Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category
On March 18, 2013 I wrote a tribute to Hansoo Lee, who died March 4, 2013 at age 35 from cancer.
Here is Feld’s post, in its entirety, for posterity in case the above links ever disappear. Please read this version only if the links above don’t work, so as to not take traffic away from those sites. I generally only copy entire posts like this when I want to be sure some important text is readable for decades, like these lovely words from Brad Feld:
“I woke up to an email today from Aaron Schwartz, founder of Modify. I don’t know Aaron other than our email exchanges but he thanked me for Venture Deals which he said has been very helpful to him. His note went on to say:
A close friend of mine, and one of my best friend’s co-founders just passed away after a 15-month battle with non-smoker’s lung cancer. I thought the below article was incredibly revealing about how meaningful a partner and leader can be for a start-up. If you think it would be useful to other entrepreneurs, I hope you’ll take a moment and share it.
I went on to read Farewell Hansoo, We’ll Miss You, a beautiful tribute by Bhavin Parikh, the CEO and co-founder of Magoosh. At the end, I had tears in my eyes. Hansoo is 35 and just died of cancer, which was discovered a year ago. I have several friends fighting cancer right now and had one die last year and this story really touched me – of the intimacy of the relationship between co-founders, the beauty of spirit of Hansoo, and how rapidly loved ones and partners can be taken from us.
I just made a donation to the The Hansoo Lee Fellowship to support entrepreneurs. The fellowship will provide a stipend and mentorship to help Berkeley-Haas MBA students pursue their venture full-time for their summer internship, as Hansoo did. MBA students will receive a summer stipend of $5 – $10K, Mentorship from Haas alums focused on entrepreneurship, and office space.
Here is the heartfelt tribute that Bhavin Parikh wrote and that Feld noted above. Again, I generally only copy complete posts like this when I think there is a chance the original won’t be on the Internet for decades and decades, and when I think the likelihood of irritating the original author is low. Please read this text below from Parikh only if this link does not work:
“Hansoo Lee was a visionary, a close friend, and my co-founder at Magoosh. On March 4, 2013, at the age of 35, he lost his 15-month battle with lung cancer. Hansoo changed my life, and I will be forever grateful.
Hansoo and I were classmates in the full-time MBA program at Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. He came to Berkeley-Haas fully aware that he wanted to pursue entrepreneurship. In fact, he wrote the following in his MBA application:
“I believe in the power of a well-operated, sophisticated organization that generates social and economic value. My career goal is to found and lead this type of organization.”
In our first semester at Haas, Hansoo and I joined Pejman, another Haas classmate, and his friend Vikram in creating Magoosh, an online education product initially focused on test preparation. Hansoo quickly emerged as a leader among the group. He was deeply passionate about changing the world through education. He served on the Board of World Savvy, an education non-profit, for several years prior to Haas and continued to do so during and after. Unlike the rest of us, Hansoo had worked at a startup before and knew what it took. He acted with conviction and focused on getting things done instead of trying to make the perfect decision. He had a bias towards action, a value we hold dear at Magoosh today.
Hansoo and I pursued Magoosh full-time during the summer, foregoing traditional paid internships. We worked out of the basement of his apartment for 10+ hours a day. That summer, we released Magoosh in small iterations, from just one page with a question, video explanations, and a text box for email addresses, to over 200 GMAT math questions with full-on video explanations. Early into the first semester of our 2nd year, Hansoo and I were the only remaining full-time members of Magoosh. We were at a crossroads: Should we go back to corporate America or continue to work on Magoosh full-time after graduation?
Hansoo, the visionary
Hansoo was fearless. The decision to pursue Magoosh full-time was a no-brainer for him despite Magoosh having very modest revenue and no funding. His confidence was unparalleled and often led to tension between us. But I later realized that while I could only see what was right in front of us, Hansoo could see through the fog. He had a vision for Magoosh of making high quality educational material accessible to all, and he had confidence in us to see that vision through.
He dragged me, often kicking and screaming, through many of Magoosh’s milestones. In October 2010, Hansoo spent weeks convincing me that we should raise a seed round. I still recall a three hour walk we took around Berkeley’s campus debating the merits of fundraising that ultimately he won out. And the process was easier than I expected, thanks to the previous 12 months that Hansoo spent building relationships with potential investors. I could always come up with thousands of reasons to defer a decision, but he would usually get his way, and we would take action. His way was the right way — make decisions and move forward — it’s why Magoosh is successful today.
In late December of 2011, I received a crushing email from Hansoo. “Hey Bhavin. I’ve been diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer…” I could barely read on. I was 3,000 miles away visiting my wife’s family in Massachusetts, but my heart was with Hansoo in California. I didn’t understand. He was fit, active, and a non-smoker. He did everything right. How could this happen to him?
He stepped away from Magoosh operations as of January 2012, but he remained fearless about his prognosis and the company’s future. His positive attitude was infectious. I still can’t believe that during this time he provided me with support because he knew running the company as a sole founder would be difficult.
Unfortunately, his condition worsened throughout the year. Despite going through various advanced treatments, he faced complication after complication. Our weekly walks turned into monthly phone calls and then just the occasional email. I couldn’t imagine what he was going through, and I wanted to do more for him. But whenever we spoke, he told me to focus on Magoosh. He was watching from a distance and loved seeing the team’s progress.
On Monday March 4, 2013, Hansoo passed away due to complications from his cancer. We had spoken for nearly an hour just two weeks prior, and I’m grateful that we were able to chat then. I was able to tell him about his impact on Magoosh.
Hansoo’s impact on Magoosh
Hansoo left a lasting impact on our daily lives at Magoosh. He was the impetus behind our daily standup meetings and the weekly one on ones between managers and employees. He cared so deeply about crafting an amazing culture and brand that he led us through an exercise to define our core values when we had only 4 full-time team members — we still hold those values dear today. He was transparent with our vision and finances because he believed in providing everyone with purpose and autonomy in their work.
I’m reminded of him everyday when I walk into the Magoosh office. Magoosh would not be what it is today without him. We’ve grown into a successful business and have helped thousands of students improve their GRE and GMAT scores thanks to Hansoo. He was our leader, and we’ll miss him.
How you can help
To honor Hansoo’s memory, we have created the Hansoo Lee Fellowship. The Fellowship will provide a stipend and mentorship to help Berkeley-Haas MBA students pursue their venture full-time for their summer internship, as Hansoo did. Students will receive:
- A summer stipend of $5 – $10K
- Mentorship from Haas alums focused on entrepreneurship
- Office space donated by Magoosh
This fellowship is a realization of Hansoo’s vision. He always looked for opportunities to give back, and this is our way of celebrating him. To donate to the Fellowship, click here.”
I didn’t know Lee particularly well because we probably saw each other just a dozen times. Most of those times were at Cal Founders meetings at various venues in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cal Founders meetings are informal monthly gatherings where entrepreneurs discuss their business challenges. The big benefit to these meetings is the wide variety of advice that may be gleaned from the diverse attendees. I like to characterize the meetings as board of directors meetings where one may actually be completely frank about issues, with no worry that what you say may later be used against your company.
Since Cal Founders meetings are designed to encourage sharing of meaningful obstacles and opportunities, I feel like I learned quite a bit about Lee during these meetings. A person’s character comes into focus rather quickly when you hear them give and receive advice.
Lee was a standout at Cal Founders meetings, and for good reason. He was a smart, driven, accomplished and capable entrepreneur. Sadly, the majority of entrepreneurs I meet never deliver much in the way of results. Lee stood out because he actually delivered results. He was quick to cite statistics about growth, and he knew exactly how to bring customers to his business, and could specify exactly what results would come from specific steps. This kind of precision is less common than you might imagine.
I recall examples that demonstrate how impressive Lee was as an entrepreneur, but I won’t share them with you, since Cal Founders meetings are by design confidential, to encourage open dialogue. I doubt Lee would mind my sharing some examples, given that they paint him in such a favorable light, but I am loath to break confidentiality even in light of the sad circumstance of his too early passing.
I remember seeing Hansoo Lee the evening his startup Magoosh won USD $10,000 in the 2010 Intel Global Challenge business competition. The Intel Global Challenge is a big deal, and it is very competitive because Intel invites competitors from all over the world to participate. I have watched the finals awards ceremony for years and I conclude the competition is more competitive than the Berkeley Startup Competition, which itself is quite competitive.
I am comfortable sharing some of what I learned this afternoon in a public memorial open to all at the beautiful Golden Gate Club inside The Presidio. Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, The Presidio used to be a United States military base before it was vacated and turned over to visitors to and residents of San Francisco to enjoy.
The Golden Gate Club overlooks the San Francisco Bay through giant windows perhaps two stories tall. These windows showcase the Bay is if it is a work of fine art in a museum.
Here’s Lee’s biography from the program handed out today at the memorial:
“Hansoo was born in Athens, Georgia [USA], lived briefly in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and spent his formative years in Pensacola, Florida. He was an outstanding scholar-athlete, graduating from Pensacola High School in 1996. He attended Amherst College where he was on both the ski and tennis teams and double-majored in Economics and Fine Arts, graduating in 2000. He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area after graduating from college and worked at a small internet startup before joining Walmart.com where he founded the strategy group. He then went to the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, to hone his skills as an entrepreneur. He and two of his classmates founded an education test preparation website, Magoosh, in 2009 during their time at Haas. Hansoo was the first CEO at Magoosh, which he and his business partner, Bhavin Parikh, worked on full-time after graduating from Haas in 2010. They have grown it into a successful, socially minded and profitable business in less than three years.
Hansoo had a love of the outdoors, travel, food, music, and the arts. All of these he enjoyed most with his friends and family. He had a particular love of sports and he described himself as a team player. This was true in all aspects of his life, personal and professional. He maintained close friendships from his early childhood and continued to make close friends throughout his his life. He met Wendy Lim four years ago and they were inseparable from the start; they became engaged last year. He is survived by Wendy, his parents Chung Ho and Hi Whan Lee, his brother and sister-in-law Hanmin Lee and Barbara Morgenthau and their beautiful children Mimoh and Taemoh.”
There were over two hundred people at Lee’s memorial.
I was impressed with how many people boarded aircraft to attend. The majority of the members from his class that belonged to his fraternity at Amherst were there, and two of them spoke at the podium sharing their memories of Lee. I learned that Amherst had banned fraternities, so fraternities were tiny and presumably somewhat hidden. As a result, when I write ‘majority’ I mean three fraternity brothers out of a total of five in Lee’s class attended Lee’s memorial. Counting Lee, four fifths of the entire class was represented. That I believe is a testament to Lee’s good spirit. Remember, Lee graduated from Amherst a dozen years ago.
About two dozen of Lee’s friends walked to the microphone and shared their memories.
Two of his friends met Lee in the first grade. One of those friends entertained us by explaining Lee’s love for business even as an eight year old. Lee was a pro at profitably buying and selling baseball cards. He studied baseball and developed the rare ability to identify future star players while they were still rookies in their careers. This skill allowed Lee to buy the correct rookie cards while they were still low cost, and then sell them years later when the players became stars. I learned Lee joked that he planned to pay for college with his card trading empire begun as a child.
I learned about Lee’s first skiing trip as part of a high school engineering club he belonged to, and how his enthusiasm for skiing caused him to wear out a pair of ski pants in just a night of tumbling on a slope covered with inadequate snow and uninvited mud.
Lee’s fiancée, Wendy Lim, delivered the most emotionally moving remarks.
Wendy Lim is really impressive.
Lim described herself as Lee’s opposite, but pointed out how well they each complimented the other.
Wendy Lim described Lee as the love of her life, and told us she had never before known love like that which she shared with Lee. It’s so sad Lee was taken from her so early after her lifelong search to locate him.
I introduced myself to Lim and expressed how sorry I am for her loss.
I also had the privilege of expressing the same sentiments to Dr. Chung Ho Lee, Hansoo’s father, Hi Whan Lee, Hansoo’s mother, and Dr. Hanmin Lee, Hansoo’s brother.
The Hansoo Lee Fellowship has been established at the Haas School of Business at University of California Berkeley. Lee started full time work on his startup Magoosh during the summer break between his first and second year at business school. This concerted several month effort I suspect really accelerated the progress at the company. The idea for the Fellowship is to help other student teams pursue their dreams during that pivotal summer break. The fellowship will provide a cash stipend, office space and advice from mentors to one lucky team each summer. If you are able and would like to give money to fund the Hansoo Lee Fellowship, please do so by following this link to the official UC Berkeley donation page for this fellowship.
Farewell Hansoo Lee. I am glad that I got to know you a bit during your exceptional life.
I just learned that Peet’s Coffee & Tea is to be acquired for about a billion US dollars.
I have lost touch with Muire Dougherty, but this news that Peet’s will soon be acquired for a cool billion dollars made me think of her, and the positive influence that she had on my life.
Cooley LLP does legal work for Peet’s Coffee.
I used to work at Cooley while I was dating Dougherty. I don’t know if Cooley represented Peet’s back then or not.
I learned about this pending acquisition from Cooley’s Facebook status update. The update was brief, so I don’t know if Cooley advised Peet’s on this transaction, but knowing what I know of Cooley, they likely did.
Here’s the Peet’s press release, for posterity:
Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc. to Be Acquired by Joh. A. Benckiser for $73.50 Per Share in Cash
Peet’s to Become Private in a Transaction Valued at $1 Billion
EMERYVILLE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEET) and Joh. A. Benckiser (“JAB”) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which JAB will acquire Peet’s for $73.50 per share in cash, or a total of approximately $1 billion. The agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Peet’s Board of Directors, represents a premium of approximately 29% over Peet’s closing stock price on July 20, 2012.
At the close of the transaction, Peet’s will be privately owned and will continue to be operated by the company’s current management team and employees. Peet’s Coffee & Tea, founded in Berkeley, CA in 1966 by Alfred Peet, will remain based in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its home office in Emeryville and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified roast-to-order facility in Alameda.
“We are very excited about this next chapter in Peet’s rich history,” said Patrick O’Dea, President and CEO of Peet’s. “Over many years we’ve demonstrated an unyielding commitment to craft coffees and teas of uncompromised quality. This commitment is what has distinguished the Peet’s brand among all others and will continue to guide us as we go forward.”
Jean-Michel Valette, Chairman of the Board of Peet’s, added, “In my experience it is rare to find a company and a brand as special as Peet’s. We are pleased that JAB recognizes this and that Peet’s existing shareholders will be rewarded with significant value.”
“At JAB, we are committed to owning and investing in companies with strong, premier-quality brands and great people whose values we share,” said Bart Becht, Chairman of JAB. “Peet’s is just such a company and we look forward to preserving the company’s culture and core values, while supporting management’s vision for future growth.”
In addition to JAB, BDT Capital, a Chicago-based merchant bank that provides long-term private capital and advice to closely held companies, is participating in this transaction as an advisor and minority investor.
The transaction, which is structured as a one-step merger with Peet’s as the surviving corporation, is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close in approximately three months, subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of shareholder and regulatory approvals. The transaction requires the affirmative vote of holders of a majority of the company’s outstanding shares, which will be sought at a special meeting of shareholders.
Citigroup is serving as exclusive financial advisor to Peet’s in connection with this transaction and has delivered a fairness opinion to the Board of Directors of Peet’s. Cooley LLP is acting as Peet’s legal advisor. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor to JAB in this transaction. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and BDT & Company are serving as financial advisors to JAB.
In light of today’s announcement, Peet’s will not be holding a conference call to discuss its second quarter fiscal 2012 results.
Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEET) is the premier specialty coffee and tea company in the United States. The company was founded in 1966 in Berkeley, Calif. by Alfred Peet. Peet was an early tea authority who later became widely recognized as the grandfather of specialty coffee in the U.S. Today, Peet’s Coffee & Tea offers superior quality coffees and teas in multiple forms, by sourcing the best quality coffee beans and tea leaves in the world, adhering to strict high-quality and taste standards, and controlling product quality through its unique direct store delivery selling and merchandising system. Peet’s is committed to strategically growing its business through many channels while maintaining the extraordinary quality of its coffees and teas. For more information about Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc., visit www.peets.com.
About Joh. A. Benckiser
Joh. A. Benckiser is a privately held group focused on long term investments in premium brands in the broader consumer goods category. The group’s portfolio includes a majority stake in Coty Inc., a global leader in beauty, a minority stake in Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC, a global leader in health, hygiene and home products, and a minority investment in D.E Master Blenders 1753. The group also owns Labelux, a luxury goods company with brands such as Jimmy Choo, Bally and Belstaff. The assets of the group are overseen by three senior partners: Peter Harf, Bart Becht and Olivier Goudet.
About BDT Capital Partners
BDT Capital Partners provides family-owned and entrepreneurially led companies with long-term capital, solutions-based advice and access to an extensive network of world-class family businesses. Based in Chicago, BDT Capital Partners is a merchant bank structured to provide advice and capital that address the unique needs of closely held businesses. The firm has a $3 billion investment fund as well as an investor base with the ability to co-invest significant additional capital. Through its advisory business, BDT & Company works with family businesses to pursue their long-term strategic and financial objectives.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements. Statements that are not historical facts, including statements about beliefs or expectations, are forward-looking statements. These statements are based on plans, estimates and projections at the time Peet’s makes the statements, and readers should not place undue reliance on them. In some cases, readers can identify forward-looking statements by the use of forward-looking terms such as “may,” “will,” “should, “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” or “continue” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terms. Forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, and the Company cautions readers that a number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any such forward-looking statement. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in this press release include, among others: uncertainties as to the timing of the acquisition; the possibility that competing offers will be made; the possibility that various closing conditions for the acquisition may not be satisfied or waived, including that a governmental entity may prohibit or refuse to grant approval for the consummation of the acquisition; general economic and business conditions; and other factors. Additional risks are described in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended January 1, 2012 and its subsequently filed reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements included in this press release, which speak only as of the date hereof. The Company does not undertake to update any of these statements in light of new information or future events.
Additional Information and Where to Find It
In connection with the proposed merger, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc. will prepare a proxy statement to be filed with the SEC. When completed, a definitive proxy statement and a form of proxy will be mailed to the shareholders of the Company. THE COMPANY’S SHAREHOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ THE PROXY STATEMENT REGARDING THE PROPOSED MERGER BECAUSE IT WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION. The Company’s shareholders will be able to obtain, without charge, a copy of the proxy statement (when available) and other relevant documents filed with the SEC from the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov. The Company’s shareholders will also be able to obtain, without charge, a copy of the proxy statement and other relevant documents (when available) by directing a request by mail or telephone to Peet’s, 1400 Park Avenue, Emeryville, CA 94608, attention: Investor Relations or by calling (510) 594-2100.
The Company and its directors and officers may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies from the Company’s shareholders with respect to the proposed merger. Information about the Company’s directors and executive officers and their ownership of the Company’s common stock is set forth in the proxy statement for the Company’s 2012 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on April 2, 2012 and will be set forth in the proxy statement regarding the proposed merger. Shareholders may obtain additional information regarding the interests of the Company and its directors and executive officers in the proposed merger, which may be different than those of the Company’s shareholders generally, by reading the proxy statement and other relevant documents regarding the proposed merger, when filed with the SEC.
Peet’s Media Contacts:
Sard Verbinnen & Co
Paul Kranhold, 415-618-8750
John Christiansen, 415-618-8750
Peet’s Investor Contact:
Seanna Allen, 510-594-2196
JAB Media Contacts:
Abernathy MacGregor Group
Chuck Burgess, 212-371-5999
Tom Johnson, 212-371-5999
BDT Capital Partners Media Contact:
Jennifer Dunne, 312-660-7314
Source: Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc.
News Provided by Acquire Media
(Disclosure: Cooley is legal counsel to my current Internet company.)
University of California Berkeley student Henry Treadway died May 8, 2012. The death is being investigated as a suicide. Apparently, Treadway fell from a window in the dormitory building where he lived.
Treadway was a sophomore. He touched a lot of people. The Facebook page set up to invite people to attend a memorial vigil for Treadway gathered over 3,957 RSVPs out of 3,992 invited, as you can see in the Facebook screenshot I captured and have included below.
It’s always sad when someone takes their own life, especially when the person is smart, productive and well liked.
This is the second suicide that I’ve learned of in two days. I didn’t know either of the individuals, but both made me reflect on the subject of suicide.
I have been very close with someone who has told me that in the past they have considered suicide. This person is also smart, productive and well liked, and although I am no longer in touch with them, it would shatter my heart if I were to learn that they took their own life. It would probably take me years to fully recover, for I would wonder if I should have told anyone what I knew, while there would have perhaps been time to do something to prevent it.
I do not know who reads this blog, for the most part. I do not know if the friends and family of the person I am writing about above read this blog. Since I don’t know, I am not disclosing even the gender of the person, to protect their identity. What I know is sensitive, and while I did not promise discretion to this person, I feel that they assumed I would be discrete, and that they want me to continue to be discrete, indefinitely.
If the person I write about is reading this, please do not take your own life! Despite our distance, I still care for you, and I know many others do as well. Everything you consider broken can be fixed — even the things that are broken that you don’t know are broken can be fixed. Life is worth living. Life is to be cherished and celebrated.
Do not assume you know who I am writing about. It could be any of hundreds of people that I have cared about over my lifetime. But if you’ve considered taking your own life, even if you don’t know me, you are welcome to think I am writing about you in particular.
The other person that I just learned apparently took their own life is Andrew Fluegelman. Fluegelman disappeared in 1986, and it’s presumed he killed himself by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, although his body was never located. I wrote a blog post on May 20, 2012 about Flugelman because I attended May 18, 2012 the Annual Andrew Fluegelman Awards Gala honoring outstanding students, student-athletes & foster parents. This was a moving event, and I am friends with Stuart Sweetow, a videographer that made the May 18th Gala particularly special. Read the post for details.
Here are some more links to stories about Henry Treadway:
I extend my sympathies to the friends and family of Henry Treadway. From what I learned preparing this post, Henry was deeply loved and appreciated by those around him. May his memory remain bright in your hearts and minds. If an investigation concludes his death was not self inflicted, then I pray those responsible will soon be brought to justice. No matter the cause of death, Henry’s memory will endure.
How to date a hippy chick is a funny blog post I discovered the other day when I was trying to figure out how I am going to get a group of people together to go on a road trip with me in my bus conversion.
I hope to travel around California for a month or longer this year, and I definitely do not want to go on the road alone. I did that when I drove my bus conversion to New York City, New York from San Francisco, California in 2002. My girlfriend at the time, Marisha Pecci, couldn’t go with me because she was working full time. Even though I had an Internet connection, via satellite, on my bus conversion, life on the road alone was lonely and boring.
I am 100% certain that I can find 2 or 3 people to go with me, provided I am open to traveling with people outside my normal circle of friends.
I am 100% open to broadening my circle of friends. I have made so many new friends simply by renting out my extra bedrooms in my four bedroom San Francisco house.
When I think about the kind of person that can just take off for a month and might want to live in a bus, my mind drifted over to Haight Street and its hippies.
The hippies I see lounging on Haight Street, which is walking distance from my house, appear to have time for such trips, and they are likely to think my bus conversion is the coolest thing they’ve ever seen with wheels.
There will be four bunk beds and the master bedroom with a full size bed for me, so technically I have room for six including myself if I can find a girlfriend in time. I’m not sure that six is the right number though, as the water supply will run out in mere days with that many people taking showers. But water may be found at every Flying J fuel station, for free, so I am not going to reduce the number if I identify five compatible souls.
It will be an adventure to remember.
The Green Tortoise adventure travel company I believe packs dozens of people on board their buses, and there are many more bunks on their vehicles. Having six people on a 40 foot bus would viewed as the height of luxury by Green Tortoise customers.
If you read Tyler O’Donnnell’s How to date a hippy chick post, you’ll see O’Donnell specifically requires that one own a bus! So I am already part way there should I decide to date a hippy chick. Yes, I probably come across as a serious business person on this blog, but I have more in common with hippies in general than you might guess. I used to be a punk rocker when I was younger, and that experience was formative.
O’Donnell first point from his presumably somewhat tongue-in-cheek blog post:
“Become an artist. No hippy chick is going to get with you if you are a “conformist” suit with a job that involves numbers. Hippies hate numbers! From what I can tell, hippy girls thrive on things that appear unique. I would recommend getting your brain into one or all of the following artistic mediums: drawing, painting, feces smearing, writing or photography.
Other things to keep in mind?
Educate yourself on festivals like burning man and make your own clothes. You might also want to consider gaging your ears. Numerous studies show fornication rates go up drastically after getting this upgrade. It is also a good idea to get tight jeans and then cut them off at the knees…. keep in mind that although you may feel ridiculous, it is imperative to hold yourself with an aura of prestige and superiority. Even if you really aren’t better than anyone else, you must deep down believe you are. This attitude will fuel long conversations with hippy girls about how ignorant everyone else is.”
I am a current fan of the tiny house movement, which I suspect lots of hippies identify with since a central course of action in the tiny house movement is to live in smaller homes to avoid the all consuming work needed to support life in a large McMansion style house.
In essence, I already live in a tiny house since I share my 2,000 square foot home with five other people. That’s just 333 square feet per person.
Life is good.
Zimman chaired the Document Automation Committee at Cooley, the entity to which I reported in my role as Computer Aided Lawyering Project Leader.
Jeff Zimman is currently the Chair of Posit Science, Inc., which produces software to help build and maintain cognitive function. Listeners to KQED public radio in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, are familiar with Posit Science because this software is always one of the gifts one may select if one becomes a financial sponsor of that radio station. I love KQED, by the way, and I listen to it almost every day. You may sponsor KQED online at this link.
Even though I have known Zimman for a majority of my professional life, I know little about him as a person. I know the basics – that he’s married to architect Ken Ruebush, the brother of my friend Susan Ruebush. I know Jeff Zimman used to be an investment banker at Lazard before co-founding Posit Science. I know Jeff Zimman used to be a newspaper reporter before he went to law school.
Thanks to Facebook, a currently well known social networking website based in Silicon Valley, I now know something new about Jeff Zimman.
Jeff Zimman’s grandfather Morris Zimman 103 years ago founded a treasure of a retail store named Zimman’s. This store is so lush, sumptuous and glorious that articles have been written about it. Gushing articles so colorful that they make one want to make a special trip to Zimman’s just wander the isles and touch the products.
What does Zimman’s sell? Here’s how their website explains it:
“Zimman’s offers one of the largest selections of decorative fabrics and passementerie, combined with a wonderful assortment of premium furnishings, exquisite accessories, lighting, rugs and custom products.
Located in Lynn, Massachusetts, Zimman’s is the country’s leading fine fabric, furniture, lighting and decorative accessories destination.”
Before today, I had never heard the word passementerie. This is what WikipediA has to say initially about passementerie:
“Passementerie or passementarie is the art of making elaborate trimmings or edgings (in French, passements) of applied braid, gold or silver cord, embroidery, colored silk, or beads for clothing or furnishings.
Styles of passementerie include the tassel, fringes (applied, as opposed to integral), ornamental cords, galloons, pompons, rosettes, and gimps as other forms. Tassels, pompons, and rosettes are point ornaments, and the others are linear ornaments.”
Zimman’s sells fabric.
Perhaps the nicest fabric I have ever seen — have a look at the photograph above.
The only store I can compare it to in the Bay Area is Britex Fabrics. But Britex is a premium priced emporium located in costly Union Square retail space. Prices at Britex are sky high such that it’s a turnoff to even browse.
Zimman’s by choice is located next to a 99-cent discount store, so their rent is affordable. The savings are passed on to customers, which results in Zimman’s being both affordable and magical at the same time.
It’s as if Neiman Marcus moved into a Costco and reused the same shelving to sells its luxury goods. Prices could drop dramatically if they didn’t have to support the exceptionally luxurious stores that they’re famous for.
Here’s what Michael Zimman, Jeff Zimman’s brother, has to say about the store he now rus:
“It’s an unlikely spot for this type of business to evolve,” agrees owner Michael Zimman, grandson of the store’s founder, Morris Zimman. “But it works for us. You need a lot of space, which we have, and we’ve been doing it for 103 years, so we’ve developed a broad reputation.”
“With arguably the largest selection of textiles on the East Coast, if not in the country, and a carefully curated array of furniture and decorative items, Zimman’s has become a destination business, surviving the changing landscape of retail by smart specialization and unbeatable prices.
Stepping into Zimman’s can be a daunting proposition. With about 40,000 square feet—nearly an acre—of shopping spread over three floors, some customers, especially those seeking textiles, may not know where to start. After all, Zimman’s has at least 25,000 bolts of fabric in house—but who’s counting? “It might be 50,000. It might be 100,000. We don’t stop to count,” Michael Zimman says. “But that’s part of what makes us unique. We’re for people who want to step back into the way things were and have an experience of shopping in an emporium, putting their hands on textiles and furniture… It’s a throwback, and people really love it.””
I do wonder after reading Coffey’s article if Jeff Zimman also spent a lot of time at Zimman’s while he was growing up, like his brother Michael did. Coffey writes:
“Zimman’s dedication to the old ways has deep roots; Michael learned the business at his grandfather Morris Zimman’s knee. Morris opened the store in 1909, and Michael says he cannot remember a time when he wasn’t involved in the business. In fact, if he wanted to see his father, who worked from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. six days a week, he had to go to the store. While in the second grade, Michael would take the bus from the family’s home in Marblehead to swim at the Boys’ Club on Lynn Commons. After swimming, Zimman would wend his way through back alleys and residential neighborhoods in the waning afternoon light to get to his father’s store for a ride home.”
It is highly unusual for a lawyer to found a company. Jeff Zimman is certainly an entrepreneur. Posit Science is not an easy kind of company to start. They raised tens of millions of dollars in venture capital. They have world renowned scientists like Michael M. Merzenich, PhD on the team (see Merzenich’s extensive WikiPediA entry here). What Jeff Zimman has accomplished makes my head spin compared to what I have done in the software field.
I suspect that it is extremely likely that Jeff Zimman was profoundly influenced by his grandfather Morris Zimman, the founder of Zimman’s. Watching his grandfather build and operate a successful business had to help inspire him to leave the relative tranquility of lawyering and banking to become a startup founder. I run into Zimman only about yearly, but I will ask him about this connection the next time I see him.
Finally, a fun fact near to my heart — Zimman’s used to advertise on the sides of city transit buses. There is an animated graphic that plays as soon as you arrive at the Zimman’s website that shows the bus ‘driving’ from right to left across the top of the website. I was able to capture the bus in a screen shot after a few tries with Snag It screen capture software. Here is the result. As my readers know, I am a huge fan of buses, and I own a bus even larger than the one below, although now it’s a motorhome.
I went to elementary, middle and high school with Roger Rowley, now the Director of The Prichard Art Gallery at the University of Idaho. My mother Martha Warnock always told me what a smart mother he had. I remember this even from when I was a young child. My mother was a professor at the University of Chicago at the time, as was Janet Rowley, Roger’s mother.
The New York Times article was published in the print edition February 8, 2011. Sadly, I didn’t properly file my original paper version of the very long and fascinating New Yorker article, and I can’t find it via the search mechanism at that magazine’s website, or via Google. I believe I have the article at my house, and if and when I find it, I’ll scan it and amend this post, because it was captivating.
I wonder if I perhaps met her when I was at Lab School with her son Roger. I remember Roger Rowley well and sat next to him at dinner at my high school reunion ten and a half years ago.
[Note: Roger Rowley wrote to me shortly after I posted the above text letting me know that the Internet address for The Prichard Art Gallery has been updated. Please visit the Prichard Art Gallery here instead of via the link above in the first sentence. January 7, 2012 @ 5:20pm PST.]
Last Friday, November 18, 2011, I attended a memorial service for Ilya Zhitomirskiy. I wrote a blog post about the service.
In that post I mentioned I had met Zhitomirskiy once, at a party at the offices of CloudFlare, the red hot website performance and security startup that just won the Wall Street Journal’s Innovation Award in the Network and Internet Technologies category. After my memorial post, a friend of mine that read the post sent me the above photograph from that party. As you can see, I’m standing there on the left next to Zhitomirskiy.
I just had to post the picture here because it’s such a great picture.
Tonight I attended a public memorial service in San Francisco, California USA for Ilya Zhitomirskiy, co-founder of the start-up social network Diaspora*. The service was held at McAvoy O’Hara mortuary at 4545 Geary Boulevard. I took the picture below of McAvoy O’Hara as I was departing.
Ilya Zhitomirskiy died Saturday, November 12, 2011 at his home in San Francisco. The preceding link is to his lengthy obituary in the New York Times newspaper, a testamant to Zhitomirskiy’s influence. Such coverage is remarkable for someone whose idea that made them famous has not officially launched yet. Such coverage is remarkable for someone just 22 years old at their passing.
I met Zhitomirskiy only once, and I don’t remember the meeting except in the vaguest sense. My friend Matthew Wise introduced me to Zhitomirskiy at an office warming party for CloudFlare, which I wrote about here at the time. Wise reminded me two days ago at his Foods Startup event that he had introduced me. I recall that Wise had mentioned Diaspora* at the CloudFlare party. I had heard of Diaspora* back then, but I didn’t appreciate the significance of meeting one of the co-founders because I wasn’t aware how much attention the project had already garnered.
With that introduction you might wonder why I went to the man’s memorial service. On a group hike some weeks back I had a long and interesting conversation with Bobby Fishkin. Fishkin was a good friend of Zhitomirskiy, and yesterday Fishkin sent out a broadcast email to his connections inviting them to attend Zhitomirskiy’s memorial, which was described as ‘open to all.’ Fishkin can write a moving email, and his text was so descriptive and colorful that I decided to attend. In part, Fishkin wrote:
“He was a visionary and revolutionary. He approached the world out of love and then used a profoundly gifted analytical mind to approach what could be done based on that love to circumvent all the forces of the world that would otherwise get between us and those we love. He founded Diaspora to achieve this. But more than this, he sought solutions to global challenges and gave us all further confidence to speak our truth.”
How could I not attend the memorial after an introduction so uplifting?
I am glad that I did attend, as this was the most moving and thought provoking memorial I have yet attended.
It made me cry many times and I wasn’t even Zhitomirskiy’s friend.
Over 100 of Zhitomirskiy’s friends were in the room, and I estimate 20 of them came to the podium to share their memories. I feel like I learned the essence of who Ilya Zhitomirskiy was in the course of this memorial. I wish I had gotten to know him better, as he seemed like a remarkable thinker.
A recurring theme his friends recounted was that Zhitomirskiy kept extensive to-do lists on Post-It notes on how to change and improve the world. He collected these notes on one of those skewers pointing in the air that restaurants stick their filled receipts upon. These notes and lists apparantly are so profound that one of his friends collected them and made a website dedicated to just displaying Zhitomirskiy’s to-do lists.
Zhitomirskiy talked of slaying metaphorical dragons frequently, I learned.
He dreamed of traveling the world as a public speaker, and longed for a way to have such travel and talking paid for. I have that in common with him…
He talked too much, but in a way that mesmerized his friends. One of his most ardent friends, Elizabeth Stark
(I didn’t learn her last name, and it seemed the wrong place to ask), an instructor at Stanford University, described passionately how she could stay up until 5am talking with Zhitomirskiy, and that such conversations seemed to just fly by they were so engrossing. I got the distinct impression that Elizabeth is a very smart woman, and she looked to be 10 years older than Zhitomirskiy. He must have been quite an impressive guy to keep her attention until nearly sunrise.
His friends over and over promised Zhitomirskiy that they would work hard in life to help finish his to-do list. They said Zhitomirskiy lived by a code where he advised keeping good company and making outrageous demands of them. He was known for his epic (sic) parties, and for his intense drive to introduce people to each other at said parties. He even started a website themed around these parties, but I couldn’t find a working site at the domain name mentioned, epicparty.com or epicparties.com.
Zhitomirskiy’s passing brought so many of those in attendance to tears. They clearly and dramatically loved him. His friends and family I hope will take tremendous comfort that Ilya Zhitomirskiy so profoundly touched so many impressive people. The whole room seemed to be filled with impressive and thoughtful people. One Asian woman who spoke at the podium had only known Zhitomirskiy for a month, yet her remarks were insightful and lovely. I meant to tell her so after, but she was engrossed in a conversation and I didn’t want to interrupt her.
It’s so sad when a bright light goes out too soon. I reflect on my own life at times like these. I pledge to redouble my efforts to help others and bring more happiness and good to the world. Thank you Ilya Zhitomirskiy for the inspiration you gave me to write about you and reflect on your short yet meaningful life.
I predict your influence Ilya Zhitomirskiy will remain upon the globe for many moons. May you rest in peace.
PS – I particularly invite Zhitomirskiy’s friends to introduce themselves to me by sending me a message or friending me on Facebook here. I’d like to learn more about your friend, and I’d like to know you as well, as it appears he kept quite good company from what I saw this evening.
[Additional: I added this November 24, 2011. After I wrote the above post, a friend of mine sent me a picture taken March 3, 2011. The picture is from the CloudFlare party I mention above, and it shows me with Ilya and four others. It's a great picture, so I posted it to my blog here.]
[Additional: I added this February 9, 2012. I added the last name of Elizabeth to this post, as I found out her last name.]
I just read a nice tribute to Michael Traynor, an attorney I was friends with when I worked at Cooley LLP years ago. I haven’t thought much about Traynor since I left Cooley in 1994, but today I was reviewing profiles on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, looking for entries about people I know personally.
Traynor’s father Roger Traynor has a Wikipedia entry, and Micheal is mentioned in that entry. I knew Traynor was an important attorney when I was at Cooley, but I don’t think I realized that his father had been Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court from 1964-1970.
Micheal Traynor was extremely nice to me. His office was about 40 feet from my first office at Cooley, on the 20th floor of One Maritime Plaza in San Francisco, California. Later, I moved to the 19th floor.
Traynor was aware of the political storms I navigated before I prevailed and got a special promotion and an attendant committee of partners to report to. He offered multiple times to intervene on my behalf with the powers in charge. I never took him up on his offer, as I had others like Tony Gilbert helping me and it didn’t seem kind to involve Traynor.
I knew Traynor for almost five years, and he would always say hello to me, and I always felt like he was my friend and that he approved of the work I was passionate about at Cooley, which was encoding the expertise of lawyers into document assembly software so that less experienced attorneys could create documents that incorporated Cooley’s best thinking on a topic.
Until today I didn’t know Traynor was president of the American Law Institute.
I’m not surprised.