Parlaying Failure to Fortune with Paul Martino

In 2003, Paul Martino co-founded, one of the earliest social networking sites.  Tribe had significant traction, with hundreds of thousands of users.

In the early 2000s, hundreds of thousands of users was enough traffic to pose a company with engineering challenges. Paul had studied computer science, and was able to use his knowledge of high-performance computing to write an efficient graph database, and solve the other technical puzzles that the company faced–but the business did not ultimately work out.

The failure of Tribe made the founders even hungrier for success–and it taught them lessons that they carried into subsequent businesses.

Paul went on to start Aggregate Knowledge, a marketing technology company that sold for $119 million. His Tribe co-founder Mark Pincus went on to start Zynga, the multi-billion dollar gaming company. Another Tribe employee co-founded Yammer, which sold to Microsoft for a billion dollars.

Since his exit from Aggregate Knowledge, Paul Martino started Bullpen Capital, which makes post-seed investments. The Bullpen Capital portfolio is appealing to me–partly because of the number of Internet gambling companies. Paul and I talked about gambling and other taboo business sectors–as well as what makes a good investment in the “post-seed” category.

I enjoyed speaking to Paul because he has a straightforward, no-nonsense way of talking about things–it’s very charismatic and uncommon.

We have done some great shows with other engineering investors like Chris Dixon and Adrian Colyer. To find these old episodes, you can download the Software Engineering Daily app for iOS and for Android. In other podcast players, you can only access the most recent 100 episodes. With these apps, we are building a new way to consume content about software engineering. They are open-sourced at If you are looking for an open source project to get involved with, we would love to get your help.

Shout out to today’s featured contributor Kurian Vithayathil. He has made significant contributions to the Software Engineering Daily Android app. Thanks again Kurian for your work.


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