Archive for the ‘Tangler’ Category

Domain Names

P1010021I was down with Nik (the CEO of Omnidrive) in Wollongong on the weekend and he showed me a deadly little tool called “Instant Domain Search” — shows whether a domain is available as you type. Make those endless quests for new product names just a little less painful. And if you find a domain you really like, but it’s not available, you can bid on it using tools directly off the site (such as Sedo or GoDaddy marketplace). Nice one Nik.

And in other news Cameron Reilly is in the office today, glasses and all… except we err, lost him. Has anybody seen Cam?


Life in Silicon Beach

Bondi Beach SydneyNice article in the AFR yesterday about aussie startups in Sydney. Great to see people like Mark Jones and Joshua Gliddon taking the time to do this.

In the article they named Sydney as “Silicon Beach” and it struck me as a perfect description of what it’s like here as a startup in the internet space. I like it. Let’s make it stick.

BTW: Does anybody know who coined this?

Wanna Job?

TanglerTangler is hiring again. We’re looking for an experienced front-end developer, mostly working in JavaScript/AJAX. Position is open for either Mountain View or Sydney.

Must have:

  • Strong JavaScript
  • Java, JSP, JSP tags
  • Strong communications skills
  • A web 2.0 attitude
  • Some decent PS2 games

Nice to have:

  • Web standards awareness
  • Cross platform / browser awareness
  • Experience in Spring Web MVC (or equivalent), DWR
  • Prior usage of JavaScript libraries like Prototype, JQuery,

Quick, now’s you’re chance to dump that loser job at atlassian another company, and head over to a real startup.

Endgame 2006

Well it’s been a crazy few weeks; the general chaos of running a startup, travel and organising STIRR Sydney. But one thing I haven’t been able to talk about was the biggest of all, Endgame 2006.

Endgame is an end of year party thrown for all the staff (both Dot and Tangler) – it’s called Endgame because I thought it deserved a better name than “The Christmas Party”.

Last year’s event was a monstrous affair: a treasure hunt style Survivor meets Amazing Race up through the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Choppers, 300m high flying fox, boats, hidden gnomes, rock walls, puzzles and tricks galore. If was a great day (and overnight stay), but left us with a tall task to beat this year.

Endgame 2006 started with yet another trick – last year we pretended to send them into the bush to play “Blue Mountains Survivor” for two days – this year I had moved on to be CEO of Tangler, and Rory had stepped in as CEO of Dot, there was some speculation from staff as to whether I would be organising the event at all. Playing on this we announced 6 months or so ago that Rory would take over organisation. Since I wasn’t involved it was to be a boring conference-style event. We knew this had gone a little far when people started talking about not attending because it sounded so boring. We had to back off a bit and hype it a little.

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So everything starts pretty normal; all the staff (excluding me, because I’ve been ‘mysteriously delayed’) were coached up to Rafferty’s Resort in Lake Macquarie about 1.5 hours north of Sydney. After eating a lovely Thai lunch they were bustled into a conference room to hear Rory give a special “announcement”. Tangler and Dot were merging, Dot was buying another company and the whole new group was being listed on the stock exchange. Oh, and the combined companies would now be known as “Big Tree”.

A shocked audience didn’t get much of a chance to take it all in. As Rory was taking questions the lights in the room suddenly went out (we’d rigged the room to be almost pitch dark) and three guys wearing balaclavas and headlights burst from the store room (we’d been hiding for an hour). Running through screams and confusion, the masked men then bagged the Rory and bustled him from the room.

As the kidnappers left, a video started playing showing a Saw-like character known as The Cloak. To get Rory back the staff needed to “play a game”. They were given 3 minutes to solve a puzzle (it’s a coded message on their conference maps) and a 3 minute timer. Ultimately though the solution leads nowhere. 30 seconds before the time is up the whole thing grinds to a halt and the FBI and I bust in to rescue everybody and explain what we really need to do to rescue Rory, and beat Cloak at his own game. And things sort of go on from there… for the whole day and into the night.

In the end we had a huge day adventuring in and around Lake Macquarie and the Wallarah National Park. Belaying people up trees, searching the coastline for clues, mountain bikes, building boats, you name it. Only dampener was (yet, again) it rained, sometimes pretty hard, but the enthusiasm as usual was amazing.

After we successfully rescued Rory we had a giant pool party (I was the first thrown in) and dinner. Cloak made a return and set everyone a final challenge and Peter Gibson ultimately won the day, for a second year running.

A pool, great food, a foosball table and copious amounts of alcohol made for a fantastic night for everybody. Towards the end I also played a Christmas video (see below) I had compiled the day before (and edited at 3am the previous night). I think I could have played just about anything and gotten a laugh, but this seemed to go down very well.

This was a tough one to organise, especially since no one could know I was involved. Couldn’t have done it without the help of my co-conspirators Ed, Rhandy, Conrad (the FBI agent) and Rory. Thanks guys. Amazing effort.

I was asked again during the night why we put so much effort into these events. The answer is always the same: cause we think people work incredibly hard, so they deserve an incredible party. And having a boring “Christmas lunch” is out of the question for such remarkable people. Now all we have to do is top it next year.

Plenty of photos up on Flickr.

[UPDATE: Chris Saad liked it enough to digg it. Feel free to add your vote. Thanks Chris]

What a Night!

Wow! What a blast. STIRR Sydney went off with a bang Wednesday night with over a hundred and twenty people coming in from local internet startups, media, VCs and service providers.What was truly an experiment turned out great, and in no small party due to the enthusiasm, spirit and general roudieness of the people who attended. Thanks!

Of course none of this happens without some behind-the-scenes stars. The sponsors: Technology Venture Partners, Atlassian, Neo Technology Ventures and Tangler (pat pat). To my fellow organisers: Mick, Rhandy, Craig, Karen, Rai, Phong, Erik, Minh and Sasha. Also thanks to Symbiation for making up the Boom or Bust board, among other things.

Hippos turned out to be a great venue, though we promise to up the air conditioning earlier next time and maybe the demo tables will move inside — certainly got crowded out there.

Half-baked with 70+ people was a wild chaotic thing compared to previous ones, but ultimately what the startups concocted was just as funny and having startup legends like Emily and Omar, Oliver Wiedlich, Alisdair Faulkner, Rhandy Lado, Alan Jones and (“Entrepreneur of the Year”) Mike Cannon-Brooks. No surprise that Mike Cannon-Brooks’ team and their idea “” — uniting people around the world in finding lost socks — won the day. Close runners-up:, a mobile phone app that can grow with you and, a whole new way to drop movie content on you, literally.

Q4 2006 (Stirr) 045On entry to the event people were given $2 million venture capital dollars which they had to distribute as they saw fit to four startups: Remember the Milk, bluepulse, StudentFace and Quotify. In a very close contest the ultimate winner was Remember the Milk who just nudged Quotify. They took home an MSDN subscription worth $5000 courtesy of Microsoft (thanks Frank).

Other games included the very popular “Boom or Bust”. Startups write their name on a pin and then blindly try to pin the best exit, which ranged from $2b buyouts, down to “Your Server Farm Really A Farm” and “Russian Clone Site Wipes You Out” — everybody loved this one.

Thanks also to Neo who sponsored the Kool-Aid shots throughout the night.

Further coverage:


  • Mick (thanks to Karen)
  • Marty (thanks to anybody who would hold my camera on the night)
  • Yours? (let me know)

UPDATE: Cameron Reilly has released a video of the night.

Tangler Happenings

It’s a bold new day. Tangler has its very own blog. For news and updates check out:

Lots of members of the team will be adding their thoughts (or at least have promised to): myself, Mick, Rhandy, Craig, Phong, Minh, maybe even Alex and Erik might pipe in occasionally.

We also launched a new version of the main web site.

Top Web 2.0 Apps in Australia

aussieRead/Write Web’s Richard MacManus has posted a comprehensive list of Web 2.0 companies in Australia as a part of his world-wide coverage. Nice to see Tangler included.

This is definitely the most comprehensive list I’ve seen. It even includes Atlassian, which I’m sure Mike will be pleased to see. There was even room for another swing in the aussie VC bash fest.

More Servers

Rack Servers in CabinetOur baby Tangler is growing up (sniff). The beta is currently hosted on servers in Sydney, but load is forcing this to be expanded. We also want to shift hosting to the US sooner rather than later (where bandwidth is much faster and cheaper). So shiny new Opterons, tier 1 bandwidth, and a San Francisco data centre here we come.

The problem now is the management of this infrastructure is getting too large to handle without dedicated people, so we had to figure out how we’d handle the expansion. Do we continue to try to run it ourselves or expand the team with some systems administrators?

Saving money is always a good thing, so we considered scraping along with part-timers (Minh, Craig and I most likely) for the first few months, but we felt this would be risky. Why? Because managing any sizable system is a large, complicated job that can’t be done half-hearted. The backups will fail; the HDs will fill up; that tier 1 provider will drop your class C off their AS due to a “clerical error”; you’ll fail to install that kernel update and get hacked. There are a million things that absolutely will go wrong – and yes, all of the above have actually happened to me at various times in the past. We needed someone dedicated to the problem.

That leaves the second option: hire a dedicated systems administrator. But we face a bit of a scale issue there. You can’t hire just one; these little buggers breed! If you hire one, no matter how hard you try there will be 10 within 3 months. OK, not really, but seriously, try sharing a 24-hour pager between two people, let alone one. I didn’t want to hire a team of people. We also didn’t have time to find and hire the right people, setup systems from scratch and still meet our growth at the moment. I started to consider outsourcing options to bridge the gap between kick-starting and our own team. After a bit of scouting and talking to other startups I came across a better solution.

Enter BitPusher, a company that specializes in operating sophisticated infrastructure using a commercial model that makes it accessible and practical, and a lot cheaper than hiring your own team. They’re working with us to develop a spec on our new systems, and then they handle hardware procurement, deployment and operations while we go to the beach! All right, maybe not. But it sure is nice to have the problem taken care of by people dedicated to it. Thanks guys.

And after a little pushing I’m happy to see Daniel (BitPusher’s CEO) has started a blog.

Tangler in the Bulletin

cam2.jpgJoshua Gliddon of the Bulletin has done an extensive article on the state of Web 2.0 startups in Australia, focusing on their struggle with raising venture capital. Cameron Reilly of TPN’s recent decision to head to the US was the real catalyst for the story. TPN, Omnidrive, Gnoos and Tangler are all given a mention. Great article.

And then there were 8

DSC04379The cosy little world that is Tangler has been shattered… we hired a marketing guy!

Tangler’s new Chief Marketing Guy is Mick Liubinskas (that’s him in the Santa suit). He joins us from previous gigs as the CMO of Sharman Networks (makers of Kazaa), helping kids in Africa and more recently, Zapr.

Mick and I have known each other for a while and I’ve always had respect for his ability to turn innovation into need. Most importantly: he gets 2.0. He gets community. He gets Tangler.

Over the years, I’ve think I’ve directly hired more than a hundred people. Most of the time I knew within the first 3 minutes if they were the right person for the job — after those 3 minutes I’m looking for reasons they’re not. I had that feeling about Mick and my impression has only improved as we’ve gotten to know each other better.

I’m really psyched Mick has decided to join us. He’s an experienced guy who could have had pretty much the pick of startups at the moment: including starting his own thing. His belief in Tangler and the team is great to see.