A brief programming note

What am I doing here?

On August 26, 2013, along with two other cofounders, I signed a stack of papers to officially incorporate Mode. On August 27, I realized why data analysts like myself aren’t typically among the first employees at tech startups—you don’t have much to do. 

With a non-existent product, to say nothing of users or customers, we had no data to analyze. Without any engineering experience, I couldn’t help build our software. And with the business needs of our company, like building relationships with investors and meeting potential early customers, in the capable hands of our much more affable CEO, I wasn’t useful in meetings. A day in, I was a founder with a company, but without a job. 

So, as I think the saying goes, those who can, do; those who can’t, start a blog.

For a year, that’s what I did. Generously characterized, our blog published data-driven analyses of tech, culture, sports, and politics. More accurately, it was a playground for me to mess around with data that told weird stories about topics that interested me. In each post, I tried to learn something from those stories or, failing that, at least romp around in that weirdness.

Eventually, Mode needed me to do something other muse about Miley Cyrus, near-miss perfect games, parking spots in San Francisco, T-Pain, the value of seed rounds, the price of weed, the size of Olympic bobsledders, and Miley Cyrus (again). My time and focus turned to other things. 

A couple months ago, while gawking at the Gamestop circus on Wall Street, I was compelled to scratch what had become a seven-year blogging itch. Because Mode’s now well-manicured, professional company blog wasn’t the right place to rant about how social media is dooming society, this Substack was born. (Why Substack? I signed up for benn.substack back in 2019, and it was on brand with the rest of the benn dot line of products, like benn.insta, benn.company, benn.pro, and the under-perpetual-development benn.website).

I wasn't sure what, if anything, I'd do beyond the initial Gamestop post. But like moving into a bigger apartment, my old stuff somehow expanded to fill the space. And I was who I thought I was: Drawn to startups, tech culture, and the funny stories data tells. We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

A few dates in, I’m ready to put a ring on it. This Substack will be more of that, more regularly than before, with one considerable addition. While building a company that works with a lot of good data teams, I've developed a fair number of opinions about how people and businesses should use data. So consider this a warning: Expect predictions about data technologies and observations about corporate data culture alongside the regularly scheduled commentary on Pitbull. (Or, if you’re here for the tech stuff, consider this a warning that you’ll have to put up with posts on Pitbull. Either way, there will be Pitbull content.) 

All together, here’s what we’ve got: An at-least-weekly-but-probably-more Substack on data, with data, plus some essays on technology, culture, sports, or politics. 

Or you could characterize it the way Josh did, which, paradoxically, is impossible for me to dispute: