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Tom Watson and Stefan Borsje are avid photographers and creators of the new photography app, Glass. This week they join Paul Ford and Michael Shane, Postlight’s Head of Digital Strategy, to talk about developing the app for their fellow photographers. They also share why they chose community funding over venture capital, highlight the importance of transparency with your users, and discuss defining product success when growth isn’t the primary focus.



Paul Ford What’s the limit to growth? Because obviously, you’ve thought about like—when does this thing start to crack? And when would you start to feel like “Woof, that might be too much.” Like, how are you going to manage the growth in the best case scenario?

Tom Watson Oh, so if we were just so big that it’s like—

PF Yeah! I mean, let’s go—

TW To the moon!

[music ramps up, plays alone, fades out]

PF Michael.

Michael Shane Hi Paul.

PF Michael, what’s your job here at Postlight?

MS I’m the head of Digital Strategy.

PF Oh, thank god somebody is doing that. Because I used to be responsible for part of that. I was terrible. 

MS You’re welcome.

PF Yeah, you’re doing a good job.

MS Thank you. 

PF So you like to read things on the internet? 

MS I have been known to do that from time to time for the last 20 years. 

PF So you like to paste those into Slack sometimes?

MS It’s an addiction, really.

PF You’re also a photographer. People should visit your website. What is it?

MS It’s


MS I would say that I have been a photographer and I love photography.

PF Okay, well, but you know, let me let me do this to you. But you have a really nice camera.

MS I have a nice camera. I’ve had many nice cameras.

PF Isn’t that great? When the photographers just reduced to the camera. 

MS Yes, it’s all about the equipment. Nothing else matters, of course.

PF That’s exactly it. Your eyes, your sensitivity to your world, your sense of light. All of them subsumes by like a $15,000 camera.

MS Megapixels!

PF Exactly, exactly. Alright, so you read something on the internet that got you all interested?

MS I did. I read about a new app for photographers. And for the photography community called Glass.

PF Oh thank god, somebody finally made an app for photographers! There’s never been one before!

MS This is true. 

PF That’s where we come in, right?

MS Yes.

PF And so because we have the unbelievable power of a podcasting platform, what happened next?

MS I posted a message in Slack. And actually, I said, “Hey, we should really talk to these guys. This sounds interesting. They’re trying to do something really interesting in a difficult challenging space in an interesting, challenging time.” Why don’t we see if they will be willing to spend some time with us? 

PF And they didn’t! They absolutely refuse this. So now we’re going to talk about—no, we were very, very lucky to have Tom and Stefan to join us from Glass!

Stefan Borsje Thank you.

TW Oh, hello.

PF Could both of you in unison or maybe just one of you individually, really up to you. Tell us about this app and what it is and just kind of help us get our bearings?

TW Yeah. So we’re—I mean, in a nutshell, it’s a new photography community. It’s a platform. It’s an app—it’s an iOS only app at the moment, specifically designed for photographers. Especially to this audience, in particular, we took no venture capital funding to start this project, we did it entirely bootstrapped. We started it in October of 2019. For that right there, like that’s a big bold decision in 2019, to take on no venture capital to try to build something different. And we felt that was incredibly important for starting a community like this. Because, as you guys so eloquently mentioned, at the beginning of this, you were like, there’s been a few photography communities online over the years. And to do something different, we felt like we really need to do something incredibly different. And that was to take on no venture capital funding, and then do something in a social space to take on no advertising model and do it entirely subscription based. So those two factors are very differentiating for our platform, and one in which we think we can differentiate ourselves from the competition and others that have tried to do this in the past.

MS We’re definitely going to get to the business model. I think paying for things directly is interesting. I’m a big fan of paying for things. I think that’s a good thing.

PF I mean, it was how we built the society we live in. 

MS Yeah. So you answered my very first question, which is, who is Glass for, you said photographers, but really the real question is the question number two, which is what is a photographer in 2021? What does that word mean now?

TW I mean, we’re all photographers at this point. We all have phones these days off cameras. But when we think of photographers and photography these days, like there’s there’s kind of a nerdy subsection of people who are really focused on the craft and effort to make a photo, not just take a photo. And I think that intent is a big driving factor for the community we’re focused on. Not just the broader, I want to be taking photos of my kids or I want to take photos randomly, just snapshots to remember things by. This is like, geared towards people who really want to craft and make a photo.

MS So how do you make good product decisions for that audience? Are either of you passionate photographers? You know, how was it that you became so enthralled with this space?

TY And yeah, I’ve been a amateur photographer for, you know, 20, 25 years, I mean, maybe even longer at this point. I loved the Flickr photography community in 2006, 2007.

MS So great.

PF Ah, you know—

MS In 2009, I did a 365 Self Portrait Project. Did them all. 

PF Don’t give up hope because Verizon AOL may bring that one back. You know, it’s always a chance.

MS So Tom, you’ve always loved photography.

TW Yeah, it’s been a lifelong passion of mine. I mean, the idea for Glass started for me in 2013. I had recently left Facebook. So I was a product designer for Facebook from 2009 to 2013.

PF There you were building a knitting together community in 2013. That is a hell of a feeling right? Like you’ve seen people use this stuff.

TW We had bought Instagram then. And, you know, I sort of saw the potential for where that was gonna go. And I don’t think it hasn’t gone that way. Like, I think it’s almost to a point where it’s, Instagram is another Facebook-ish platform.

MS It’s something else now. Yeah, if Instagram, let’s say had never been purchased by Facebook, if it had stayed an independent company, and it continued on the trajectory it was going on? Would you still be making Glass now? By which I mean, do you feel like Glass is a reaction to sort of what you see as a shortcoming of what’s currently available to photographers in the photography community, or is it something in and of itself?

TW I think there’s two questions there. So I think the first one, which was the Instagram question. I think venture capital and needing to constantly grow to hit an exponential growth rate is going to cause you to need to either pivot or just grow to a massive, larger audience. We have big ambitions for Glass, but we weren’t. We’re not trying to build a massive like for everyone platform. Glass is specifically designed for this particular focus at niche. We’re focused on building a lifestyle business, if you want to call it that, like, that’s really what we’re after. And so by doing that, we had to say no to venture capital and focus entirely on the community. But the beauty of that, and the business model we chose is that we get to focus entirely on this community, which, if like, Instagram hadn’t been purchased, it would have still gone for that growth, because it needed to get bigger and larger, and it would have likely have had to expand past that. So when I think of Glass and where it’s gonna go, it needs to, you can stay focus and remain focused because of that, because of our choices.

PF This is a fundamental puzzle, right, which is you’re building a lifestyle business, you’re not taking VC. First of all, great, right? Like for what you’re trying to do that makes a lot of sense to me. But second of all, then all the motivating factors that everybody says are supposed to be there when you’re building a new business, like how are you going to get talent? How are you going to get people aligned with this? How are you going to build this thing out, if you don’t have a random guy in a, you know, like a nice vest, like a warm vest—

MS Giving out lottery tickets.

PF Yeah, dumping 20, 30 million dollars into a money hole so that you can spend that money?

SB Like Tom and I both have both worked at companies of various sizes, right. And if I look at my own background, most recently at a few high growth startups that were fueled by VC money, and I think it does create a certain expectation that the company needs to become a certain size, and you need certain people on board, and you need to hire, hire, hire, and it always needs like talent, talent, talent. And I’m not really sure if that’s always true, I think you can also build something on a smaller scale and keep it small. And I think by doing so one of the benefits that you get from that is that communication within a company is also way easier. So in my mind, it’s a lot easier to rally a small group of people behind a certain goal and trying to do that with a huge company and trying to do it that way.

MS Maybe it’s an unfair question or a difficult question. Because maybe it’s not about size. But take this wherever you want to take it. How big—for lack of a better term—does Glass need to be in order for it to be a success? Or how are you measuring success?

TW From my end, it’s simple. We want to pay ourselves what we consider market rate salaries. So we can we’re no longer, we’re not tempted to leave or do something else. And so Glass needs to be big enough to meet that goal. And so once we hit that, we get to continue to work on it. And that’s really what we want to do for the foreseeable future.

PF Are there any models for you? Any companies like this that you look at and you’re—the one I always think, always sticks out is like a community around visual stuff that seems to have built itself. Like, what else sticks out?

TW The one that I like to reference, which I think gets ignored from a lot of males in the community would be Ravelry.

PF Oh sure, of course! It’s a classic.

TW It’s a classic for knitters, right? Like, I think there’s a lot of these opportunities for more niche platforms to really find an audience and grow it. I just happen to really like photography. And so I wanted to build something that I love. And Stefan also loves photography. So it was one of these things where it’s the one we chose and we love but there’s lots of other niches out there that this new business model I think opens this opportunity to do these things. And people are all of a sudden willing to subscribe to stuff that wasn’t the case just a few years ago, and so I think that is really exciting for us. And you see it in newsletters, and you know, Substack, and you see it with these other platforms, but social really hasn’t tried it in earnest, I don’t think. And so it’s exciting to see it move into this space in this way.

MS So you bring up a really interesting point, which is that today, all of us are sort of paying for our consumption, and our entertainment in five and $10 chunks a month at a time. So how do you keep Glass high in the rotation so that it never becomes that you know, that—

PF Are you talking about the great newsletter call that will soon happen?

MS Yeah, basically.

PF Year two the $50 isn’t quite as motivating.

MS Yeah, I mean, so I, you know, I, this is a question I have later in my, in my plan here, but I’ll bring it up now is, you know, in your interview with Ohm, which everybody should go read, because it’s a really good primer on all this, you talk about how you don’t have an algorithm, you know, you guys are not toxic dopamine pushers, as far as designers and product thinkers go. So what’s the core loop in Glass that keeps it high on that list? So that it’s always—people are never gonna say, ooh, I can save five bucks. What’s the core loop? 

TW Well, I mean, right now, our core mechanic is comments, which seems really quaint and old school at the time, but we started there, because it’s really simple. You get notified when someone comments something, it’s a chronological feed, or reverse chronological feed of your the posts of the people you’re following. That seems quaint, but was very much the standard at the time. 

MS Yeah, this is important. So for all of our listeners out there, I think you should know that there was a time on the internet, when comments were wonderful, and enjoyable and edifying.

PF It was Thursday, November 7, 2006, for 45 minutes on MetaFilter. It was a great day, it was a great day for us all.

MS But we’ve mentioned Flickr a couple of times. I mean, I think back on the you know, Flickr with a tremendous amount of fondness. There was this time from like 2006 to relatively deep into the first Obama administration, when Flickr was kind of this magical community. Right? 

TW I think that’s fair. I mean, Matt Haughey, he’s a friend of mine, and MetaFilter has a special place in my heart for it, too. I mean, that’s another great reference. 

PF We had Matt on the podcast, and it’s still my favorite title ever, because I called it “This is how we do it”

TW Oh, that’s perfect. That’s amazing. 

MS So essentially, what your thesis is that really substantive conversation, and a real community without fame is enough.

TW I don’t know if it’s 100% enough, we still have features we want to build for it. But that’s what we felt was the absolute best place to start, which was to focus on community and authentic community, being really authentic ourselves, making and creating a very safe space for people we invested in things that I wouldn’t say most startups would focus on, we built blocking, reporting, and deleting accounts, your own content from day one features, which often for startups like this, that’s not a day one feature.

MS You mean, you’re not going to hold our data hostage?

PF Well, but I think for like, as a customer, right, like, there’s a certain kind of customer, I’m one of them where, boy, I want to see it. Blocking, sure, but export and things like that are so important. on day zero before you invest yet more time and energy into another thing, especially because there’s a reality that these things may not last forever, and you’re you’re gonna give them your book, we’re gonna I’m gonna give you my photos, eventually, I might want my photos back. That is not an unthinkable thought. But the first like 15 years of the web, everyone just kind of—or the first 25 years of the web—everyone has done a lot of work to keep it unthinkable. What has been the hardest thing to build, because we live in a Candyland of web services and tools that that make this stuff easier to do than it used to be. But like where as a small team working on this, did you find the most friction? What’s still complicated?

SB Yeah, I think I think we’ve mostly been really laser focused on using as much of the shelf components as we can. So for example, instead of rolling, you know, you’re not gonna roll your own concert distribution network anymore, right? You use something off the shelf. So we use a partner for that. And I think we invest heavily in the cloud services that we use. So we try to use as many off the shelf services as we can. I think where to most complexity comes from is we’re like a very, very tiny team with very limited time, especially because in the in the past year and a half. This was mostly just a side project for us all. And like constantly trying to find time to communicate with each other what we’re, what we’re building, how all the things connect to each other how the mobile app talks to to our back end, and doing that on a weekly basis and constantly making progress. I think that has actually been been the hardest part for us. 

PF Talk through your stack a little bit because people want to know is it you know, Slack and GitHub issues? Like what are the tools you use to get this work done?

SB It’s not very surprising stack I would say I mean, our iPhone app is a built in Swift, our back end runs on AWS and is built in Go and in JavaScript. And then in terms of tooling we use like all the standard server tools that you see everywhere. So Slack, Notion, GitHub, you name it. We tried to keep it fairly, again, fairly small. Because the more tools we have, the more complex it is to manage. So yeah, we tried to keep it a little bit limited. 

PF I do think there’s a product management work coming between Notion and Coda.

MS Choose a side, people!

PF I just want everyone listening to prepare themselves for countless conversations about which is better.

MS The feelings about these platforms run very deep.

PF There is a new one too! Universe I think?

MS Don’t tell me about a new one, please.

PF It’s exhausting.

TW I don’t want to know.

PF Everyone is just reinventing like—

MS So you two are in Amsterdam. But how big is the team now? And how are you distributed?

TW So there’s the two of us in Amsterdam, we have two contractors in Portland, Oregon, and one in Tulum, Mexico, a contractor. So we’re pretty distributed at this point.

MS In your interview with Ohm, you said that we’re not a home for influencers, we’re a home for photographers.

TW That’s right. 

MS I read that and I said, hallelujah, I’m so sick of every pixel I see being owned by some influencer. But when it comes to photographers, it can often be really hard to tell the difference between an influencer and a non influencer, because it seems like creative people who work for themselves often have to act like influencers to make a living, right. So when you’re working on the product roadmap for Glass, what defines that distinction for you between influencer and something else?

TW Right. We went through this debate early on, because we were concerned about it. So like, basically, brands are not part of the platform. But if you’re a photographer, like say, you’re an individual photographer, and your brand is yourself that’s allowed, and you post your own photos, and you market yourself and you want to do that sort of level of self promotion.

MS Got it. So if you see any kind of like stealth advertising happening on the platform, that’s a no-no. 

TW It happened to us, we had a product for photographers join, but it was kind of like one of those in between—

PF Oh, interesting.

MS So how did you handle it? Yeah. Talk to us about that. How did you work through that? 

TW Yeah we went through this debate, we ended up we removed the account, we decided that that was not part of the community, we ended up with that distinction. And I don’t have the FAQ in front of me with the actual policy that we wrote. But that’s, that was one of those things that we worked through Daniel, our head of community.

MS So that led to the policy or the policy guided the decision?

TW We had the idea in our head, but we had to, like, parse it, like it was like one that hits that middle that you always feel really uncomfortable making that decision. And it’s really hard to make these calls early on. But it definitely defined the future of the product. Our community likes it a lot, the choice, but it was challenging, and you know, felt tough, but we were glad we made it.

PF This is—I’m listening to you. And it’s like, yeah, we are we’re building this thing, and so on and so forth. And now you’re gonna have all these users who are creative people who are going to have incredible numbers of opinions. And like, how are you bracing for that? Because that is a lot. 

MS And they’re giving you money. 

PF Oh, boy. It’s better than it used to be. It used to be if they gave you $1, they owned your house. Now it feels like people are used to buying things online. And like, they know that unless they spend the money they’re going to get dropped into a parched hellscape. But anyway, like, sers are a lot. Humans are a lot. How are you handling that?

TW I think having designed for such large platforms and experience the growth of them helps me personally manage that mentally. I think a lot of it is that—

PF Oh, here we go again. Yeah, yeah, yep. All right. That guy’s back. Yeah. Okay.

TW You see, I mean, you know, the personalities that come through. It’s still a challenge. I mean, I’m not afraid to say like therapy is helpful.

PF Of course, know, anyone working in community and moderation should absolutely have access to a therapist, right? Like you just see too much human behavior that just will—

MS I think anybody connected—anybody with an internet connection should have access to a therapist.

PF At this point, yeah. Unfortunately, we think the internet connection is the therapist. It’s a bad recursive. Anyway, that’s a different subject.

TW I want to like jump in there a little bit on this point, because I think it’s interesting and one—so when I started at Facebook, I got into this fight with Dave Morin. I don’t know if you know Dave.

MS Yeah, the guy who founded Path, right?

TW Yeah, so we started there and we were chatting about this was 2009 and like, open ID and like being the, you know, one account one user, being your authentic self online is going to help with people being jerks online. Like they’re not going to—that’s going to be the silver bullet, right? Like cuz, you know, I started you know, like BBs days and like trolls on there and forums, and nothing was really going to everyone’s anonymous and it’s going to be terrible, right? So our hope with this community is people are bought into it better. And so by literally buying into this community and paying for it will help solve some of those problems. Because obviously, being your authentic self online, people just don’t care, they were just jerks online anyway, like it didn’t matter. Like it didn’t, didn’t solve the problem at Facebook doesn’t solve the problem, like, you know, anyway, connecting the real life person to like your authentic self on Twitter, and people are ridiculous. So we’re hoping that this will be a better space and a better community, because people are bought into it. And we’re seeing that. It’s helping but it’s still early days. So we’ll see where it goes. 

PF People don’t talk about this incentive very much, but because of the way you’re structured success is going to be did we help people make more good stuff? And that is the anti metric for a lot of places, which are like great, a deep fried meme that 500 people clicked on. A+, good job today everybody. And this is the great struggle, right? Because we I think I’m looking at you and you, you both are not the youngest people on Earth. So that’s where I’ll leave it right? But same with me. And there was a great flowering in the 2000s of, hey, let’s bring the best we can, people will jump in, they will contribute. And we will create community. And sometimes—MetaFilter early days was a good example. It really worked. People went out, they hired each other, they married each other, like it was a real—by any definition, it was good and effective community. And I really do feel that the instinct to create was what was being captured there. And that community was coming out of people who shared that instinct. And then it also turned out that maybe not everybody, like maybe no more than 1% of the world is super motivated to make things all the time. But we had captured that group, because the internet was so early. And I think that, you know, when you’re describing the structure, I’m like, okay, that stands a chance to get that group back in. How do we—and this is an impossible question that I’m asking in the room. I don’t have an answer for this. And if I did, I would just, I think, float onto a cloud. How do we create more and more spaces like this? Because I think that the idea that the internet will suddenly revert to everyone writing a blog every day, that’s not going to happen, right? We’re past that. What would you advise people to do if they wanted to make a space like this for a creative actor, you know, an aspect of a community that they wanted to preserve and built? Where do you start?

TW I’m going to jump in, because I feel like really just starting is important, and not taking on venture capital to see those dreams and ambitions go, I’ve been motivated my whole career to make little things on the internet, make stuff. And to do that with discipline and purpose. We had this idea, but it took finding the right people, and then just a weekly meeting. Literally, like it sounds so boring. And so but we have a we had a Wednesday meeting for two years, well, year and a half, like that just kept us going. And I think those two factors, the passion of what you want to build, the community you want to see, and then patiently doing it. It also helps we have a lot of experience, we’ve done a lot of building and designing and product stuff. You know, finding the right people, but if you have the skills, so if you know how to do this, you’re really passionate about it, those things make a big difference. If you go get a bucket of money from venture capital, and then all go into a room and build something and then those people are going to want to see rapid exponential growth. That’s not going to lead you to this sort of space that you’re hoping for. An example of someone who—I love these guys—they made Cocoon. Do you remember this little messaging app? Like private messaging called Cocoon? 

PF No.

TW I think they sold to—

SB I think it was Substack. I think they acquired the team—

TW That’s right. Yep, you’re right. Substack.

PF Somebody bought them. 

TW Yeah. So like Cocoon, took all this extra venture capital money. And then Substack ended up buying them. And I think cocoon needed to sell because the venture capital, like game was there. But they were a private messaging app built for the small community, people just like an alternative. And it was beautiful, incredibly executed, well done. But the business model is inevitably like needing to scale. And at that point, you just can’t—I don’t think you can craft these small communities in that way. Maybe if you find the right investment partners and really are there but I, when I talked to Ohm privately about this early on, like he was an early beta tester for us and gave us a lot of early feedback. He’s an incredible photographer. And he’s like, don’t take on venture capital if you want to do this, don’t do it. You know, and he’s a VC like, you know, so it was a real strong and motivating signal for us to not do that.

PF No, totally understand. I mean, I’m—there’s a tiny message board image sharing community called Maltshop. 

TW Oh, I don’t know this. 

PF Oh, used to be called Milkshake. It’s very like, yeah, it’s very MetaFilter adjacent. So I’ve been part of it for maybe 10 years now. And it’s my one place where I can goof off and nobody cares what I’m doing nobody. And it’s just me resharing dumb memes, like just silliness, nothing, nothing too dramatic. And I’m happy to pay into that community every year. Like just utterly happy to because it’s a nice place. And I think that people don’t under—what they miss is the value of that. Maybe as you get a little older, and you have to live your life, and it’s not going to be entirely through this community. And at that has to be utterly uninteresting to every venture capital fund out there what I just described. That’s the last thing they want. 

TW Yeah, they don’t want that. That’s not—there’s no reason for them to invest in it. Why would you do that? But there’s a lot of people, there’s a lot of space on the internet. And I don’t think a lifestyle business is a bad thing. I think it’s a wonderful thing.

MS Well, I think it’s very important that you’ve said, we, Glass, are a lifestyle business, right? Because that means necessarily, there is no 100x return. Because there’s a lifestyle business, it’s something else.

PF If people come work with you, they need to adjust their expectations there too, right? Like, it’s just a different scene.

TW You asked how we attract talent, and like our contractors have come to us specifically, because they’re excited about what we’re doing. And they’re even, they’re working on the side a little but they’re, we’re getting good rates from them because of this message. Like they believe in this, they want to see something like this. And then and that helps us until we can grow more. Again, we’re looking to get to fully sustainable market rates for everyone. And that’s really the win, the goal, the end for us. I mean, also a loving and huge community of people photographer sharing. And that’s obviously it. But from the business side, that’s where it comes down.

MS You’ve been working on this for a couple of years, you recently had a relatively significant publicity push, you know, you’re getting people in. So I want to ask you, can we do a little pre mortem? I’m sure you’ve already thought a lot about this. At this point, how might Glass totally fail?

PF Oh my god!

MS What are the major obstacles, risk that you see standing in your way?

PF Sheesh!

MS Was that too much? 

PF Oh, no, no, no. It’s not up to me.

MS I tried to smile with my eyes as I asked the question.

PF Wow. So okay, so failure states that your wonderful new startup will achieve? 

TW I mean, we worry that we’re not going to grow enough, right? Like we won’t reach that that critical threshold of sustainability. And so we’re working really hard. We’ve grown it enough so the big publicity push got us to a point where we can, like Stefan and I are basically working on it full time. 

PF Congratulations!

TW Thank you. Yeah. But that’s not fully sustainable. Like we can only we have to grow it to get there. So we’re close to that, that threshold. And so obviously, you know, publicity is great and pushing for it, we’re releasing a new feature that should go out this week, we’re really excited about it, that will help you know, make things more public for people. And that’ll be really exciting. So you get to choose to make your profile public. This is one of those product decisions that I find really fascinating. Because if you were at a growth startup, you would need to automatically turn that on, like everybody’s profile would immediately be public. But we took the time in the app to make a toast and give you a setting and really encourage you to do it. But you have complete control over it, your profile is private by default. But if you choose to you can make it public on the web. So you can go to, for example. And you’ll see all the photos I posted. And then there’s an opportunity for sign up. So it’s, you know, it’s an additional feature that we feel is private and really valuable to photographers, almost like a mini portfolio. But again, you get the community aspect of it as well. So you get a lot more value for your subscription. Which we think is going to be really valuable. And this is all thanks to Stefan’s amazing ability to handle the backend. So you know, we can serve these these images at good sizes, high quality, and the bandwidth costs, you know, things have all come down. We can do these things now that we couldn’t do.

PF We’ve talked about sort of like, don’t take their money. And I think it’s actually worth people, people out there listening. When you think of VC, a lot of times you think about like their seed rounds, where they’re going to help you hire some engineers, and so on. I think you guys have that locked. A lot of VC is like, we’re going to help you pay for marketing so that we can blow this thing out. Put that aside for a second, like how do you scale this community? Because eventually, you know, even as a lifestyle business, if it’s working, more and more people will be telling more and more friends. And there’s lots of people with camera phones and other cameras that are taking photography very seriously. So as you get, let’s say you did have one or two orders of magnitude growth, how are you going to preserve this core?

TW That’s a great question. It’s a great problem for us to have one that we’re like excited to like to handle and to deal with. I think the way the product works today, the scale isn’t always felt. So right, you follow a certain subset of people, right? So you’re following 100 photographers The network effects of, you know, scaling to find the photographer’s you want are important, but to have more and more people on the platform might be hidden from you. It’s just, you know, discovery and finding those people. So we’ll work and need to scale those pieces of the puzzle. But, you know, like, we don’t really want to go too much more in terms of moderation, which, you know, obviously, we talked about earlier, which is like, oh, we have to, like, deal with all those issues. But that’s where we would probably have to put the most of our investment into, which would be those issues.

MS I’m curious, what do you think is the right number of other photographers for someone to follow on Glass and still have the kind of experience you intend?

TW It’s a great question. I mean, it depends, obviously, on how much they’re posting, we make following and unfollowing, quite easy. And it’s chronological. Like, if you find someone who’s just like spamming your feed, you’re probably gonna unfollow them. And that’s because we’re choosing not to do an algorithmically generated feed, we find that to be incredibly important. Path, you know, famously had the 100 people like there was like you had a limit to following a number of people. So I’m not answering your question directly. But I think there’s something in that sort of area that will make Glass feel great to you. One thing we often tell people who are struggling to get involved in the community right away is like, because we have basic discovery, and we’re improving it constantly, you get a lot of value from following and commenting. And then people comment, you sort of be the community you want to see. And that really has worked well. And so we hope that by laying that early foundation, that community is going to spread in that way. And it’ll be welcoming and continuing to do. I also interviewed was it 30 or 40 photographers before we started? 

BS Yeah, 40 or 50.

TW That was a habit that I would do every week, I would interview them and ask them about their needs and their wants, and really just like, dig in with them.

PF Interesting. So you’re building this sort of mental model of desire and what people want from a platform.

TW Yeah. And then we also use Nolt, a feedback board in order to manage the input that we get from them. And it’s a public feedback board, and we rank it and we kind of organize it. And it acts as a bit of a roadmap. So you can see—we’re not overly explicit with everything we’re building. But you can see the things people are asking for.

PF This is really interesting, because you know, as I’m listening, there’s a thing that keeps coming to my mind, which is, it’s all execution. Like if I was talking to you, I don’t know, maybe if I was talking to other startups or VC backed startups, or folks kind of like working in a different mode, it’d be like, well, this is our very, very secret roadmap. And we’re going to do these very, very secret things. And that’s how we’re going to achieve our secret billions of dollars. And instead, you’re like, yeah, it’s our roadmap. And we actually have it pretty public. 

MS It’s really transparent. 

PF Yeah. And so transparency is obviously a big part of that. How conscious is that decision? Or how much of that is just like, I just got to work in the open. How do you get there?

TW I mean, it’s in the name.

PF Boom!

MS Been waiting the whole episode for that! 

TW It was too easy.

MS Fireworks erupt. Amazing. 

PF Well, that was that was our podcast for today. No but what are the virtues of being so transparent, because most people would tell you like, never, ever share anything until it’s launched, etc, etc. 

TW Yeah, we even did a glimpse into Glass before we launched our categories feature was a blog post where we told you categories were coming in what we were planning to do ahead of time, because we were discovery was a little lacking, we knew it, when we launched it, we got a bit more press than we were anticipating, which was great for us, obviously, but it took off. And so we had to sort of like be more transparent, he kind of pushed us in a way we were already wanting to be really transparent, but like—and it’s been good. I think our community really appreciates it. I think there’s a point of like, we’re going to do these things. And this is the order in which we’re kind of thinking about them or where we want to go with it. But then maybe keeping like our execution until we’re ready to share in tomorrow, we’re ready to ship. Because we’ve been working on another feature that’s coming and we’ve been working on it for a while and we keep not getting there yet. We know that people want quick, positive feedback, which is traditionally likes or faves, or those sorts of things. There’s a lot of loaded baggage with that feature. And so they want that on Glass, but how do we do that in a way that feels authentic to our community? We’re working on that we’re transparent that we’re working on that but we haven’t got it— we think we’re there now. Right Stefan?

SB We just need to build it, that’s all. But I think theoretically we’re there.

MS I mean, this sounds—I’ve already freaked you guys out enough with a pre-mortem. But this sounds like a pivotal moment this feature this is when you’re going to find out if your community has the same definition of community that you do right? When you add that feedback mechanism into the experience. That’s really exciting and terrifying.

PF Michael is a very high stakes guy. I don’t know if you—

MS Am I?

PF Yeah, you like high stakes. Yeah.

TW It would be a controversial feature for us to tackle, this is the one. It’s also the one we’ve been debated. I think I’ve been on the canal walks with Stefan, and he’s hated it a few times now.

SB We’ve gone through so many names. 

PF Sure.

MS So it’s not like or favorite. We know that much.

TW True story. Not going to use those. We think we got a good spot. And yeah, but it will, we hope that we’ve sort of threaded that needle between, you know, what the motivations were for that originally called the awesome button and Facebook. Before I got there, before it became the like, that we all know and love. And then, you know, the controversial switch from the star to the heart on Twitter. Like there’s also the other ask on our feature set that’s really requested, which is bookmarking, or saving. Our users really want to like, you know, collect. And I was also a product manager for Pinterest for almost five years. And so that’s a feature on well aware of the mechanics and interest around that. So you know, there’s, those two features are very interesting to see. It’ll be a pivotal moment for us.

PF Alright, so look, first of all, how do people get the app? Second of all, what are you looking for in the world? And how can people get in touch?

TW You can get the app at, or search for Glass on the iOS App Store. You can get in touch with us at Get right into us, you know, contact us. Tryglass on Twitter. That’s definitely our biggest channel right now to contact us directly.

PF Should people be getting in touch if they want to come program? Or what are you looking for?

TW I mean, right now we’re looking for passionate photographers who want to be members of our community. 

PF There we go.

TW We’re looking for those passionate photographers who really want to be part of it.

PF Alright. Well, great. Well, thank you for coming on the postflight podcast guys. 

MS Thanks guys.

SB Thanks for having us. 

PF So Michael—

MS Can we do canal walks?

PF Wouldn’t it be nice? So are you excited about this platform? Are you like all in?

MS I’m excited. We need more small communities on the internet.

PF Okay, this will get you to take more photos? 

MS I already take a lot of photos. But yeah, I hope so. 

PF Alright, so this is great. This is something good.

MS Actually, let me backtrack. I already make a lot of photos. Hopefully I will make even more.

PF I have no eye whatsoever. So look, if people want to get in touch with Postlight, what do they do?


PF That’s good.

MS Postlight on Twitter.

PF Yeah. 


PF Alright, good. Good. You’re getting there. 

MS Did I miss any? Did I miss any channels?

PF No, you did it. You did great.

MS What’s your phone number?

PF Uh, 646—alright, friends. Thank you to our friends from Glass and you know, anything you need. Just just hit us up. We’re Postlight and we’re here to help.

MS Have a good week.

PF Bye!

[music ramps up, plays alone, ends]