A Word on Startup Culture

Startup culture seems to be all the rage. Companies are changing the status quo of what it means to run a business.┬áHaving happy hour, three foosball tables lined side by side, and a March Madness league are all infamous icons of having “startup culture”. Whether or not it works — there are companies receiving hundreds of millions in funding and others going out of business everyday (startup culture, eh?) — is up for you to decide, but Handango embodies this culture, and we wanted to give our word on the current rage about some of the most controversial topics in it.

Whether you like it or not, modafinil has worked its way into startup culture. An unwritten rule of the often foggy lines of any startup, whether it be in Irving or Silicon Valley, is to have an “edge”. Some people get an edge by eating healthy, working out, and drinking lots of water. Others dabble with risky prescription amphetamines like Adderall and Vyvanse. But, the new age of entrepreneurs, namely developers, are switching to a smart drug called modafinil.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for individuals to divulge the fact that they use prescription drugs to increase their performance, both cognitively and at mechanical work. The other day we had our HR department report that there was an individual who classified himself as a biohacker who applied to our company for a developer role, and he got the job. He disclosed that he is an avid user of the wakefulness promoting drug modafinil. Hiding the fact that you use modafinil is counterintuitive: these drugs, commonly coined “smart drugs”, are not one should be ashamed to use. They are not being used to get high or to party, rather, to increase cognitive performance and to gain a mental edge. Who can’t respect that?

At Handango, we have a no questions asked policy. We don’t dig into your personal life and try to uncover what we don’t need to know. You live your life, and as long as you do your job, we don’t try to make your life any harder (in fact, our health, life, dental, and other insurance plans make it easier and yes, we’re hiring). We’ve had developers bring in and use modafinil and love it, and we’ve had others use it and not like the effects it had on them. At the end of the day, there’s no one size fits all answer to cognitive enhancement and smart drugs because everybody’s body is different and there are no two biologically similar individuals, even for twins. What we do know is that the individuals who use modafinil (Modalert being the most popular brand of modafinil online, but Waklert, Modvigil, and Artvigil all making their presence known in the workplace) love it, and its one aspect that allows us to outperform competing firms in this cutthroat environment where everybody is fighting for their piece of the pie. We don’t intrude your personal decisions. We’re not your parents. We hire adults and treat them as such, and as long as work gets done, why bother?

My goal with this is to encourage companies to follow the same transparency. It’s not frowned upon to allow cognitive enhancement drugs in your workplace. Rather, it’s frowned upon to be hiring extra developers and not seeing the results that your competitors are seeing with half as many employees. Don’t spend time trying to boil down every last detail of your developers lives and let them have the flexibility to live their lives as long as they help you live yours.

Isn’t that fair? I think so.

Handango: A History

Handango has changed over the years, but our core business values haven’t. Below is a third party excerpt that we believe brings to light what Handango was, is, and will be in the future. When you think Handango, think innovation, variety, and unparalleled customer support.

Handango was one of the first online software stores to sell mobile apps for personal digital assistants and smartphones. Handango offered worldwide distribution, support, and e-commerce services to its partners. Company’s customers include consumers, software developers, mobile operators, and original equipment manufacturers. Supported mobile devices include Android devices, Palm handhelds, Windows Mobile devices, Symbian OS devices, and BlackBerry devices.

Handango was founded in 1999 by Randy Eisenman. Early founding employees of the company included Eric Matzinger, James Lowe, Andrew Blake, Gabe Bass, Will Pinnell, Rusty Butler, Lindsay Rall, Laura Rippy, Jason Wells, Dustin Brown and Bob Weber. Handango was a pioneer of mobile software distribution and is widely credited with many “firsts” in the distribution of mobile apps including a self-service developer management and reporting portal, the business model of a 70/30 developer revenue split, over-the-air distribution of software with palm, the industry’s first digital rights management deployed with Nokia, and the Handango Commerce Engine that facilitated ecommerce on behalf of the software developer directly from their Web site.

Handango InHand, available since 2003 for Symbian UIQ, since 2004 for Windows Mobile and Palm OS, since 2005 for Blackberry and since 2006 for Symbian S60, is an on-device application store for finding, installing and buying software for your mobile device. Application download and purchasing are completed directly on the device so sync with a computer is not necessary. Description, rating and screenshot are available for any application. Software for using Handango InHand is available for free for Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Symbian UIQ & S60, Blackberry, Android. Handango pionereed this on-air business model for smartphones which achieved great success some years later with similar Apple Inc.’s App Store and Google’s Android Market.

On February 23, 2010, Jud Bowman of Motricity, a Durham, North Carolina supplier of software and games for mobile phones, acquired Handango, making PocketGear third behind Apple Inc. and Google in the app market. While PocketGear remained in Durham, the company kept the Handango offices in the Dallas, Texas area. PocketGear.com, LLC was started in 1998 by Nathan Miller as a teenager, and was later acquired by Motricity. Bowman bought back the smart phone application business in 2008 when Motricity moved from Durham to the Seattle area. Bowman remained a Motricity investor.