Leo Laporte

Podcaster, tech pundit, and Chief TWiT

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 30, 2015

Discussion

Leo Laporte@leolaporte
Hi, I’m Leo Laporte. You may remember me from ZDTV or TechTV. For the past 10 years I’ve been attempting to recreate TechTV brick-by-brick on the Internet at TWiT.tv. With the launch of The New Screen Savers I feel like we’re getting close. Is there anything you’d like to know? Ask me anything - I’ll be answering full time for an hour but I’ll come back throughout the rest of the week to see if there are any other lingering questions.
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
@leolaporte What is the most ridiculous gadget you've ever used and had the reaction... "I spent money on this?"
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@jsneedles actually Jeff, the silliest gadget I ever received was a gift from you! That butter slicer. Wow! In truth the biggest waste of money was the drone that I flew exactly once. Straight up. I never saw it again.
Jeff Needles@jsneedles · Data @ Houseparty & Maker of Things
@leolaporte For reference: http://amzn.to/1LMhBFy 😎 It's awesome.
Judy Wagner@jfwagne
@leolaporte How do you think we can get more women in tech? Not just the young ones, but some of the women your age as well?
Judy Wagner@jfwagne
@jfwagne It sounded bad when you read it. I didn't mean to call "us" old women as I am one of them. What I really wanted was to get more women of all ages involved in tech.. Thanks.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
If you were 23 in 2015, having the interests + skills + knowledge you have now, what would you do?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@eriktorenberg My daughter Abby is 23 and I am sometimes baffled as to how I would handle the modern world were I her age today. Your generation is faced with some incredible opportunities and daunting challenges. You're growing up in the world that is threatened by ecological disaster, faced with new weapons and enemies who are invisible and hard to combat. But we have more tools now than ever before to innovate to create and learn and become actualized. I would probably be a coder. Computer programming is a true superpower. And it's a hell of a lot of fun.
Jeff Wolfers@jeffinlondon · Wolmac & Partners
@leolaporte Geez Leo - weapons? enemies? disaster? Quit listening to the mainstream news . They're designed to keep you frightened so big government can control you. In The Morning!
jack rometty@rometty_ · student
Hey Leo! Creating for the masses usually means juxtaposing creator vision and audience response. How have you navigated and learned from feedback throughout your career?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@rometty_ Hi, Jack. I have alway tried not to chase an audience, but to do what most interests me and hope an audience will follow. Chasing an audience is a lot like chasing your tail - you'll never catch them! But I do love now the new Internet powered media has transformed audience into community. The ongoing conversations we have do help me steer our content and my delivery, for sure. It's a very deep, challenging, sometimes frustrating, most often enlivening discussion that makes what I do even more satisfying than the old "I talk, you listen" days.
jack rometty@rometty_ · student
@leolaporte thank you! :)
Jack Dweck@jackdweck · Product Manager at Unroll.Me
Hey Leo. Really big fan of TWiT and all you've accomplished over the years. Who has been your favorite guest and why? If you had the chance to interview anyone in the world, who would it be?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@jackdweck Of course Ryan Hoover of Product Hunt was my favorite guest ever. JK! Actually he was pretty good but I have been very lucky to interview almost all of my heroes over the past 20 years. I have to include Woz in that list, Walter Cronkite, Steve Martin, Linus Torvalds, Larry Lessig, Douglas Engelbart, Larry Wall, Guido von Rossum, and on and on. Actually the list is quite long! As for who I would still like to interview, I think Larry Page and Sergei Brin would be quite interesting. I met them very early on when Google had just started, But I think they'd have a lot more to say now. With interviewing CEOs is there all fairly cagey and well-trained. They never say anything of real interest.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
😂here's my interview with @leolaporte if anyone's interested. It was an honor to be on the show:
Chuck Kahn@chuckkahn · Assistant Editor, Freelance
@rrhoover that interview inspired me to subscribe to the Product Hunt podcast
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
As someone who's been watching you since the TechTV days (and long-time weekly listener of TWiT), I'm super excited to have you on LIVE. 😀 Earlier this year, @kevinrose had you on Foundation (video below). I really appreciate your transparency and in the interview you said, "I don't really want to run a business." You also mentioned many challenges building a company. What's been the hardest part and do you regret any decisions you made building the TWiT network?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@rrhoover Thanks for the plug, Ryan! And thanks for Product Hunt! Fortunately, I did the best thing possible with regards to running a business: I hired a brilliant business partner who does the stuff I am so bad at (like hiring, firing, sales, taxes, etc. etc), leaving me free to do the stuff I care most about. It's just a side benefit that Lisa, our CEO�, is also my wife! A CEO with benefits!
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@leolaporte How do you think about new shows and the keep/kill decision? How do you measure success? What kind of timeframes do you look at?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@mscccc There aren't really any hard and fast rules to that. At this point we know, I think, pretty well what our audience expects from us and we try to give them shows they will like. Of course it's much harder to do that in practice that is in theory, and if the show doesn't develop a sufficient audience to be self-supporting we eventually have to kill it. We give most shows a year or so to grow before they're on the chopping block, but there have been very expensive shows, like Game On, which we had to axe (much to my chagrin) after nearly 13 weeks because we couldn't afford to continue. Again the discipline of bootstrapping a business forces a certain invigorating thrift.
Martin Couture@mcduo · IT tech. Gecko Alliance
@leolaporte where do you see the Twit Network in 5-10 years.
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@mcduo I'm thinking, as a division of Yahoo. And I will be on a boat. See you!
Ryan Heldt@rheldt · Developer
Hi @leolaporte -- 20 years ago, the internet was in it's infancy. Where do you see things at in the next 20 years?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@rheldt In its adolescence.
Hi Leo!!, did you ever get that note 5 fixed? By the way, those are push bullet notifications from your android phone that you see on your laptop.
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@emann56 No, Emanual, I didn't. ATT declined to fix it and I was reluctant to send it back to Samsung. So I just pulled the stylus out as gently as I could. Yes, I did break the pen presence sensor, but that's not a huge deal. The phone, and even the stylus, still work normally. In fact, turning off pen detection seems to have increased my battery life a bit. So it's a lose-win. Still, it is an engineering flaw, and I expect Samsung will address it eventually. But by then, I'll be using a Moto X. Or an iPhone 6s.
Doug McNeil@mcneil557 · Surveyor
Twenty years from now, who will be left? Microsoft, Apple, Android, Google? And is there someone or something that will be more dominant
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@mcneil557 I think Google is doing the best job right now at creating a company that can survive the next few decades. But having said that modern history shows us that very few tech companies can survive more than 20 years. I think Larry and Sergei know that, and are doing everything they can to avoid irrelevance.
Ken Torbeck@ktorbeck
What would you most like to do in the future on TWiT?
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@leolaporte Favorite programming language?
Don Dimuccio@donnnie · Black & White Band (drummer)
@leolaporte Is there any way youd reconsider doing a New Years Eve Show in the future? Perhaps an abridged 12 hour version? It was truly a highlight of the holiday season and I am gonna profoundly miss it this year.
Nick Carson@skrypt · Founder @Pakible
@leolaporte You mention "For the past 10 years I’ve been attempting to recreate TechTV brick-by-brick" which I've personally been witness to over the years watching you online now and on TV back in the days with Kevin Rose n crew. Do you think TWiT has surpassed TechTV (during its glory days)? In terms of viewers, value, content, or whatever you benchmark yourself against. I'd love to hear more about the goals you have set for yourself and for your team.
John Wallace@jmwallace74 · System Engineer
Are you building a Windows 10 Universal App so I can watch Twit on my Xbox One
@jmwallace74 they have mentioend several times on Windows Weekly that the person who built the Windows app has access to the API to build a new universal app, so i bet its coming soon
John Wallace@jmwallace74 · System Engineer
@jjesse Yes, I heard Leo talk about pricing the contracting an app build, but I was hoping to get an update..
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@jmwallace74 I'm not but Dimitry Lyalin is. And I'm very excited about that. Dimitry did a great Windows Phone app and works at Microsoft. He tells me he's open sourcing the XAML code. We did just contract with a company to build reference TWiT IOS and android apps. They should appear sometime early next year. Stay tuned!
Adam Williams@theixle · Instructional Technology Specialist
Hey @leolaporte, what are your thoughts on an show targeted towards educators and those who support educators use of technology in the classroom or online learning environment?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@theixle I think it's a great show idea but I don't know if it's for TWiT. We've learned over the years that our audience seems happiest when we stick to the really basic help, how-to, and news formats that we've pioneered. But that just means there's more opportunity for people, perhaps you, whose passion includes Ed Tech. It's easy to create a show now and thanks to platforms like Product Hunt and Patreon to promote and pay for it. So go to it!
Elizabeth Whitmire@elizabeth_whitmire
Hi Leo! :) I'm a frequent TWiT watcher and a big fan of you and all your hosts/staff. I was wondering about your plans for more science content on the network. You've mentioned in the past about possibly doing a new show but needing a host first - are there any developments?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@macphyle I would love to do more science content. I think it's very important if you're covering technology that you also cover the science behind it. But, as usual, creating a new show means finding the right people to make it. We did create The New Screen Savers as a way to do a broad variety of topics, and, in fact, we do a lot of science coverage there. It's not enough but it's a start.
Elizabeth Whitmire@elizabeth_whitmire
@leolaporte Yup, I'm very glad for the New Screen Savers! :D I haven't missed an episode, and yes, that's a great start.
Do you think in the current media landscape, you either have to be super niche or super big? Is there room in the middle?
Leo Laporte@leolaporte
@mlsj1 Great things about new media. There's room for everybody. The Verge, as an example, is neither niche nor mainstream. And there are many Internet broadcasts like that. Me that's one of the most important changes that the Internet and digital technology has wrought in our society. Quite literally everyone who can get online has a voice.
@leolaporte Thanks for the answer.