Friday, January 31, 2014

Python Full-Stack Web Developer Needed for ex-Googler startup

Python Full-Stack Web Developer Needed for ex-Googler startup
SF Bay / Santa Cruz / Remote – 1/20/14

Help RedBlueYou capture the arbitrage! We need a crack Full Stack or Back End Python lead developer immediately

  • Founded by an ex-Google Product Marketing Manager, RedBlueYou is building a web business focused on the open access of government information in a different way than is S.O.P in Silicon Valley. This is a unique opportunity for a single skilled and experienced full-stack or backend Python engineer to take over primary development responsibilities on a contract or contract-to-hire basis.
  • Our product is ~65% code-complete, and the current lead remote contract engineer is transitioning off the product to work on his own startup.
  • Minimum commitment is half-time (20-25 hours per week). Compensation will be a mix of hourly and an incentive share of the cash profits over a specific duration of time post-launch. 
THE LONG: Why building RedBlueYou is a unique opportunity
  • RedBlueYou, on the face of it, is well-thought-out-but-totally-copycat product in a mature, opaque, seemingly unexciting space that's been totally ignored by entrepreneurs and investors for years (for some good reasons, and many bad ones). We have reliable intel on the competitors in the space (a number of whom are in the Compete Top 200), and the principals of "competing" products are out-to-lunch former affiliate marketers, just cashing checks from the beach and running stale marketing campaigns.
  • We are a self-funded ("bootstrapped") business (no angels/VCs), with two primary and sequential business goals: 1) Leverage the private competitive intelligence we have to build a subscription-revenue service that maximizes the cash-on-cash IRR of an experimental and founder-led paid acquisition marketing strategy (capitalized at $100,000+ of initial spend). i.e., this is a "cash-flow" focused business, but the brand and product positioning has been carefully conceived so that the option of building a traditional (and potentially very valuable) equity-focused business is retained if customer adoption data make that the right decision.
  • You will have sole complete-the-product responsibility, and total control over all engineering decisions, with the initial goal of getting a FVMP (fully viable minimalist product) out the door within 4 weeks (6 weeks if you handle FE skinning from design files as well). Compensation will be commensurate with skill, experience, and execution ability — and will be a mix of profit-share/equity and cash hourly comp.
  • RedBlueYou's aim is to construct and then capture the figurative "arbitrage" available between the cost of addressing a large-but-underinvested/ignored market and the ability to monetize the public's concern over government intrusion into the lives of its citizens. We will do this by refactoring the current demand in our market along some dimensions and with some data that have yet to be used in this space, rebranding and repositioning the commodity, "copycat" product in ways that are more emotionally arousing, and that directly address consumers' underlying concerns that drive prospects to convert in this market.
  • We aim to capture the literal arbitrage by running a very specific paid-acquisition marketing strategy at a lower CPA than the competitors' campaigns, and signing customers up for a subscription service that retains users at a higher rate over time than competitors by expanding the variety of unique, interesting, and useful information we provide to our paid user base.
  • As a marketer with an engineering background who has worked for Google and a couple of built-to-flip startups, the founder is sick and tired of people launching products that 1) have not been thought through with enough of a long view 2) gate business-building marketing activities due to engineering bottlenecks and product over-prioritization 3) can't be effectively marketed, measured, and optimized from Day 1. RedBlueYou's launch criterion is that it is FVMP which can support extensive and extensively optimizable marketing efforts from day 1.
  • RedBlueYou's second goal is launching a specific future product, already conceived, to the current paid user base. Branding and product positioning and first-phase customer segments theoretically align well with the future product: a super-cool, shoot-the-moon concept which would require significant resources to successfully build and support.
  • You would be a good match for this project if you are: a bit of a rabble-rouser; believe in the full and open access to government information; OK with flying under the radar.

YOU ARE: (This is a non-exhaustive list)

  • Python contract or contract-to-hire developer (negotiable), preferably full-stack. We use Python/Flask/MongoDB/Redis/Nginx.
  • Motivated and can execute without excuse or delay.
  • Significant Python experience, and have a number of recent products/projects you can point to. If recent grad, then some reasonable substitute/complement is acceptable.
  • Strong to very-strong academic CS background (or the equivalent).
  • You are OK with taking broad direction, vague specifications, and can make thought-through independent decisions you can back up logically.
  • We are based in San Francisco/Santa Cruz, CA. Local is highly preferred, so we can work next to each other at least some of the time, but it is not required.
  • You have multiple high quality references (which will be checked).
  • Bonus points for experience or academic bkgd in: open government, search, functional languages, trading/finance, bitcoin, political science, economics, marketing/design.
  • Based in the US/Canada/Europe.
  • Can point to open source projects you've contributed code to, or offer other code samples for review.
  • Started by an ex-Google 33 year old Product Marketing Manager for AdWords, and sandal entrepreneur. Stanford engineering grad (IE/OR), CS minor. Founder can read code, but has not programmed since school and is generally not useful in this dept (though he did write a graphing calculator/linear equation parser in Karel and didn't have to take my 106a final).
  • Based out of, variously: San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto, Burlingame
  • Cash hourly + incentive share of cash profits over X period or equity, negotiable based on skill, execution speed, and preference. All incentivized comp would be contingent on a short trial-contract period.


Email with 1) a link to your LinkedIn profile 2) your resume/CV 3) a little (a little is fine!) bit about yourself and your experience 4) why job post caught your attention 5) a reasoned guess what precisely RedBlueYou actually *is*. Interested? Full details available to serious, qualified candidates only. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Vartan Enterprises LLC

As some of you know, I've done stuff in ecommerce since college. Started off selling refurbished consumer electronics on eBay, from my dorm room. Started selling a few other niche products. It's sorta just for fun, I've outsourced all the operations, support, shipping - and it doesn't require a whole lot of my time, and even though they are (very) small time, it's still interesting. Check them out: -- sandal I designed and got manufactured starting in 2004. Sheepskin beach flipflops. -- beautiful succulent-plants wreath. One of a kind, and an awesome gift! -- used to sell steel butane pocket torches in college. This one is sorta for old times sake and because I already had the domain. -- bought the domain after seeing the movie Juno; 3 weeks later decided it would be easy to set up one-page storefront and import the phones from china. Sold a few thousand of them over 3 years with near-zero time commitment.

I've got one or two other mini-store ideas up my sleeve, so keep watch!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Seeking Crack Scala / Lift / Ruby craftsman or craftswoman for ex-Googler startup

Do you love Scala or Ruby, functional programming, Lift, Rails, the social web,
algorithms, machine learning, auctions, viral coefficients,
optimization, behavioral finance, or all of the above?

We are two ex-Google Product Marketers, and we're creating what we
believe is a genuinely novel, social, well-branded, useful, and highly-
monetizable app that leverages the best of Facebook's and Twitter's
social graph APIs. Unlike typical product managers, who tend to think
narrowly about the product with their left-brains — how well it's
designed, the evolution of its feature set, its market positioning
against competitors — and believe users will just come if the product
is good enough, we also engaged our right-brains and thought through
very subtle but powerful pieces of the puzzle: early-stage incentives,
network effects, brand resonance, emotional attachment, social
reinforcement, ease of customer acquisition via quantifiable channels,
and the product's intrinsic viral potential/coefficient. We also have
some killer potential names (and own the associated domain families).

Like all new tech ideas, we face a significant risk of failure. The
probability of success is admittedly low. But conditioned on that
(potentially low) chance of success, the payoff will be very high –
we're attacking a market of major size and one that has very
attractive secular long-term growth dynamics, and our idea has broad
applicability across customer demographics. We see our idea as a
'binary bet', and one that will take about 3-6 months worth of
development time to determine the outcome. It's in the nature of the
incentive structures we're building, the product's attachment and
engagement methods, and user acquisition strategy, that if it "works",
positive feedback will kick in quickly and the binary bet would pay
off — potentially significantly.

We're looking for two to four experienced Scala / Lift engineers to
work closely with us on a contract basis for 12-24 weeks to build
version 1 of the product. We haven't raised external money, and do not
intend to at this early stage (we may be able to generate meaningful
revenue even with a small number of users, as long as they are engaged
with the product on a daily basis); that being said, we can afford to
pay a high quality developer market rates (for early stage startups)
with a combination of cash and pre-Series A equity.

A bonus if you're also an ex-Googler, have done significant work in Ruby or
Scala / Lift before, can implement basic machine learning algorithms,
or have experience in one or more of the following fields: payments/
transaction processing, online advertising, contextual targeting,
auction dynamics, behavioral economics, computational game theory,
operations research/supply-chain algorithms, NLP, collaborative
filtering, graph theory, zero-knowledge proofs, or hidden Markov
models. A big bonus if you've read Shannon's "Mathematical Theory of
Communication" cover to cover! (This is not to say our product will
include features from all these fields; we just highly value engineers
with experience in any of these areas).

It's also a big bonus if you have a good head for design and user
experience. Major plus if you're a font-addict like we are :)

If this sounds at all interesting and you'd like to hear more, please
get back to me with your availability for a short chat, and forward
your resume/cv/recent projects. Also tell me about what brought you to
Scala or Ruby, how experienced you are with the language and the Lift
framework, and what fields of either theoretical computer science or
more pragmatic product development interest you the most. What does
your dream software engineering job look like? What's your preferred
engagement model (contract, hourly, project-based, part-time, full-
time, cash, equity, a mix)? A short cover letter describing your
background would help, too.

As for us: We're two ex-Google guys with significant experience in web
and non-web marketing. One of us sells his own line of furry sandals
at and sells Hamburger Phones (from the
movie Juno) at – he started his first
business from his Stanford dorm room in 2000, selling surplus consumer
electronics and computer peripherals on eBay while taking a full
engineering course load. The other one has marketing in his blood and
has been thinking about interesting marketing issues from both a
theoretical/academic perspective, and from a pragmatic, Google-
marketing foot-soldier perspective for his entire career.


Thursday, July 23, 2009


I just found a paper I wrote for the Freshman Seminar i took in 1998, Plant Genetic Engineering, where I built a model of the economics of converting palm-oil plantations in indonesia into plantations of a (hypothetical) GM palm that produced kernel oil of high energy density.

now that greentech is such a big thing, I kinda feel like a bozo for having the interest in the subject way back in '98 when nobody was talking about it, and not pursuing it myself.

i guess the big question is what am I interested in *today* that I will regret 10 years from now if I don't pursue?


Saturday, July 18, 2009

i am

kind of weirded out by some of the iGoogle themes (xxxxx???).

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Day I don't even know

As you can see, the light in the classroom is still on. It's been easily three weeks now. I called the SFSD Buildings and Grounds number again today and spoke to the same surly woman as I did last week. This time she just transfered me to the Electrical Shop (?) and directed me to leave a message, which I did. But I think all someone needs to do is flip the light switch.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Day 5 methinks?

Took this picture Sunday night. I'll give the SFSD a pass for not sending someone out on the weekend. Hope the light(s) are off tonight, given it has been a few days since I called and a work order was written up.

Anybody have any guesses how much it costs per day to light up a large room using fluorescent bulbs, at San Francisco rates?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Day 3

Called the SF School District's Buildings & Grounds department. A surly woman said she'd fill out a work order for me. This was this morning. The light is still on as of 8.50pm tonight, as you can see.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Night 1

The light has been on in this City of San Francisco building for over a week now (it's viewable from my bedroom window), and I just realized it wasn't because someone was using the room. I dialed San Francisco's 3-1-1 "city services" line -- they said that since it's a school, it's not the City's responsibility, and instead they gave me the number of SF School District's Buildings and Grounds department. So I'll call tomorrow.

Monday, April 30, 2007

More URLs

Alright so I went a little overboard this weekend with the domain names. Additions to the portfolio (all were unregistered except for which I purchased from a third-party via for $40)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

What to do?

Just registered '' and '' (they were available!), and bought from a third party for a nominal amount (my first third party purchase!). Any ideas what I should do with them?

Saturday, March 31, 2007

New thing

Armen, a friend from Stanford, recently launched a new social networking deal: - the social network where nobody knows your name. Check it out!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saturday, December 30, 2006

New favorite drink

1/3 green Chartreuse
2/3 white grapefruit juice
shaken w/cracked ice

Hat tip to my longtime friend, the inimitable Peterangelo Vallis

Thursday, November 30, 2006

San Francisco

I moved apartments, and this is what I get to see as I walk to the Google Shuttle stop in the morning.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Grandma!

In an Fresno Bee article about Brain Fitness, a cognitive training program designed for seniors, my grandma has this to say:

At Fairwinds retirement community in northwest Fresno, Violet Vartan, 91, can't get enough of the program. The residents pay $100 for the eight-week course.

"I want to keep doing it again," Vartan said. "It's easy and fun to do. And I think it is working on me."

Vartan and several other residents said they feel better after doing the computer exercises.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sushi rollups

At Google we have TGIF every friday. It's basically a weekly all-hands meeting + food festival. Typically, some combination of Larry, Sergey, and Eric (or occassionally another member of EMG) hosts, and they highlight important business events of the week.

Since I've moved across the street from main campus, I usually attend a telecasted TGIF in my office. Today, our building's culinary team created a beautiful, clever, and extremely unhealthy dish: Sushi Rollups. I was so awe-struck that I took a picture with my new fancy cameraphone. Can you tell what the sushi is made of? It's twinkies, wrapped with Fruit Rollups, cut sushi-style, topped off with slithery gummi worms.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Don't go to germany,10.205221&spn=0.003187,0.005826&t=k

(Via Case)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Squandered Opportunity

Last week I registered the domain name I didn't have any specific use in mind at that point, but I thought it might be a good domain for some kind of theme blog. It's kind of long, but...

Any ideas?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Highly Recommended

These are some goooood cookies. Peep 'em next time you at the Waysafe.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


You know what's kinda good? Dried apricots soaked in white wine.
Ok bye.