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Hey friends,

I'm converting my notes into a newsletter. I've enjoyed writing these notes, but distributing them has been a pain. Twitter's not the right distribution medium. RSS is cool (and I added a feed!), but I like the "idea of RSS" more than actually using RSS - and I suspect that's true for most people as well.

The only good option is a newsletter. I thought about Substack, which I've used in the past (exhibit A, B, and C), but Substack newsletters feel too professional these days and I'm not trying to work for the Passion Economy™ here. I gave TinyLetter a look and the price was right, but the vibe was not.

And so, I turned to Buttondown, a product I've been secretly admiring for almost a year. It's Indie built and has strong positioning against Substack (more customizable and dev friendly 😍), Mailchimp (cheaper 💸), and TinyLetter (it's just better 💪).

So, welcome to my Buttondown!

A lot has changed in the past few weeks so let's dive in.

Goodbye Feather

The biggest change is that Nick and I have decided to pause all work on Feather. While I still believe there is an opportunity for someone to come in and make a lot of noise in the Auth space with a bottoms up approach, we're pretty sure it won't be us.


A startup runs on morale and when it comes to Auth - my tank is empty.

There's a lot to be learned here:

  • don't scratch your own itch unless you've previously paid for a similar product
  • maintain a healthy ratio of talking to customers and building
  • launch earlier

Classic founder mistakes, but perhaps the biggest problem was "Why?". Not in the sense, "Why is this a good idea", but rather "Why are YOU working on it?".

Was I enthusiastic and passionate about Auth? Was I sufficiently motivated or even angry? No.

If you don't love an idea, aren't obsessed about it, aren't staying up late thinking about the customer pain point, then don't pursue it.

For all future ideas, I now realize the entire early team needs to be wildly enthusiastic. Even if the market is amazing, you'll need to grind it out, and it makes it that much more likely you'll persevere if your heart is in the game.

Hello Dallas

The other big change is that I'm currently in Dallas. My parents closed on a new house, and I'm up here "house sitting" as they try to sell their old house back in Houston (btw - got any tips for selling a house? We're in need of your wisdom!)

It's taken me pretty much an entire week to adjust to living by myself again. Food has been an adjustment. Loneliness has been an adjustment.

But this adjustment has been great. Uncomfortable but great.

Cold showers, quitting a job cold turkey to strike out on your own, solo travel, taking the road less traveled by, Waldenponding™ and "Into the Wild"ing - these are all examples where you dive into something uncomfortable and find yourself literally or figuratively fighting for breath. Slowly, you regain some control. Dormant muscles get reactivated - and it reminds you who you truly are.

I don't know what I'm trying to say here. It's probably something about risk, identity, self-reliance, and nature - but there's no point I'm making, just an observation that I'm feeling good.


  • 7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy - I just finished up this book (it's quite short), but I feel like it's beginning to stitch together some ideas that I had previously known as discrete pieces of information (i.e. Innovator's Dilemma, Switching Costs, Network Effects, etc). Now, they sit together in a more coherent whole (the path to creating a strategic business moat). I'm trying to distill my knowledge of business strategy into action and I plan to do that by writing amateur equity research in the future
  • The Fortune Cookie Chronicles - This is a book on the history of Chinese food in America. I'm a few chapters in and I'm a fan. If you know anything about my stance on Americanized Chinese food, you know it's not positive. I hate Panda Express (only the Tofu is worth ordering). I eat Orange Chicken, General Tso's Chicken, and other candied meat with reluctance. There's nothing Chinese about this food. Reading the book largely confirms what I already know, but the stories are significantly more entrepreneurial than I imagined. It's a solid read. After I digest this book, I bet I'll have a lot more to say on Chinese Food in general - to me, it's a deep symbol for the Chinese experience in America.
  • The Boron Letters - one part Arrested Development, one part copywriting masterclass, and one part self help book - this has got to be one of the more interesting ways to learn entrepreneurship fundamentals and the basics of copywriting. It's a collection of letters written by the legendary copywriter Gary Halbert to his son - while serving time in prison. I'll do a reaction to this book soon - it's great. This week's thread of self reliance is rooted in some of the advice given from father to son

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