Founder Stories: Swell’s Ram Ramkumar On Transitioning From CTO To CEO

For today’s Founder Stories, I met with Ram Ramkumar, co-founder and new CEO of, which last week launched Swell, an adaptive mobile app that streams audio news content.

“The most challenging part about being a CEO is creating a sense of mission in the team,” says Ramkumar, who previously founded the mobile marketing solution Snaptell, which sold to Amazon in 2009. “We are lucky to have some of the key team members out of Snaptell that joined me at”

Ram explains how, as CEO, he has to focus on usability and design, which is in contrast to his experience running a technical team at Snaptell. For’s new app Swell, he brought diversity to his team by including design as the core mission of the product in addition to engineering. ‘There’s more to the product than technology,” says Ramkumar.

Everyone talks about simplicity, but simplicity is really hard to achieve. Knowing what buttons to not include, knowing what features to not include is, in fact, as hard as knowing what to build.

Ram and I also dove deeper into the value of mentorship, celebrating small and large successes, and creating a corporate culture that includes employees who have families and responsibilities outside of work. Watch the full interview above to learn more.

Editor’s Note: Michael Abbott is a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering, and a founder himself. Mike also writes a blog called uncapitalized. You can follow him on Twitter @mabb0tt.