Note from Paul: Bryan Goldberg, the founder of Bustle and a good friend, filed this piece to PandoDaily on Monday. Sarah and I felt it was a little navel-gazy to be published there but, in the interests of “if I can dish it out, I should be able to take it,” I offered to publish it here. Bryan generously agreed.
I’m going to miss Paul Carr’s company, NSFWCORP.
No, I will not have to say goodbye to the excellent writing — which will live on as part of Sarah’s growing Pando empire.
But I will miss Paul Carr, the CEO of an independent business that slowly drives his already-fragile mind into the seventh circle of a self-created Hell.
I am going to miss hearing Paul Carr talk about the seriousness with which he attends to his Investor Relations duties. As he put it so eloquently himself: “I am still on speaking terms with almost half of my investors!”
And I am going to miss the moment when the little light bulb goes off in his cartoon head when he realizes that — gulp — “I may need investors after all!”
I am going to miss watching Paul’s heart skip ten thousand beats when he discovers that his sharp tongue and razor wit cannot cut through government red tape. Or when his Twitter powers prove useless against the SEC’s private company securities regulations.
I am going to miss the wonderful irony that — as a CEO with fiduciary duties — there were things that Paul Carr was legally not allowed to say… no matter how badly he wanted to say them. We will never experience that again, folks. It’s all over.
I am going to miss watching him wince in pain as he discovers — for the first time — how incredibly hard it is to run a business.
I am going to miss hearing him talk about accounting. I enjoyed smirking as he said things like, “Our finances are totally taken care of, we have Quickbooks!” I was looking forward to the day when Accounts Receivable entered the equation, but sadly, it was never meant to be.
I will miss Paul Carr’s scrappy and creative fundraising efforts. Everyone will. Those were the moments when he was at his best. His candid approach to seeking investment — which reminded me of Katie Couric’s nationally televised colonoscopy — will appear in Finance textbooks for years to come. So long as he gets a job ghostwriting Finance textbooks one day.
And I will also miss watching that glimmer of hope appear in his eyes when suddenly, and out of nowhere, the Gods of Entrepreneurship throw him a seemingly-arbitrary and fortuitously timed lifeline. Every startup gets exactly one of those. And it’s enough to make an ultra-Liberal Socialist Ex-Patriot Athiest like Paul temporarily believe the biblical story of Lot.
With a heavy heart and fond memories, I will miss watching Paul Carr pivot his entire business model a mere year after launch. And I will miss hearing him belittle other (thriving) media companies’ business models. Like Business Insider’s. Or Business Insider’s. Or the one employed by Henry Blodget.
And I will miss hearing him suddenly and miraculously change his opinion of those companies when he realizes that he may need an acquirer one day.
And though we got to witness it ever so briefly, I will miss his horribly public dismissal of his loyal employees…
… but, worry not, we may just be treated to a very public quitting should his tenure at Pando go the way of his last tech blog exit.
And that is why I feel cautiously optimistic about everything.
Because there is only one Paul Carr.
And even though we’ve been reading and talking about him for seemingly forever, he is actually quite young.
So hopefully we’ll get at least five more decades of his shenanigans, even if he never raises another penny of venture capital (by his own choosing).
And, when it comes to hilarious, thought-provoking, insufferable, public shenanigans, nobody tops Paul Carr.
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A fun email conversation from this evening. I still don’t really understand what — or who — this is…
On Jul 15, 2013, at 7:29 PM, “franc black” wrote:
Any relation between your funding by Base Ventures and your efforts to throw Snowden under the bus?
Perhaps it time to include Mark Ames and Paul Carr as subjects in the S.H.A.M.E. project?
“And there they stood, in sudden realization. They had become that which they had always fervently abhorred”
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2013 10:33 PM
To: franc black
Feel free to call in to the show live right now: http://live.nsfwcorp.com and ask us. I have literally no idea the connection. Let’s discuss. Unless you’re just trolling?
On Jul 15, 2013, at 8:38 PM, “franc black” wrote:
I’m just trying to decide how I want to leak it, except the publicity might only help you, you prick.
From: Paul Carr
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2013 10:45 PM
To: franc black
So you’ve got nothing then? You’re just a cowardly troll? We disclose all of our investors on http://conflict.nsfwcorp.com and we just talked about your email on our radio show. We see zero connection between Base and Snowden but would love to hear about a connection if you have one. We wrote a piece here about another of our investors who was involved in investing in surveillance tech…
…happy to write about another investor if you can demonstrate why there’s an issue.
Meantime, I’m publishing this thread on our blog. Feel free to “leak” it to anyone you like, you abusive little cunt.
* * * *
Update: not just me, apparently…
[Source: TechCrunch comments]
* * * *
I’ll be writing more about this soon but, yes, Lora Kolodny from the Wall Street Journal’s VentureWire is correct — NSFWCORP has a brand new investor in the form of Erik Moore and Base Ventures. They’ve invested $250,000 as a “series seed” round.
We don’t really do press releases, but I asked Erik for a quote to explain why he invested. Here’s what he sent back…
If you spend more than five minutes with Paul, you will understand my interest in investing in NSFWCORP. All of the obvious boxes checked out: rockstar team, domain expertise, big market. But what took me over the top was his tremendous passion and love for the industry. He’s a journalist interested in real journalism. He doesn’t take the easy road of cynicism and write about the 10 ways to beat the summer heat. I was enthralled by his goal of going against the grain and bringing print back. It’s a huge bet, but that’s what true investors do.
Erik and the folks at Base are brilliant, and I’m really pleased to have them as investors. We’ll be adding them to the Conflict Tower shortly and then I’ll write some more about the investment etc.
* * * *
On Tuesday, NSFWCORP will host its first “Conflictathon”, a live radio show that begins at noon pacific and ends… well… when it ends.
The first hour will be business as usual: a regular episode of NSFWLIVE with special guests discussing the big news stories of the day (with jokes). We’ll also welcome callers, start some fights and might even have time to play some music. All the while, we’ll be encouraging listeners to help support the future of journalism (with jokes) by subscribing to our digital and/or print editions, buying a unit in Conflict Tower or agreeing to buy one of several dozen weird things we hope to sell on the air.
After hour one is where things get interesting, and terrifying. After hour one, for every ten dollars we’ve raised during the first hour (and for the remainder of the show), we’ll add one minute to the running time. If one person buys a print subscription and one buys a digital edition (total: $10), the show will end after 1hr 1minute. If, however, someone buys a top-floor Tower room ($1400 and change), we’ll be stuck in the studio for almost three more hours. We’ve also built a system (also launching at noon tomorrow) that allows you to bid for us to do almost anything, starting at $1.
Assuming we make it past the first hour, we have all kinds of ridiculous stuff planned — becoming even more ridiculous as time goes on. We have convinced some bona fide celebrity guests to join us during hours two onwards, our sex and science editor has an amazing plan for hour three (spoiler alert: the costume arrived yesterday) and after hour five we have a musical extravaganza that you absolutely won’t want to miss. (Update: on last night’s Why Isn’t This News, Sarah Lacy agreed to co-host part of the 4th/5th hour of the show with me. Assuming we make it that far.)
So why are we doing it? Because, as I wrote last month, NSFWCORP doesn’t have a billionaire benefactor. Our last funding round was $300k, late last year, and we’ve spent a very significant chunk of that already, hiring journalists and doing — if I say so myself — some pretty great journalism. We’ve unseated university chancellors, laid bare the government’s assassination policy, exposed corruption at NPR and even uncovered the financial ties between BuzzFeed and the Koch brothers. The jokes are OK too.
But, as I also explained last month, we’re excruciatingly close to breaking even. Our burn last month was just $8k. Our outgoings and income are in a knife-edge race to the finish line; a race which will either see us prove that you can launch a profitable consumer journalistic venture, employing real journalists (with healthcare benefits and other basic human rights) without resorting to cat videos and bullshit slideshows — or will see us crash in a mangled wreck of words and ego.
This skin-of-our-teeth existence gives us the incentive, and the excuse, to try stuff that most media companies can’t. Our daily radio show has been picking up listeners like crazy recently and we figured that some of those listeners might enjoy the madness of a telethon enough to buy a subscription to the magazine or a Tower room or — I dunno — to bribe us to send Chris out on to the Las Vegas Strip to embarrass himself in an upward spiral of entertaining ways.
But, of course, there’s every chance you’ll never get to hear any of this. There’s every chance that, like so many brilliant plans to crowdsource funding for journalism, the Conflictathon will fall completely and embarrassingly flat. If no-one tunes in, if no-one buys a subscription or thinks it’d be funny to pledge $25 to ensure Leigh gets to wear her fucked up costume, then all of our planning will be for nothing, and — even better — you’ll be able to hear our failure live and in stereo, right from your browser. There will be no excuses — just a whole lot of embarrassment.
NSFWCORP’s first (and possibly last) Conflictathon begins on Tuesday 28th (tomorrow) at noon Pacific and continues as long as you want it to…
Oh, and did I mention I’ll be doing the whole thing on antibiotics? Ahahahahahaha. Talk to you tomorrow.
(UPDATE II: Want to give us a head start by getting your message on the show? Buy an audio slot now!)