Our friends succeed.

Congratulations are in order for my young Fort Wayne friend Zach Klein, who has achieved the American dream at the tender age of 23: Selling his new-media internet company to deep-pocketed old media — story here — for big, big bucks. Selling price undisclosed, but you can bet there are many digits to the left of the decimal point. Enough that he will be buying the drinks next time, and every time until I get bought out by Barry Diller, too.

I met Zach when he was still in college and we were two of the very few bloggers in town. He was home from Wake Forest for the summer, interning at Lincoln National (and not liking it too much). We had our own Meetup, at Chili’s on Coliseum Boulevard. We had margaritas, which I think were purchased illegally, because Zach was not yet 21. It’s not every day that I get the opportunity to contribute to the delinquency of a minor at my age, so you can see why I remembered it.

I have to say, his company’s main site, CollegeHumor.com, gives me the willies. In my day, when we wanted to humiliate someone who was passed out drunk, we just took a photo — Sharpies never entered the picture. (Please don’t get me started on The Shocker.) And yet Zach is the guy for whom the phrase “what a nice young man” was invented. He stopped after one margarita at our Meetup. I don’t think he even owns a Sharpie. Although maybe he’s just continuing the long young-person’s tradition of bullshitting his elders. It’s entirely possible.

Zach’s blog. His Flickr page. His Vimeo page, another of his startups. Invest early.

UPDATE: Oh, and not to pile on, but Fort Wayne Observed takes note of what my ex-employer thought this story was worth. To recap, this is a local kid (now lives in NYC, but parents and siblings still in the Fort), about to become a multimillionaire at 23, previous stated interest in becoming a patron of his hometown’s worthy causes, background story on file and winner of the newspaper’s own high-school scholarship competition six years ago. This story was, wait for it … a one-paragraph brief in the business digest. The other paper wrote nothing. Well, Zach always was modest.

More bloggage today:

Another friend sent me a link to one of his friend’s photos — you know, we should start an internet networking site…oops, Zach is already hooked up with one of those, too… — of the Gay Games, last month in Chicago. Endlessly fascinating stuff — ballroom-dancing lesbians and no-surprise-there bodybuilders, and my personal favorite: Brokeback Mountain on ice. A great gallery. Enjoy.

Posted at 11:24 am in Media, Same ol' same ol' |

8 responses to “Our friends succeed.”

  1. brian stouder said on August 16, 2006 at 4:55 pm

    From the Yahoo article –

    “With its distinct brand of humor, CollegeHumor has emerged as a viral success with an enormously loyal audience among young adults,” said Michael Jackson, President of IAC Programming.

    A copy-editor question: Do you suppose the flak really said “viral success”? Or was this a typo?

    Could the word “viral” be morphing into a positive adjective?

    Our California friends call things they admire or consider exceptional “sick”… so who knows?!

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  2. nancy said on August 16, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    “Viral,” in this sense, refers to the sense that the popularity spreads not through marketing or advertising, but mouth-to-mouth (usually through deep kissing, but occasionally from an unguarded sneeze). My lips to your ear. And so on.

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  3. mary said on August 16, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    The silly videos that show up online and become wildly popular by word of mouth are called “viral videos,” Brian. There’s a show by that name on VH1, I think.

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  4. alex said on August 16, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    I regard some of those videos as rather more bacterial. Of course, my computer’s six years old now so I’ve got immunity, so to speak, because they simply won’t open anymore.

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  5. brian stouder said on August 16, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    Good God!!

    I’m Square!! Not that I was ever ‘hip’ – but at least I used to be able to bluff it semi-plausibly!

    Probably the term “square” is itself hopelessly passe…

    Oh the horror….the horror!

    Anyway – I would argue that by this definition the vast majority of all the stuff that really succeeds commercially is “viral” and not the product of Madison avenue conjuring. If a car or a pair of jeans or a cell phone deal really works for you, you tell your friends….and if a thing is really unsatisfactory you do the same.

    Paid advertising and other deliberate marketing campaigns might get a thing into your hands once – but then people talk

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  6. alex said on August 16, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    I don’t know, Brian. I can count on both hands people who still loyally by GM cars even though they’ve owned a fair share of lemons and no amount of hype from happy Honda and Toyota owners like me will ever persuade them to change. And don’t get me started on GOP voters.

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  7. Joe said on August 18, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Wow … and here I thought he liked working with us. 🙁

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  8. Zach said on August 18, 2006 at 2:45 pm

    Nancy, I appreciate the kind things you said.

    For the record: My summers at Lincoln were great. I learned a bundle, my co-workers were supportive – and without the experience I would not be where I am now as soon as I am.

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