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James Hong

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The concept of Virtual Flowers is growing!

Jim and I certainly love the fact that within weeks of launching HOTorNOT, there were over a hundred other picture rating sites on the web.

I'm very proud to say that another concept developed by HOTorNOT, this one masterminded and implemented by Dawn Pollak and Greg Lin, has recently been launched by another very large and cool website, Livejournal.

Dawn and Greg created HOTorNOT Virtual Flowers. We usually keep numbers quiet, but in order to give Dawn and Greg the level of props they deserve, I will say that last year over 100,000 flowers were sold!

Using a system very similar to Virtual Flowers, Livejournal has recently started selling virtual gifts. Kudos to them, I am certain it will be very successful for them. I think this is just the beginning of a new business model that will help to sustain virtual communities beyond boring advertising models, and possibly even subscription models.. and kudos to dawn and greg for creating something so cool. 5 years from now, I think the impact of their work will be widespread and deeply meaningful in ways we can't even comprehend yet.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It's time to update the testimonial page

After running HOTorNOT for over 5 years, one of the most satisfying things for Jim and I has been receiving and reading the testimonials we get from our users. Every day, we hear from users who made lots of new friends on the site, from tons of users who found happy, new relationships, and even about marriage engagements (1-2 a day!!)

The one thing we've been really bad about (meaning we've been lazy) has been updating the testimonials page. So, we decided we're going to start doing it. We'll be putting together some sort of webpage to automate things and have them published to some sort of blog, but in the meanwhile, we want to get some new content WITH PICTURES...

Remember, we aren't just looking for people who are getting married or are in new relationships, we also want people who found new friends, roommates, IM Buddies, or whatever!

So, if you'd like to be one of the first people featured on our new testimonials page, send the following to honstories (at) :

1. Your story
2. A picture of you (or both of you if a couple)
3. Your first name and last initial
4. Your HOTorNOT Username(s)
5. Your location(s)
6. Your age(s)
7. Whether you would recommend HOTorNOT to your friends as a way to meet people (preferably in your words, not just "yes" or "no)

We look forward to seeing your emails!! :)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Is Silicon Valley taking over Hollywood?

Max and I at the opening

Ok, maybe "taking over" is not the right way to put it.. but it's definitely getting involved in a big way!

I just got back from the LA opening premier for the movie Thank You For Smoking. Most people don't know it, but that movie was entirely produced by the founders of Paypal. Paypal/ founders Max Levchin (Thats him and I in the picture), Peter Thiel, and Elon Musk all chipped in to support Producer David Sachs (former COO of Paypal) in his efforts to start a new production company called Room 9 Entertainment. Apparently the movie was so well liked by the book's author (props to director Jason Reitman!), John Grisham called saying he wanted David to produce his next book->movie adaptation!

But David isn't the first person from Silicon Valley to invade Hollywood... Jeff Skoll moved down there a couple of years ago to set up 2 production companies.. the first one was called ovation, setup by him and my buddy GZ, and the second is called Participant Productions (which has the noble charter of making only movies that have the potential to create social change). In it's first year of putting out movies, Participant got 7 oscar nominations!! Who says you can't be good and do well too? Way to go Jeff!!

Mark Cuban isn't from Silicon Valley, but he made his money from selling his company to Yahoo and he's a fellow techie, so we'll count him too. Cuban is making a bunch of movies these days as well..

Be on the lookout for a lot more Silicon Valley names as Executive Producers of big movies.. because there are all these guys up here that are rich and bored, and let's be honest.. throwing a launch party for a movie in Hollywood is a lot more glamorous and invovles a ton more hotties than throwing a launch party up in Silicon Valley!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A few things I've learned over the last year that I was supposed to learn when I was 5

Tying my shoes

I learned this one last year actually, and the previous year has been SO MUCH BETTER because of it.. Basically, until last year, I didn't know how to properly tie my shoes... and odds are, you might not either.

I always thought it was because my shoelaces sucked or something, and I always found myself double knotting. Turns out, I was just tying the knot wrong. There's an easy way to test if you tie your laces wrong.. just shake your shoe a little, and see if the bow orients vertically instead of horizontally across the shoe. If so, you're doing it wrong. To fix it, just reverse the first knot (for example, if you normally go left over right, go right over left instead). It looks like there's already a web page, with pictures, describing this whole thing.. who knew?

Climbing Stairs

All my life, people have remarked that I have well developed calves.. I thought maybe it was just genetic, but I noticed neither of my parents had them. Over the past year, I've lived on a hill where I basically have to climb up about 200 stairs to get home. Today as I was walking home, I somehow noticed that how I climb has changed to a much more efficient method. It turns out that I USED to put my foot only halfway onto the next step, then used my calf muscles to lift my body. Now I (like normal people) lift my knees just a wee bit higher, enough to get my entire foot planted squarely on the next step, and then use my quadriceps (the muscle on the front of your leg, above the knee) to lift my body. Of course this is easier because quads are a lot stronger than calf muscles, since we use them a lot more. I don't think this problem is as common because most people's calves aren't super huge.

Now I have the choice of either climbing the stairs easier, or maintaining my calf definition. At the very least, this explains why I was pretty good in high school at the long jump and triple jump, and why I could touch rim when I was only 5'6"

I hope I just made someone else's life a little bit better. Especially on the shoe tying one. Honest. It'll change your life.