Software Developers Journey Podcast

#101 Jeff Haynie on thinking under pressure, contracting and entrepreneurship


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Jeff Haynie 0:00
I worked on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, I was I was called a troubleshooter, electronic aviation. So I, I was sort of one of those people that stood on this crazy flight deck when planes took off and was responsible for the, for the plane and making sure that people didn't crash and that it was safe to fly. And, you know, if there was problems I was I was sort of responsible for fixing them rapidly. That's sort of a life and death scenario. So I think what I learned in the military was sort of very, very, very fast thinking and very critical thinking and really, life or death scenario. And then the sort of second part of that was just sort of think about things much more logically. Because when you're trying to make life or death decisions, you have to be very calm and think very logically, and try to remove emotion from that. And and you have to do it really fast and compartmentalize and break things down. And so I think I learned some of those technical skills. And then of course, you know, I learned a lot about things that are around software. So how things kind of work at the electronic and the circuit level. I think I learned a lot about that.

Tim Bourguignon 1:05
Hello, and welcome to developers journey, the podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and today, I received Jeff Haynie. Jeff is a longtime developer and investor and entrepreneur who's got a bullish point of view on what the big, crucial future of software development needs to look like. And we might even get a taste of it today. Who knows? I hope so. Let's see. Jeff, welcome to their journey. So Jeff, this show exists to help the listeners understand what your story look like and help them imagine how to shape their own future. So let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your journey?

Jeff Haynie 1:54
Wow, my my developer journey started probably a little different than a lot of people these days, but I started when I was very young I started actually programming when I was 12. I got it, I was fortunate enough to be able to get a computer, a TI94A, which is a very, very, very old computer these days. I don't know if most people even don't even know what it is. But I started trying to figure out how to do this computer thing in my basement, and I built a software game that was sort of back then breakdancing was kind of a big thing. It was the mid 1980s and I was a young kid. And I wanted to write software that could that could animate basically a person on a screen to make them look like they were breakdancing. You know, back then it was games or pretty much all the rage, especially at that age. And I want to build my own game and computer games are just kind of a new thing.

Tim Bourguignon 2:47
How did you come to have a computer and and and start programming like this?

Jeff Haynie 2:51
It's just weird. I don't really even know even my parents these days. You know, we often talk about Oh, how in the world did you even know or get into that? I don't Don't don't really even know. It's kind of a weird thing. Now it's so common, everybody has a computer. But back then my parents were actually a little bit worried because I would, especially when I got to like 13-14 I was spending all my time indoors on this on this thing and they thought it was a little bit strange. They were actually worried that I wasn't getting out and talking to other people and doing doing things that normal kids do at 14-15-16 I was I was kind of banging on this computer and they thought I was just playing games my whole life but I was actually programming and and and I was able to get this computer I don't even remember how I know I saved up my own money and my parents gave me a little bit of money back then you actually bought computers actually bought it at a department store. It's kind of hard to imagine these days right but back then there was a department store called riches which doesn't exist anymore, but it's sort of like a Macy's or you know, any kind of big box. You know, retail type store. Not unlike unlike a Walmart or something like that, but more of a Kind of a retail store where we buy perfumes and, you know, clothing and things like that I bought a computer for several hundred dollars took it home and figured out how to make it work.

Tim Bourguignon 4:09
That's That's amazing. Did you have a feeling that that could become your future?

Jeff Haynie 4:14
I did not, if I I I tell people like I took a an interesting journey I thought it was a I never could have imagined even years later, I never could have imagined I would get paid for it. And that would be something I thought of it more like a hobby, you know, people collect stamps or, you know, they they ski you know, they ski or they snowboard. They do all kinds of different hobbies. Right? And for me, that was just my hobby. Even through high school, I was writing software, my parents owned the business. And by that time I'd moved into like Macintosh, Macintosh, it just come out. And I was I was fortunate my parents bought one for their business. Again, not not knowing that it would have anything to do with their business. It was sort of a novelty and I took it and learned how to build out some word processing in a database software. And then and then encourage them to buy several other Macs and then we put them on everybody's desktop and, and but even even even through all that journey I mean, I just thought of it as a cool fun hobby. I didn't think you could actually make money with it. I mean, it was a little bit of a just a strange thing that I did, because I loved it not because I intended to ever be a professional developer, I could have never imagined that even

Tim Bourguignon 5:26
I concur. Yeah. Did you at some point decide to go and study this or how did you transition to professional life?

Jeff Haynie 5:35
Well, that's that's what was interesting. So when I was in late high school, I kind of there was this sort of the notion of computer science as a degree was not even. It was more electrical engineering and sort of these sort of other types of degrees, not sort of direct computer science programming. And that was sort of just starting to happen. And so because of sort of this point of view, and I've been doing computers for a long time, I joined The military here in the United States, I joined the Navy and I joined to do electronic warfare, which was sort of a kind of an analogous, if you will, it wasn't computers in the computer programming sense, but it was sort of technical. That was sort of my my thought was, I would sort of do that because that was sort of something I could do that would be a transferable skill that was highly technical. It was all about computers, but in a different kind of way. And it wasn't really about banging on keyboards. It was more about, you know, a hard science kind of thing. And so I did that and, and did that for years. And then when I emerged out of that military four years later, I did end up going back to school, but again, computers are still pretty a pretty new thing, but I did go back temporarily. I went back to school, I only lasted for about a year because I I figured after I got into it, of course I started a company and that's partly the reason I dropped out but I started, I kept I kept doing it. Programming all through that right as a hobby. And then I just realized I could build software for people and I could make a lot more money and nothing that I was learning in school was teaching me anything. In fact, it was probably, I felt like it was teaching me the wrong things in a weird, weird way, because I felt like I was more advanced and what they were that were teaching. And so I didn't feel like it was really useful. And then I started this company. And then I just didn't have time. And so I just dropped out. This studying the company, it seems like you have from those five minutes we've been talking together.

Tim Bourguignon 7:31
You have a very self made and entrepreneur mindset. So learning on your own and finding your way and creating company was something that was logical to us just coming out of the military just creating mycompany. Let's go.

Jeff Haynie 7:44
It's always I don't know why I think it's because my parents were entrepreneurs. And I have a lot of entrepreneurs in my family. My grandfather owned a number of businesses, much my uncle's own businesses. I just I guess I grew up around it. So for me, it was very logical I started my first company when I was like 13-14. It was I sold the software that I figured out how to build. I built as called bizarre software and we tried to sell the software that I built back then there wasn't an online it was online didn't exist. So the way we sold software back then, at least unprofessionally, as we had mail order, we would literally put it in the newsletter, and people would send you cash, and you would turn around and and mail them with a disc or a cassette. And so I did that for a few years trying to figure out how to make money doing that. And then I like I said, when I got in high school, I sort of did it as more of a services thing. And so it was always sort of a natural thing is like I could figure out how to make money and do this as a hobby. It was sort of I guess, maybe some people cut grass and some people do all kinds of different things. And for me, that was sort of my equivalent journey. And so I guess when I got out of the military, and I got into school, and I started this other business again, I just started it because I was like there's a problem and I can solve that problem and make money along the way. way

Tim Bourguignon 9:01
in which did your time in the military influence you your enterpreneurship mindset?

Jeff Haynie 9:08
Yeah, I don't I don't know how much the military influenced it, you know, the military is a lot more about conformity and following rules and, and discipline. And I would say what really military helped me with that I that I still use, you know, literally every day is I worked on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, I was I was called a troubleshooter electronic aviation. So I, I was sort of one of those people that stood on this crazy flight deck when planes took off and was responsible for the, for the plane and making sure that people didn't crash and that it was safe to fly. And, you know, there was problems I was I was sort of responsible for fixing them rapidly. That's sort of a life or death scenario. So I think what I learned in the military was I sort of entrepreneurialship and I learned sort of outside the military, the military really hone two things. One is it really hone this sort of very, very, very fast thing And very critical thinking and really life or death scenario. And then the sort of second part of that was just sort of the how to apply. I'm not you know, I'm not a classically trained, you know, computer scientist or engineer, you know, I didn't go to school and learn these things I learned sort of through doing. So what it really haunt me to do is really think about things much more logically. Because when you're trying to make life or death decisions, you have to be very calm and think very logically, and try to remove emotion from that. And and you have to do it really fast and compartmentalize and break things down. And so I think I learned some of those technical skills. And then of course, you know, I learned a lot about technology and things that are around software that you don't necessarily always, you know, learn from the software. So how things kind of work at the electronic and the circuit level. I think I learned a lot about that. No, that doesn't that make sense? I

Tim Bourguignon 10:54
know nothing about the military, but that makes sense. Okay, so you came out of Have your service and you started your own company. What did this company do?

Jeff Haynie 11:05
So, the first the first thing I did, when I got to school again, this always is a weird journey you take So, I went to school for that one year but right out of bat, I met a number of people. And I joined a fraternity which I've I'm still lifelong friends with a lot of people from that fraternity even though it's been a number of years now. And and one of the problems at this at this college was the the, what they call the Greek life or the fraternity life and Sorority Life was underrepresented is a pretty decent sized college. And it was underrepresented as far as like news and activities and sort of what was happening with charities and things like that, that the school at the time the school was very anti fraternity and sorority and and sort of the news that came out of this the school newspaper, never covered anything that they were doing there. Greeks were always doing really interesting things and charities and all these fundraisers and all these sort of interesting things. And they just refused to cover it. So, so what happened was I, my, my fraternity was always complaining about this, and not just mine, but everybody was constantly talking about this. And so why don't we just start our own newspaper? And everybody said, That's crazy. What do you mean, you can't start your own newspaper? And I said, Well, yeah, it's can't be that hard desktop publishing. I had done some desktop publishing on a Mac, back in my parents business. I kind of knew that pretty well. I have a little bit of an artistic bent. I'm not an artist by any means. But I care a lot about some of that stuff. And so I said, well, it can't be that difficult. And so I got pagemaker back at the time, and I built out like a little newspaper. And then I tried to figure out how to get it printed. And I had some money I'd saved up from the military, so I could I could sort of spend money to kind of, you know, do a few episodes or newspaper, news newspaper. Sort of runs. And I had a captive audience, I went to a number of the local bars in town and they were banned from advertising or promoting in the in the school newspaper at the time. And so there was this captive audience of people who had cash in order to attract people. And but the biggest captive source of of news and activity, they were sort of banned from so I taught went around to all the bars, and I talked to them and said, If I could do a newspaper that focus exclusively on or Greek activity in Greek life, would you pay me money? And would you give me ad money to do this? And they all said, Yeah, that'd be amazing. Because they were handing out flyers and doing other kinds of things. And it was not super successful. And so that's how I funded it. I went, I got my computer. I built out, you know, a kind of a layout copied sort of the the school newspaper, but it changed all the content. I went around and got a bunch of people who wanted to write journalism students who want to write and wanted to, you know, couldn't wouldn't work higher by the local newspaper and got them to write art. Focusing on Greek life and some of the activities for our own point of view. And then I went got all the the bars in town and the different establishments, and they paid me money to basically advertise. And then then I got it already and I went to print and how do you print a newspaper? Like, you know, you got to figure you don't just go to the Kinko's and print out that the copiers or whatever right? You know, it's a much more involved process. So I went to the local sort of place that printed the local news, the local newspaper, basically that printed also the school newspaper. And they said, there's no way we're going to print this because this is in competition with our biggest source of revenue, which is the school. And so I said, well, that sucks, because I've now got all these advertisers. I've laid the newsletter out, I've got all these articles. I've got this amazing thing that's really cool. And everybody's really excited behind it. And I can't get it printed, and have it laid out and all that. So they said well, why don't you go next to work you Next door, a town or two over and see if someone else would do it because we won't do it. So that's what I did. I got my I got my car, and I drove a few towns over, which is, you know, this is a small rural area in Illinois, I did drive, you know, almost an hour away to this printer. A little little bitty town and this this guy was pretty desperate. He said, Absolutely. He paid me money. Absolutely. I don't care about that other town. I don't make any money from that town. And so I'd made a deal with that. That guy and his printer, his little little bitty towns newspaper, and he printed my newspaper. And we did this newspaper for almost a year, not quite a year, but nine months. It was called initially is called the Greek weekly, we renamed it college weekly. And what I would do is every, it was a weekly paper, obviously by the name, but every couple of days throughout the week, I would spend pretty much all day and all evening doing sort of taking the writings and kind of transcribe them into this layout and pagemaker and then taking all these ads and trying to figure out how to lay them out. I did all by myself. I built it every week. And then what we would do is we would it had to be out Friday morning. So Thursday evening, I would drive an hour take these digital files which back then you had these disc right? I think these the it wasn't the internet. So I had to take these digital files to this printer. They would then put them on this this this machine that would sort of make these plates, they would print the newspaper. That would take several hours. I'll have to wait. I had to borrow a couple of pickup trucks from my fraternity brothers we would load we had about 20,000 a week circulation a lot. We would literally two truck fools worth of paper black and white back then. We would load up our newspapers in the evening Thursday evenings and then we would drive back to town. They would all go partying Thursday night because that's what you do on Thursday night you go drink and party. And and so I would drive Around, they would let me borrow their truck and I would drive around I would, I would deliver these newspapers all over town and all over campus. And then over time, I got some other people to help me out. But pretty much that was ultimately ended up being one of the reasons I left school is because I was spending all my energy doing this other stuff. And there was just no way to go to class. And plus out, like I said earlier, this sort of I felt like class wasn't really teaching me anything. And I made one fatal flaw. I'll end with this story with one fatal flaw. So I was making money. More importantly, I was having a great time, became a little bit of a mini celebrity even in the state. I got some award from the state of Illinois for alternative news for college newspaper. You know, the circulation got pretty big. Everybody was wanting to ride all the advertising on the advertise. It was awesome. It was amazing. Then summer happened, and what I did not anticipate and one of the left life lessons that I learned pretty quickly was that summer rolled around in the college shut down. During the summer literally for about three months almost the college went from a 3025 to 30,000 person town to a few thousand people with everything shutting down all the bars, everything shut down just because it was a little town and there's nothing else going on during the summer. And guess what? Can't run a business when there's nobody around. Nobody read nobody advertise no nothing. And so that was my fatal flaw. So I basically fold it up with the intention to restart it in the fall. I went home, which I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, and I kind of went home for the summer with all intentions to come back in the fall and restart at all and keep going and then I got a job in Atlanta doing software programming for another company and so I ended up Never going

Tim Bourguignon 18:45
Why is it a fail?

Jeff Haynie 18:47
Well, it just I guess I just didn't see the you know, the sort of limitations of the business. I didn't understand the constraints, if you will, I mean, you know, had I maybe I wouldn't have done anything different but but in this case, yeah. Guess the flaw was it kind of killed the newspaper? Because, you know, what do you do in this period of time? No way to make money, no way to continue to pay people and things like that. Luckily, I didn't have a staff really I just had kind of volunteers that I paid to write and do things for me sell and things like that. But it gave me a great transition. I went from there, I went move back to Atlanta. And I picked up another software programming job and, you know, started another company about a year later.

Tim Bourguignon 19:27
Tell us about that.

Jeff Haynie 19:29
Yeah, so I went to work for this company is another interesting story. So again, remember, this is now you know, early 1990s kind of timeframe. So I went to work for this company, I got paid minimum wage, which back then was about, I believe, is about $7 an hour. So I was a software programmer making $7 an hour. It's hard to imagine that these days but and I was a full time programmer. I got hired out of the newspapers to work for this law firm doing software, and I worked there for about about two or three months. And I worked with a number of other people that were a little bit more senior than me, there was a sort of, I would call this my first professional programming job, you know, where I literally got a job with a title software engineer. And it was a law firm, and they were building law firm software. And they had a bulletin board system. And that's how they, they they exchanged the sort of legal files between other law firms throughout the country in the US. And they, they had this bulletin board where other law firms could like log in and download these files. And we were building software for that. And, and sort of a way to automate for these a lot national companies, you know, they had to have law firms all over the all over the country. They couldn't just do it in one place. And so they needed to be able to trade files and things like that with other pure law firms that were working on cases. So I was working for this company and about three months in, I had a number of what I would call senior people, I mean, senior both in age but more important in professional capacity. And but I was doing the same work as they were doing and but they were a little bit more senior than me. And one day I become friends with this guy, really good friends with him and after work in there for a while. And somehow we got talking about compensation. And he somehow he revealed that he made a lot more money than me like he was making like $25 an hour, and I was making like $7 an hour. But we were doing the exact same thing. And I was pretty convinced I was I knew as much if not more than he did. And so I started talking about how in the world or, you know, this is just disparity between how much money you make and how much money I make. I'm a full time employee. And we're both doing basically the same thing on the same team. And he said, Well, I'm not an employee, I'm a contractor. And I said, Well, what does that mean? And he said, Well, I I mean, I work just like you do, and I work, you know, on the same things, but I, the company, I another company, actually, I work for another company, and they rent me out if you will, to this company. And so we started explaining how this all worked. I said, Well, that's fascinating. So the next day I went to the newspaper and I looked for instead of looking for software programmer full time or part time, I found a section which I had not realized what it was contracts. And so I started calling around to companies. Now we're about almost six months in. So I started calling around to a bunch of companies and trying to, in trying to get a contracting job. And back then they would advertise the rate in the newspaper. So you kind of knew what you're calling into. And sure enough, these rates were a lot higher. And I and I got, I finally got someone who was interested. And what I didn't know at the time, but I found out later that this was another contracting company. It wasn't actually an in company, they were a contracting company, a software development company, and they hired me, and this guy hired me and he said, Well, you know, tell me about yourself. I told him about all my experience, and he hired me and he paid me $25 an hour roughly about 25 bucks an hour. And he put me in a company and he said, Well, you're gonna work for me, but I'm gonna rent you out just like you're your buddy. I'm going to rent you out to another company. And I'm going to take a little bit of the income and but you're going to do all the work and I'm going to give you a majority of the of the salary of the of the work as well. This is amazing. I mean, I'm making three times what I made, and this other but I'm doing the same type of work. So I went to work for satellite communications company is one of his customers. And while I'm working at this company, probably I'm too curious, right? I'm an entrepreneur. So I'm always constantly wondering how something works. And I'm asking all the questions. So I'm probably six months on the job, this contract the satellite communication company working on satellite software, and this guy I'm working with, again, good friends with him. And and I'm like, well, somehow we're talking it's a similar kind of story comes up and I'm like, he tells me that well, I have a few contractors, myself and I, I'm working on this project, but I also have a few other people that you know, kind of work for me just like you work for this other guy. And I said, Well, tell me more. How does that work? You? What do you mean you work full time at your job doing what you do, making what you make, and you've got several other people doing the same thing and you're making money on top of that. So you guys, yes, I have subcontractors. And I said, Well, that is insane. Because you're working a full time job plus you're making you know, so you're you must be making way more money than I made. He said, yeah, of course I am. And so he started telling me how it works. Well, I get these younger people, and you know, they do exactly what you you're doing. I just hired them. And, you know, I do my full time job as a programmer, and then I just kind of manage their time and get them into contracts. I know a bunch of people that, you know, that that I can hire them out. And some of them work for this company that we were working with. And to kind of wrap the story up, I about six months later did the same thing I left. I hired several other people. And, you know, I just kept doing this right. And I ended up building a software company, hiring a bunch of younger people that were kind of early in their career. We we sort of would build projects or people or sometimes I would contract out one or one or many of them to work on individual projects. And then I also work full time, if you will, writing software, and I just made more and more money, and that's sort of how I started. So in the 90s, probably about five or six years, I ran a software development company we built mostly built custom software, bespoke software for other people, and they hired us to do that.

Tim Bourguignon 25:17
That is amazing. It's really nice story. How did you balance the risk of hiring people? Do you have a big network around you and you knew where you could place people?

Jeff Haynie 25:27
That's a good question? I never really, I guess I'm a you know, like, a lot entrepreneurs risk is not something that, you know, I spent a lot of time thinking about and that's probably sometimes at a fault, right? I mean, I just don't think about risk. I mean, I've certainly now at my age, I definitely think about risk but it's back then I just it was always the sky's the limit. You know, if I can learn how to do something, the risk is not doing it. What am I missing out on? What am what am I What am I not doing that I could be doing that if I just you know, did something different or whatever and it's sort of like how I made how I got into venture backed startups a similar kind of story in this company I had was doing software development this, these lawyers hired me to build some software for them. They were starting a company. And they didn't know anything about software. And they needed someone to help them. So they hired me and my company, and we had a number of programmers working with them to build the software. And one day, they tried to buy my company. And I thought it was the strangest thing in the world. I'm like, Hold on, wait a minute, why would you want to buy my company, I just basically don't really have anything. I just basically cashflow this thing based on projects. And there's no real, you know, there's nothing you're not really buying anything. I'm just a body shop. Right? And, and what would you be buying? And they said, well, what's your team? He wants your knowledge, and we want your expertise. And we want to build a company, and we want you to come be the CTO and help us and be sort of a founder and help us grow and build this large company, we're going to take public and of course, for me, that was like, what does that mean? And they said, Well, you know, like, we're going to go public, and we're going to be a really big company and we're gonna make a ton of money. And I'm like, Yeah, but how do I make money in that, right? I mean, I you know, and you're The owner, how would I make money in this? Well, you're gonna get options. So what does that mean? I said, Well, we're going to give you stock in the company that really isn't worth anything, but it's basically free. And one day, this company's gonna be worth millions of billions of dollars. And that stock will be worth something that you can sell. And you can take rewards from that stock. And I'm like, Well tell me more. And they said, well, we're gonna pay you $85,000 a year, and you're gonna come and your all your people gonna come work for us, and we're gonna give you a bunch of stock. And then one day, 10 years, 20 years from now, it's gonna be worth a lot of money and my whole That's stupid. You're paying me like, six or $700,000 to build your software. Why would I come work for like, $85,000 I'm making way much more. I'm making way more money running my own business. Uh, yeah, but this is gonna be worth billions of dollars one day. I'm like, Well, you know what, I'll take the money I can get right now. Because that's kind of cash and and I can have the freedom and so I didn't join I built the software from I didn't take any equity. They went public. you kind of know the rest of the story, right? They did go public, it was the dot coms. But they did go public, they did get built a multi billion dollar company. They did make personally a lot of money. And the guy who ended up taking the place that I didn't take, ended up making, I think, you know, several, like 20 or $30 million on on the IPO. And the the two founders made, you know, many, many, much more than that. And yeah, and so that was my first sort of notion of like stock options and that people will give you money to build things and that was the that was sort of the the next jumping off point was I I learned how to say Wow, you can really build businesses build software scale businesses, which is becoming a thing obviously in the late 90s. And I can raise money and build a company and do it on other people's money.

Tim Bourguignon 28:50
That is again a great story. But I've heard a similar story that didn't turn out though great was somebody who took the stock option and the company tanked just weeks after that...

Jeff Haynie 29:00
that's probably 98% of the of the stories that was sort of my, my first, you know, first take at this, I was like, go go days of the of the.com and, and just growth, growth, growth growth. And you know, I got to be up close and personal and watch a company, you know, go through that and become big and make money and, and my my subsequent startup, which I did with this founder, that was the one that took it public and the CEO, we started another company together after that, and it did tank. You know, and we did raise a bunch of money, you know, and it did tank a couple years later when the whole market fell apart. And so I kind of got to see both sides of that, if you will story. One is not a participant, at least financially and the other significant financial investment but the whole thing dissipated. I made no money on that one

Tim Bourguignon 29:52
happens I think,

Jeff Haynie 29:54
happens more than often,

Tim Bourguignon 29:55
you create many companies and one of them was going to be going to be successful. And the others probably not so great. That's interesting how you you went from from developing and then creating companies and then creating companies that deal on the meta level with other companies. And how did he did this evolve in the in the subsequent years? This this juggling between development, body leasing, if I may call it that way, creating software for others producing stuff for yourself, venture capitalism, etc.

Jeff Haynie 30:30
Yeah, so I think what I've learned and what I I've sort of honed over the years now, but and this sort of ensuing years, I sort of learned that, you know, I think having a this is now much very, very clear to a lot of people but back then it wasn't but having sort of a very deep technical mind and sort of being an innovator and an entrepreneur, but also then having a very strong foundational business component, which I had, via my family and just sort of the years of kind of hard not school of hard knocks of doing businesses, I sort of had a rare combination again, today not so rare. You know, Elon Musk, you know, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, there's plenty of people you can look at and, and and have built some of the greatest businesses in the world. But But back then again, it's pretty pretty new most most businesses, you would find it you would have a technical founder that could maybe build the software or build the technology, and then they would bring in a, you know, a suit, if you would, if he would, you know, someone that's a gray haired older business person to help run the company. Right. And that was, that was pretty much the template back then. And so, but what I, what I figured out pretty early on was that sort of the, you know, rare is a rare combination, again, not so rare these days. But back then a very rare combination of someone who really deeply understood the technology and the users and how to build it how how to make it happen, how to actually come up with the idea and create something out of nothing. And then apply business principles. How do you scale it? How do you sell it? How do you communicate, how do you evangelize it? How do you raise money? How do you run the company and I That's very rare. Usually it's a two or three founders that have those skills between them. And and so then you sort of have sort all the inherent challenges come with that. And I was a little bit unique. And partly because I had an early mentor who started I started a company with who, who just told me that he just said, Look, Jeff, he went to Stanford, he was sort of your typical suit. He was amazing person still really close to him today. But you know, he was not technical. But he, you know, sort of knew all those other pieces. And he taught me all that stuff. he mentored me, he helped me sort of on the other side of my brain, if you will, and build the network and really understand how financing works, how capital works, how you know the motivations of venture capitalists, the motivations of customers. And so I learned through that process, how to both build the software, how to come up with the idea, and then sort of execute, if you will, on the business side, which often is sort of one or the other. And putting those two packages together is pretty rare. And so And then you know, so then the sort of next journey was how do you then balance the day to day building of software, which is a very intense, you know, thing, right you know, to be a creator and to build things and that's it that consumes a huge amount of your energy and then to be able to balance that with these other things. I like to call it my day job and my night job. I really feel like I work 24 hours a day, seven days a week most times but I'm doing doing that for so long it to me, it's just my day job and my night job. And it's sort of two different sides, I play pretty well, but I get to mix them together. And I think that what helps me at least be fairly unique because I can I can on the fly, flip the bit from being my high or a bit being all about implementation technology details, how we're doing, you know, how we're going to do this code route or whatever, and I can immediately switch to, you know, how we're gonna monetize it and price it how to communicate and all those things and and, and, and, and, and sometimes I can do that, you know, all within one meeting. with people and provide a lot of contacts with developers or and vice versa, you know, provide a lot of technical details to fill in gaps with business people. And so often that that ends up I think being partly my unique probably skill.

Tim Bourguignon 34:14
And that makes a lot of sense that that's what I heard during my studies as well, is trying to be at the the interfaces, and connect to different pieces that don't really go together. Try to be to be the best in this connection, and then you really open doors. So I'm trying, I see how that that will work out. Do you want to take you through an accelerator and hold it?

Jeff Haynie 34:36
Yeah. So yeah. So fast forward. A couple of companies. I, I sold a company in 2006. It was a software telecommunications company. And we had the fortune that we we sort of sold the company, and I was thinking about what to do next and one of the one of the guys who worked with me early on very early on. He and I really enjoyed working together. And we weren't intending to be with the company that bought us very long. So we started talking about what we do next. And this was 2006, before the iPhone came out, but But we, we were just going to do some software development, you know, just based on the story, you can sort of see I've done sort of software development, even as a contractor as a kind of company. So we decided and he had done the same thing. So we decided, let's just spend a couple years and just do some contract software development. And and on the journey towards that we'll, we'll figure out kind of our next product idea because we were bouncing around a bunch of ideas. And but we just sort of said, let's just kind of fund it through also working with some companies making some money, kind of figuring out what's kind of out there that we could solve. And one of these companies hired us with a very, very large well known book publishing company in the United States. Actually, they're global but but they hired us in the United States to help them build out some software and it was a web based Software. And through that process, after a few months of working with them, they came to us and said, we're working with Apple on this on this project, and we need some help, and none of our people really have the depth to help us figure this out. And they're building a phone and we're gonna, you know, we're gonna we're gonna build sort of some web content and and some things for the launch. And that's how we sort of got into accelerator was we, we sort of work with this company, help them sort of build built, we sort of built this little framework on the side. That was a JavaScript framework. And they wanted to sort of apply that to sort of this mobile thing they've been working on prior to the part of the launch. So we started working with them on that. And we got sort of an early version before even the App Store became public because that was like in 2008. We got sort of early version of some sort of software from Apple with through through them to kind of work and figure this out, and we got this Xcode thing and You know, Objective C thing, and we were just scratching our heads, we figured it out. But we were just scratching our heads saying, Man, there's just no way that the average developer is going to build stuff with this. And that was sort of you know, and we've been working on for a few years. You know, you know, a lot of web oriented stuff. We've done a lot of Ajax frameworks. And we mean, mean, few other people have built a bunch of open source stuff around that. And so we were just, you know, and this is what the time that jQuery and dojo and sort of that sort of venue of, of sort of the web stack, web quote to Dotto stack. And so we were trying to figure out, like, how are web developers gonna do this thing, like if Apple is successful, which of course, you know, in the ensuing months, they launched the iPhone in 2007. And we were just enamored, right and had sort of an up close side side view, but fairly up close side view of that. And we were like, there is no way at the successful that that, you know, sort of the average developers at least for a while are going to be able to do This, I mean, it's gonna take a while for this thing to mature. And along that way, there are millions and millions of web developers and, you know, in web 2.0 is all the rage and Ajax and sort of dynamic websites and all this stuff is really growing really fast. And and it's going to run into this sort of collision course with Apple. And if anybody else gets into this good mode, I mean, it's just how are they going to do that? And we had experienced because my previous company was a telecommunications software company. That's partly why they they work they hired us to work with them. Because back then you hire telecommunications developers to do this kind of stuff. And not web developers. Right. And so that was sort of how titanium was born accelerator was like, we started we started kind of hacking on this idea of could we use our web kind of, we wanted to sort of use our web skills, JavaScript and kind of this whole paradigm that everybody had gotten excited about right around the web. And and how do we do that and but but, you know, sort of do it on this other form factor. And we just, you know, we just started hacking on this. This This concept that I came up with is like, initial version was like, could we just, you know, use a, you know, sort of write it in the web, HTML, JavaScript, CSS kind of language and then compile it into if you will, kind of the native technology so the developer kind of gets the best of both worlds and that that became, you know, upsell rare titanium that became sort of we did and we just, it just and we did a desktop version before the mobile version, right. But but but but but man, once we started doing this mobile thing and showing it to developers, it just, it just took off it just, you know, it was one of the fastest rocket ship things I've ever seen. I mean, it just, people just want it more and more and more of it and obviously was open source. So we, we were fortunate that we started showing it to a number of investors that I had known from my previous company, and everybody we showed it to said, you know, the apple apples, not going to be successful in this iPhone thing. You know, nobody believed it. I mean, in Silicon Valley, at least at the top I mean, everybody, of course, in the rear view says, Oh my god, everybody knew about it, right. But when I was going around the valley in 2007, virtually everybody was saying they all had blackberries. And they were virtually saying apples a joke, right? Because it was a joke in those times, you know, it almost went bankrupt several years before, right before Steve Jobs returned. So, in Silicon Valley, nobody believed Apple was going to be, you know, as a consumer company, everybody gave it that, but nobody believed it was going to go against Nokia or blackberry that owned, you know, 100% of the market. And so, but we were just like, Oh, my God, this is gonna change the world, right? I mean, we were just like, and obviously, other developers and other companies, we were talking to all agree like know this, if they're successful, this is going to be big. We, of course, didn't know how big was going to be but we just knew it was going to be tectonic. And so one or two investors, we finally after talking to a number of essers, one of them said, You know, I don't know if this apps you know, Apple thing is going to be successful. But I know you guys are going to be And I just, you know, I know you guys are going to be successful, and I'll invest in you guys. And I figured, you know, one day you'll get tired of this mobile thing, and you'll figure something else out. Because you got a cool product, you got a community, you're building, you know, whatever. And so he invested in us, along with several other people, and we raised money. And then, you know, about a year later, you know, he and everybody else was pretty much all in on Apple when the App Store started coming out everybody, of course, you know, the rest is history, of course, but, you know, that was sort of accelerated. So we ran that for 10 years, raised quite a lot of money, built a really large, you know, footprint and the ecosystem and did some really, really cool things.

Tim Bourguignon 41:40
Yeah, sounds like it and it's a nice coming back to your roots. Say, it was actually the to the Apple, Apple Computer you had when you were a kid in school. Do you want to fast forward to to pinpoint.

Jeff Haynie 41:53
Yeah, real quick with pinpoint I mean, so we sold the company accelerator about four years ago. We're fortunate to sell to a much larger company who continues to innovate pretty heavily on on on that stuff. And we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do next, me and the co founder, Nolan. And, and you know what, what I like and what he likes is, is really building as you can probably tell from my story, I like to build things that I really understand really well and they're sort of, you know, you know, problems that I'm uniquely qualified for like to solve, and I'm solving them not in an abstract way, I'm solving them for myself, and hopefully, you know, a lot of other people. And so similar to sort of, when we got to be a much larger company and several hundred people and, you know, developers in three different places, and, you know, we sort of still, of course, I'm still writing code, but you know, my, my code writing on a daily basis was no longer, you know, production code. It was more of like hacking around on different ideas and as a way to sort of stay close to the development team and also our community. But when I was really fresh because I was traveling a lot and kind of spinning 98% of my energy on sort of commercial side of the business, and being in front of people. What I was frustrated by was I just didn't feel like I knew what was going on in engineering, we had a really phenomenal product, product team. We had a really great engineering team and a large communities open source, so a lot of stuff going on. But I just always felt disconnected me, both of us, me and my co founder. And that was sort of we started talking about this concept of pinpoint was like, you know, engineering is very much creative sport. You know, it's very much team oriented. It's all about innovation and creation and making things and but it's also pretty analytical, but we don't use any of that data to drive better outcomes in engineering. I mean, we talk about it, but we really don't use you know, we don't really do that. And for most companies, I'm sure there's some great companies out there that do and I don't know who they are, but none of the ones I've experienced really do. And so, but then we looked at sales And we looked at marketing, we looked at finance, look, there's other areas, and they had operations teams, right? I mean, you know, that really came alongside the creative people, and then help operationalize and provide excellence and, and really thought about peak performance and things like that and leverage data to drive decisions and, and help figure out where you spend your, your calories. So that was sort of like the idea pinpoint is like, why can't we do that for engineering? I mean, why can't there be an engineering operations function? And why can't we use all this amazing data and software? To run software to run engineering better? Why can't we help software? You know, software development teams build software better? And, and and if we could do that, like, you know, and if not, we've done this through many times of doing tools, right, and building frameworks. But But what if we didn't do that? What if we instead built a framework for building software, not the actual writing of software, or the deploying of software or the maintaining of software, but the actual process of software development, and that was sort of the the pinpoint idea was that there's all this amazing data, none of us being us, really. And my thesis was that engineering is really about deficient information deficiency. Because, you know, I like to say all the information existed inside of engineering, it's just unevenly spread out. It's usually people's heads are in different systems. And so the the net effect is you got to spend a lot of time in meetings. And so that became the concept behind

Tim Bourguignon 45:23
that is amazing. So it's a it's a superset on all the engineering practices, whichever framework of choice you have made it the waterfall of Scrum or canceling something right on top of that, to follow up on what the engineering teams are doing.

Jeff Haynie 45:38
That's right. It's an IT Think of it like a platform for running engineering. So if you imagine independent of your process independently, they use GitHub or get lab and depending on whether you use you know, JIRA or some other system clubhouse, independent of whether you however you do ci CD, it doesn't matter but all that data, every day, all the things the engineering team does, how do we pull all that data into a Smart brain, use artificial intelligence to understand what's happening and then provide better and better outcomes for the people that are writing software. And then also may also help the other people that are around the software team, help them understand what's happening, help them better, better make trade offs, help them do forecasting and prediction, things like that.

Tim Bourguignon 46:16
Awesome. Awesome. Very interesting. I'll have to look at it.

Jeff Haynie 46:22
Yeah it's free. Get started.

Tim Bourguignon 46:23
Okay, that's even better. That's right. Um, we have reached the end of our time back. So if you had one actionable advice for the listeners should do this week, would you would you tell them

Jeff Haynie 46:40
Wow, that's a really, really hard one outside of the COVID-19 be safe, wear a face mask and when you go outdoors and be careful around people that might have, you know, medical issues. You know, I think, you know, my piece of advice is I would probably depending on what domain you're in, in software. Every domain of software I think artificial intelligence, machine learning certainly is a overhyped thing, like everything that happens in software these days. But I do think there are a lot of very real and practical opportunities and pretty much every part of every business right now that can leverage even really basic machine learning capabilities. We've Of course been doing this now for a couple years and we have a decent sized data science team and I have just been having spent a lot of energy in the last two years on this, I am shocked the types of things that you can do and how it can leverage so I would encourage everyone that if you're not, you know, a professional data scientist, I would start trying to learn and understand and see how it is going to impact because I do think it's gonna have profound impacts on every part of the software development process.

Tim Bourguignon 47:49
Awesome. Yeah. And that that is true. I I did a gig for German bank a few a few I did many gigs for German bank, so I should stop the German banks, but I didn't want on them and At the end of the of the implementation phase, I really wondered how we could have done this with with with ml with with an AI, just not coding any of the equations and coding any of the things we did and just teach an AI or training an AI to, to do this for us. Right. And I think we are a few years too early for this, but I see this coming.

Jeff Haynie 48:27
Yeah, I'm shocked, even in one year, how much things have matured and how much better the ecosystem has gotten in the tooling. I mean, it's, it's and that's what I think, you know, it's gonna be interesting over the next two years, three years, four years, so I think it's gonna, you know, like a lot of things, it ends up taking a little bit longer to get started, but when it happens, there's a huge inflection. And I think we're starting to reach that now.

Tim Bourguignon 48:50
Yep, yep, we are. Awesome. Thank you, Jeff. That has been fantastic.

Jeff Haynie 48:54
Thank you very much.

Tim Bourguignon 48:56
If the listeners wanted to continue this discussion with you, where should hit you, where would be the best place?

Jeff Haynie 49:01
best place to start probably two best places on Twitter. My handle is Jay H, a Y and IE. So my first initial j Jeff Haney, H, a Y and a my last name. That's probably the best place. The second best place would be pinpoint calm PI mP oint.com. And I right there on that blog, we write about a lot of things that are not about pinpoint. We write a lot of a lot of these types of topics we talk about, and we write about, so we got some really good content there as well. Awesome. Jeff,

Tim Bourguignon 49:31
thank you very much. Thank you very much. And this has been another episode of dopest journey, and we'll see each other next week. Hi. This is Tim from a different time and space with a few comments to make. First, get the most of those developers journeys by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice and get the new episodes out to magically right when the podcast is available on all major platforms. Then visit our website to find the show notes with old links mentioned by our guests, the advices. They gave us their book references and so on. And while you're there, use the comments to continue the discussion with our guests and with me, or reach out on Twitter, or LinkedIn. And a big, big thanks to the generous Patreon donors that helps me pay the hosting bills. If you can spare a few calls. Please consider a small monthly donation. Every pledge, however, small caps. Finally please do someone a favor and tell them about the shoe today and help them on their journey.