Living phone-free in Silicon Valley and the future of music tech with Justin Kan and Ranidu
Jan. 1, 2019, 9 p.m.
On this episode I'm visiting Atrium's headquarters in SoMA in San Francisco to chat with two serial entrepreneurs, Justin Kan and Ranidu.
Justin Kan's career blew up in the mid-2000s when he started livestreaming himself 24/7 on Justin.tv, a Y Combinator backed startup that he co-founded. Justin.tv eventually turned into Twitch and sold to Amazon for nearly a billion dollars. He has gone on to found multiple startups since then, including Exec, Whale, and now Atrium.
Ranidu has a unique background. Before jumping into tech, he rose to fame as an R&B and hip-hop artist (check him out here). He went on to join Google before founding the first of many startups, many of which have been centered around his passion for music. We talk about a few of them including The Drop, The Artist Union, and Audius, a decentralized audio distribution platform he started earlier this year.
In this episode we talk about:
- What they've learned from building products and startups, what lessons they would give to entrepreneurs starting out today, and how the startup and investing landscape has changed.
- Justin explains why he says that 2010-2013 was the “sweet spot” for building and scaling a company in the Bay Area. We talk about whether distributed teams make sense due to the escalating cost of living and the battle for talent in San Francisco.
- Whether an Apple Watch can replace your smartphone. Justin talks about how he survives in Silicon Valley without a phone, how going phone-free has changed how he works and lives and why he compares compulsive smartphone use to an addiction. He says a smartphone is a “Juul for your mind.”
- We're all big music fans, so we also talk about artists we've been loving recently, why the lines between music genres are being blurred, and the economics of creating music for artists.
We also discuss some of their favorite products including a gratitude journal app that will improve your mental health, a “social network for athletes,” and a tool to help organize your tasks at work.
We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Also, big thanks to our sponsors, Rally Rd and AngelList, for their support. 😸
Quotes from This Episode
“We [at Atrium] have some resources, [we] have expanded, but measuring your company’s success in headcount is like measuring an airplane in weight, so it's not exactly the right measure of success.” — Justin
“As an independent artist today, it takes between three months and eighteen months between the time you stream my music to get paid, and we [at his new company Audius] think that’s wrong in 2018.” — Ranidu
“I think the sweet spot [to build a company in the Bay Area] was in 2010 through 2013 or so, where the costs were relatively much lower on the startup salary side. Now your million dollars is good for hiring two machine learning engineers.” — Justin
“A lot of days [in my gratitude journal] I write about how awesome it is to live in San Francisco and have all these resources and friends. Life here is great and I think we get caught up in the little bit that is bad and think that everything is bad. To hate on San Francisco is very fashionable.” — Ranidu
Companies and Products Mentioned in This Episode
Airtable — Real-time spreadsheet-database hybrid.
Apple Watch — The most powerful and advanced smart watch yet.
The Artist Union — Discover and support the next generation of artists.
Atrium — Legal services for startups, powered by machine learning.
Audius — The future of music streaming on the blockchain.
Five Minute Journal — The simplest, most effective way to be happier every day.
Headspace — Learn to meditate and live mindfully.
Insight Timer — The best free meditation timer, redesigned.
Monday — Simplify the way your team works.
Pacemaker — DJ with artificial intelligence from your Spotify.
Strava — Run and cycling tracking on the social network for athletes.
The Drop (RIP) — EDM discovery community.