Distributed Podcast: Stephen Wolfram on 28 Years of Remote Work

I developed this area of science called complexity theory. I decided to start a company that will build the tools that I want for myself. These tools are useful to lots of other people in the world. [3:28]


We started the company in Champaign, Illinois. That is probably not people’s first choice as to where to start a technology company. [3:46] 


We got off to a very quick start. I was injecting ideas into the company at a very high rate. I was getting more and more frustrated that these things weren’t getting done. Just a few years ago we completed our 1991 to-do list. [4:11] 


I decided to step back and spend most of my time doing basic science. I was the main person to start working offsite [This is when he starts working remotely]. [5:05] 


Did you raise venture capital? No outside money. . .Not having venture capital is great. I don’t have a boss. I recommend it. [6:07]


I think of myself as pretty average at business. [6:50] 


We’ve been profitable every year for 31 years now. That is achieved by a very simple process: spend less than you make. [11:32] 


To me, the focus is can you be productive? Where you live is your independent business. [13:47] 


Tips for remote collaboration: We never use video conferencing. It’s always screen sharing and voice. [16:37] 


Stephen’s blog post: Seeking the Productive Life: Some Details of My Personal Infrastructure. It is a very comprehensive view of Stephen’s entire personal operating system. [18:00] 


Stephen live streams his internal meetingsI started live-streaming the meetings because I thought they were fascinating. It is a shame for them to just go off into the ether. [18:33] 


Some of the cracks that are happening in the technology industry come from a lack of alignment. Who are the actual customers? The actual customers are the advertisers, not the people. [21:45] 


I see a large part of my role [in the company] as matching the talented people we have with the projects we want to do. [27:10]


A unique way to ask for a job: I’ve been reporting bugs in your software for 6 or 7 years now. I want to come and help fix them. [37:57]


Traits that make people successful: Independence of mind. Keep your thinking apparatus engaged at all times. Don’t bullshit. [38:08] 


Full podcast here: Distributed with Matt Mullenweg: Stephen Wolfram on 28 Years of Remote Work


I released a podcast about the book Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street. You can listen to the preview here.