“If you hurry to get to the future, you always get a punishment for it. For example, instant coffee.”Alan Watts
Fast paid too little attention to burn rate because it just assumed the VC gravy train would keep rolling. It’s not the only one, so don’t be surprised to see similar stories in the near future. It’s a startup strategy that’s mostly paid off for the past decade but, as we first discussed in January, things have changed. It’s like the longest-ever game of musical chairs has finally ended. It’s been a long time since these morning missives have needed a dedicated section to track VC-backed startup layoffs and closures. We’re not quite there yet, but I’m sensing it on the horizon.Dan Primack, Axios Pro Rata Newsletter.
Dan Primack outlines the more significant implications of the news that Fast, an online commerce-focused company, will shut down. The company, which employed 450, raised $120 million (at a valuation of over $500 million) from Stripe, Index Ventures, and Addition. Fast Founder Domm Holland has a colorful past, and those in his native Australia aren’t big fans.
VC backing. Web3 backing. Well, there is a third way of funding innovation. Web’s big winners fund the future with their dollars and with open source ethos at its core. And doing so with little fanfare. Tom Preston-Warner, founder and former CEO of GitHub, has put a million dollars into a web framework, RedwoodJS. Instead of turning Redwood JS into a company, Preston-Warner is keeping it open source and letting it grow on its own.
When you take venture funding, you sign up for a rocket ship ride that will either take you to the moon or to crash-land painfully back on earth. Those are the only two choices. And both rides tend to require heavy extraction of value from the customer.
Right now, we prefer a third choice: build a sustainable open source project that evolves and grows naturally, without artificial growth hormones. For a difficult-to-directly-monetize framework project like Redwood, it will take us time to find the right model of sustainability that aligns with the community. That’s hard to do without some money, though.Tom Werner-Preston
John Markoff, a veteran technology writer who had an immense influence on my approach to writing and journalism about technology, has written Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand, a new biography of Stewart Brand. If we enjoy the Internet and the web today, we owe some attention to Brand and his pioneering work. Markoff, who spent years writing for the New York Times, is a fantastic writer and a great storyteller. Slowdown, a web publication, interviewed him about the book, and I highly recommend it.
PS: I interviewed him during the pandemic.
Stuart Brand has created a Raspberry Pi-based computer housed in the body of a cassette tape. He started working on this computer because why not. “It would be nifty to see if I could fit an entire ZX Spectrum emulator into a cassette tape shell,” he told the official Raspberry Pi magazine, MagPi. Now he uses this ZX Spectrum Pi Cassette as a “pick up and play device whenever he fancies a quick bash at some old school gaming.”
April 6, 2022. San Francisco