My personal YouTube story
When my first kid was around one year old, I developed a bad case of insomnia. He was a terrible sleeper, and would wake up frequently. I started leaving the bed and sleeping on the couch, which was at least far enough from his bedroom to try and ameliorate that.
But I’m a creature of habit, and after a while I just couldn’t sleep, even if the kid wouldn’t wake up. I was never mad at him. Maybe only parents will understand that, but your kids… they’re here to tell you that those who have a “why” can withstand any “how.”
I eventually accidentally found a “solution” to my sleeping issues. I would watch YouTube videos laying on the couch and noticed that some of them would help me fall asleep. Usually I’d watch a lecture that was not too boring (for this to work it seems I had to pay attention to the content), but not so exciting that I would get too lit. I’ve watched (the first 5 minutes of) videos about secular bible scholarship, history of the Viking invasions in Europe and the full lineage of the Habsburg. If you can think of a topic, I probably watched it.
I started finding some of those topics were actually so interesting I would watch them the next day. In that process, I unfortunately became addicted to YouTube content– something I am still trying to overcome, but I also got acquainted with lots of big YouTube channels (thanks to “the algorithm”). Finance, Variety shows, History, Economics, Markets, Politics. Lots of those hosts were in the business of making boring topics fun.
Can coding content actually be fun?
And their content was great: through their sponsorships they could make sure their content was top quality, spend time researching, and reach even more people.
The one thing I found very little content about, though, was coding. This is not to say that there are not many channels dedicated to coding, but they mostly focus on being informative exclusively, without the fun. Obviously you want to be informative, accurate and helpful. Could it be that it is not possible to add entertainment to something as lonely and boring as coding, without losing its core?
I wondered if it was indeed impossible, until one day I was recommended a video from this guy:
Would he take a sponsor?
So there it was, Nikola Tesla moonlighting as a Twitch streamer/YouTuber, in his free time, with no (or very little) extra support, and me, now being the CEO of a company with power to change that. So I reached out. Would he be open to it?
Sponsorships in coding content are not that common. And it is easy to see why: as software engineers, our bars are very high — and should continue to be so. Think about all the financial youtubers out there who were promoting FTX for the money alone and then rushed to dissociate themselves from it after it blew up. I would certainly expect us in the software industry to do better.
And indeed, his immediate response was that he was only willing to associate himself with a company that had a product he believed in, and with whom he felt comfortable working. The product needed to fit naturally in what he was doing, and he wanted his audience to know what was going on about the collaboration, not be kept in the dark about it.
Fair enough. Because in reality, as a developer by trade, the feeling is mutual. The CEO in me just wants my product to have exposure, but my immortal inner dev wants to be very selective with the people we associate with. Not to mention, even from a purely business standpoint, there’s always a risk of associating yourself with someone that may tarnish your brand.
Do I want to work with this guy?
That he uses vim is already a great sign of character. But would we want to associate ourselves with this guy?
As I started following ThePrimeagen on Twitter and consuming more of his content, I learned more about his life. A former meth addict that talks openly about his past and how that and other addictions, most notably porn, had him in the darkest of places.
Growing up in poverty, without a father figure (a topic I saw him discuss the first time when I was mourning the passing of my own father, which made it all the more emotional), you could have forgiven this man for quitting life altogether and ending up on a curb. You could say his life was set and that such is the unfairness of the world. But he decided to turn his life around.
Behind the epic mustache there is a man who took control of his own story. He started a family, decided to be the father he never had for his 4 kids, and through sheer determination left his many addictions behind to climb out of the shitpile and build a successful career in tech. And as a bonus, he became one of the most loved and successful tech content creators around.
If I can’t use our budget to support this guy, what the f*** am I even doing? If I don’t want to associate our brand with this guy, then with whom?
Hands down, it was becoming increasingly clear that working with him would be awesome, from both a technical and human perspective.
Let’s make the world a better place.
I’ve always cringed on the usual startup culture nonsense of “making the world a better place”, perfectly captured below by one of my favorite shows:
Don’t get me wrong: I am very proud of what we built and of the journey we are on. But if anyone tells you that database software will make the world a better place, you have my permission (as if you needed it…) to laugh in their faces.
But by supporting this guy? That is a different story. Your move, Gavin. Now we’re making the world a better place better than you do.
But what about us?
Over the next couple of months we kept in touch. I was very open with him about the product we were trying to put out, the general problem we were trying to solve, and where this could go. After months of conversations, he was willing to run an ad for us — his first.
When we realized that the product didn’t quite work, we spoke openly about why, what we were doing next, and things picked up from there. We made it clear that if he was onboard with what we were building and what we had so far, we were still willing to work with him. A couple of days before our private beta launch, he showed willingness to do a quick test of our product on stream.
We didn’t even have the Rust drivers ready (and we wouldn’t force the guy to write TypeScript…), and I assembled a team to make it happen in days. What did he do? He said honestly good things about the product, but roasted the documentation live, for everybody to see. Honesty and integrity that we’ve grown accustomed to.
I will not put words in his mouth, but I think it is safe to say that after all this time, he was happy with us too: with our company, with our values, and finally, with our new product direction.
So I am extremely excited to announce that we are now officially PROUD sponsors of ThePrimeagen.
What does it mean in practice?
ThePrimeagen is building his own tech stack, called the Prime Stack, and chose our product, Turso, as its data storage layer. He will be using it on stream and other media, and integrating with his examples, and we will compensate him for that, allowing him to keep cranking the top notch content that he does.
He has full reign to criticize anything he doesn’t like about the product, at any time, live for everyone to see. He shouldn’t hold back or pull any punches. Truth is all software has issues and trade offs, and if he wanted to be a shill there are a plethora of scam companies out there throwing money at YouTubers that could pay him a lot more than we do.
We would love to work with other creators, and expect the same standards to be applied from both sides. For now, we’ll keep pouring all our effort into delivering a product that is Blazingly Fast, and trusted enough to be a cornerstone of The Startup.
Hey, what is it that you even do?
You may have noticed that I got this far and only hinted at what we do. This post is not about us, and I didn’t want to steal ThePrimagean’s thunder. But since you’re still here, I’d love to tell you more about the product:
Turso is an open source database that supports full SQL at the Edge. You can make your data available close to your users, and query it over HTTP from Cloudflare workers, Netlify and Vercel Edge functions, or any other environment. You can also develop locally with the same developer experience as SQLite.