Month: June 2017

The Birth of NSFWCORP, Part II: $125k in the bank, and the birth of the Scribble Dog

Tony Hsieh actually wasn’t NSFWCORP’s first investor. After I’d told him why my dream company would be – a massively unprofitable comedy news magazine – he offered to invest, but only if I agreed to found it in Vegas. I turned him down, mainly because I had only just quit TechCrunch and had no intention of diving into anything new.

Here’s how he got me to change my mind:

“What if you produced a pilot issue of the magazine and I gave you a hundred thousand dollars just for the rights to reprint the articles in my Downtown print magazine.”

“Just gave me a hundred thousand dollars, for no equity? Just for the reprint rights to articles that don’t exist, in a geographic region consisting of a half dozen streets?”


The next day I called Mike Arrington and asked for his advice. I remember nothing at all of the call, except that it ended with Mike urging me to take the damn money and offering to become our first actual investor, via Crunchfund. My notes from the time say he offered to match Tony’s $100k. The check he eventually wrote was for $25k.

A useful piece of advice for budding entrepreneurs: Before receiving $125k in startup capital you first need to incorporate a company and open a company bank account.…


The Birth of NSFWCORP (Prologue): Once upon a time

Las Vegas, September 18th 2011.

Early that morning I took a cab to a strip mall TV studio somewhere behind the Mirage hotel. Mic’d, wired and staring into a black void, I explained to viewers of Howard Kurtz’s CNN media show why I had suddenly and publicly resigned from AOL/TechCrunch.

My resignation came at the end of an increasingly bitter turf war between AOL’s Arianna Huffington and TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington. Or rather it came at the end for me. With no new job lined up, and my pre-publication advance from The Upgrade already trickling away, I did what any sensible recovering alcoholic with limited funds and no better plan would do: I moved in Vegas.

Hours after my TV appearance, I went to see Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh at the Downtown Cocktail Room at Las Vegas Blvd and Fremont. I’d come to know Tony the previous April when I’d spent a month saying a single night in each hotel on the Vegas Strip at the behest of- quelle irony — Arianna Huffington.

During that trip, Tony had done what Tony does with visiting journalists: Invited me to tour the Downtown Project, his plan to spent $350m of his own money to reinvent downtown Vegas.…


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