t-minus 3 hours until brain tumors are obliterated

How's that for a headline? OK, not really, but the eBay auction of our "these built reddit" powerbooks is going to be ending soon. Hurry and get your bids in now, or just wait to snipe it at the end.

If you're the one who keeps sniping me out of my Aliens collectible action figures, know that I'll find you. One day.

Incidentally, it might be fun to watch in the closing minutes (like that kiko auction!) so tune in at 2:01:17pm Eastern.

Thanks again for your support, be it through your casual interest, or through link-spamming the auction URL.

web 2.0 flashback

I was quite pleased to find a bit of Internet fluff I'd put together a while back resurface on the front page of reddit yesterday.

It was my proposal for a more web 2.0 reddit. Pity we never followed through with it. (Steve's always been adamant about making a blah blah useful blah blah site and not a trendy one) It's that kind of narrow mindedness that will keep him from ever getting an MBA.

Anyway, this eventually spiralled out of control -- not unlike a TAG MAELSTROM (usage note: it's important write this in all caps). The end result was this video (honest, I did work on reddit somtimes, too!). The style was obviously stolen from Colbert's The Wørd, but the inspiration was from a demo we saw one day in the Valley. I asked Aaron to write the slides and I had all the material I needed for the blowhard :)

To continue with the tradition of unearthing and recycling old content, meet Pierre Francois, Web 2.0 design consultant & guru (apologies if you already saw this -- a year ago):

chris doodles

Chris left behind the world of experimental atomic physics to hack on reddit. Sucker...

He's also the guy behind our nifty homebrew stat tools, which has earned him the nickname of "Statman" (like Batman, but not the lame 60s TV show version, more like the Christian Bale version). We're also collaborating on building the world's first functioning lightsaber -- it's not as clumsy or as random as a blaster, but an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

And by "collaborating," I mean I'm just telling him about how cool it would be, then he tells me about the limits of blah blah physics blah blah lasers blah blah. Hmpf.

Dr. Slowe did not get his PhD in graphic design.

jeremy doodles

Jeremy joined us shortly after we moved reddit out west with Wired. I asked him, along with Chris and Steve, to quickly doodle the alien with a sharpie on some printer paper.

Little did they know I'd be using it as an excuse to not do work.

So while they're busy finishing the rewrite, I'm displaying their artwork in a 120x40px logo. Here it is in high-rez scan for your viewing pleasure:

Drawing the alien freehand is harder than it looks.

Oh, and don't worry, I'm not going to try and sell the originals on eBay for charity.

a fresh start

I've never kept it a secret that I was the one who created our mascot (it's vital to my job security). But the guys are actually quite the doodlers themselves, so I thought we'd try the logo again with some new artists.

The added bonus of this is that I am off the hook for another week's worth of doodles (work).

Oh, and I can celebrate reuniting with my lost luggage, a mere 23 days later than desired. There I was trying to enjoy my first proper (read: Internet-less) vacation in a couple years and Alitalia decided I ought to buy an ill-fitting collection of Italian clothes. Really, those pants are a whole new kind of tight. Shudder.

Fortunately, I flew with my Jamglue shirt on, so I was already turning a few heads -- especially after wearing it for a solid thirty-six hours straight.

edit: I've just learned that Alitalia is actually Italian for "Lost luggage? Deal with it yourself -- you're in Italy now and we're all on vacation." Fancy that.

thanks for your help

This isn't just for those of you I pestered to vote up my reddit link (it wasn't just for the karma, honest). It was even submitted to digg.

I greatly appreciate all the attention this auction has already gotten thanks to the support of many anonymous users and a few not-so-anonymous ones (we're already just shy of $1000 at the time of this writing).

Valleywag did me a solid with a post mentioning the auction. The esteemed Scottkidder.com even blogged about it. Oh, Gizmodo gave a shoutout, too.

TechCrunch's Nick Gonzalez also showed us some love as well and even added my warning -- "Luck not included".

There wasn't much chatter on Valleywag or Scottkidder.com, but Techcrunch had a healthy bit of discussion. Sadly, I can't manage to comment on the article due to my own technical incompetence. If it had been working, I would have said the following:

to Francisco
I'm sorry to hear that. Thanks for for writing; I know this modest bit of fundraising will do little to end this terrible affliction, but I tell myself that every little bit helps.

to gettit
While I appreciate your cynicism, this decision was not motivated by a desire for personal exposure.

to Sam
You're right, we're not legends. You've undoubtedly read my disclaimer in the eBay listing: "Please hurry and bid before we fall even further into Internet obscurity!!!"

to Andrew
Yeah, I was in a bit of a rush and listed an AGP card as a PCI card. Whoops. He got his money back, but the blemish is still on my permanent record. Needless to say, I won't be shipping the wrong laptops ;-)

reddit: "particularly inane and dangerous"

Scott Butki of Blogcritics.org did a recent interview with Andrew Keen, author of The Cult Of The Amateur. He was asked the following:

I'm sure the readers of these sites, who are of all political, racial, ideological stripes, who often find the most popular debates are over controversial and contentious issues, would like to know what makes you sure your description of them is better than mine. Did you actually visit some of these sites and participate in them before dismissing them?

To which he responded:

I did look at Reddit, which is particularly inane and dangerous.

As you can tell, Mr. Keen is a big fan of what's going on at reddit ;-) I'm so proud.

Not only that, he's pretty scared of the "nightmare" that is Web 2.0. I can think of a lot of words I'd call it, but nightmare isn't one of them. Oh well, I'll let him speak for himself -- here's the email debate he had with David Weinberger.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to try to send him a shirt...

*pic ganked from WSJ.com

own the 2 laptops that started reddit.com

I just placed the two Powerbooks Steve and I used to start reddit on eBay. 100% of the proceeds are going to the American Brain Tumor Association, so I'd appreciate it if you passed along the link to this auction to any friends/family who like spending money.

If you happen to be in a VC-funded startup, I'd strongly recommend bidding on this pair of laptops. I guarantee it will at least double your already obscene valuation.

Even if you hate reddit, they would make a great addition to any burning effigy of our alien mascot -- think of the splendid YouTube video it'd make!


coming full circle (and cheerleading!)

(Picture taken by the remarkable photographer, Justin Hankins. Go get engaged and then have him photograph the wedding: www.justinhankins.com)

I was invited to click through some ppt slides at this year's U21 Conference, which was conveniently hosted at UVA this year. I'd attended the same conference three years earlier when it was in Singapore. Furthermore, it was on my first night there that I finally got the unbiased encouragement from a professor (Mark White) to try starting a startup with Steve. Until then, I'd only pitched my parents, who were incredibly supportive but ultimately unreliable. I could have told them I wanted to play professional rugby and they'd high-five me. You should see me run.

Anyway, this year's conference was about leadership and I feel like my hungover dog, beer-guzzling child, and cute kitten slides went over really well. I'm basing this on the number of Facebook friendship requests I made afterward that were not declined.

There is one thing I wish I'd mentioned though. Since I already hardly have much of a right to be sounding authorative about anything, I want to stress the one overarching thing that probably anyone could have told you, dot.com startup founder or not.

Look around and you'll likely find something that's wrong (or something you want to do right). It can be in technology, politics, society, it doesn't matter. Whatever it is -- just do it*

Rah, rah, rah.

I happened to be at a U21 Conference (and by that I mean at a bar the night before it began) when my switch flipped.

At this point, Steve and I already had a few casual conversations over grub or television about ideas he'd had. After a Waffle House epiphany with another friend, Jack, I'd ruled out law school and wanted to try starting a startup. I just didn't know what. I'd thought about putting salsa into a squeeze bottle (it'd be called Squeezalsa). Lucky for me, I was friends with Steve. He had much better ideas.

One of the better ones was what we ended up applying to YC with (and got rejected on, but that's another story). This is had in my head on the way to Singapore the Summer before my 4th year. I'd had an NYC internship lined up with Ogilvy PR when Professor White invited me to attend a "technopreneurship" symposium in Singapore as a member of the UVA team. And it'd be all expenses paid. The decision wasn't too hard to make, but it couldn't have been more fortunate.

Please forgive all the ellipses, typos, and the lack of punctuation; my well-ingrained US touch typing wasn't playing well with the keyboard layouts in Singapore so I get lazy.

This is the email I sent Steve on July 11, 2004:
hey bro, i'm in singapore at this technepreneurial seminar, and am basically spending a week learning how to create a tech start-up.

i spoke to Mark White (a professor in the comm school, the guy who took me to South Africa, and who recruited me to come here, as well as a generally good guy and technophile) over some drinks last nite, and pitched him on our idea...

from his feedback -- and let me remind you that he gets pitches every couple of months from students, and was very candid and honest with his thoughts, but basically said it was one of the best he's heard, period. Not only that, but he wants to be on the board of directors, and already knows some people to hit up for starting capital... I've got plenty of more details, but I am seriously considering putting off law school for this, but i need you, and we'll both need to be doing this full time for about a year to get it off the ground....

but the potential he saw was in the millions my friend...

we need to talk


i am coming back the 20th so if we could have lunch around 1pm i could meet you whereever you'd like... let me know.

honestly, this is the kind of thing that could change our lives - and his motivation has really spurred me.

but i need you and the same kind of commitment.

Needless to say, I did talk him into it, and he did indeed wholly commit to a company essentially started in our college apartment living room.

Good thing it turned out OK ;-)

*alas, Nike does not pay me for that.

my next startup

I think the next startup Steve and I start should involve widget production. That way, we'd have a case study for every possible scenario.

Fun fact (a "Wikipedia fact"):
The etymology of the "widget" apparently goes back to Beggar on Horseback (1924), a play written by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly. Apparently life in the widget factory is the "soul-deadening living" that is the alternative to a life with any artistic or spiritual value. Fun times.