Jason Traff

Founded Leaky (YC S11). Collecting my thoughts on finance, technology, and gaming. Currently applying the scientific method.

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Everything Old is New Again: Recycling Business Models

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again” - Stephen King

Have you ever heard the saying that every new movie rips off Shakespeare in one form or another? Or, more likely, that into one of several generic story archetypes?

This is how I try to think about technology sometimes.

Growing up, most interactions fell into the ‘commerce’ or, as time went on, the ‘eCommerce’ bucket, where you would pay money and receive a product or service. If you’ve gone shopping, this is what I mean. Even early examples of Paul Graham’s ‘digital mall,’ which was acquired by Yahoo fit examples of this.

Then, in my tween years (early 1990s), I heard about Columbia House, which was the evolution of commerce/eCommerce through a subscription service. They, along BMG Music Service, were famous for pioneering a mail order CD deals like “12 for the price of one.” The catch was that you were then supposed to...

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The Cult of ‘Killing It'

“I will create desolation - and call it peace!” - Megatron, Transformers IDW Collection, Megatron Origin, Issue 3

Last week, a friend of a friend in San Francisco had their startup burgled. The burglary happened while no one was in the office though it was captured on their in-office surveillance video. In the ensuing discussion, someone chimed in, “You know if you shared office space with us at [XX] that never would have happened. Because I’m in the office every single night. Even on Christmas.”

And I thought that was the saddest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

There’s an ethos in the tech community that wisdom is gained through suffering, and that if you can suffer more than everyone else, you’ll be the wisest.

Funnily enough, it wasn’t long ago that I had the same mentality. I thought that if I worked harder than everyone else that it would pay off in some ethereal way. That...

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Post 2. Let’s Play basic functionality.

I felt bad about having not updated this for a while, but not that bad because we’ve been sleep training our son.

Did you know that it involves just leaving your kid to cry for ever-increasing amounts of time?

And then your wife starts crying.

And then the dog starts howling.

And then you realize there’s an ever-present tightness in your jaw.

And then finally, your baby wakes up and you do it all again in 3 hours.


The basic CRUD aspects of Let’s Play have been finished; it’s been a lot of fun to poke around in Rails and customize the frontend. Next step will be to introduce some of the visual elements to make it more appealing, and then finally to make it easier to share socially online. Still, the heavy lifting has been done and I’m happy with how it’s turned out.

Now, if there’s a chance for some peace-and-quiet in the house, I’ll look forward to finishing it.

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Post 1 - Lets Play. Setting up ‘Lets Play'

So this was a long post detailing the setting up of my new project; I’m guessing that in its majesty it was 1,500 words or so. But… one errant two-fingered swipe backwards, which counts as a ‘back’ button on a Mac, and what I’m guessing are several corrupted cloud saves later… I ended up right back at the start. With a grand total of 26 words.

In fact, even trying to publish this stub of an article has had some 404 issues with Subtle eating my god damn drafts.

Argh, I don’t think I can be bothered to write it all again. At least not right now.

Right, here’s the quick summary
I wanted to have a toy project to learn HTML, CSS/Bootstrap, JS, and Python/Django. I’m bad at all of these things. I decided to make a site to help gamers find new people to play games with online. It’s a problem that I’ve noticed for a while, where I only have a handful of people on my friends list that I like...

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Is patience overrated?

A common saying is that ‘patience is a virtue,’ but I wonder if anyone believes that anymore.

It doesn’t take much to realize that as a society, our attention spans have diminished, and there’s a constant push to fill our lives with noise and activity – from work, to vacations, to entertainment, ad nauseum. Personally, I often find myself flipping between emails, various lists, Netflix, calendars, Twitch, and random notes, in a blind flurry to make myself look and feel more productive.

I suppose the truest version of the saying would be, ‘patience can be a virtue.’ But the vacillating nature of this wouldn’t make for a very compelling t-shirt.

In particular, when I look at technology entrepreneurship, there’s a constant push to ‘always be killing it.’ Reading through [TechCrunch](techcrunch.com) or [Y-Combinator’s PostHaven Blog](blog.ycombinator.com), you get the sense that if...

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The Importance of Twitch.tv to Gamerdads

Five months ago, my wife and I had our first child, a son. And while parenthood has been rewarding, it has also meant that I no longer have time to play video games.

Sure, maybe it’s a small consolation, but video games have always played a big part in my life. As a kid, running games through the command line on my Commodore 64 sparked my interest in computers, and through my adolescence, running cables around my parents’ house so that I could play Diablo on LAN taught me about computer networks. Then, playing Quake and Ultimate Online on our 21.6k modem taught me about the internet. And through college, unbridled by parental supervision and driven by my natural competitiveness and limitless free-time, I even joined some of the best teams in the world and made a run at playing first-person shooter (“FPS”) games professionally on the tournament circuit.

Though, it was different back...

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A test in a series of tests.

I’ve always been fine with other people doubting me. Surely, that’s one of the many baptisms of being an entrepreneur. But, lately, I’ve been filled with self-doubt. An amorphous and unshakeable darkness that just weighs on my confidence. The end result is a nagging feeling that I can no longer create things of value or interest.

I think it all came full circle when I read Gideon Lewis-Kraus’ piece titled “No Exit” or “One Startup’s Struggle to Survive Silicon Valley’s Gold Rush.” I suspect that the experience he details is true for innumerable startups in the Bay Area, and it certainly would have been true for us at Leaky. The constant grind for validation and success spotted periodically with fleeting moments of pure elation.

It’s been six months since we closed Leaky, and in some ways, I think that I’m still recovering from the three and a half years spent building it. Since the...

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