Becoming a better leader, so that your product can grow and thrive.
Justin: Sometimes, when people get a
bunch of money, the, the app gets worse.
Taylor: It does seem that way, strangely.
Justin: How come that happens?
Taylor: Maybe they just get
complacent or something.
I'm not really sure.
Justin: Or maybe it just gets
harder as you scale up the.
How many people?
Taylor: Yeah, that's true too.
Like how many people you have at,
at, on Laravel now, full time?
Taylor: Well, we're kind of in a transition
period because we'd recently lost two
people and like the leanest we've ever been.
Taylor: Um, so right now it is
two, three, it's like four of us.
Taylor: No, five of us, five of us.
Justin: Including yourself?
Taylor: Counting like.
Yeah, including myself, but not counting
like my co-founder of Laravel Nova.
I guess you could say like
five and a half to six.
We lost two developers essentially.
Um, one I think was just kind of
like burned out on development.
Maybe both were, I don't know.
Um, and then the other was kind of in
the, uh, kind of in a, sort of a life
transition of moving to a new place.
Kinda start starting fresh in a new location
and like was pursuing some opportunities
there, I think in person, not even remote.
So we are bringing on several new people to
sort of, um, um, get back to like our normal.
You know, our normal staffing level.
Um, because right now it's like, if we lose
one more person or even if just someone
gets sick, like we're in trouble, pretty
much in terms of maintaining what we have.
Is when you say several, do you mean like.
Like six or you mean like two or three or?
Taylor: Yeah, so right now I've
got, um, three people signed on.
One of them is part-time
and they're all starting.
Two of them are starting in April and
then one is not starting until June.
Um, so, um, two of the developers.
Um, our starting in April and they're
going to work on like Laravel Ford,
which is our biggest product, as well
as some open source Larabar stuff.
And then, um, a guy is starting in June.
That's going to help out with Laravel
vapor, which is like our serverless
deployment tool for Laravel.
Um, I try to, I like ideally.
Um, when we were really small, I liked having
one person dedicated per project, but as
we've gotten bigger, like it's really ideal
to have two or more people per like commercial
entity that we're serving customers with.
Just so people can take vacations or whatever
Justin: Is that stuff stressful for you?
Like hiring, managing people.
How do you manage all that?
Taylor: Yeah, it is stressful.
It's partly stressful because I don't like
to talk on the phone and like, and, um,
when you're hiring, it's like, you know, you
feel obligated to have like these zoom calls
and these sort of like formal interviews.
And I just hate that, you know, it's not
necessarily stressful finding talented people
because I think there are a lot of talented
people out there in the Laravel ecosystem.
I think what's a little bit stressful is
making sure that once they get here, they're
not like, well, this blows like, and, and
it's not like it just sucks and they hate it.
Like ideally they get here and, um, you know,
they're happy and feel, feel fulfilled and
are interested in what they're working on.
And I think it's, it's, I think that's been
tough for Laravel in particular, because.
Laravel has like, um, it's done a lot
for developers in the PHP ecosystem and
they just, a lot of them just love it.
You know what I mean?
Because it's like Tailwind and CSS.
It just like revitalized their whole
view of this language and ecosystem.
Um, and so like they imagine, I think
a lot of them probably imagine that
working at Laravel must be like going.
Disneyland, you know what I mean?
Like just, it must be amazing every day.
And the reality is it's.
I do think it's better than most development
jobs in the sense that it's pretty laid back.
It's pretty flexible.
It's fully remote.
Um, we do work on Laravel
and its products itself.
So if you're interested in Laravel you kind of
get to contribute directly, but like, there's
still a lot of just normal work stuff too.
Like there's bugs.
We have to fix their support tickets.
We have to respond to, you know?
Um, and I think that, I don't know, I've, I've
tried to be upfront this hiring round about.
You know what we do here and
what people will be working on.
So it doesn't necessarily feel like
you're coming to Disneyland, but that's
hard too, because I don't want to like,
be a downer right out of the gate and
be like, well, this is a normal job.
It's going to suck, you know?
Um, so it's hard to find like a good
balance, but that's definitely what
stresses me out the most, I think.
And I, I think you would
have the additional pressure.
Because so many people know you, like
when you give a keynote at a Laracon it
feels like Steve Jobs is giving a keynote.
Like everybody is there.
And you do have a certain
amount of gravitas, you know?
And it would almost be like, in
some cases maybe going and being
a roadie for your favorite band.
It's like, they're your favorite
band, but now it's at the end of
the day, you got to haul cables and
Taylor: yeah, exactly.
And it's like the drummer doesn't
wear deodorant and like, um, you know,
there's just like trash everywhere.
Um, I don't, yeah, I think you're right.
It is kind of like that.
I don't know.
I, I still think it's better
than a lot of development jobs.
It's better than other development jobs
um, I've had like, in terms of just
flexibility and projects to work on, but
at the end of the day, it is still a job.
And what's your pipeline look like?
Do you just have a list of people you're
keeping an eye on or how do you source hires?
Like for Transistor everybody we've hired
and we've only hired two people and some
contractors, but they're all people I know
and have had like a relationship with,
you know, multiple years or Jon has known
and has worked with before or something.
So how do you do that?
Taylor: Yeah, it's definitely part
partly that, um, so we actually did just
put up like a job listing, traditional
job posting on Larajobs.com, which
is run by Ian over at UserScape.
And so people applied and the people we ended
up going with two of them, I knew, um, w we
weren't like best buddies or anything, but I
interact with them in the Laravel ecosystem.
They had contributed, and maybe they'd
written some blog articles or whatever.
One of the, one of the candidates.
Is, um, someone I had heard of, I didn't
really know them, honestly that well, so it
was more just like, um, some of the people
that worked here had interacted with him
a little bit and had good things to say,
and then I didn't mention this earlier, but
I'm actually looking at bringing on another
person that's not really finalized yet to
focus just on customer support, sort of like
a head of customer support and this person,
I actually don't know very well at all.
Um, so, but, but most of
the people that work here.
Uh, it's kinda like you, um, I had
heard of them, or I knew of them.
I didn't necessarily approach them first, but
they just happened to apply to the job posting.
I mean, one thing about Laravel that's
that is fascinating to me is that so
much incredible talent has kind of
incubated in the Laravel community.
And like, even for me, as, you know, I'm
somewhat technical, but not super technical.
I could just tell, like, some of
these people are just exceptional.
I, I tried to hire Miguel Piedrafita,
you know, like it was just like,
this kid is he's on fire, you know?
And, uh, you got Caleb Porzio with
Alpine stuff, doing incredible work.
I mean, Adam and Tailwind and
everything that he's done has
come out of the Laravel ecosystem.
So it's just like all these incredible people.
I see that Aaron Francis just got hired
by Tuple as their head of marketing, I
think, and all of these really exceptional
people that have kind of bubbled up.
And if you, if you trace their roots, they
go back to Laravel and yes, I'm always
wondering for you, like, is it just like.
Because everything, and you're quite
social at Laracon, like you're walking
around, you're seeing people, you're
sitting, having lunch with them.
Do you, is that part of it?
Are you, are you starting to like keep an eye
on people or is it more just like when the
time comes to hire you're you're like, okay.
I got to brainstorm or I got to just
put up an ad and see who applies.
It's, it's both like, I'm
always open to like surprises.
So I don't want to go into like, hiring
with preconceived ideas of who I think
I should hire, but I definitely, yeah.
I'm keeping an eye out and familiar
with who's who in the larval ecosystem.
And it changes over the years, you know,
there's, there's a lot of new faces in the
Laravel ecosystem that are like, um, you
know, have done a lot of cool things recently.
And like Aaron Francis that you just
mentioned, just kind of one of them, like, I
don't know, I don't know how long he's been
using Laravel, but to me he's, he doesn't,
I don't remember him as a Laravel OG..
You know what I mean?
Like he seems like pretty recent,
um, up and comer in the ecosystem.
Um, but yeah, I kind of have people in mind,
like when I put a job posting out, I'm like,
Hm, I kind of hope they apply, you know?
Um, Uh, so yeah, definitely
Justin: It's time for like another it's time
for another Laracon, because that, for me,
that's like, where, I mean, you could have
Jack Ellis talk about like Fathom now, now.
The, the one thing
I noticed at the previous Laracons: there
was examples of SaaS companies using
Laravel like cart hook was using it.
And some other people are using it.
But it seems like in the indie SaaS world,
the number of examples of like popular or
successful indie SaaS apps that are using.
Laravel has really grown.
And now you've got all these cool
use cases about people who have been
building in public using, um, Laravel
Vapor to build Fathom and like scale
these crazy, like an analytics company!
Like who would have, like, who would have
thought that somebody would be doing that?
There's there could be some really cool talks.
I know they've been speaking at Laracon online,
but there's really nothing like Laracon are
you, are you going to do another one soon?
Taylor: Yeah, I think so.
Um, we're going to definitely
do one in Europe this year.
Um, as far as the us goes and I don't know,
like when the best timing is going to be,
it's kind of late in the game for the summer.
Um, and so I actually had a
venue reserved for, um, July.
I think it was, um, penciled in and then.
At the beginning of the year, Omicron
kind of like just was getting going.
Um, and it was, it was still unclear, like
how serious that was going to be at the time.
I think it, I think in hindsight, like it
ended up being milder than, I mean, we, we
had hoped it would be, you know, mild and
it kind of turned out that way a little
bit, but I kind of was at a, it was a point
in time of the year where like I needed
to like, decide, am I going to do Laracon
or not, and with just so many unknowns, I
just, I just like backed out of that venue.
So I kind of lost it for the summer.
So I agree with you though.
Like I think not having in-person conferences.
Not just Laracon, but just in general,
like took more wind out of the sales from
people than maybe people have realized.
Like just in the PHP ecosystem in
general, there used to be other
PHP conferences besides Laravel.
And, you know, they happened every couple
months in various locations, different
people would run PHP conferences.
And I think without having those for two
years, I've just noticed that in the PHP
ecosystem in general, people don't seem like.
As fired up, like outside of the Laravel world.
And I don't know, I, you know, I don't know
if it's just like, I expected it to not
really matter that there wasn't conferences
in person conferences and I'm suspicious
that like, it mattered more than I expected
in terms of seeing people face to face.
And, you know, like when you leave
a conference, you just feel kind of
jazzed up and like ready to work on
things or like work on new ideas.
And I think not having that
for a couple of years has been.
Like more detrimental than people
may realize for some people.
Justin: I think you're right.
I mean, I got fired up.
I remember the first time I went to
Laracon I just, I was fired up on
multiple levels because like just, you've
got your story, which is fascinating.
And if people haven't heard that other
interview that we did, uh, go back and listen
to it, but your story is just like, it's the
classic bootstrappers story, you know, you
got married young, you had kids young, and I
know what it's like to have that hunger to be
like, I got to make something, you know, I got
to like stay up and burn the midnight oil on
this cheap laptop and try to build something.
And then you did it.
It didn't just work.
It like really worked, you know?
And so your story is interesting from a
kind of indie bootstrapper perspective.
And then you've just got the business of
Laravel, which is super unique because
you have an open source project, but
then you have this like, uh, ecosystem
of really successful in the SaaS apps.
You've got forge.
And let me see, is it
forges the most profitable
Taylor: forge and then vapor and then
Envoyer and Nova, and then now the Spark.
So there's actually five commercial things.
Justin: And like each of those
could be a business unto themselves,
Justin: And you've been
running those with a pretty
Taylor: lean team.
Yeah, very, I mean, very lean, I think,
compared to what it's almost like I remember
in the Laravel documentary, um, there was a
section where Adam Wathan was like, Laravel
is like, you know, four people running five
SaaS companies, which is just ridiculous.
Like it is actually just,
uh, just about a month ago.
It kinda hit me like: "the way
I'm running laravel is laughable."
Um, we, uh, any other company that was
making, um, millions of dollars in revenue
would have like a dev team of like 15 people.
I mean, like if you go out to, if you go
out to like the competitors for Laravel
force and go to like, you know, their little
about page or their team page, it's like
30 f-ing people and it's just, and then
you log in to learn about, and it's just
like on Forge, it's just like, James one
guy, and it's just like, what am I doing?
And so that's why that's
really what kind of kicked off.
Like I've got to get a few more
people, at least, uh, on board here.
Um, just so we can like have more velocity
and make more progress and really kind
of take things to an even another level
and be better than we've ever been.
Um, cause we were just way we're
just way too lean right now.
Um, and I think because I was scared, um,
because I wasn't, I've never been a manager
before, you know, I started Laravel and I
wanted to keep people happy and I wanted
to like make sure that, um, I didn't get
overwhelmed, but it's just not possible
to run the company so lean like this.
I don't think anymore.
Justin: How do you.
When you work with the team, how,
how often do you work with them?
Are you doing like team meetings every week?
Are you doing one-on-ones?
Are you doing dude, pair programming?
Taylor: Get this.
We just had our first team call ever,
like last week or two, two weeks ago,
because I was on spring break last week,
we had never had like a full team call.
And that was part of me just
saying, what the heck am I doing?
You know, like, I've got to stop,
I've got to start treating this like.
Company like a real boss.
Um, I've got to like put away my like,
meeting phone anxiety, and just get on
zoom and like have some actual um, audio
conversations with the team, you know?
Justin: Do you think they were missing that?
Taylor: I think they, I mean,
they said they enjoyed it.
I think they liked it.
And I think like, it just makes everything
feel a bit more tangible, you know, like we
had been working in slide together for years.
Yeah, without doing that, like
literally two or three years.
Um, and it was just like, this is, I'm
just being stupid by not doing this.
So yeah, we, we did that, but as
far as like working directly with
them in terms of coding and writing
features, um, I don't do a lot of that.
Uh, I do all of like the, kind of the
review, the code review of the features
they write and kind of, kind of QA them
and test them and see how they're looking.
Um, and we do have like daily check-ins,
um, where everyone kind of types
up a little, a few sentences or a
paragraph about what they did that day.
So everyone can kind of see
what everyone's working on.
Um, but one of the goals with bringing
on new people also was to kind of
build up a little bit more of a pair
programming culture here at Laravel.
Um, so it's like if we have two people working
on Vapor, I don't necessarily intend for them
to both be working on two separate projects.
Like I might assign a project to vapor and
then they both like pair on it and work on
it because I just think that the quality and
like figuring things out is going to be faster
and better with two people working on it.
And they both learn how that feature works.
Um, so I think I'm going
to try to encourage that.
And we used Tuple here at
Laravel for that kind of thing.
Um, try to encourage that when
those new people get here.
Justin: You're still building a lot of
the, like the big products, like the
initial release is still mostly you.
Taylor: Uh, as far as when
they first came out, Yeah.
Like I built in a vapor.
Like I coded the whole thing.
So like when I read the code, it still
looks like pretty much my code, you know?
Um, uh, same with forge.
Like I wrote it by myself back in 2014 or
whatever, same with Envoyer, um, and Spark too.
Um, so I've, I've always kind of
taken like the R&D role at the
company of kind of spiking out new.
Projects and definitely
new commercial projects.
Um, and then once they're out, the team
kind of comes in and, and kind of takes
it from there, you know, but I haven't,
I haven't launched a new commercial
project since vapor in, um, 2019.
Justin: We'll get, I'm going to
get back to that in a second, but
I, I just logged back into forge.
We use Forge at Transistor for deploying
our marketing site, and then my personal
sites been on Forge for a long time,
but you don't need to log into it.
You set it up once and then
you're pretty much good to go.
But last time I was in there, I
noticed a bunch of UI updates.
So something like that, where the UI
gets a facelift, who, whose idea is that?
And then who assigns it, who
decides who's going to work on it?
And then how does that actually
come to, you know, get out the door?
Is it somebody on the team saying,
"Hey, I'd like to freshen this up," or?
So that was a pretty big project.
And that one was my idea.
Um, so I wanted to.
I was kind of going through a lot of
our commercial stuff and just sort of
giving it a fresh coat of paint and
forge was kind of next on the list.
And so I reached out to the designer,
we were contracting at the time, um, and
said, Hey, I want to redo the forge UI.
And I worked with them, kind of, without
the involvement of the team super directly
to get the, I worked with, I worked with
the designer to kind of get the mock-ups
ready to get it all ready to go in Figma.
And I got some feedback from the team,
like, as we were going, of course.
Um, but I was kind of the one spearheading
getting that design figured out.
Um, once the design was done, I like just got
in slack and was like, you know, I, at the time
we had a couple of people working on forge.
Um, and I was like, you know,
who wants to tackle this?
Or, or maybe it may have even said that
like y'all can work on it together.
And a Claudia Claudia, one of our
developers, um, who's, who's since
moved on to other things, he was
like, oh, I really want to tackle it.
Like, I really want to knock that out myself.
And so he kind of took the reins on
doing that whole project itself and, um,
actually did a really good job on it.
Um, and I'm really happy with how that
turned out, but yeah, that's pretty
much how something like that went down.
Justin: And when you give it to him,
he just takes it and just knocks it
out, and then you just review his PRs
every day or every week or something?
Taylor: Yeah, pretty much.
That's pretty much how it goes.
Justin: Do you think, you're going to be,
like your willingness now to hire more people,
jump on a call, uh, start doing meetings.
Is that something like you're
excited to push yourself to do?
Or are you feeling like I just
got to take this seriously?
What, what's your kind of feeling as
the CEO and manager and hR officer
and everything else at Laravel?
Taylor: I actually do feel excited
about it and I think it's going
to be good for me personally.
To sort of push myself out of my
previous comfort zone and kind of, um,
get used to new ways of doing things.
And I think within the law over the last few
months, I've had a lot of different thoughts
about like where Laravel is, where web
development is in general, how Laravel fits
in to the next 10 years of web development.
And there've been times where
I've entertained, like maybe.
Maybe I should like sell a big chunk
of Laravel commercial properties, say
80% of the company, some, um, to some
entity that does that kind of thing.
You know, there's several out there and
then I'll stay on board as like kind of an
advisor and also still sort of steer the
open source side of things, but let someone
with more like business, um, an acumen
and sort of more managerial experience.
Dictate the business end of things.
You know, in terms of marketing, in
terms of hiring, even marketing people
or community people or support people
or whatever they think we need to like
take the company to the next level.
And I'll just stay on board and kind of give
feedback on that in as necessary, but mainly
steer like the open source side of things.
Um, and just take a lot of money off the table.
Um, and so I actually, um, I've never talked
about this publicly so far, but I actually got,
you know, some offers on dollar values in terms
of people that were interested in doing that.
And obviously it was a, it
was a big chunk of money.
Um, but I did like thought about it for weeks
and eventually decided like, you know what, I
think I'm going to just go down with the ship.
Like, I'm going to be the guy playing the
violin on the Titanic, basically all the
way down because, and I kind of pictured it.
Like I kind of built this thing
from scratch and I really would
prefer to just see it all the way.
Um, one, just to, just to see like how it
ends, how the story ends for myself, and
then also to be like the last person that
turns off the lights, you know, on the
way out of the store for the last time.
Um, which I think would, I would find
really satisfying and I don't know
how many years that will be, but I
think once I decided I wanted to be.
Um, then I sort of committed myself to,
okay, then if I'm going to do that, I need to
change some things and explore like some new
territory in terms of what I'm comfortable
with and how we've done things in the past.
And I need to really embrace being, um,
a better manager, a better leader, a more
visible you don't manage more manager.
Just for the sake of the team and
like to build, um, kind of a different
atmosphere and a different culture around.
That must have been super clarifying once you
decided, because if you're in limbo and you're
like, I could sell it, that's a very different
direction then like choosing, I'm going to
point my ship this way and I might go down
with the ship, but you know, it, it definitely
could clarify some things, doesn't it?
Taylor: Yeah, I think so.
And I think like my decision may have been.
Five years ago, you know, um, if I had
gotten offered a big chunk of money because
I wouldn't have saved as much money already.
Um, and it would have been truly
like a more life-changing event.
Um, but now it's like, since I've been
running the company for seven or eight
years, I've had the opportunity to sort
of stash away retirement funds and, and
sort of set myself up to where even if I
sold the company, it's like, what does my
life really change in any meaningful way?
That's like Saturday, Yeah, I'm, I'm, I'm
probably just going to be like bored, you know?
Um, and also, I, I think I would feel bad,
you know, that like these people, they
believed in Laravel and in a lot of sense,
Laravel is very wrapped up in like me as a
person and like this personality cult almost.
Um, and would they feel like betrayed, you
know, that Taylor's sold off a big chunk of
the company and it's not the same anymore.
Yeah, no, it was all, cause it's always
been sort of this underdog thing, I think,
where it's just such as it is such a
lean team and it's just like, you know,
delivering a lot of value for people.
Justin: that part, does that part,
the, the personality cult stuff.
Is that hard for you ever or is it been okay?
Taylor: sometimes it's fun and sometimes it's
not, you know, I mean, um, I think it helps
people feel it has benefits and drawbacks.
I think some of the benefits
are it helps people feel.
Attached to the framework in some way, or
like attached to the story and they get
inspired by it and it sort of inspires them
to pursue their own bootstrapped ideas.
Um, at the same time, it's like
any criticism of Laravel becomes
sort of like criticism of you.
Um, and so like if I put a feature
out that's bad, Um, since it's not a
very big team effort, sometimes it's
like, wow, this sucks is very much like
Taylor sucks as a coder, as a developer.
Um, which is kind of, which is kind of
painful sometimes, but I think you get
used to it over like a period of years.
Justin: Yeah, yeah.
And how do you deal with that?
Like, do you just ignore it or do
you just, do you just get so much
inbound and so many mentions that it's
just easy to not pay attention or.
I mean, some people really struggle with that.
You know, that the personal stuff is like
it, uh, it really gets them down and other
people, it doesn't seem to bother them
Taylor: as much.
I wonder if it's just like a callous,
you know, that just like over time, it's
just like your soul is just scarred.
It's unable to feel pain any longer.
Um, I think like, okay.
I mean, it just depends, like if the, if the
criticism is constructive and helpful, um, that
doesn't actually bother me very much at all.
If the criticism is like from this
really hateful place, um, I tend to
think like a lot of people online that.
From this place of like anger and bitterness
and hatred are in like a really dark place,
uh, personally, you know, um, you don't really
know like what's going on in their lives.
Um, you don't really know
like their backgrounds.
And so I try to like, remember
that and not take it too seriously.
Um, Because a lot of people are just going
through a rough time, you know, like honestly,
um, maybe they have a rough home life or
a family life or rough flak relationship.
And it's just.
They're not coming from a healthy place.
I find that helpful to you.
It's important to remember, I
think, yeah, every once in a while.
I'll and I mean, people starting out,
this is hard for them too, because any
sort of feedback just seems amplified.
Like if you hear something good, it's just
like, oh, it just feels better than anything.
And if you feel something bad,
it's like it's debilitating.
But as you get more.
Experience and more messages like violent.
Actually, I mean, it doesn't solve every
problem, but sometimes more volume is just
nice because, you know, it's like if, if I
get a hundred messages a week, people talking
about transistor and you know, two are bad.
It's like, well, who cares?
98 people liked it.
But if I only get two messages in a week and
that week one person hated it, it's like, fuck.
You know, it just makes you want to go.
Taylor: Yeah, I agree with that for sure.
It's I think also like it, w w what I
found interesting is it kind of works.
It's hard to keep percentages
like in your mind.
Um, so like if Laravel, if the Laravel Twitter
account has 120,000 followers or whatever,
and a couple of people tweet something
bad, it's like such a minuscule percentage.
Um, and what I found interesting is
like, it kind of works the other way too.
Like I've had to kind of coach
the team a little bit where just
because three people like request.
Um, not necessarily the Laravel employees, but
people will be like, a lot of people want this.
A lot of people are asking for
this and it's like five people.
And in the context of like the whole Laravel
ecosystem, it's just like a blip, you know?
And I think when you're, when I've had to
get used to that as well, like when you're
first bootstrapping a business, there's so
many features that you could build, you know,
there's so many ideas that you could pursue.
And if you're, if you're constantly swayed by.
Uh, a tweet here and there, it's
just like, you're going to be so
pulled so many different directions.
And all that gets amplified.
Like when you only have a few voices in
the room, uh, you know, it's easy for
one of those voices to be real loud.
Uh, but yeah, if you have a thousand people
in the room, you know, it's almost like if.
Like, I don't know what the metaphor is,
but if you, if you've ever been at a concert
where everybody knows the song and they're all
singing it at the same time, that's kind of
like what a good feature request feels like.
It's just like everybody at
the same time singing the song.
And you're like, okay, I can
hear, I can tell you on it.
But if one guy at the front of.
Play, you know, play that one song off
your third album and nobody else wants it.
You're like, no, I'm not going to play that
beside for, you know, it's a, it's okay.
To end to end.
I want to talk a little bit about, I
listened to your interview with Tobias or
Tobias's interview with you and there's
this one part that just kind of confused me.
And I think it's because I'm uninformed.
You on the alpha list podcast, you
were had this conversation about the
future of the full stack developer.
And the reason it confused me
is in the indie SaaS world.
It's all about the full stack
developer, like full stack developers.
That's what you want.
You know, Jon Buda is just an
incredible Rails developer.
He's a good enough designer and he's
just got an incredible product sense.
That's even more full stack, you know?
And that that's who you want
to build a business with.
Is those kinds of people you've got,
you got Jack Ellis and you've got
Paul Jarvis with fathom, you know,
Jack Ellis is full-stack developer: he
could build that whole first version to
one, two and three or whatever he did.
And so if the idea that there's like,
There's something else going on in the
developer ecosystem that I'm not aware of?
Is it like bigger companies are moving
more to like a separation of front
end and backend or what's going on
in there that I don't understand,
I wish I wish I knew.
So like here's the thing.
I think partly it's very hard to tell, like
what is real in web development because you're
on Twitter and certain things are amplified.
That do not, they're not, um, they're being
amplified on Twitter, but like the correlation
to real life is not the same as Twitter.
So like on Twitter it feels
like everyone's building react.
Front ends are calling API APIs
and graph QL, API APIs or Firebase
or whatever else they're using.
But I know deep down.
The reality is 99.9% of web
applications are not that.
And so, but I think like me and
Adam have talked a lot about this.
It's like, and, and we're just so confused
because the kinds of things that like
the makers in that space are building are
not things like vapor and transistor and
forge they're much like simpler things.
So it's been hard for me, and this is something
where I have to like, Stay really grounded and
not get pulled a lot of different directions
because deep down, I know like Laravel
and rails and like full stack development
is like the bread and butter of real,
most real things happening on the ground.
Um, but on Twitter, it can just, like
you said, it's just like a magnification
thing where it feels like, man, everyone's
just kind of doing something else now.
I don't, I think you're right.
Like, I don't think that's
actually the case necessarily.
So is it a little bit of pressure from
like, you just feel like the young kids
are getting into this new stuff and
there's some of that pressure, like yeah,
Taylor: I think it's true that like the
young kids are not are, are all starting
first language and they're kind of building
their first websites or web apps or
getting more into backend later, whereas.
People that are our age didn't
necessarily start that way.
A lot of them started with like a scripting
language on the back end, actually, um, like
PHP or like rails or something like that.
And that's kind of how they got into
web development and they learned
do more complicated front end stuff.
And it's like, all the kids are
they're learning backend late.
Yeah, and they need to do more
complicated backend stuff.
So it's kind of reversed.
And so, and a lot of the, I think a lot of
the younger demographic, it's just more active
and more excited and more public on Twitter.
And so it kind of feels like, um, things
have changed and shifted in that way.
Justin: This is like something I've
talked to Adam Wathan about it.
It's a, it's a big project, but like,
if, if, if Adam hired me, like, let's
say transistor just drove in the ground.
And I was like, Hey, you come work
over here and see what you can do.
The biggest thing for Adam is you want a
pipeline of people, hopefully young people
that are super excited about tailwind and
in order to grow or incubate that kind of
a pipeline you'd need to plant some seeds.
You need to like sponsor some bootcamps.
You need to like, get a bunch of steps
along the way, so that by the time these
kids graduate and, you know, they're,
they're super excited about bringing some
new ideas to whatever company hires them.
They're saying now tailwind is
great, you know, and I wonder if.
community has done a good job of
getting into bootcamps mostly.
And, um, I almost feel it on the
hiring side, like to hire a good rails
developer right now, they're all in
their thirties, forties, and fifties.
And it's like, it's like, how could
we hire a young, somebody young in
their twenties, uh, who knows rails?
And there aren't any, and so.
Eh, it's almost like there needs to
be some community, some community work
there in the sense of like planting some
seeds early on and getting people excited
about, you know, building web apps,
these ways, because eventually they're
going to, they are, I mean, you can go.
Uh, you know, whatever one of these
startup companies, and they'll probably be
excited about the new stuff, but there's
a lot of like old crusty, grumpy guys.
Like John Buddha was like, I don't want
you know, like that was, and we, but
finding young developers that are excited
Taylor: about it.
And we, uh, we've even talked
about, um, we being Adam and I.
Um, well, we talk to some of these
newer developers, um, we realized like,
they've, they've never written like a
database query, you know what I mean?
They've never, or they've never written a job
that runs in the background and does stuff.
And so, like, we were, we were talking to,
um, some kind of, um, prolific figures in that
community and we kind of pointed that out.
Like, Hey, it feels like, you know, a lot of
these developers are really talented, but yeah.
No, how to query a database.
And they saw that as like,
why, why should they know?
You know, like, why should they know?
And it's like, well, um, if you're working on
like 99% of existing web apps, you're going
to have to know how to query a database.
Like I don't, you know, the world
is not actually running on Firebase.
It's running on my sequel.
And so, I don't know, but like, I, I don't,
I also don't want to be like a curmudgeon.
That's just like always hating the
new stuff, like you and your, I hate
the new fancy rat music, you know?
Like, I don't want to be like, like that.
It's just, it's not a good vibe.
And like, I want to figure out
like, how can Laravel fit in to
this sort of new crowd in a way.
It's compelling and make sense.
And I think you're right, that it's actually
smart to plant seeds, like at the front of
the pipeline, so that, um, when people do want
to do like kind of graduate to some kind of
complicated backend stuff, it's like, oh, well
Laravel would be a natural choice, you know?
Land and our ecosystem
Justin: that way I appreciated that
part of your interview with Tobias.
You were saying, you know, I want to, I still
want to be open to something being there.
It's like, I've been super critical of web3,
and I think, see there's two sides of this.
Like people say, well, I don't want to hear
any negativity on Twitter hating or whatever.
But on the other hand, it's okay to
have some people pushing back on ideas,
you know, not all new ideas are good.
And the whole idea of having free speech
is so we can test ideas in the comments.
Let's have it out.
Let's talk about the pros and the
cons and for sure older people.
Uh, we are more attached to old ideas.
I know that's true, but, and we can
be open to new ideas, but that doesn't
mean we shouldn't challenge them either.
So there's like this balance there that
I find sometimes it's difficult, but I
think we do need to be open to new staff.
I'm still open to this idea.
You know, in a decade, there's going
to be something that comes out of
web3 that's incredibly compelling.
Um, I haven't seen it yet.
... that's not buying drugs.
I'll be like, I need to buy drugs and I'll
be like, shit, I should've learned some web3,
that's the only way you can buy them now.
So I like that.
Taylor: And I agree pretty much.
Justin: I mean, it's probably for you,
it's probably also worth returning to
your youth and thinking through the
reason you and your buddy chose PHP in
college was because it was the thing.
He was like, this is the coolest,
easiest, funnest way to build
a website or web application.
And that's just branding, you know, that's
just a PHP, whether intentional or not at the
time being like, are you going to build it
in Perl or are you going to build it in PHP?
And it's like, well, we're
going to build it in PHP.
Are you going to build it in .net?
Uh, and have to buy a license.
You're going to build it in PHP.
And so some of that's just branding and, uh,
maybe rails and Laravel and these other things
it's just about branding is it's about saying,
you know, this isn't uncool, it's actually.
From an indie, like punk rock, bootstrap
kind of perspective it is the coolest shit,
because you're going to be able to build
stuff on your own and maybe make a life
for yourself, uh, outside of having to work
for Facebook for the rest of your life.
And when you were just saying that, one of
the key words that stuck out to me was easy.
It was the easiest at the time.
And I think, um, going forward.
I'm trying not to, um, like rest on
our laurels and assuming that Laravel
is easy for, for a new developers.
Um, and so one of the, one of the
new hires we're bringing on is, um,
a woman in Australia named Jessica
Archer and actually one of the first.
So one of the first projects that I've kind
of already given her like a sneak peek, like,
Hey, I think it would be cool if you worked
on this, when you get here is basically taking
DHH's "build a blog" in Rails tutorial, and
really revitalizing that for Laravel and
for the web ecosystem as it stands today.
So like maybe it uses, maybe it does use
React with Inertia on the front end that
it uses Laravel on the backend and how to
build that in a single repository so that it
feels really great and make it all really,
really accessible, really interesting and
catchy and you know, attractive, um, in terms
of marketing and branding so that we can.
Re actually ensure that Laravel feels like
the easiest way to get started building
a serious full stack web application.
Because I think for the past few years,
I've sort of assumed like, well, of course
it's easy, like go to the documentation.
And I think I've kind of realized like,
okay, well I have to go to the installation
page and read how to install it.
And that seems easy.
But now I have to go to a
different page to read about how
to get stuff out of the database.
And then I have to go to a different page
to read about how to like validate my forms.
And it's like, man, it would be really
great if we just had one cohesive.
Build a build a blog style tutorial, but
probably not a blog since I think that's
kind of like old school web, um, that
actually walked you through a cohesive
story of like shipping something, maybe
all the way to Laravel vapor on one
page and walked you through the whole
process and made it really simple.
Um, so that's that we're doing a
lot of work behind the scenes on
that right now on a Laravel vapor.
Um, and I think Versal has really inspired.
In that regard to make vapor
even easier to onboard.
Um, because that's one of the things that
Marcel has done really well is like, if you
have a, a next application or whatever, and you
just can deploy it so quickly and so easily.
So we're, we're trying to do that.
And I think, um, I'm excited about that,
you know, to try to ensure that we actually
are the easiest, because I think it's,
you know, as you get older and as you've
used things more, you just kind of assume
things are easy when they no longer.
Justin: Well, and even thinking back,
if you listened to any podcast, if you
listen to you, how you got started,
if you listened to so many people say,
well, I got started, I got interested.
I got hooked when, uh, flash programming
stuff and flash or programming stuff
in HyperCard or programming stuff
in Microsoft access, you know, like
tons of people got started like that.
And the reason is if you're 12 and
you're want to build something, you want
it to be easy and fun and accessible.
Like those are the three things.
If it costs too much money, I can't do it.
If it's not fun, I can't do it.
And if I can't get something on
the page where I feel the magic.
Like in podcasting, the magic is when
people publish their first episode,
submit their whole feed to Spotify.
And now they're in the Spotify app
with Justin Bieber and everyone else.
They can show their friends like,
Hey, look at this on my phone.
I'm I'm in Spotify.
That's the magical part.
The magical part with anything
you've built yourself, self is like
showing people like, look at this.
Program I built at HyperCard,
you know, look how fun this is.
And, um, yeah, I, I love that idea.
Are you, do you know what
you're going to build it around?
Is it, you said it's not going to be a blog.
What is it going to be?
Taylor: No, I actually don't know.
Um, and that's something I'd like for me and
Jessica to figure it out together, I just feel
like blog feels like very web 1.0, you know?
Uh, nobody actually does that anymore.
Like, I feel like very few people
even blog in that style anymore.
Justin: The one thing though is that this
is so hard to like figure out teenagers.
I've got, I'm going to four teenagers
this summer, my youngest turns 13.
So I'm going to 13, 14, 17, and 19 all in the
same house and figuring out the zeitgeists
of what is cool right now is tricky, but
one of the things that's in the mix right
now is old nineties stuff is super cool.
Like old nineties clothes, old
nineties music, all that stuff.
I could see a return to like Myspace
type things, Geocities type things.
Um, people might wanting to go back
and try out Tumblr or whatever.
Uh, I bought each of my
kids their own domain name.
And just recently they've all been
a little bit more interested in
it, like, huh, like how would I do.
Um, webs, like how would I build a site?
And yeah, I think those projects where
kids can build something and feel good
about it, whether it's, you know, a simple
application, a blog, a website, uh, you
know, whatever it is, something that makes it
that's cool that they can show their friends
that, yeah, there's something in there.
Taylor: I mean, you're probably right.
The one thing I've noticed is they're
like Facebook is not cool anymore.
Um, um, so I think that does leave
like a huge opening for something else.
In terms of this place to share more long
form thoughts, you know, like you would
do on like a Tumblr or maybe a MySpace.
Justin: I wrote, I wrote some super
cringy stuff on my Geocities site,
but I was expressing myself and it
was great, you know, I, I loved it.
So I think like, even like, I think somebody
is going to build a new guest book system.
Like we used to have those old guest books.
I think there's something like that
that could make its way through the pop
culture, especially with kids where that
something like that will be cool again.
Like something that feels old.
It feels kind of retro, but kids
are like, oh man, you got to
leave a comment on my guest book.
Um, I can see something in
that vein becoming cool again.
And uh, I mean, you never know what
it's going to be until it happens, but.
You know, I, I feel, and even
looking at Carrd uh, uh, CARRD.CO,
you know, the simple one page sites.
I think like the number
one user of it is BTS fans.
You know, that, that, I
think it's Korean pop group.
Like they build like thousands
and thousands of pages on there.
Like just MySpace style fan pages.
That, you know, people just want to add
gifts and, and, you know, have fun with it.
Taylor: The web lost a lot of it's like
personalization feel from the old days and
yeah, I could definitely see that coming back.
Justin: Well, if anyone has any ideas.
DM me, and then I'll tell Taylor the best ones.
Well, this has been great to catch up, man.
Um, yeah, I think I, we got a little
bit about how you work a little bit
of a future full stack web developer.
This is good, man.
Um, I should have you back in a couple
months because I think this evolution
with you, like pushing yourself this way.
Taylor: Talking on the phone!
Justin: Talking on the phone!
That'd be interesting and how you solve it.
There's lots of ways to solve it.
You know, like that what's worked well for Jon
and I is that we are just ying and yang, you
know, like I, the stuff I get fired up about,
like, I, I love our Thursday meetings and.
You know, when I, when I'm there, I
generally am kind of guiding them.
I just kind of naturally
fall into that, that space.
And it's nice to have this
back and forth with us where.
We can do that where he, you know, he
knows he can release a feature and I'm
just like, it's like, what does he call it?
He's like, he's just unleashing, you know,
the Justin dragon or whatever, you know,
like I just want to get out and promote.
There's, there's different
ways to do it, you know?
And we'll see, we'll see where
our groove settles into, but
it'll be interesting for sure.
Justin: Cool man.
Thanks for doing this.
Taylor: Alright, thanks.