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James Hong

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Reinventing HOTorNOT, Part I

Ever since I came back to HOTorNOT in October 2006, people have been asking me what the company is up to. For the previous 6 years, HOTorNOT had pretty much been steady along the same course: A picture rating site with a dating-like application built on top (without the seriousness of a dating site) that generated healthy amounts of cash for my cofounder Jim and I. For the first 3.5 years, it was Jim and I working about 10 hours a week each, with the company earning many millions of dollars per year.

Then 2 things changed, and we realized we had to change with them:

1) Startup economics improved, making it harder to keep good people
2) The Online Advertising Market improved, making free competitors a reality

1. Startup economics improved, making it harder to keep good people

Three and a half years into running HOTorNOT, Jim and I grew tired of having our personal lives dictated by the health of the website. So we decided to hire employees to help us run the cashcow… but as I have mentioned in the past, getting really smart people to be happy running YOUR cashcow in silicon valley is nearly impossible. You have to either decide to grow a large organization and institutionalize things (but also recognize that the average caliber of the team is likely to drop… and these are the people you have to work with every day), or you have to recognize that those people are going to eventually leave. By late 2006, all of our employees wanted to leave to go do their own things. They recognized that the costs of doing a startup had gotten so low, it made less sense for them to stay at HOTorNOT than start their own startup.

This was of course our own doing.. after all, we hired them BECAUSE we thought they were smart and entrepreneurial. Most of our employees were also younger and have nothing to lose, due to the fact that we mostly recruit straight out of Berkeley. We learned a big lesson here: don’t expect smart, young people to do anything that you wouldn’t do yourself. Jim and I both had to admit, if we were 22 years old, we wouldn’t stick around running someone else’s cashcow for no equity, even if we earned salaries 2-3x the normal wage. We either had to let them go or give them equity.

Problem: We needed top talent, but working at HOTorNOT sucked. Employees shared no upside. To make matters worse, they were encouraged not to take risks because Jim and I were overly concerned with preserving cashflow, making the job boring.

Solution: We finally created a stock option plan for our employees. I will explain in greater detail in a future post why we did not give options to employees in the past, but for now I will just mention that we were an S corporation and that that caused complications. Giving the team a large cut of equity has aligned their interests with ours and we’ve seen it breathe an incredible amount of new energy into them… as it should. They are now working for themselves now and not for us, and we think that is a better situation for everyone.

The other thing we did is start encouraging innovation again, rather than squelch it in fear of our any changes hurting the cash cow. Changes are now made to the site that I don’t always agree with, and in some cases I don’t even know about… and as long as the team is measuring and testing the effectiveness of everything, that’s ok.

(as an aside: our original vision was to become an incubator and to enable our employees to work on new ideas, and let them spin those off as separate companies.. basically let our employees graduate into becoming funded entrepreneurs at a time when funding was hard to get. Our first and only attempt at this was back in 2003 when we hoped to work with Steve Chen and Mike Solomon to start, which was going to be a social networking site with media sharing applications built on top.

In the end things did not work out because some members of our board were uncomfortable with the idea of giving the employees of a spinout majority share and control… so Jim and I agreed with Steve and Mike that it was a no go. It’s hard to say what would have happened if things had moved forward with them, but given Steve and Mike’s huge success with YouTube, it is easy to presume that this was a huge mistake. In general, Jim and I both believe (especially now) that it is better to find people you believe in and take a chance on them than in trying to control and own them. People will work a lot harder if they are working for themselves and feel in control of their own destiny than they will for you.

In the future of the web, the majority of value is in innovation and the quality of execution, not in the funding resources a company can provide… giving employees a healthy share, and a majority share in the case of spinouts they are primarily responsible for is not only not a bad idea, it’s the BEST idea. Another example of this is Yelp, which was a spinout of Max Levchin’s incubator.)

2) The Online Advertising Market improved, making free competitors a reality

The second thing that changed was the development of online advertising. When we launched HOTorNOT, we had no choice but to charge subscription fees for it. That was the only way to pay our server bills because CPMs on ad networks for sites like HOTorNOT dropped to about 3 cents (that’s 3 cents per 1,000 ad impressions shown). So we developed a subscription service on top of our dating service, and that quickly became very profitable.

But what happens when an advertising model DOES provide an adequate amount of revenue, even if just for 2 or 3 people? That means it is now possible to offer the same scale of services and still be profitable, entirely on an ad model… and from the customer’s standpoint, if they can do something for free versus the same thing for charge, which do you think s/he is going to pick? This has enabled free sites like Myspace, Facebook, and to pop up, and it is a real long-term threat to most subscription sites.

There is no doubt in my mind that HOTorNOT’s traffic started to drop around 2004 due to free alternatives, primarily social networking sites. It’s not that these services made HOTorNOT worthless to users, it’s just that they had alternatives occupying their time.

While HOTorNOT’s profitability was still extremely strong thanks to a large loyal base of paying users we’d built up over the years, we saw the writing on the wall.

Problem: Free competitors

Solution: We decided we had to stop being conservative in our actions, and in our desire for cashflow. Earnings became like a drug addiction to us, to the point where we stopped innovating and we became more focused on making sure our next dividend check was coming (and to hell with longer term trends!)

So the first decision we made was to go cold turkey and make HOTorNOT free. If Subscriptions were our past and Advertising and Digital Goods were our future, we had to take the plunge at some point, no matter how painful.

This has much broader implications than you think. First, we now had less to lose by being aggressive (countless right moves were killed in the past because we were worried about what it would do to our bottom line). The other thing this did was it enabled us to let users create more user generated content on the site. User generated content is the real power of the web... but when you run a dating site, one of the things you have to do is screen ALL content to make sure nobody is hiding their contact info in their profile somewhere. Screening all content on a UGC site doesn’t scale…. but under an advertising based model, letting users upload more data doesn’t threaten the business model, it helps it. If a user wants to put their contact information in there, so be it.. it probably only helps us now.

Stop Clinging to the Past and Jump into the Future

While these changes may sound small and incremental in theory, in practice they are not. HOTorNOT is a completely different company to work at than it was just 6 months ago.

It used to be a cashcow where the employees didn’t hold any equity, and where innovation generally took a backseat to income preservation. It was so miserable to be at, even the founders left.

Today, it’s a pretty different story. Things are not boringly comfortably, they are more risky and exciting… but that’s ok because employees now hold equity, so they work hard and they think about and build things for HOTorNOT with general guidance but low supervision... They take more initiative now and are encouraged to take risks… and they feel a larger sense of ownership and pride in their work. On the side, they’ve even built 2 major Facebook apps (Moods, which has almost 2 million users in only 3 week, and Pets, which has 200k very active users). Both of these products may be spun-off as separate companies in the future, with employees involved likely keeping a substantial amount of equity in order to give them a majority of the control and a majority of the upside.

Most importantly, working at HOTorNOT is a lot more fun. Traffic has doubled in the past 3 months (doing about 20 million pageviews per day now), people are building cool new things that users love, our newer employees are learning more here than they could ever learn at a big company, and people are now working hard for their own upside.

Making these internal structural changes was essential to reinventing the company for our employees. Once these changes were in place, our newly motivated team started getting to work on reinventing the company for our users. We are now pointing HOTorNOT in a strange new direction that some have called crazy, others have called brilliant, and a few have called both crazy and brilliant at the same time. I’ll be following up on this post shortly with another blog entry revealing those changes.

In the meantime, if you are a coder and want to work somewhere that doesn’t suck (in fact it’s downright fun now), be sure to check out our job postings. We are trying to add 3 more coders to the team. (We are about 14 people now.. the jobs page is outdated :) ). We are also looking for a business hire to help run things, as well as an ad sales person.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The 300 Baud Club

I met up with Josh Kopelman yesterday. Josh was the founder of, my favorite story about him is how he got the attention of Meg Whitman (CEO of ebay, who eventually acquired He plastered every stop sign between meg whitman's house and the ebay office with bumperstickers. Genius.

Anyhow, 2 questions i always ask people in the internet industry around my age are:

1. What was your first computer? (Mine was an Atari 400, although I played more on the Apple IIe)


2. Did you play with modems, and what kind did you have? (My first modem was the Hayes Internal 300 baud Smartmodem, followed by the awesome Novation Apple-Cat II.) This question sometimes follows into a test of recollection of the Hayes AT command set

Josh started with an Apple II and also had the Hayes Internal Smartmodem. We also geeked out about what games we were into, Josh liked Taipan, I was an Ultima Fanatic.

Ok, what's my point.

It seems to me like amongst all the successful web entrepreneurs I know, a high proportion played fairly early with computers, and more importantly, with modems. I'm not just talking small companies like HOTorNOT, I mean the founders of a lot of BIG internet companies too. The biggest, in fact.

My guess is that the same set of nerds that were tying up their family's phone lines downloading warez, wardialing, and trying to build blue boxes were also the earliest people to grow up immersed in online communities. They were the first generation that grew up online. (Incidentally, Jobs and Wozniak, the founders of apple, first got into the business of building blue boxes before they built the Apple I)

I often tell people that in a connected world, an online identity can mean as much to a person as his/her offine identity. This seems to surprise some people, but the truth is, it was already true of me and a lot of other people trolling around BBS's back in the 80s. It's probably because we were so dorky offline and could feel cool online, but that's another story..

It's funny, but whenever I meet other entrepreneurs, the thing that we usually bond over most is not the Internet today or where it's headed... we usually bond over the old days, talking about the Apple II or how exciting it was when the capability for 8-bit color came out (which meant we could now download porn, basically)

I guess it's official.. when you bond with people over the good old days, it's a sign you're getting old. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Yahoo for Yahoo!

Terry Semel is out and Jerry Yang is now CEO of Yahoo.

This is such incredibly good news for Yahoo, I can't express in words how strongly I feel this is a good move.

Let's be honest. The companies of the future are not big media companies that force feed content down user's throats. That was only true in an old world where 2-way communication could not economically exist. TV, Magazines, Books, they are all very compelling, but not as compelling as conversations. The biggest companies of the future connect users, they don't speak directly to them.

The biggest companies of the future also let other people make money off of them, they don't try to do everything themselves. They are ecosystems for other excited companies.

Ebay. Paypal. Google. Facebook... these companies all fit that bill. (yes, notice Myspace is not there.. I hope they are working on an app platform)...and now with Yang at the head, hopefully Yahoo will regain its rightful place as an innovator and a company to watch.

I have no doubt that with him at the top, and folks who "get it" like Bradley Horowitz involved in product development, Yahoo's future is bright. It's going to be a painful transition though, over the last 5 or 6 years Yahoo has gotten bloated with lots of "big company" types who think a certain way. Yahoo management is going to have to be VERY strong and adamant that the culture is changing, and if people don't like it, please leave. Heck, they should probably set up a career center to help those who don't fit in leave faster.

So in a nutshell, Yahoo for Yahoo! Change is good, and in this case, it's REALLY good (and needed).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Facebook Apps

I've been evangelizing Facebook Apps so hard to people lately, people have actually come up to me and asked me if I own stock in them or something. (Sadly, I do not)

I will write a bit more down the road about how successful our company has been at proliferating random apps on Facebook (the most notable others that have jumped into building apps beyond their core apps are slide and rockyou), but suffice it to say it is CRAZY. It took us 8 days back in 2000 when we first launched HOTorNOT to break the "1 million votes counted in a day" milestone, and that was with the help of a lot of press. On Facebook Apps, we achieved the same goal in 4 days, with absolutely no press and no hype. There are some even crazier stats than that, but I will save those for another post.

Someone I have a lot of respect for (despite his poor taste in college football/basketball teams) is Marc Andreessen. Marc just wrote an interesting blog post about Facebook Apps that I think is pretty much dead on.

I only take exception to one thing he wrote:

the Facebook Platform is primarily for use by either big companies, or venture-backed startups with the funding and capability to handle the slightly insane scale requirements.

I disagree with this. iLike's application may have been particularly heavy, but it is not inconceivable (in fact I think it is more likely than not) that people will come up with massively popular apps that are not as machine intensive as ilike's particular application might have been. Combine that with the fact that facebook allows advertising, and the fact that managed hosting companies exist, and i think it is quite feasible for 2 guys and an idea to scale.

Granted, they have to be REALLY good.. but really good people out there do exist.

Jim and I scaled HOTorNOT by ourselves, with no money injected. There are plenty of sites out there that have grown to sizable scale with no money taken. There's a saying I heard recently that "creativity is what happens when you take a zero off the budget." (Sorry i can't remember who said that, but if it was you please let me know so i can credit you!!)

I am betting there are a LOT of really smart, creative people out there who WILL be able to make large scalable apps on facebook without taking in money. If any of you are exploding right now and need help, feel free to contact me.

Marc, I want my dollar back. Care to wager on this, timeframe is by end of year, milestone is an app with 5 million users by a company with no funding, running profitably :)


good speech by bill gates.

important message, but i love his self deprecating humor about his success with women too.

Text of the speech given by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates at Harvard University on June 7, 2007.

President Bok, former President Rudenstine, incoming President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, parents, and especially, the graduates:

I've been waiting more than 30 years to say this: "Dad, I always told you I'd come back and get my degree."

I want to thank Harvard for this timely honour. I'll be changing my job next year ... and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my resume.

I applaud the graduates today for taking a much more direct route to your degrees. For my part, I'm just happy that the Crimson has called me "Harvard's most successful dropout." I guess that makes me valedictorian of my own special class ... I did the best of everyone who failed.

But I also want to be recognised as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to drop out of business school. I'm a bad influence. That's why I was invited to speak at your graduation. If I had spoken at your orientation, fewer of you might be here today.

Harvard was just a phenomenal experience for me. Academic life was fascinating. I used to sit in on lots of classes I hadn't even signed up for. And dorm life was terrific. I lived up at Radcliffe, in Currier House. There were always lots of people in my dorm room late at night discussing things, because everyone knew I didn't worry about getting up in the morning. That's how I came to be the leader of the anti-social group. We clung to each other as a way of validating our rejection of all those social people.

Radcliffe was a great place to live. There were more women up there, and most of the guys were science-math types. That combination offered me the best odds, if you know what I mean. This is where I learned the sad lesson that improving your odds doesn't guarantee success.

One of my biggest memories of Harvard came in January 1975, when I made a call from Currier House to a company in Albuquerque that had begun making the world's first personal computers. I offered to sell them software.

I worried that they would realise I was just a student in a dorm and hang up on me. Instead they said: "We're not quite ready, come see us in a month," which was a good thing, because we hadn't written the software yet. From that moment, I worked day and night on this little extra credit project that marked the end of my college education and the beginning of a remarkable journey with Microsoft.

What I remember above all about Harvard was being in the midst of so much energy and intelligence. It could be exhilarating, intimidating, sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging. It was an amazing privilege - and though I left early, I was transformed by my years at Harvard, the friendships I made, and the ideas I worked on.

But taking a serious look back ... I do have one big regret.

I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world - the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences.

But humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries - but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity - reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.

I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries.

It took me decades to find out.

You graduates came to Harvard at a different time. You know more about the world's inequities than the classes that came before. In your years here, I hope you've had a chance to think about how - in this age of accelerating technology - we can finally take on these inequities, and we can solve them.

Imagine, just for the sake of discussion, that you had a few hours a week and a few dollars a month to donate to a cause - and you wanted to spend that time and money where it would have the greatest impact in saving and improving lives. Where would you spend it?

For Melinda and for me, the challenge is the same: how can we do the most good for the greatest number with the resources we have.

During our discussions on this question, Melinda and I read an article about the millions of children who were dying every year in poor countries from diseases that we had long ago made harmless in this country. Measles, malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis B, yellow fever. One disease I had never even heard of, rotavirus, was killing half a million kids each year - none of them in the United States.

We were shocked. We had just assumed that if millions of children were dying and they could be saved, the world would make it a priority to discover and deliver the medicines to save them. But it did not. For under a dollar, there were interventions that could save lives that just weren't being delivered.

If you believe that every life has equal value, it's revolting to learn that some lives are seen as worth saving and others are not. We said to ourselves: "This can't be true. But if it is true, it deserves to be the priority of our giving."

So we began our work in the same way anyone here would begin it. We asked: "How could the world let these children die?"

The answer is simple, and harsh. The market did not reward saving the lives of these children, and governments did not subsidise it. So the children died because their mothers and their fathers had no power in the market and no voice in the system.

But you and I have both.

We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism - if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We also can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.

If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is open-ended. It can never be finished. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world.

I am optimistic that we can do this, but I talk to skeptics who claim there is no hope. They say: "Inequity has been with us since the beginning, and will be with us till the end - because people just ... don't ... care." I completely disagree.

I believe we have more caring than we know what to do with.

All of us here in this Yard, at one time or another, have seen human tragedies that broke our hearts, and yet we did nothing - not because we didn't care, but because we didn't know what to do. If we had known how to help, we would have acted.

The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity.

To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.

Even with the advent of the Internet and 24-hour news, it is still a complex enterprise to get people to truly see the problems. When an airplane crashes, officials immediately call a press conference. They promise to investigate, determine the cause, and prevent similar crashes in the future.

But if the officials were brutally honest, they would say: "Of all the people in the world who died today from preventable causes, one half of one percent of them were on this plane. We're determined to do everything possible to solve the problem that took the lives of the one half of one percent."

The bigger problem is not the plane crash, but the millions of preventable deaths.

We don't read much about these deaths. The media covers what's new - and millions of people dying is nothing new. So it stays in the background, where it's easier to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about it, it's difficult to keep our eyes on the problem. It's hard to look at suffering if the situation is so complex that we don't know how to help. And so we look away.

If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.

Finding solutions is essential if we want to make the most of our caring. If we have clear and proven answers anytime an organization or individual asks "How can I help?," then we can get action - and we can make sure that none of the caring in the world is wasted. But complexity makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who cares - and that makes it hard for their caring to matter.

Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predictable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and in the meantime, make the smartest application of the technology that you already have - whether it's something sophisticated, like a drug, or something simpler, like a bed net.

The AIDS epidemic offers an example. The broad goal, of course, is to end the disease. The highest-leverage approach is prevention. The ideal technology would be a vaccine that gives lifetime immunity with a single dose. So governments, drug companies, and foundations fund vaccine research. But their work is likely to take more than a decade, so in the meantime, we have to work with what we have in hand - and the best prevention approach we have now is getting people to avoid risky behaviour.

Pursuing that goal starts the four-step cycle again. This is the pattern. The crucial thing is to never stop thinking and working - and never do what we did with malaria and tuberculosis in the 20th century - which is to surrender to complexity and quit.

The final step - after seeing the problem and finding an approach - is to measure the impact of your work and share your successes and failures so that others learn from your efforts.

You have to have the statistics, of course. You have to be able to show that a program is vaccinating millions more children. You have to be able to show a decline in the number of children dying from these diseases. This is essential not just to improve the program, but also to help draw more investment from business and government.

But if you want to inspire people to participate, you have to show more than numbers; you have to convey the human impact of the work - so people can feel what saving a life means to the families affected.

I remember going to Davos some years back and sitting on a global health panel that was discussing ways to save millions of lives. Millions! Think of the thrill of saving just one person's life - then multiply that by millions. ... Yet this was the most boring panel I've ever been on - ever. So boring even I couldn't bear it.

What made that experience especially striking was that I had just come from an event where we were introducing version 13 of some piece of software, and we had people jumping and shouting with excitement. I love getting people excited about software - but why can't we generate even more excitement for saving lives?

You can't get people excited unless you can help them see and feel the impact. And how you do that - is a complex question.

Still, I'm optimistic. Yes, inequity has been with us forever, but the new tools we have to cut through complexity have not been with us forever. They are new - they can help us make the most of our caring - and that's why the future can be different from the past.

The defining and ongoing innovations of this age - biotechnology, the computer, the Internet - give us a chance we've never had before to end extreme poverty and end death from preventable disease.

Sixty years ago, George Marshall came to this commencement and announced a plan to assist the nations of post-war Europe. He said: "I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. It is virtually impossible at this distance to grasp at all the real significance of the situation."

Thirty years after Marshall made his address, as my class graduated without me, technology was emerging that would make the world smaller, more open, more visible, less distant.

The emergence of low-cost personal computers gave rise to a powerful network that has transformed opportunities for learning and communicating.

The magical thing about this network is not just that it collapses distance and makes everyone your neighbor. It also dramatically increases the number of brilliant minds we can have working together on the same problem - and that scales up the rate of innovation to a staggering degree.

At the same time, for every person in the world who has access to this technology, five people don't. That means many creative minds are left out of this discussion -- smart people with practical intelligence and relevant experience who don't have the technology to hone their talents or contribute their ideas to the world.

We need as many people as possible to have access to this technology, because these advances are triggering a revolution in what human beings can do for one another. They are making it possible not just for national governments, but for universities, corporations, smaller organisation, and even individuals to see problems, see approaches, and measure the impact of their efforts to address the hunger, poverty, and desperation George Marshall spoke of 60 years ago.

Members of the Harvard Family: Here in the Yard is one of the great collections of intellectual talent in the world.

What for?

There is no question that the faculty, the alumni, the students, and the benefactors of Harvard have used their power to improve the lives of people here and around the world. But can we do more? Can Harvard dedicate its intellect to improving the lives of people who will never even hear its name?

Let me make a request of the deans and the professors - the intellectual leaders here at Harvard: As you hire new faculty, award tenure, review curriculum, and determine degree requirements, please ask yourselves:

Should our best minds be dedicated to solving our biggest problems?

Should Harvard encourage its faculty to take on the world's worst inequities? Should Harvard students learn about the depth of global poverty ... the prevalence of world hunger ... the scarcity of clean water ...the girls kept out of school ... the children who die from diseases we can cure?

Should the world's most privileged people learn about the lives of the world's least privileged?

These are not rhetorical questions - you will answer with your policies.

My mother, who was filled with pride the day I was admitted here - never stopped pressing me to do more for others. A few days before my wedding, she hosted a bridal event, at which she read aloud a letter about marriage that she had written to Melinda. My mother was very ill with cancer at the time, but she saw one more opportunity to deliver her message, and at the close of the letter she said: "From those to whom much is given, much is expected."

When you consider what those of us here in this Yard have been given - in talent, privilege, and opportunity - there is almost no limit to what the world has a right to expect from us.

In line with the promise of this age, I want to exhort each of the graduates here to take on an issue - a complex problem, a deep inequity, and become a specialist on it. If you make it the focus of your career, that would be phenomenal. But you don't have to do that to make an impact. For a few hours every week, you can use the growing power of the Internet to get informed, find others with the same interests, see the barriers, and find ways to cut through them.

Don't let complexity stop you. Be activists. Take on the big inequities. It will be one of the great experiences of your lives.

You graduates are coming of age in an amazing time. As you leave Harvard, you have technology that members of my class never had. You have awareness of global inequity, which we did not have. And with that awareness, you likely also have an informed conscience that will torment you if you abandon these people whose lives you could change with very little effort. You have more than we had; you must start sooner, and carry on longer.

Knowing what you know, how could you not?

And I hope you will come back here to Harvard 30 years from now and reflect on what you have done with your talent and your energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you have addressed the world's deepest inequities ... on how well you treated people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity.

Good luck.

Monday, June 11, 2007


never thought of someone doing a travel show on scooters. sounds fun.

Friday, June 08, 2007

while i'm posting videos..

one of my closest friends is philip kaplan, known to the web community as the dude who started and now adbrite.

most people don't know it, but besides being a really great entrepreneur, philip is also one of those guys who can play 50 musical instrumens really well and has a ton of other secret hidden talents that surface whenever he goofs around.

here are a couple of things he's made that i think are pretty funny, partly because they are so randomly creative, but also because if you think about, you start realizing that the guy is really talented (and silly, but in a good way):

he also used some mixing software to play every instrument and sing in this beautiful rendition of "locomotion" that he overlaid on kylie minogue's video.. creepy!

and this old school one i remember watching like 5 years ago

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I am so seriously jealous of Zuckerberg..

...but not the one that started Facebook (although Facebook's application platform IS super cool... it took HOTorNOT 8 days to go from launch to 1MM votes per day, with a lot of support from the press.. whereas on facebook platform, it only took 4.5 days, with NO promotion at all!). Call it bubblenomics, but most friends know i am a cynic and I STILL predict that facebook will sell within the year for 3 to 10 Billion (depending on how many bidders), and my guess is that the buyer will end up being Microsoft... and if i'm wrong, they will go public within a year and a half (but like google, only because they have to due to # of shareholders), and the mkt cap will be north of 10 Bn).

But anyway... the real reason i'm writing this post is to publicly express my burning jealousy of Mark Zuckerberg's sister Randi, for her and her friend Jen's outstanding creativity. You might have thought they were a one hit wonder with their "Mac in my Top" parody music video, but they just did it again with Valleyfreude. I might be hyping it too much because I am a huge fan of the play Avenue Q that they are parodying, as friends who have seen me in my "I'm not wearing underwear today!" t-shirt know.

Avenue Q, is quite possibly the funnest musical i've ever been to. If you ever find yourself in London or NY, be sure to see it!!

Thanks to valleywag for pointing out this video