From as far back as the last century, Anil Dash has been one of the loudest and most poignant voices in the realm of humane tech. For Anil the purpose of innovation has never been simply for innovation’s sake. He has always focused the conversation around tech innovation as a means to a better world.
Already an accomplished author, blogger, consultant, investor, and all around tech industry vet, Anil is now adding CEO to his resume. He has taken the reins at another longtime tech industry staple: Fog Creek Software (creator of Stack Overflow, FogBugz, and Trello).
With Anil’s arrival comes the launch of Fog Creek’s latest creation, Gomix. Gomix is a new tool in the app creation space. Its simple interface allows users to collaboratively edit code, similar to the way Google Docs allows multiple people to simultaneously edit a document.
In the spirit of all endeavors backed by Anil, Gomix is meant to be an inclusive, fun, and rewarding community for creators of all skill levels.
We had a chance to catch up with Anil about his new gig, what it means to him to be a leader, and what he thinks is next in the tech collaboration space:
What are a few good lessons you’ve learned over the years about leadership?
Most of what I’ve learned about leadership is by having gotten to see good leaders in action, and it usually boils down to a few simple things:
- People need a clear understanding of values, so they can understand the framework by which they make decisions on their own
- People need clear goals, so they know what they’re working toward
- People need support, in terms of resources and infrastructure and just basic human needs at an emotional or social level
If a person can deliver those needs to the people they’re trying to serve, I think they can fairly be called a good leader.
How do you like coming over to Fog Creek? What helped you make the decision to join the team?
I’m really excited. At a fundamental level, I knew the values that Joel and Michael had in founding Fog Creek, and then after meeting the team I found out that all the people at the company shared them.
So, as inspired as I am about the mission of helping everybody create great software and great technology, the most motivating part for me is the chance to show the world that people can make brilliant, innovative, important, useful technology while also creating organizations that are humane, inclusive and thoughtful.
Plus the office is really nice.
Congrats on Gomix! What about it excites you?
I love that people can make funny and weird and oddball things on Gomix! Obviously, the right answer is that people can make Very Valuable Applications that meet their business needs and are going to be hugely successful, but at a personal level I like the bizarreness that people unleash on the Internet if they’re just able to create stuff. I hope Gomix enables a ton of that.
How specifically do you think Gomix is going to help teams? What problems does it solve?
Maybe the single biggest innovation in Gomix is it’s the first time a team of people can really build an app by all collaborating on it at the same time. Older models like complicated version control require throwing code back and forth over the wall and hoping it all fits together. Meanwhile, tools like Google Docs have us spoiled, with everybody being able to edit a document at the same time.
With Gomix, it’s mind-boggling to watch two or three people editing the same code at the same time, all while the live app changes in front of your eyes. It’s amazing.
"The values we use when we create tech shape the ways that communities and individuals use that tech." Tweet this
- Anil Dash
In terms of tech, teams, and collaboration, what’s on the top of your mind?
It seems like one of the next big challenges is knitting everything together. I love Trello. I love Slack. At Fog Creek, we live in FogBugz, our suite of tools that help teams make better software. I even enjoy bouncing into Google Docs or other tools that we all use every day. But they feel really disconnected. My Trello Power-Ups help a lot, and Slack integrations can help a little bit too. The thing that gets me really excited is the idea of plugging them all in together, along with whatever little improvements or creative ideas I can imagine myself.
Part of what I’m hoping is that Gomix becomes a great tool for creating exactly those kinds of connections. And some of that is for purely selfish reasons. :)
Fog Creek Software has created apps that have changed and democratized how people communicate. What big trends in communication do you see and want to influence with your new position?
One of the biggest issues I worry about in society is whether the tech industry, and all of us who participate in it, are going to have a net positive impact on everybody else’s lives. That becomes especially critical as we create tools that enable communication and collaboration in everything from our most personal moments to the most public pronouncements.
What I’ve learned in decades of creating these tools is that the way we make the software shapes the messages we share. The values we use when we create technology shape the ways that communities and individuals use that technology.
So the biggest trend I see, and that I want to influence, is smart creators of technology making new tools and platforms that encourage people to be humane and kind to one another, and to be responsible and thoughtful in the ways we communicate with each other. If we can change just that one thing, that will be a huge impact.