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Zac Smith

by Josh Pigford. Last updated on February 07, 2024

Table of Contents


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This week I talk with Zac Smith, Founder of Packet! In this episode we talk about being a kid entrepreneur, dropping out of school to play music, going to Juilliard, stumbling upon cloud hosting, starting an infrastructure business and more!

Show Notes

  • 1:06- Getting a degree in music
  • 2:57- Childhood and growing up in Southern California
  • 3:50- Being an entrepreneurial child
  • 5:15- Fist computer and getting into tinkering
  • 6:20- First job and buying his own computer
  • 9:08- Having a workshop and growing up with an amazing collection of tools
  • 10:28- Fixing broken things vs. creating something new all together
  • 11:27- “I am, by nature, an ops person and I work at creativity”
  • 12:10- Being excitable, enthusiastic, and optimistic
  • 12:50- Dropping out of high school
  • 14:32- Being in a hurry to grow up
  • 17:32- Applying to Juilliard
  • 19:17- Moving to New York
  • 21:09- Helping a lady send an email to her grandkids for $30
  • 23:09- Planning for post-graduation and not wanting to be a starving artist
  • 25:49- Going to a temp agency
  • 27:15- Spare time and access to theinternet
  • 28:27- “If you choose to get in business, do something that’s recurring revenue”
  • 29:36- Renting servers and selling hundreds of websites
  • 31:00- A “sketchy” situation
  • 32:47- Being one of the biggest customers of a Linux hosting company
  • 34:00- Stumbling into the cloud hosting thing
  • 34:55- Selling Voxel to Internap (2011)
  • 37:11- The importance of showing value of the business
  • 39:07- Not being fully prepared for what it meant to be acquired
  • 40:24- Learning how to work within a public company
  • 42:28- The New York reunion of internet infrastructure people
  • 43:35- Figuring out a better model
  • 44:23- Re-doing Linux to make it portable for software
  • 45:12- Requirement for un-opinionated infrastructure for developers
  • 46:20- A millennial-friendly, developer-friendly approach to hardware
  • 46:39- Idea for Packet
  • 48:30- Unique challenges around creating an infrastructure product that has a lot of hardware vs. creating a SaaS company
  • 49:15- “How can we take this hard thing and create this new category called hardware as a service?”
  • 51:07- Having faith that what we were doing wasn’t completely stupid
  • 51:50- Pushing through doubts
  • 53:25- Realize what your strengths and weaknesses are
  • 54:02- Reacting faster to what customers want and listening to what they were saying
  • 54:56- The next year for Packet
  • 56:25- Giving back to the community that’s helped them so much- open source infrastructure support

Josh Pigford

Josh is most famous as the founder of Baremetrics. However, long before Baremetrics and until today, Josh has been a maker, builder, and entrepreneur. His career set off in 2003 building a pair of link directories, ReallyDumbStuff and ReallyFunArcade. Before he sold those for profits, he had already started his next set of projects. As a design major, he began consulting on web design projects. That company eventually morphed into Sabotage Media, which has been the shell company for many of his projects since. Some of his biggest projects before Baremetrics were TrackThePack, Deck Foundry, PopSurvey, and Temper. The pain points he experienced as PopSurvey and Temper took off were the reason he created Baremetrics. Currently, he's dedicated to Maybe, the OS for your personal finances.