2/18/22 Note to Flipside
In early 2000 I started a company called BzzAgent. We had no money, and generally no idea of what we were doing. The internet was still forming and we needed a web application — yet we had no one technical on the team.
Someone recommended a developer (let’s call him Chris) who could help us define a spec and actually build the results. So began a series of long exploratory sessions that aimed to turn our vision into a reality.
The first thing about Chris: he was in his mid 20s, and married to a blind woman. He spent huge chunks of his time caring for her; development was a means to give him the flexibility to best support his loved one. I was fascinated by this commitment. I was fascinated by how he must arrange his home, how they performed their daily routine. I always wondered how he courted and fell in love with his blind wife.
Chris was exceptional at his craft. He would sit with us for hours on end, legs crossed while chain-smoking cigarettes. Literally one after the other, just banging them out. Smoke swirled all around as he walked us through the ‘5 D’ process of designing product; he produced specs; he coded; he was patient with a bunch of kids who were literally guessing at everything they did.
We ‘feature creeped’ Chris under the same small budget, until he couldn’t take it anymore. He eventually quit. It wasn’t dramatic but I remember he was frustrated. And yet, he gave us the gift of the foundation of our business and it eventually took off.
I only worked with Chris for a few months, and then never spoke with him again. But, strangely, I still think about him. As a matter of fact, I realized recently that Chris appears to me in moments of deep business effort — he’s a ghostly muse, an ephemeral vision, that scoots across my mental flow when something seems outlandishly challenging, but just needs to get done.
Something about that moment has forever been fused into my psyche. When the chips are down, when the impossible seems truly impossible, I see Chris, pulling on a cigarette, sitting calmly upright in a straight-backed chair. Thinking. Being patient. Committed to his life, and just getting things done.
I’ve ‘seen’ Chris a lot these past few months. I think he’d be incredibly proud of what we’ve been achieving, and of the huge strides we have been taking at Flipside. It’s not one thing, it’s everything. The whole team working together; our social credibility growing; our product delivery and bounties scaling; our fundraising.
It’s startling and awesome.
Happy Friday, have a great long weekend everyone [ps: don’t smoke cigarettes]!