StackShare wants to be the Apple App Store for IT professionals
Software

StackShare wants to be the Apple App Store for IT professionals

StackShare is a new site which allows engineers, entrepreneurs and CTOs to see exactly what software is being used by other organisations. This means, with companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Pinterest, and Google listed on the platform, it can begin to provide visibility into which solutions might work the best in different environments and which skills are needed to work in specific companies. We speak to CEO Yonas Beshawred to learn more.

 

How did the idea for StackShare come about?

I spent some time in management consulting, helping large Fortune 500 companies figure out which technologies to use for large scale projects. I also saw the consumerisation of IT first-hand; software was being adopted haphazardly by individuals in departments across large organisations. There were the official IT-approved solutions and then all the things everyone used because it made their jobs easier. Yet the way that all of these technologies were discovered, evaluated, and adopted wasn’t consistent, reliable, or efficient. So you ended up with a lot of wasted resources, unhappy employees, and half-solutions to problems.

Then I joined a startup in Silicon Valley that was going through Y Combinator (a startup incubator in Mountain View, CA). I saw how CTOs and founders in the Y Combinator network would ask each other which technologies they should use to build their companies. They’d have long back and forth discussions over email about which solutions were better. Same thing, no consistent way to figure out what they should use.

I thought there should be a better way—a platform for IT buyers, engineers, and developers to share which technologies they use, why they use them, and how they use them.

 

How many companies are on the platform at the moment?

7,500 verified companies, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Pinterest, and Google.

 

How is it mostly being used?

To compare similar technologies (e.g. Mailgun vs SendGrid, or Node.js vs Ruby on Rails), keep up with the latest and greatest tools, and learn which technologies top companies are using.

 

How has it become a hiring tool?

Technical job seekers use StackShare to see which technologies the companies they’d like to work for are using. Our platform allows them to see which companies and positions are a good fit for them based on the technology they’re familiar with. Companies share the technology they use so that they can attract and recruit top engineering talent that has experience with the technology their company uses. Companies like Instacart and HotelTonight have hired engineers that have learned of their companies through StackShare.

 

How is it being funded?

We raised a $300,000 pre-seed round and are preparing to announce a seed round.

 

What are your short, medium and long term goals for StackShare?

In the immediate, our mission is to be the best place for engineers to discover, compare, and discuss software tools and technologies. Soon, StackShare will be the first destination for any engineer that wants to build something; every time they want to build an app or infrastructure they’ll visit StackShare to see what the community is saying about specific tools, which combination of tools to use, and who else is using these tools. Our long term vision is to be the world’s largest SaaS marketplace—not only the place where everyone goes to figure out what to use, but eventually the place they go to purchase, provision, and monitor these technologies. A one-stop shop, sort of like the Apple App Store for IT professionals.

 

Has anything surprised you from running this project?

We didn’t think sharing the technology you use would be so key to helping people choose the right technologies. We originally set out to build a software reviews platform. But early on we realised that people don’t want thousands of reviews of software products. First and foremost, they want to know what other smart people like them are using to solve problems. Once we figured that out, we were blown away by how open and transparent companies are willing to be nowadays.

 

As per the New York Times article [New Technology Is Built on a Stack. Is That the Best Way to Understand Everything Else, Too?] do you think Stack is one of those ‘smoke ‘n’ mirrors’ tech terms that is beginning to hit the mainstream? If so, what do you think this says about society?

Stack has started to hit the mainstream for sure. We’ve started to use software terms in everyday life (“life hacks”, “bandwidth”), so we see “stack” as part of that trend. It shows how important software and technology are becoming to our lives. If you think about your phone—you’re able to do everything from send a text, to order food, hail a car, sell your house, and virtually anything else you can think of, all using the software on your phone. The set of technologies we all use are becoming more and more important to how we live our lives; how we communicate with one another (iMessage), how we spend leisure time (Facebook, Netflix), and how we work (Salesforce, Office 360). Our goal with StackShare is to help people understand which stack they should use—starting with the software creators.

 

What do you think the answer to the joblessness caused by the post-automation world is? (UBI, job creation, free education, something else entirely)

As we all know, there’s no silver bullet, so the answer is all of those things. Education is a big part of the answer. For the next generation of job seekers, being trained in science, technology, and engineering is going to be key. As a society we have to adapt to the new reality of more technology in fields that traditionally haven’t had it. Farmers are now using software, health professionals are using it more and more, you’re even starting to see manufacturing professionals using Google Glass. The way to help make sure everyone can adapt, is to train more creators and facilitators of this technology. Universities and trade schools in particular can play a pivotal role in this by making technology a core component to all learning.

 

Technology is likely to have an increased impact on the future of society – do you think any aspects of this are dystopian?

It’s up to us as a society to prevent that, and make sure the impact technology has is a positive one. Tools just help accelerate the intent and goals of the actors using them. It’s important that the companies and organisations at the forefront of technology hold themselves accountable for how the technology they create is used and accessed. Organisations like the EFF and OpenAI are doing some amazing work in this regard and there are many ways to support them and others like them. Ultimately though, I see responsible technology adoption as a net positive for society and that’s what we need to facilitate.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

This trend of technology, and more specifically software, becoming more and more ubiquitous and critical to our everyday lives is only going to accelerate. If you don’t work for a software company, think about how much software you personally use at work right now. Now think about how much software you used just five years ago. Paper processes are going digital, while new companies are skipping that entirely and being built on digital solutions from day one. Creatives, entrepreneurs, and professionals all over the world are leveraging technology in ways that the world has never seen, and it’s happening fast, because of software. The right software can completely transform your day to day job. The difference between great software and bad software can literally mean the difference between hating your job and loving it. Whether you’re a health care professional, a service worker, a teacher, or a community organiser, using software is part of your job.

Software will soon be a major part of everyone’s job, regardless of what industry you’re in. Imagine a world where anyone that has a problem, can magically find the perfect software to solve that problem, along with notes on how other people use that software, and a direct line to those people. This is what we’ve begun to create with StackShare. We’ve built up a community of software creators ranging from CTOs of Unicorn startups like Instacart and Airbnb, to students who are still learning how to code using Python, to professionals building apps to help diabetics more easily find food that’s low in sugar through a mobile app. Our vision is to be the compass that guides everyone to the right technology, and we’re starting with the software creators.

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Kathryn Cave

Editor at IDG Connect

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