McQuaids Closed

McQuaids, an Irish bar in Hell’s Kitchen on 44th and 11th, closed this month. That, in itself, is unfortunately not notable. The five stories built above it are.

New York City has a lot of Irish bars and a lot of bar closings. McQuaids was a great, long-running bar but far from as old as McSorely’s or as acclaimed as The Dead Rabbit.

What it was, for all but the last few years of its existence, was a single story. That changed, not due to a corporate firm, or a rich real estate investor, but due to the owner of the bar and the building, Tom McQuaid.


Hell’s Kitchen has been a rapidly changing area. New high rises sprout up, a Target opens, the neighborhood shifts. Ultimately, like Manhattan as a whole, the progressive drumbeat pushes buildings ever upwards towards the sky.

Most of this progression is driven by outsiders. Foreign firms build and bankrupt condos, real estate corporations come in with sophisticated plans and piles of money. They buy out existing owners to enable their grand visions. In the face of outside cash and the air of inevitability, people sell, and rationally so.

Tom did not do that. Tom borrowed a lot of money against his building, and built five new stories of office space. He had to shut down the bar for construction, and McQuaids was temporarily closed for years as the work was done.

This is about the time I moved to the neighborhood. Drinking at different places in the area, it was common to run into McQuaids refugees, barflies and bartenders who were biding their time, waiting to return to McQuaids once it reopened. I’d walk by and peer in the windows, to try to get a sense of why these folks loved this place so much.

The construction finished, and reopening was scheduled, as planned, right before St. Patrick’s day. McQuaids soft re-opened, with both a gleaming bar interior and a large “office space for rent sign”, on March 10th, 2020.

Then, as we all lived through, the world fell apart. McQuaids did reopen that summer, serving five dollar pints of Guinness (real pints) out of a window. The “for rent” sign remained. It’s hard to imagine a worse time to be involved in both the bar and commercial real estate business.

New York has recovered in its own scarred way, jagged and lovable. Eleventh Ave office real estate, never a hotspot, has not. Oglivy, the large ad agency whose presence on 11th was worthy of a brass plaque on their building, moved downtown in 2021. The floors above McQuaids remained vacant.

Even as the bar fully reopened, the upper floors have stayed empty. Those floors became an albatross, and without tenants, look to have forced Tom to close and sell the whole building.

The limited news coverage has been pretty rough on Tom. It talk about a “novice developer squeezed”, and “blue collar people who had to keep up coming up with money.” This coverage misses the point.

I am far from knowledgeable on both running bars or owning office space. I have no clue on the veracity of the news coverage. What I do know, is that Tom McQuaid built five stories.

In doing so, when so many others sold and left, Tom’s become the Man in the Arena personified to me. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, the critics and backseat drivers don’t matter. Tom McQuaid’s plan may have not have worked, but at least it was audacious. It failed, but failed by daring greatly. That is chutzpah. That is heart. What could be more admirable than that?

(photos from Phil O’Brien at

Privacy and Solidarity in New York City

I consider myself a pretty private person. New York City is not a private place. We hear each other through walls, see each other’s bedrooms across airshaft windows, and dodge each other on city streets. And yet, this total lack of privacy inverts itself, and turns New York into one of the most private places I can imagine. It’s a New Yorker’s rite of passage to cry on the subway, embarrass themselves in public, or get into a loud argument on a busy street corner. In a city with so much density, and people, and events, and news, and noise, and stimuli, almost no individual actions end up being notable or remembered. It’s ultimately much easier to find a needle in a haystack than a needle in a pile of needles.

Given that this anonymity and privacy comes from what seems like complete human-to-human indifference, it’s easy to assume that New York is a cold uncaring place. We are, after all, the home of the Kitty Genovese murder, in which dozens of New Yorkers heard a woman get murdered  and did close to nothing. This incident led to the creation of the bystander effect theory, and has done no favors to New York’s reputation. New York gets an unfairly bad rap here. These notable failings are outweighed by the solidarity and kindness New Yorkers display to each other on an every day basis. The true measure of this is not the outliers, the Kitty Genoveses and subway saviors that hit the news, but the margins. It is the small actions, taken every day by millions of New Yorkers, that make New York what it is.

When people ask me about living in New York, there’s one story I always tell. I’m walking back home from a deli, with a brown paper bag full of beer, when it starts to pour. The bag gets soaked. Between the sogginess and the weight of the cans, it splits open, sending tall boys careening in all directions on the Tenth Avenue sidewalk. Before I know it, a reusable bag is pressed into my hand, the cans are brought back and packed, and I’m quickly on my way. Four total strangers, with no hesitation, obligation, or words, coming together to make my life a little easier. A NASCAR pit crew could not have done it better. That is solidarity. That is New York.

My 2023 Book List

As I mentioned last year, I went years without reading a book. I’d still read — Twitter, Reddit, blogs, newspapers, etc — but didn’t finish a book. That was a mistake. There’s something special about sitting down with genuinely long-form content, especially content that is much less reactionary than what we consume online.

In 2023, I read 47 books. I mostly chose these based off of recommendations (primarily from in-person conversations), and keep a running list of books that I may want to read next. The recommendations I get are (normally) good, and it’s fun to be able tie a book to how you first heard of it. Given I rely so much on other people’s picks, I thought it’d be helpful for me to share my own.

I mostly read non-fiction. These are books that were new to me in 2023, so plenty of them are years (or even decades) old. I’ve highlighted five books were lesser known to me (e.g no cultural phenomenons or TV/Movie adaptations) that I particularly liked. Beyond that, I’m going to avoid including authors, blurbs, or my own personal thoughts. That’s partially laziness, but partially because it’s fun to pick books just off titles. It can also lead to happy accidents (like when I read two great books called “Last Call” since that is all I wrote down, and I wasn’t sure which one it was)

My Five Picks

  1. Hotel Splendide
  2. Brutalities: A Love Story
  3. American Roulette: How I Turned the Odds Upside Down—My Wild Twenty-Five-Year Ride Ripping Off the World’s Casinos
  4. Among the Thugs
  5. Up in the Old Hotel: Reportage from “the New Yorker” 

The Rest

  1. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory
  2. To the One I Love the Best
  3. How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir
  4. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
  5. The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood
  6. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
  7. A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them
  8. Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon
  9. The Cap: How Larry Fleisher and David Stern Built the Modern NBA
  10. Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk
  11. What Do You Care What Other People Think?: Further Adventures of a Curious Character
  12. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
  13. Manhattan Cult Story: My Unbelievable True Story of Sex, Crimes, Chaos, and Survival
  14. Casino-ology: The Art of Managing Casino Games
  15. Heat: An Amateur Cook in a Professional Kitchen
  16. The Last Action Heroes: The Triumphs, Flops, and Feuds of Hollywood’s Kings of Carnage
  17. Billionaires’ Row: Tycoons, High Rollers, and the Epic Race to Build the World’s Most Exclusive Skyscrapers
  18. The Boys on the Bus
  19. Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World
  20. The White House Plumbers: The Seven Weeks That Led to Watergate and Doomed Nixon’s Presidency
  21. Whitey’s Payback: And Other True Stories: Gangsterism, Murder, Corruption, and Revenge
  22. Dealt: Stories from My Life on the Felt
  23. The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder
  24. Eli and the Octopus: The CEO Who Tried to Reform One of the World’s Most Notorious Corporations
  25. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
  26. The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream
  27. Happy at Any Cost: The Revolutionary Vision and Fatal Quest of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
  28. Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy
  29. The Dispossessed
  30. Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
  31. Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York
  32. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence
  33. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
  34. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
  35. Boundless: The Rise, Fall, and Escape of Carlos Ghosn
  36. St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street
  37. Money Men: A Hot Startup, A Billion Dollar Fraud, A Fight for the Truth
  38. Then One Year…: History’s Craziest Year as Seen by a Las Vegas Bookmaker
  39. Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York
  40. The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art
  41. Barnum
  42. Freedom


Read any of these? Have any more recommendations? Please send thoughts and new book recs my way!

Shane MacGowan

Like a lot of people, I associate music with certain periods of my life. During COVID, during the worst periods, during the spring of 2020, that music was the Pogues.

When you’re stuck in a bedroom, unable to go elsewhere, there’s something comforting about listening to to sometimes unintelligible, always well-written songs about better times.

The more I played the Pogues during the pandemic, the more the I ended up connecting with their lead singer.

Like me, Shane MacGowan was Irish, but not born in Ireland. He brought Irish folk music inspirations to generations of kids who felt a little too cool to listen to the The Chieftains. The Pogues served as an emotional bridge between the punk music I love, and my nostalgia-tinged memories of child car rides full of Fields of Athenry and Irish Soldier Laddie.

Since  the 1980s, Shane often seemed six months away from death. In January 2022, I began to feel that way. Seemingly overnight, while in a foreign country for a month, I began having severe health scares. I went from being able to exercise for hours, to my chest seizing up, and my borderline passing out while in the ocean or on a hike. Each time, no matter how dizzy I felt, how blurry my vision got, or how intense the chest pain was, I was convinced it was an isolated anomaly that would not happen again. I don’t know how Shane felt, but to me, at the time, it was clear. It made more sense to ignore everything, without admitting to any health issues, than to directly face whatever the hell was happening to me. I’d climb up to the roof each night with a beer, stare at the ocean, and listen to the Pogues through my tinny phone speakers.

This is objectively not the way I should have dealt with a situation like that. Clearly, Shane was not a positive influence on my life, much like he did an immense amount of unneeded damage to his own. That said, I know very few geniuses and very few poets. I’m not either. Shane was both.


A Tale of Two Cold Emails – How to do cold outreach the right way

Recently, I got asked the biggest mistake I see young people make when they try to make connections with more senior people. My answer to that was pretty simple, not putting yourself out there at all. It is always better to do the cold email, or go to the networking event, than not to. With that said, there is good cold outreach, and bad cold outreach. I’ve gotten both recently, so I figured I’d break down the differences.

 As a young person looking to make connections, your cold outreach is already starting at a large advantage. Execs generally want to help folks just starting off. This can be for moral/personal reasons (e.g. we got a lot of help when we were starting out, and want to continue to pay that forward). It also makes good business sense. The young people taking initiative today will soon be the customer, partner, or employee of tomorrow. It’s also to fun to catch smart people at the beginning of their careers, the sense of opportunity is palpable.

In an email inbox full of spam, sales pitches, and notifications, it is easy for your email to stand out. You want it to stand out the right way. The below email did not do that, and prompted this post. Read through the below (sender identifying info redacted) and see if you can identify what bothered me so much.

There’s some smaller (albeit important) spelling and grammar stuff like “alma” being misspelled, but one major thing stood out to me. The message is completely unpersonalized (there is no mention of my name or of Healthie) and I am literally bcc’d on the email. This person wrote a generic email, added a bunch of folks in the Healthcare IT space to the BCC list, and then blasted it out. This is something I’d expect out of offshore dev agency spam, not an email asking for a personal favor. An email like this takes away any initial good will, and makes me not want to help.

Ultimately, this email felt lazy. In life, it can be ok to be “lazy” about things. However, shortcuts can be taken only if you’re smart enough to not make the end-result feel like a shortcut. With bulk email, this is actually pretty straight forward. You can use mail merge and a spreadsheet to send out personalized emails to hundreds of people. I never would have known that I was one of many recipients, and honestly, I wouldn’t have cared if I did know. Working efficiently and automating tasks is a feature, not a bug. If you’re not able to automate the task, then it needs to be done manually and correctly, or not at all.

In contrast, here’s a cold email example that I thought was fantastic.

It is personalized, to the point, and has a clear ask. It is ultimately still pretty generic, but that is totally fine. I assume the sender sent similar emails to dozens of other companies. That is in no way a bad thing, and I absolutely would have done the same if I were in their shoes. The level of effort put into this email versus the “bad” email above is likely close to the same, but the output is wildly different.

You don’t have to be Hemingway to make great connections via cold outreach. You do need to show that you (at least appear to) care. The sender of the “good” email ultimately became Healthie’s first engineering intern since COVID. The sender of the “bad” email did not get a response. Smart work can beat hard work, but both smart and hard work beat sloppy work.

Cockroach Companies

Healthie moved offices this week, to the largest space we’ve had since we became remote-first during COVID. It’s a WeWork office with plenty of space, natural light, and most importantly, no cockroaches.

The last one should be a given, but hasn’t always been. Pre-COVID, we were fully in-person, and were subletting an office from a company that moved out after they got acquired.

The space was huge and pre-furnished, above a sketchy (but lovable) bar. The building was an old Garment District one that was slowly falling apart.

Our employees had mixed feelings. On one hand, the ping pong table was great! On the other, the block felt unsafe.  It was a close race, until the roaches appeared.

Nothing kills employee morale faster than roaches. No creatures are harder to kill. Exterminators came and went. The cockroaches ebbed, flowed, but ultimately always seemed to stick around.

At a certain point, a begrudging anthropomorphizing respect began to set in. These things were unkillable! Healthie had just gone through a huge layoff and  a nightmarish crunched product rebuild. We had taken a beating, and in the long hours and late nights, there’s an appreciation of kindred spirits that refuse to die.

Years later, in late 2020, I was at a bar with a group of founders and a VC. The VC went around the circle asking about company spirit animals. Healthie was doing much much better at this point, and back on a growth trajectory. Still, I took pride in my answer, “cockroach.”

The VC recoiled. These were zero interest rate days. This was the time for explosive growth, not survival. This was not the answer to give if you needed to raise money.

Thankfully, at Healthie, we didn’t have to. We were profitable and felt self-sufficient and in control of our destiny.

Today, as we approach 2024, we feel the same way, but I no longer think cockroach was the right answer. Cockroaches are isolated. They survive seemingly anything, but no one wants to be around them. They feel solely focused on survival, and do not take any advantage of the upside of thriving or growing.

It’s much better to be a company that can survive in the worst of times, but also excel in the best. I feel that’s what Healthie has been these past few years. We’ve grown an incredible amount (both in revenue and employee count), matured as an organization, and became a known name in our space. I don’t know what animal that maps to any longer, but I know it’s not a cockroach.

Survival mindset can turn into a starvation experiment if you’re not careful. Knowing when to bunker down, and when to try to focus on growth is a gut decision that doesn’t have a clear right answer in the moment. It’s a hard decision to make but it is critical, and ultimately a human one. Next time, I get asked the spirit animal question, I think I’ll go with “human.”


My 2022 Book List: What I read in 2022, and what I liked the most.

After years of barely reading books, I started again in earnest in 2019, and have read a lot of them in the years since. Even with all the great blog content, tweets, and journalism, I still get a ton out of reading actual books. The biggest thing I did to read more was to switch to e-books (I use a physical Kindle, and the Kindle app on my phone). I find it much easier to read a lot if I can very quickly get through a few pages throughout my day. Being able to buy the next book instantly also helps me keep up the momentum.

In 2022, I read 49 books. I mostly choose these based off of recommendations (both online lists and from in-person conversations), and keep a running list of books that I may want to read next. Given that I rely so much on word of mouth, I thought it’d be helpful to share my own list and picks for the year.

I mostly read non-fiction. These are books that were new to me in 2022, so plenty of them are years (or even decades) old. I’ve highlighted five books were lesser known to me (e.g no cultural phenomenons or TV/Movie adaptations) that I particularly liked.

My Five Picks

  1. The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates
  2. River of the Gods: Genius, Courage, and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile
  3. American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
  4. One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey ‘,The Kid’, Ungar, The World’s Greatest Poker Player
  5. Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History

The Rest

  1. Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography
  2. Tonight We Bombed the U.S. Capitol: The Explosive Story of M19, America’s First Female Terrorist Group
  3. Lights Out: Pride, Delusion, and the Fall of General Electric
  4. Lying for Money: How Legendary Frauds Reveal the Workings of the World
  5. Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing
  6. The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy
  7. The Tender Bar: A Memoir
  8. At the Sands: The Casino That Shaped Classic Las Vegas, Brought the Rat Pack Together, and Went Out with a Bang
  9. Junky: The Definitive Text of “Junk”
  10. Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry
  11. The Princess of 42nd Street: Surviving My Childhood as the Daughter of Times Square’s King of Porn
  12. Shantaram: A Novel
  13. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find-and Keep-Love: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find–and Keep– Love
  14. Boardwalk Playground: The Making, Unmaking, & Remaking of Atlantic City: How the people of a New Jersey resort built a seaside paradise, lost it, rebuilt … town, mostly lost it, and kept on dre
  15. You Thought It Was More: Adventures of the World’s Greatest Counterfeiter Louis The Coin – As seen on The History Channel & The BBC
  16. Notes of a Dirty Old Man
  17. The Logic Of Sports Betting
  18. Salem’s Lot
  19. Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s
  20. Then One Day …: 40 Years of Bookmaking in Nevada
  21. Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan
  22. Blood and Fire: The Unbelievable Real-Life Story of Wrestling’s Original Sheik
  23. Ball Four
  24. Billion Dollar Fantasy: The High-Stakes Game Between FanDuel and DraftKings That Upended Sports in America
  25. The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks
  26. Party Monster: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland
  27. The Club King: My Rise, Reign, and Fall in New York Nightlife
  28. The Vig: Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie
  29. Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar
  30. Things Are Never So Bad That They Can’t Get Worse: Inside the Collapse of Venezuela
  31. And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out) Wall Street, the IMF, and the Bankrupting of Argentina
  32. I’m Glad My Mom Died
  33. The Westies: Inside New York’s Irish Mob
  34. Retail Gangster: The Insane, Real-Life Story of Crazy Eddie
  35. Born to Kill: The Rise and Fall of America’s Bloodiest Asian Gang
  36. Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas
  37. The Pyramid of Lies: Lex Greensill and the Billion-Dollar Scandal
  38. Gaming the Game: The Story Behind the NBA Betting Scandal and the Gambler Who Made It Happen
  39. DisneyWar
  40. The Devil’s Candy: The Anatomy Of A Hollywood Fiasco
  41. Your Movie Sucks
  42. Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba…and Then Lost It to the Revolution
  43. Your Table Is Ready: Tales of a New York City Maître D’
  44. The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual-The Biggest Bank Failure in American History

Grateful – TAVR, Health Issues, and Reflecting on the Past Ten Years

Assuming everything goes smoothly, this scheduled post should be going out around the time I’m getting out of an operating room. 2022 has been a year of ups, downs, and severe aortic stenosis, and I’m excited to get a TAVR procedure done. A TAVR is a minimally invasive way to replace my failing aortic valve, which should restore my normal heart function and let me get back to having an unrestricted day-to-day life for the next few years.

Stressful situations have always brought me clarity. As I sit here, on a quiet Sunday in an empty office, I want to use that clarity to take stock of the impact these ten years of heart issues have had on me.

I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in 2012. Since then, I’ve had two open-heart surgeries, a heart attack, and innumerable doctor’s appointments. Frankly, I’ve had a worse-than-expected outcome at basically every step. The congenital defect is extremely rare, the first surgery was supposed to be the only one, that heart attack never really got explained, and the valve I get replaced tomorrow normally lasts much longer. I’m going to be dealing with heart issues for the rest of my life.

That’s all happened in the past ten years, and none of it is good. Yet, the past ten years have also been my best ones. I’ve been surrounded by incredible friends and loved ones. I’ve gotten to build a great company doing work that matters. I’ve had full athletic opportunities, becoming a league-champion wrestler, a (very bad) varsity college athlete, and a gym regular. I truly think those great things have happened because of, and not in spite of, my heart issues. My heart issues have given me drive, focus, and an invaluable sense of perspective. The contradiction I live with every day is that the worst moments of my life, and the outcomes I fear most, are why so many of these amazing things have happened.

Thinking on that contradiction today, my main takeaway is I’m grateful. Not grateful for being in this position, but grateful for the people around me, and the time I live in. The line between benefitting from adversity versus being dragged down by it is razor thin, and I’m grateful I’m on the right side of it.

I’m grateful that my mom thought to ask our family pediatrician about one episode of me feeling dizzy on a treadmill, and that she got the right answer. I’m grateful that medical imaging technology existed to diagnose my defect, and that there was a proven surgical option to address it.

I’m grateful that we have medical providers that listen to patient’s wishes. More specifically, to the surgeon who spent hours trying to repair my aortic valve during my second surgery before ultimately falling back to having to replace it. The repair didn’t work, and extended the surgery, but I had told the surgeon I wanted him to try it, and greatly value the closure from him having done so.

I’m grateful to the unknown horseback tour guide in Costa Rica this January. He saw me stumbling and dizzy on a hike, put me on his horse, and got me up to the top. I had just started to be symptomatic, thought it was just dehydration, and stubbornly assumed I could just keep on going. I’m grateful I didn’t find out how stubborn I could be.

I’m grateful that the TAVR procedure is an option. Twenty years ago it didn’t exist. Five years ago, when I had my last surgery, it never would have been considered an option for patients in my position. Now, they can go and replace my heart valve through a small incision. It feels like sci-fi to me, and I’m grateful that I get some more time before getting my ribs cracked open again. I’m amazed everyday by innovation in healthcare technology. I’m optimistic that by the time of my next valve replacement, there will be even more options than we have today.

I think of my life in eras defined by my surgery dates. Since my first surgery, those eras have been in roughly five year increments, and I think each one has corresponded to a new phase of life events, achievements, and personal growth. With the TAVR, I enter a new one. The things that we can’t help but care about make us who we are. Reflecting on the past five years, I feel good about what I’ve cared about, and where I’ve spent my time. I’m excited to build on those in this next phase, and to have more things to be grateful for.


Update – 9/27/2022: The TAVR went smoothly and I am already out of the hospital. Modern medicine can feel like a miracle sometimes!

Our React Native Experience

Ben Sandofsky, an iOS developer I have immense respect for, recently tweeted about why React Native is “stuck at its niche 2.6% adoption.” His negative opinion got a lot of traction, so I wanted to share our experience at Healthie.

In 2018, we rebuilt our native iOS and Android apps (which used Swift and Java respectively) in React Native. It was one of the best engineering decisions we’ve made. Here’s why

1) Given our size at the time, it did not make sense for us to have more than one iOS or Android developer. This meant those devs were working in isolation. React Native let us set up a (mostly) shared codebase with multiple people working on it.
2) It allowed our web engineers to understand and give feedback on the mobile app code. We use React for our web front-end, and once we switched, our web devs were able to help mobile out with code reviews and trouble shooting.
3) While you definitely can’t just re-use web React code in React Native, we were able to share libraries and parts of code between our web and mobile applications.
4) 90%+ of the code can be shared between iOS and Android. No more separate git repos per mobile platform.
5) Code push. At the time, we sometimes had to iterate quickly on the mobile app. Code push allowed us to quickly release hot-fixes and improvements without always needing to go through the (at the time slower) App Store review process.
As Ben mentions, 1-5 could all be accomplished via web views, so why not just use that? 95% of our mobile app lends well to React Native. However, parts of our app (Apple Health syncing, video chat, etc), needed to be done in native code. React Native makes it easy to bridge out to native where needed. In addition, there are existing open source libraries for some of those bridges. This is a huge advantage versus a web view approach.
React Native is definitely not right for every type of app or team, but has been a great fit for us given our needs. I don’t think it makes sense to dismiss it out of hand.


Wrestling state finals, senior year of high school. I’m cruising through the match, up 5-0 over someone I had already pinned twice that year. I tilt my opponent onto his back as the ref’s hand hovers over the mat, waiting to call the pin. I’m an inch away from being a state champ. Six years of hard work are about to pay off, and then, my opponent escapes and we’re back on our feet.

The escapes only worth one point, I’m up by four, and with 20/20 hindsight, could have done nothing the rest of the match and still won. Instead, I panicked. I took a flailing attempt at a move I never did, ended up on my back, and thirty seconds later was watching my opponent get his arm raised.

I fucked up. I had a plan, the plan was working, something unexpected and surviveably bad happened, and I started flailing. The panic was worse than the problem. As markets get more volatile, trend down, and doom is spread, I think about this match a lot. For most startups, those who are not burning an immense amount of money to “blitz-scale” or in industries at the epicenter of the downturn, the fundamental facts on the ground have not changed.

Even though facts stay the same, the pressure to attempt large moves ratchets up. When other competitors are visibly pivoting, doing lay offs, and making sweeping changes, it can seem like a mistake to not follow in those footsteps. The same goes in a bull market. When your competitors are paying 100k over your target salary for a role, there’s pressure to match.

This pressure causes panic, and panic causes reactionary flailing. Whether your company is bootstrapped or venture-funded, it’s your company and no one knows more about it, or has a better plan for it, than you as a founder.  “No one” includes Twitter pundits, your competitors, your investors, and your mother.

This doesn’t mean putting wax in your ears, a blindfold on, and sticking your head in the sand. Plans should always be iterated on. If fundamental facts change, plans should be blown up and rebuilt from the ground up. However, plans should not be re-adjusted in a flailing panic. The opinions and actions of others around you should be just one input, not the main driver, when it comes to adjusting strategy.  To paraphrase “If”, trust yourselves when everyone else doubts you, but make allowance for their doubting too.

After the season ended, one of the team parents printed large foam board pictures of each wrestler and gave them out. Mine happened to be from that match, showing me in a dominant position to win, about a minute from when I panicked and lost. That picture remains where it has been since the day I got it, on the shelf of my childhood bedroom. Whenever I go visit my parents, it serves as a helpful three-by-two foot reminder. A reminder that panic, and the flailing half-hearted actions it causes, can be much much worse than the initial cause itself. As things get crazy and markets pull back, it’s something that needs to be remembered.