Office Hours: I’m Cassidy Williams. I’m a startup advisor, angel investor, and a developer. I previously worked at Netlify, React Training, CodePen, Amazon, L4 Digital, Clarifai, and Venmo. AMA!Featured

Hi everyone! My name is Cassidy Williams. I'm a startup advisor and investor, developer experience expert, and meme-maker on the internet.

I’ve worked at Netlify, React Training, CodePen, Amazon, L4 Digital, Clarifai, and Venmo, and currently advise some companies, including Netlify, Polywork, and Contenda. I do some angel investing, as well! I’ve definitely hopped around a bunch of different roles and types of companies, but I’ve learned a lot doing so and can talk for days about small companies vs large ones, stock options vs units, side projects, management vs IC work, and other related things.

I run a weekly newsletter (cassidoo.co/newsletter) and love teaching and helping people become better coders! I've spoken at over a hundred events around the world, and have made online classes on Scrimba, Udemy, Skillshare, and more.

I was featured in Glamour magazine as one of the 35 Women Under 35 Who Are Changing the Tech Industry, and I starred in the documentary Big Dream, which focuses on women who are breaking barriers and overcoming personal challenges to follow their passion in science, math, computing, and engineering. I also design mechanical keyboards and have… way too many of them, but I love them.

Ask me anything about startups, teaching web dev, angel investing, mechanical keyboards, React, Jamstack, or anything else!

ElphaStaff's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for joining us @cassidoo!Elphas – please ask @cassidoo your questions before Friday, December 17th. @cassidoo may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
amandagrossmann's profile thumbnail
Thanks so much for hosting office hours, Cassidy! As a former founder, I'm always interested in finding out what sources others use to find out on what's happening in the startup/tech world. What sites/podcasts do you find yourself constantly checking out for cool stuff that is new or up-and-coming? Besides ProductHunt, indiehackers, are there other things I should be checking out?
debsoon's profile thumbnail
Hi @cassidoo! Thank you for sharing your time with us. For an aspiring founder who is fundraising for the first time, how would you suggest we go about finding angel investors? Also, what do you look out for in making early-stage investments?
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Hey! Fundraising is definitely a crapshoot, good luck on that. I think it's one of those things where when you find an investor, ask for introductions to others. A LOT of the investing world is based on who you know, and who can introduce you to whom.I've really learned that investing is more of an art than a science. I personally look for founders who are confident in what they're building, but not arrogant, and who are building something that I would use (and I spend most of my time in the developer tools/SaaS/productivity space as a result).
Evgenia's profile thumbnail
Hey Cassidy! Lovely to have you here. I was wondering what have been your biggest learnings about building a developer community - biggest do's and don'ts, most surprising facts? What were some of the things you did that really made a difference in growing the community?Thank you so much!
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Hey!So first of all, establishing a code of conduct early is key. I definitely have made mistakes in the past where I've not set one up because "oh the community is small, it'll be fine" and then incidents happen, and there's no process in place yet.Something that surprised me initially but not so much anymore: I've really been humbled a lot by managing communities. The moment you think you "get people" and you're a master moderator, you'll be hit with a scenario you don't know how to deal with. I've definitely made plenty of mistakes moderating and it's been a huge learning experience.I think high-level:DO- Have a code of conduct- Get moderators once your community gets past a certain size- Make it about the community members, not yourselfDON'T- Expect people to see the world the way you see it- Ignore feedback from community members
brianarani's profile thumbnail
Hi Cassidy! Thanks so much for doing the Elpha office hours! Of all of the places you've worked (large companies and small) and the roles you've worked in, what has been your favorite and why?
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Hmmm this is a really tough one, because each of my roles have definitely had elements of being my favorite. Netlify had my favorite team I've worked with. React Training was the most fun and flexible. L4 (which no longer exists) was the most creative I've ever been at work. All of my experiences has definitely helped me hone what I look for in a workplace, which things I like and which things I don't like! I very much prefer: a diverse team, flexible hours, remote work, and time and energy to be creative and do side projects.
teresaman's profile thumbnail
I'm so curious about your mechanical keyboards! Do you have photos of them somewhere? 🔑
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
You know, I should definitely have them all in one place, but I don't! You can see a few of them on my website at cassidoo.co, and also on my very neglected Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/superandomness/
leamars's profile thumbnail
Hey Cassidy! Are you open to more startup advising? Particularly, for a very early stage company looking to make career coaching available to all levels of the org, and help everyone form a solid career strategy. Outside of that, how did you get involved in startup investing and advising? Out of the multiple jobs you've had and companies you've been at, what did you find out about yourself at work that you now look for in new opportunities?PS: I'm a huge fan of your memes (especially the "I have a daughter" part), and my partner just got me all the parts to assemble a mechanical keyboard for Christmas 🙌 PPS: I took part in some sort of Clarifai internship/externship challenge, and remember you were leading that program on Slack, and really enjoying the friendships I formed through that (:
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Hey! Oh dang, you were in Clarifai Champions! That feels like a lifetime ago, good "seeing" you again hahaha!For startup advising, I am open to it, but I am definitely particular about the companies I work with. I still have a lot of full-time work outside of advising and investing, so I can't always promise what startups are looking for. For what you mention, the career coaching and helping with career strategy, I personally don't do that type of advising, I lean more on the product-direction/developer experience side of things!I started investing and advising in the pandemic actually! It started kind of randomly as I've talked with more people in the space, and after learning as much as I could, figured out ways to get my foot in the door with those kinds of opportunities. A lot of it came from companies asking me to consult for them, and then I would bring up what I could do instead!In terms of full time jobs, my main things I look for are: a diverse team, flexible hours, remote work, and time and energy to be creative and do side projects.
Hi @cassidoo! I really admire you and I LOVE how you always put an humorous touch on whatever you do. Have you ever had issues related to not being taken seriously when doing your job? If so, how do you overcome this?
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Thank you so much!! Luckily, so far that hasn't been an issue for me yet, but I think it's because I actually default to being pretty serious in the workplace until I read the room and figure out how much of the humor I can bring out in meetings and projects. If this is something you're worried about, this has been a pretty good strategy for me so far, and I'd recommend trying it out!
esihlemakitshi's profile thumbnail
Thanks for your time @cassidoo 😊What advice do you have for hobby coders to maintain their web dev skills while working in non-technical roles? Do you have a go-to site with challenges or do you recommend working on a pet project site over a long period of time?
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Hey! I solved this for myself in a couple ways. First of all, if you don't mind the shameless plug, I have a newsletter at cassidoo.co/newsletter where I have an "interview question of the week" with a little code challenge you can solve! I first started doing that to try and keep up my own technical chops as I was doing more management work, and now it's a resource for others to practice as well. I also try to work on personal projects over time. Some of my smaller projects are not popular at all, but it's fun to have something to maintain!
tanmayisai's profile thumbnail
Hi @cassidoo! Thanks for doing this. How did you start having an impact on changing the tech industry? What were some things you started doing and how did you grow your impact/audience to help?
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Thank you! I think a lot of what I've done is the result of me calling things out in the industry, honestly. I've been vocal when things are unfair or when I see behavior that's... not great, especially towards marginalized groups. That has definitely resulted in some harassment towards me, which really sucked, but luckily I think has led to generally positive change overall.Unfortunately, my audience did not grow as a result of that, my audience grew because people liked my jokes on the internet hahaha. But, hey, a larger audience for the jokes makes for a larger audience of trying to make tech a more inclusive place!
iynna's profile thumbnail
Thank you for joining us this @cassidoo! Love to read about your background :) Curious to learn more about your angel investing thesis? How did you develop it and what type of companies do you invest in? What's your due diligence process like? :)
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Thank you! I admit I'm still growing my "thesis" over time. I've really learned that investing is more of an art than a science, and spoke with a lot of other investors about what to look for in founders, products, and teams as I was first starting out.I like startups in the developer tooling, SaaS, and productivity spaces, particularly things that I would personally use. Once I see a demo that I like, I try my hand at playing with it (if the founders let me, hahaha), and then ask about their other investors and customers. I also try to find teams that are either from marginalized groups, or intend on hiring women/non-binary/people of color/etc folks early.
KristinaM's profile thumbnail
Hi @cassidoo, Thank you for taking the time to answer questions! Mine are:1. What trends are you seeing emerge in angel investing at the moment and do you think they will last?2. Who do you follow in terms of angels and VC companies? (Who do you think is making the best choices in investments?)3. How do you see the tech world evolving and what do you feel will be the next (few) big thing(s) in tech?
cassidoo's profile thumbnail
Hey!1. I personally am seeing a ton of growth in the developer tooling, productivity, and sustainability spaces. I definitely think sustainability will... sustain (lol), because it's so important. I admit I wonder if we're heading towards some kind of productivity bubble, but also, I think it's because the world has changed so much, everyone's thinking about how they work differently, so who knows!2. Worklife VC and Shrug Capital are the folks I'm closest with, as well as OSS Capital. They seem to be making some really good early bets!3. I think privacy is really growing a ton right now and could see that starting to take over. People are more aware than ever of how much the big companies are tracking them and selling both anonymized and non-anonymized data. I don't know if the web3 business model would solve that, but I think it's a start in that direction.