The Missing Piece
Arlo Gilbert


When I was first in Austin, I always wondered what it was missing that the Bay Area had. Why were their startups so much more relevant than ours?

Then I went there for five years. You’re right in some respects. I worked at Heroku. We used GitHub, and they used Heroku. We knew the folks at SendGrid, Twilio, and basically every other product in our space. We weren’t just customers — we were friends. We often shared investors. We played dodgeball and drank together. We poached each other’s employees. So yes, this is murmeration, but it’s even bigger than that. The Bay Area defines you by your work. Your friends end up being your colleagues. It actually kind of sucks in many ways, because it is so insular.

Startups in the Bay Area use each other’s stuff out of *need*. It’s not a support network — people just build cool stuff, and then find other like-minded people who also need that cool stuff. So yes, we helped and supported each other, without question. But if a product wasn’t useful or as good as something similar, we’d tell people exactly why. I certainly got my fair share of criticism for Heroku’s downtime. It was a problem for us at that time.

So just as we should be using each other’s products, we should also figure out why local customers *aren’t* using our products. Often that’s just a matter of sitting down with a beer or a coffee, and asking them how we can help.