Yesterday I had the chance to stop by the two-room “headquarters” of the start-up Livefyre. On the fourth floor of a squat building at the corner of Howard and Second in downtown San Francisco, 18 people, mostly developers and designers, believe they are creating something that may or may not change conversation on the web.
Right now Livefyre presents itself as a comment system for blogs and publishers, but the vision is to turn it into a far more robust system for inspiring and curating conversation.
As with most start-ups and virtually all software companies, the team sits across from one another at two-sided benches, staring at monitors filled with code, writing in Django, the Python framework on which Livefyre is built.
They’re busy working 18-hour days, living without much sleep, doing the work of a team twice their size.
In one corner of the room stands a bar-height table covered with last night’s pizza boxes and left over time-wrinkled sausages.
A small conference room off to the side of the main room offers a couple of couches to anyone in need of a short break, or I presume an hour or two of sleep during those nights when an update deadline keeps everyone working around the clock.
No doubt there are people who work in well-appointed high-rise glass towers — their tuchises and weak backs comfortably supported by expensive Knoll chairs, their conference rooms offering pleasant views of the city or its harbor — who would walk into a place like Livefyre and immediately begin plotting how to make an exit.
I had the opposite reaction. I wanted to stay. Or figure out how to recreate the same experience. Cramming a group of people into a small room filled with the only things that really matter. Dreams. Determination. And a doubt catcher.
It was almost 29 years ago when I walked into a similar environment — only then we had IBM Selectrics — and was offered the chance to build something. But every time I encounter a company in the same stage I get the longing — like golfers smelling fresh cut grass when spring arrives — to go and play again.
If you’ve never had the chance to work for a start-up, put it on your bucket list. I’m putting it on mine.