Winter Wonderland

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

The city is gearing back up after the new year shutdown, and the New Lemurs are no exception. Our first troop of lemur chemists have given us some great feedback to work on in earnest this week. I’m big into trying new things this year: new ways of development, new ways to do business, and new adventures in the city.

This weekend Kitty and I went to not one but two museums—Allard Pierson, the university archeology museum, and Kattenkabinet, an adorable museum dedicated to art featuring cats. We also had a mini adventure when we discovered that the wall on which Rembrant’s famous “Night Watch” had originally hung was preserved inside the NH Doelen hotel, just around the corner from our little canal house.

Amsterdam is a treasure trove of history and adventure, which is why the Amsterdam Museum is so mind-bogglingly massive—not that you’d notice from its many hidden doorways, so indicative of this facet of the city. It’s no coincidence Anne Frank‘s family managed to remain hidden for so long. The buildings, like the people, hide rich interiors behind inscrutable facades.

Or so I hear. I’ve never actually been inside the Amsterdam Museum—a wrong I’m finally going to right this Sunday with 19 of my closest friends on the official Appsterdam tour. There are still a few slots left, and everyone is welcome, so whether you were born on a bike or are new to the city, I hope you’ll join us on what promises to be a fun day with friends.

If you’re looking for something a bit more adventuresome and dare I say booze-soaked, you’ll be pleased to know that for the third year running, Cocoaheads Bremen are inviting Appsterdammers to cross the border in more ways than one for the annual Kohlfahrt. Don’t miss out on your chance to experience this unique northern German custom.

Speaking of not missing out, Amsterdam’s own Rockstart accelerator program is accepting applications for their second class. If you’ve ever been to Startup Weekend and wanted to take that experience to the next level, this is your second chance. This is just one of thousands of opportunities for technologists in this city planned or tracked by Appsterdam.

I know it’s dark and cold outside, making it easy to get depressed, which is exactly why you should get out and meet some people. We celebrate the summer as a time for getting together with our friend, but the dreary winter is when we need institutions like Appsterdam the most. I’m shaking things up this year. Aren’t you?

Coming Around Again

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

Maybe I’m getting old, but it seems the time has been flying by. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since we moved to this city, a year since we launched Appsterdam, a year since Sofa was acquired by Facebook.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the last StartupWeekend Amsterdam, but we just had another one. That means, as hard as it is to believe, another iOSDevCamp is right around the corner.

At StartupWeekend, the focus is on building teams, with the ultimate victory being the fantasy of quitting your job and launching a startup.

At iOSDevCamp, the focus is more on clever projects, impressive demos, and amazing hacks. You get bonus points for depositing your code in the open source bin on your way out as you head back to work on Monday.

The other big difference is that, while both events are worldwide, iOSDevCamp happens simultaneously. That means demos from Amsterdam are competing with cities all over the world. There is some serious pride on the line. Somewhere on the timeline of building the tech scene here, one of our apps is going to have to win.

I’ve been involved with iOSDevCamp since way back in my Valley days. These guys are friends of mine. Dom Sagolla was with me the first time I came to Amsterdam. He thinks the founding of Appsterdam was a personal favor to him, and he’d love to see Amsterdam take the gold. I’d love to see Amsterdam take the gold. We all would.

So pack up your skills, gather your best ideas, update your copy of Xcode, and come on down to Appsterdam Centraal at BounceSpace for a weekend of kicking ass and making apps. Forget Sparta. This is Appsterdam.

Appsterdam at WWDC 2012

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

WWDC is my holiday week. Maybe you have the week between Christmas and New Year, but for me, it’s WWDC. It’s the time when I’m called home to give an accounting of my work year to 5000 of my friends and colleagues.

How important is this week to me? I timed the launch of Appsterdam for right after the last WWDC, so I’d have the longest possible time to be ready for the next WWDC, which is next week. I’m pleased to say that with the team I built, and the things we’ve done together, there’s a lot to say.

But why say what you can show? Which is why we’re bringing the spirit of Appsterdam to WWDC. Our friends at StackMob are turning their HQ into an Appsterdam hangout, where the ticketed and ticketless alike are welcome to unload, plug in, and meet their fellow App Makers, just like we do here in Amsterdam, and in embassy cities around the world.

We’re going to have sponsored lunchtime lectures, not just Wednesday, but everyday. I’m going to be delivering my new talk, “The Most Important Minute of Your Life.” There will also be talks from Victor Agreda, Jr, Danny Greg, Matt Vaznaian, Jason Harris, and Nathan Eror, who’s so influential, he inspired my recent vegan diet.

We’re also going to have a special keynote breakfast on Monday, where we’ll watch the blog feeds and showcialize over donuts and bagels.

Given the fact WWDC sold out in less than 2 hours, we’re expecting demand to far outstrip supply, so we’re partnering with IndieDevLab at The Box, who have their own set of lectures, timed with ours so as to not overlap, from such indie heroes as Ben Zadik, Jay “Saurik” Freeman, Dan Grover, and Nate True, my old homie. That’s twice the space, twice the lectures, and twice the showcializing opportunities.

Since the guys behind IndieDevLab and I worked at Tapulous during the dawn of the app ecosystem, we’re going to host a reunion panel on how we survived the Big Bang, Monday afternoon at 3. It promises to be the kind of rare and folkloric event you can only put together at WWDC.

The Big Show has had a night scene for years, but given the fact that more and more people are coming without tickets—and that we’re all getting older—we’re going to see a day scene this year like never before. For more information, and to let us know you’re coming, visit the Appsterdam HQ at WWDC home page.

I hope to see you there, and with that, a quick note from our Chief Community Officer, Judy Chen:

Both IndieDevLab and Appsterdam will be using the hashtag #AltWWDC so be sure to use that when tweeting about us! In addition, we’ll have our #Appsterdam IRC channel on Freenode to communicate with our friends abroad (irc://

Open House

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

Last Thursday we had an open house and grand opening of Appsterdam Headquarters at Westergasfabriek, located at Pazzanistraat 41. The students from the Rietveld Academie’s Sandberg Instituut have been working alongside us App Makers for the past few months as part of their VacantNL masterclass. It’s been fun working in a place that changes every day.

The time finally came for their “Vacant Appsterdam” project to end, so they presented their final project to their faculty, and we had a little party to celebrate. Of course we’d like to thank the people who shared this occasion with us, the students and faculty who worked so hard to make a place for our community, and the Westergasfabriek whose generosity has made it all possible.

The best way to thank them is to get you to come see the place. We have lots of tables, chairs, and unique architectural elements, all made from cardboard. This side effect of our zero-budget operations really comes to represent us as a movement, and as App Makers in general. You don’t need a bunch of funding or a fancy office to get started. You can build your great idea on a cardboard desk in a tucked away corner.

You really have to come see our HQ while you can. We’ve only got one month left until the Westergasfabriek needs the space. Better yet, bring your laptop and come get some work done on your app. We have plenty of plugs, bandwidth, and workspaces, standing and sitting, from dark and quiet, to bright and social.

This place is provided to the App Makers for free by the Appsterdam Foundation. The love our volunteers have for the community we serve impressed the Rietveld folks so much they helped build the place. It impressed the Westergasfabriek so much they let us use the space for maintenance costs.

Those costs, as well as direct costs to the students for things they couldn’t beg, borrow, or steal, come to a few thousand Euro. Part of that has been paid for by the Foundation, via loans from the board members. It’s not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but it is a test of whether our community can really support itself.

These past few months have really shown me the importance of having a place like this, where people can come to be inspired, to be productive. More than that, having a pin on the map associated with Appsterdam, having a place, a destination, for people coming here for Appsterdam, has really played a big part in our recent growth.

The Rietveld folks infiltrated our community, got to know us, then formed—through an organic, iterative process that we would recognize as agile—a sculptural representation of our community, of the spirit by which we associate. That piece of expressionist art inevitably takes the form of a free communal workspace, which you can all be a part of by bringing your laptop and working on your projects.

In addition to this contribution, and the contribution of the volunteers who show up every day to staff the place, we’ve all had to throw some of our own money into the mix, in the form of loans made to the foundation in order to get things done. We hope to repay those loans, and push things forward, with money donated by individuals and organizations in the ecosystem who appreciate the value we’re providing.

There are three ways you can help. The first is to help us spread the word. We want our HQ to be used, to be active, to be vibrant. Tell the story. Show people the pictures. Make sure everybody knows about this cool place—this living sculpture, a monument to App Makers and their work.

The second is to make a donation via bank transfer, or by Paypal ( You’re going to be hearing this from us more often, because we’re essentially following a public radio model here. We provide services we think everybody needs. People pay us based on how useful they find what we do, based on how much they can actually afford. There are people who find that business model naïve. The best way to prove them wrong is by donating.

Finally, you can help us keep this experiment going beyond May 15 by providing us a new space. We don’t have any money, but we have a readymade community of amazing, creative people who are also a skilled technical resource. You need only come hang out at any Appsterdam event to see how vital this community is, what it can do for you, and what you can do to perpetuate it.