Issue 12

In Issue No12, we take an insider's look at Zendesk’s impressive growth with co-founder Alexander Aghassipour; ustwo co-creator Matt ‘Mills’ Miller shows us how to create a ‘fampany’ of 250 employees while putting fun first; travelling photographer and designer Dan Rubin examines his new career path – powered by Instagram; science geek Ariel Waldman calls on the web community to participate in space exploration; Basecamp co-founder Jason Fried defies the startup hype and makes a case for longevity in business; and the father of web standards, Jeffrey Zeldman, reflects on the web that was and the web that will be.

Interviewees

Alexander Aghassipour

Co-founder of Zendesk — on enticing new customers with a Buddha Machine, the sexualisation of enterprise software, and floating on the New York Stock Exchange.

Matt ‘Mills’ Miller

Co-founder of ustwo — on wearing pink wigs during interviews, seeing his game on House of Cards, and creating a company based on genuine friendship.

Dan Rubin

Designer, Photographer, Speaker — on building a new career through Instagram, what UI designers can learn from cameras, and how too much freedom may lead to burnout.

Ariel Waldman

Science & Space Exploration Advocate — on what it’s like to work for NASA, turning non-scientists into space hackers, and what a beard detector has to do with cosmic rays in a cloud chamber.

Jason Fried

Co-founder of Basecamp — on avoiding risky bets, the twenty-dollar bill that launched his career, and what an oak tree can teach us about sustainable growth.

Jeffrey Zeldman

Father of Web Standards, Designer — on designing for a screenless experience, the web community’s open-hearted sharing culture, and his imaginary friend, Mr. Huffington.

Contributors

Thoughts — Food for thought by Erin McKean and Ben Callahan

A Day In The Life Of — Spend a day with Tim Herbig and Sameera Kapila.

May I AskMaya Cakmak answers questions about robotics, human-computer interaction, and AI.

Pastures New — From hashtag to haystack: Rachel Segal is a digital strategist and a first-time farmer.

One Question — We asked Kate Ho, Bastian Allgeier, Vaidehi Joshi and Eli Schiff where they see themselves and their careers in the years ahead.

Life as a Digital NomadMarina Janeiko is a UX designer who has spent the majority of her adult life travelling and observing the flux of cultures and paradigms.

A Week UnpluggedDaniel Benneworth-Gray is going a week without the internet – and barely makes it.

Whatever You Want It to BeMade by Many ventures beyond its digital agency roots to launch a new product that has kids’ imaginations running wild – by Rachel Mercer.

Rules of Business — Guiding principles for doing business, by Mathias Meyer.

Gear Guide — Accessories for the modern web worker, by Jeremiah Shoaf.

Round TableDan Edwards , Helen Rice and Max Wheeler discuss the challenges of running a digital agency.

Toolbox — Front-end engineer Mina Markham shows us her set of tools to get stuff done.

WorkspaceTack, Uber, Jelly Button Studios, We Are Social

Five Things I’ve Learned — Lessons learned from running an online business, by Robin Hunicke, Omer Khan, Manuel Rademaker, Irena Macri

Nobody FamousAnil Dash about his accidental social media fame.

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Like every other tech business in San Francisco, we are part of the problem and part of the solution.

Help desk software Zendesk, one of San Francisco’s latest success stories, found its humble beginnings far away from the tech epicentre, in a loft in Denmark’s capital. As one third of the founding trio, Alexander Aghassipour is the creative mind behind Zendesk’s unmistakable ‘spiritual’ branding which played a crucial role in turning the unassuming startup into a publicly traded company with close to a thousand employees. But their Danish roots still run deep: Alexander and his colleagues are hoping to establish a new model that will instill a sense of social awareness amongst tech startups.

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It has to hurt when people leave, it has to hurt when you read a slight about the company, it has to hurt if a client isn’t happy with the result of your work.

It may seem like a rather confusing melange of digital agency, game studio, incubator, and venture fund, but for co-founder Matt ‘Mills’ Miller, it’s a place for having fun above all else. His company ustwo has recently found itself in the global spotlight, collecting praise and awards for creating the hugely popular mobile game Monument Valley. With 250 employees and branches around the world, Mills is trying to strike a balance between leading a successful global business and preserving the jolly casual- ness and genuine friendship that make up the unique fabric of his ‘fampany’.

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We must be mindful of the consequences of building for the sake of building, of new for the sake of new.

Dan Rubin knows how to handle large audiences – on stage as a singer and speaker, and online as a designer and photographer. His innate curiosity frequently leads him to new adventures which sometimes turn into new careers. As a designer who is passionate about the web, Dan believes that much can be learned from venturing outside of the industry’s echo chamber. He currently travels the world and shares what he sees through his lens with a loyal Instagram following that’s approaching one million. But despite his online fame, he strives not to let his work and his emotional well-being be unduly influenced by the distorted image of himself that social media inevitably creates.

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To me, science is no different than art. Art impacts people’s everyday lives, and some will realise that while others won’t. I’m OK with that.

Ariel Waldman thrives on fostering unusual collaborations that spark creative advances for science and space exploration. The former NASA employee now uses the web and a series of events to ‘hack science’ by connecting particle physicists with web developers and type designers with rocket engineers. Inspired by the participatory culture of the web, Ariel foresees the beginning of a new era in science and space exploration, one that is open and accessible to anyone with an inquisitive mind – no PhD required.

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People go on about how hard it is to start a business, when in fact it’s not hard to start a business. Anyone can do it. What’s hard is staying in business.

Since its inception in 2004, project management tool Basecamp has become the epitome of a thriving software-as-a-service company. Unfazed by the latest Silicon Valley craze, co-founder Jason Fried proudly advocates for slow, sustainable growth and cautions against the myth of overnight success. As an author and speaker, he has inspired business owners around the world to defy established corporate rationales and redefine the rules of business. Even after more than a decade at the helm of his company, it seems like Jason hasn’t lost any of his entrepreneurial vigour as he remains focused on keeping Basecamp ahead of the game.

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All these years later, people still tell me that reading my book was a life-changing, quasi-religious experience for them. It’s kind of embarrassing – but also very nice.

The web would be a very different place today if it weren’t for Jeffrey Zeldman. Dubbed ‘The Godfather of the Web’, he was one of the first to passionately advocate for standards in web design. His publishing and community-building efforts brought together developers and browser makers to forge a common language that now underpins much of the web as we know it. But Jeffrey is far from finished. In fact, he’s busier than ever, releasing books, hosting events, recording podcasts, and chairing design studio Happy Cog – all in the name of a better web experience.

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