Episode 19 - Building Universe: Joe Cohen

Like many of us, Joe Cohen fell in love with HyperCard. Three years ago, he founded Universe to re-imagine HyperCard for the modern day. In this interview, Joe walks us through his initial vision for Universe, and the pivots along the way. It’s a refreshing story about balancing pie-in-the-sky vision with shorter-term customer needs.


  1. Welcome to the Future of Coding. Today I have Joe Cohen on the podcast.
  2. Joe Cohen is originally from Brooklyn, NY
  3. He studied at wharton, which makes us both university of pennslyvania dropouts
  4. He his first company was called Lore, in the education space
  5. He’s currently building Universe, which were going to hear all about
  6. Joe, thanks for joining me.
  7. You’ve got through a number of interesting pivots with Universe, which I’m excited to have you walk us through. Before we get there, could you explain what you initially set out to accomplish here?
  8. You have the honor of being the first non-technical guest on the show. How does this perspective affect running a company like Universe?
  9. At the most recent Future of Programming meeting, you described different phases of the company. Can you walk us through these early pivots?
  10. It seems so obvious now. “Squarespace on your the phone.” Why did it take you so long to find it? What advice would you give to someone working on a tool who’s messaging isn’t ressonanting with users?
  11. Can you tell us about some of your favorite sites makes with Universe?
  12. One of my favorite features is the ability to purchase custom domains on your iPhone with your fingerprint. It’s 2017. How is it that you’re the only person that’s figured that out?
  13. The first way you went about this was “living in your own universe.” Now you iterate with customers and seem to love that.
  14. What are your next milestones or targets for Universe?
  15. Can you talk about how you see the long-term financial sustainability of Universe?