Anil Dash

Co-founder Makerbase, ThinkUp and Activate. Board Member, Advisor.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 24, 2016
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Discussion

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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
Hi, I'm Anil Dash, cofounder of Makerbase and an advocate for trying to make the tech industry more thoughtful and humane. I've also been blogging since the last century on my site and on Medium and I'm looking forward to getting to talk to the community! If you've made apps or websites, do check out Makerbase (and add your stuff!): https://makerbase.co Update: Thanks everybody! I really enjoyed the chance to talk to you all. :D See you here or on Twitter!
Emily Hodgins
@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Anil, what is one thing that we can all be doing to make a difference in the tech industry to be more humane?
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@ems_hodge This is the best, and hardest, question. I think about it a lot. I think first, we have to really examine our assumptions and biases and be honest about them and actively work to overcome them. And that leads to the larger, broader challenge: We have to develop a culture of thoughtful, strong self-criticism. We'll write 1000-word think pieces on Medium about the font choice in a new logo but not examine whether every app we're funding ignores underserved communities or marginalized people, and that's got to change.
Yolanda Enoch
@yolandaenoch · Yolanda Enoch
Have you always been vocal about the lack of diversity in tech, or were there a series of events that pushed you to be publicly vocal? I’m curious because it would have been easy to remain silent given you’re a “model minority” in tech. P.S. I never knew there were so many things to learn about mangoes. Loved your interview on Another Round. :)
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@yolandaenoch I think I've always been vaguely aware of it, but only over the last decade did I really make it a habit to loudly and consistently speak out. I don't have one single galvanizing moment, but I did have a turning point when I returned to NYC after a few years in SF and looked back at my career. I saw that the women (usually women of color) who had opened the door for me and given me my first big opportunities in tech had been pretty systematically pushed out of not just their *jobs* but the industry entirely. And I saw that when I looked around my neighborhood or at a party with my friends, it looked nothing like who I saw in meetings (or especially in a board room) at most companies. So I just decided, since I had access, and had already earned a certain degree of respect, that i was going to focus on raising issues of inclusion and consistently and effectively as I could.
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Rishi Athanikar
@arishi_ · Product Manager. Cofounder of Beander.
Aside from Beyonce & Kendrick Lamar, who are the other current artists you think are true superstars - capable of consistently delivering mega hits?
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@arishi_ Boy that's a tough one. They may be in their own league. I mean, I like Taylor Swift and obviously she's enormously popular and will remain so for the foreseeable future, but neither her songs nor her performances (lol TS dancing) seem that amazing to me? Kanye seems to see his music as almost a footnote to himself, and nobody else is even *trying* to be a superstar of the kind I grew up on in the 80s.
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Ben Tossell
@bentossell · Community Lead, Product Hunt
What are some of your favourite questions to ask founders?
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@bentossell Usually among the top questions is, "I know you're worried about failing, but if this succeeds as you hope it will, how will the world be better? And for whom will it be better?"
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Ben Tossell
@bentossell · Community Lead, Product Hunt
What would you tell your 20 year old self?
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@bentossell Appreciate your hair while you still have it -- get a better haircut. And also, stop overvaluing the fact that you're a smart young guy, there a ton of smart young guys, and on average they're not very thoughtful and don't listen well. Stop being That Guy.
Hash_tag_jeff
@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
Do Heben and Tracy smell like bourbon? Or Flowers? Or both together?
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@jeffumbro Oh, they smell sweeter than flowers and far more intoxicating than bourbon!
Yolanda Enoch
@yolandaenoch · Yolanda Enoch
Did anyone figure out that you were only retweeting women during your "year of only retweeting women" experiment? What was the most common/surprising reaction you received?
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@yolandaenoch No, nobody noticed it until a bit later when some tools that try to guess one's ratio of retweets by gender came around. I still only RT women/non-binary folks or institutions that have no gender; it just became a habit over the last few years.
Nik Sharma
@mrsharma · Stealth Ad Agency CEO
With the rise in micro-content sharing (Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, etc.) on social channels, and now even something like Anchor (s/o @mignano), where do you see social going in the next 6, 12, or 18 months? Do you think it will become the only spot people will end up consuming content? Or do you think micro-content will stay on social, but people will still want long-form content outside of their social channels? PS, would appreciate a follow myself: twitter.com/mrsharma :) Thank you!
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@mrsharma @mignano Wow. This is a really deep question. I've been blogging for about 17 years, and in the early days we thought "blogs" would encompass almost all of the content sharing you're talking about. It'll never be the only thing people consume -- folks love to read books and watch movies and read magazines and even as those things go fully digital, those behaviors won't disappear. But already the majority of media we consume is social content created by other regular people, and I think that will continue to increase.
Nik Sharma
@mrsharma · Stealth Ad Agency CEO
@anildash @mignano Agreed, and thank you for the insights, Anil! Hopefully in the near future we will work together.
Marius Chawa
@marius_chawa · Analyst, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
what's the best advice you ever got as an entrepreneur?
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Anil Dash
@anildash · Cofounder, ThinkUp
@marius_chawa Oh, there's so much good advice. My first business partner when I was in my teens did a full-on sales training course for me, which made me understand so much more about just how to communicate in general in a business context, and to come up with solutions that help everybody involved in a conversation. So that was immensely valuable education, though I'm not sure it was "advice" per se.
Marius Chawa
@marius_chawa · Analyst, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
@anildash were you always entrepreneurial or did you have to completely shift your mindset?