Laser Eye Surgery

I had laser eye surgery last week and have repeatedly been asked about the process by people thinking of having it done.  There's two types of laser eye surgery, Lasik and PRK.  In a nutshell Lasik has a faster recovery time but isn't suited to people wanting to do contact sports e.g. martial arts. PRK takes longer to recover from but leaves the eye more structurally sound in the long term.  I went for PRK. Cost was $2399 (CAD) - I think that's on the expensive side but the clinic I went to was highly recommended and I didn't think my eyes were something worth cutting costs on.

Week before procedure: You're not allowed to wear contact lenses for a week before the procedure.

Day before: Consultation where they check you're eligible for surgery.  Nothing uncomfortable or invasive - just a vision test, looking at blurry images while they take pictures of your eyes and some eye drops to dilate your pupils.

The procedure: I was seriously nervous beforehand. I hate having people do anything near my eyes - it took me over an hour to put my first pair of contact lenses in. I was surprised by how easy the procedure actually was. You lie down, they put a clamp like thing to keep you from blinking but they wet your eyes so it's not actually (that) uncomfortable.  Then they use drops to numb your eyes (slight sting but nothing much) and put a ring over your eye (you don't feel it). You're basically looking at a red light (given I was -5.5 in my left and -5.75 in my right eye it was a very blurry light). Then they pour a cold liquid into your eye. Doesn't hurt but it's pretty cool. Next they wipe your eye (they're removing a thin out layer that grows back by itself) and then the laser starts moving around and making noises. You can smell burnt hair which is pretty gross. This whole process takes about 2 minutes and once they're done the red light is no longer blurry. They then put a protective contact lens in the eye that you wear for 6 days. Process repeated for other eye.

Directly after surgery: Your eyes are still numbed so you don't feel anything in them. Everyone has different levels of vision after but mine was pretty clear - it wasn't 100% but pretty sharp. You're given three sets of eye drops, one you put in every 3 hours and 2 that you use three times a day. There's a final set you use if you have any pain.

Few hours after surgery: My vision stayed relatively clear but my eyes started stinging quite a bit and had some pain.  Not a crazy unbearable amount but definitely a uncomfortable level.  The pain killing eye drops are great, you can put them in and they instantly numb your eyes for 3 hours. I used them a couple of times that day.  I was also super sensitive to any light.  I tried to sleep as much as possible (advice given by doctor).

Recovery Day 1: I'll be honest, my eyes hurt quite a bit this day and I was getting freaked out. The pain killing drops are great but you're not supposed to overuse them as it can delay healing.  Stuff I found that worked great was putting an ice pack over my eyes. Also you're given artificial tear drops you can use whenever. I chilled these in the fridge and then used them - helped a lot.  I had a checkup at the clinic, they said everything was fine and the pain would go away. I slept as much as possible again and rode out the day. It's worth noting that not everyone has pain e.g. I know Kul said he didn't have any stinging but did have really dry eyes. Everyone reacts slightly differently.

Recovery Day 2: After waking up in the middle of the night to numb my eyes after they were stinging again, I woke up and found the stinging wasn't there. I kept icing and resting and got to lunchtime still without any stinging or need to use the eye drops. My vision was definitely blurrier (supposed to happen as the thing layer of your eye grows back).  Made it until the evening without needing the pain killing drops.

Recovery Day 3: Eyes felt much better. I slept the whole night and there was no stinging at all. I kept icing a little anyway as I found it helped moisten my eyes a little but there wasn't any pain. Vision became progressively cloudier during the day.

Recovery Days 4 and 5: No pain. Vision was seriously cloudy on day 4 but became a little better by day 6.

Recovery Day 6: Eyes were feeling a little dry from the contact lens but no pain. The contact lens were removed. Felt a bit irritable at first, like having an eye lash in your eye but this only lasted for 15 minutes. I've heard from others this sensation can last for a few days but I was told my eyes had healed perfectly so it wouldn't last long. I'm pretty sure that sleeping a lot and not using a computer i.e. properly resting my eyes since the procedure really helped optimize my recovery.

Recovery Day 7: Woke up today with pretty sharp vision and eyes feeling good. I don't think I'm at 20/20 yet but I feel pretty close and every day they should get better. I now have one eye drop I use 5 times a day and a gel type thing I put in before I go to sleep. Next check up is at the end of the month. Touch wood my recovery continues going smoothly.  Apart from the first two days everything has gone really smoothly and I'm really glad I had the procedure done. Not worrying about glasses or contact lenses is an amazing feeling.

Leaving Live Current and Vancouver

This week I left my role as Director of Product at Live Current Media.  I'm grateful to Live Current for having faith in the Auctomatic product and team and acquiring us last year.  I've enjoyed the past 15 months but the time is right to move onto something new. For me that means moving back to San Francisco.  

I've loved living in Vancouver, it's an amazing city and I've bonded with people here in a way I had never anticipated when I moved out here.  I'll miss everyone a lot and leave behind a lot of amazing memories.  However I always knew that at some point I'd move back to San Francisco.  It's the best place to be as an entrepreneur and I'm looking forward to being back and getting sunk into something new. I've no specific plans about what I'll be doing next beyond knowing that I want to start another business.  

This time around I've lost the naivety of a first-time entrepreneur, which is both a strength and weakness but leaning more towards the former.  Having experienced the incredible stress of a startup  I'm under no illusions about how hard building a business is but having had time to think about things, I honestly can't think of anything else I'd want to do. My first objective is to put a team together. If you're interested in working together and want to bounce some ideas around drop me a line. I'll be back in the Bay Area from 1st October.

P.S. For everyone in Vancouver, I'll throw a leaving party before I head off. It'll be less than a month after my moving in party. That must be some kind of record somewhere.

Anjool Malde

I don't want to write a tribute to Jools, I couldn't do better than this article so there's no point.  Since I heard about his passing away, I keep thinking of the things he did for me without asking anything in return.  I felt compelled to write them out in a list. This is it.

1. I met him on an online forum before I even started at Oxford.  There were a lot of voices in my head telling me I wouldn't fit in and I should go somewhere else.   At one point I seriously considering turning down my offer.  He calmed me down and made me excited to start studying there.

2. He got me a quote in the Oxford Student during freshers week, pretty sure he made me the first fresher to be quoted and never mentioned it again.

3. Introduced me to the Oxford Majlis society, which is where I met some of my best friends to this day.

4. Pushed me to run for a position on the Merton JCR in my first year. I was too nervous because no one else in my year had run for a position yet. He convinced me that was irrelevant and was the first to congratulate me when I got it.

5. Told me about, and pushed me to apply for the Real World Graduate of the Year awards where I ended up as a finalist and won £1,000 which I desperately needed because I was as broke as fuck by that point. The press and kudos from that award has been a massive asset in my career ever since.

6. Gave me some ridiculously cheeky advice before my interview for the Graduate of the Year competition that I'm certain is the only reason I made it to the final. Only Jools could have thought of it.

7. Emailed us (me and Kul) the moment any new competitor to our first business venture, boso, appeared along with a full break down of everything he knew about how well it was doing and who was involved.

8. Got me personal press in the Evening Standard during my second year. I never asked him once to do that.

9. When our documentary about our startup went live on Channel 4, he edited out all the shit parts designed to make us look stupid and put up a new version on youtube which we then put up on the website to show our users, which helped us immensely.  We never asked him to do that.

10. Told us that ibtalk.com was available for sale, we bought it for an absolute steal.

11. Probably read through and edited my CV and cover letters more than I did.

I'm pretty sure there are a bunch of other things I can't remember right now. Seems like something new comes into my head each day.

Addicted to Information

Once the dust settled after our acquisition closing, I decided to use the moment as a chance to change my information seeking habits a little. I'd noticed that I was beginning to develop some serious ADD issues - focusing on a single task and seeing it through to completion was becoming increasingly difficult.  This came as a surprise/shock to me - I'm generally quite disciplined when it comes to sitting down and ploughing through work, so my inability to focus was quite troubling. I self-diagnosed myself as suffering from information overload and challenged myself to take the following steps: - Turn off my iPhone data plan so I wasn't permanently checking email every minute of the day - Turn off my IM support for Twitter and remove the mobile notifications so I was only checking tweets when I went to the site - When I didn't have work to do, shut off the laptop and find another activity that didn't involve staring at a screen. So after trying that out for the past month, I can safely say that the only one I've managed to stick to is turning off IM/mobile support for Twitter. I've weened myself off the need to constantly have status updates in real time and so have one less source of interruption in my life. Unfortunately the other two steps didn't work out so well.  I thought that stopping myself from having access to email 24/7 would make me more efficient and reduce the permanent state of feeling like you're working and hence lead to less stress. It didn't work that way. Not having 24/7 access to email made me feel more stressed than ever, I was constantly worried that I might be missing something important to do with work and found it difficult to relax.Perhaps I could have pushed through but after losing my iPhone in a cab, I've ordered a Blackberry Pearl and am switching on my data plan again as of tomorrow (the Pearl is a stop gap until the 3G iPhone comes out in June - if you want to pick up a barely used Pearl in June just let me know). Also my attempt to reduce the amount of time I spend in front of my laptop failed miserably. The sad truth is I'm addicted to the thing. It's my source of work/news/entertainment/relaxation and my life pretty much revolved around it. The fact that in some free time I'm sat in front of it blogging is testament to it. This is where I listen to music, download and watch movies and now even watch TV that is streamed by services like BBC iPlayer or Channel 4 on demand. My failure has made me take a step back and think. There's certain things that being addicted to are clearly accepted as wrong (drugs being the example that springs to mind for most people). Yet here I am, unable to relax without being plugged into some form of information and cramming more data into brain and no one around me blinks an eyelid. Of course being addicted to email doesn't have as far reaching social consequences as being addicted to drugs but at the end of the day, an addiction is an addiction. It also makes you wonder whether the human brain was really built to be used in this way and whether we're putting undue strain on it, or maybe we're still only utilizing X% of it's true capacity. Who knows? Anyway, time to get back to my Google News homepage. It recommends stories I'll like don't you know.

Auctomatic is acquired. Thank you everyone who helped.

Today we announced that my startup,auctomatic, has been acquired by Live Current Media. This marks a huge landmark for Kul, Patrick and myself - we're obviously massively excited and happy that we can finally announce this (we've been in negotiations for almost six months now). Kul has done (as usual) a fantastic job of describing the story with his bbc piece. I plan on blogging more in the coming weeks about why we sold and what we learnt through the process but for now I wanted to make sure that all the people who helped us along the way aren't forgotten (and trying my hardest not to make it sound like we won an oscar rather than got acquired). Turns out this is a much longer list than I'd initially thought. The Team The most import thanks goes to the team I've been lucky enough to work with. Thanks Kul, Patrick, Phil, Brian and John for some good times. Investors Of course we couldn't have gotten anywhere without our investors:
  • Our UK angels who first believed in us: Michael Lewis, Patel Family and Harry Clarke
  • Y Combinator for taking a punt on two non-hackers and introducing us to Patrick.
  • Paul Graham for his candid advice and Jessica Livingston for the countless introductions and help along the way (special note: without Jessica's help, Kul and I would not have our US visas).
  • Paul Buchheit for first beating down our idea each week at YC dinners and then giving us money
  • Chris Sacca for teaching us to grow some balls
Advisors We've been incredibly lucky to have been advised by some very smart people:
  • Judith Clegg - when we were back in the UK Judith did more than anyone to help us with our first fundraising for boso. We owe her massively.
  • Naval Ravikant - has the most information conveyed per spoken word of anyone I know. His advice always turned out to be (sometimes frustratingly) correct.
  • Evan Williams - gave us two desks in the Twitter offices during our YC program. Pretty much the best welcome to the Valley present possible. He's also always been an immense source of help and advice all along.
  • Allen Morgan - though we didn't raise a Series A, Allen was always a great source of help and advice
  • Katherine Barr - recommended reading "Getting to Yes", a fantastic book that helped immensely
Peers We've also been lucky to have an amazing peer group, especially all the YC guys, some special mentions:
  • Robby from Zenter for letting us crash at his place while we were homeless
  • Tsumobi's for hosting us while we were in Boston
  • The Zenopy crew for being an incredible source of support and help from the early days
  • The Songkicks and other founders who came along to help us pitch at eBay Live
  • Srini from YouOS and Project Wedding for being our first hacking tutor (and his dog Amber)
  • Bob Goodson and Kirill Makharinsky from Younoodle for showing us the way to Silicon Valley
Everyone else
  • Wilson Sonsini, in particular Carolynn Levy, for being our legal counsel from the beginning and doing a great job
  • Chris Wright for preparing our all important US visa petitions
  • Groovytrain for giving us office space when we were young and still working on boso in London
  • All investors we spoke to but didnt close, your advice helped us nontheless - in particular thanks to Mike Maples, Mark Pincus and Rajeev Motwani
  • Everyone who signed one of our visa reference letters who's not already been mentioned - Mitch Kapor, Max Levchin, Chris Anderson and Biz Stone
  • Ankur Pansari for his time and insigh as a powerseller
  • Thanks to everyone who interned with us, especially Hiroki for coming out to San Francisco, but also all the old boso interns - Keren, Jean, Clarissa and crew
  • Friends and family who have supported us along the way
Apologies if I've missed anyone, thank you all!