October 1st, 2022 Critical mass and venture capital. By Jeffrey M. Barber

I’ve had a few conversations with venture capital without myself soliciting them (this sales process made me feel pretty), but I’m not keen on giving up control nor having a boss at the moment. Freedom, as a company value, requires vigilance. However, it did get me thinking about the next step. What happens after I stop wandering. Do I get serious? Or should I continue wandering? For how long?

The best thing about not taking external money is that I can goof off until I have operational responsibilities, so I’m taking a whole quarter off as evidenced by a lack of updates. I started writing this in September as I’m sorting out my planning for 2023.

Ultimately, if I were to raise capital, then that starts the great runway game which requires exceptional focus under pressure to achieve a result. Focus is what I’m enjoying to lack at the moment, and sErIous-MOde requires two things: (1) a customer to obsess over, (2) an ambitious plot to take over the world and become yet another unicorn. It’s worth thinking about, so I’ll take a moment to reflect seriously. The path forward is to assess what critical mass has developed, and we do this by assessing Adama’s potential in various markets.

Since Adama is exceptionally generic as compute-centric data-store with storage and reactive networking thingy, there are many markets I can work towards. Adama has many potential competitors, so let’s stack the current critical mass that has been built to industry leaders. I will score how Adama would fair within each market according to this scale:

Score Meaning
1/5 Grossly incompetent requiring multiple years of investment to be competitive.
2/5 Has the critical mass to be attractive towards further investment
3/5 Mostly competent, the grind towards production is needed
4/5 Competent
5/5 Best in show, most powerful option

The painful aspect of trying to evaluate the score is being honest. It’s important to be honest with oneself (periodically) regardless of how painful and disappointing it may be. This is the first requirement of being “serious”, so let’s try to be honest and assess how Adama stacks up within the markets of interest.

Market Potential Current State Score
Static Site Hosting Netlify raised $105 to transform Jamstack Adama is gaining competence as a static site server without the integration love. 2.5/5
Jamstack State Service Convex.dev raised $30M to provide a better way to build a “global state management platform” Adama is gaining competence as I build out an IDE for using Adama and working through issues. 3.5/5
Yet another Firebase alternative Supabase has raised $116M to build an open-source firebase alternative Adama provides much of the same stuff as Supabase. However, Supabase has a more traditional design using PostgreSQL. 2/5
Document store MongoDB raised $311 and went public to have a market cap of $15B Adama needs investment on durability, queries, and indexing to be competitive in this space. 1/5
Server-less database Cockroach Labs has raised $633M Adama is a different kind of database since actors are the key element at play. Competing against PostgreSQL protocol and RDBMS may be a fools errand. 1/5
Workflow Temporal.io has raised $128M to build a better SWF Adama is a much better way to coordinate work than SWF, and this has less barrier to entry as the queries are limited. 3/5
Edge compute EdgeDB has raised $4 to build a graph database that is server-less on the edge Adama is designed for the edge to provide exceptional latency, but the network isn’t built yet. Nor is there a unified query engine. 1.5/5
Low Code Bubble has raised $115 as a low code application builder platform Adama currently has a decent way to build applications using just Adama and RxHTML. However, investments are still needed in a few builders 1/5
Design tool Figma sold for $20B with $80M in revenue Adama has a variety of demos with a WYSIWYG editor with a 2D system. 2/5
Server-less Game Infrastructure New market Adama was designed for board games and works pretty well, so the question is what is the limit. 2/5
Board Game Infrastructure New market Adama is the best board game infrastructure. 5/5

So, what does “serious mode” thinking inform me. First, there is much to be done on many fronts, yet I’m just one man with a plan. It’s worth thinking about how I structure 2023 such that I can maximize critical mass on multiple dimensions. Now, it may seem like a fools errand or delusional thinking to believe Adama can not only compete against any of these tools and services but all of them. And that’s true, I’m 100% delusional.

I have a vision about how to build software better, but no massive vision can come together all at once. Being honest and thinking about the state of the nation is important, but it’s brutal because the road ahead is long and arduous. The importance of the task ahead is to focus… ruthlessly.

… about a month passes as I think about this post more …

After a month of letting this update languish, my plan for 2023 has come together. The first step is to finish the billing, pricing model, and launch Adama as in as “infrastructure for side projects” to find early adopter developers. What I already have will form the core platform such that I can start billing myself. Priority #1 is to support any plucky developers that sign up because feedback is a gift.

Once the platform looks like a platform, the key goal for 2023 is to launch a “roblox for board games” style platform within Adama. Within that platform, I intend to launch a single game which I can play with friends. The meta-tastic aspect of this game being built within Adama on Adama using online tools is that I’ll build critical mass around the design tools and work through platform issues. This first game is going to take a while, but it becomes the foundation for a new board game design studio.

Board games are the golden path, and I need to embrace a few years of learning what it means to be an indie game studio. Should be fun!