Twilayfunbootrucknes!!! VC vs. bootstrap funding, recent layoffs at NPM, and more!

The gents look back with some hindsight on the debates around private equity, VC vs. bootstrapping Honeybadger, and how funding decisions may have affected recent layoffs at NPM and Travis CI. Our recent Twitter ad performance for FounderQuest is also discussed as well as Nintendo graphics and food trucks. Join us! , debt, the NES graphics engine and Twitter ads.

Full Transcript:

Josh:               We did it. We forgot to send him headphones, Starr.

Starr:              He said he had headphones. I asked him, Josh. I asked him.

Josh:               We're trying to get Ben to part with his AirPods, and it's like pulling teeth, man.

Announcer:          It's like Steve Jobs and The Dude had triplets and they built an app. This is FounderQuest.

Starr:              Can you hear us?

Ben:                Kinda.

Starr:              Yeah? Well, the AirPods might give you a little bit of a delay. I could imagine that would be ... this KVM, the video part worked even though the keyboard and mouse didn't work, but I totally forgot that this monitor can't do 60 hertz over HDMI. Does that makes sense?

Josh:               What was the refresh rate on the original, the NES games and stuff?

Starr:              Oh, it's super good.

Josh:               Right?

Starr:              Because it's a CRT.

Josh:               Yeah.

Starr:              It's just whatever the refresh rate is for your TV. Right? That's baked into the NSTC. It's for standard, which by the way, is frickin' complicated. Video output onto old school NTSC ... for CRT stuff is incredibly complicated, and I tried to understand it, and I pretty much just failed.

Ben:                Is his PAL any simpler?

Starr:              I mean, I don't think so because you're, because it's all analog, right? You're controlling the signal that goes, this analog signal that goes out and directs this electron beam and ...

Ben:                Yeah.

Starr:              It's just not this world of pixels. So TV's don't, they have phosphors but they don't really have pixels. Like computers have. There's no pixel at 1010 so, but fortunately some, some people who are smarter than I have when I was doing my emulator, they all basically they had mapped out the different cycles of the PPU, which is the NES' GPU, basically. The different clock cycles of the GPU each correlate to a specific pixel on your screen. So I didn't have to actually, you know what? To do an emulator, you don't actually need to know the details of how TVs work and stuff and refresh rate and all that.

Josh:               So the results for the my Twitter experiment yesterday got a little better over time. So it seems that Twitter's ad algorithm is a self, it's a self learning algorithm. So it starts out, you tell it kinda who the type of people you want it to target are, but then it optimizes itself over time as it actually starts to get clicks.

Starr:              Really?

Josh:               If someone clicks then it, I assume, it picks people that are more similar to them or that it thinks are more similar to them and yeah, so it started out when I had first run it for a few hours, I had a, it was, it spent 10 bucks and got 13 clicks and but that's really bad. It was 86 cents a click by the end ...

Starr:              What's a click though? What's a click?

Josh:               No. It was a link.

Starr:              Okay, yeah.

Josh:               Whatever they call it. a link promotion campaign.

Starr:              Okay.

Josh:               There was one link in the tweet and the call to action was, or the result was to click that link.

Starr:              I thought you were talking about your pun.

Josh:               Oh, no. No, that did terribly. That was a follower campaign. I think I learned a lot about follower campaigns too. I just was using the wrong campaign too.

Starr:              Okay.

Josh:               Also, people don't really probably care about puns in their advertised Twitter feed, but it was a fun afternoon and I stand by it. But yeah, by the end of this fall, by the end of the second experiment, which was more of a real experiment, I had brought the click down or the cost per click down to 46 cents. So we got about 113 click throughs to FounderQuest.

Starr:              Oh, nice. Nice.

Josh:               To the episode and yeah.

Starr:              Very cool.

Josh:               At least now we know and I don't know, I think I got the targeting pretty good, but I, it was my first try, so I'm sure we could optimize that a little bit. Maybe the content too. So if we want to buy clicks, we now know that they probably cost somewhere between 25 and 50 cents.

Starr:              Awesome. I wonder how many of those people subscribed or downloaded something.

Josh:               I don't know. I think that's one reason I wasn't quite convinced that it was the best idea to link to the, I linked to an actual episode page 'cause I wanted to talk about the episode is like the reason you want, you get interested.

Starr:              Yeah.

Josh:               But I think if I did this again, I want to try a dedicated landing page that's made for the campaign that has an actual, a real call to action like subscribe.

Ben:                Yeah. Like an intro or something.

Josh:               Right. Yeah. Not just the transcript, which is basically what we have.

Ben:                Right.

Josh:               Yeah, yeah.

Starr:              You know what would be awesome is if we could somehow get people, if we could send Apple users to just subscribe in Apple Podcasts.

Josh:               Yeah.

Starr:              Or I guess people use different, Podcatcher, so it may not work.

Josh:               Yeah, that's the problem.

Starr:              Yeah.

Josh:               Yeah. I did target only people on mobile though. I was smart enough to do that. 'Cause I think people, for a podcast people are going to subscribe on mobile pretty much exclusively. So it's ...

Starr:              Oh totally.

Josh:               You don't want to target desktop users.

Starr:              You know what would be pretty easy to do is to send them to a landing page and on the landing page it detects if they're in Apple or whatever and then just displays the correct ...

Josh:               Yeah that could be cool. Yeah. Yeah. Maybe pre-selects the link or something.

Starr:              Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:               I like that. Yeah.

Ben:                Yeah. Or you could just hide the ones that aren't, right?

Starr:              I wonder if on, 'cause I use Overcast on for my podcast.

Josh:               Okay.

Starr:              And I wonder if Overcast has some code that you could have a button to be like, "Load it in Overcast."

Josh:               Yeah. I was looking at the analytics and Transistor.fm and it said 25, I think 25% of our downloads are through the web.

Starr:              Really?

Josh:               Which surprise me but not too much because because we've done a lot of promoting like my email and the ads and stuff like those. A lot of people might be just hitting the play button because they make it so easy to play the podcast. But I was surprised that the next 25% of users were Overcast. That was the next large chunk of plays. So apparently everyone is using Overcast and I'd never heard about it.

Starr:              I'm like one the only subscribers.

Josh:               Yes. Or Starrs is just listening on repeat.

Starr:              It is, yeah. They have their own directory and everything.

Josh:               Wow. Okay. Yeah, I guess I just, yeah, I dunno. I just like always use the podcast app just because it's default, I guess.

Starr:              Yeah, I guess if you're fine with a default experience, Josh.

Josh:               A default podcast listening experience.

Starr:              Some of us demand a more premium experience though.

Josh:               Yeah.

Ben:                Something that occurred to me with all this Twitter promotion and this work that you were doing or the past couple of days is that we now have our second product. I didn't realize this until this morning and maybe I'm late to the game here, but FounderQuest is.

Starr:              Oh my God, you're right. Only we don't make any money from it. It just costs us money.

Ben:                Well you know, hopefully it's helpful for lead gen in the general. Right?

Josh:               No, I had the same idea. Content is infinitely easier to promote online than a SAAS. So that's the thing I love about FounderQuest and I love about if we do any other kind of content related things is that especially if they're standalone, we can take those and treat them as products with the Honeybadger and have a marketing playbook for them basically. 'Cause I'm pretty convinced I can generate traffic to the podcast now, I think. It seems like people like it enough and it's easy to promote via ads and stuff. So, yeah, it's really just depends on how much we actually want to throw into it.

Starr:              That's really cool. Personally, I think, I'm a little bit more comfortable promoting the podcast from my personal like Twitter account and stuff.

Josh:               Yeah.

Starr:              I can promote blog posts and stuff about Honeybadger, but, but I'm not gonna just day after day just be like, "Hey everybody sign up for Honeybadger." Yeah.

Josh:               Yeah. Well, it's 'cause we're actually talking about stuff.

Starr:              I know, I know.

Josh:               There's actual new things to talk about that relate to the actual thing that you're promoting. So it makes it a little easier versus just being a broken record.

Starr:              So have you guys heard about the recent NPM layoffs and all that? You've been following the gossip?

Josh:               Not a ton. I've been exposed to it mostly through your tweets to be honest.

Ben:                Yeah, same here.

Josh:               Yeah. I've read a little bit about it and it seems pretty shitty to be honest, but I don't know all the details.

Starr:              Yeah. So let me tell you. Basically, so NPM, unlike most package managers, NPM has the package manager for Node, right? Just like Ruby Gems, the package manager for Ruby. Hex is the package manager for Elixir. But unlike these other entities, NPM is a for profit start up or its, not NPM, but I don't know.

Starr:              There's some entity, the entity that runs the main packager repo thing where everybody goes and grabs their packages from is a for profit start up. So recently, I guess what happened is they had new management come in, a new management, the new focus on making more money. They're gonna turn things around. I don't know. And so as part of this, they decided that they needed to shake up the team and so they did a bunch of layoffs. I don't think the number of layoffs they did was super high, but the way they went about them was super, super shitty. Right? They laid off their, I think they laid off their CTO via a text message.

Josh:               Wow.

Starr:              Yeah.

Josh:               At least it wasn't a tweet from the company account.

Ben:                I was going to say, that's totally Trump's playbook right there.

Starr:              Yeah, they laid off this one developer I was following. They laid him off after two days after he had been hired. They laid off one person days before their options were about to vest.

Josh:               I saw that one. That one was, yeah, that's, that sucks.

Starr:              And so it's just this whole sort of sleazy stew of grossness and NPM isn't the only people that have had some issues lately. A couple of months ago, Travis CI was acquired by a private equity firm, right? And private equity firms, what they do is they go in, they see a company that is, they've raised money, but they're not making quite enough money to sustain themselves at the levels they've been spending money at. And so they buy the company, they do a bunch of quote unquote renovations. They quote unquote make it better, which basically means firing people.

Starr:              Yeah. Then everybody from Travis got fired pretty much, I guess some people are still there and yeah. And then there was a recent outage of it and nobody was able to respond to it because they had fired everybody who knew how to raise respond to outages. So it's just this whole shit show. I think is obvious to me. The main culprit here is this VC model of funding that we have as an industry. I thought it'd be fun to talk a little bit about sort of VC funding versus bootstrap funding.

Josh:               I like it. That was a really good intro by the way, Starr.

Starr:              Thank you. Thank you. I just got more animated as I got more and more pissed off.

Josh:               Yeah, no, I like that Starr. Yeah.

Ben:                Preach it, brother. Take it to the bridge. Hallelujah.

Josh:               I think the other, one or the other, what did you call them? Renovations or improvements that the private equity firms like to do? At least my favorite is just, and it seems the most natural, is just raise pricing. That makes everything better too if you've got some problems. Right?

Ben:                It's not just limited to the technology wall, of course, right? Private equity firms operate in all kinds of industries. And I think one of the big one, headlines from recent history was Toys 'R' Us, right? The firm came in, rolled up the assets, got a bunch of debt to fund that purchase and then Toys 'R' Us went under when they couldn't service the debt. That can be a pretty, pretty bad end to a business.

Starr:              We're talking now about sort of the end game. What happens to these companies when everything goes wrong? But maybe we should talk a little bit about the lead up. What leads these companies? What is the path on which these companies are that that leads them off of this cliff? Like so many lemmings. Lemmings don't really do that by the way though. It's a myth.

Josh:               Ever seen a bunch of lemmings.

Starr:              No, it was a big scandal. Disney made a documentary in, I think, the '50s and to make it more interest, because there's about lemmings and I guess the business people were like, "Lemmings are boring." And so they made up this thing where they used movie magic to make it look like they were all jumping off a cliff. And that's where the thing that lemmings jump off cliffs do. But anyway, yeah. So these companies are like lemmings. They're being sort of driven off the cliff.

Ben:                Wait, do you remember that lemmings video game?

Starr:              I do. I do. I never played it. I remember the box art though. When it came out I was still rocking a Apple II. I didn't have the hardware to run that. That beast.

Josh:               You could only handle, your Apple II could only handle one lemming.

Starr:              Yeah. So let's think back, boys, back to 2011, 2012. We're just a bunch of baby badgers. We're thinking how nice it would be to start this little company of ours. And so we had this choice and I remember we talked about it and discussed it and thought about it a lot. So the choice is do you go the VC route, do you raise funding or do you keep it kind of all in the family? Sort of bootstrap it. And what are the tradeoffs involved in that? And I think, obviously, these companies that like NPM and Travis and stuff, they went the funding route as do sort of all of the big successful companies. Whereas we chose the sort of keep it in the family bootstraps route. What are the main sort of features that you might keep in mind when you're making that, if we have to make this decision again, what sort of things would be you'd be thinking about?

Ben:                I think one of the key things is how big is your market and how much money do you need to address that market adequately? In our case, we looked at, yeah, this is an opportunity to take some funding for this kind of start up because we felt like the market was big enough to support that. But I think one of the factors to consider is you're going to be getting a big chunk of money and what are you going to do with that money? You're going to go and do some sales or some marketing with it and you need to have a market to address to actually use that money for that marketing or that sales effort. Right? I think that's question number one is what kind of marketer are we going after? And does it respond well to having a boatload of cash to go after it?

Starr:              I think that was something that we were seriously doubting too. We were seriously doubting whether or not our market was big enough to support this model. Right? And many of our competitors went ahead and raised funding and they have done very well. Many of them are bigger than us and that's fine. More power to them. But I think this interesting thing is happening where a lot of our competitors now are kind of being forced, I assume, to almost pivot away from error monitoring, error tracking, which is our bread and butter into this whole application performance metrics space. Because that's where New Relic is. That's where the companies that make real money are, whereas sort of individual error tracking like we do is, I'm wondering if maybe it was just a little bit too small of a market for the people. What did you think?

Ben:                Yeah, I wonder if at that might be the case. Sentry is definitely going to the APN thing. I haven't seen any word from Rollbar if they're making any changes, but you could say that error tracking is more of a feature than a product. Right? If you look at it that way and you can say, "Oh, I need a bigger product then to sell into the larger organizations to make those revenues that I need to get to help make the VCs happy with it." Revenue people.

Josh:               Yeah. Well you also think about, we talked about the size of the market and markets are not usually unlimited in size. We've all been at this for a while, 10 years now. I think we've been in it for for seven but error tracking is kind of a thing has been around for 10, 15 years. I think there's a good chance that if you're VC funded and you've got these investors that are expecting constant returns, you're going to hit the top of that market eventually and then they're gonna want you to go somewhere. They want you to keep growing. You still have to keep growing if you've hit the, you've completely consumed your market. Right?

Starr:              Yeah, exactly. 'Cause these people demand just constantly rocket ship growth. And some companies can do that. Google did that. Yeah. The total number of applications out there that need error monitoring is finite. And if that market is saturated, if you, even if you like dominate that market, eventually it's, that's not going to be good enough because you're going to plateau and you've got to keep growing to keep those investors happy.

Ben:                Yeah. I think the end point, the end game in that scenario when you do get addressed as much as the market as you possibly can and that growth stops is acquisition, right? The return comes from selling that company to a larger company. So maybe they company gets sold to IBM or some deep pocketed technology company that could roll that feature or that product up into their offerings that they can then take to the rest of their customers.

Starr:              Yeah, that's true. So what do you actually give up? What type of control do you give up when you take funding? Because just because somebody gives you some money, it doesn't mean they necessarily have control over your company. It seems like maybe over time investors can gain more, if a company isn't just amazingly going gangbusters, where it immediately generates all the capital it needs to expand, it seems like investors kind of over time get more and more control over what's going on. Right?

Ben:                Well, it's like the variation on the golden rule, right? He who has the gold makes the rules. If you have to keep going back to the well as a company, if you've taken money and you can get to profitability and you can't get the growth that you need and you have to go back to investors and say, "Hey, I need some more money." Well, additional conditions may come into play and that's really what it's all about. What terms? Right. Because someone will give you 1 million bucks with no strings attached. Hey, take it.

Starr:              I know, right? Can you believe the Jason Fried thing from MicroConf? How Jeff Bezos is a minority and Jeff Bezos is a minority investor in Basecamp and he has no control. He has no power. He just gave him some money and they didn't even use it to expand the company. They just took it for themselves.

Josh:               Taking money off the table was, I think, was the term he used, which ...

Starr:              I know.

Josh:               Which I love. Yeah.

Starr:              'Cause there are so many people just wanting to do that with everybody's business. They just want to give you money to ...

Josh:               Well, I think the reason that ... he said that they took that money is one reason that I think is probably a good reason for, in some cases, take money off the table, which means that they were, they had this risk that they were putting all this time and effort into this company and they weren't quite sure, they didn't know for sure if it was going to be a huge success or if it was going to eventually go away. And since they weren't taking funding and looking for a big exit, taking this money and kind of just putting it into their savings account meant they were kind of getting some of the benefit upfront of having that success in case that you know something, it, did it work out in the future.

Starr:              Oh yeah. It sounds great.

Josh:               Yeah. So if you're listening, Jeff ...

Starr:              I know. I'm just wondering what's the pay off for Jeff? Why do you do this? Did he just want to be one of the cool kids because Rails was taking off at the time? Where's his pay off?

Josh:               I don't know. I don't think Jason got that far.

Starr:              He gets his distributions of the profit of course.

Josh:               Yeah.

Starr:              I can't imagine he cares about that.

Josh:               I don't know. He's an investor. I guess every little bit counts.

Starr:              Yeah. But I guess what we're getting at is that most investors want a little bit more control. They don't just want to give you a pile of money and have you use it to buy yourself a sports car. So imagine you're a little start up and you raise an angel round. Right? Well those angel investors aren't going to take 75% of your company, hopefully. They'll, I don't know, take 10%, 15% and then okay, that's fine, so then you need to grow so you need some more money and you issue some more stock and you keep going back for more and more rounds and over time basically you sell off the company bit by bit to fund it, but that leaves the people who founded it with less and eventually you can get less, have less control and maybe even lose control of the company if you don't have a majority of the stock.

Ben:                I think that's the key. And one of the talks we had at MicroConf talked about that. Chris at Wistia talked about how they went to, they got the debt so they could buy out their investors. They can have that 100% control. Again, I think the moral of the story is if you own the company and you're profitable and you can do whatever you want for as long as you want, right? You've got an infinite runway. The only problem is when those things aren't true, right? We have to start giving up control to get the money 'cause you're not profitable. And I think we decided from day one that we wanted to optimize for profitability so that we could be in control. That was our whole goal.

Josh:               You said that sales and marketing were big...are big factors when you are considering taking money in the beginning. You can do a lot more of them with a lot more money. Hiring's also a big deal. Right? Or, too, right? Usually, what I see companies starting out and they take a, they get a VC round or something. Then they just start hiring like crazy. Even ahead of the actual, they might not actually need all these people, but they're assuming that they will if they're successful, which is they have to be successful. And for us that was, I don't, I think we were all three developers and we were comfortable building, we didn't think we were going to need 50 people right off the bat to build an error tracker and not to mention our whole model of product development is kind of the opposite of that. We're lean and agile, so you can't really, it's harder to be agile when you have 15 people sitting around on their hands looking for something to do.

Starr:              We obviously chose to go the the bootstrap route. Three of us own the company completely. As a result of that. What have we gotten from that? What have we lost from that? Lets be negative first. So first of all, we have given up some growth. We're a smaller company.

Josh:               Yeah. Potentially a lot of growth. I think too, if we're being honest. We've seen the market is big, so if we had had a ton of money in the beginning to to go after it, we'd probably be a lot bigger than we are now.

Starr:              We've had to keep things small intentionally, right? We can't really do a ton of big new projects and stuff, but what have been the, the positive outcomes of this?

Ben:                Well, we get to determine what our workday is gonna look like, right? We get to determine what our roadmap is gonna look like. We get to make all the choices because we're in 100% control. We've chosen the king option over the be rich option.

Starr:              Just to round out the picture of funding. One other thing that we briefly touched on but we haven't really talked about is this idea of debt. And I know that we all started out very sort of anti debt because you get this idea of, well, I think all of us had been very scared of taking on too much consumer debt in our lives. Personally, I've come around to the idea, even though we haven't taken on any corporate debt, I'm much more sort of friendly to the idea then than I used to be. If we knew that if we ran say a certain Google ad campaign, like an AdWords ad campaign and we were getting 200% ROI on it and we knew that we could scale it, we just needed $50,000, yeah, I'd be all about that. Let's go borrow $50,000 from the bank.

Josh:               Yeah. I think I'd agree with that. Especially in that case, the results are kind of measurable and you can see the money come back progressively over time. I think that makes total sense. It's a lot different from just taking debt because you want something.

Starr:              I feel like this is a big step for us. I feel like we're really becoming more sophisticated on air.

Josh:               Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know.

Starr:              While people are listening.

Josh:               Yeah. I've been very anti, I am very anti consumer debt.

Ben:                Regarding the debt question, when we started out we didn't want to do that. We didn't fund the start up with credit cards. Right? We funded it with our own sweat equity and going to a bank really would not have been an option because the business had not existed. There were no revenues, there's no history. Now we're in a different place. A bank, I think, would be happy to give us some cash because yeah, we do have revenues and unless an act of God happens, the business isn't going going away tomorrow. Right? There'll be revenues tomorrow just like there were yesterday. Right? Yeah, we're definitely in a stronger position on that front. So yeah, I think taking on debt at this point is not that much of a risk.

Starr:              No, but we have a business. We could totally do a bait and switch on them.

Josh:               I have always kind of wanted to start a food truck. So maybe we'll ...

Starr:              There you go.

Josh:               Honeybadger food truck.

Starr:              Well, what would we have?

Josh:               I want to start an oatmeal, because I really like oatmeal but it's usually boring. Art as an oatmeal truck.

Starr:              Okay.

Josh:               Hear me out. Hear me out.

Starr:              Sell me on this.

Josh:               We've got a name. It's called Rollin' Oats.

Starr:              Okay.

Josh:               And you'd have all kinds of special, you'd get to pick all your own toppings. Yeah. It wouldn't be your regular, your normal morning oatmeal, Starr.

Ben:                One of the things I thought was interesting, and this wasn't on our agenda, but just an aside, I can't not say it, was, we had calls from investors in the early days of Honeybadger. For some reason when we started Honeybadger and Sentry was starting out and Rollbar was starting out about the same time, there was this just this food, I don't know what you call it, but the sector was hot.

Starr:              Feeding frenzy.

Ben:                Yeah! A feeding frenzy. That's good. That's what I was thinking. The investors were just pouring money into this space of development tools. For some reason it just was really hot at that time. Right? And so just by being virtue, by the virtue of being in the space with a product at the time we were interesting to investors. We never sought any, they sought out us.

Ben:                I fielded these calls on a regular basis and we always said, "Well, tell me what you're gonna offer. It doesn't sound that interesting. We want to do it our own. Thanks very much and we'll circle back in a year." Because they always want to circle back in a year. So we got, I don't know, four years into it, I guess, and still getting the occasional call. But I had told people no enough times that they eventually just stopped calling. But I remember this one call in particular ... they did the same into. Like "This is what we're about. We'd like to talk to you about Honeybadger and blah, blah blah." And they said, "Well, how are you doing?" Like, "Well, there's still three co-founders. We're profitable. We've been around for five years now." And I remember this one guy just, when he heard that and he's like, "Oh, well then you don't need us." Right? And it just felt like it really, at that point, is when the first time I felt like they're just praying on the weak, right?

Starr:              Oh yeah.

Ben:                They're looking for people who are in distress or have run out of money or are really up against the wall. And when they realize, you know what? You've been in business for five years and you're profitable, there's really nothing that we have to offer you. You figured it out. Right? Basically.

Starr:              Yeah.

Ben:                To me, that was an eye opening, once you get to the point where you're making money on a consistent basis and basically you figured it out, although you'd never really do completely figure it out. But once you get to that point, you don't need that anymore, you're good to go. And if you can get to that point on your own, boom, you're golden.

Starr:              Oh, totally. And there's so many, man, there's so many sharks out there in the water, looking for these distressed companies. I'm not going to say their name because I'm not sure if I would get sued because we have an NDA and stuff, but we were pursued for acquisition by a fairly well known company and the developer tools sector and it eventually turned out they were pursuing us as if we were this distressed company as opposed to a frickin' wonderful growing fierce, beautiful ...

Josh:               Kick ass.

Starr:              Kick ass, bootstrap company and yeah, and so it was this weird disconnect because they were just like, "Yeah, we're just going to cut all your users loose. We just want your code base." And we're like, "But we have all this profit. What are you even talking about?"

Josh:               Yeah, that should have been a flag to us.

Starr:              I know.

Josh:               Yeah, how could this be true? It sounds too good to be true. I guess it was too good to be true, but it's like they didn't have a playbook for companies that actually had profit and customers. Yeah. They just didn't know what to do with it. So that was kind of a funny, it was weird because they were having, they got, we had these discussions at one point, where like, "Okay, so what do we actually do with all of our actual revenue?" 'Cause it's not like it was not necessarily big enough to be super interesting to them, but it's, who throws revenue away? I mean that's crazy.

Starr:              I know. Our revenue was maybe a tenth, 10% of their revenue the previous year or something. It's not crazy bad.

Josh:               Right.

Ben:                It might've been closer to a 1%.

Starr:              1% well, I said the previous year because they were on a growth trajectory, Ben. But still.

Josh:               They're 10 X-ing, Ben. Come on.

Ben:                Every day.

Starr:              Yeah, so it's just such a weird environment and also at MicroConf, there were all these investors just kind of circling, mingling. You could kind of spot them because they were dressed a little bit better than everybody else. They looked a little bit more expensive. They're a little bit more smooth talking and just kind of mingling. Just like you do 'cause they're just interested in the space. They're just really fascinated by people who make these small companies and how they do it. It's just so amazing to them.

Ben:                Funny you should say that there are some people who are just interested in the space. There are actually some investors who are private equity investors, I guess I should be clear, who actually do run companies pretty well after they acquire them. There are those that acquire, roll up a number of SaaS or small e-commerce companies and purchase them from the creator or from the operator, whoever has started the business because, typically, the answer, the reason is I just got kind of bored of the business or I got tired of running it or it's just not what I want to do now. And so they'll buy the business from the owner, the owner has cash in hand and goes away happy and the acquirer just keeps running the business and that, there are a few of those at MicroConf as well and I've seen that work out fine. That's an option too. If you're running at a revenue generating business and you're kind of just done, then you can sell it to one of these guys and they'll run it for you.

Josh:               Yeah, I think it kind of, for me, it would depend on how much revenue we're talking about. I'm not going to throw away Honeybadger's revenue just because I'm bored. I'll just find someone else to do my job and go on vacation or something. But yeah, I could see if I had a side SaaS or something, like a lot of people do and it's not my main thing or maybe it is, but I'm just tired of it and it's really, it's a grind to get the growth to get it to where I want to go. That seems like it would be an attractive offer that could work out well.

Starr:              None of this stuff is absolute and I mean honestly I don't even know what I'm talking about about a lot of this stuff. We've been bootstrapped for so long that we've seen a lot of action around funding and around how this stuff plays out. But we don't really have the inside perspective of a lot of it.

Ben:                Yeah. I think that's, that's a good point to make. 'Cause we made our decision based on our personal preferences. We didn't want to have a boss, we wanted to be in control. And so that's what we know. None of us have run VC backed companies, right? We don't really know how the other half lives. We just know that this worked for us for this time, for this product.

Starr:              Yeah. We're simple men really.

Ben:                We really are.

Starr:              Okay. Is there anything else you guys would like to talk about? Alright, well, I'll talk to you guys later and I'll see you in Slack and have a good one.

Announcer:          FounderQuest is a weekly podcast by the founders of Honeybadger. Zero instrumentation, 360 degree coverage of errors, outages, and service degradations for your web apps. If you have a web app, you need it. Available at www.Honeybadger.io. Want more from the founders? Go to www.FounderQuestpodcast.com. That's one word. You can access our huge back catalog or sign up for our newsletter to get exclusive VIP content. FounderQuest is available on iTunes, Spotify, and other purveyors of fine podcasts. We'll see you next week.

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