Month: September 2011


"For a cautionary tale, everyone cites Paul Bradley Carr." - THE SUNDAY TIMES


WLTM

You know what’s hard? Trying to hire people while in “stealth mode”.

Actually, no, that’s not quite accurate. What’s hard is initiating conversations with people I might one day possibly want to hire while at the same time not being rude to great people who want to work on the New Thing but who I’m not ready to talk to yet… while in stealth mode.

Since Alexia’s post on TechCrunch yesterday, I’ve had about 100 billion emails from people interested in working at the new company. Of those 100 billion maybe three are exactly the kind of people I want to talk to. Not three billion. Three.

It’s my fault, of course. I’m the one insisting on playing this silly “stealth” game. Not, as some have suggested, to build hype around the company — empty hype has been my downfall before; I don’t intend it to be again — but rather because I want to make sure I have a few key things in place before I start telling the world what we’re doing here (more on those key things later).

As part of my attempts to be a better person, I try to reply to every email that I receive that isn’t a sales pitch or spam.…

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A List Of Things The New Thing Isn’t

I’ve spent my day fending off questions from my erstwhile TC colleague Alexia Tsotsis about what the new company will actually do. Apparently she’s been calling Mike and Tony too. Pesky reporters.

Anyway, the only way I could get her off the phone was to promise to send a list of things the company won’t be doing. Here are a few of the ones I’m most pleased with. The full list is in her post here.

13. Adding soundtracks to crossword puzzles

16. “I, Mac” – A gourmet Mac and Cheese franchise for hipsters

21. A microblog platform for public resignations

22. Potterless: a virtual community for grown-ups who hate Harry Potter

23. Wifi on planes (note: this may already exist)

Obviously I’m not going to comment on her conclusions in the post, but it’s certainly interesting to read her conjecture.


Downtown Vegas: Where Better To Build A Company Than In A Giant Start-Up?

Today is my first full work day in my new downtown Vegas home. I’ve spent countless hours down here over the past few months, but there’s a palpably different feeling now that this is where I actually live. It’s very exciting.

As I wrote yesterday, my decision to base The New Thing in downtown Vegas is in large part due to Tony Hsieh‘s ‘Downtown Project‘. Having sold Zappos to Amazon, Tony has turned his attention to — in his words — “playing SimCity with a real city”. As recently as last year, this place was a mess. With most of the tourist action long having moved to The Strip, downtown Vegas with its iconic hotels — The Golden Nugget, the El Cortez — had suffered a form of urban degeneration. Buildings lay empty, unemployment was high and morale was low. Sure, there had been attempts at gentrification — like Streamline Tower, a 275 unit condo building completed in 2008 — but the housing crash put paid to those. By 2010, says Hirise Living, Streamline had only three units sold, all distressed bank sales at an average of $115.00 per square foot.

Enter Tony, who visited the downtown area as part of Zappos’ search for a new corporate headquarters to accommodate its growing workforce (Zappos is currently located a few miles out of the city, in Henderson).…

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What’s Next?

So, as promised, here’s an update on what I’m doing next. It’s pretty exciting. [Update: so exciting, in fact, that while I was writing this post, Henry Blodgetscooped me on my own news.]

I’m starting a new company, with financial backing from Tony Hsieh (Zappos,Delivering Happiness) and Michael Arrington’s CrunchFund. We’re not ready to say too much about the specifics right now but — spoiler alert! — it will directly address an issue I’ve written passionately about for both TechCrunch and the Guardian.

It should be an interesting adventure, given I literally wrote the book on start-up failure. With that in mind, I’m going to be writing a start-up diary about the creation of the company. It will appear weekly on The Guardian, with more regular updates here on the blog (and of course on Twitter).

Some other details…

The company will be based in Las Vegas, in support of Tony’s “Downtown Project” which aims to attract innovative and creative companies to downtown LV. Since writing my month-long Vegas diary for the HuffPost, I’ve become addicted to the city and fascinated by Tony’s plans to redevelop/reinvigorate the downtown area. Simply put, I can’t think of a more exciting place in America to start a company.…

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The back story

Last Friday, I resigned from my gig as a columnist for TechCrunch. For the bloody details, see here or watch the video below from CNN…

Having literally written the book on startup failure, and having been fired from every job I’ve ever had, resigning was a new experience for me.

Still, every cloud — right? And having spent the past five years figuring out why I was such a business failure, quitting drinking and — you know — generally trying to stop being such a fucking dick, the time seemed right to do something bold, and possibly ridiculous.

This blog tells the story of what happens next.

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