Gina Trapani

Co-founder of ThinkUp and Makerbase, Founding editor of Lifehacker

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 15, 2016
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Discussion

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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
I'm a developer, writer, and podcaster, currently building Makerbase http://makerbase.co, a user-editable IMDb for apps. I was the founding editor of Lifehacker, where I launched and ran the site for its first 4 years, and authored 3 editions of the Lifehacker book. During that time, I released an open source set of to-do list apps and a file format called Todo.txt http://todo.txt, which I still maintain. You can often find me podcasting on the TWiT network on shows like This Week in Google and All About Android. Find out more at http://ginatrapani.org.

UPDATE: Well, that was fun! Thanks everyone for a great conversation. Get in touch with me anytime on Twitter @ginatrapani. Have a great day!
Harry Stebbings
@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@ginatrapani wow what a moment for me, big fan of your work and love Lifehacker, thanks so much for joining us today, my question is what were the pivotal moments in the growth of Lifehackers, was it a specific partnership, marketing etc where you saw real upticks? When did momentum really start to build and why (basically!). Btw, would love to have you on @twentyminutevc would be an honour!
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@harrystebbings Hi Harry! Thanks for your kind words.

Lifehacker had a few pivotal moments in growth back when I was running it (which, remember, was ages ago, pre iPhones, Twitter, and Instagram). First was launch. Lifehacker was a Gawker Media site, and we'd landed a launch sponsorship from Sony. Back then, in 2005, that was virtually unheard of. Big brands advertising on blogs really didn't happen then. That got us coverage in the New York Times and Ad Age the day we launched, plus cross-promotion from other GM sites, which were already huge, like Gizmodo. Then, about 9 months later, we had another big moment: when the site transitioned from a sole blogger doing everything (me), to hiring a team. Then we were able to publish new content every hour to half hour all day long, a mix of short posts and long feature posts, and that helped us do well on other traffic-driving sites (like Digg).
Sean K. Gabriel
@skaulana · Product & UX aficionado
@ginatrapani @harrystebbings Hi Gina! Quick follow up on this - how did you pick your first hire at Lifehacker, and was it your first time managing? Today what are your criteria for building an awesome team?
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@skaulana @harrystebbings For editorial, copy editors, interns, and bloggers I had the most success picking hires from Lifehacker's existing community, watching who wrote well in the comments, who was able to make corrections without coming across like a know-it-all jackass, who understood the tone and voice of the site, and who wrote their own blogs and had experience writing about tech. It was my first time managing as a professional; as a college student, I managed the help desk staff at my school's computer lab.
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Ben Tossell
@bentossell · Community Lead, Product Hunt
What does the future of Makerbase look like?
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@bentossell I wish I knew! 🤔 Right now we want to create a resource that helps makers -- especially aspiring makers -- see the connections between other makers who have "made it" and their trajectory through the projects they worked on. We very purposefully omitted companies from the equation, and want to include weekend projects and art projects and student projects. There are a lot of different ways we can expand, but the main mission is to empower and enable makers.

Speaking of, if you haven't already: Please go to http://makerbase.co and add yourself and all the awesome projects you're working on!
Guillaume H.
@geecko86 · Founder, QuickLyric
Hey Gina, I was curious to know why ThinkUp wasn't participating in GSOC this year :)
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@geecko86 Google Summer of Code is a fantastic program, and I had the privilege of being a GSOC mentor for many years. To tell you the truth, this year, my cofounder and I were (and anticipate continuing to be) too tied up to give GSOC the attention it requires, so we decided to skip, for now. Maybe next year!
Tim Dillenberger
@tim_dillenberger
Do you think there is Homophobia and Sexism in the Technology Space, when it comes to companies and tech guru's?
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@tim_dillenberger Well, the tech space is representative of larger society, and certainly there are pockets of it that are much more progressive and inclusive. But to answer your question, yes! It's not an opinion, it's a fact. Look at the numbers: whether it's the wage gap, harassment cases, or (even unintentionally) exclusive culture, homophobia and sexism and racism, etc, is alive and well and it's something we all have to work on changing, myself included.
Tim Dillenberger
@tim_dillenberger
@ginatrapani Thanks for answering my question.
David Colburn
@dscolburn · Sci-fi nerd and Google lover
Is Todo.txt still your primary to-do app? Do you use different ones for work projects? Most importantly, did you have a favorite pie for Pi Day yesterday?
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@dscolburn Yes! Todo.txt runs my personal todo list, and not just because I'm dogfooding. It just works the way I work. Todo.txt is purposefully very simple and doesn't support sharing, due dates, recurring tasks, or project management-level features. So for work projects, I don't use it: I use GitHub issues, Trello, and Asana.
David Colburn
@dscolburn · Sci-fi nerd and Google lover
@ginatrapani Good to hear you still love Todo.txt! So many people jump from app to app that I love hearing about someone who picks a good system and sticks with it. You're a productive machine!
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Emily Hodgins
@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Gina! What three things should every new founder constantly be thinking?
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@ems_hodge Great question!

I try to start every day, when I'm reviewing what I'm going to do that day, with a simple question: "How am I going to move my business forward today?" Other than that, I constantly have to remind myself that if you're not failing, you're not being ambitious enough. That's only 2 things. 3rd thing... I often have to think "when was the last time I ate today?" because I get pretty cranky and ineffective if I've skipped breakfast or lunch. 👹
christina sponselli
@sponselli · Social Media Director, UC Berkeley
Has diversity in the tech workforce increased or decreased since you started?
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@sponselli Well, the statistics I've seen show that fewer women are going into computer programming than they were back in the 1980s. But I've also watched the conversation about diversity in tech explode over the last couple of years, and that gives me hope. Companies are releasing their diversity numbers, we have a language for the issues, and since I'm an optimist, I do believe things are getting better, even if that means that someone can call out a tech conference for having an all-male or all-white speaker roster. That kind of thing wasn't happening 10 years ago.
B. Scott
@bscottx
@ginatrapani @sponselli I feel like it's similar to the progress on these issues in the US in general: it's happening, but much slower than we wish it would.
Daniel Tavares
@dfvtavares
I am currently studying computer science and you truly are an inspiration for me. Do you see yourself updating todo.txt Android app with your new skills or maybe new app? How's your nexus 5x treating you? Any regrets?
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@dfvtavares Good for you! Good luck on your studies, and thank you for such a nice compliment.

I will definitely be updating Todo.txt for Android soon, using my newfound skills -- it desperately needs a Material makeover. I am also planning a new Android app now that I'm starting to really know what I am doing.

The Nexus 5x is.... just okay. I'm experiencing some of the lag and performance problems I've heard about from others, but it hasn't bugged me enough to move to another device. Yet.
David Colburn
@dscolburn · Sci-fi nerd and Google lover
@ginatrapani @dfvtavares Yay, Todo.txt update! I need to take another look at it. I've been using Asana for work + personal, but it's too much sometimes.

I have a 5X as well and it really lags, especially when I have Maps navigating me. A restart usually fixes it. An update is rolling out now that will hopefully fix it: http://www.droid-life.com/2016/0...
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@dscolburn @dfvtavares Ah, fingers crossed the jank-fixer March update actually fixes the jank!
@ginatrapani @dfvtavares Good to hear that I am not alone in lag and performance issues on the 5X
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Emily Hodgins
@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What most excited you about working in tech?
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Gina Trapani
@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@ems_hodge The web. I'm old, so the first time I saw a web page, I was in college. I didn't understand what I was looking at, but once I did, my little English major heart exploded. ANYONE could publish online and anyone else could see it? I was beside myself. Then, when I learned how to make web pages, I was hooked.