Year in Review

This year I spent a lot of time iterating on SimpleGeo’s products, working with partners, listening to customers, recruiting employees, and trying to establish an open culture at the company. Being a founder of a startup is an extremely stressful job. I tell the people at SimpleGeo that I hope they all found a company someday so they’ll know how awesome it is and how terrible it is to be a founder.

The rest of my year was filled with travel, good friends, good food, time with Diana, and the usual insanity. A short recap follows.

  1. I started the year with a trip to Singapore the Global Leaders 2010 summit. It was a pretty surreal experience debating the relevance and consequences of metadata with the former CIO of Google and the Chief Privacy Officers of Microsoft and Oracle. Extremely enlightening debates.
  2. I tried to spend more time blogging. Most of it was about startups, engineering culture, and entrepreneurship: Fail fast and often, HOWTO: Recruit Rock Stars, HOWTO: Maintain a Rock Star Culture, and Why I’ll never own another server.
  3. In February I met a girl on OkCupid of all places. She’s improved my life greatly and I’m happy she continues to put up with me.
  4. I also went to Atlanta in February for PyCon. Mike Malone and I gave a talk on using OAuth, OpenID, and other open web technologies in Python and Django. If you’re into OAuth and use Python, check out my python-oauth2 library.
  5. March brought my 30th birthday and SXSW. I spoke on a panel with a bunch of really smart people about how location and location-aware applications are going to change the face of social networking, mobile, and the internet.
  6. I went out to Dublin for Funconf in April, despite it being canceled by a volcano, and ended up in Amsterdam for Queen’s Day, which is basically the Dutch version of St. Patrick’s Day.
  7. SimpleGeo raised $8.2m in June of this year to ramp up operations and bring simple tools for location-aware applications to market.
  8. Diana and I went to South Africa for the TECH4AFRICA conference. The trip was intense overall. We met a ton of great people, hung out in Johannesburg, saw Soweto, went to Cape Town, and visited a game reserve.
  9. The Madikwe Game Reserve was one of the highlights of the trip to South Africa. Waking up to monkeys on your porch and zebras wrestling behind your cabin is a surreal experience.
  10. At the beginning of September I moved back to San Francisco. I’ve given up attempting to move anywhere else at this point. San Francisco is home now and that’s fine by me.
  11. September also brought my first two angel investments, which sounds really weird to be saying. I placed small bets on StyleSeat and Kiip. They’re both ramping up operations and doing well. Excited to see what Melody and Brian cook up in 2011.
  12. I went back to Dublin to attend the postponed Funconf and also went to London to speak at Future of Web Apps. I’ll be speaking at the Las Vegas Future of Web Apps this summer as well.
  13. We hired one of my mentors and good friends, Jay Adelson, to be CEO of SimpleGeo in November.
  14. In November I made good on my promise to get a geek tattoo and to get an old school Americana tattoo by getting a single tattoo that professes my love for the Internets.
  15. November also brought a happy ending for a startup I’d advised from nearly inception. ngmoco:) sold to DeNA for $400m. Huge kudos to the team over there. Incredible watching them grow from 9 employees to over 100 in two short years.
  16. A project that I started over a year ago, gained steam through 2010, gained a team, and was released into private beta in early December by Jesse and Ben. aims to give you advanced tools for mining the unstructured data locked up in your email inbox.
  17. Just in time for 2010, I started work on finishing my left sleeve. It’s going to be Mechagodzilla vs. Godzilla fighting over a fictitious skyline comprised of buildings from cities I’ve lived in.

Despite thinking there was no way I could top last year’s travel schedule, I somehow managed to set a record for miles traveled, sights seen, and continents stepped on. I traveled less days this year with “only” 137 days on the road, but managed to travel 124,392 miles (200,189km), visit 10 countries, 4 continents, and 32 cities over the course of 29 trips. My year in cities is as follows.

  • Boulder, CO
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Austin, TX
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Lansing, MI
  • Detroit, MI
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Atalanta, GA
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • London, UK
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Glenwood Springs, CO

The World Famous Chicken Zigafoos Recipe

About a decade ago my mom got a recipe from a friend called “chicken zigafoos.” These absurdly named dinner pastries have been a big hit in the family since then. So what, exactly, is a chicken zigafoo? Well, it’s kind of like a fat kid chicken pot pie. With gravy. To really get the full effect of the chicken zigafoo I highly recommend pairing it with homemade chicken gravy and my mashed potatoes recipe. What follows is a step-by-step manual for making this delicious dinner.

Chicken Zigafoos


  • 2 healthy sized chicken breasts without skin.
  • 1 red onion.
  • Some celery.
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes.
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder.
  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese.
  • 3 packages of croissant rolls. In the US, Pillsbury has apparently decided Americans are too stupid to pronounce or spell croissant so they go by, I shit you not, “crescent” rolls.
  • 1 stick of melted butter.
  • 3 tablespoons of milk.


  • Cut up about 1/4 cup of celery and red inion (or shallots or white onion or whatever) and put it into a glass casserole dish with the chicken breasts.
  • Add the chicken bullion cubes and seasoning as you wish.
  • Add two cups of water to the casserole dish. Be sure to save this for your chicken gravy!
  • Bake in the oven for an hour at 350F (177C).
  • Take the chicken out and shred it.
  • Strain the celery and onion out of the chicken stock into a sauce pan. Add the celery and onion to a bowl with the shredded chicken.
  • Add the melted butter, milk, and cream cheese to the bowl and mix thoroughly into a cream cheese and chicken paste of sorts.
  • Roll out the croissant/crescent rolls out flat. You’ll notice they’re notched into four squares that are notched into two triangles each. Use two triangles (one square) for each zigafoo. Pinch the notching of the two triangles together so you get four rough squares. Add a large dollop (1/4 cup or so) of zigafoo innards to the middle of the square and then pinch up the four corners over the top of the dollop.
  • Bake on a cookie sheet per the instructions on the croissant roll packaging (usually 375F for 13-15 minutes).
  • Place onto a large serving plate for serving.

Mashed Potatoes


  • 4 large russet potatoes.
  • A cup of sour cream.
  • 6 tablespoons of butter.
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes.


  • Peel the potatoes. Leave a little skin on if you like.
  • Cut the potatoes into small squares (1” x 1” or smaller).
  • Throw the cut up potatoes into a pot and add water until the potatoes become buoyant in the pot.
  • Add the chicken bullion cubes to the water and heat the pot until the water starts to boil. Boil the potatoes for a minimum of 10 minutes. Test with a fork to ensure potatoes are soft enough to easily mash.
  • Strain water out of potatoes.
  • Add butter and sour cream to pot and pour the boiled potato cubes on top. Season as preferred with salt and pepper.
  • Mix and mash to your preferred texture.
  • Dump the mashed potatoes into a bowl for serving.

Chicken Gravy


  • Chicken stock leftover from the chicken zigafoos.
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch.
  • 1/2 cup of water.


  • Add the chicken stock to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  • Mix the corn starch with the water until the corn starch is thoroughly dissolved into the water with no clumps.
  • Slowly add the corn start/water mixture to the boiling chicken stock one teaspoon or so at a time. Mix thoroughly into the chicken stock before adding more.
  • Once done pouring into the stock, boil the gravy for about a minute.
  • Pour into a gravy dish for serving.

That’s about it. I highly recommend putting a zigafoo or two on your plate, a healthy helping of mashed potatoes next to that, and then cover the whole thing in chicken gravy. You’ll thank me later.