Abdur Chowdhury

Abdur Chowdhury

CEO Pushd Inc. Previously Twitter's Chief Scientist, Co-founder Summize and Chief Architect AOL

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 21, 2016

Discussion

Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
Hi - I'm Abdur Chowdhury and I'm a recovered academic. Formally, Twitter's Chief Scientist, Co-founder of Summize and Co-founder of Alta Vista a STEM school for k-8. I've done a bunch of investments from Product Hunt to Deepflight building personal submarines I hope you get to experience someday. Currently I'm the CEO of Pushd where we work on small networks that bring people closer together. I'm excited to be here-- ask me anything!
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Abdur! Shortly after we first met, you started working on a location-based app with emojis 😸🔑💃 named Steven (love the name). Unfortunately, it didn't work out and you shut it down. Looking back, why didn't it work and what would you have done differently (if anything)?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
Ryan, Steven really took ambient awareness of someone to the extreme. For everyone else the app encoded automatically everything you did. For example at a bar would be 🍺. Was an interesting way to see what people were doing. We really reduced the barrier for status to just carrying your phone. While the app grew to about 15k people it really didn't get to a point any of us believed it would organically grow or be sustainable. So we killed it. Sad. Also the cat it was named after passed away. :(
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What's the best non-technical skill you've acquired over your career?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@andrewmettinger Aikido, diving and skiing. Remember no matter how hard you work you need to have time to have passions and live life to its fullest... Keep your hobbies up...
Jon Wirt
Jon Wirt@jon_wirt1
What was your favorite thing you purchased last year that has an on / off switch? Why?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@jon_wirt The Echo / Alexa, it is a lot of fun. We ask her weather, news, but the playing of specific music is really nice. I wish it could be hooked up to my sonos.
Sarath
Sarath@sarat
Hello - What Pushd is trying to solve comparing to other personal/social networks?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@sarat I am mostly over social networks. First to build a new content type that is valuable is really hard. Then to build a social network for that type is next to impossible. While I thought that was an easier thing I have mostly found that to be a lost cause. Check out how many cool new image, X, Y other apps have come out, then see how long they live. Its not an engineerable problem IMO, rather if it happens its purely random. We are really interested in providing using technology to simplify and improve our lives. For our next project we are looking at building our own screens that are ambiently interactable in the space you live. A bit vague but it's coming along and cool so far. I'm into building things I like now. :)
Sarath
Sarath@sarat
@abdur Thank you for your response. Quite excited hear your vision behind Pushd. In fact business can't live long without positively impact people's lives. All the best. One more question, can you share your experience on moving from Chief Scientist to a CEO driven organization? Do you've some interesting experience to share with us?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@sarat I see it more as a natural evolution. Moving from a expert to an organizer. It just suites me better at this stage in my life. I think everyone should be asking themselves what story do I want to tell myself about the next 5 years of their life and then start working on that chapter of your life. When you think about it that way, the chapter has to be different than the last chapter.
Zach Cmiel
Zach Cmiel@zach_cmiel · CEO, PoKoBros
Do you think the news can be benefitted by the upcoming paradigm dubbed the conversational commerce paradigm by Chris Messina?? If so how??
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@zach_cmiel Sorry I haven't been following that from Chris, you know he does a lot of stuff. :)
Danielle Newnham
Danielle Newnham@daniellenewnham · Founder, The Junto Network. Author
Hi Abdur. I have a few questions.... 1 + 2 Why did you leave Twitter back in 2011, and what do you hope for its future?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@daniellenewnham Lots of reasons to complicated to review here. I still use Twitter daily and love the product. I think the company provides a valuable service and will be successful.
Danielle Newnham
Danielle Newnham@daniellenewnham · Founder, The Junto Network. Author
Q3/ Can you tell us more about Alta Vista and what led to you setting it up?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@daniellenewnham Pretty simple, we wanted a school that was STEM focused taught critical thinking from an early age and had small classrooms. We started with 7 kids now we are ~220 kids and 47 teachers. Edu is important and everyone of us should be investing in it for all our futures.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Hey! What are some of your favourite questions to ask founders?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@bentossell Clearly this question. :)
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
Who have been some of the coolest people you've gotten a chance to work with?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@katesegrin Biz, Ev & Jack. All really amazing people, but there were lots of amazing people.
Kate
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
What was one of the biggest challenges in your life and how did you overcome it?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@katesegrin Not sure about this. While everyone should be prepared for this question with some type of sage advice. I don't think anyone elses advice really helps when things look bad. Life just constantly throws you curveballs and you just need to roll with it and keep going.
Mohamed Chorfa
Mohamed Chorfa@chorfa672m · Developer
Hey Abdur, first thank you. Is the NPS metrics is a relevant way to mesure a product trajectory? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ne...
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@chorfa672m Net promoters has been well studied and seems to be a good way to measure at scale. I think before scale it or anything else is too subjective, sadly as a recovering academic I think you have to go by gut feeling.
Vinny Palumbo
Vinny Palumbo@deleted-179721
Hi Abdur, at what times do you usually go to bed, and usually wake up in the morning? Any interesting morning routine? Thanks!
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@vinpalumbo88 I'm boring...
Arpit Gupta
Arpit Gupta@arpitgupta · Product Manager
What are your favorite tech and non-tech events/conferences that you like to attend?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@arpitgupta I used to go to lots of events. Unfortunately, I stopped finding a lot of value out of them and have just been focusing on my own projects and meeting specific people of interest. For example, I wanted to meet Graham https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gr... I reached out and now we are building submarines together. http://www.deepflight.com/
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received? Flip side, what's been the worst?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@ems_hodge Oddly, never work for a company that you are not working on their most important product. I have found that if you are working on the new thing, the other thing it will always be a distraction to your co-workers and never given the attention it needs. Worst advice, hmm maybe become a professor. :)
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What has been the most memorable moment of your career to date?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@ems_hodge Probably one of the worse events of my life. Having to deal with the AOL search event. Was one of the biggest learning times of my life.
neil
neil@neildotb · iOS engineer
What's your favourite tea lounge in the Bay Area?
satchit
satchit@satchit
Having started Summize, do you have any insights on UI aspects of search on large datasets, such as Twitter for example. Twitter seems to be holding back in terms of providing a full featured search option on mobile. How much of that is UI/UX related?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@satchit There has been a ton of research on advanced search UI/UX. Most of the papers point to improvements to search by giving people more levers and dials to play with. However when you actually build a complicated UI/UX for search people don't use it and just want to do the simplest thing possible and that is a few words and hope the algorithms are smart enough to figure it all out.
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello! I wanted to know what do you look for in companies before you invest in it? Any suggestion for a first time entrepreneur?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@neeeharika Many people have some type investment theses. Mine is pretty simple invest in people because in the early stages the idea and plan change so much that its the only constant to be sure about. As a first time entrepreneur, be passionate about what you are working on and not the type that is just going to flip a company.
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
@abdur Thanks for that! What is the best way a startup can reach out to you?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Have any books 'changed your life' or moved and influenced you?
Abdur Chowdhury
Abdur Chowdhury@abdur · CEO, pushd Inc.
@ems_hodge I love Animal Farm, I keep reading it and it is amazing every time. Also Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but mostly because I can't stop laughing and that is good for the sole.