podcast • 26MIN READ

How a hacker, a hustler, and a designer made RSS feeds cool

Building a platform that 100,000 devs use every day is no accident, but it can happen (almost) overnight. 

Daily.Dev is the fastest growing online community for developers to stay updated on the hottest developer news, and their mission is to build the home page that every developer deserves.

It pulls together and rewards dev-focused content from 400 sources – letting its users vote on which ones they find the most useful, the most interesting or the most entertaining.

Co-founders Nimrod Kramer and Ido Shamun sit down with me to discuss their mission, the trick to building something that grows itself and why they chose to create a platform that actually makes RSS feeds cool!

Episode Highlights Include:

  • Building the homepage every dev deserves
  • Why RSS feeds are still relevant
  • The importance of curating dev-focused content
  • How to achieve explosive community growth
  • Why Nimrod & Ido are excited about INTERACT

Starved for top-level software engineering content? Need some good tips on how to manage your team? This article is inspired by Dev Interrupted - the go-to podcast for engineering leaders.

Dev Interrupted features expert guests from around the world to explore strategy and day-to-day topics ranging from dev team metrics to accelerating delivery. With new guests every week from Google to small startups, the Dev Interrupted Podcast is a fresh look at the world of software engineering and engineering management.

Listen and subscribe on your streaming service of choice today.

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Transcription:

Dan Lines: Host

Nimrod Kramer: Co-founder and CEO of Daily.dev

Ido Shamun: Co-founder and CTO of Daily.dev

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[Music plays]

Dan: [0:00] Hey, what's up everyone, this is Dan, the host of Dev Interrupted, one of the things that I'm obsessed with, which is one of the reasons that I founded LinearB, are the products, the software, and the tools that developers are using organically. These are the tools that Devs want to use. And that brings me to the topic of Daily.dev. It's a tool that developers really love. And I was able to sit down with the Daily.dev co-founders pick their brain, about their company, the mission, how they made it happen, how did they create a tool that's really kick ass for developers. So, check it out. I hope everyone enjoys the conversation as much as I did.

Producer: [0:39] This episode is sponsored by LinearB. Accelerate your development pipeline with data-driven engineering metrics, continuous improvement automation, and product visibility while cutting your software development cycle time in half. Sign up for your free demo linearb.io. And mentioned the Dev Interrupted podcast discount for one month free when you sign up for an annual pro membership.

[Music fades out]

Dan: [0:59] Hey everyone, welcome to Dev Interrupted. I'm your host, Dan Lines. And today I'm joined by Nimrod Kramer, and Ido Shamun. Together, they co-founded Daily.dev where Nimrod now serves as the company CEO and Ido as the CTO. Guys, thanks so much for joining us. And we were very proud to have you as partners for our first Interact conference last September. Really looking forward to the conversation today.

Nimrod: [1:26] Thank you Dan, thank you for inviting us.

Dan: [1:28] Absolutely. I always like to start by giving our audience the opportunity to get to know you get to know our guests a little bit better. So, Nimrod, let's start with you. Can you give us some background about yourself and let the audience get to know you a little bit better?

Nimrod: [1:44] Alright, cool. So as mentioned, I'm currently serving as the co-founder and CEO of Daily.dev. And personally, I'm really passionate about a lot of things, but in particular, I really love table tennis. That's one of my guilty pleasures. And I also love startups, obviously, which is what I do for a living. So, I'm happy to be here and nice to meet you all.

Dan: [2:07] Yeah, that's-that's awesome. Actually, I think we're gonna get into a different startup that you-you two did earlier. But before we go there, Ido how about you? Like what what's your-what's your background?

Ido: [2:18] I’ve been developing software ever since I remember myself basically, like high school or something, maybe before. I love having your own project, you know, games and websites. And I've been involved with Nimrod for like, almost seven years now I think, more or less. It's been an awesome ride together.

Dan: [2:40] That’s great. Can you remember like your first software project or programming language as a kid?

Ido: [2:46] Yeah, it was C language. It is a lot to learn in high school and I did it like Car Race in CLI. So, it was a simple interface, you know, command line, and you like to use the arrow keys to race against a machine player. So, this is how I started.

Dan: [3:05] That's awesome. I think I also did something like that in high school. We had a computer lab in high school where they taught us C, but I think we did way more boring things like I don't know, for loops, and whatever. I don't remember making a cool game. But that’s awesome. Thanks for sharing. So, a question for both of you. So, prior to founding Daily.dev, the two of you were both co-founders of a company called The Elegant Monkeys. What was that all about?

Nimrod: [3:35] Pretty wild name, isn't it?

Dan: [3:37] It’s an awesome name! [Laughing]

Nimrod: [3:38] Definitely one to remember. So, this company was a deep tech startup that was building a lot of very cool technology around monitoring and measuring human emotions. So, we were doing a lot of research around wearable devices and how we can utilize the physiological data, the fitness data extracted from the device, and understand whether people are happy, whether they're sad, they're stressed, and this kind of stuff. This company was one hell of a ride. Like we operated all over the world, we did [crosstalk] [4:12] data collections, but mostly we were active in the Japanese market, which is, I think, a topic for a podcast for itself.

Dan: [4:12] Wow!

Dan: [4:20] Okay.

Nimrod: [4:21] But it was-it was a crazy ride.

Dan: [4:23] Yeah. Is that-is that because like the culture fit well with the Japanese?

Nimrod: [4:28] Yeah, I think that's definitely one of the reasons, like one of the-the unique aspects of what The Elegant Monkeys was. But it was also you know, it was the distance, it was the age where we started that we were pretty young for all those like super heavy hardcore international transactions with the largest electronics manufacturers in the world, and with-with hospitals, with mental institutions, but it was like pretty, pretty interesting.

Dan: [4:57] Yeah, no, that's awesome. Is that where the two of you-Is that the first time you worked together, the two of you, or how did you meet?

Nimrod: [5:03] So, Ido perhaps you want to tell how we met.

Ido: [5:06] Yeah, actually, we first met while working in The Elegant Monkeys. But yeah, The Elegant Monkeys was, you know, our first, I would call, experience together, you know, working so close to each other for like, several years. And yeah, this was the actual, you know, first experience together.

Dan: [5:23] And what happened to The Elegant Monkeys? What was the end game there?

Nimrod: [5:28] We actually ended up our journey when-when COVID just started, like many other startups, that was-it was too hard to take it forward. We just stopped there, and we started Daily.dev not actually started Daily.dev, Daily.dev actually started us, which is kind of the other way around. I think we can talk about it. Maybe next or later, down the chapter.

Dan: [5:47] Yeah, let's-let's get into it. I mean, sometimes something ends, and something better begins. So, what's the transition to Daily.dev?

Nimrod: [5:55] That's-That's a fantastic question. So actually, Daily.dev started as a side project in the previous company, and Ido the one-is the one who started it and by the time we ended up the journey, it was already big enough that we just decided, “Hey, we're gonna take this as a full-time project. And we're going to try and make it something big and substantial.” So the-the honest truth is that we never planned for it to be a business. But I think-I would love to hear Ido’s opinion, like how things look like in the super early days in the creation of the first version of Daily.dev.

Ido: [6:30] Yeah, and I definitely agree, we never planned it to be something you know, that will grow to be on its own business. It started from the need to stay up to date with everything that's going on, on the development domain, I added Slack channel that keeps sending me you know, news from other sets, feeds and stuff like this, and this was, you know, you can call it the MVP of Daily.dev in a way. And at some point, we decided to take this to the next level, so other people will be able to enjoy it. So, we built the Chrome extension, the first version of Daily.dev, and the leaf seeds, someone answered us on product. And we were very excited to see all the analytics went like crazy. And middle of night, I don't know, like fully lingo or something like this. And then as anyone mentioned, once The Elegant Monkey journey ends, we decided to go full on on Daily.dev and like we-we’re super happy with this decision.

Dan: [7:31] Yeah, that-that's really awesome. I-I’d like to dive in a little bit to the early details. Just kind of, like, to understand what it takes to found or you kind of invented something; did you say at first, it was just a Slack channel where you're just posting news articles or something like that?

Ido: [7:47] Yeah, so it was essentially a bot, I set up a few but it was an internal Slack, not some- our engineering thing. I started up a channel and I hook up-hooked up some bots and found them RSS feeds, relevant RSS feeds, like, I don’t know, twenty of them, and it was going really good. We had also some tweet in this channel, thinking back that it was only twenty-like twenty sources or something now we’re running and growing every day, like four-hundred sources or something like this so.

Dan: [8:20] Oh, my God.

Ido: [8:21] Yeah, tons of information.

Dan: [8:24] What made you decide to turn it into a Chrome extension? Like how did you decide to do that?

Ido: [8:30] So, I think that we first saw, you know, it was kind of we saw similar products from other domains, and Tsahi, our third partner and co-founder, he mentioned that, you know, he saw the Slack channel and he saw the kind of extension and said “Oh, I think we can combine this together. And you know, we can take all the news that you have from the Slack channel into the new tab extension, and then you won’t have to think about it anymore.” And then once he flew to his honeymoon, I decided to add a surprise to him. And together with Nimrod, we showed him the, you know, prototype when he got back, and he was super excited.

Dan: [9:13] That’s awesome. So, the-the founders, I think you're saying that there's three? So, we have Nimrod, we have Ido, and then Tsahi, right? Yeah. Yeah. How do you split the roles and responsibilities between all of you?

Nimrod: [9:26] So I really love this question, because and in some ways, were the-the classic B2C team. We are comprised of three people, a hacker, a designer, and a hustler. So, each one brings his own advantages and experience into the table. Obviously Ido is the hacker, Tsahi is the designer which makes me the hustler. And so I'm in charge mostly of the marketing and growth aspects of the of the company, Ido is doing all the engineering and tech and Tsahi is doing all the user experience and design.

Dan: [9:56] That's amazing. And I love how you, kind of like, label the each one of your abilities. How do you feel, like that is, you know, helped the company having those three types of personalities, let's say?

Nimrod: [10:09] I think that's crucial. Like at the early stages, you want to have the team as diverse as possible, you want that every single one would bring something to the table that his friend can't bring. And I think that in our team, there is little to no overlap in the skill set that we bring to the table. And even the type of all-and the patterns of thinking, in terms of coming up with creative ideas. Each one of us has different ways to get to new ideas, each one of us has different inspiration sources. So, that really brings a lot of valuable information to the table, so when we want to make decisions, we're not coming from the same domain, we're not coming from the same background. And each one can contribute his own opinion and agenda, which is what made Daily.dev what it is today.

Dan: [11:00] Yeah, how many people are in the company today?

Nimrod: [11:03] Right now we're seven people, we're hiring the-the eighth member, we are a remote first and all remote company. So, we have no offices whatsoever. Everybody's working from different locations. And we have people based in Italy, in the Philippines and South Africa and Israel, obviously, now we're going to have also in Germany. So-and the team is growing, by the way, we're hiring. [Chuckles]

Dan: [11:28] Yeah, that's the way-that's the way to do it.

Nimrod: [11:31] Yeah.

Dan: [11:32] Got to be remote first and obviously a good opportunity here. Are you-are you seeking any venture money, or did you take any money, or is it all bootstrapped?

Nimrod: [11:41] So we started as a bootstrap for about one year and a half, and we turned the company to be profitable. So, we were self-sustained and were able to run the company on our own, which is a very good position to be at if you're a founder, like you want to get there as fast as possible, and we were pretty lucky to get there fast. And then recently, we also raised some venture-venture capital money, mostly from different angels and operators in our industry, and beyond. So, starting small and growing.

Dan: [12:09] Yeah, great, that's perfect. And getting to a self-sustaining, that's really important. You know, there are a lot of tech publications out there that have been created. What were you guys hoping to do differently when you founded Daily.dev?

Ido: [12:25] I think the key-the key here is to understand the Daily.dev is actually not a publication, because we do not write our own content. We source the content from different publications, and we really focus on the reader. Because, you know, most platforms today, they tried to bring the content creators, they try to bring the one who will write the stuff, and they don't really think about the reader on the other side. So, we really wanted to focus on this, instead of you know, being the reader and you have to go through hundreds of sources, so-even several of them every day, we wanted to put them all in one place. And so, you wanted to focus your efforts on searching for news, you will get them when you need them. And it will also be hassle-free because you just mentioned watching, like, for example, data science, DevOps, web development, and it's there for you, and waiting for you to read it, whereas another publication, you have to look through the wrong content.

Dan: [13:35] I love that! That’s amazing. I mean, your community, you're not that old. I mean, you've grown so rapidly, one and a half years old, maybe two years old, something like that. How have you grown such a healthy community and what have you learned from this community growth?

Nimrod: [13:50] That's a great question. And I think that, you know, being 100%, transparent and honest, a lot of companies like to shape their storytelling backwards and say how everything went super smooth. And the growth was really fast. And it happened because this and this and that. But I think that at the bottom line, for every company that's growing, it starts from solving a real problem, which is such a fundamental thing that a lot of founders tend to not put in a centric place in their-in their workflow, especially when starting to grow. So, we always try to put the problem first and understand like, what our users are thinking, how can we help them overcome some of their challenges? And that's what brought us to-to create a product that distributes itself, so a lot of the growth was from word of mouth. That's-that's one aspect to it. The other aspect was that we tried to put fuel on top of the fire, so we've seen that there is some word of mouth. And we started doing a lot of experiments into, how can we encourage people to invite their friends, involving like their friends, referral mechanisms, sharing content, and so on so forth.

Dan: [15:04] The thing is when you're-you have to have a great product, so you talked about invites or referrals. But the product has to be great in order for someone to actually want to do an invite, right? So, it sounds like you kind of added mechanisms to share. But would you agree that it's really like a kind of all about the product first?

Nimrod: [15:23] Definitely, like the, as I mentioned, like putting the referral mechanisms is just pouring fuel on the fire. So, if you don't have the fire in the first place, if you don't have a good product, then it wouldn't make sense, it would just be an artificial thing to do. But once you have some organic growth, and once people start sharing by their own will, then it started to make sense to bring in more shareable mechanisms and invitation in place.

Dan: [15:49] That's awesome. I kinda want to take a step and talk about each of your leadership styles a bit, you've now founded multiple companies and Daily.dev is certainly taking off. Nimrod, what lessons have you learned from being a founder and CEO?

Nimrod: [16:08] Alright, so the first lesson is, never be a founder and CEO again in your life. No, I’m just kidding. I think that-that when it comes to being a good CEO, it mostly goes down to whether or not you're able to create a meaningful relationship in a short amount of time. Because one of the most important aspects of this job is to build a team. And you want to bring talented people, you want to create a lot of trust, so that there is a safe environment where people can be creative, and they can bring in they can express themselves. So that's probably the most important part of it, then the second most important part is that I want my team to have quiet, I want them to have, like all the flexibility in the world, and all the resources that they need to unleash their creativity to a whole other level. So that means that I’m really thoughtful about work processes and about the resources and the financials of the company and trying to lower the barriers and smash walls and do such kind of things so that people don't get stuck. And one way or another, you can think of me as the orchestrator, or like the Kubernetes of the architecture of this team that tries to combine everything so that everyone will have their best time.

Dan: [17:30] Ido a similar question for you, you know, what have you learned from being a founder and CTO? And what could you share with our audience, for people that would love to be in your position someday?

Ido: [17:42] I think the main, like, the main stereotype that I had on CTOs that they should be, you know, very technically skilled, like, I thought this should be the number one priority for the CTO. And now, after, after the while, I understand that it's a little bit different than that. And you need to know how to hire good people, good engineers, good team members, people that can take the company and the product to the next level. And then another strong, you know, feature of the CTO is to be able to bridge the gap between the technical side and the business side or the product side, to share the implications of every business decision on the technical side, and vice versa. And maybe the third or fourth priority of the CTO is to be technically skilled.

Dan: [18:37] Yeah absolutely. I mean, there's-you kind of, when you're becoming a CTO, you got to round out your skill set a little bit from being kind of just a hardcore developer, a little bit more, understand the business and be a connector and all of that type of stuff, which seems like you're doing a great job. Nimrod, how many users do you have today?

Nimrod: [18:56] Currently, we stand at around a hundred-thousand weekly active users, which is pretty massive. But we're, I think we're installed on around 120 or 130,000 devices globally.

Dan: [19:09] That's amazing. What is next for Daily.dev in terms of growth or vision?

Nimrod: [19:15] Yeah, I think that's-that's a very good point. So, I'm going to talk a little bit about the vision and allow Ido to share more of like the-the upcoming stuff that we're now building. So, in terms of the vision, what we want to do is we want to build the homepage for every developer in the world, we see a huge wave around developer tools, this is no secret. There is there is a real trend of improving developer experience. And it's about time, you know, the developers starting to build more for their own because for many, many years, developers were building software for everyone but themselves. I think this is-this is a blessed change. And we're not yet another developer tool in a sense that we're not helping developers directly write better code faster, and so on so forth, but we're trying to give the place for being a better developer to-to be the place where you stay up to date, the place where you find your next job, the place where you meet other developers around the same interests, and so on, so forth. So, our kind of like-kind of grand vision is to-is to be the home for developers.

Dan: [20:20] That’s amazing. Awesome. Any next feature ideas that you want to share that you haven't already talked about? Or any interesting tech coming next?

Ido: [20:31] Yeah, absolutely. A lot of things coming up really, really close. Whoever keeps track of our change log can see that we ship things very fast. Every week, we ship something new. And so now what's coming is a total revamp of our user interface that we will introduce very soon, a new sidebar that will help you navigate whatever you need in the product, introducing new ways to filter out content according to your interest. And slowly but steady, you will see more and more features that will help you get only the content you want. So, stay tuned for what's coming next.

Dan: [21:11] Awesome. Sounds really cool. And before we go, I want to thank you again for taking the time to be a featured sponsor at interact 1.0. This was the Engineering Leadership Conference LinearB hosted back in September, what did you enjoy most about Interact?

Nimrod: [21:28] So what I appreciated most about the conference is, first of all, the professionalism of the-the LinearB team, the Dev Interrupted team. So, the members have done a great job in curating really interesting talks and speakers. So, for like the very first Interact conference, that was a very good start, like I could see high level executives talking about topics that are extremely, extremely relevant to other people that are running engineering organizations. That's the first part. The second part was the audience. That actually, you know, I've been, I've been looking inside the chat and seeing like, who's the whole-who are all those people who are commenting? And those were like, really influential people that are coming from key positions. And they were asking brilliant questions, making really valuable comments. So, if you asked me the secret sauce of Interact, from my perspective was just the people around it, both the organizers and the participants, this is what made it super awesome!

Dan: [22:28] I couldn't agree more, we have an awesome cast and crew of people presenting and, in the audience. Ido was there anything that you learned from interact or anything you'd like to share?

Ido: [22:39] My favorite part about Interact, and you know, Dev Interrupted in general, is that you target the Engineering Leadership audience, which is so uncommon today, because everyone’s trying now to get the DevOps audience, for example, or web developers, and like there’s so much need of leadership content, and I'm so happy that you guys are taking this-doing the thorough job and delivering such great content. So, I'm always, you know, looking for the Dev Interrupted articles on Daily.dev.

Dan: [23:13] Awesome, thanks, man. I know we would love to have you as partners with us, again, for Interact 2.0 on April 7th, in 2022. Is there anything you would like to see or learn at Interact 2.0?

Ido: [23:27] For me, you know, being a remote-first company, I would love to see, I know you have some resources about it, but I would love to see more focus on this, like how to nail it and how to aid engineering teams in a remote structure.

Dan: [23:42] Great idea. And anything from-from you Nimrod?

Nimrod: [23:46] Yeah, I think it's more or less around the same-same area of challenges being a remote first company. So, one thing is obviously to learn best practices on how to scale engineering teams and teams in general, in a remote first environment, that's one thing. The other thing is, it's always easy to bring people from the outside to be team leads, or to be group managers, etc. But I think that for Daily.dev, I would love to see people getting promoted from the inside. So how do you make effective training programs to train the left next leadership of the company, given that kind of remote first environment? That's, that's something that that really sits at the top of my head.

Dan: [24:30] Yeah, really important for kind of up and coming and growing companies, so it totally makes sense to me. Nimrod and Ido, thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us and talk about Daily.dev and community building, entrepreneurship, leadership. It's been an awesome conversation.

Ido: [24:47] Thank you very much, Dan.

Nimrod: [24:49] Thanks, thanks for hosting us.

Dan: [24:50] Yeah absolutely. We like to give our guests an opportunity, you know, to close out the pod with some type of call to action. What do you want the engineering leaders and listeners to take away from this conversation?

Ido: [25:02] I'd say that for me, I just want to let them know that it's a great time to be a developer. Keep on locking and keep on doing your work. So glad to see this renaissance of developer tools and glad to be part of it.

Dan: [25:18] Amazing. And I know that you are hiring at Daily.dev, we talked about it a little bit, I guess if you can do some great contributions to the open source, you could get a job. But Nimrod, I know you're probably maybe hiring in other areas as well. If our listeners are interested in joining Daily.dev, how can they do that?

Nimrod: [25:37] So since we're-we’re a community driven startup, so the best way to join us is just to be active in our community, participate in our monthly events, be active on Twitter and other-other social media that we're active in being active inside Daily.dev. There are a lot of discussions going on inside the platform itself. So, this is a great way for us to-to get to know you. And this is how we hire in most of our teams. So definitely that's the-that's the key for success.

Dan: [26:03] Okay, awesome. So, if you are interested in joining Daily.dev start by joining the community with some great contributions, and that's how you can get in with Nimrod and Ido here. So, we'll include a link to Daily.dev so you can download the Chrome extension and join the community. Also, a quick reminder for our listeners, if you haven't already rated and reviewed the show on your podcasting app of choice, particularly Apple pods, please do so. Reviews are a crucial way that our show gets discovered. [Music starts] Also, be sure to join the Dev Interrupted Discord community. We keep this type of conversation going all week long. I also want to say thank you to the more than two-thousand of you who are now subscribed to our weekly Interruption newsletter. We bring you articles from the community, inside information on weekly podcasts, and of course, the first look at Interact 2.0, on April 7th, 2022. Again, we have all the information in the links in the description below. And guys, thanks again for joining. It was really informative and awesome to hear from you.

Ido: [27:05] Thanks a lot.

Nimrod: [27:06] Thanks.

Dan: [27:07] Alright, thanks, guys.

[Music fades out]