#008 Chris Messina

Discover the products that Chris uses to help makers launch


Welcome to Maker Stacks, a new newsletter from the Product Hunt team where we interview a maker about their stack.

In today’s edition, we have hashtag inventor and Product Hunt serial hunter, Chris Messina talking about the products he uses in his day-to-day.

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Chris Messina

Hey! I'm Chris Messina. I've made a career being very online as an advocate of open source, open standards, the decentralized social web, and making great products on the internet. I live in Oakland with my partner, Jo, and our two kids.

I'm currently a partner at the Ride Home AI Fund which I manage with Brian McCullough, the host of the popular daily Techmeme Ride Home Show.

I'm best known for inventing the hashtag, which some people like to quibble about, but I have the receipts. 😛

I also contributed to the launch of Firefox in 2004 and helped get the BarCamp and coworking movements off the ground. I'm a coauthor of the OAuth spec and was previously on the boards of the OpenID and Open Web Foundations.

I've hunted over 3,850 products since Product Hunt launched in 2014. Someone recently pointed out that that's hunting 1 product day for 10 years. Sheesh.


Chris’s Stack

  • Raycast( My productivity tool of choice)

  • Spotify (For listening to music and podcasts)

  • Airtable (I use it to create databases)

  • Craft (My tool of choice for writing documents)

  • Arc (The browser I use to surf the web)

  • Superhuman (I use it to quickly get through my inbox)

  • Zed (My code editor of choice)

  • Cleanshot X (How I make pretty, shareable screenshots)

  • Fathom (I use it to automatically transcribe and take meeting notes)

  • Perplexity (An AI assistant I use for research)

  • Speechify (A text to voice AI speech generator)

You've been at the forefront of early-day internet tech. What was it like back then and how has it changed for better or worse?

It really is a marvel how adaptable humanity is, and how quickly we acclimate to what we were once considered world-changing technologies. Then again, maybe I've been prone to believing the hype, and that "gamechanging ideas" were just incremental improvements presented in a new wrapper, format, or applied in a new context.

I say this because my career on the internet really started as social networking was taking off, and right before social media began to supplant mainstream media. But humans have always sought connection and the dissemination of information; whether and to what degree we've relied on intermediaries is more a function of technology enablement rather than innate behavior.

What's different today is the sheer scale of internet connected media and the growing access and familiarity with these platforms. As the inventor of the hashtag, I have the unique experience of being able to hear people talk about my creation without knowing who I am or how I'm connected to it, which means I get to discover completely novel interpretations of what the hashtag is, what it's for, and how people experience it that are completely divorced from my original intention, purpose, or goals.

You use a few AI based tools namely Perplexity and Speechify, what does that workflow look like for you?

I've hooked up my iPhone's Action Button to Perplexity Search and so whenever I need to look up something, I bypass Siri and go straight to Perplexity. I find that Perplexity provides better answers and resources than ChatGPT, and is more forgiving when I don't type full questions. I also dual-wield with Arc Search for when I want more extended "Browse for Me"-style results when on mobile. I also upgraded to Perplexity Pro and often switch between different models depending on what I'm working on.

I discovered Speechify through Artifact (RIP) and find its AI-voices are top-notch. I decided to pay for its premium service so I can listen to long-form articles in its dedicated app while on the go. Even though more publishers are adding text-to-speech formats inline (like The Atlantic or Wired) I often need to stop and restart playback and end up losing my progress in embedded players. In other cases, I listen while I'm driving and web browsers on iOS seem to drop the Bluetooth connection to my car so I need a native app that can get through an entire article. I rarely read text with my eyes these days; mostly I read with my ears.

Is there any tool that had a lot of hype and lived up to it?

From the moment I hunted ChatGPT, I knew it was going to be a big deal — and then it went on to become Product Hunt's Product of the Year and has only improved since. Considering that ChatGPT represents a completely new category of software built upon a new enabling technology (LLMs), it built upon the familiar format of the chatbot (which had their first moment in 2016-2017) and finally made good on the promise of performant, capable conversationalist artificial intelligence. It's only going to keep getting better.

Do you have any pro tips for any of the products you mentioned?

Here's a pro tip for Raycast users that love Arc's Browse with Me feature: create a Quicklink that uses this URL:


Voila! Now you can use Browse for Me on the desktop!

That's a lot of Product hunt launches! Is there anything in particular you've learned from helping so many founders over the years?

Product storytelling and narrative is so important. Most of the time I spend coaching makers is spent understanding what their product doesn, how it's positioned in the market, how its users describe the value they get, and then figuring out how to tell that story succinctly, powerfully, and in a way that's instantly relatable. It's not easy! But when you deeply understand the problem you're solving, who you're solving it for, and how your product fits into the existing marketplace, you'll have a good shot of breaking through.