Hi, I’m Tony Wright. I’m a product leader, designer, startup founder, and occasionally marketeer. I’m currently exploring new opportunities after a brief sabbatical. You should say hello!
Quick career highlights:
  • Most recently I was Head of Product at Glowforge, which led to delighted customers and $70M in sales in just a few years.
  • In 2015, I led product design for custom crowdfunding software that led to the largest 30-day campaign in history.
  • In 2013, I designed Touchbase, a communication-centric calendaring app for iOS. It was selected by Apple as “New and Notable” and was among the top paid apps in its category for some time. Eventually Google/etc added our differentiating features, so we retired the app a year later.
  • I designed Cubeduel, a “who would you want to work with” game. It went viral and was copied by half a dozen companies in the jobs space. We sold it in 2011.
  • I founded RescueTime, where I led product design and growth. It’s served millions of customers and continues to grow today.
  • I designed Jobby, an experimental resume search site. Mike Arrington said, “Anyone building a new web company with search features should take a look and consider, cough, copying their interface. It’s really exceptional.” We sold it in 2007.

Latest stories

How to Evaluate a (paid) iPhone App Idea

As I mentioned in my first post in this series, we dove into the App Store with a ($2.99) Productivity App called TouchBase Calender.  It was a part-time effort as we were wrapping up other commitments, with the goal of learning about the App Store, getting up to speed on the iOS SDK and Objective-C, etc.  This post details what we learned about the paid apps market and it contains data that I...

Why You’re Going to Hire the Wrong Designer

“We are not UI experts but do know when we see a good design.” I saw this on a mailing list I occasionally read, in a post where a company was looking to hire their first design employee/contractor. I think it’s a big part of why hiring designers is a process that often ends in failure: because most people who aren’t UI experts (heck, most UI experts fall into this camp as...

No, You CAN’T retire rich at 30 if you sell your startup

I personally find the people who are in the software startup game just for the money to often be nearly delusional about their chances of success and the likely magnitude of it when it happens. Before I get into the details for founders, let me talk about options-hungry employees. If you are in it for the money and you aren’t a founder, you’re sticking your head in the sand. Full stop...

Rethinking “F@#$ You Money”

Now that I’ve stepped down from RescueTime, I’m pondering my next thing (whether it’s a product role at a very early stage startup or spinning up my own for the 3rd time). I figure it’s a good time to be introspective and consider my motivations. Why do startups? For me, it’s more about having the choice to work on the stuff I want to work on, work with cool people...

Guide to Evaluating Startup Ideas

A great developer I once worked with was kvetching at lunch one day. He’d been working at a well-funded startup for about a year and had come to terms with the fact that the startup was really a pretty dumb idea. He’d wasted a year of his life and had a pile of stock options that weren’t very interesting. His last two jobs had been similar. He asked me a question that, at the...

A Designer in Support of Design Contests

15 years ago, you couldn’t even BEGIN to look for a house without a real estate agent (who takes 6-7% of the purchase price from the buyer). Today, the internet has changed that. 10 years ago, someone starting a small business had to eat a cost of thousands of dollars to get a solid looking logo– often more if they didn’t want to roll the dice on just using a solo designer (of...

How to Ask for an Introduction

I don’t know a ton of important people. But as a founder of a venture-backed startup with some amazing investors and advisors, I do know a few. With Nivi and Naval preaching the gospel of social proof (can I get an “amen”?!) and with fundraising posts and articles espousing the importance of introductions, it’s no surprise that about once a week someone asks me to...

PR for Startups

My startup (RescueTime) has enjoyed some pretty ridiculously good PR (online, print, and video). It’s not a surprise that the most common questions that we get from other founders are about PR. How do you get press and the blogosphere talking about your product? When you research this topic, you’ll see lots of technical and how-to articles that talk about how to build relationships...

Startups with Something to Believe In

I went to an informal Seattle startup CEO dinner a while back and it was an awesome opportunity to talk candidly about the problems that early stage products face. Someone remarked to me afterwards that a lot of people in that room had already “made it” (financially speaking). That’s one of the cool things about being a startup founder. There were plenty of folks in the room who...

A Newbie’s Guide to Startup Compensation (or “Stock Options will Make Me Rich!”)

My first experience with stock options was at the ripe age of 34 years old, when I was selling Jobby (retired) to Jobster (Gah, make the Web 2.0 names STOP!). Before that, I’d been running my own business for close to a decade– with good success, but there really wasn’t any sense in setting up an options plan. So when selling our company and getting presented with a cash/stock...