Uncubed’s Year in Review – 2016

December 29, 2016 By Chris Johnson

Earl Nightingale would’ve been huge on Instagram.

A radio personality born in the 1920s, he was America’s first personal growth celebrity.

His radio program was the most syndicated of its time, reaching nearly 30 countries – and his record The Strangest Secret was the first spoken-word record to sell a million copies.

As you’d imagine, he was imminently quotable, distilling his advice and method into pithy phrases. At the core of his work was a single expression that he made famous: “you become what you think about”.

2016 was the year Uncubed became what we thought about.

Some History

We started Uncubed in 2012 to address a single problem: there was a new breed of jobs out there (mostly at startups), and people were having a hard time connecting with them.

We envisioned a scalable product that solved this. But we felt the surest way to find it was to first build an audience. So the strategy was to build a community first, and then layer the product on top.

We knew we could deliver real value to people through a daily publication and through a series of events, building a following and delivering a service to high-growth companies. And if we did that right, the product need would emerge.

We never lost focus on that vision.

NYC Uncubed – 2013

Then, like Earl Nightingale promised it would, it happened – earlier this year, we launched our online platform. It’s the first of its kind, giving you a chance to gain quick skills knowledge and get other insights directly from innovative companies – as well as find jobs at top startups and the Fortune 500.

We owe it to our community and to our customers – thank you. You told us what you wanted from us and allowed us to see where we could best help.

Here’s more on our platform launch, and the other major developments from the past year at Uncubed.

Video to the People

As mentioned above, we always thought about a highly scalable product built on top of our community – here it is. After some tests last year, we released the platform in the first half of the year.

Now anyone in our community can learn directly from top companies, with videos in tech, design, marketing, and more – along with career tips.

As you learn more from and about a company, you can check out their open jobs and even apply directly from our site.

It’s valuable content for those looking for a job right now and for those who are happy with their current station (when the time comes, you’re well positioned, because you’ve gotten to know a wide variety of companies on Uncubed).

Importantly, the content is free for our users. We think removing economic barriers to content like this is one of the most powerful forces in closing the skills gap.

Here are videos from the Dots team:


And some very recent releases from Betterment:

Online learning from Betterment - jobs and careers from Uncubed

We’re adding companies all the time – which means new content for you.

As for our customers, this is a major advance. Video allows them to connect with our audience every day, year-round. And the software powering it gives them brand new insights into hiring top people.

We also completed an integration with Greenhouse, a longtime marketing partner of ours. This allows for seamless management of interested candidates by our customers and is part of our commitment to deliver a helpful, powerful platform. (Read more about the Greenhouse integration here.)

We Went Big (And We Didn’t)

We’re entering a “post-startup” world.

We built our business with startup customers, they’re firmly in our DNA, and they’re always going to be a core part of what we do.

That said, the economy has evolved since we started our business, and large companies are adopting many of the same principles that have made startups attractive – everything from programming languages to workspaces. This is making for some incredible career opportunities.

Many of these bigger companies have the very same problem that the startups had when we started Uncubed: people don’t know what they’re up to. Which puts us in a spot to help.

In 2016, we kicked off an initiative to connect our community to the innovative side of Fortune 500 companies. This included greatly expanding our partnership with IBM, and launching a new one with ADP’s Lifion team, among others.

With IBM, we were able to deliver a customized experience for our community members and capture new insights from the Watson team – the partnership has delivered more than 100 offers to-date, and counting. Read the press release here.

Lifion is ADP’s innovative product team (and their internal startup) with a stunning office in Chelsea. We were able to bring their work to light through these videos – and one of our community members is already slated to start work there in January.

Adding more large companies is a meaningful service for our community, and one we’re intent on delivering; we have a roster of some of the most well-known brands in the world slated to launch in 2017.

If we’ve learned anything over the last five years, it’s that not everyone is a fit for the 25 person startup; and that working on the cutting edge for some of the most storied large companies in the world is also a dream job.

So you can expect more and more in 2017: more startups, and more Fortune 500s doing really remarkable things.

Farewell, Wakefield. Hello, Uncubed Daily

When we talk about the start of our company, we’re usually referring to March 10, 2012 – that’s the day we launched our daily publication.

We branded it Wakefield, after a zany character in the old Tom Swift adventure series.

This year, we retired the name and changed it to Uncubed Daily.

The launch of the video platform is the culmination of our original vision and it was the perfect time to unify everything under one brand. Read our full account here.

The content of the publication is largely the same. There’s still enough news and product reviews to make it a great general resource for anyone interested in tech and digital. Yet we’ve also tightened the scope of the content to be more about work and optimizing for work – because we all gotta work, right?

We’ll miss ol’ Wakefield. But we’re excited about Uncubed Daily.

(Note: There was also a less interesting legal nuance. We have the trademark for Uncubed and the Uncubed.com domain. Wakefield was always a little more….complicated.)

Events, Dear Reader, Events

We made some pretty exciting changes to the events side of Uncubed this year.

The event that’s been the capstone of our platform (NYC Uncubed) is going to be held just once a year in the fall, starting in 2017.

That’s because we’re launching HR Uncubed, the conference we’ve been talking about for years.

We’ve been holding periodic get-togethers for our HR friends – our people people, if you will. It grew and evolved into a semi-underground forum to trade ideas. Now we’re opening it up on the national scale.

The immediate goal is to build the East Coast’s most valuable HR conference.

The 2017 event will be about building a brand that wins top talent. It’ll be our usual mix of high-value content and fun.

Reserve your tickets here.

We’ve continued to bring community events to cities across the US, and 2017 will feature the same.

Team Growth

After years of careful building, we’ve got the platform to scale.

In support of that, we added some incredible people that have done it before and can help us get there.

Dorothy McGivney joined us as our COO & Head of Product – Dorothy has been a friend to Uncubed back to the days she ran Jauntsetter, a popular travel publication that she founded and ultimately sold to Gothamist.

Pre-Jauntsetter, Dorothy spent 6+ years at Google, after being one of the first hires in New York. Post-Jauntsetter, she was the Chief Product Officer at Yieldbot.

Jacob Robbins joined us as CTO. If you’ve been around the open source community in New York, you know Jacob. He led the software team at drop.io, which was acquired by Facebook – and built an ephemeral messaging service called Burn Note that built a large following (and was used heavily at Uncubed).

Taylor Christoffel also joined us to lead our video efforts. He brings more than a decade of video experience, working with brands like Google and the New York Times, along with groups like the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.


We built Uncubed to run on extreme capital efficiency.  It was an out of favor approach in an era of venture capital excess.

We built a Prius in the age of gas guzzlers, you could say.

Prior to 2016, we’d taken in less than $300,000 in outside capital – something we remain very proud of.

Yet now the time has come to gear up for something larger. So we took the opportunity to partner with a remarkable set of strategic angel investors and funds for a seed round that we’re just wrapping up now. Details on this will be released shortly.

We’re expecting to partner with additional investors in 2017, so we can continue to bring more value to our growing community.

In Summary

Every year’s a huge year for young companies. But this was undoubtedly our biggest.

It’ll go down as the one where we became what we thought about.

Let’s see what 2017 brings.

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