Episode 33: Adding value to our community, remote culture, and what’s next for Dribbble with CEO Zack Onisko
Episode 33 features our very own Zack Onisko—Dribbble’s CEO. Before taking the helm at Dribbble, Zack began his career nearly 20 years ago as a web designer before shifting into business and executive roles at Autodesk, Creative Market, Hired.com, BranchOut, Monster.com, and Tickle.com.
This episode is brought to you by Wix. Push the limits of design and start creating beautiful, impactful websites that are uniquely yours at wix.com/dribbble.
In the episode, Dan and Zack chat about finding design through music, Zack’s early career growing startups, his experience building another design community at Creative Market, and a few secrets to success when it comes to growth marketing.
Dan and Zack also do a dive deep into Dribbble’s growth in the past year—including how we add value back into the community, our remote culture, and what’s coming up next for Dribbble. Spoiler alert: think bigger shots and video support!
Links Mentioned in Overtime
- Zack Onisko
- Zack on Dribbble
- Zack on Twitter
- Zack on Medium
- True story, Zack’s in this Papa Roach video
- Creative Market
- No Office Workstyle by Matt Mullenweg
- Dribbble Careers
- Official Dribbble Android App… Soon
- Hang Time Seattle
Dan: This is episode 33 of Overtime, Dribbble’s official podcast. I’m Dan Cederholm, your host. And today’s a very special episode because we get to sit down with the CEO of Dribbble himself, Zack Onisko. It was fun chatting with Zack about the future of Dribbble and what we’ve got on the roadmap, his path to design, and eventually becoming CEO here. It’s sort of a rare opportunity to talk to the leadership of the company, so I think you’re going to enjoy this one.
Dan: Welcome to Overtime Zach Onisko.
Zack: Hey, thanks for having me.
Zack: How’s it going Dan?
Dan: It’s going great Zack. This is going to be fun because, well hey, this is like the inside episode, inside behind Dribbble.
Zack: Inside scoop. Cool.
Dan: Yeah, inside scoop.
Zack: Let’s do it.
Dan: Yeah, let’s do this. I’m excited because we can talk about a lot of different things. There’s so much we could talk about. I think as CEO of Dribbble there’s a lot of things that people … We should have made this a call in show now that I’m thinking. What would they ask if they called in?
Zack: What would they?
Dan: We could try to guess that I guess. Let’s start with you and your background because your resume as it were is pretty darn long and impressive. Let’s hear about how you started, and got into design, and web stuff, and then we’ll eventually get to Dribbble, and then what you’ve been doing here lately.
Zack: I think my story’s not super unique. I think, like a lot of folks, I got sucked in through music. I grew up in Vacaville, California, Northern California. My family was very musical and my dad played guitar, and all our family holidays my uncles and aunts doing three, four court harmonies and stuff.
Dan: Nice. Wow.
Zack: When I got into high school and all my friends were in bands and I was in bands … Well actually something unique, I think making fliers and all the artwork was part of it, but I got really into video production in high school. We had this super early ’90s video toaster, video editing suite at our school. I used to cut classes and make music videos for all the bands. One of those band is Papa Roach, which is still a pretty big band selling out coliseums-
Dan: Oh my gosh, no way.
Zack: … these days, 20 years later-
Zack: … or whatever. I got into design ‘96. I got my first computer, which was mine and that was early internet days.
Dan: Super early.
Zack: Quickly just gravitated towards the web. A few years later I was doing websites for folks. It just went from hobbyist to all of a sudden I was getting paid somewhere along the lines. Then decided to go back to school to get a full degree.
I’ll tell you there’s one watershed moment, okay two moments. One will involve you actually. I had this buddy Barry who was freelancing successfully, making $100’s. He was really doing it right.
Dan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, totally.
Zack: I don’t even know what year this was but he came over and was working out of our living room one night and he was showing me this website he was making and this new technology called flash. The screen was moving around and that really turned me on to web design. I think that was like the one moment where I’m like, “Okay, this is what I want to do.” Seeing this was like this new way the web could be. After that, I just became engulfed with flash, and motion graphics, and action script, and all that stuff. Then I had gone back to school and gotten my design degree at San Francisco State, then I was doing some consulting for different agencies and startups in San Francisco.
Then when I graduated I was looking for a full-time gig and kind of had this fork in the road. I was either going to go down this agency route, I had my foot in the door at a big agency in San Francisco or there was this other startup called tickle.com, which was this fast-growing startup. The agency was just kind of kicking the can down the road and wasn’t making an offer, so I ended up taking the offer at Tickle, which was like this amazing experience for me as a designer. I was hired to be a designer on the marketing team, which at the time they were spending $1 million to $2 million a month in paid marketing. I had to design around data and conversion and quickly learned how to be a data-driven designer. That kind of started my path into what is now this growth moniker, or just really I wanted to make an impact on the business through product design and through just creating things for end users, millions of end users, which was something that was really cool and new to me was having that statistical significance and being able to look at a macrosignal of okay lots of people are gravitating towards this one thing. That wasn’t my original assumption, but this is really cool that this thing is actually working.
Dan: Yeah growth, that’s awesome that you latched onto that early on in a way.
Zack: I think it was out of … Oh, the other story I was going to tell you was that at Tickle we got your book, which I still have somewhere.
Dan: I’m so sorry.
Zack: But no, I remember the design team and the front end developers all sat in the same area of the office and someone bought a case of the books and passed one out to everyone.
Zack: It was like, “All right guys, no more inline styles-“
Zack: … “Dan Cederholm, he’s writing the rules is the right way to do it.”
Dan: That’s crazy. That’s crazy. A case of the book, that’s where the royalties came from.
Zack: Yeah there was like seven of us.
Dan: That’s awesome man, that’s cool. In that time did it help though, did it help the team-
Zack: Yeah I think-
Dan: … look up.
Zack: I think we got really serious after that and kind of scraps … I think we even had to get some people who weren’t playing by our new rules. I think that was definitely a change, that was 2004.
Dan: In 2004, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Zack: Long time ago.
Dan: Yeah, long time ago, a lot of changes.
Zack: I was going to say that the path to growth was actually a path to product management, which, back then, I was doing a lot of visual design and it was coming at the end of the product development cycle, which I was basically just putting task to make the product pretty, where the product’s actually designed and built in engineering. I wanted to have more of the design of the actual product experience. I saw that the product manager was actually calling a lot of the shots, so I made a move at that company from a design role to a PM role. Then a part of that PM responsibility is measuring the success of the features that you’re rolling out. That’s where I really got into analytics and AB testing, that kind of stuff.
Dan: Yeah. That’s like a skillset you took to other companies after that, right?
Zack: Yeah. After Tickle, we were acquired by monster.com, ended up staying there for a couple years. Well one of Tickle’s co-founders, I don’t know, he was like 30 and he’s like, “I’m retired. I’m going to go travel the world.” He showed a year later he’s like, “I’m bored. Let’s start a company.” We started a company that originally it was an affinity network around music, it’s called My Rock Star, and then we changed the name of that to Superfan. It was like this affinity network where you liked all the music, and celebrities, and sports, and things that back in the day you’d go to a friend’s house and look at their CD collection, that kind of painted a picture of their personality. We were trying to create that for the web.
It didn’t work out, we tried for a couple years and couldn’t get it, but we pivoted and created a professional networking app called Branch Out that was built on top of the Facebook platform. That’s when we really took on this growth moniker was because Facebook at the time, they had a grow team and so we were talking, hey we should probably have a grow team too and just double down and focus on this virality thing that was another buzzword at the time. That focus actually worked and we signed up like 30 million people in 90 days or something.
Dan: What? That’s crazy.
Zack: Yeah, that was nuts.
Dan: Was Facebook a factor there-
Zack: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dan: … in terms of getting that many signups?
Zack: We ended up raising money, a series A from Excel, which was Facebook’s early investor. We had some intros. We were getting early API’s and really cutting edge with their API and experimenting on stuff. We were able to take advantage of an early endpoint that was released and it just caught on fire, and took off, ended up raising a lot of money.
At that point, I’d been at the company for five years and I was kind of looking for my next thing. I was planning to leave, branch out to start a marketplace around stock photos and then I met the guys at Creative Market. They had just come out of YC the year before. I met Bubbs, the CEO, for coffee in the Mission District. He had just had his first daughter and I just had my first daughter. It was supposed to be a half hour meeting and I think we hung out there for an hour and a half just chatting about family and stuff like that. I think the next morning he sent me an email, he was like, “Hey, we’re having a team trip in Hawaii, so if you want a free trip to Hawaii sign this offer letter.” So I joined them. That was an awesome…
Dan: It’s a pretty good, enticing option, offer. It’s hard to say no to that really.
Zack: Yeah, it was a fun trip. I joined up with Creative Market. Somewhere along that journey is when I met you guys, you and Rich, we’re doing the parties at South by Southwest. We did some stuff together in San Francisco. Obviously, as we were building the Creative Market community Dribbble was really the case study for this is how you build a design community. We really followed a lot of your guys’ lead as we built out that product and that community.
Dan: We looked at Creative Market a lot of things too. That’s funny.
Zack: That’s funny, yeah.
Dan: I think we had similar, even from an interface perspective we had sort of similarities. I think it was always helpful to see what you guys are doing. That’s funny.
Zack: Those similarities were because we’re body Dribbble. But anyway, so Creative Market our first year out the gate had crazy growth and had some great success. It caught wind of Autodesk and we ended up taking an offer to join them. I spent the next two or three years at Autodesk and we continued to grow double-digit month over month.
Dan: Wow, wow.
Zack: Today, those guys actually spun out of Autodesk and they’re an independent startup again, which is amazing. I’m still good friends with all of those guys and super happy for them because they’re crushing it.
Dan: Creative Market, especially when you were there, we had a great partnership going. I felt like we were trying to solve similar problems, similar community and all that stuff. It was a good time. You mentioned doubling the growth month over month, what was the secret there? How did that happen?
Zack: We had a few things going on. Aaron and Gerren had a great early launch strategy, so it took them nine months or a year to build the initial marketplace before launch. They had a splash page up and Creative Market spun out of Color Lovers, if you remember that site from back in the day.
Dan: Yeah, totally.
Zack: …For almost a decade. I think he might actually own it again. It’s hard to keep up. We had this Color Lovers community that we initially invited to Creative Market, but there was nothing there, except a splash page. The first thing was sign up and we’ll give you $5 in free credit. Then we tried get $5 in free credit and you can give your friend $5 in free credit, and we tried a bunch of different things. It was subtly growing over time prelaunch. Then we tried this thing with bundling a bunch of free design assets together into a bundle. That was like an inflection point. Once we gave away that big bundle, I think at launch there was like 80,000 people signed up before there was actually a product launched. That was a carrot that we used to go back to the designers who are creating assets and saying, “Hey, if you want to try opening up a shop on Creative Market there’s like 80,000 customers ready to go.”
So out the gate that was day one we were making revenue and it kind of just grew organically. Then my team we had somebody focused on SEO, and somebody focused on content marketing. Content marketing was a huge driver. We started to experiment with just writing about various design content on our blog. The blog itself in Creative Market is now a super popular design blog, but investing in email, all the typical channels. We kind of doubled down and hired an owner to own that channel to optimize it and get it cranking.
Dan: That’s amazing. You did an awesome job. From there I went on to hire.com, right-
Dan: … before taking over the helm here.
Dan: I want to get into Dribbble stuff because well because it’s overtime first of all and it’s rare opportunity here. We’ve got the CEO on the mic. So Dribbble was acquired by Tiny back in January of last year. We were a tiny team, seven or eight people. You were brought on right after that as CEO and now look at the difference between then and now in terms of the company and what we’re doing, and all of that. I want to take a minute to have you tell what has been accomplished since then because it’s kind of amazing. The company’s in a very different place than it was over a year ago and that’s because of your leadership. Let’s hear about what’s changed over the last year.
Zack: First and foremost, I just feel so fortunate to be able to have this position. I look at Dribbble as this amazing design community. We’ve talked about acquisition metrics and we have a ton of traffic and there’s so many amazing designers on Dribbble already. Our job is really just to add more value back to the community. If we’re successful at that then all the other numbers go up with it. Looking back on the last year that’s totally what’s happened. My job is to come in and put strategy in place, and ultimately to involve the company from a small business to a scalable company. I think we’ve done that. We’ve tripled the size of the team. I think we’re 30 people now, we were 8 a year ago January. We have more than doubled year over year revenue. We’ve more than doubled user registration. More people signed up for Dribbble in 2017 than what was it 2009 to 2015 combined. So we’re kind of at this inflection point for the company where I feel like we’re really at the infancy of Dribbble even though it’s nearly a decade old I think there’s so much room for us to grow, and to evolve, just adding a lot of value back to the design community.
Dan: Totally. Yeah, I totally agree. It’s kind of funny, I’ve kind of always felt that way, triple too. Every year it seems like it’s the infancy and there’s so much room for growth. Maybe that’s partially the invitation nature of the community has been in place and that’s contributed intentional slow growth on that side of things. I finally feel like we have the resources and people in place to really ensure that the quality of stuff can remain while we grow, which is cool.
Zack: We talked about this before, you guys are never short on great ideas. There’s this endless list of ideas and cool things we could do, it’s just having the team in place to execute on those ideas. So that’s really the secret sauce of last year is that we just brought in some great people to help us focus.
Dan: Totally, yeah, exactly. They’re all remote.
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Zack: It’s been a game changer for me personally and professionally really. A lot of startups get caught up in the Silicon Valley cycle of you go raise money, you move the company to San Francisco, that’s where the talent is. You’re going to pay 3X the national average to hire people, loyalty is not great because it’s just easier for people to skip and move to the next startup and ask for a 10% bump. There’s a lot of cons. The company I was at previously, we shared the same office building with Uber and Square and I think we were paying $220,000 a month or something for rent. A third of the company was remote, or at least in distributed offices, so we’d all scramble to get into a conference room and then everyone just pops open their laptops and hops on Zoom. We’re all using Slack-
Dan: And from the same location, right?
Zack: Yeah, so behind just the cost savings of running a business, which is important, especially for a company like ours which is still bootstraps and we’re running a profitable operation, which is also rare in Silicon Valley. For me, it means I get more time with my kids. I can take my kids to school and I come back, I can just go into my home office off to the side of the house so I can separate home life from work life. But I also can start the day where my head’s fresh in the morning, a good night’s sleep, come up with crazy ideas in the shower, just go to my desk, hopefully, I dry off first, that’s a little weird. It’s been a total game changer.
What I’ve seen from the team, our distributed team is that we’re just so much more efficient and effective, and we can get so much more done by giving folks that freedom in their life. The culture we have at Dribbble is pretty amazing in that if somebody needs to go to the grocery store, or they need to go run to the Post Office box, or whatever they need to do during the day in Slack we just give a head’s up and it’s totally cool.
Dan: Yeah, that’s invaluable to me.
Zack: That’s what working on the internet should be. That’s the dream. It’s sad that it’s taken me 20 years to get to this realization that you can work from a beach in Bali. Our Head of Product, Sarah, is going to Bali in June to go do that.
Dan: It’s amazing.
Zack: I think it’s really the future of the way that companies are going to work. Matt Mullenweg from Automattic, which his team is like 500 or 600 people, totally remote. He has a quote where he says, “It might not that the Google’s or the Facebook’s will be 100% remote one day, but the companies that will replace them will be.”
Dan: Oh wow, yeah. That next generation of … I don’t doubt it.
Zack: That’s where we’re headed.
Dan: To me it seems like it’s this culmination of technology that’s gotten to a point where video conferencing is stable, and then tools like Slack, and just what we’re working on doesn’t require being in the same room a lot of times. We’re working on screens and just that, I agree with you with the lifestyle advantages, just it’s incredible. I couldn’t imagine going back to having to go somewhere each day and losing that two hours at least of community.
Dan: Just not being able to be able, “Look, I got a doctor’s appointment,” or, “I want to go to my kid’s school presentation,” or something. I think you can’t replace that.
Zack: I think that’s the key piece for me and especially our team, a lot of our teammates have families. My previous role I was working 10 hour days, plus the hour commute each way, I wasn’t even seeing my family for that job. I’m the provider and keeping the lights on and all that stuff is important, but you don’t have to live that pattern. You can find another way. Anyway, I’m super grateful that we have built this remote culture for Dribbble and will continue to invest in that.
Dan: I agree totally and we are hiring. Little plug there, so check out our career’s page. In a broader sense, Dribbble itself is helping freelancers get work and landing people at full-time jobs, and that type of thing. Over the last year we’ve grown, we set up a team, and now we can talk a little bit about what’s coming up for Dribbble without giving away too much secret stuff obviously. We could let the listeners know about what’s on the horizon for stuff.
Zack: For sure. There’s not too much secret stuff, but-
Dan: Actually, you’re right.
Zack: … there’s a lot that we’re working on. There’s so much going on right now which is really, really exciting. From taking that three to five-year lens, we’ve talked about the vision of the company and one of the things we did this year is we created a mission statement, we created a company value statement, and a vision statement.
Our mission is to build the world’s best platform for designers and creative professionals to gain inspiration, and feedback, and education, and community, and ultimately, job opportunities. There’s a lot of ways we can go about doing that. What we’ve identified are these four main buckets to help us get there. The first one is higher solutions, so helping designers find work they love. Community growth, so continuing to grow our community and being more inclusive. Creative portfolios, so show and tell 2.0. You’ve talked about the constraint of the shot and how viable that is, but there’s also we get a lot of feedback from the community that constraint is also limiting in how much the shot and the user profile does to showcase and story tell the process, like the entire.
Dan: Right, right, exactly.
Zack: We have the feature of projects and our pro subscription, and we have playbook, there’s a bunch of really cool features that we realized kind of V1 features of. Over the next year or two we’re really going to spend some time to invest in making that creative portfolio experience awesome.
Dan: Yes, I’m super excited about that.
Zack: Shot size, can we talk about shot size?
Dan: Yeah let’s talk about shot size, yeah.
Zack: The 800 by 600 is now probably a bit dated, so we’ll probably be making investments there.
Zack: The animated GIF is a heavy file format, so there’s some lighter video files we can probably look at investing in.
Dan: Those things have always grown from the community. They’ve kind of paved the cow pass, or we’re just paving the cow pass like with the shot size going to 800 for retina screens and then people uploading gifts and deciding to properly support those. But then, it’s not an ideal format for a lot of motion stuff that people are sharing. I’m excited to do that, to cover the stuff that you just mentioned to make it easier for the community to share those different types of work that’s out there now. We have to evolve along with the evolution of screen design, I guess. I’m super excited for that stuff. I’m trying to think of what else is on the horizon there.
Dan: Oh feedback, yeah. That’s true.
Zack: Without I guess giving away what we’re going to do there, but that’s also something we hear from the community quite a bit is the comments can be trivial and so how can we better build a trusted circle for designers to share their work with peers who they trust and who they want to get more actionable critique.
Dan: Awesome work Zack.
Zack: Nice colors.
Dan: Nice colors.
Zack: Nice colors.
Dan: It’s true. We there’s a lot of improvements we can do there.
Zack: Yep, for sure. But yeah, lot’s of really cool stuff coming there. We are actively working with select folks in the community, getting feedback. We’re going to be building a panel so that we can push some of these product ideas to the community early, get feedback, and iterate for opening it up to everyone. So lot’s of really cool stuff happening on the portfolio side. The fourth bucket is education. I think that’s a big one for us that I don’t think we really have a game plan there, it’s probably a couple years down the road before we tackle it but helping up and coming designers learn and improve their craft is something that I think is core to Dribbble. We have so many awesome designers today, but there’s this whole new wave of people coming up who could use mentorship, or tips and tutorials, and tricks, however, we want to approach that, whether it’s … Well anyway, we have an opportunity for education.
Dan: Totally. I think it goes along with just us helping designers along their career, whether it’s getting the job, or learning a skill, or connecting with people, that kind of thing. Speaking of landing a job, we’ve got a lot of initiatives in that realm too and a pretty big launch coming up.
Zack: Last winter we launched Scout, which was a rebrand in additional features of the pro subscription that was marketed to non-designers. We decided to make pro a subscription just for designers. Then we rebranded Scout and got a lot of good feedback on that launch.
Dan: We did.
Zack: Over the last six months or so we’ve definitely gone back to the drawing board and have some ideas for that feature. We’ll be winding down at least the brand Scout pretty soon here. They will still be a designer search function, but it will be part of a Dribbble hiring product, which includes the job board. That’s coming up, I’m really excited about that. We’ve got a lot of good feedback from a lot of our top job posters, a lot of improvements with the job board itself and things like that, more enhanced, and looking about ways we can tie team profiles back to job listings, some really cool stuff coming there.
Then Crew is a marketplace that we acquired last year. We spent the last probably six months or so rebuilding that from the ground up. It was PHP previously and we rebuilt it in Rails. More news on Crew probably end of May, June, but we’re really excited about that.
Dan: Yeah, yeah it’s cool. It’s going to be awesome. The team here at Dribbble that’s creating Crew and revamping the entire thing, it’s exciting. It’s going much more on that this spring and summer. So much stuff to do and things to improve.
Zack: We should apply our Android app, Ripple.
Dan: That’s another one too, that’s right. So Android fans, don’t worry, we love you too.
Zack: We listen and we react. So just keep asking.
Dan: We listen.
Zack: Keep asking us for stuff and we’ll just build it.
Dan: That’s awesome. I think with the iOS app we acquired Ballin’, which is Devin Ross, who’s a mad genius with iOS design. Now we’ve acquired Ripple, which was the top Android version of Dribble. I’m really excited about that too in terms of the platform, just getting more people to be able to use Dribbble more efficiently. It’s going to be super cool.
So there’s a quote, you were interviewed by NASDAQ actually. I thought this was really awesome. I know it resonated with a lot of the team too in terms of the type of leader you are and the type of entrepreneur you are and all that stuff. I think the question was about what do you want your legacy to be and you said, “I humbly and professionally aspire to be nice to people. To be contrary and to the norm.” I just think that was so refreshing to hear, especially as someone working for Dribbble. I know the other employees appreciated that too. I think that’s super rare that you’d hear a CEO say that. But I wonder if you can elaborate a little bit on your style I guess as a CEO?
Zack: The role of a CEO is really just the maestro. A lot of CEO’s take a lot of credit for their team and it’s really all about the team. I would have no success in my career if I hadn’t worked with these amazing, super talented people along the way. That’s what that’s about. There’s a lot of decisions made for legacy reasons or for fame, or for other reasons, Silicon Valley. I just want to stay away from that kind of stuff and just focus on the company and building something that we’re proud of. Ultimately, our job is to support the design community. My job is to support our internal team so that they can support the design community. That’s really the aim of the game.
Dan: That’s super awesome. I think we’re super fortunate to have you on board.
We have video meetings frequently because we’re a remote team. I’m always impressed with your office because you have multiple guitars hanging behind your head, show posters and stuff. So music was a part of your creative life, right?
Zack: Yeah I wish I played as often as I would like to. I actually grew up playing drums and then in college I got really into-
Dan: I did too, this is crazy?
Zack: Oh yeah?
Zack: I played percussion in the orchestra and played jazz band, heavy metal drums, evolved to guitar along the way in high school, and was in some punk and weird Sca/metal, just terrible music.
Dan: Oh yeah, awesome.
Zack: Back then it was a lot of fun. Now I have a bunch of guitars. My dad passed away a few years ago and he was this amazing guitar player and collector. A lot of the posters that we have on the wall are autographed by Neil Young, and Joe Walsh and-
Dan: Oh wow.
Zack: … Cream, and the Grateful Dead, and Led Zeppelin. It’s a cool little setup. I have my home office that’s kind of the jam room that’s my man cave or whatever.
But Steven from vision has just got a green screen in his home office and now I’m kind of motivated to take the guitars off the wall and paint the wall green so I could work from the Great Wall of China, from the pyramids of Giza. The possibility-
Dan: That’s the way-
Dan: That’s the way to do remote video conferencing. Just to nerd out on that a little bit, how does that work with-
Zack: It’s built into Zoom.
Dan: Oh it’s built into Zoom? Oh, that’s even better. That makes it easier. Oh my goodness. All right, I have a green screen actually.
Zack: It’s going to happen. I think this weekend it’s going to happen.
Dan: Wow, okay, that’s amazing. You got to have fun with … it’s like decorating your cubical if you were in an office or something. Do you use a standing desk or a sitting desk?
Zack: I have a sitting desk. It’s a very heavy mid-century desk that I picked up. I probably should have a standing desk, but this thing would take too much energy to get out of my office so.
Dan: Put stilts on it and everything. People are going to standing desks, I’m not sure why I’m going on this topic, but we could always remove this. I remember I was working at a .com company in the late ’90s and it was a cubical farm. I would come in in the morning, there would be one guy in the middle of the cubical farm standing up in the corner of his cubical looking down at the corner of it. Everyday I would come in, and I would see him, and I would be like, “What is going on there? What is he doing? Is he meditating in the morning?” Finally I investigated and he had a standing desk. At the time I didn’t even know that was an option or existed. He was really pioneering at that point. Now it’s so common.
Zack: Yeah, well the next level is the treadmill desks.
Dan: Yes, I need that actually.
Zack: The next level after that, this guy at Autodesk when I worked over there, he built a hamster wheel desk.
Dan: No way. For real?
Zack: It was like this … I’ll just have to send you a photo but it’s this giant wooden circle that he put in this rig with a desk in the middle. He would just walk and it would turn.
Dan: That’s incredible. Or the ones it’s like a recliner almost, but the screen and the keyboard is built into the chair and you can go back like you’re-
Zack: Yeah, you suspend from the ceiling. That’s when you know-
Dan: You’ve made it.
Zack: Is when you … yeah.
Dan: No pressure point anywhere on your body, the whole-
Zack: That’s right.
Dan: Then you’re working too much I think, right? If you need to get up and move around. When you’re a remote worker you can do that.
Zack: When you’re a remote worker you can have a box half stack in your office, and turn it up to 11, and not bother your [inaudible 00:41:14].
Dan: Isn’t that cool though? I want to go back to the instruments in your office because I have the same thing. I have a guitar setup in here.
Zack: You have a drum set in there too, right?
Dan: Yeah I have a drum set, exactly. You would never be able to do that in an office. I can remember visiting I think it was Dropbox and they had, this was years ago, but they had a recording studio in the office and people could go in. I thought that’s incredible. I think even better is having it right next to you so you can if you get … You just need a mental break. You can just literally turn around, pick up the guitar. I imagine that’s what you do over there as well.
Zack: I don’t play in bands anymore or really even get too serious about it these days, but it’s just such an emotional release just to go grab an instrument and jam out for a little bit, and do a little fiddling-
Zack: … and do some Van Halen tapping action, some wah wah.
Dan: Oh my gosh.
Zack: Maybe a little whammy bar.
Dan: Yeah, oh a big fan of the whammy bar.
Zack: It feels so good. It feels so right.
Dan: Well now that I’m hearing you say this, one of our priorities should be like a Zoom jam. Is that even possible? I don’t know maybe with a slight delay it would be tough. Or you could actually play over Zoom.
Zack: You might not be able to but we could lay down some video tracks and send them around-
Dan: Yeah that’s true.
Zack: … and line it up that way. That would be fun.
Dan: That would be awesome. Coming from music, it seems to be a theme. A lot of folks that we’ve had on the show here, myself included, come from music and then found the web. It sounds like that’s what happened with your path as well.
Zack: I think it’s part of the whole DIY movement maybe. I don’t know. We wanted something to exist in the world, so we just made it happen. At least for me, it was like this natural progression to go from making zines at Kinko’s to making websites for the web. Then over the years as websites turned into a business, it’s-
Dan: I think you’re absolutely right. Designing a seven-inch cover to just have it be out there to … Yeah, I remember seeing the web for the first time like, “Wow, okay. So everyone in the world could see this.” I think you’re right. I think it is the DIY.
Zack: That was a big deal for me, it was like, okay well there’s probably going to be 20 kids in my town that are going to see this show flier on a telephone pole, but to make a website and have 100’s, 1,000’s, or millions of people potentially see this thing, that was really hard for me to get my mind wrapped around back then.
Dan: That’s true.
Zack: Today we kind of take it for granted, but that’s a very powerful thing. Right?
Dan: Yeah, it totally is. You’re right, that was the fascination that drew me in too, just the fact that you can make something at home by yourself than anyone can see, it’s so intoxicating really. What can we wrap up with? We talked a little bit about stuff that’s upcoming with Dribbble. We’ve got a couple Hang Time events that’s coming up that are going to be fun that we’ll be at. This is obviously a plug for it, but still. If people want to come they can actually talk to us there.
Zack: Well I’ll be there.
Dan: You’ll be there to talk to.
Zack: Yep, we’ll all be there.
Zack: Hang Time Seattle is coming up in May, then we’ll be in LA in October. Hang Time is kind of a cool thing too, just to talk 30 more seconds on that is as a remote team being able to do a cool little mini design conference and bring amazing people from the design community, Aaron Draplin, or John Pentino, or whoever, to come and talk about their experiences, and share their stories. Then to be able to get our remote team together in person and hang out it’s a pretty awesome event. The day of the event we’ll all be there, so come talk to us and hang out. We’d love to see you in person.
Dan: Yeah, totally. I think you’re right. I love that the event fuels our ability to meet as a team too, which is really cool, bringing the team together. Come out and see us, give us some feedback.
Zack, thanks so much. I literally know that you have busy days, so I appreciate you talking to us and giving us the inside scoop on Zack.
Zack: Yeah, awesome. No, thanks for having me. I feel like I don’t stand up against the amazing designers that have been on here before but thanks again for having me.
Dan: Yeah, thank Zack. By the way, it’s not true, you deserve to be here.
Zack: All right, well thank you.
Dan: We can talk about imposter syndrome.
Zack: Yeah, right?
Dan: That would be a whole other episode I think. Thanks again, man.
Zack: Thank you.