Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #63

Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com joined by my partner and Ceo and founder of startups dot com, Wil Schroder will, this is becoming a refrain that I'm getting tired of repeating, but we are still in the middle of the whole covid thing. Work from home is on everybody's mind. Um, actually escaping work from home might be on vehicles. Now, this has been an interesting turn of events. Everybody that wanted to work from home is now forced into it and they're not sure anymore. Um, but one of the questions that this this brings to bear is, you know, there's been a case for a long time that, you know, there's density, there's, there's a lot of things that go on in big cities that can be important for startup companies and now that people are being forced into a work from home situation that that discussion is being revisited with fair frequency. Um, and if you're not going to have that same kind of dense, you're not gonna have that same physical proximity. Is it still better? Was it ever still better? You know, what are the pros and cons of, of being in a big city at this point?

Wil Schroter: Well, I think it's interesting because part of the pros of being in a big city and, and it will give some background here as to kind of, you know, our experiences living at home and abroad and all these other places. But part of the advantage is the fact that there's a high density of people that, you know, you could work with hire me, et cetera. But what if they're not there anymore. Um, or or what if the congregation factor or go even having an office, you know, all of a sudden goes away. Um, and it's happening again. This will be a very dated uh, newscast here. But you know, twitter announced yesterday that uh, they're not going to require people to ever come back to their office. And so yeah, strong move, strong move in and in an irreversible one try telling thousands of people that they have to come back, just kidding. You know, it can

Ryan Rutan: be done, but lots of luck.

Wil Schroter: Uh, this is kind of a one way decision. But regardless. Um, I think it begs the larger question and I want folks to when they're listening to this. Actually see that the genesis of this discussion in this thought process was really around. Is it better to live as a startup as a founder in a major city or in a tier two, tier three city or you know, no city at all. And I think it's worth Ryan you and I kind of chatting a little bit, you know, kind of opening up about our experiences. Uh, you know, where, where we came from kind of how we've tested this. You know, you're in Guatemala, you are testing a very different version of being

Ryan Rutan: remote that than I am.

Wil Schroter: Uh, so let's start with with kind of your current situation and some of the things that drove you there as it would relate to trying to figure out where to locate, you know, in leading the company.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, I mean, man, for me it was it was a multifaceted decision and you know, over the last 20 years of life, I've lived in four different countries and and lots of different cities. Uh so there's definitely just kind of a built in wanderlust for me and that's a big part of it. I just like to, I like to experience different things, but um you know, as we, as we settled into startups dot com, you know, we were what five years in when I made the decision that I didn't want to be in columbus anymore and it wasn't really about columbus at that point, it was, it was, it was a very, very specific thing that drove that decision and that was, you know, we've talked about before in another episode, but yeah, my health, I I needed to not be in the, in the cold, dry climate of of Ohio and the super hot, humid summer climate of Ohio. Um and and we made that decision and it was tough, I mean like I, you know, leaving the office at that point as we were in the middle of a big growth trajectory um you know, about nine months prior to that we had acquired virtual and so there was a lot going on. Um but I was at the end of my rope from a health standpoint needed to do something and, and that was what initiated. So we we first went from columbus um to Tampa florida ST pete was where we were, but still like a pretty vibrant. I mean, I would say it's it's very much in line with, with columbus Ohio in terms of population um in terms of kind of what's going on from a startup standpoint. So it was a geographic shift, but in terms of amenities and all that, not entirely different. Okay. Some personal level amenities like being able to get my kayak and go fishing. Yes. But in terms of overall lifestyle, like kind of the, the access to being plugged into a tech community, it was more or less a wash right between columbus and and the Tampa Bay area roughly the same. You know, I I didn't, I didn't have any any big perceptiveness. Yeah.

Wil Schroter: Let me make one small uh point there. Would you say it's safe to say that other than maybe, And and I'm stretching here 10 major cities, it kind of doesn't matter which city you live in, you know, and even within those 10 unless you're in new york SF L. A. Or boston and I'm not knocking Chicago or Austin all great cities and you can add them to the 10 or arrange them any way you want. I don't have a strong preference. Um Every other town is pretty much the same, right? I mean there's there's there's marginal differences, but not like this is going to change your career differences,

Ryan Rutan: right? Let let me say yes to that. But with with a fairly heavy caveat and that's the, the caveat there is within the US, Right? And I think that is an important distinction. You just

Wil Schroter: Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: yeah, So yeah, so, but for for purpose of this discussion, um you know, let's let's look a little beyond that, let's say in the US, yes, I can agree wholesale that. Like once you're out of the top 10, unless you're just not in a city at all. Right. If you're in a in a second or third tier doesn't change that much, but the minute you get outside the US things can change very significantly, even if you're in a large city, you may not have the same access to an entrepreneurial circle or or people doing tech type things or startup mentality that can change really quick. Um and and and so I I can speak to that one, right? I came to a a beautiful, beautiful uh city um, but it is not what you would call a hotbed of technology or startups, uh there are a fair number of digital nomads here and some entrepreneurs doing really cool things, so it's not, I didn't step into the void, but it is, it is not the same thing as a Tampa columbus and certainly it's not a Chicago or san Francisco new york. Um so yeah, I I can I can certainly, you know, agree to that. Um and so that's, that's where, you know, the journey is taking me to now. We're we're outside the US, we're living in Antigua Guatemala um and and enjoying a lot of that, and while there was a, you know, a step down in terms of access to other founders, um, you know, being geographically proximal to me, there were a lot of other benefits that came along with it and I want to jump too far ahead. I think we're going to talk about that a bit later in the show in terms of sharing what are some of these, these deltas and what are some of the things, you know, what are the pros and cons? Um but yeah, the current situation is we're outside the US, we're definitely not in a Tier 12 or even three city um in terms of availability of, of kind of, you know, other founders operating at the same level, thinking about the same kind of things, There are plenty of entrepreneurs here, but they're solving different types of problems. So it's uh it's been eye opening for Sure,

Wil Schroter: well, sure, and I think that um for, for entrepreneurs, both in big cities and outside of big cities, I constantly see them asking the same question, the folks outside of big cities are saying, had I moved to insert your big city, maybe my opportunities would have been better, particularly when you're talking about things like raising capital, etcetera. And by the way, the answer is yes, of course it would have been better. You'd have had more shots on goal. Um, there's an argument that I think we should talk about about whether or not talent is or isn't more accessible and we can kind of dig into that. Uh, folks in big cities historically were thinking, hey, I made it to the big city. Um, you know, this is where all the opportunities are. I must be in the right place. I think that part of the assurance is starting to break, you know, to give it, to give some background there. I grew up in southern Connecticut. So we're right outside new york city and for the 1st 20 years of my life, new york was the only city that I knew. Um, so you know, my friends were there etcetera. Um, then I moved to the midwest and then after that I moved really for the last 10 years to California between Los Angeles and san Francisco and having had a taste of, you know, both coasts and in a little bit in between, Here's, here's what I can say with, with a fair amount of certainty, given my own experience, there's no question that if you, if you exist in a big city, especially if you're active, you have to take in the city. you have to show up at the events, you know, you have to work the city. Um, the opportunities are just extraordinary. Um, my entire network was built, you know, the, the value part of my network in big cities just there's all the connected people are there, it's kind of that simple, there's, there's no way around it. That doesn't necessarily mean however, that you have to have those connections to build a business. Your business may have nothing to do with, you know, the local connections that are there. Uh, what I did discover though during the same time and this is the last 10 years, let's say between Los Angeles and uh in san Francisco more so in san Francisco, people are trying to figure out how to get out. Um, and not all of them, you know, some people love it and, and again, I'm not knocking the cities at all. What I'm trying to point out though is it's expensive, It's crazy, crazy expensive in most people, no matter how well they do, Ryan are never ever ever going to truly be able to afford those cities properly. And I think in your twenties you're okay with that, right? You know, if you have a little bit of hardship, you had nothing a minute ago. So it's not that big of a Delta, but boy, once you get into your thirties and beyond the point where a lot of folks are either planning families, but if they're not planning families, they're just kind of settling into their world and you come to the realization that you can't afford to, that's a huge issue and it's a startup issue because it's a founder issue. All of my friends in L. A. In sf, even the ones that have done, you know fairly well for themselves, complain about the same thing and they all say the same thing. You know, if I took the amount of money that I'm spending on wherever I'm living right now and when literally anywhere else I would live like a king. So, so there's no one that hasn't had that thought process, what's changed dramatically and this is why we're talking about it in the last, you know, month or two is now, you just might have to or said differently like let's take twitter, it sort of doesn't matter where you live because you're not going into an office anyway. You can still say, well I'm still going to make the connections etcetera. But bear in mind that a lot of people are never going to go back to an office. And so the value proposition of density of huddling around the center of the city is about to be unwound. And, and I, and I think it's worth saying what was the pros and cons before all this went down.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, I think it's interesting if you look at the trajectory of this whole thing, right? If you go back in time when the density started to form, there was definitely a golden age in which places like san Francisco and new york represented an outsized value, right? Where you all of a sudden had this density, had all these people working all these cool things and everything just sort of made sense to be there. But then the costs caught up with it, right? And and at some point those leveled out right? And now, yeah, you get an increased benefit in being in a big city. But it comes at an increased cost. One of the things I realized at some point was that my, my big city connections, my big city network, we're good at solving problems that were specific to being in the big city. If you weren't inside the big city, you actually didn't need that network. Right? Like yeah, it's easier to raise capital if you're, if you're, you know, on the west coast, you also probably need to write, I realized that you know, when I was asking of questions of my big city, big city friends and and big city network, it was

Wil Schroter: like, well man,

Ryan Rutan: I can't, I can't find a developer for less than 200K. Can you help me figure this out? It was anywhere else? I didn't have that problem. So I didn't need it.

Wil Schroter: Right. I want to build on that a bit because this is, this is all part of the same kind of compounding issue. Uh When I was building a company in L. A. Um and we're hiring developers and this is you know, circa 2007 was the first one that I built in L. A. ah The average developer was going to cost me between 100 and 5200 and $75,000 and money. That's actually a pretty long time ago. And it was still a fair amount of money back then and it wasn't for that great of a developer. And I'm not knocking, developers are just saying like you know that wasn't like oh my God we're gonna pay a huge premium for the developer. It's just you know, standard developer, right?

Ryan Rutan: You weren't pulling a cto off of of a Fortune 500 company. Right? This was just a

Wil Schroter: no, no, no. I was pulling a line level developer with six years of experience kind of right? And I remember thinking at the time, what a huge strain this is on my business because now I'm paying such an increased rate for this person. Mind you, prior to that I was hiring people in Ohio obviously much different salaryman, but here's the shitty part for them, even with that, you know, huge salary relative to me, the salaries certainly gone up since then. Um They're not living that. Well exactly what was killing me. It'd be one thing if I was paying all this extra money and they were and I could see their lifestyle changed dramatically and improved dramatically. And we've seen that, you know, for folks at startups dot com now where they're getting really well paid, but they're also living in markets where they can enjoy, you know, that compensation and, and they're really living, well, there's nothing that sucks more than paying massive salaries to folks who, you know, are going home with three roommates because they can't

Ryan Rutan: afford their own place.

Wil Schroter: Uh, but let me just, if you, if you will, let me just add to that a little bit more. Um, If all you're talking about is 20somethings who are living in apartments. Um, and I'm not saying 20somethings don't deserve houses like everyone else does. What I'm saying is, It's, you know, it's a little bit more tenable. When those same folks get a little bit older, they start families and they need more space. They need their own space and you know, they need more space and they realized that they can't afford it. That creates so much strain for us as founders and as the leadership of a company because we're gonna lose them to another company. There's nothing we can do about it because we, you know, our economics are what they are. Um, and at the same time, we know the next person we bring in is just going to recycle the same problem. And so you really start to, right, you touched on this, you said, hey those cities weren't as expensive before. They were always expensive, but their peak expensive now.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, you're paying a premium for it, you're you're absolutely paying a premium. I would argue that the costs in so many cases have now outstripped the benefit. I mean I think even three or four years ago, I might not have said the same thing, but I think in in, you know, coming into this year, I think I already would have been saying that and certainly now as we start to look at this major shift towards work from home um and and you know, kind of going fully remote with some of these large companies making these declarations that people are never going to come back to an office at least for now. Um it's it's definitely changed that I think you're, you're paying a premium that far outweighs the benefits. Well, it occurred to me as we're talking through this, we have several times touched on the fact that you know, growth for the sake of growth is is not necessarily healthy. And it occurred to me there's a parallel here which is that having all this density and having this massive network and having the availability of funding and having availability of people is great, but like how much density do you actually need? Right, are you just saying like I just want it? So I have it. Okay, cool. But if you're paying a premium for that, whether you use it or not, right? You wouldn't rent a five bedroom apartment in san Francisco to live by yourself in one out of the room of one of the rooms, right? You wouldn't do that. Um And so if you're paying a premium for all these other network effects and and availability of capital and availability of talent that you don't actually need or aren't going to tap into, you're wasting your time and your money big time. Right. And that's another aspect of this. We haven't even touched on yet. You were talking about the fact that you know like you know your your entire network in in L. A. Was basically saying the same thing which is that you know, it's everybody's complaining about the cost. Um The other major one that I hear is how much time people waste in those cities san Francisco less. So because it's I mean it's just such an anomaly from a geographic standpoint, it's so compressed with its six square miles.

Wil Schroter: Eight

Ryan Rutan: right? 88 square miles. There's only six of them that I care about apparently. Um The I can do it with the tenderloin. Um So the but but in L. A. You've got this sprawling metropolis where people are spending 2.5 hours each way on their commute. All right. And that is a major life cost. Uh And you're paying the cost premium? Right? It's like what do you do? Do you need that? Do you want that? How much is that benefiting you at that point? I think these are all really, really important to consider how much am I willing to pay for these, these you know, supposed benefits um in terms of actual cash and and time and quality of life and it's it's getting harder and harder to justify in my mind.

Wil Schroter: Here's why I think this is such a fascinating time to be having this thought process. The whole world was just forced to try out work from home, right? There's no version where twitter was going to tell thousands of employees three months ago to all just stay at stay at home. Right. Right. And and and now they're saying you can stay at home forever, not saying everyone is going to do that. I'm not what I am saying though is there's no way to reverse what just happened. There's no way to reverse the fact that everyone got a taste of what this value proposition looks like and it's going to fundamentally change so many things. Here's a, here's a great example for all of the folks that right now we're working from home from their tiny apartment in big city, they're they're so tired of it right there, cooped up, the city itself is going to be dangerous for a long time would have. And so they say to themselves for the first time, it's entirely feasible that I can take this job and go somewhere remote like that? I've always wanted to go and live in the mountains if I want to and do the same job. And what happens is the moment you hop on Zillow and you see what your money gets

Ryan Rutan: you somewhere else and you're like

Wil Schroter: holy sh it, you know what it was going to take for me to ever get anything remotely close to this in the city that I'm in. So what's happened is, and again, it's, it's not wholesale, but it's going to be dramatic. We, for the first time decoupled location compensation and outcome, right? And and that's why I think comparing the value prop of founders living in big cities right now to living in a tier two or smaller or remote city is such an important discussion because I think the value prop the, the reason it was worth bearing the cost back in the day was because the opportunities were great. But now we're kind of taking that off the table. And so you gotta start asking yourself

Ryan Rutan: that's the thing. The opportunities may not even exist anymore. Even even when they did exist, I think we're getting to the point where the cost was becoming prohibitive if the opportunities don't even exist anymore. If you're not going to have that same kind of osmotic effect because people aren't going to be in offices together, they're not going to be in public places together, then the benefits go away, then I think this becomes a a mass exodus at some point. I mean, and then of course you'll see costs correct and there's gonna be people who like living in some of these areas for other reasons. Um And and that'll be exciting. It'll be great to see people go back to san Francisco because they want to live in san Francisco lifestyle. Um They like the dining scene, they like the walk ability um they like something about the city other than the fact that this is where my $225,000 job is um along with my $180,000 a year apartment, right? So yeah, I think, I think we'll see some interesting shifts, man,

Wil Schroter: Well, here's the big thing though. Mhm. If folks start to say, hey um I don't need to be physically here or in proximity in order to get my job done, I gotta say there are a lot of people that would more than you know, would love living in another city if they could just keep their salary. Now, obviously, I think salaries come down a bit here, right? Because I think, you know, we're not maintaining the same office, we don't need to drag people that center of gravity if you will um toward high, you know, high expense living situations, but regardless um what happens when you go to some of the major cities is the cost of living is so extraordinarily high that it goes beyond what you could ever possibly earn to have a comparable living situation any worlds right Back in. Uh boy this is like late 90s, early 2000s. When we were growing the agency we're hiring as fast as we could. We heard about 250 people in our first year of growth. And most of the people were coming from Madison Avenue agencies. What we would do because we're trying to get to go to columbus Ohio and it's such a tough sale. I don't even know where it was. I didn't know where it was when I came from the east coast. So I can appreciate the issue. What will you do? Those would have folks come in and fly him in and before we even went through like a detailed part of the job interview and we did the first couple passes, we just sent him out with a realtor and said just look at what your money could buy you right now. Making you know the same amount you're making. Now we're even gonna pay you more but making the same amount and then they look at their place in Manhattan versus a place in columbus Ohio and they're looking at each other, you know the spouses looking at each other saying, what are we even doing? Like there's no way we'll ever own something like right we

Ryan Rutan: just bought a house with our bagel budget while we were, you know while we were out with the realtor, we just decided to pick one up and then they come back and finish the interview right, it's

Wil Schroter: it's hard to overlook, it goes the other way to when my wife and I were um living in in Los Angeles um you know very expensive housing market. We ended up moving to Beverly Hills which is like the most expensive housing

Ryan Rutan: market.

Wil Schroter: And uh one of the things we could never get over it is Uh the the juice was never worth the squeeze. You know, you know obviously we ended up moving away but on average to give folks a perspective folks that aren't from there, not in the us etc. Um the housing cost there uh for a lot of the houses were somewhere around $2,000 a square foot $2,000 a square foot, right, $2 million dollars for 1000 square foot house um In columbus Ohio which is a very typical tier two city, you're at $200 a square foot so you're talking 10 x. Different

Ryan Rutan: 5% the cost, it's insanity. Yeah

Wil Schroter: and that's how most of the country works and columbus you know as it relates to Ohio is more expensive than the perimeter areas around columbus right? So it goes down from there. Um And there's a few cities in the middle like you know in Austin et cetera that that you know it's kind of shredded the line, they've got some more expensive product, less expensive product but other than a few major cities, new york is just as bad

Ryan Rutan: san Francisco is even

Wil Schroter: worse. Um the, the cost of trying to get a house, so a 25 100 square foot house in L. A. Not every part, but the parts we were looking at was about $5 million. How many people are ever gonna be able to afford a $5 million house? Now you take that down a notch and you say, okay, well you don't need a $5 million house, you need a $1 million house. Try finding a million dollar house. Uh, that has any level of safety

Ryan Rutan: attached.

Wil Schroter: And my point is a million dollar home should be a palace In almost anywhere else in the country. And certainly when you leave the country and Ryan, you can talk to this $1 million dollar home is a palace. Now, I'm not saying people should be able to afford million dollar homes. I mean, I still think that's a huge luxury. What my point is in for what folks were making to barely get by in a big city, they could live in a palace and never have to worry about buying a house again, pretty much anywhere else. And now with what's just changed, that's actually feasible, you can have your cake and eat it too. You can get big, you know, big city job uh, in it with small city costs and I think it's, it's a huge game changer.

Ryan Rutan: It is, I mean, and it's going to have major implications for these Tier two and three cities. Uh the, the economies there will now have the benefits of people with salaries that wouldn't have been sustainable in those markets. And of course salaries will adjust down as people move out of these areas. Um and companies realize they can, they can get away with with normalizing salaries that will happen. Um but it's not going to, they're not all of a sudden gonna say like when you moved to columbus, we're gonna pay a columbus salary, they're going to take some of those calories with them, right? And that's going to have a major, major impact of course is gonna have a major impact on the, on the tier one cities to the negative, right? In in a lot of cases they're going to have to normalize down. Um But yeah, I mean, and I don't see this as being a trend that reverses and of course we could, we could say, you know, these things are too hard to backpedal, but look at open office for example, that was a big thing for a while and then then they sort of proved that open office wasn't wasn't necessarily a conducive environment to work in a lot of cases and, and people backpedaled on that. Um you know, there were companies up until I'm trainer who was the big one will that they backed off their work from home policy was it amazon there was somebody, there was somebody middle last year basically kibosh, the work from home thing, obviously that's gone the other direction again now. So these things can change. Um, but I don't see it being a major shift. There are benefits to the companies as well, right? Think about paying for office space for 1000 people in san Francisco. It's sickening. Right? What you're saying off the charts.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And so what I like in all of this, what's really interesting to me is this concept of if everyone's kind of feeling good about work from home remote work, et cetera, Why don't we reorganize our presence in a big city. So maybe only 10 or 20% of our staff, uh, maybe including ourselves, maybe are in the big city, but we deliberately move everyone else um, to other cities or higher elsewhere in the country. Now there's gonna be an argument that says all the best talent it migrates to big cities to be fair, that's mostly true. Uh, just because that's where the opportunities are, What I'm pointing out is that's also where things may be about to change, right? Um there are a fair amount of people for any number of reasons who are going to say, look, you know, I love san Francisco, but I'd like to live maybe an hour away from it, you know, from, from a lifestyle standpoint traffic standpoint, you name it. Um whereas before, if I was going to work at twitter, I had to commute to the office, so I had to be parochial in some way. There's other folks that are just going to say, look, I love Oregon, that's just kind of, you know, that's what I'm feeling or I want to ski all the time, right, I wanna live in Vail. Um whereas before those opportunities didn't exist, I think that's going to change significantly and I think as founders, we can look at this and say, oh this is fantastic. Um I can basically, like I said, if I feel strongly about the connections I can make in a big city and they do exist even though people may move around and shift, you know, the cities are still going to have a baseline of connections. Um then I can create my, my initial presence there, but I can focus exclusively on hiring elsewhere, which is what we did at startups dot com. You know, we made our kind of hub In Columbus Ohio and so only about 15% of our 200 persons staff is in Columbus and as of now it's just kind of a funny moment in time. I'm sitting in our office, I'm the only person here, literally the only person in the building. Uh and uh that's all changed and you know, releases up in a couple of months and we're not coming back. Um and we're not the only one, most of my friends, you know, most of my founder friends right now are all in the same boat that they're all saying uh you know what? We kind of gave it a test, um we have the finances to move back into our office just doesn't make sense. And so Ryan, I think what's going to be really interesting and I think it's so valuable to explore for founders is this concept of a small hub. Uh if if if that's even necessary, but actually focusing on creating a distributed workforce so you can go to where the talent is and not be trying to fight for it in your big city.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, no I think it makes a ton of sense. And and the other thing, I mean

Wil Schroter: there there's a there's a

Ryan Rutan: lot to be said for this, so when when you concentrate all of your your resources in one place, you benefit from the resources in that place. But if not all of your clients are are are centered there for example. Um You know if you do, you know, large scale enterprise work, your clients probably aren't all in the same place, so you may even want to spread some of that concentrated like okay well let's let's be in Chicago, uh let's let's be, you know in san Francisco, let's be in L. A. Let's let's be in new york um Let's be where our clients actually are, right, let's focus on being a proximal to the people that actually matters to. And so instead of just saying like, well this is where we built our density. Um we're just going to keep adding to the pile here. You can start to think about, well, where do we hire, Where do we place resources so that there's actually some benefit to the geography. Again, as opposed to just where do we find the talent and you know, to to circle back on this point of the talent being able to kind of go where they want to now, for anybody who's already a proven talent that's going to be really easy to do, they've earned the right to say that yes, I want to work with you. Yes, I, you know, I I I want this opportunity with you. Um but but here's where I'm gonna live. And for for proven talent, the employers won't have a problem with that, right? If you want to work with that person because they have a specific proven track record. Do you really care where they live, given that you're not going to have an office anyways, it takes off the table, right. Which I think is really cool. Um So yeah, I think that now, rather than having to, for the talent to go where the jobs are or the jobs to locate where the talent are, we can just get back to being where we want or need to be and sorting out the rest of it. And I think that's going to become far far easier given the changes that are being, you know, kind of foisted upon us at this point. But I think I hope that we will come to accept this and actually embrace it and that things get better for people on the back end of this.

Wil Schroter: Well, I think there's a few things that are kind of undeniable that also accelerated things very quickly. I think you had an era that that moved from um, you know, asynchronous communication through email, to synchronous communication through slack um or you know, other chat tools, etcetera, which I think really advanced uh remote work in a dramatic way. And I always make the joke that, you know, we live on slack all day long. So much so that when we were at the office, you don't even hear anybody ever talk like instead of talking to the person next to you just sent them slack messages because you could do it while you're sending five other slack messages at the same time,

Ryan Rutan: 100%. You and I sat so close together, we could touch each other and yet I could count the number of words that passed audibly between us on one

Wil Schroter: hand and it just again, uh, you know, is that good or bad? Who knows? But as far as the moment you, you know, I went to California and you went to Guatemala. It changed nothing. We went from being, you know, a few feet apart to being thousands of miles apart and not a single thing changed.

Ryan Rutan: We were still only actually separated by milliseconds, right?

Wil Schroter: Yeah, Yeah. And so so I think that was dramatic. I think more so than anything with Covid. What just changed is the rise of zoom, you know, the the rise of videoconferencing in telepresence and whereas tons and tons of people would have been on the fence about it in one way, shape or form. Now it's become a de facto again whether you like it or not. And so now we're in a place where folks, if they haven't embraced it, they've been completely, you know, luddites have been disconnected from the world. But I think at this point if your collaboration tools are so implicit in how everyone collaborates and, and and works with each other and there are remote tools. I mean right now calling a meeting with humans seems, again, Covid notwithstanding, it seems like a huge waste of time. I can get the same outcome in about nine minutes over a slack chat or a zoom call etcetera. And so in the same way that sending an inter office memo or a letter feels like snail mail, it feels like such a dated exchange. I think the premise of being in an office where everyone is working together to solve problems just, it ain't what it used to be. I enjoyed it while it lasted. But I I can't give you a lot of good reasons why it's still relevant, You know what I mean?

Ryan Rutan: Well, you know, it's I think it's the social aspect of it. I mean, at the end of the day, humans are still very much social creatures. So the idea that we're all going to go to just like telepresence um for our entire lives is not going to happen. But and this is the this is the argument I get back from people, you know, they're like, well, but isn't it harder to build camaraderie amongst the team isn't hard to do. This isn't hard to do that. And I'm like, well, not necessarily. I mean, you're you're you flex the muscle of doing that in person for a lot longer, so you're better at it. But I can make the argument that you can do just as much remotely the other thing. And this this comes up with with school as well as we've gone through our explorations of of school and what we're going to do with school and this was happening for us before, Covid, I mean, now it's very much like a do we just go to home school, um which we've done before and one of the arguments that always comes up, it's the same one that I'm facing now, you know, with company culture. Was that? Well, what about the socialization? My my response to that is always school is there to educate Children about mathematics and and grammar and and science and many other things. I'm not leaning on them to socialize my Children. Right? That's my job and my social circles job to socialize my kids. Um And in the same way if you know if socialization was the only reason you were having meetings at the company um then stop having meetings and start having social gatherings and actually enjoy the damn things and not feel like you're wasting time. Um And so yes, I think that you know, we there will be some difficulties around this and people will not just take to it like fish to water. Um But I think to your point we are already using all of these tools, it's gonna come down to a matter of shifting how much time we're spending the tools in the tools and and and you know, kind of what else gets replaced with them at this point? But it's not a full magnitude leap, like it would have been 10 years ago because it happened 10 years ago. Um We'd all be shooting ourselves because we wouldn't, we wouldn't be used to the tools,

Wil Schroter: the stars aligned,

Ryan Rutan: we're already most of the way there. Yeah, the stars aligned. We've already made most of the trip. We were all almost a destination anyways. And now it's been forced upon us. Um But it's not like everybody had to run around go like, oh my God, what do we do? We, we just use zoom more, right, we just use slack more. We used the telephone more. Right. And then that was it. So yeah, luckily we're in a position where we were primed for transition.

Wil Schroter: I think what's so important to me, I think these founders listening to this, I think what we should be thinking is not, did we lose the office? Um, maybe, uh, it's, what did we gain out of this? Right. Again, we gained so much more flexibility with, with our own company, with our own staff. We gave our staff light years of, of life back, right. In other words, be able to spend with their family, their friends etcetera, just do stuff around the house that they normally never get to do sleep in a day, you know, I don't know. Um, I think for, I think for a lot of the, um, folks that are making this transition, give it a year or so, give it a year or so to realize that first you're thinking about things you don't have and it will quickly transition because Ryan, you've been through it. I worked remotely when I was in California, it'll quickly transition to look at all the things that I'd never want to give up again. Like the, you know, the idea that, that going back into an office or having to pay the rates of a major city are never going to sound exciting again. You know what I mean

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