Archive for January, 2015
I retired at age 36 on August 31, 2000.
Sadly, I wasted most of my time between September 1, 2000 and January 7, 2015. I bought a ridiculously oversized recreational vehicle and drove it across the United States. I squandered thousands on fancy hotels in expensive world cities. I started a second Internet company that failed due to not paying attention sufficiently to what the market called for. I had a handful of unsuccessful romantic relationships, including a fireworks filled marriage that deserves its own book. I photographed thousands of interesting people, including hundreds of models. I started this blog. I was a busy airbnb host to over 1,000 guests in the span of a year.
But as exciting as this may sound, I was coasting along doing next to nothing for over fourteen years… The software company I sold August 31st, 2000 has been shut down. The motorhome is gone. I left my girlfriends and divorced my wife. I’ve lost touch with most everyone that I have photographed, and my house guests have checked out.
For the first time in ages, my house is empty of all roommates, airbnb guests and couch surfers, my schedule is clear, my mind is fresh and well functioning, my spirit is recharged and vibrant, and my desire to do something important for the world has returned.
I considered starting a third software company. The thinking goes that software companies can have high profitability and can sell for very high to infinite multiples of sales.
My first software company lost money like crazy but still sold for greater than 500 times annual sales. This kind of math is easiest to achieve with pure software companies.
But the price to be paid for these potential rewards is that it’s quite possible to build a software company with no profits, big losses and no sale at the end. That’s what happened to my second software company.
I just don’t have it in me to take that kind of personal risk a third time.
Even in the happy event of a big sale of the company, there is then a huge risk that the acquiring company will shut down the company soon after, or shut down the product even if the company’s staff is redirected elsewhere. So it’s just shockingly risky for me to try to create lasting benefit to the world by creating a software company. Add to the risk that I have forgotten a lot of what I used to know, and that software has been changing at a tremendous rate, so even if I decided to start another software company, I would have a multiple year learning curve to get current with modern software development tools.
So that means I have had to consider other types of businesses to start. I haven’t worked for anyone other than myself or companies I have started since 1994, and I am a rather unappealing employee, so I am not looking for a job, and I don’t want a job… even at Google or Facebook, where people are currently clamoring to work.
People are often advised to pursue what they are passionate about, even if that passion does not pay as much as other pursuits.
I am most passionate about doing something that will genuinely help other people for a long time. I want to be helpful to the world, and I want my life to matter. So far I have been a drain on the world, not an asset. This is simply the truth, looking at my life objectively. That company I sold lost millions of dollars for my investors. Then that company lost millions of dollars for the company that acquired it. I am the only person in the world that made any substantial money on the company, but that money was at the expense of others that lost money. This is like making money in currency exchange markets. You win only if others lose.
My balance of accounts is deeply in the negative over my life. Even my parents lost money, for they paid for my overpriced college degree from a small private college, and I never used that education to earn money once I graduated.
So my next phase of life will be devoted to repaying my multimillion dollar debt to the world, so that by the time I die my balance of accounts will be in solid positive territory.
Yes, I am being a bit hard on myself. All of these money losing transactions were arms length and fair deals at the time, and I have nothing to be guilty about.
Thankfully, I am debt free, other than mortgage debt at 3% interest for an amount that is a minority of my tangible net worth. And thankfully, I have the love and support of a wonderful family and many smart friends.
There was one benefit to the the last 15 years. I did learn what not to do again. I did become more wise. I did get to enjoy a retirement while I was in perfect health. I am grateful for these treasures.
I am coming out of retirement this month, January, 2015. I will tell you about my new company in this space, as time permits, and as I have interesting news to report.