Joe Stump on Travel Advice From a Frequent Flier

In Chapter 2 of 17 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, Internet entrepreneur and SimpleGeo CTO Joe Stump shares what he has learned traveling. For one, he travels ruthlessly to other countries to see new perspectives outside his culture and shape his worldview. Two, Stump shares why he carries a ruthless approach into an airport to get in and get out stress free and efficiently. Stump is the co-founder and CTO at SimpleGeo (, a San Francisco-based mobile location infrastructure services company. Previously Stump was Lead Architect at Digg. He programs in PHP, Python, Django and enjoys scaling websites. He earned a BBA in Computer Information Systems from Eastern Michigan University.


Erik Michielsen: Why should one travel ruthlessly?

Joe Stump: I like traveling to get a sense of other cultures because other cultures always tackle problems differently. And I think that filters into so many different things, I think that you can have a much more interesting political debate around people where they’ll talk about, for instance they’ll talk about, “Well if we get rid of all the guns in America then murderers will run ramped and kill people.” And they did similar things in Australia and the U.K. and murder rates dropped precipitously.

And I think similar things - I think that actually applies to developing products as well because if you’ve ever driven, or ever ridden on public transportation systems in other different parts around the country - of the world, they’re drastically different, they all have little different buttons, little different instructions, and different things. So I like to travel ruthlessly because it shapes my world view and gives me a lot more context cause really all I know is my own culture and my own upbringing, and learning more about other cultures and other upbringings can shape your own upbringing I guess.

Erik Michielsen: How is traveling ruthlessly different from going into an airport and being ruthless?

Joe Stump: Uh, So when I head into the airport it’s like a precision guided missile, like, and airports are basically - I hate airports. I love traveling but I hate airports because of a couple things, one because they represent the most cheesy version of whatever locale you’re in, so if you go to Austin’s airport it’s nothing but barbecue and Texas Longhorns right?

And the other thing I hate about airports is there are fundamentally two types of travelers, there are people who literally are on their first flight ever in their entire life or there are people who have flown 150,000 miles last year there is no middle - there is no middle ground and those two sides seem to be at war with each other so perfect example of this, I was going through the Chicago airport and in the Chicago airport there are two main United terminals, B and C, and you have to actually, there’s this long lighted underground walkway and it was really packed and I had to make a connection and everyone was standing on the monorails or whatever the hell they are and I start pushing my way through and I’m like “excuse me” and this lady is like “well where are you going?” and I’m like, “I’m going to tell all these idiots to stand on the right and walk on the left just like every other human being on the planet knows to do.”

There tends to be an inverse relationship of number of people in crowd and average intelligence of said crowd, so if you’re in an airport and there are 20,000 people, they’re basically all retarded and so yeah I’m absolutely ruthless, I have no sense of etiquette whatsoever, I’m just like everybody know you walk on the left and stand on the right unless you’re a former British protectorate and then you walk on the other side, right? But yeah so we all have some place to go and we all have to get there and it’s a logistical nightmare to begin with, can we all just do it in an efficient manner?