A New Role for Braden at Leanpub

by Peter Armstrong

published Apr 12, 2016

Today Braden Simpson has a new title at Leanpub, one that is long overdue:

Co-Founder & CTO

Although Braden wasn’t at Leanpub on day one, he has been instrumental to Leanpub’s growth since dropping out of his Masters in Computer Science to join us in 2013.

Braden has been crucial to our success, both in his direct and indirect contributions to Leanpub.

In terms of direct contributions to Leanpub, Braden rewrote our iOS app in React Native, architected the React rewrite of the Leanpub storefront (shipping in a few weeks), and is building our upcoming Android app in React Native.

However, it is behind the scenes, in his indirect contributions to Leanpub, where Braden has really shone.

Leanpub is a bootstrapped startup. We’re actually a company called Ruboss Technology Corporation, and we’re based in Victoria, Canada. The VC funding climate in Victoria (and in Vancouver) is nothing like that in Silicon Valley. (If we were in the valley, we would have raised seed funding and a Series A round years ago.) But we’re not in the valley, so we need to do software development consulting work in order to fund the development of Leanpub.

Braden has been indispensable to this work over the past three years.

To frame what I’m going to say next: I have been a software developer since graduating with a Computer Science and Psychology degree in 1999. Before founding Ruboss, I spent 8 years working as a software developer for VC-funded Silicon Valley startups. Before that time, I did co-op work terms at tech companies both in Canada and the US, and even at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, where I worked directly for a physicist who had written one of the first web browsers (before Mosaic). During the past 20 years, I’ve known hundreds of developers, and worked closely with dozens. And although I’m a founder and product guy now, I’m a good enough developer to have written multiple computer programming books, each of which was translated into multiple languages.

Braden is easily in the top 5 people (no, I’m not saying where in the top 5!) I have known in the past 20 years, as a technologist, as a software developer, and in his composure and optimism in the face of uncertainty and adversity. This is more remarkable given that Braden is only 25.

Ruboss launched Leanpub in April 2010, and we have been bootstrapping it ever since. Bootstrapping a startup is an extremely tough path – much harder than the life of the funded startup. Bootstrapping requires committing to context-switching, which is probably the single worst thing in the daily life of a software developer. Furthermore, it means context-switching not just between areas of a project (or between coding and meetings), but to regular context-switching between completely different projects. Furthermore, it requires one to commit to doing this for years!

Very few people have the brain to be able to do this productively. Of those people, even fewer have the stomach for it, let alone the temparament. Braden has all three, in abundance. When Len met Braden back in 2013, he asked me if I’d grown him in a lab.

While Ruboss has had many ups and downs over the past six years, Leanpub has grown steadily. Last year we paid over $1.2 million USD in royalties to authors. As we approach our sixth birthday, Leanpub is positioned better than ever. Len invented the metaphor of the dark matter of publishing, and Leanpub is at the forefront of not just seeing it, but capturing a significant portion of it. The publishing industry is a multi-billion dollar industry which is changing more right now than at any other time in the past 500 years, and this represents a huge opportunity for us.

With Braden now stepping up in responsibility and becoming a Co-Founder and our CTO, I am more confident than ever about the future of Leanpub.

Congratulations, Braden! The next few years of Leanpub are going to be the most important and interesting in our history, and Scott, Len and I are humbled and grateful that you have chosen to make this commitment to us.

– Posted by Peter Armstrong

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