Episode 0044 · May 18, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.


[Unedited Transcript]

Paul Ford: [00:00:00] So Rich.

this podcast has a sponsor.

Rich Ziade: It does.

Paul Ford: And this sponsor never seems to launch their product. It’s always like, oh, it’s coming soon. It’s coming soon.

Oh my God. So we should let people know that we’re talking about a product called Aboard. Okay.

Rich Ziade: Okay?

Paul Ford: A board is a web software thing.

Ama jig. Now we can let, let it be known what it’s all about. Yeah. And it launched to today. What does launch actually mean in this context?

Rich Ziade: Uh, we’ve got a big list of beta invites. We’re asking others to, um, sign in, sign up to get invited in. But we’re waving legions of people in. Uh, so over [00:01:00] time we’ll give you access, but we can talk about it now.

It’s out. Uh, a board.com is out in the world. Um, there’s a great blog post that you wrote, which I thought really nicely summarizes what it is. So there’s a blog link at the bottom. Um, It’s out. Uh, we, we did a thing, uh, we’ve been working on this thing for a really long time. We did one of the strangest pivots in the history of startups in September of 2022.

And now we are here and we can talk to the world about what this thing is.

Paul Ford: All right, so let’s do this because this is an audio.


Get me onto this thing and I’ll tell people. I’ll tell people what we’re looking at.

Rich Ziade: Absolutely.

Paul Ford: so what do I do? Where do I go?

Rich Ziade: A board.com. A B o A r d.com.

Paul Ford: Type, type, type, type, type. Okay. I’m hitting return. Alright. And it says one click to turn any webpage into a card.

Organize your passions. And might I say that this is a very simple and attractive website?

Rich Ziade: Oh, thank you, Paul.

Paul Ford: no worries. [00:02:00] No worries.

Rich Ziade: Great. I’m glad. So what does a board do? Uh, we wrangle. Links, uh, we wrangle emails, stuff’s in our messages when we talk to people.

Everything’s scattered everywhere. People leave a lot of tabs open when they’re doing research or looking up something or researching whether, whether what to buy or which. Product to buy or whatever. And what a board does is it treats the web as this place where you can pluck the stuff you care about and put it into your own experience, into your own space.

Uh, we’re gonna get into those bits in a second, but so what is it comprised of?

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: The best way to use it is through a browser add-on. Uh, for Chrome and Edge and Safari’s coming soon. And when you’re on a webpage, pretty much any webpage, it could be a YouTube video, it could be a product that’s for sale on any shop, uh, on the internet.

It [00:03:00] could be an article. That you’re interested in, but it also could be any link whatsoever.

Paul Ford: Okay?

Rich Ziade: You click on the browser, add-on, and it turns the page into a what we call a card.

Paul Ford: Okay?

So let, let’s do this cuz this is very abstract. I’ve clicked a button, it made a card.

It looks like a card. I’m gonna tell you what I see and then you’re gonna tell me what I should understand. I’m researching snacks.

Rich Ziade: Oh, I love snacks.

Paul Ford: love snacks? And so, uh, I’m, I’m into snacks of the world,

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: okay.

And I’m looking at some Japanese snacks. I’m looking at a car, I was looking on the web, and I wanna save all my, my snacks into a place using a board. That’s me, that’s what I like to do. So I’m on the web, I’m on BSU Market, one of my favorite websites. Okay. And I see that they have Colby Jagar, Rico, original French Fried Japanese.

Sort of

Rich Ziade: sounds [00:04:00] really, really, really

Paul Ford: Mm. They’re, they’re just very flavorful and wonderful

Rich Ziade: All right,

you’re creating

sort of a list of

Paul Ford: little giraffe on there. So I, I, okay. I did the thing, I clicked the plugin and it made an, it looks like a little card. It’s a little rectangle.

It’s got the picture and,

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: It says it’s 2 99, so it picked up the price. That’s cool. And it saved it. Into a board and now I, it turns out I saved, I’m looking at it and then I’ve already saved like five other snacks. I’m looking at five nice cards of Japanese

Rich Ziade: Yes, a board is very visual and if you go to board.com you’ll see some examples of this. Um, and it is also a. Uh, once you file it away, it, it’s there for you forever. And then we can talk about sharing in a bit. So what’s diff Oh, it sounds like Pinterest. Uh, yes. I mean, we’re, we’re doing to the whole internet.

What, uh, Pinterest did for pictures. The idea of clipping pictures off the internet turned out to be immensely [00:05:00] popular. A lot of people like to look at boards of stuff,

Paul Ford: useful. People like to curate their collections. Exactly, yeah.

Rich Ziade: But pictures are just pictures. Um, and so a board is going to get really, really smart over time so that the information you’re bringing in is not just the picture, but also other information like the price of a product or the Yra movie was made, or uh, uh, how many pages in a book.

Paul Ford: So we have a pretty nerdy audience, and so we do two things here. One is the web is actually full of data in a way that is hard to get at for most people. Bookmarks don’t pick it up

Rich Ziade: They don’t

Paul Ford: because everybody who’s building a website right now really wants Facebook, Twitter, and Google to make good use of it, right?

They, they wanna be found, and so they’ve been making better and better data and putting it into the pages. So we’re making that available. You can grab that. Hold onto it and keep track of it.

And it looks really nice. There’s also a lot of data out there that’s absolutely a garbage fire.[00:06:00]


And so we use a bunch of tools and a bunch of frameworks to try to make that as much like the first kind of data as possible. That’s sort of our magic trick. The the first magic trick is just where the web is now, but nobody’s really ma taking advantage of it. Correct. Except for giant platforms.

Yeah. So we’re trying to give some of that power back to people. And then we’re also trying to just like make it possible to get some ugly product page that it turns out that no one is building good webpages these days. I was at a really big retailer’s website. Yeah. Man, they just, it’s like they don’t have the product name, right.

Just everything’s a

mess. It’s wild. It is wild

Rich Ziade: it’s, it’s so, um, oriented around like getting you to put stuff in a cart and go and whatnot.

Paul Ford: I do a good commerce site right now. You go to the commerce site, you’re like, you know, I wanna buy something. And then it’s like, Hey, it looks like you wanna sign up for a newsletter.

No, no. I just wanna buy something. No, no. Hold on a minute. Yeah. And, and after like three times of them interrupting you, you’re like, screw it, I’ll just go to Amazon. Leave me alone.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. I mean, again, for the nerds, um, the web is an incredibly rich data [00:07:00] platform actually.

And, and what a board is doing is it’s giving you, uh, the power to kind of bring anything you want into this other space where you have control.

Paul Ford: All right, so I got a lot of cards and they’re kind of pretty, and I can, I can do stuff with them and we’ll talk about, like you said, we’ll talk about the social stuff in a minute. Um, I, I see on the bottom right there’s a little plus sign. What does that do for me?

Rich Ziade: So you’re in the Aboard

Paul Ford: I’m in the Aboard app.

I’m looking at my, my snack cards.

Rich Ziade: is actually important because for people who are using Safari or some other browser or don’t want add-ons, some people don’t like add-ons, browser add-ons, you can just use the plus sign. You can open that up. And by the way, if you don’t wanna bring stuff in from the web and you want to use it to just throw notes in and.

Create your own cards with their own fields. You can do that too if you want. You can also paste the URL and it’ll spin just like the add-on and try to go get the data and then it’ll, it’ll bring it in as well.

Paul Ford: Okay. So I’m getting data in, but how is it, this is just like, is this a like web Trello? What have we made here?

Rich Ziade: It’s, well, [00:08:00] it’s a few things

Paul Ford: Cause I’m seeing cards. I got a lot of cards.

Rich Ziade: You got a lot of cards before. Yes. Now you’ve created a resource, so let’s get one thing outta the way you can share that resource with others.

Paul Ford: That’s true. I can invite you, I can say, heyRich@rich.zboard.com. That’s right. Come on in and build snacks with me. And in fact, I’ve done that. I have a snack board.

We’re looking at it right now. That’s right. And when you see good snacks, you can add them and you can name them. And you can create buckets of snacks, which we call stacks. So it’s stacks of snacks

Rich Ziade: if you are a vc

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: And you’re looking at 300 portfolio companies and you’re gonna pick 10.

Paul Ford: right?

Rich Ziade: Housekeeping that, and you’re never gonna do it alone. It’s probably a team of analysts and partners that are gonna look at different startups and whatnot. It’s a great way to have all the resources in one place. Otherwise it’s a spreadsheet or it’s, you know, something a lot

Paul Ford: So I can comment on the cards and that’s just like kind of typical form.

There’s also a chat that looks a little bit like [00:09:00] Slack, so I can chat with the group

Rich Ziade: if you’ve invited others in. You’re now have a space where there are these resources and you can talk to each other about them. And you might be, you know, hobbyists or you might be, you know, investment bankers, who knows.

by the way, investment bankers can also be hobbyists. I just wanna say that.

Paul Ford: Yeah. Their hobby is investment banking. Um, can I invite like 10,000 people to this?

And we have our, our huge form is this like discord, but with cards

Rich Ziade: You theoretically should, could, but that wouldn’t be wise to invite email by email. The invite is a proactive measure. You’re taking, you’re not just giving someone a link. However,

Paul Ford: well hold on. And actually this is an important thing. Small private spaces seem to be something the internet needs right now.

Rich Ziade: Small private spaces, more specialized places. Um, and uh, a place where your, your tendency to sort of jump on the soapbox and scream at the crowd is kind of not here.

Paul Ford: This is

the group chat for getting stuff done.

Rich Ziade: This is the group [00:10:00] chat for if you wanna get stuff done.

Sometimes you just wanna share things you love, like,

Paul Ford: no, that’s getting stuff done. This is the funny thing about this product. I’ll, I’ll take a, let’s just get outta marketing zone for a minute and into a different kind of marketing zone.

Cause I’m gonna talk about why I like it.

Rich Ziade: Okay.

Paul Ford: I am making the snack board and it’s kind of good content. I made a lot of content on the internet. I’ve made like more than most humans can even

Rich Ziade: your content guy.

Paul Ford: I am a machine for generating internet content.

Rich Ziade: Yes you are.

Paul Ford: And.

It gets at something really fundamental about the web, which is, oh my God, look at what happens when you put all this together.

And it’s interesting, like I’m just like, okay, this is, did I make in 20 minutes the greatest world snack resource that has ever existed? No.

Rich Ziade: Yeah.

Paul Ford: But did I make something that I kind of enjoyed sharing with you, even though I was just hacking it together as a proof of concept?

Rich Ziade: actually pretty fun.

Paul Ford: Yeah.

And that part, I, I mi the, the fun of social [00:11:00] content creation without thinking, oh my God, when this is done, I’m just gonna get screamed at by strangers.

Rich Ziade: 100%. Right.

Paul Ford: in there. And I love that. That is the part I love the most.

Rich Ziade: Most of the social dynamics on the web are driven by you saying something. Yes.

Paul Ford: Yes.

me personally, and by Paul Ford

Rich Ziade: when you ask people, Hey, what are your thoughts on this? It.

After a while, it starts to wear you down. It’s less and less value. Now look, there is a thing

Paul Ford: becomes customer service.

Rich Ziade: Here’s what, here’s a source of our inspiration. YouTube, but not mainline. YouTube, the edges of YouTube.

Paul Ford: gardening. YouTube synthesizer.

Rich Ziade: little communities that have, you can learn anything on YouTube. I forgot.

I met someone recently who’s become like a handyman carpenter, like he just loves, he’s on

Paul Ford: No,

it’s true. Uh, TikTok is here. The video, it turns out that [00:12:00] humans are visual creatures that like to look at other people do things

Rich Ziade: That’s right. And this person, by the way, he was, he, he, they, they came. He’s like, I, I can paint, but I can also fix your electrical.

And if you have a drainage problem, I can fix your, I’m like, wait, are you a plumber? Are you electrical? What are you? And he just looked at me, said, I just learned everything on YouTube.

Paul Ford: People’s is folding Samsung phone.

It’s like, this is my

teacher. yeah,

Rich Ziade: exactly. And, and that the further out of the main highway you get out for whatever reason.

People are more generous. They’re a little more patient. They love that you’ve decided to join their community. They’re, they’re more, um, it’s less toxic. Yeah. Um, and do people have debates? But even the debates are so harmless. Like if you’re debating, which, you know, which, you know, headphone is better than the other, it’s the most innocuous

Paul Ford: You learn the, every community has its drama, but it’s in context because the drama in the gardening community is a, you know, like, it’s a,

Rich Ziade: it can only [00:13:00] go so far.

Paul Ford: mint. Yeah. And just like, you know, or, or what kind of grass are you, are you,

Is the grass gonna be good for the ecology or is this bad grass? You know, just these are, and these are good, interesting debates to have where you actually have to learn andfor as opposed to just like wading into the infinite political morass that’s out there.

Right? Absolutely. so that’s YouTube.

Rich Ziade: That’s YouTube. So there’s really, I, I think a good way to look at this.

There’s two sort of ways that we see a board kind of making its way into people’s lives. One is helping you plan stuff with people that you trust, like. Your, your family members deciding on a what to do on a trip to, to Florida or, um, your family members deciding, uh, working together to help you, um, pick the right university you’re gonna go

Paul Ford: to.

Mm-hmm. It’s a

Rich Ziade: tool to sort of put all the stuff there,

Paul Ford: Could even put the websites for all the colleges. Yeah. That’s what they’re doing. Yeah, that’s Right.

Rich Ziade: And that’s terrible. Right. It’s not useful and you don’t talk on a spreadsheet. And so there is a. [00:14:00] A board, you know, finding its way into your sort of life decisions, I think can be really, really compelling and powerful.

And that’s not about publishing, that’s like a very personal, private space where you’re like, okay, he got these grades, these are the options in front of us based on our budget. Right. And that’s, that’s a safe space. It’s totally private and you can use

Paul Ford: it. Yeah. You’re not gonna publish your college applications process.

Rich Ziade: That’s right.

The other example is that, Instinct to share knowledge, share expertise. Share your judgment. Your your cur, your crea curated creations with a community. And that community could be pretty ad hoc, like


you know, local. Uh, town council that is trying to get a new park in place

Paul Ford: Church group, be

Rich Ziade: church group, or frankly, for broadcasting, it’s like, you know what, I’m gonna step throw my hat in the ring as an expert on embroideries.

Uh, and the kinds of products that I [00:15:00] think are, make the most sense. Um, and, and the people, you know, the places to go learn and, and whatnot. That’s more of a like, okay, I wanna broadcast into my

Paul Ford: It’s time for you to get in. You should get into embroidery.

Rich Ziade: This is not how I wanted

Paul Ford: you know what’s funny though?

Rich Ziade: I expected this

Paul Ford: tell you, during the pandemic, my brother was very much, my personality got really into knitting.

Rich Ziade: interesting,

Paul Ford: And he made a lot, a lot of scarfs.

Rich Ziade: Oh, did he?

Paul Ford: Yeah. Because you’re just sort of like, you know, fiddling,

Rich Ziade: it’s a fidgeting thing, right? I mean,

Paul Ford: you can’t have another cocktail.

Rich Ziade: Oh, well this is, this is

Paul Ford: you can’t, you gotta do something with that energy and that anxiety.

Right. You can’t, you’re, it’s a pandemic. You can, it’s

Rich Ziade: very self-aware of

Paul Ford: you. You can have one, but then you need to stop. You can’t have two every night. Yeah. Right? And so you get those knitting needles out and it’s is like, so anyway, yeah. This is perfect for him. He can, we can talk yarn all day long.

Rich Ziade: It’s great. And look, there are other uses. We also see companies and [00:16:00] organizations and groups using it for work cuz it’s screaming for that in a way

Paul Ford: this is great. This is all

Rich Ziade: this to

Paul Ford: This is all about us. The universe is about to take this thing and say, nice job guys, but I know what

Rich Ziade: thought we were gonna do with it?

Paul Ford: I know what this is for.

Rich Ziade: Oh no. I had a meeting two weeks ago. The person just looked at was like, that’s cool. Add-on. Can I put PDFs in?

Paul Ford: Yeah. No, no, no.

Rich Ziade: He didn’t care. You just like, I just wanna use it for that people.

Paul Ford: It is interesting. We created a piece of software here though, where people look at it and they go like, oh, you know what that’s for?

Yeah. And it’s, I’ve never had that experience. Usually you have to tell them for like an hour. Yeah. And now they’re like, no, no, no, no, no. That’s what

Rich Ziade: same person told me. What? I’ve sent the same PDF 30 times.

Yeah. To people on my

Paul Ford: oh, it’s real,

Rich Ziade: like, oh, I don’t know where it is. I’ll send it to you.

Paul Ford: Yes,

Rich Ziade: it is the bump up back to the top of the inbox. Right.

Paul Ford: This was supposed to be the internet, right? You’d have your internet with all these resources and you’d organize them. But

Rich Ziade: That’s our next startup, by the way.


Paul Ford: Intranet, but the tools. [00:17:00] The tools just didn’t evolve in that way. Yeah. Anyway, okay.

Here we are.

Rich Ziade: so here

Paul Ford: I’ve got my cards and I’ve organized them into these stacks, and one is for Japanese STA snacks and one is for, uh, if I’m gonna do marketing in the future, maybe I won’t do something where, like the sound of the subject is exactly the same as one of the features. So it’s stacks and snacks.

But anyway, I’ve got, um,

Rich Ziade: you’re forgiven, Paul.

Paul Ford: Thank you. Please forgive me. I’ve got stacks of New York City snacks and I’ve got stacks of Japanese snacks. And then inside those are all inside of the thing. And the thing is called the space and the, don’t worry too much about what, but space is the level of sharing.

So when I invite you, when I say, rich, come on in,

Rich Ziade: come see my collection of things.

Paul Ford: can see all that data. All those

Rich Ziade: can talk

Paul Ford: those cards. That’s right.

Rich Ziade: That’s right. That’s right. Um, We’re gonna talk more about a board. This is still the Zian Ford podcast. We hijacked this one cuz a board is an incredibly generous

Paul Ford: It’s launch day. It’s launch

Rich Ziade: day and we are also the co-founders of a board.

Paul Ford: If you go to a board.com and you put your email in, uh, we’re gonna wave you in [00:18:00] real soon, like in the order of a week or two.

Rich Ziade: Yes. Come on in.

Paul Ford: Um, and, uh, yeah, we’d love the feedback, uh, see what you make of it. We want to know what people make of this because we’re, we’re finding that people look at it and they go, huh, okay.

And then they want to just rip it out of our hands. And that’s really exciting to us. We want to know

Rich Ziade: It really is. Um, you’ve been listening to the Ford Podcast. Congratulations, Paul. This has been a journey. It’s been like three separate journeys that’s sort of converged into one, but here we are.

Paul Ford: You, you and I have taken a shocking number of journeys together.

This is a good journey. I’m, I’m proud of where this landed. Who knows what the world is gonna make of

Rich Ziade: It’s one of the most interesting things I’ve ever been involved

Paul Ford: too. I, I’ll tell you, I just, there, there was a point about three or four months ago after our big pivot, we launched this unit, we’re like, oh, we’re, we’re gonna create enterprise software.

That was our, that was our comfort zone. And we got the, um, the first card started showing up, coming off of the web. Yeah. And it felt like a magic trick. And I’ve seen everything on the web.

Rich Ziade: Exactly.

Paul Ford: And it felt like a, it just was like, oh, that’s [00:19:00] mine now. And it’s easy and it’s, and I can come back to it.

Rich Ziade: Let’s close with a shout out to the team.

Paul Ford: Yeah. Good job.

Rich Ziade: Uh, great team, really probably one of the best teams I’ve ever worked with on one of the most interesting products I’ve ever worked with.

Um, they’re locked in. We’ve yanked them in different directions at different times, which can really be,

Paul Ford: we’re

on a path now.

I think we’re on a

Rich Ziade: path now and, uh, very happy to be working with them. So congrats to the team. We celebrate for about 20 minutes and then we go back to work.

Paul Ford: Well, to be fair, to be fair, we didn’t do a huge crunch before this launch.

Rich Ziade: We did not.

Paul Ford: we were, we made sure that things were in a good place.

We’re putting it over the line. Yes. But no one was working for 150 hours last week and that was part of the goal because we have to keep going. We’re, we’re only just getting started.

Rich Ziade: That’s right. Uh, reach out at hello@zford.com. Uh, we love to hear your thoughts, questions.

And check out a board@aboard.com and uh, give us five stars. Stars.

Paul Ford: that’s, that would be amazing if you did that. It really [00:20:00] would be. So thank you everyone for listening. Um, this one was obviously a very special brought to you by sponsored podcast, but, uh, we’re glad we could share it with you and we wanna hear what you think. Talk to you soon.

Rich Ziade: Have a great week.

More Ziade+Ford Advisors
RSSApple PodcastSpotify