Interview Yourself: Eric Davis

The challenge has been thrown down. Both Shane Pearlman and now Joshua Clanton have both “requested” that I take Shane’s Entrepreneur Interview.

What’s your personal mission statement?

Have fun developing software to improve people’s lives.

What’s the biggest mess you’ve dealt with this year?

My desk…. Really the biggest mess I’ve had is overcommitting to projects. I’ve taken on new projects before I look at how much work I have already because I hate letting people down.

What current entrepreneurial efforts consume your time?

I have a few projects that are taking the majority of my time.

Related to the point above, I keep taking on more projects and neglecting my marketing. In 2008 I am planning on solidifying my branding and release a few completed projects as Open Source.

Why do you do what you do? What inspires you? When do you get most excited?

It’s fun creating software.

As lame as it sounds, I love to write boring business software. Yea a cool new flashy Web 2.0 tagable taxonomized streaming social media website is nice, but how does it help society? Boring business software on the other hand might help a business grow, which in turn creates more jobs and economic activity.

Now a cool new flashy Web 2.0 tagable taxonomized streaming social media website with a solid business plan, that’s a different beast altogether ;)

Boxers or Briefs?


What do you do when you’re not programming or writing?

Not programming or writing…… I guess I would be reading about programming, business, or writing. You mean I don’t have to work all hours of the day?

What one thing made the biggest difference when getting started?

Building up my network of friends. 100% of my projects come from this network, oftentimes started just as a single comment on a blog.

What’s your exit strategy?

Which one?

  • Short term I want to move from custom software into providing a software product.
  • Long term, I want to “retire” and manage my passive cashflow.
What is the last thing that made you belly laugh?

I laugh every day but can’t remember the details of the last time. The comic xkcd tends to make me laugh every time it comes out, these posts were especially good.

Have you ever been in business before?

Yes, three or four times before. Most of them were half-hearted attempts in college and where never 100% thought out. Needless to say, they all failed but I did learn a lot from them.

At what point do you consider yourself successful?

I consider myself successful now. I might not have as many thing as I wish but I’m able to provide for my family, buy new toys, and am happy to wake up everyday.

What was your first experience with a computer?

Two memories:

First was when I was really young, I would visit my dad in southern California. He worked for PG&E as an engineer so he had a computer at home. There was a game I used to play all the time, it was a story based RPG with graphics like Dragon’s Lair but I cannot remember the name.

My second memory is more current around 1995, and it was when my step-father brought home a 486 with Windows 95. For me this was major step up from the Apples my mom was using at her school, the 486 was actually polished and shiny. It took me very little time to start hacking on it. Lets just say I “cleaned” up the Windows folder of extra files to make enough disk space for SimCity.

Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates in a jello wrestling match, where’s your money?

Who cares, I would be watching the ESR, RMS and Linus on stage two.

Where do you do your best thinking?

In my desk chair with the lights off, the music on, and the sun long set. The stillness really puts my mind at ease and ideas come easily.

What does your average daily work / life balance look like? How much time do you work, play and sleep?

Balance, what balance? Currently I work anywhere from 8-12 hours a day 6 days a week. Even when I’m not working I tend to talk and think about work. Obliviously my wife doesn’t like this.

I am starting to slow down now and take more personal time but it hard coming from a family of workaholics.

If I could introduce you to anyone, who would it be?

Paul Graham. I love his essays and his often contrarian ideas.

What stops you from giving up when you are frustrated?

My wife. Without her I wouldn’t have the confidence or support to do anything. I would probably be cutting and pasting Java code for $7.50 an hour without her encouragement.

If Chuck Norris and Steven Hawking had a baby (hey it’s my damn interview), would you vote for her for president?

Depends on her stance on Software Patents and digital rights. A person having famous parents don’t affect my opinion as much as their ideas, beliefs, and actions do.

Additional Question: Why do you care about Open Source so much?

Software is just a bunch of ideas about the world we live in. The same can be said about writing, religion, physics, philosophy, and just about any other intellectual activity. All of these ideas are the product of human thought, someone took the time to sit down and think. By sharing this idea with people, the world becomes richer; before the world had 1,000,000 ideas and now it has 1,000,001.

With closed source software, the idea is only shared with the select people that can afford the idea. Even then they only get the result of the idea, they know nothing about the process the person went through to create the idea.

With Open Source software on the other hand; any person can take the idea, look at it, examine how this idea was created, and can improve on the idea. This process makes the world even richer than before and exponentially grows new ideas, et cetera.

Well, that completes my interview of myself. Shane is keeping track of the the other interviews people have been posting over at his blog.



  1. Joshua Clanton says:

    Thanks for taking the time to interview yourself.

    I sympathize with the idea that the desk might be the biggest mess in one’s life. :-)

    Seriously, though, that is one of the best explanations of why to use and contribute to open source software that I’ve read.

  2. Peter Chester says:

    “I love to write boring business software.”

    You’re just saying that because we’ve been working day and night on boring business software aren’t you? :)

    “Why do you care about Open Source so much?”

    I love this question. I have spent countless hours trying to understand how opensource can exist. How do talented people find the time to give away their time? And why? As we build opensource plugins and apps, I am starting to understand it as a conversation. We are all engaged in a conversation. Bringing opensource wok to the table is a strong statement that wins a lot of love. And we all like to be loved.

    That’s my theory.

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