A Programmer with a Mac: Fiverr is Hella Cool

Fiverr, as a company and as a product, is – to sum it up in a word – really cool. In brief, it’s a marketplace for services – sort of like ebay, but instead of selling (or buying) materials, you sell/buy services (“Gigs”), as in someone can ‘sell’ creating a logo for you, or video-art, or build a website for you, etc. It’s Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” taken to the limit – anyone can sell (anything), anyone can buy. Other than the business resonance, I was (and am) especially taken by the social implications. Anyone today can set up a website and offer their services online. Fiverr just makes it super-easy: publicity, payments, etc.

When I was interviewing back in January with Sharon, our head of HR, she pitched me the ‘social’ aspect of Fiverr. Basically, she said, it’s good karma: we give people a stage to make money. There are people (quite a few, it turns out) who make a living by selling on Fiverr. And in today’s turbulent economic times, that’s quite a feat. So, it’s a refreshing change from the porn-gambling-toolbars-security shady and murky Internet-waters in which Israel so revels. Wouldn’t it be nice (this is still part of the pitch, remember) to know your work is doing some good to people?

At the time, I remember thinking to myself – what does this lady want from me? Just tell me what tech stack you’re on, how much money you’re offering, and let’s get on with it. It took me another half-year at a corporate intelligence company (and a few weeks in Northern India, pondering the Dalai Lama’s teachings [which sounds wayyy kookier then it actually was]) to decide (or “realize”, as a less introspective person might put it) that there is much merit to Sharon’s point. Karma is important, and helping other people is ultimately helping yourself. (If you don’t swing the Buddhism’s way — and I totally don’t — know this basic truism is well supported by workplace-happiness contemporary psychological studies.)

To be clear, I don’t deal with sellers (nor buyers) on a daily basis at Fiverr. I write code. And to put it in perspective, I’m not saving orphans or curing cancer. But it’s nice to be able to practice your chosen vocation, but at least in a way that positively impacts others.

As an end-note, a couple of start-ups that I think are doing massive amounts of good (especially relative to their size) are Coursera, who are just possibly revolutionizing the future of education, and CouchSurfing, who are making traveling a better experience for everyone, for free. The Wikimedia foundation are also amazing and always worth a shout-out.

Being cool counts.