Live – with Ze Frank

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About Ze Frank



Ze Frank is the founder of Star.me which lets you tell your friends* how awesome they are. Giving and receiving stars will unlock new stars, new features, games and more**.

He is also the creator of zefrank.com, colorwars, the show, youngmenowme, and many other online play spaces.

You can say hi to him on Twitter.

Raw transcript


This transcript was prepared by SpeechPad.

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Andrew: Hey everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. Yeah.

Second guest tonight is Ze Frank. As you guys heard from Gary, Gary was influenced and went into doing video because of Ze Frank. I’ve got to tell you, I was too. Before you, I think that it was mostly text, and you don’t really get to relate to people with text. When I saw Ze with his close-up shots, and he did one show on his pimple, I said “First of all, I can’t do that.” Unlike Gary, I didn’t say I could do that. But I said, “I can relate to him. If he is willing to be that open, then I should be willing to be open with my stuff and my embarrassing things.” I never showed my pimple, but when I get one, I will show it. But I owe you a lot and I thank you doing this and please everyone give a big round of applause to Ze Frank, the pioneer of online video.

Ze: Is it just me or is Gary Vaynerchuk like Charlie Sheen but without the crazy and way smarter and more likable?

Andrew: There’s definitely a lot of energy there.

Ze: Because that was some truth torpedoes he threw at you guys. Oh it was like bombs, going down.

Andrew: Ze, why did you stop doing video? You see how big it’s gotten, how much it’s gotten Gary, how much attention and how much of a reputation. You see guys like me want to be Ze Frank’s jump-in. Why did you stop after one year? By the way, what are those cards? I see that you are playing with some cards. What is that?

Ze: Basically, we will get to it a little bit later, but I have a startup called, Star.me. We will save this card.

Andrew: You don’t want to talk about it now? Okay.

Ze: The pace that you are setting is so uncomfortably fast for me.

Andrew: Really?

Ze: Yeah, I have to just say to all of the people on that side, that are beyond the kind of barrier, hi. I know that it is a little hard to hear what we are saying, but basically we are going to be talking about all of you for the rest of it, for the rest of this show. Hi guys.

Online video and why I got out of it, at the time when I started the show, nothing ever ended online. Literally nothing ended. There was no idiom about things that had short lifespans online. Every single thing was launched with the idea that it would be around literally for the next millennium.

Andrew: But a lot failed that did not live up to that and a lot went away.

Ze: A lot of it went away, but it literally went the way of the 404. It went away without ever planning on going away and it just went away. The problem with every single thing that you consume having this potential of an infinite lifespan, the thing that starts happening is that you don’t actually get to experience the real narrative arcs that come with things that are temporary. There is a real narrative arc that with things that are temporary and relationships are a wonderful way.

Summer camps are a really good example. There is a kind of honeymoon period where you come in and the awkward shy, like kind of weird interactions. And then there is this wonderful thing that starts happening when you have a little bit of synergy and there is this high point where you’re like, “It’s summer camp. It’s awesome!” Like I’m having the best friends in the world. And then there is this point where you are like, “Oh, it’s just like the rest of the f***ing life.” Then you start hating each other and you’re like, “Awe this summer camp sucks. I wish I’d gone to Emma Kaufmann camp in the Blue Hills Mountains.” Then as the thing starts coming to a close, there is this moment again where you’re like, “Holy f***! I only have two weeks to experience this amazingly sucky camp. These people are amazing.” Then you make out with somebody, and then you have to leave.

In a weird way, I just described the arc of a show. That really was what happened. There was like wonderful honeymoon, and I announced within the first week that it was going to end in a year, and I stuck to that. I was really glad that I did.

Andrew: You seem to care more about the story and the art than you care about the business and the potential.

Ze: Based on this one conversation that we are having, or are you summing up my . . .

Andrew: Based on that, right. Am I wrong? Because I could never imagine somebody saying this is really good. People are loving it, but I’m going to stop because there needs to be an arc. And I am summing up your life . . .

Ze: No, I agree. We are talking about 2006, and my relationship with the Internet has gone through a lot of different phases. That particular phase, I was going out of a period of time where I was doing a lot these kind of quasi participatory art projects. I didn’t approach the show as a business. Certainly I got my s*** together quickly, because I was like, “Oh crap, it’s a business.” There were certainly times in it where I was like, “Oh, yeah, we’ll just close on March 17th, and March 18th we will do the Show Two,” or something like that. But it became apparent to me in the middle of it, the parts of the show that were the most interesting to me were the least sustainable from a business point of view.

Andrew: For example.

Ze: Well, did any of you watch this beast of ridiculous video blog? Okay. You guys will know that there were so many f***ing inside jokes on this thing, that like literally there was a joke about how hard it was for new viewers to experience the show. I did episodes. They were called new viewer episodes, where I would try to trick a new viewer into thinking that they were watching the lamest thing in the universe. I did an entire episode called “Those Brooklyn Stairs,” where I just went around and I filmed stairs, staircases in Brooklyn and talked about how they were eroding. The whole thing was kind of a joke, inside joke.

So this kind of like really close proximal relationship to the audience, these kinds of recurring themes where I would build participatory projects over time, that was like the stuff that was really interesting, and it is very, very hard to build a business out of.

Someone’s leaking. I love that we are in a bar and people are trying to shush. It’s so awesome.

Andrew: What about this Gary brought up a good point. You were monetizing in clever ways. You didn’t slap banner ads up there. You didn’t do what I do. I do pre-roll. You had these little ducks that you were selling to people. First of all, can you tell us . . . guys I am about to ask the big money question. Can you tell us what kind of revenue were you pulling in from selling those ducks?

Ze: He asked me how large my pectorals were. Seventeen inches a piece, and that’s measured from my heart to the universe. As in everything, I measure everything that way.

Andrew: What size revenue did you make?

Ze: First of all, I tried every form of monetizing that thing. I did pre-roll, I did post-roll, I did advertisements, I did banners. I did explicit sponsorships. I did all sorts of different things. The ducks was just really, really wonderful. Basically, you could buy a duck and it would appear on the next episode. There were different levels of ducks – $5, $10 – and then there was a bling duck. It was basically they would show up on the next episode, and when you rolled over them, there would be a message. It was a great little way of people wishing each other a happy birthday. It was actually more of a person to person communication than it was props for the show.

Ducks alone counted for and that was launched with only five months left in the show. Ducks counted for about $30,000 in revenue. The show’s total profit, and it was only monetized for about seven months, was close to $300,000.

Andrew: $300,000?

Ze: Yeah, in 2006. In today’s dollars, that’s like $120,000. Do you feel that? You feel how much money that is?

Andrew: I read in preparation for this conversation, I read an old New York Times article about you from 2006.

Ze: I’m getting feisty.

Andrew: I see it. Are you embarrassed that you just revealed the number? Is it uncomfortable for you? No.

Ze: No.

Andrew: Okay.

Ze: I’m embarrassed I peed my self a little in the bathroom.

Andrew: Gary opened up about his family. You’re opening up about your pee and pectorials.

Ze: Pectorials?

Andrew: Pectorals, I know, I was wrong.

Ze: Are you a scholar?

Andrew: I’m a foreigner. Look at my skin my friend. You were starting out. You said to New York Times that you had to fill out 40 1099s because you had so many little jobs. Here you are at the end of a year bringing in $300,000. I would even say $300,000. I would say over a quarter million dollars, just emphasize that million. Didn’t get you to stop and say, “I’m on to something, baby. I’m going to double this, or I don’t know, I’ll offer ducks and lions next year.” How could you give it up?

Ze: Well, why didn’t I do that? There is a thing here. It’s like the show, again, I loved doing the show. I loved very, very particular aspects of it. But ultimately, when you make the decision of going into the longer, longer term career in a very, very particular kind of media, the question of sustainability comes up. By what means are you going to sustain yourself? Not only monetarily but also spiritually and all those different ways. I was getting spiritually drained in the one thing that I value the most about the show, which was this kind of emotional proximity. There was like an actual closeness. I definitely felt close to the audience that I had in a very particular way. I think that we took a lot of risks in that show, the transactions between the audience and myself, and there was an emotionally draining component of it.

Trust me. I definitely looked at it. Gary was wondering what the different opportunities that came up. I was offered half a million to create a bigger, more sustainable version from a large scale production company. They were definitely wrapped by an agency that was trying to do this production company deal and all this kind of stuff. But the main thing for me was I cannot keep doing that. On the other hand, the payout for me, the part that was really, really special that kind of drove me forward through the experience was something that I wasn’t going to get in these other places.

There was a lot of reckoning there. I’m not driven by the same zeal that Gary is. I don’t want to just win all the time. I love the virtual connection component of media. I love the closeness. I love the weird emotions that come up. I am driven by the humanity of virtual spaces. Maybe that’s an oxymoron, but that’s what I am driven by.

Andrew: I don’t want to spend the whole time talking about the show, and I want to talk about the creativity. But let me spend just a little bit longer on that. Were there deals as Gary said that you passed up?

Ze: I just said that.

Andrew: I know you said one. But that’s one where they were going to basically invest in your show and it sounds like they were going to own your show. What about deals like being on the TiVo and other devices?

Ze: Oh, yeah, of course. There were a lot of different folks that approached me that immediately wanted me to join other kinds of things, and there was a lot of really good money there.

Andrew: Any regrets now? Any regrets now?

Ze: No. No, absolutely not. I got to say, man, doing media like is really f***ing hard. If you really want to make something that’s special, it’s going to burn a f***ing hole in your heart. It has to. Thank you. You have a hole inside of your heart. I will store my weed there. Not that I do that. Put it in other people’s hearts. I literally think that there is this thing about the media, which is that there is an element of grandiosity in it. There is an element if it means something to you and you want to chase it, you’ve got to really care. You’ve got to hurt when somebody says that you suck. If you are immune to that, you should get the f*** out of media. Anxiety is what drives you. You have to chase anxiety to do this. The truth is that I poured my heart into that particular project, and I don’t regret a minute of it. I absolutely loved it, but ultimately to do it at the level that I was doing it there, for me, I’m not saying that it was like some brilliant piece of work, but to do it at that level was really, really hard.

I did other things. I haven’t been just sort of sitting at home playing Sudoku for the last few years.

Andrew: Let me ask you about some of the other things that you did. You came up with an “Earth Sandwich.”

Ze: During the show.

Andrew: During the show?

Ze: Yes.

Andrew: Well, we can still talk about it.

Ze: No. No. Please. What were you doing in 2006?

Andrew: I was sitting around watching you in 2006. That’s as interesting as I was.

Ze: Well played, sir.

Andrew: Why don’t you talk about some of the other creative things that you did that engaged the world? And then I am going to ask you a question that is going to annoy you and get an even worse expression on your face. How do you come up with it? Where does the creativity come from?

Ze: This is the one that’s going to give me a bad expression?

Andrew: Yes. Because people who are creative hate when I ask them how they do it. I always feel like it’s me asking the cool kid, “Tell me how you kissed the girl.” I want to know. How do you get to be creative?

Ze: That’s a more interesting question.

Andrew: All right.

Ze: How do you kiss the girl?

Andrew: Because Olivia and I have been married for a little time here and we still haven’t.

Ze: You have not done that? Is that true?

Andrew: She’s waiting for it.

Ze: Really? That’s so f***ed up. That is like the most extreme kind of marriage. It’s sad. That was a very good mining of tears. That was very, very good. They always come down in that shape. What was the question again? Was there a question before that there?

Andrew: I want to know how you became so creative. Where does creativity come from?

Ze: Oh God. Does anyone here really feel like that is a question?

Andrew: Yes!

Ze: Really. I think that creativity ultimately is a discipline. It is a conversation that you have with the world. Creativity at its root is a kind of a meaningless premise. I think that the best thing to do is to look at how the word is used across a lot of different disciplines. You look at how business people write about creativity, you look at how scientists talk about creativity, you look at how artists talk about creativity. Each kind of discipline . . . or psychologist too. There are salient books, going down that category I just talked about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “On Creativity” or the book “Flow.” Go over to artists. Read Twila Tharp’s “On the Creative Habit” or Bird by Bird by someone like Anne Lamott. A few different things. There is something Adams, John Adams, on the Creative Habit. I forget exactly the title, but something Adams, it was a book in the ’70s or ’80s that was written on creativity, to folks like Arthur Koestler who wrote “The Creative Act.”

All these people f***ing talk about it totally differently. The artists always talk about the pain of it. They are always like, it’s so painful, so you have to do something to get through the pain. The psychologists are so fascinated by the kind of myriad of ways that go through. The business people are the most fun here, because they do all kinds of things. They are like, “When you think about your idea, take three household objects and put them inside of your pants and then describe how they feel. Then mix the letters up with the letters of your product and see if you can make anagrams for a new idea.” And it’s awesome, like that’s totally what you do.

Ultimately, it’s this conversation that you have with the world of like where do thoughts come from anyways. The answer is you don’t really. You don’t have much control over them. But what you can do is kind of jerry-rig them in different ways. Throughout the years, I’ve come up with a lot of different ways to try to come up with new ideas. But the heart of it is opening up to just being interested. What’s the plan that casts these ridiculous iron objects that weight these and why exactly is the weight of them this freaking heavy? What kind of accidents were happening in the ’70s that required that? Were they interviewing elephants or was it a sex toy for giants? I don’t know.

Andrew: Well, here’s the thing . . .

Ze: That an idea! I just dropped that s*** on you. Came from nowhere.

Andrew: I run pre-rolls and I need to make sure to get the content on camera and our mic. Here’s the thing.

Ze: This brought to you by Amazon.com and GoDaddy.

Andrew: Dude, do you see the BuySellAds up there and the Wistia over there and you think. . . .

Ze: Well, like that’s the best sign ever.

Andrew: Ze, here’s the thing though. When you talk about where does that . . . I lost Ze. BuySellAds took him away.

Ze: I thought it was buy se two ads.

Andrew: Buy se two ads?

Ze: Buy se two ads! Two times more than buy se one. I think this interview is going very well. Just in terms of the value proposition. These people paid money here, and now they are getting their value.

Andrew: All right. Then go on. No, I can’t. Even if they area getting value, I can’t allow it and here’s why.

Ze: Even if they are getting value?

Andrew: I will tell you why.

Ze: You are taking a very hard position on this.

Andrew: Because I’m so anal I have to correct that. I’m so anal I have to get more methodical here. Here’s the thing. Ze, look, when we were doing this event, I said to myself, “Ze would never just put two mics up here and have people talk to an audience and record it and put it online on Wistia. He would not. Ze would come up with something creative that the whole audience would engage in and so on.” And if you just tell me the way to get creative enough to come up with that solution is to figure out who made this? What foundry put that mic together . . .

Ze: Yeah. That’s it.

Andrew: That’s not enough.

Ze: That’s the trick.

Andrew: That’s the trick. You’re pointing out that this looks phallic.

Ze: It’s looks like a penis.

Andrew: Like a penis. Yes.

Ze: So the bottom line with that tirade that I had was that some people approach creativity like they approach love. They basically say that the more you talk about it, the more magic you loose and that’s just not true. There is a transitional period, where if you are interested in like the formation of your own ideas, where you become self-conscious. It’s just like playing any sport. When you focus on the motions for a little while, you kind of start sucking again. But if you get through that, you ingrain them into yourself.

But there is absolutely no aspect of creativity that doesn’t require a serious amount of practice and thought. That’s really all I meant to say by that. There are real methodologies, and you can employ them. I’m forgetting the technical term of it. The stuff that IDO pioneered with their terms with their creativity cards, it totally works. Just taking verbs and nouns and adjectives that describe different facets of your product or whatever you are working on and you just f***ing mix them up and you try to make statements out of them. It totally, absolutely generates ideas, but it requires a suspension of neuroses and anxieties about your abilities.

That is a really, really big part of it. You have to just give yourself over to the fact that you are ultimately sort of the vehicle for crap coming through. I think that is the sensitivity. The tighter you hold on to your own mind, the more ineffective it becomes.

And not we are in a totally different kind of interview. Way to bring me down. Nard.

Andrew: I thought you want to talk like this. What is your methodology?

Ze: I have been doing this kind of stuff for a long time. I taught a course at NYU about this very particular subject. It’s a little bit of a free hybrid of a lot of different things that I’ve come up with. I really enjoy something that I call thought surfing, where you just give me some problem that you are working on.

Andrew: I am trying to figure out how to make this useful for an audience that is going to have to use it tomorrow and the rest of their lives.

Ze: Oh well, you are f***ed. Just sort of as a general thing, it’s interesting. You are trying to make something useful to an audience, but you are focused on things that were happening four and a half years ago.

Andrew: Because if it happened four and a half years ago, you have enough time to think about how you did it, what went right and what went wrong, and you can be honest about what went wrong. In the moment, it’s hard to be honest with yourself. It’s hard to even recognize what’s working and what’s not. It hurts me to get interviewees when I say I’m not here to talk about just what you did today. I need to talk about what you did five years ago. In their minds, they are past it. They need to move on with their lives. But I feel like we have a complete story that ended five years ago, and I want to learn how it happened. But if you are not comfortable talking about it, I am not here to force you.

Ze: No. I am totally comfortable. I didn’t realize that’s where you were going.

Andrew: And I will talk about the car, and I do want to know what you are up to now, because I talked to a few people in the audience who are wondering about that too.

Ze: It’s interesting, because I don’t know whether there was something that came out of it. Besides the beginning of it, which was there . . . I will just speak very honestly about the genesis of the project. To be honest with you I was just super f***ing depressed.

I had been doing ZeFrank.com, and I had a lot of visitors coming to the site. But it felt like a completely disconnected kind of art. There was a certain sense of the only way that I was going to get past this feeling of what the f*** am I doing is to let something big go. And the big thing that I let go in doing the show was kind of like caring about the outcome.

If you look at the first three or four weeks of the show, it sucks. It’s like interesting to watch, and I think there is really something charming about it. But it’s really looking at a person who’s just like I don’t know what to do any more. I’m so petrified that I have run out of any ideas, and I am just going to f***ing turn this thing on and I’m going to try my god d**n hardest to make something that’s viable. I am going to give myself over to the process of doing this without really knowing what I am doing. And there is something, I think, very cathartic in that, and I know that when people go through things like that and it doesn’t have to be as grandiose or sort of like self-focused. But there is an amazing learning experience that happens when you give yourself over to something like that.

A lot of times it means sacrificing yourself at the altar of other people’s opinions and getting used to just getting crushed by it. It also means sacrificing yourself to the altar of trusting that you will come up with something, even if you have nothing, nothing planned. It’s just a fundamental part. The pressure only increases over time. The only thing that you are going to be able to rely on is the sense that you trust that you will get your s*** together. I don’t know. It’s like very, very amorphous, gestalt like advice.

Andrew: It is. But if there’s anyone in the audience who has not felt that way, I would be surprised. We’ve all felt that way and I don’t know that we’ve all let it just go out and say, “Okay, I am just going to trust and I am going to put it all out there.” Have you felt that way since then, that depressed what’s going to happen next feeling?

Ze: Oh, the depressed part?

Andrew: The depressed part, yes.

Ze: Not the elated part. I think that probably not to that extent. I think that it is a natural part of if you are an entrepreneur, if you are doing a lot of risky stuff where you don’t really know where things are going to lead, fear is going to be a natural component of life.

What you do with fear and whether you’re guided by it, whether your actions actually get dictated by the fear, very, very different equation. I think that I’ve gotten over the last number of years to a point where I have a much more solid relationship with that side of myself.

Andrew: How do you have that solid relationship? There are moments when I’m freaked out that an old friend is going to look at me on video and I am embarrassed or hear me say that I’m going to conquer some business. In the back of my head, I get freaked out. How do you get passed it when you get to that place?

Ze: Therapy.

Andrew: Really?

Ze: Yeah.

Andrew: I went to therapy. It didn’t do much for me. What does therapy do for you?

Ze: Well, therapy is about therapists. I love the whole discipline. I think it is awesome. I’m in a group therapy kind of thing, which I have been a part of for a long time. It’s incredible. People go through a lot of the same things, especially when you are talking about fears and anxiety and the degree to which you are ruled by them.

Yeah, of course, it’s a natural part of life to want to be included in groups. It’s natural to get nervous that people are thinking things behind your back. It’s all these things that are totally normal. They come up, but I just spend time trying to separate out what’s real from the parts of me that are getting overwhelmed, and luckily I’ve always had a good trigger. In other words, I’ve marched through stuff even if I’m like deathly afraid of it. It’s a constant dialog, and I’m sure I’m going to be having it until the day I die.

Andrew: Did you have it about tonight the way that I did?

Ze: About coming up here on stage?

Andrew: About coming up here on stage.

Ze: Not at all. No, I really did not.

Andrew: Wow.

Ze: I mean personally because I had no idea what the f*** we were going to talk about. Honestly, I really, really had no idea. So that’s kind of like a real comfort to me is not having a clue.

Andrew: That you don’t know what to be nervous about?

Ze: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: All right.

Ze: Bring it around, bro.

Andrew: Bring it around to what you are doing now. What are you doing now?

Ze: I started a company called Star.me, and that’s occupying all my time right now.

Andrew: Now is it Ze Frank Games, and the idea is that you are going to launch lots of different games. Star.me is the first of many?

Ze: No. Ze Frank Games was the title I chose, because when I got my funding, my angel funding, I had to leave for Europe the next day, and I found out that you can’t really open a bank account to get money wired into it unless your name is part of the title of a company. So it was supposed to be called Star.me as the company. But I called it Ze Frank Games so that I could accept the money.

Andrew: How much did you raise?

Ze: One billion dollars.

Andrew: Get out. TechCrunch is always wrong. They said half a million.

Ze: No. No. So you knew and you asked me. That’s awesome. That’s really embarrassing. I wanted these people to believe that I raised one billion dollars, and now I totally have been called out. It was only a half a billion dollars. You heard him right, a half a billion dollars.

Andrew: Are you married? Yeah, you are married. What is Star.me?

Ze: Start.me is a social game meets a social network. Basically, the core premise of it is that you tell people how great they are. That’s the very, very open press. I think the best way for you guys to actually experience it is to go on it. Star.me is a closed invite system. But just for tonight, if you are interested in checking it out. Iteration is not for the faint at heart. We are a strongly iterating beta environment, so we change quite a bit. If you want to be part of it and see what’s going on, if you go to Star.me and there’s a little box on the right-hand side. If you type “We poop rainbows” into that box, you will get an invite to the system and that just goes for tonight.

Andrew: “We poop rainbows.”

Ze: Exactly. And I think that sums up a little bit of the aspect of the site. I don’t know if we should talk about it.

Andrew: Come on, you are supposed to be promoting. You’ve got Gary’s money, That son-of-a-b**** wants you to promote and grow that business up big. Help him out.

Ze: You just called Gary a son-of-a-b****.

Andrew: I know. I was just second guessing that in my head too.

Ze: Your car is going to get so f***ed up tonight. He is going to urinate the word jets into your leather upholstery. You know what his pee does? It creates stitching on the leather. That’s how powerful Gary V’s pee is.

Andrew: No, but seriously. You may not want to . . .

Ze: Why are you saying that what I’m saying isn’t serious?

Andrew: I’m just kind of assuming that a guy who has “we poop rainbows” on the back of his car isn’t always serious. No. So seriously, your investors and you yourself, you want this to do well, you want people to go on. Talk it up, talk it up like a pitch man. Or talk it up any way you want to.

Ze: I am not your puppet. So! What I’m creating is this amazing site called Star.me! Listen the core premise of this. I can’t f***ing pitch it up right now. Do you know anything about it?

Andrew: Yes. The idea is this, and I didn’t have an invite. But I checked out the very glowing TechCrunch articles, the only favorable TechCrunch article that month. Basically it is this.

Ze: But the comments made up for it.

Andrew: Oh, I don’t even look at those. Nobody looks at those.

Ze: It’s the most loving audience, the TechCrunch audience.

Andrew: Nobody looks at those. The idea is that, I like you. I want to say thank you for being here.

Ze: No. Nobody looks at those.

Andrew: No.

Ze: Sorry, go ahead. I did.

Andrew: Somebody wants to say.

Ze: It sucked.

Andrew; You just want to be hurt.

Ze: Yes. I love it. It was motivation. I am going to f***ing kill them. I am going to make it the biggest Star.me ever.

Andrew: You cried a little tear like Olivia. The idea is I want to say thank you for being here. I come on your site. I go to Star.me. I give you a star, I find a way to say thank you. You find a way to say thank you, maybe not me, because just want to just kill me now. Maybe someone else in the audience. It is a way of building a network by showing appreciation. Am I right?

Ze: Yes. That is the very core, basic, minimal viable products. Idea behind it is that it’s rich virtual goods. The idea is that virtual goods is a huge booming market. But there is no reason they need to be like these little transient objects that just disappear down a feed.

To me, the transition of virtual goods is very natural one. Barbie dolls, for God’s sake, they’re virtual goods. They represent a caring relationship that you have with an object. But ultimately, you are going to throw it away. This transition of virtual goods is not . . . I think it’s easy to be dismissive of it, but it represent the same kind of things functionally in our lives. For me, the idea of having more rich virtual goods, something in between these tiny little drinks that just drop down your feed and these big robust profiles that we put all of our energy into seems like a natural place to go. Rich virtual goods that have not permanence but a little bit more life cycle and they can be rich in a sense that multiple people can own them. Multiple people can add to them and all this kind of stuff. But also, from the emotional standpoint, I think that we are really good at handling people and categorizing people and friends.

We are really good at categorizing content. If you go on my FaceBook profile and you see my friends, I think that the big question that’s left is why do you like that person? Star.me is a great opportunity to point out in the first iteration of this why do you like people? You’re awesome because, because what? Like not only just the textual stuff but also pointing to content. It’s a way of literally having this kind of joyous place. I will say it’s also based on a larger thing, which is I think that we’re dominated by the algorithm right now.

I think the world goes through these waves of very, very ornate structures, and then it kind of go through these modernist periods of very simplified algorithmic type structures, and then it curves back up. But I think that we are at an inflection point where there is a little bit more space for some mess again online. I think that is what is fun. I don’t know if any of you were sticker collectors. I was. I collected stickers when I was a kid and I loved it. They were fetish objects.

Start.me is kind of like a way of bridging some of the sorts of like joyous fetish moments with these opportunities to play but in a way that aggregates information and relationships.

Andrew: Now I want to go and type in “We poop rainbows”. All right. One piece of advice, one action piece of advice the people in the audience can take if they want to be more creative. Can you think of one?

Ze: If they want to be more creative. On FaceBook, it’s a stupid f***ing simple challenge, but challenge yourself. Do a weekly challenge with yourself to try to ask a question of the people that you know and try to beat your score in terms of number of responses to that question each week. I literally think it is the best entry into the core premises of social media at its core. Because you start having to ask yourself if you really try to beat your number every week, you’re like, “Oh, maybe I should ask a kind of insidious question that I know would piss some people off and there would be controversy.” The other thing is challenge another person to this kind of activity. I have learned so much from this kind of activity.

You start second guessing yourself and coming up with all of these things. Then you surprise by asking something like super, like simple and honest. I think it’s a really, really wonderful start.

Andrew: The site is Star.me. Ze, thank you so much.

Ze: Thank you. Appreciate it.

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Walker Corporate Law – Scott Edward Walker is the lawyer entrepreneurs turn to when they want to raise money or sell their companies, but if you’re just getting started, his firm will help you launch properly. Watch this video to learn about him.

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  • Anonymous

    Awesome interview Andrew! I see that the whole event was a riot. Also, gotta love that epic intro that you added, played it back a few times YEAH… lol.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks!

    Ze Frank’s work encouraged me to get started with video. He’s an inspiration.

    And thanks for the compliment on the video. Ruben shot the video of the event and that intro is Joe’s touch.

  • toeinmymouth

    wow, that was rough. Andrew you handled that well.

  • http://www.mikejonas.com Mike Jonas

    Wow I’m impressed. I’m really glad you asked the questions you did, even though it made him a bit uncomfortable. It was interesting to hear him talk about creativity and techniques to bring it out.

  • Guest

    Very rough to watch. How drunk was Ze during this interview? Did he not know this was a business interview?

  • http://twitter.com/RMRStyle Real Men Real Style

    Andrew,

    I have to admit, this was the interview I was least impressed with at the SXSW event. I got up and went to the back of the bar and networked rather than stay seated and listen to Ze – he just wasn’t engaging for me. Plus I knew you’d be recording the whole thing and figured I could listen to it later.

    Now after listening to it, I don’t regret my decision but I did find a few nuggets of wisdom in your discussion. The one that really sticks with me is how Ze decided to end things, despite the possibility that he could have continued to make money. Running a few businesses and websites now I sometimes wonder about this, as the idea that they will go on forever (yet I won’t) is intimidating.

    It also struck a chord as one of your past interviewees, and a favorite blogger of mine, Todd Smith of Little things Matter, just closed shop. From all indicators, he was getting crazy traffic and had grown his audience to very high levels – and yet a couple of weeks ago he just walked away from it all saying he had accomplished what he wanted and was moving on with his life. You should consider bringing him back to talk about this.

    In all – a different style interview but one your solid questioning makes worthwhile!

    Have a great week Andrew,

    Antonio

  • http://raaphorst.info Raaphorst

    good shit you’ve gotten me into. thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/francoisarbour Francois Arbour

    Pretty intense interview to say the least. Not as engaging as Gary V. but i’m still very happy I was there to see it live.

    francois

  • Anonymous

    :-))))

    I love Gary so much. But when Ze Frank tells me it’s hard to create media and when he tells me he’s not about always winning (and it’s not about the money) then he really makes me resonate with him.

    He values human connections in the virtual space and he’s in it for the fun, not for the money. How cool is that?!

    I think I love businesses where money is a byproduct. It seems to be the case with Ze.

    Inspiring interview Andrew! Thanks a lot!

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Ze didn’t make this easy for you Andrew, but you did a 5 star job. I don’t know this Ze guy, but seems he was riding the Sheen interviewee style wave :)

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks for the compliment. I’m honored Ze would do the interview.

  • RodgerT

    Actually I thought this was a bit ropey. Andrew, you tend to be very samey in your interviews and ask the same list of questions of everyone. My advice would be to prepare better. Asking someone like Ze about where creativity comes from is so incredibly banal.

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