Andrew: Alright, two things before we get started. First, I recently got an email from James Lindstorm, Lindstrom. I can never pronounce anyone’s names right. James wanted to know if I had a few minutes for a phone call with him and that gave me an idea for something I can do with my new grasshopper.com phone number. So, Grasshopper gave me a phone number with extensions and all kinds of different cool features like no matter where I am in the world I can get calls. So here’s what I’m gonna do with it. I’m gonna open it up to you. If you wanna have a conversation with me about your business, about just about, actually not just about anything. I’m gonna limit it to business. If you wanna have a conversation about something that’s going on in your business. How to find a mentors. How to, if you’re struggling with something. If there’s anything I can help with, leave a comment and I will email you back and we’ll set up a time for us to talk on my Grasshopper number which will reach me no matter where I am. Second note I wanna make is I’ve got a new sponsor which is Shopify. Shopify.com makes it insanely easy to create an online store and you’re gonna hear in this interview how an entrepreneur created an online t-shirt store and how big a business it turned out to him, to be for him. If you want to create your own store, a t-shirt store, a sweater store, any kind of store at all. Try out shopify.com. In a few seconds you’ll have your store. Alright, so, there are my notes, there are my sponsors. Guys, Shopify, Grasshopper, thank you and I hope everybody tries ’em out. Here’s the interview.
Hey everyone, it’s Andrew Warner, mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart and as you guys know the mission here is to bring experienced entrepreneurs to talk about what it’s really like to build a business. So that the rest of us can learn from their experiences. And today I’ve got a guest with me, Josh Abram, Josh Abramson. Excuse me Josh, I’ve already screwed up the first, the first screw up already. Josh and a buddy of his, as freshmen in college, created collegehumor.com and a first, according to The New York Times, posted stupid college stuff online. Basically, picutres of themselves goofing around and then others added more pictures to the website as they subbmitted them. And before long they built that they sold 51% of to InterActiveCorp. The company owned by Barry Diller. How did I do with that intro?
Interviewee: That’s, yeah it’s pretty close. It’s pretty good.
Andrew: What did I miss? I know that I missed that you guys launched BustedTees. That you guys acquired Sports Pickle. What, what else should have I included?
Interviewee: Yeah, well, that’s, yeah, that’s, you know, the past ten years. So, basically, you know, real quick. The idea for CollegeHumor came, my, my best friend growing up, Ricky Van Veen and I were, you know, looking to start a web business. My brother at the time was one of the first guys at ad.com. And was telling me about these content driven websites that were, you know, getting these big checks from them every month. And that it was, you know, I remember the one in particular was joecartoon.com. You know, the frog in the blender guy, and he telling me they were making $20,000 a month. Which as an 18 year old, that’s like the craziest amount of money you could even imagine. So, so Ricky and I were going back and forth with different ideas. After, you know, being in the dorms for a couple months we saw that there was all this funny stuff kinda floating around the dorms. Pictures, videos, etc. So CollegeHumor was, as you said, you know, just a place to put all of that in one, you know, in one spot. So as we continued to build on this throughout college it became a little bit more about our, our voice, and then as, you know as we provided content and started to focus on CollegeHumor full time. It eventually, you know, became more and more about the original concept, which kinda brings us to where we are today. Where the site is, you know, it’s really focused on its, on the original content. [ static ] And then, you mentioned BustedTees. BustedTees was created, you know as I said, CollegeHumor was started as an ad business. And as, I think, everybody knows who’s in that business, it can be very hard, especially in the early days. So, when we realized that it was, that we weren’t making the kind of money we wanted to on the ad side. We thought, well, how else can we monetize this audience. And we were, at the time, doing a lot of, like, affiliate program kind of thing with Tshirt Pal was one of our biggest sponsors at the time. So, so we thoug
ht, why don’t we make our own t-shirts and we’ll be able to make more money. We’ll be able to, you know, promote them on the site. So that was how BustedTees was started. That was, I guess, 2004. And for a while we thought, you know, we’re in the t-shirt business, you know, forget about this CollegeHumor business, ’cause the t-shirt business just grew so quickly. Then during that time, you know, CollegeHumor, you know, also continued to grow. At which point we moved to New York in 2005. Our former partner, Jakob Lodwick, came up with the idea for vimeo.com.
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Interviewee: …which was– it first went online, I guess, December of 2004 (is that right?) and started to work on that as well and we had a bunch of other smaller projects that didn’t amount to much and then in August of 2006 we did our deal with Barry. And that’s where we are now.
Andrew: Alright, well… That’s a– that’s a great summary. I wish I– I would’ve been able to give that kind of introduction. I think it gives us a quick summary of what’s happened over the last few years. I wanna dig a lot deeper into it and really understand it. So you’re saying is that the original idea for the site was to bring in revenue from advertising and you used humor as a way to get the traffic over to your site that you were then gonna monetize through advertising.
Interviewee: Yeah– Go ahead?
Andrew: No, no. What were you going to say?
Interviewee: I was gonna say, you know, that the reason that we kind of stuck with humor was we were taking kind of funny pictures and videos of our friends freshman year of high– of college, rather, and realized that it was pretty easy to get people to look at something funny. If I send you a link to 10 funny videos, you might watch a couple of them. If I send you a link to 10 news articles, you’re maybe a little less likely to read them. If I send you a link to 10 songs or… Ya know, there’s– there’s certain things that are really easy to get people to pay attention to and others that take a little more commitment; so humor, I think, is something that’s really easy to get– ya know, to turn viral. So, that was something we realized, maybe a little bit by luck in the beginning; and then as we continued to to focus on it, we realized that if you can find funny things, it’s pretty easy to build an audience on that.
Andrew: Alright, but that brings up a question that I’m getting here from startups.com, one of the viewers is asking: How did you get from zero to millions of people? And I’d actually like to start off a little bit smaller- how did you get -anybody- to notice that you were putting up those funny pictures back when it was just you and your partner?
Interviewee: Right. Well, again, when we were first– I made a Geocities page for my second month of college and before going to college, I really didn’t use the computer that much. I, ya know, had an email address and knew how to use, like, AOL. I mean I really was not a tech guy at all. So, starting a Geocities page, for me, was like a pretty big deal and I managed to get a thousand page views on this Geocities page, which was just pictures of my roommates and I doing stupid stuff, ya know, first month at school and I thought… Ya know, that was right when I heard from my brother who was working at ad.com. I forget the exact numbers, but he said something about if you get [x] thousands of people to come to your site every month, I can pay you, ya know, $20,000. $20,000, I remember, was the number that stayed in my head as, you know, you can conceivably make this much money every month and that was just so incredible to me at the time. So, once I saw that I can get a thousand people to go to this really poorly done Geocities page, I thought well if we actually put some effort into this and tried really hard to promote it, we could get, ya know, maybe thousands, or hundreds of thousands. So, when we first put collegehumor online, we– I would print up all these flyers that jokes and funny pictures and things like that and I would drive to local universities. At first, I did my own school obviously and realized that it was working so I would put over urinals, ya know, like one of the first things I put up was the story of the guy who went to the hospital after trying to mimic the pie scene in American Pie. So, I had that news article and I put it everywhere and then I went to JMU and I went to Virginia Tech and I went to UVA and next I knew, I had all these Virginia schools; tons of people were coming to this site so then I went to Maryland. We keep doing that and then I realized that if I– ya know, because we had such a loyal following in the early
days, I was able to get people to agree to put our flyers at their school. So, I would send them a tee-shirt and, ya know, 200 flyers printed out and then they would put them up and that was really the earliest thing that we did, was just putting up flyers, and that’s how we got the first couple hundred thousand page views going.
Andrew: I see. So on collegehumor.com, you were telling your audience ‘If you like what we’re doing, print up flyers, put it up on your schools, and we’ll give you some swag in return.’
Interviewee: Yeah, I would actually…
Interviewee: Well, I would actually print out the flyers for them and I would put them in an envelope and send it with a tee-shirt. Actually, I think I sent the flyers first and then I would send the tee-shirt, as if that was gonna, ya know, maybe motivate them. (laugh) It’s funny to think about people doing that for us today but back then it seemed to work.
Andrew: Did you do anything to make it viral from the beginning; like encouraging people to tell their friends about the site, like including a tell-a-friend form within each article. Anything like that?
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Interviewee: Yeah, I mean not in the early days and we didn’t know what you know, I don’t even know — I’m sure it did exist in some capacity but you know, but there was no — I don’t think we introduced any kind of you know, tell a friend situation and so, you know, probably two or three years in and keeping in mind you know, we had extremely limited tech knowledge or you know, we built the site in front page and — and thought that was like pretty advanced at the time you know, not that Ricky and myself knew how to program so it was really — we really didn’t know what we were doing, we just you know, we were — so when we were thinking of marketing, it was really you know, telling our friends you know, through IM we would you know, tell all our friends to IM everybody on their buddy list or you know, whatever you know, the — the most obvious things were at the time. And then — and then we would also you know, try and get a lot of press in like campus newspapers so we got written out there and a couple of things and it was sort of it’s funny looking back on it because we really didn’t have much of anything and beside, we actually just had our tenth anniversary last week so we put up a version of the site that looks exactly like it did when we first launched and you can see — if you go I think it might still be up. You know, it was pretty terrible and the fact that we were able to get all these people to write about us still shocks me because we didn’t you know, we didn’t have that much of an audience so we weren’t really making money or anything but somehow, I think we — we faked it until we made it a little bit.
Andrew: Who was writing about you guys?
Interviewee: Who — just you know, we were able to go after you know, reporters and student newspapers and we even find today when we you know, put out you know, books and our College Humour TV show on MTV and all these things. It’s — it’s you know, been a big resource for us to go after you know, the student newspapers and — and I think you know, for you know, so that benefit any of their — their kind of — but they are willing to listen a little bit more than perhaps you know, than the other times you know, like the Wall Street journal so if you — if you put a little more effort then you can you know, have more results you know, on like —
Interviewee: — the granular level.
Andrew: And again, one of the viewers on startups.com is asking us how much did you invest in the business and it sounds like it’s pretty much nothing. It’s a few bucks just for the software and —
Interviewee: Yeah, I think —
Andrew: — the domain.
Interviewee: — yeah, Ricky and I, I think we had each put like $150.00 and — and we never really had to spend it because we were you know, again, it didn’t cost anything to — to really you know, get the site up and running, the flyers were you know, $100.00 to start and then because we were you know, we started sort of at the perfect time before the bubble burst, we were working with this ad network called blahblah.com at the time and you know, in our — I think our third or second, our third month, we got a cheque for $8,000.00 for really you know, minimal traffic and — and I remember that was sort of like the moment where I realized this is you know, this is actually like a real thing and I think you know, you could have start — you could start the same or we can just try and start the same thing today and it could take us you know, even with you know, our infrastructure here, it could take us you know, six months or you know, a long time before actually making any real revenue on a — on a website so you know, and then it was just sort of you know, at that hours no real progress and it was sort of a lucky time for us.
Andrew: Wow! Within a couple of months to — within three months to bring in $8,000.00 like you said it would take a long time to build up the traffic and to get the — the ad revenue for that and it was all CPM advertising, right?
Interviewee: Sure. Yeah, it was exactly, I mean it was basically you know, you put an ad code on — on the top of your page for 468 banner and you know, it’s pretty much like a $4.00 or you know, even more flat CPM for every impression you could serve so then once your — you know, when your business is as simple as you know, every time you get an you know, an ad impression you know, another person to come, you are guaranteed the revenue of someone you know, who’s — who’s guaranteed to you know, it’s — all you have to do is think about how I do get more people, how I do get more people and then it you know, took us a while to realize that that wasn’t sustainable and that you know, now, you know, obviously you have to spend a lot of time thinking about how you are going to bring in the next ad deal versus just you know, getting the traffic.
Andrew: What happened after the bubble burst and all that advertising money dried up?
Interviewee: Well, basically we were still in college and at the time we — we had done a deal about six months after we launched College Humour. We had a couple of people who were interested in buying the site from us you know, for — some were offering us you know, millions of dollars even though we never would have seen that money because these companies you know, went under before we would have you know, been paid our earn-out or whatever it was. We did a couple of deals that you know, guaranteed us ad revenue and then once those deals dried up, we you know, we are back with the site, our traffic had grown throughout that time but we really didn’t know how to make money on the site. We you know, we had been lucky and done a couple of deals but it didn’t really you know, I think it was — it was more luck of being in the right place at the right time than anything else.
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Interviewee: …about six months after we launched College Humor, we had a couple of people who were interested in buying this site from us. Some were offering us millions of dollars even though we never would have seen that money because these companies went under before we would have been paid our [xx] or whatever it was.
We did a couple of deals that guaranteed us ad revenue, and then once those deals dried up, we’re back with the site, our traffic had grown throughout that time. But we really didn’t know how to make money on this site. It’d been lucky and done a couple of deals, but I think it was more luck or being in the right place at the right time than anything else. So then we had to figure out how do we actually monetize this traffic that we have? Also, during that time, we didn’t have to pay our server bills because these ad networks were willing to cover your server cost, so with zero expenses and just the check coming in every month.
So now, we had to figure out how to pay for Web serving, how to deal with all of that which we didn’t never had to worry about, and then again, monetize our traffic. So, it started using co-registration on tell-a-friend forums, figuring out what affiliate programs might work out. I really took the approach trying to do a lot of little things. So, figuring if I can make $20 or $30 a day on this and $50 a day on this and added it all up and eventually, it got to $3,000 or $4,000 a month and it got to $5,000 or $6,000. Then, after a couple of months, we were marginally profitable.
And then, I think it was actually a really good thing that that happened because, as I said, before then, all we were thinking about was how do we built out the content on this site. We didn’t have to worry much about monetization or worrying about expenses. In doing that, I think, it was my job to figure out how do we actually make money on this. I think it was really sort of motivating to now have this task like, “All right, either I figure out how to make money on this thing or it’s going to die.” I think that it was sort of put skin in the game. I was being forced to figure that out.
That happened, I remember, I was a junior, so I guess, that was at the beginning of 2002. (Does that make sense?) Around there. (laughs) Then, by the time we were on our senior year, we have decided we’re going to do College Humor after college. So then, school sort of took a backseat and then it was easier to make the decision to just spend as much time as possible trying to build the business.
Andre: OK. By the way, I see the questions that you, guys, there are putting out there. I’m going to do my best to get to all of them. Michael [xx] question, we’re going to get to BustedTees in a little bit. StartUps.com is running us also on their website so that people can ask questions on their website, too. But before I get to the audience questions, I want to find out about of all the different things that you tried to bring in revenue after the bubble burst, what was the best source of revenue? I feel like that brought out the creativity in all of us.
Interviewee: I think the thing that was actually the most profitable was selling posters on AllPosters affiliate program. We would take pictures of like…there’s one poster in particular, I remember, it was called “The Kiss,” and it was two girls kissing. And that was like, you know, we would just sell tons and tons of these posters. Because we weren’t really big enough to sell any brand advertising or anything that was outside of the kind of the Affiliate CPA realm, we focused on trying to optimize affiliate programs. T-shirts were also a big thing, and then we came to the decision of, “Well, is it easier to start a poster business or a t-shirt business?” As it turns out, it’s much easier to start a t-shirt business, so that’s why we did it.
Andrew: What about the dumbest thing that you, guys, tried that you, now, are just laughing at when you think back that you thought that it would bring in revenue?
Interviewee: It’s a good question. I mean, it’s hard to remember because I think it’s so easy to tell when things are working or when they’re not working. When it comes to monetization, I think, especially when you’re talking about affiliate programs or things that you can put up on the site and you know within three hours if people are clicking on it or if you’re making money. I think we would find out so quickly that it just sort of I can’t even remember. But I don’t think we did anything that was so crazy that were, you know, “What were you thinking?!”
Andrew: How much co-registration in the tell-a-friend forum? That’s where when somebody tells their friend about your site, you offer them an opportunity to sign up.
Interviewee: You offer them an opportunity to get a great additional newsletter. I don’t think that was something that we did for very long. Again, it was in the frantic, like, how we possibly going to pay our server bill because we don’t know how to make money on this thing? That was sort of during that moment, but I think it was making us a thousand dollars a month. It was nominal as we finally figure out how to make money, but in the very early stages of that, it was somewhat significant.
Andrew: That was a big portion of my business back then. We did a lot of tell-a-friend forums and a lot of co-registration within those forums. Why didn’t you quit college? You’re bringing in good money. You had a good opportunity here. If you committed yourself even more, if you both did, you could have done God knows how much? Or at least, that was what it seemed like.
Interviewee: I think, it was never really even an option for us to consider quitting school. First off, I remember, I was getting frustrated with my friend, Ricky, because he was a better student than I was and he actually seemed to care and I would say, “Why do you care if you get an A in a class and not a C?” Once I realized that I was doing College Humor after school, I sort of took the approach of, you know, as long as I graduate, that’s all I really care about.
But also, I enjoyed being in school. I feel like I did learn a few things. But again, I think you have so much free time in college, unless you’re trying to get a straight A’s or you’re a pre-med or something.
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Interviewee: …you know as we finally think we have to make money but you know in the very early stages of that it was — it was you know somewhat significant.
Andrew: As a big portion of my business back then —
Andrew: We did a lot of telephone forms and a lot of coal registration with him, within those forms, why didn’t you quit college, you are bringing in good money, you had a good opportunity here, if you committed yourself even more, if you ‘re able, then you could have done, that knows how much or at least what it would seem like?
Interviewee: I think it was never even really an option for us to consider quitting school, I mean I don’t think that first of all I remember I was getting frustrated with my partner Reggie because he was you know a better student and I wasn’t, he was actually — he actually seem to care, and I would always say you know will you, you know, why you care if you get ‘A’ in the class and that is — see I was always — yeah once I realize that I was doing college after school I so it was sort of a departure as long as I graduate, that’s you know, all I really care about, but — no, I also –- I enjoyed being in school, I like you know, I feel I did learn a few things, but again you know, I think you have so much free time in college and that’s where you are trying to get straight As or your premed or something that if you are, you know, just like a business major like I was, it wasn’t the most demanding course in the, you know, and again I think, but it’s how we realize this is certainly something we are going to do after college, we have already you know in our senior years, so I think it’s a dropout and your senior doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.
Andrew: It’s not right you are bringing a $8,000, you think that at that point you are making so much money that you want to leave?
Interviewee: Well, it’s fun because people used to ask when I was in college, you know, you are going to — you think you will do this after college and I remember thanking, you know that’s sounds crazy, what I am going to like the some 28 year old running website for college humor, I think it doesn’t make any sense, you know which is a kind of funny thing if you think about it in hindsight.
Andrew: OK. So, now onto Michael approves question, that’s actually my brother Michael, he is saying, was the t-shirt company pissed when you copy their business. They are advertiser for big source of revenue?
Interviewee: T-shirt help you know I think I didn’t realize at the time but I actually talked to, I believe his name is Aaron, I said alright the guy who started t-shirt help and I think he would say we copy them a little bit, I think the difference was you know, I mean it’s not a novel idea to start with t-shirt company as there has been thousands of people that have started t-shirt companies and I think the ideas of what’s on the t-shirts are really worth extinguished, you know one t-shirt company from the other and I think you know we had a very different sensibility in part of the idea that I have was t-shirt however which again was our you know one of our biggest affiliate program at the time at the time, you know their shirts are, it’s very few shirts that I would even put on my body and go out in public you know and I think most people would probably agree with that. Our idea was you know let’s not put you know make vulgar shirts, let’s make shirts that you could put on your six-year old or you could wear is you know [xx] the joke isn’t necessarily dirty, it’s just funny. So we try to be a little more awesome in hopes that you know more people would actually wear the shirts as opposed to just looking at them and laughing.
Andrew: I see, right. And you said at one point you were almost a t-shirt company because more the revenue was coming in from the t-shirt business than from the collegehumor.com.
Interviewee: Yeah. See, when we started t-shirt business do really quickly and then we started — you know I think I could a step back and one of the other things that push us into the t-shirt business was my partner Reggie had an idea for a thumb hand in the shape of the shocker and — so you know we fear that how to get a patent on this you know design patent on the shocker to how a make some hands and we started making these things for a dollar each and selling them for 10 and then you know we are selling you know a hundreds a day and it was you know just crazy in a couple of months where everybody you know the college and all over the place wanted these shocker hands. So then we realized sort of the power of e-commerce and the power we had, you know, with your audience in college humor, so that was sort of you know when we came to a conclusion that alright we have to do this t-shirt thing that we could have been talking about. And then as I said this was I guess about 2000, you know that was in 2000, end of 2003, we started [xx] at the beginning of 2004 and at that time that it was really hard for us to make any real money on ads and we are making, you know, enough money there, so not to have to go and get other jobs but it was, you know, a big business. And then the t-shirts, you know, within a couple of months were bringing in as much revenue more than the advertising, so then it was you know to see the growth happen, you know, over a few months, you know, in a new business that is you know is compare to the business you have been running for five years, four years, it was exciting to see, so that was one we — because I think it’s worth learning when we graduated and we decided we are going to do college humor, the idea was not….
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Interviewee: So, that was one way — you know, because I think, you know, it’s worth noting when we graduated and when we decide we’re going to CollegeHumor the idea was not, all right, we’re going to turn CollegeHumor into this huge media company and we’re going to sell it to Berry Diller, that was never the goal. The goal was you know, it was — at the time it was my, you know, founding partner Ricky and we brought on two other partners during the course of college and we had all just at that moment started working together and everybody kind of had different skills and we were just really excited to be partners and working together and it wasn’t clear whether CollegeHumor was going to be our business or whether we were going to try and start something else and we had so many ideas for you know — you know, I think we probably you know, tried starting we had — we started a site called CampusHook.com which is a dating site for college kids pre Facebook, MySpace, you know, all that stuff which didn’t work but you know for a while we thought maybe that’s the thing, you know, thinking that you know, the subscription model kind of like [xx] or you know, so we had all these different things we were trying to do and it wasn’t clear which one was going to hit. So when we started BustedTees it wasn’t like oh, we’re abandoning this CollegeHumor thing it was — this is the thing that we are meant to do. And then CollegeHumor you know, continue to grow during that period, almost despite us because we were focused on you know this other business and then we took a step back and realized that you know, this is maybe a company that we could you know, sell to a media company or you know turn into something they are so, you know so — again it wasn’t really, you know, the focus from the beginning to do that.
Andrew: All right. I understand how putting up a website for BustedTee is fairly easy because you’ve some experience with it. But what about printed out t-shirts, sending out t-shirts, collecting revenue, dealing with customer service, how did you get to do with all of that? Do you do it all yourselves?
Interviewee: We did, I mean, you know, we didn’t print the t-shirts ourselves. We found a company that did the printing for us and they also had a fulfillment company in-house, you know, obviously there’s you know tons of things you learn you know very quickly when you know your customer start sending back the shirts or you know, your printing is off centre or you know the quality control isn’t what you, you know, imagine and you know, I think it’s impossible to you know think of all these things before you just jump in because you know, we just jumped in, I think it was easy enough for us to you know, deal with the problems you know, as they came up.
Andrew: OK. So, you build the website, you take payment, you had your own payment process?
Interviewee: Yeah, we — actually I’m trying to think how we did it initially. I think actually, you know, when we first did the Shocker, we used — I think we did a Yahoo store and then — and then we figured out you know, we could save money if we use, you know, payment [xx] you know, whoever we’re using at the time and —
Andrew: For merchant account.
Interviewee: You know, so that — pardon?
Andrew: For merchant account.
Interviewee: Yeah, exactly. And, you know, but it was — you know again it’s — one of those thing were I think, when we first thought you know let’s do this and then we started to realized like, there are all these things that we had figure out how to do you know. There was no problem that we didn’t figure out you know, just after you know, sitting down for a couple of hours or day at most and just saying all right, today I’m going to figure out how do I you know, accept Credit Cards on the web or how do I, you know — you know, it’s not like rocket science or anything.
Andrew: OK. And you’re saying that while you’re focused on this and a couple of other ideas, CollegeHumor just continued to grow on its own. How did you have it so that it was almost automatically working?
Interviewee: We know, I mean, it was, you know, a lot of it was — especially back then, it was usually generated contents so, essentially you know my — my partner Ricky would just go through and look at all the submissions for the day and then say this is funny, this isn’t, this is funny and then just put up the funny stuff and write you know, a short caption. I mean, it wasn’t that we were doing no work, it was just that you know, at the time, there were three of us and you know, three of us and a fourth partner who was still in college and we were trying to you know, build this teacher business, we had these other things and so you know, obviously there was not that much, you know not that many total man hours going in to keeping the setup and running but — but it was so pretty simple site at the time and traffic you know, is continuing to grow steadily you know, and also, I think its worth noting that you know, today when you look at what’s on CollegeHumor and where the traffic is being generated and you look at you know, the past few years on CollegeHumor, use of generated contents has been on the decline up until recently where it sort of rebelled out and the only reason our traffic is growing so much recently is because of the original content and it didn’t really hit us until YouTube kind of exploded with a Lazy Sunday video that UGC content when there are —
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Interviewee: …you know, sites like YouTube out there, it’s really hard to have a viral hit because people are going to find it on — you know, it’s going to be on YouTube before it’s on College Humor in most cases and then it’s going to be everywhere. So with our original content it’s only on College Humor at least for, you know, Window so when it gets to be No. 1 on Digg, everybody is pointing to College Humor. when people are sharing on Facebook, everybody is pointing to the same thing. So, you know, back then there was no YouTube, there really wasn’t that much competition so we’re able to get and build an audience exclusively on music generated content and there was no YouTube and there is no community of people that were sort of curating the web for UGC, you know, us spending a couple of hours a day doing it was sufficient.
Andrew: I see. When did you — what was the first thing that you guys started to — how did you make the transition? Sorry I’m —
Interviewee: Into original?
Andrew: Yeah, I’m not asking the question properly. I’m trying to learn about the transition, I’m not asking a question that leads into it properly.
Interviewee: Yeah, so I think the moment where we — I guess probably about the year prior to us selling IAC, when we first started doing original content and I think, you know, when I refer to original content, I’m referring more specifically to original video content. We’ve been doing original articles on the site for years and a lot of the people who are writers and, you know, are editors today have been writing for the site for years before they were even hired and they’ve been there for years now. So we’ve been doing that for quite a long time but we realized that there was a demand for original video content. So we started making, we called it — I think in the beginning it was called College Humor TV and we would make these like, you know, 10-minute episodes of a bunch of clips put together and then we thought we should probably just cut them into individual clips and if you look at the first few, they’re really bad and then we hired a guy named Sam Reich who is our president of original content and he knew how to make really funny videos and he built out a team and this was I guess the summer of 2006 and that was really when we began in earnest, our original video projects.
Andrew: I see. By the way for anyone who is watching and seeing that I am getting a little distracted here, I now have two different screens, the guys over at startups.com said that they would help me get questions from the audience because that’s what they do, they get questions and I am getting terrific ones from them but at the same I am seeing people direct message me and I’m seeing people on Twitter ask me questions and I think this might be a little too much or maybe we need the dashboard guys at startups.com that combines it all for me so I can look at just one screen. There is a lot of interest in your story, I keep getting more and questions from people about how you did it, about partnerships, here is the big one that’s been coming up a lot, people are asking about. It’s hard enough to have a partnership which is two people and keep it strong, you guys had four people together working on a business. How do you keep a partnership like that going?
Interviewee: That’s a good question. I have gotten that a lot and I have certainly heard enough, you know, horror stories of other people that have had really bad partnerships. So again I started the business with my best friend growing up, Ricky, we met in the sixth grade and also Ricky was always sort of, you know, he was kind of the contact guy, he was the business guy and he was always pretty clear whenever there was an issue or something that we disagreed on, it was kind of, you know, and we still do this today. We’ll go out to dinner and I, you know, will leave the tip for both of us so he doesn’t have to think about the numbers. So it was sort of this relationship where — and it still is today to an extent although, you know, the lines have bled a bit, you know, over 10 years where, you know, he thinks about some things and I think about others and because we weren’t really trying to do the same thing, I think it worked out well. When we brought on our third partner Jacob, which was — Jake became a partner in the business two years after we started it and Jacob was, you know, we met him very soon after we started College Humor and he was able to program websites and knew how to design things and had this whole other skill set that was so far from anything we knew how to do that when he joined, it was also, you know, we respected what he knew how to do and he kind of he respected what we knew how to do and again it was complementary and then when our fourth partner Zach Klein started, which I guess is two years after Jacob, you know, it was kind of the same thing Zach Klein incredible designer, he understand usability and also he’s good at a thousand other things but I think we just all had a mutual respect for each other and again because we were sort of all focused on very specific things, you know, we were able to, you know, just make it work. I think also there were two other things. I think first off we were all best friends really —
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Interviewee: — I think first, we are all best friends really. And we — you know we were really just enjoying. We were living in San Diego together and we would wake up at you know nine in the morning, we would have breakfast together. Working till lunch, we have lunch keep reminding that we are living and working together which maybe I didn’t say that, but so living and working in the same apartment. So we would have lunch together and would work until dinner time. We would have dinner together and we would come home and we would work until time to go to bed. So it’s really you know all we did everyday all day was — and we are either working or we are talking about work. And it was really just like you know — you know start up camp and it’s — you know it’s a fun time. And — so I think because we just — we also, you know we moved to San Diego which I think it’s worth mentioning, you know was in some ways you know we thought it was a mistake maybe when we were there because San Diego is you know especially compared to place like New York or San Francisco where like there are so many people that are there to do a certain thing. I think in — in San Diego a lot of people go there, you know more for surfing or for leisure they may do to actually start a business, so — and we were there. We were you know super motivated to try and meet people that were doing co-stuff and — and it was hard to — to find those people, so we really just had each other. And — and then the other thing I think it’s just worth mentioning, you know we never had a — a tough time with the business because by the time we graduated from college the business was already profitable and we were able to support ourselves. So it wasn’t like — I have seen a lot of people had real issues when the business starts to go south and we were just fortunate enough that you know throughout the course of a partnership, we never had to really deal with making you know super difficult decisio
ns like you know one of us was going to have to you know go back you know and do something else there, anything like that.
Andrew: Were the shares even that the new guys Jacob and Zack as many shares as you and Ricky got?
Interviewee: I mean it was, you know they were brought on as — as minority partners, but they still had a big stake in the business.
Andrew: OK. All right. And then in 2006 you guys decided to sell, why?
Interviewee: I think it was — it was a number of things. Part of the reason was you know, we were — we were pretty conservative at least I was in how we are running the business. When we sold it, I think we had about 15 employees, and — and we thought you know the business had a lot of potential to — to grow beyond that and I think we had — we are operating at about 50 percent. It was clear that the business in order to grow was you know we needed to invest more in the business, but when you are you know just, you know relying on the cash flow for the business for you know to support your lifestyle and — and just to put money in the bank, it’s sometimes hard to make that you know decision that I am going to you know just start dumping all of the earnings that I have back into the business, you know it’s a — you know risky move in — in some ways. And so the thought was we could you know have a little bit of liquidity and then not have to worry as much about the cash flow of the business and be able to invest more in the business, you know we can you know try and make it grow to the next level and I think we realized that we are approaching that point where in order to really grow you know we needed to grow you know from 15 to 45 people or you know whatever it was. So I was part of it and I think also you know we sort of you know one day woke up and — and everybody wanted to talk to us about buying the company, so it was sort of you know if we hadn’t realized it on our own, I think people might have you know tried convince us otherwise and — and I think you know in one side I think it was you know good move because you know we were able to focus on our original concept and efforts which you know original video is not cheap. And I think we might have been able to you know jump in to be the way that we were you know knowing we had security of a big company behind us and didn’t have to worry as much about you know what if we can’t pay our bills next mont
h because you know we know that you know this isn’t about you know how much money we make this month and next month. It’s about you know where the business is you know years from now.
Andrew: So it’s about safety both for you, so that you have some money in the bank and are protected and for the company so that if the economy goes south again, you guys have some protection and a cushion. And it was because the opportunity was there, you have to grow and you want to get money to — to jump on that.
Interviewee: Yeah —
Andrew: And you hired Allen and Company to advise you that means that you went out looking for investors specifically.
Interviewee: You know when we actually — we engaged another company because originally Viacom had approached us about acquiring the business and you know being you know 24 years old you know at the time I guess 24, it was — you know we had no idea what we were doing. So we — we certainly needed someone to help guide us to that process. Obviously we you know ultimately did not end up doing the deal with Viacom, but that was you know when we started work [xx] company and then you know we sort of you know talked to a number of other media companies and — and then you know private equity guys and —
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Interviewee: We sort of talked to a number of other media companies and equity guys and venture funds and all these people to see what made the most sense and it was certainly helpful having those guys advise us on all that.
Andrew: How did you know to turn to Alan and Company?
Interviewee: A friend of mine had suggested him. She used to work at Alan and Company – she works at IEC now. At the time, this was actually, she had suggested Alan and Company and she was at IEC at the time, but suggested Alan and Company not because IEC was interested in CollegeHumor – because this was before IEC got into, or got back into programming I should say. We had met with Barry Diller but he didn’t have any interest in the company at the time so we were pursuing these other deals and then when those deals didn’t end up happening then we had already engaged on the company. And then we got a call from the same friend at IEC this was maybe 9 months after she had introduced us to Alan and Company and said maybe we should do a deal actually and that was sort of how the conversation started with IEC.
Andrew: How did you meet Barry Diller the first time?
Interviewee: Through the same friend, Shanna Fisher, who I think you know I imagine a lot of the people who are watching probably have heard of her, she seems to know absolutely everybody in this world. We met when we moved to New York. We were fortunate, one of the first people we met was Nick Denton actually and he was really helpful in just introducing us to everybody and within 6 months it felt like we knew 100 people who were running all these big companies and doing all these interesting things, and Shanna was one of them. We always just thought she was really smart and had a lot of respect for her. When she asked us if we wanted to meet Barry of course we said yeah.
Andrew: Yeah, who doesn’t want to meet Barry Diller he’s a legend in the business.
I actually interviewed Stephen Chow who used to work for Barry Diller, who – Barry Diller I think once threw a tape at him. The tape hit the wall, bent the wall, Stephen took out the piece of the wall and had Barry Diller sign it. It says a lot about… It says a lot about both of those guys. Is Barry Diller like that in your experience too? Have you gotten to see any of that? Do have anything odd about …
Interviewee: He has never thrown a video cassette at me. I think you can read a handful of books that could tell you all about Barry’s style and he’s a tough guy, he’s not a pushover by any means. I think … I imagine his relationship is Stephen is probably a little different, where if that even happened I don’t even know.
Andrew: It’s signed… but I know what you’re saying.
Interviewee: I don’t think he’s … He is where he is for a reason, and I think he certainly can be very motivating. I think you walk around IEC and everybody knows who they’re trying to please. Getting Barry excited about something can get you 10 times more excited about it once he’s sort of behind you and you feel like you have his support.
Andrew: So has being a part of them helped you, being part of IEC helped you?
Interviewee: Well I think the most and the highest level, and this isn’t neccessarily speaking to IEC, but being… to be a part of this bigger company kind of allowed us to again, feel more comfortable making an investment. I think when you start up a company, we were 18 and we’re not really… we weren’t willing or comfortable just throwing a bunch of money at this thing or really super focused on saving every penny we could. And it takes some time to go from that mentality to say “Alright I’m willing to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars or a million dollars on that”. I think it took being at IEC and learning how to invest and how to make the decision as to whether or not this thing makes sense or this doesn’t, or whether we’re willing to take that risk was really helpful for us. I think also there’s… IEC is good about not forcing synergy or not trying to make you work with other businesses in their portfolio. I think after talking to a number of other media companies during our aquisition process, it seemed like at some points CollegeHumor would be aquired to help out this other business and feed them content. It was less about trying to grow CollegeHumor and more about using CollegeHumor to grow something else. Where at IEC has always been focused on growing what we can grow and the ability to do that without any distractions and it’s not like they’re trying to force us to install …
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Interviewee: — and giving us, you know, the ability to do that without any distractions, and it’s not like they are trying to, you know, force us to, you know, install an Ask —
Andrew: So basically they are just — they are just owners, but there is no synergy. I don’t see how there would be synergy between what you are doing and what tellus.com which they which they own and ask.com and evite and citysearch and, you know, and urbanspoon, they — these aren’t properties that have a natural fit.
Interviewee: Sure, I mean — I think — I mean, there’s things that we’ve done with other IC businesses, but yeah, your — I mean, it’s not like they own 20 businesses that are in our exact niche, but — I think at the same time there is some synergy that comes from just being able to share information and have, you know, people at the corporate level, you know, everything from legal to HR to finance to just, you know, strategy that understand all these other businesses in digital world, while they might not be exactly like ours, it’s certainly helpful to have those people. And especially in the early days as well as today when, you know, we are still kind of learning elements of the businesses for ourselves, and to have them as sort of a sounding board for some of our bigger decisions, I think — you know, we — we made better decisions, you know, as a result of it.
Andrew: And you sold 51 percent of the company IC for reported 20 million dollars and they also have a 100 percent of the voting rights too.
Interviewee: Correct. Well, what you said is correct, yes.
Andrew: Right. You are saying it’s reported 20 million, but you are not —
Andrew: — confirming to 20, right.
Andrew: Why not sell the whole thing? If you are going in with them, if you are already giving up voting shares, why not?
Interviewee: Well, I think a couple of reasons. You know, first off, that was an option that IC put on the table.
Andrew: They didn’t want to buy a 100 percent? It was 51 —
Interviewee: No, I think the way that IC thought of the deal, and I think — you know, the thing that also made it exciting for us, frankly, at the time was this idea of, you know, we thought collegehumor had a lot left in it, we didn’t think that we were selling it at the height of the business or that, you know, we needed to get up; we really were, you know, truly excited about growing the business and turning it into something much bigger. So, at the time, you know, the thought of being able to, you know, sell half the business, take some money off the table so we felt a little more secure, you know, on a personal level and then just think about, you know, building the business over the next five years and on, I think was an exciting proposition knowing that we were limiting our downside but also keeping up our website to the extent of we can turn it into something big.
Andrew: OK. Let’s see what else. We’ve got about 10 minutes left. Let me see if I understand so far how it worked. You were just tossing out ideas looking for revenue with the hope that you would profit and eventually find a business that you can sell, true?
Interviewee: I don’t know — the sale necessarily, you know, something we thought of initially; I think we just wanted to make a business of some sort that we could grow and, you know, generate profits, and I think being able to sell it wasn’t until, you know, a little bit later when we realized that maybe the difference between collegehumor and bustedtees might at the time be in making more profits didn’t have as much as value as an asset as collegehumor did, and, you know, we were unlikely to, you know, sell bustedtees to a company like IC. The college humor was more interesting and I think had more of a skill potential, so. But in the beginning it certainly wasn’t. You know, we need to start a business and, you know, sell it. That wasn’t —
Andrew: We need to start a business that brings in money, and we are open to a lot of things. We are open to t-shirts, we are open to humor, we are open to dating sites, whatever it is, and we are going to keep —
Andrew: And it sounds like you were constantly on the lookout for where the money was. If there was money in membership, as there was at one point a lot of in the dating space, you considered that and jumped into that; if there was t-shirts —
Andrew: — that you guys had some evidence was making money, you jumped in that. How did you do this all without getting too distracted? Building just one website can be so — so time-consuming that there is no time for anything else in life, and —
Andrew: — where you are building several of them, how do you do it right?
Interviewee: I think it’s — it’s a challenge. I mean, there’s definitely moments where, you know, I think we — certain projects suffered as a result of us focusing on — I mean, especially if you look back at the truck projects that we spent, you know, a significant amounts of time on that never really amounted to anything, but I think that, you know, the — at the same time, you know, when there were four of us, there were four of us running you know collegehumor.com, bustedtees.com, vimeo.com, you know, what else do we have — you know, this campushook.com which never amounted to anything.
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Interviewee: …[xx] you know a number of other we’ve started [xx] and all these different thing and — and then you know today it’s — you know we have I think you know our entire company is about 90 people and sometimes it feels like you know we could get more done you know for you know, not — not really but it was distraction because we’re on the same room and there was you know, we were all just kind of on the same page, it didn’t feel as crazy as sometimes it feels a day just trying to run CollegeHumour because we have all these ideas, we have to get running, we have all these, you know videos we have to put up, I mean there is so much stuff happening so I think you know at the time it didn’t ever really feel like we were you know, we bit off more than we could chew, so to speak but you know I think —
Andrew: Is it — is it that you kept the sites small did you say were only going to — to offer the core features of the video website, we’re not going to offer fending, we’re not going to offer all the other — all the messaging that you get from most video websites at first when you launch Vimeo and it will just be an easy place for you to put up videos, is it that kind of —
Interviewee: I mean with Vimeo for example you know that was just you know that was just you know our partner Jacob started Vimeo in his spare time, it was originally because he was taking all these little you know short video clips and wanted to place to — to share them and you know just pre Youtube so there is really you know, Vimeo was the first site where you could actually upload a video to the web and sent someone a link but that wasn’t, you know, he didn’t start Vimeo because he thought it was a great business idea you know, I certainly didn’t encourage him to go start it because I thought it could be a big business and you know Vimeo is a good example actually if something were you know, maybe, if Vimeo, had we turn Vimeo into — you know we started Vimeo before Youtube if we hadn’t been so focused on CollegeHumour maybe we would have realized “hey, let’s open this site Vimeo up” and you know we would have sold to Google [xx] you know, so you know maybe, you know it hurt us in a way with some businesses, so — so I think it’s, you know it’s hard to — to really, you know think about it at a time and I remember it wasn’t until we came to IC that we are able to — to start you know focusing on Vimeo more because I remember thinking at the time and obviously Vimeo is a much more expensive you know even [xx] it was not a cheap site to run, it’s video, it’s a lot of you know, takes a lot of development resources to — to you know build out a site like that and [xx] you know as a result it was certainly you know something that we were a little intimidated by because you know last thing we wanted to do before IC was you know run the risk of you know starting up this video site that all of a sudden starts causing us you know $30,000.00 a month and [xx] and so on and then we don’t have any you know, I think it is safe to say you know Youtube didn’t really have that [xx] plan in place either so the idea of thinking let’s you know try and start this business that mig
ht turn into something huge, you know it was hard to — to wrap your head around that so — so again we didn’t really focus on trying to build that out until you know post IC acquisition and you know even today you know we’re still faced with you know this idea of you know it is distracting for us to try and you know start other business you know other smaller websites where it’s hard to [xx] for CollegeHumour but we — we have a lot of great ideas for things that we know we’re planning on starting that you know the — hope is that we can fill them and take away from [xx] as these things become larger thought they will be additive but you knot it’s — I don’t remember your original question but I think you know as far as that you know it being a distraction I’m having all these different things, yeah, I mean it’s certainly [xx].
Andrew: You know what I’m seeing here, tell me if I’m wrong here but what I’m seeing is that the difference between a bootstrapper and a [xx] company, if you — if you’re a bootstrapper you have to — you have to look for revenue everywhere and your whole goal everywhere is where do I bring in money so that I continue to — to keep my business going.
Andrew: If you were a [xx] business they would have told you forget about [xx] we can’t ever sell that, we can’t ever make that into a monster success —
Andrew: — CollegeHumour is a hit based business, we’re not in that business, forget it, get out of that, this little thing over here, Vimeo, that’s where the future is and we’re going to — we’re going to help you lose so much money on Vimeo that it almost hurts but we’re going to have the idea that eventually this thing could be the platform and it’s just two different mindsets and you have to know which one — which one you’re ready for and it sounds like to me — well first of all does that make sense the [xx].
Interviewee: No, I think — I think that’s absolutely right, I mean and especially you know as we started Vimeo in you know…
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Interviewee: No, I think that — that’s absolutely right, I mean, and especially, you know as we started Vimeo in, you know, while it was in venture back it was, I see back in — and we, you know had a certain amount of money aside to, to grow the business and I — and I remember thinking about things like, you know the developers, we ended up doing some of the IC folks you know we should get on these machines, you know it’s like $5,000.00 — power back whatever; and I was like, you know that’s crazy, we don’t need to buy $5,000.00 computers that’s — you know, we can get them this and they will be fine and, and that was just my mentality, it was, you know even though, you know what’s a $5,000.00 computer for, you know you’re — when you’re top developers, it’s — it’s, you know that was kind of the mindset was what I was trying to say every penny on everything and that was just how we are able to, you know get the business started up, you know in the beginning. So, so I think it is, you know it’s very different when — you know once a month he’s there and you said I’m going to spend $2 million share on this, and you’ll probably going to spend $2 million on it, it’s pretty easy to, to spend money. But I think, you know when you’re — when you’re not willing to spend the money until you’re making and it’s, it’s a lot different.
Andrew: I’ve noticed three different kinds of entrepreneurs Mixergy, you got the machineries, the guys like Jimmy Wells who was just determined to create an online cyclopedia. You get the mercenaries, the guys just want to make money and nothing else and whatever it takes they’re going to get there, then you got the thinkers. It seemed — and the thinkers are the guys who no matter what there was no money in the world, they just be building websites and ta-, and testing things. From what I have seen about Jacob Online, it sounds like Jacob is a thinker, Video Online —
Interviewee: I think that’s fair.
Andrew: — seems to make sense — does that sound right?
Andrew: And from —
Interviewee: Yeah I think that’s fair.
Andrew: From what I’m seeing of you, it’s not 100 percent mercenary and I could have kill my mother just to make another buck but it’s more of a mercenary beginning, you needed to make money so that you can make a living of from this; that sound right?
Interviewee: Right, I just — I think that’s fair, you know I, I made a decision or at least attempted to make a decision that I didn’t want to work for anyone else, you know I, I’ve sort of failed in that I, I, I no longer work for myself technically but, but, you know the idea of being an entrepreneur and in, you know sort of having control over my own, you know future with some of that was really exciting to me and, and I think that, you know I think just the motivation for that alone and it wasn’t about, you know I have to be rich so I have to, you know make X number of dollars, it was just I’ve — you know I, I really want to, you know figure out how to do something on my own and, and that was, you know and hopefully make, you know money but, but it was — it was certainly, you know more motivation of, you know when, when CollegeHumor started it was more — I don’t want to have to work at the bookstore to pay for, you know dinner, no, Saturday night or whatever. So, it was — it was more, you know that I think than anything else.
Andrew: Just Lebowski, who’s watching us live on Mixergy is asking me to ask you about the, the Nebraska license plate story. Do you know what he’s talking about?
Interviewee: I do vaguely, it’s something about, I feel like this was a — and ask him to correct me if I’m wrong because there’s been a couple of similar things that we’ve done but I think this was something where there were a few different license plates that were available in — the community was asked to vote, you know with — in Nebraska on which — which license plate — you know, what the license plate would be for Nebraska and one of them was like, just really silly or stupid for some reason, I can’t remember the specific and we had all of our users vote for, you know the worse one to try and make that, you know —
Interviewee: — license plate for Nebraska. It’s part of our — and I think that’s, that’s what he’s referring to but, but the — it’s part of our [xx] feature where basically we, you know try and send to all of our users, you know to one place to essentially on a poll. I think that was reversed, in fact with the Nebraska plate.
Andrew: Because you guys were involved in it?
Interviewee: Yeah, I think they realized that and it was — I think it, and even guts like the governor somehow they’re like, you know —
Interviewee: — I mean I don’t know what people are thinking when they, you know actually leave an important decisions be made by, you know the internet community at large.
Andrew: I think they’re crowd sourcing being opened to the public —
Andrew: — they forget that there are people like you out there who — who are looking for fun activities to send your audience to.
Andrew: What was it like when you got that check from Barry Diller, do you remember the day when you looked down at that check? Or was it a wire transfer?
Interviewee: It was a wire trans-, it’s — but it was, you know that there was a — it was pretty exciting, I was actually, you know the funny thing with all these kind of deals is, you know you’re never really sure of it’s going to happen until the second it happens and I remember I was out — apartment Rick and I rent a house out on Long Island, at the beach in, in South Hampton during the summers and I was out there, my parents were actually with me at the time and, and we are finishing up the agreement and it was, you know it was — you know whatever day of the week it was and, and it was like ten o’clock at night and we just kind of finished some stuff and we, we needed to fax something to get, you know this other thing and, anyway in South Hampton it’s ten o’clock at night it’s pretty hard to find a fax machine.
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Interviewee: Anyway in Southampton at ten o’clock at night. It’s pretty hard to find a fax machine. So, I remember us you know just running all over the place, trying to you know, see if we can get it done. And then the next morning we are able to get it. Because there’s a feeling like all right if I don’t sign it like right now, that it’s like you know in the final homestretch like you know who knows what will happen. So, we finally — we ended up going to a you know a pharmacy and asked to use their fax machine and we faxed the final signature pages on our document and then got the wire and yeah I mean it’s you know I think it’s funny. Its one of those things, where I think you — you sort of have an idea in your head like oh this is going to make me feel a certain way and like once I — you know once I have you a know a little bit of money then you know whatever I’m going to feel this way. And then I think it was — it was kind of interesting how I felt about it. In maybe three or six months down the road, where you kind of you know I think it makes you feel a certain way. You know it’s like getting anything, you get you know a new suit or a new you know television or something it’s really exciting for you know a couple months and then its like you’ve always had it. So, I think it was sort of a —
Andrew: So after [xx] the feeling of you’ve always had it but when you first had it what was it like? Did you feel finally freedom; finally I never have to get a job. Did you feel finally something else?
Interviewee: Yeah, I think all those things, you know I think it was — it was — I think it was just exciting for us, you know to just have done the deal. You know what we have and just going to like proper closing and like seeing all the documents and the folders and just like the act of actually completing the deal. I think it was you know is much about just you know feeling that we you know accomplished what we have been trying for so long to accomplish in getting the deal done. And you know just making a good deal was exciting you know the money was obviously you know a product of that. But I think it was, you know just the excitement was as much about you know we just sold the company to [xx] you know.
Andrew: And apart from the business, apart from the money part of the business. What was the biggest satisfying moment? You guys have had a huge number of hits, a lot of recognition, was there anyone thing where you saw on TV or you heard someone talk about you that you said “This is it, we’ve done it”.
Interviewee: There has been a couple moments like that, one was I had of a cast and you know all the edit — editorial staff [xx] apartment to watch the first episode of the College Humor Show around on TV. And you know even though I’d seen it you know a hundred times at that point just something about seeing it on the AIR with commercials you know on the TV, on the wall, you know standing next to everybody who has been a part of it. It was you know pretty special moment, you know as also was the moment when we found out that we were going to have an MTV show. I remember you know being — sitting by the [xx] and getting a phone that you know the deal was done we are actually you know we had an MTV Show. And you know yeah when we first yeah I think the other moment that was you know maybe on the early side. It was the most exciting was when our — our piece — profile piece came out in New Yorker and it was you know exciting for us because it was sort of like you know all of a — there is something just very legitimizing about getting you know a profile piece like that and you know we have this little website you know for jokes and you know funny pictures and videos and then to have the New Yorker you know write about us. All of a sudden you know people thought we are real business you know whether we were or not. You know [xx] in within 48 hours of that I just saw Julie & Julia the other day. And there’s a scene where yeah I guess you know Julia & Julie have had you know something that have just been written about her and then she was getting you know these she had like 45 messages on her answering machine. And that was exactly how it was for us. And I remember thinking about it when I was watching the movie. Because it was like every — every talent manager every you know book publisher every [xx] agent and all these people you know wanted to talk to her [xx] overwhelming moment where it kind of felt like. All right, like now you know now people take u
s seriously, because I was always you know a [xx] you know [xx] you know it’s a little more challenging than if you — you know have a few grey hairs and you’re trying to get a serious business meeting. So, I think we are always you know trying to do whatever we could to have people take us seriously. So, we think that we did the kind of you know move just a step closer to that was always very satisfying.
Andrew: I finally umm well it must have been incredible to be in the New Yorker. I read it on a regular basis and I can’t imagine if I was in there, what it must feel like and to have that — that kind of piece written about you, that’s — it doesn’t happen to serious websites.
Interviewee: I remember when — when it first came out online. All of us crowded around the computer and like kind of laying on the bed just like reading it, like not saying a word until we’re finished and it’s kind of like you know —
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Interviewee: And it’s kind of like you know, because I wasn’t sure if, you know, if it was going to be embarrassing or you know, because we did, you know, the reporter, Rebecca [xx] had come with [xx] high school reunion, she spent a lot of time with us and I’m sure I said a lot of things that I, you know, probably glad she didn’t put in there and you know, I think there was a few moments where she was kind of, you know, poking find as a bit but you know, our comedy wasn’t going to be that bad because it wouldn’t really make a whole lot of sense to write a profile in the New Yorker about you know, these young kids you’ve never heard of and you know, why they’re jerks or whatever. So, we are hoping that you know, it would be you know, somewhat good and, but yeah that was a pretty special couple of days.
Andrew: All right. So finally, for — I’m sure that there’s somebody right now who’s listening to us who says I want that, I don’t want to go work for anyone, I want to create something incredible, I want to do it on my own because frankly no one’s going to invest in my ideas yet if they are not connected they don’t — they’re not in the crowd in the startup work. Do you have any advice for them on how they could bootstrap a successful business?
Interviewee: Read Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It. Now, I think it’s funny — I think Gary was on your show at one point —
Interviewee: — and I love Gary, I think he’s, you know, he’s a great person, you know, just getting people psyched up and, but I think you know, in a lot of way says make sense in just, you know, if you can find someone that you’re really excited about and you have, you know, a little bit of talent in this, you know, specific bank and you work really, really hard at it, I think it’s, you know, chances are you’ll have some level of success, maybe even if that thing doesn’t work it will sort of lead you into, you know, something else and you know, I think if, you know, it’s not to say that everybody who tries to start a business and work through it hard succeeds but I think that you know, from me, you know, this is obviously easy for me to say because it didn’t really, you know, I didn’t — we didn’t have to deal with that much going wrong, you know, in the early days of our business but I think it was, you know, the most fun thing was you know, being there and working non-stop and just feeling like you’re building something and even today when we’re, you know, we’re doing all these really exciting things but you know, it doesn’t feel the same as when it’s, you know, you and like two other guys sitting in your, you know, tiny apartment trying to like make something and I think that you know, I think that you know, I think for the rest of my life I’ll think back on that as being a really special moment that you know, would be hard to replicate but I think that you know, there’s nothing more exciting than that that I’ve experienced to this.
Interviewee: So, I think, you know, just try and do it.
Andrew: All right. Well, thank you. Thanks for spending the time with me guys, everyone who’s watching us, who’s listening to us, thank you all. Give me a feedback by the way on this startups.com partnership. The guys over there just reached out to me and asked if they could partner up on these interviews and I was glad to do it but give me your feedback on whether it’s working and give me a little bit of time too to maybe get a little used to their question and answer system. Thank you for doing the interview, thank you all for watching and I’ll see you and the comments.