In January of 2015 I gave the name Daplie to my long-time vision... and in November of 2017 they decided to go in a different direction, without me.
However, I still believe in that vision!
As I see it, the biggest problem in the technology world today is a simple matter of connecting a domain name to a device to get some stuff.
I literally wanted to solve XKCD #949 (aka the "how do I transfer a file" problem) in a way that I could simply speak out loud to a person in the same room as me, or over the phone.
I wanted an experience that would be simple enough for my sister and my grandma to use, but also on a system simple enough in its design and operation for a programmer like myself to use.
And I wanted that solution to exist as a physical device - not in some nebulous datacenter - so that I could have the security of knowing it actually existed - and to be able to actually see and touch it with my own bear hands (yes - my big, grizzly, bear hands).
This was to be a thing primarily for Creators and Curators of content - whether moms taking pictures of their kids or dads filing things away in the home office for clients or just people writing blogs.
The keywords here are Ownership and Control
In short: I wanted to adapt the conveniences of the physical world and bring them into the digital world as no one had ever attempted.
I did want to serve small businesses and private practices, eventually. I agreed that home security would be an interest to many, even though I myself wasn't personally concerned at the time. I thought that applications in healthcare had great potential. I believed that once battle-tested this would be something that could move into the Enterprise as well - the automation of "the cloud" with the much, much lower price tag of individual servers.
But all of that, in my mind, was supposed to come after a successful entry into the market.
I think that this commercial did a fine job of presenting much of the original intent. I wrote the script myself and co-directed, and co-starred in, the production.
I believe this story truly speaks to the ideals I have for my new company as well:
I came up with the name Daplie through a somewhat scientific method. I did a number of linguistic exercises using sounds from a combination of names of brands I like and words I chose for inspiration. After some exploration padlie was my favorite in the list I created, but it didn't quite sound right. I swapped the d with the p and it clicked.
"There's a knock at the door. When you open the door Daplie is outside. Without knowing anything else, do you want to let Daplie into your home or would you prefer that Daplie stay outside?"
That's the question I jumped down the stairs to ask my friend's wife. I still did a few more tests before I bought the domain, but after her answer I was already sure of it.
I intended Daplie to be a company that was transparent with customers, one that you could trust.
It wasn't supposed to be about anonymity, faux privacy scare tactics, or exaggerated "scaling" and "growth opportunity" claims. It was simply about convenience and solving real problems that average people have.
Furthermore, my goal was to get "4 or 5 of the right developers in a room together, heads down building out the product for 6 months to a year". I have 100% confidence that a lean startup approach like that focused on a single product path would have actually resulted in multiple products, and revenue, as well beta units in customers hands (according to the regular definitions of what a majority of people would normally consider "customers" and "beta units" to be), rapidly iterating toward a retail-ready product.
I ignorantly gave it up at the very start. facepalm
I had some misunderstandings about equity structure and I believe that I was taken advantage of: When the company was officially formed I was given only 20%, which was subject to vesting - despite bringing in ALL of the initial intellectual property, not being in debt, actually being able to pay my own expenses, and having my family pretty much bankroll the company via their convertible notes.
There were a lot of verbal promises that, according to my understanding of what was meant at the time they were said, were not kept. There were a number of things in the company formation docs that, from the explanation I was given at the time I understood to be to my benefit but, in more careful review, I have a hard time seeing as any other purpose than to give away my power.
You live and you learn, but I believe that I was told a number of things that I now believe were to further "facilitate" my ignorance and misunderstandings...
It's just so frustrating. We sold a product with a mission. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, at least, resulted from that. I believe in that vision. I believe in that product. I wanted to serve those customers. Ugh!
On Monday November 20th, 2017 (the week of Thanksgiving and about a month after getting married) I was told "we're letting you go".
I immediately sought legal counsel regarding the so-called "severance agreement" I was given and... well, I didn't sign it for what I believe to be very good reasons.
I can only speculate as to the reasons for which I was fired, however, I have what I consider good reason to believe that it had to do with internal company politics, especially related to my increasingly very vocal disagreement with certain practices within the company which I considered to be unethical and bad business practice.
I also speculate that perhaps it had to do with the desire of other members of the company to go forth unopposed with the Healthcare 'Pilot Program' in India, 'blockchain apps', 'DapCoin', and other seemingly high-yield hipster-investor jargon that I don't believe to have been listed in, or align with, the purposes presented to, or the expectations of, Daplie's customers and investors.
At the very least, they seemed to waste no time announcing more of that kind of stuff once I was out of the way.
When you get "terminated" and it seems pretty clear to you that no one is interested in listening to what you have to say, as the founder of the company, about the direction of the company or product... you also might get suspicious as to why you would be left as a member of the board.
Although there was Thanksgiving and then Christmas (at which time I finally took my first real vacation in a few years) that made it awkward timing, I was able to get in touch with a corporate lawyer and gain some insight as to what kind of liabilities I might have as a board member that I wasn't already aware of.
How to say... in more closely inspecting certain legal documents (and newsletters, and other material) I became aware of various things that... well, I don't believe that I was left as an easily-outvoted board member out of the generosity of anyone's heart. I believe that other motives were at play.
However, giving the benefit of the doubt to the other board members I called for an emergency board meeting to ensure that certain matters were known by all board members in detail and that appropriate action, if necessary, could be taken in a timely fashion.
The meeting I called for did not happen within the timing I felt was most appropriate.
Despite my better judgement, I agreed to not resign until after the so-called "regular" meeting, just a few days later, which I saw as very suspicious timing.
My honest hope was that I would discover that other members of the board and officers of the company were simply ignorant to certain issues, that perhaps they had been deceived or not noticed certain things, but would be willing and eager to address them.
However, some of my fears were confirmed and I felt that due to differences of opinion in regards to ethical and best business practices, I didn't see any benefit I could continue to bring to the company, so I resigned.
I believe that there are a number of significant contradictions in Daplie's public statements and I believe that there are a number of questions that ought to be asked and investigated.
I personally feel a great loss in what has happened with Daplie - that I may have lost more than any other single person in terms of my time, my reputation, my personal money, my family's money, and a potentially complicated future with some of those with whom I worked.
I also feel that I gained a lot of very valuable experience and so much more self-confidence in regards to "trusting my gut" about people and business decisions.
I sincerely hope that I will still be able to satisfy the vision and mission that I started out with and that many who joined with me in Daplie will join with me again.
I also hope that this information, as a whole, will instigate inquiries that help to create greater accountability at Daplie, for however long it lasts.