This is a very belated recap email of everything we did in 2012. To be clear, this could not have been anywhere near as awesome productive a year as it was without Christina Xu, Kat Manalac, and Joe Alger. Without them, I... Don't even want to think about it -- on to the year in review!
I finally submitted my manuscript for my book, Without Their Permission, which will come out on October 1st, 2013!
Erik Martin and I thought it'd be a good idea to crowdfund a bus tour across the heartland of America to campaign for internet freedom. We convinced a half dozen journalists to join us and even brought a film crew, NimbleBot, who shot a documentary we debuted in DC to a packed room at Newseum that included 4 sitting US representatives!
January 18, 2012 is a day that won't live in infamy, thanks to the internet public's victory over $94 MM in lobbying from the entertainment industry. Because of the action we all took that day, we forced our government to shelve these two awful bills.
CISPA Facebook IPO
I made headlines for being one of the few tech industry leaders who was bearish about the impending Facebook IPO. I announced I wouldn't be investing in Facebook because of their support of CISPA, a bill that would've run roughshod over due process when it comes to our privacy online. I ended up looking rather prescient on IPO day, but the real issue I wanted to bring attention to was the fact that a powerful tech company was supporting a policy that was bad for the internet public.
Trial of Clone
The marvelous Zach Weinersmith finished writing his first "adventure of your own choosing" novel, Trial of the Clone, which debuted on Kickstarter and raised over $180,000! That guaranteed a sequel and nearly sprained Zach's wrist doing autographs, but so it goes.
To Be Or Not To Be
Our biggest breadpig publication of the last year ended up being another "adventure of your choosing novel" — this one by Ryan North, author of Dinosaur Comics. He put together a version of Hamlet in modern English where you can play the role of Hamlet, Ophelia, or the King. It was so awesome he raised over half a million dollars!
Lester's Time Has Come Today
The idea to work with Lester Chambers came to me during a debate with Professor Jonathan Taplin at Fast Company's Innovation Uncensored. I suggested that with the help of internet platforms like Kickstarter and reddit, artists could circumvent gatekeepers, work directly with fans and get paid for it. Professor Taplin was rather dismissive, so I decided to walk the walk. We reached out to soul legend Lester Chambers, lead singer of The Chambers Brothers, who was robbed for decades by the music industry. The industry signed the young Lester Chambers into an awful contract, paid him no royalties for decades, and drove him into poverty. We wanted to see whether the internet public could right the wrongs of the industry and fund an album that Lester himself would own entirely. $60,000 later, Lester's time has come.
Riding Shotgun with Zach Anner
The internet discovered Zach when Oprah held an open casting for a new show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Zach's hilarious audition rocketed to the front page of reddit and eventually onto TVs nationwide when he won a travel show on OWN. Unfortunately, the show was canceled after a few episodes. We knew Ms. Winfrey was making a mistake, so we reached out to Zach and offered to help him get another series funded. The internet-powered show "Riding Shotgun with Zach Anner" debuted this past winter with much fanfare. You can subscribe to Zach's YouTube channel and tune in!
Make Something People Love
People always ask me for a detailed playbook for building brands based on my reddit, breadpig, and hipmunk experience, so I wrote this e-book. Since you're my favorite, here's a coupon code for 42% off! TOWEL
Talks around the world
I've had quite a few speaking gigs this year that took me all over the USA and world, including Abu Dhabi, Munich, Prague, Amsterdam, and Halifax! I'm doing a big speaking circuit in the fall when my book comes out, so drop my lectures agent a note if you think I should come speak at a location near you! I want to finally get some sick airline status.
We landed in the New York Times at the start of this year, for our victory over SOPA/PIPA. Inc. magazine did an awesome profile, Forbes named me to their "30 Under 30" (for 2nd and final time), and they also gave me the title of "Mayor of the Internet." I had a great time on Soledad O'Brien's show on CNN, and on CBS This Morning, where I shared my Waffle House epiphany with Charlie Rose and Gayle King.
For the fist time in its history, the Awesome Foundation's international chapters all met for a conference of awesome hosted by Christina Xu, the supreme leader of IHAS. Have you seen the beautiful new Awesome Foundation website?
redditgifts for the troops with Stephen Colbert
My mancrush on Stephen only grew stronger when he agreed to join our redditfifts for the troops this past year, which was a great success. Check out a number of the Secret Santa gifts that were received.
I was thrilled to add a number of new companies to the portfolio this year. They all have newsletters of their own, so I'll let you check them out if you're interested. But you can see the full list of my portfolio companies here.
Some awesome folks at google included me in their year end commercial! You'll see the clip of my SOPA PIPA protest speech in NYC at the 52s mark.
Phew! You made it to the end. You rock. If you enjoyed this, you should subscribe to my newsletter and never miss a thing.
May you all have an awesomesauce 2013.
Shane sent me these photos to show off her superfandom. Mission accomplished, Kristen.
You rock and thanks for hipmunking!
Bonus! I included a code just for this interview for 42% off my e-book, Make Something People Love.
Hope to see you there at the Newseum!!
4:30pm pre-screening cocktail reception
5:00pm screening and panel
6:00pm internet freedom reception
Sent from my iPhone
I'm so so so excited for our debut at CES next week!
See you there?
January 8, 2013 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
LVCC, North Hall N254
After watching the U.S. government threaten the Internet with bills like SOPA and PIPA, Internet entrepreneurs from Reddit set out to "campaign for the Internet" during the 2012 presidential election season. Traveling from Denver to Danville, Ky., during the presidential and vice presidential debates, the Internet 2012 Bus Tour explored the potential that the Open Internet holds to promote our economy -- not just in Silicon Valley, but also in cities and towns (and farms!) all over America. Following the screening, filmmakers and Internet entrepreneurs will discuss why government and citizens alike should care about preserving (and developing) the Internet Economy in every city and every town in America. reddit GM Erik Martin & reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian will be panelists.
Woohoo! There I am in Google's 2012 Zeitgeist commercial, protesting in front of our NY Senators' offices against PIPA (and SOPA). Like I said on facebook: "Thanks to all of you who made 2012 an awesome year for internet freedom -- there's plenty more work to be done but let me take tonight to raise a glass to all of you."
One of the first interviews was with Alexis Ohanian. Ohanian was one of the co-founders of Reddit, a popular social website comprised, in large part, of Internet and technology enthusiasts. Although he sold the company to Conde Nast in 2006, Ohanian has remained heavily involved with the Reddit community, and has frequently referenced this during speaking and news engagements. Both Reddit and Ohanian himself were very active in the debates around SOPA and PIPA; the latter frequently appeared on the news and media circuit and traveled to D.C. to testify before Congress in November 2011. Because of these actions, he was informally declared “Mayor of the Internet” in the summer of 2012 (Greenberg).
Despite this honor, Ohanian has never felt that he formally represents anyone, as nobody has elected him for anything. He did, however, feel he could speak from the perspective of a successful tech entrepreneur. He is adamant that, had the bills been passed years ago, they would have prevented him and his partner from founding Reddit, and that passing them now would similarly stifle future entrepreneurs. As he explained it, company founders would no longer simply need a laptop and Internet connection, but a team of lawyers. As many Web 2.0 startups aggregate data from other websites, they could potentially be classified as “search engines” and fall under the jurisdiction of the bills.
From his perspective, the bills were not formulated with sufficient technical expertise. As he rallied with individuals and organizations, he noted that they crossed political, social, and economic boundaries. “Everyone from MoveOn to Cato” (two politically polar interest groups) was united in opposition to the bills. Ohanian was particularly incensed by a comment from Representative Mel Watt about “not understanding the technology part of this” (covered later).
Ohanian did not mastermind Black Wednesday, or even have much of a role in promoting it. It, and much of the other activity around SOPA, was assisted by the momentum of Reddit and other concerned communities. Ohanian referred to the movement as “leader-full,” in contrast to some who called it leaderless. Individuals became leaders in ways that best helped the cause, and in nontraditional manners. He also made it clear that this was far from the first time that the Reddit community had mobilized around an issue they cared about, referring to a time when they coordinated a campaign to name a whale “Mr. Splashy Pants.” However, he did note that this was the first time Reddit had significantly participated in politics, and seemed to hope that the same type of momentum and decision-making that had characterized Reddit’s actions on SOPA could be used for future bills.
There were several codes that could be found in Ohanian’s interview. One was the notion of “bottom up” – no one was coordinating efforts or telling Redditors how they should protest the bills. A number of small projects, initiatives and plans were devised by a diverse number of participants. Alexis was clear that he never represented anyone, which eschews the notion of a traditional, top-down representation. Another code that emerged was “capability.” The Internet has afforded many capabilities which were previously unavailable – the capability for Alexis to start a company, the capability to make new friends and share interesting content at the click of a button, and the capability for “leader-full” movements to emerge in a concentrated community.
We've already come a long way from January 18th.