you may want to check out how elance and odesk (and even rentacoder.com) structure it.

    If, for some reason, you find you have to have people sign docs, use http://www.echosign.com/ – don’t require people to fax things. I’ve used it on multiple deals and my understanding (again, not a lawyer) is that it’s as legitimate as a faxed signature.

    So yeah, there’s my 2 cents. Someone with a law degree would have more educated insight on the specifics of the contract vs. TOS, but at least there are some research trails to head down.

  5. I haven’t listened to the show yet… been checking every day to see when #145 is posted. Look what you guys have reduced me to.

    Rob’s last podcast was about conversion boosts, and there were some great tips in there… one in particular about reducing friction at every turn. Any time you put something like a contract in front of a user, they will (subconsciously) have to weigh their motivation against the perceived pain of “signing” the contract. I would not take that risk, personally. You haven’t got that person invested in your product at that point, so it’s pretty easy for someone to just walk away.

    TOS agreements are a pretty common occurrence online and shouldn’t be perceived by users as an obstacle. But if you introduce something that your competition doesn’t require… that’s another strike against signing up for AnyFu.

    Please don’t take this as legal advice… merely as user experience advice. 🙂

    BTW, I love your ‘mascot’ and overall design direction, guys. Can’t wait to see more of it come together.


  6. Good podcast, guys. Two quick comments. First, my suggestion is to separate out the partnership/LLC/cCorp decision from your changing contract issue. Even if you did a LLC or C-Corp right out of the shoot, you are likely not going to get out of rewriting the contracts from time to time. The reason is that if you guys are successful, it is almost guaranteed that different crazy scenarios will come up that you will need to start protecting yourself against. For example…perhaps someone sues you for…whatever, and then you want to throw an extra clause in the contracts to help protect you against that thing in the future. Anyways, the point is that you need to set up your site similar to what Justin said so that as the user logs in, they agree once to the contract that would apply to any use of the site and then if you update the contract, the user just has to click ‘Accept’ one more time the next time they log in. That is sort of the accepted model that you see a lot of places (i.e. Apple, Amazon, etc.).

    Second item is that Jason should not rewrite AppIgnite to generate code on the client side. Unless the server is taking something like 5+ seconds or you can handle a low number of concurrent users during load testing, it is not worth it. It does sound cool, but just hearing the setup and not knowing the performance metrics, I would have to think it will work good enough.

  7. Great episode again!

    A thought on the company naming issue. Over here we have the possibility to register additional names to operate under. E.g. Fringe Division LLC (love that name, btw – kinda like Q Branch) could register the name AnyFu as an additional company name. It wouldn’t be good for contracts etc, but it’s protected as an “operating name”. Kind of like a brand. You might wanna check if this is possible in the US.

    What I’m doing at the moment is registering extra names for new projects and once they are ready to be spun off, they get their own corporation.

  8. Ayoub M. says:

    Great work as usual.

    The Groupon discussion (justin’s idea) made me think about appsumo.com which is a similar thing. But I don’t know how well it works.
    The other idea that might work is doing something similar to the humble indie bundle (http://www.humblebundle.com/) and it worked very well for video games but in web apps and software I don’t know what to expect from something like this.

    What do you thing about this ?
    Keep up the good work.

  9. Riyad Kalla says:

    “Bad cop, sensitive cop” was one of the funniest things I’ve heard in a while. I get the feeling you two don’t realize how funny you are at alternating moments of your own podcasts where you will make yourselves laugh (or each other)… just know that there are likely 100s of us laughing right there with you as we listen.

    Thanks for all the effort you guys put in. We notice and appreciate it.

  10. Brian says:

    Justin: Here are some interesting things I found in this thoroughly researched book on marketing written by a successful professional.

    Jason: Aha, but I have these two or three isolated data points from a relatively niche context.

    That’s what I heard, at least 🙂

  11. Jason says:

    @Brian. Fair enough. I have no idea whether the book is thoroughly researched or not since I didn’t read it. But even if it was, I do know that the rule Justin was explaining wouldn’t apply to me and the Hacker News distribution channel and the reason I raised the issue is that it serves as yet another example of why there are so few universal rules about business, marketing, etc. The reason is that the world and the people in it are complex and full of exceptions. You have to look at your specific case, think in terms of first principles and while being aware of the rules (best practices, conventional wisdom, statistics, etc), make a considered decision.

    I understand the appeal of the general rule (especially to the algorithmically inclined like us) because it makes the world simpler and thus our decisions more clear and less stressful, but the rules often fall far short of encapsulating all of the important subtleties of any given situation. If you choose not to use your brain and think beyond the “rules” then I believe you’re doomed to fail more often than not.

  12. Jason says:

    @Riyad Kalla – Thanks so much for that. 😉 Since I seem to have a bad habit of laughing at my own jokes and since there’s no audience it can be difficult to tell whether the show is actually humorous or not. Also, when the show isn’t growing or growing very quickly, which it hasn’t lately, you naturally start to wonder whether it’s worth putting in all the time and effort. But reading positive feedback like yours always pushes it back towards the “it’s worth doing” category. So, thanks again. 😉

  13. Jason says:

    @Ayoub M. – Yeah, I was thinking of AppSumo while Justin was describing his idea, but I guess I forgot to bring up as a comparison during the show. I actually had a long and interesting conversation with Noah Kagan at MicroConf, so I feel kind of bad that I didn’t even mention it.

  14. Jason says:

    @Mikael Green – I’m glad you like the name Fringe Division! Justin and I like it but my wife thinks it’s total “dorks ville”. But what does she know, right? 😉

    Anyway, I do like the idea of having an operating company name that can encompass one or more projects as it would gives us more flexibility I think.