The Robot Co-op Turns 2! 14

Posted by Erik Benson Fri, 01 Sep 2006 20:24:00 GMT

Two years ago today was the first day that we gathered together in our new offices in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood and considered ourselves to be “working”. Today, we can all finally check off the goal, “Start a company that lasts longer than two years.”

Since then, we’ve tried hard to blur the lines between work and play. All of us had recently come from various levels of the totem pole at big successful companies, and we all knew too well the hidden cost of a successful company: lots of employees, policies to ensure efficiency and trust, meetings and paper trails to ensure information distribution, and lots of cracks to fall through and get lost in if you weren’t careful. We had an opportunity to seek success on a much smaller scale, with a different set of goals, and a different set of tools. Fast and loose! Here are a few of our favorite tricks for the company:

  • Bring your own computer.
  • Sit around one big table. Make communication easy.
  • No discussions over mailing lists.
  • Meetings take place at the pub, or as a standing meeting.
  • Use paper and notecards instead of documents.
  • Share the stereo.
  • Walk or bike to work if you can.
  • Eat lunch together. Play credit card roulette.

And here are a couple of our favorite tricks for our products:

  • Make it more fun than useful.
  • Embrace constraints.
  • Build something you’d use. Use what you build.
  • Don’t overmonetize.
  • Rely on the software in your head rather than try to replicate culture in features.
  • Design as you build. Keep the cost of change low.
  • Be in it to win it.

The culture here at the co-op has definitely evolved over these last two years into an almost cult-like belief system. Cults are more interesting than companies anyway. In the meantime we’ve launched five websites, and have also had enough time in our spare time to teach political theory courses at the local college, release albums and go on tour, sky dive, lose 100 pounds, go on meditation retreats, travel around Europe and Brazil, learn Jujitsu, raise chickens, and generally iterate fast and loose on the goal of learning how to amplify life.

Announcing: A new blog to celebrate the future!

In that spirit, we’re launching a new blog today on the topic of mutual-improvement… our take on combining the worlds of life hacking, self-help, productivity, happiness, and goal-achievement. Here it is:

Mutual Improvement Blog

Read about the inspiration for the new blog, grab the RSS feed, and stay tuned for something new, ambitious, and wild in the spirit of everything else we do here.

Of course, all the thanks goes to the people who use the sites, and who have inspired us along the way. Thank you for the first two years! We’re just getting started…


Leave a response

  1. Congrats Fri, 01 Sep 2006 20:51:34 GMT

    And many more…...........

  2. Miranda Sun, 03 Sep 2006 18:28:15 GMT

    My congratulations!

  3. Lavi Mon, 04 Sep 2006 10:40:48 GMT


    Liked your “favorite tricks for the company”

  4. Sandy Piderit Mon, 04 Sep 2006 15:15:29 GMT

    “Keep the cost of change low.”

    This is the best management advice possible for businesses (and for organizations generally) in the next century.

    Kudos, and many happy returns!

    -Sandy (aka managementprof)

  5. M Virts Mon, 04 Sep 2006 21:46:19 GMT

    How the heck do you guys make money?

  6. M Virts Mon, 04 Sep 2006 21:46:40 GMT

    (my email)

  7. Eva Wed, 06 Sep 2006 07:48:15 GMT

    Hello All:

    I am a Chinese girl and graduated this July.22 years old. Now i am working in a IT company as a SE.This isnot my first time to come here. These days i always think about your idea about these 43* , that is wonderful, especially the 43 Things. We still don’t have any website like 43 things in China in chinese characters. I have a plan to construct a website like 43 things in chinese. u know in China,most people cant go through the website which in English or we can say in non-chinese. Can u give me some suggestions?

    Thanks very much.

    Regards, Eva

  8. Eric Hodel Wed, 06 Sep 2006 07:53:15 GMT

    Eva have you checked out It is a Chinese clone of 43 Things.

    You can use Chinese characters in 43 Things and 43 Places. Here’s an example place:


    But mostly people write English.

  9. Eva Wed, 06 Sep 2006 07:59:36 GMT


    Forget to give my congratulations and leave my e-mail address.

    Know u guys are busy. I have much interesting in the web development and my favorate is Java and related technologies.The aim of one of my friends’ and mine is to build our own website this year. The greatest problem is we dont have any experience.

    Give my congrats again. And waiting for your advice….....

    Regards, Eva

  10. Eva Wed, 06 Sep 2006 08:12:32 GMT

    Thanks Eric,

    Ok! Got it. yeah, a clone one. All the 43 **have the clone?? Actually, we have write a main-page of our website. and applied a domain name….

    Any way, i like the idea definitely. I think we will insist. Can i acquire if i need??

  11. Happy Phantom Sun, 10 Sep 2006 22:36:29 GMT

    Yay! I am so proud of all of you! Considering how many hours I sit and type on 43Things, I think it is a testament to all your work. It’s been about a year for me and I can honestly say it has changed my life.

    43Things has helped me raise nearly $5,000 for the Crohns and Colitis Foundation. It has connected me with the most amazing people (including yourselves) and I can honestly say thatI have grown from it.

    Bravo to you all! Here’s to many happy years ahead!

  12. turquoisefloyd Sat, 16 Sep 2006 09:12:34 GMT

    I don’t know where else to do this - I can’t find an abuse section on the 43things site. I’d like to report nullo as a troll - he/she has sent me five abusive messages overnight. I can send these messages to you as proof, if required.

  13. Daniel Sat, 16 Sep 2006 15:31:32 GMT

    I removed the nullo acccount a few minutes ago. Thanks.

    You can always email us at [email protected]

  14. Neale Wed, 20 Sep 2006 02:52:30 GMT

    Congrats! 43things is one of the great sites on the web !