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Podcast on ReadWrite Web with Jason Calacanis August 29, 2007

Posted by John in Technology.
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Jason Calacanis did an interview with Sean Ammerati on ReadWrite Talk podcast (love the name read,write,talk – they need video so that they would have read,write, talk, watch).   I’ve posted a copy of the transcript here because I just love how Jason is pure entrepreneur in his approach.  His raw statements really do sum up what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.  I would add to Jason’s comments that “it’s all about getting up after getting knocked down that defines and entrepreneur” .

Of course Jason goes after valley wag people in this interview. 

Interview Transcript

Interview begins at 2:40

2:40 Sean Ammirati: So today I have the pleasure to sit down with Jason Calacanis,the CEO of Mahalo, a people-powered search engine. Before starting Mahalo,Jason was an entrepreneur in action, which is somehow different from anentrepreneur-in-residence at Sequoia Capital. He also was the founderof Weblogs, Inc. a large blog network which was ultimately acquired by AOL.He’s a prolific blogger. Has a great podcast called CalacanisCast.And it’s also participates in Steve Gillmor’s Bad Sinatra formerlyI think called Gillmor Gang which makes him an insider whether he wants that to be the case or not.So I’m really excited to sit down with Jason today. He’s someone I’ve admired and in some ways virtually modeled myself after as an entrepreneur by reading, listening to his blog, following him through updates on podcast. I’m sure that’s a lot to add to today’s episode of Read/Write Talk. So Jason, thanks for being on the show.Jason Calacanis: Thanks for having me. It’s a very flattering introduction.Sean Ammirati: Thanks. So for our listeners who don’t know what Mahalo is. Just give them a quick overview on what Mahalo is.
03:43 Jason Calacanis: Yes, Mahalo is a search engine or search service essentiallywhere the humans write the search results. Google, obviously, and Yahoo!and Ask are driven by algorithms and machines. Social search sites likeDigg or Del.icio.us or Netscape or Reddit are driven by communities.And we’re driven by human beings, editors who look at Google resultsor Yahoo! results or Del.icio.us results or Technorati results andthen organize them, clean them, take out spam and only do the absolutebest sites. We only include sites that are very good to excellent.So it’s a biased search engine in terms of we will not list spam, bad sites, average sites or even good sites, if we can avoid it. We want to have only very good, amazing sites in it. So it’s a type of search service.
04:45 Sean Ammirati: Cool. Let’s just talk a little bitabout how you came up with this idea. When you were an EIA at SequoiaCapital and you joined, did you already know what you’re going to ordid you have the idea before that? I’d like to know sort of how you cameup with the idea of Mahalo.Jason Calacanis: Yes, it’s a great question. Likea lot of ideas, you hone in on them, you triangulate. So Weblogs,Inc. had an incredible secret which was the process of creating blogs, recruiting bloggers and having a distributed workforce. We have like maybe 300 bloggers at the peak, sending out well over a $100,000 in blogger payments.And I think probably in the peak doing maybe 13, 14, 15,000 blogposts per month. And the way to do that is to build systems. I’ve learned a lot about distributed workforces while doing that. And then I also learned a lot from the Wikipedia and blogging and Netscape about search social communities and voting things up.One of the promises of Netscape that I never got to finish was if we build this incredible front-end with Netscape and people voting stuff up and down tagging it, it might make an incredible back-end for a search engine. I never got to complete that. And I don’t think AOL has really completed it. They sort of moved Netscape search over to web search instead of being social search.
06:03 I had started to really get interested in search whenI was at AOL because I looked at how much money it made. Search advertisingis the greatest advertising in the world. And I also was getting enamoured by wikis and I was looking for a project after Weblogs, Inc. that fittwo criteria. The first was I wanted something that helped people alot. Because what I’ve realized in my career is if you help people, they’llfall in love with you and you’ll be able to make a business out of itreally easy.So I always look for ‘love’ in my business models. People love Engadget.They loved Autoblog. It makes life really easy. And I wanted something that not only helped people a lot but that also everybody could use everyday.And that is a big mandate, right?
06:43 There’s only instant messaging, search, email, veryfew things that everybody uses everyday. Wikipedia’s actually becomingone of those things. So I decided search and I realized, “Gee, you know, how canI make his searches all better ?” is where I sort of started. AndI said, “Well I’m an editorial person, I would put a human beingon it.” And then I sort of thinking, “Well, is that actually feasibleto scale?” And I started doing the math and it became very clear to methat it was exactly like Weblogs, Inc. in terms of scaling.It seems impossible to write 15,000 blogposts, have 300 bloggers and be spending millions of dollars a year paying them across a hundred blogs until you do it. And you figure out the secret sauce to doing it. And then it’s just a matter of when you get to 20, you hit in the gas. That was pretty much the entire process.Sean Ammirati: Cool! And that happened while you’re at Sequoia?Jason Calacanis: Yeah.

Sean Ammirati: Doing the math though happened over in Sequoia?

Jason Calacanis: Yeah, doing the math. In all the businesses I do, I try to actually do all the work myself in the beginning. So when I started blogging at Weblogs, Inc., I actually blogged first. I was the first weblog saying ‘blogger’.

07:50 Sean Ammirati: Right.Jason Calacanis: You have to really understand thingsin the inside-out. When I did my magazine Silicon Alley Reporter, Idid the graphic design and I wrote the stories. And I sold the ads.So I really like to get my hands dirty. And so what I did was I actuallywrote search results myself. And I timed myself. And then I wrote themin Google Docs and then I showed them to Michael Moritz and other VC’sand other investors. And I said, “Which one’s do you think are the best?”Well, if both of them Sequoia and Moritz and other guys over there were just like, “Yeah, it’s pretty clear that’s better. So how do you make it scale and just get the math?”We closed the round of funding in December.So right now, I was a EIR on December 5th. And then we actually closed the first round of funding for Mahalo and had the idea in December.

I just didn’t tell anybody for six months. And that’s what we went on the big misinformation campaign in leveraging value adds, propensity to print any lie o have basically used them to accomplish the mission of moving people of the scent.

08:41 And they published that I was recruitingDom Imus which was done by us emailing them from a Hotmail account. And they just ran the story. It was really a great, great strategy. I encouragea lot of startups to do, which is if Valleywag is going to lie aboutpeople constantly, what do you do with the liar? You use their greatest strengthagainst them.Their greatest strength is to lie about people and print rumors, so send them rumors. And if we all sent them five rumors a week, theywould actually print them and their service would either be destroyed. Or they wouldhave to actually do real journalism and actually think about what theypublish which should be very difficult for them to do since they are not very intelligent.Sean Ammirati: I do want to get back to Valleywag at some point and how you leveraged them. So I think it’s actually an interesting lesson for other entrepreneurs. But you’ve also talked briefly about some of the people, like Mike at Sequoia. You’ve had some amazing investors and Mahalo. At least according to what people have been able to piece together and people who have come out and admitted that they’re investors such as Mark Cuban and Fred Wilson.What was the process raising moneyfrom those guys like this time around versus raising money from Weblogs, Inc.? Or I don’t know if you raised money for Silicon Alley Reporter, but how is it different as serial successful entrepreneur?
10:05 Jason Calacanis: It’s a lot different.I would say five years ago, I probably couldn’t get many meetings withVCs and definitely wouldn’t have got an investment. And so back inthose days when I was a nobody or an outsider, I did things on my creditcard. And I did projects where I could bootstrap. And I didn’t reallywaste my time trying to get venture capital, because my feeling on it was Icould build a business.The amount of time it would take me back ventas capital, six months a year, two years, who knows. I could build a whole business. Weblogs, Inc., Brian Alvey and I built on our savings and with Mark Cuban’s help. He was an investor, an angel investor and probably the greatest investor I’ve ever have in my life and supporter on a business level.
10:52 It does change. And it was very easy for me to raisethe money this time around. But getting the money is only one component.It certainly makes things easier. I’d be a total liar if I say to youlike, “Oh God, it doesn’t make a difference.” Of course itmakes a difference. And of course it’s great having very big partners.But the con to that is now the expectation is, “Oh well if thisis anything less than Google, Yahoo!, Ebay, Paypal, YouTube contemporary,it’s kind of a failure.So I set the stakes very high. That was what I was looking for in a project. I basically felt I probably had one or two good companies left in me. As an entrepreneur, I’m 36 now. I figured I got like maybe two more times up to the plate. And maybe one or two, who knows? And I said, “Let’s do something really big and let’s work really hard for five years to try to do something that really changes how our people use the Internet.”
11:51 And so when you have a big vision like that and you’vehad a couple of successes, you’d think that successful people are drawnto successful people. And these people want to bet on big projects thatare bold and audacious. But I wouldn’t have tried this approach a coupleof years ago.As a matter of fact, the approach was the exact opposite.Let’s build a couple of successful blogs. Take the money from thoseblogs. Put them into another blog. Take that money, leverage it toother ones. Get one of our friends who’s a billionaire who likes blogging to give us a couple of hundred thousand dollars to help grow it and give us advice.That’s what entrepreneurship is about in my mind is parleying. You had to take whatever you did last time and try to make it a little bit bigger, a little bit bigger and leverage what you have as assets.
12:41 I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal but Iguess it is in some ways. So I’m learning how to adjust on how arepeople taking it. People are treating me a lot different and I don’tfeel any different. I feel like the same outsider, scrappy entrepreneur.People really perceive me differently. It’s actually been a little bitof an adjustment because people take what I say in a totally differentlight now.Sean Ammirati: Sure. So let’s just talk a little bit moreabout two interesting projects at Mahalo that I wanted to get you take on, on the podcast. And then we’ll transition back to talking a little bit more about you. Because I think you are, not just me but for a lot of people, a sort of virtual mentor. The Mahalo Greenhouse, if you could jut talk a little bit about it and how the math works, how does this work, that kind of thing. I think it will be interesting for people who have been tracking what you’re doing.Jason Calacanis: Yes, We didn’t announce this at the start of the company which led people to be very confused about what we’re doing and how it scales. But I like that actually. I like only releasing 5% of the time what the vision is. So I’d say we’ve released about 15% of the vision so far.
13:47 When we launched at the “D” Conference, Wall Street JournalConference, we had 4,000 search terms completed and a staff of like30. Now we have a staff of 55 or so. And 9,000 search terms completedor should I say pages. Each of those pages represents probably 20 searches.And the thing you always realized, like I realized at Weblogs, Inc., is even if you have a full-time staff, there are more intelligentpeople outside of your building than there are inside your building.That’s one of the things Michael Moritz told me. It was very sage advice. So we said let’s get the public who has more experiencein certain verticals than we do to write search results. We took a page outof the Weblogs, Inc. playbook. We thought we’d have maybe 50 people working from home, writing search results. So the way the process works is we put a ‘most wanted’ list over at Greenhouse.Mahalo.com.
14:40 Anybody can sign-up. And let’s it was say a certain food, mushrooms.You would look at the food section. You would look at other search resultscompleted. You would take the template for food. And you would go searchthe web for links about mushrooms. You might find a mushroom omelette fromMartha Stewart, and a history of mushrooms and mushrooms in literatureand a mushroom podcast.You would look at all that stuff, make sure it’s not spam. Make sureit’s high quality. Organize it, write it. And then when you’re ready,you would submit it. And if it was your first one, you’d submit it to what we call the Mahalo Mentor, which are freelancers who are our best part-time guys. And they would check it. Give you advice. Then we refine it with them. Then they would submit to one of our full-time people.The full-time person would look at it. Make sure it’s perfect. Give the feedback to the mentor and to the part-time guy. And then publish it to the Mahalo index.So basically every search result before it goes into the public index is in the Greenhouse, where it’s grown, get it? Greenhouse growing, right? And it gets seen by three people. The person who wrote it, the first person who checked it and the second person who checked it.
15:41 In that process, we thought we would have at this pointin August, while we’re taping this. We thought we would have maybe 50 peopleand be accepting five, six, seven terms per day. This past week we’vecompleted 700 search results and we accepted over a hundred per dayfrom the Greenhouse. And we have 700 people in the Greenhouse of whichI think 400, 500 are pretty active. And some of them have completedover a hundred search results. Many have completed over 50 and tonshave completed over ten.Basically our entire staff internally spent the first six months writing search results, perfecting the format, doing user testing. And now we’re spending all of our time the last two months accepting them from the public. So now who knows, you could maybe have 7,000 of these people doing it down the road, not just someone at Wikipedia or a much bigger version of Weblogs, Inc. or maybe a similar sized DMOZ or ODP, “The Open Directory Project.”
16:44 Sean Ammirati: So looking at that, there’sthree people now that look at every search result that getsput into the system. Obviously, different search results will live fordifferent amounts of time. About how much traffic do you need to driveto each search result on average for it to be… I realiseyou’ve raised money you said in a loss for five yearsso it’s not the focus. But it seems like the critical point is when doyou breakthrough enough search queries per search result that you’reactually making money on these from the ads or Adsense or whatever you’re running?Jason Calacanis: Yes, that’s obviously going to vary greatly. If it’s a term like mesophilioma or whatever where like Google Adsense is like $8 a click or something. You might only need to get three clicks in the life of it to be at breakeven. If the cost is $25 to make the search result, or $50 or $75 who knows? And then if it’s something like a celebrity that might have a very low CPM, it might cost you much more. On average, search can make anywhere from $5 to $20 per thousand searches depending how much abuse you put onto the users or how much you deceive them.
17:57 If you look at Ask.com, the first three links you wouldn’t evenknow they were ads. In many cases, it’s designed so that the fourthresult, the organic one, looks like the three above it. And so theyprobably get a lot of money from doing that. But what I learned at AOLwas if you do that, you’ll lose your users to Google which is very honestand upfront to users. They put a nice dark blue background and it’s very clear it’s an ad.It depends. Let’s just say you make $10 per thousand searches.Maybe you need to get 5,000 searches per page over a year which is notinsurmountable.We’re not trying to do the ‘long tail’, we’re trying to do the ‘fat tail’, the top ones of the searches. So by definition we’re cherry picking and skimming the cream. But to be honest, you don’t know those answers, just like I didn’t know all the answers as to which blogs would breakout and what type of blogs and which ones should be profitable.
18:48 I mean we have blogs like Luxist in gambling, which didn’t get asmuch traffic as other blogs like Joystiq but made more money. It wastravel and luxury items and cars were more advertisting available tothem and Joystiq had a ton of traffic but there’s no video game advertisers out there. And video game advertisers, the last place thatthey were going to advertise is on a video game site because they feel likethere are already, they’ve already got fanatics. So they preach it the choir.They don’t need them as an audience. To be determined and the good partis we’re in search.Search is the best inventory on the web, hands down. So one of the great things about being a search company is, if you make it work, you’re done. And it’s gold. The inventory is priceless. Or it’s the best inventory on the web. Of course the hard part about that is it’s extremely competitive and you’re going up against Google and Yahoo! and Ask. And Ask is spending a hundred million dollars this year and they’re not changing their percentage. They’re changing the market share by spending a hundred million on marketing. We’re spending much less than that on our entire company. So we really have to bring our A-game.
19:54 Sean Ammirati: I guess to that pointthough, the search that you’re requesting people build for you, is itjust popularity of the search or is it also how valuable those searchesare to have in your system?Jason Calacanis: It’s a very interesting question. It’s acombination. We’re trying to do top ones but we’re also doing verticalswhere we think we could help the most. So travel, products and healthparticularly are stamped heavily. There’s a lot of indexed stamp: mediocresites, SEO sites, spam sites.You know, type in Paris Hotels, the example I always give and it’s just a disaster of bad intermediary sites trying to get your hotel room order. And you can’t get to the photos – Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, New York Times’ travel section, TimeOut travel section. All the really good stuff out there can’t compete with the tons bad blackhat and even whitehat SEOs who are getting the mediocre, bad people to the top of the ranking. We’re doing verticals and we’re doing it straight, what’s at the top and work our way down.
20:58 Sean Ammirati: Okay. One more topicI want to cover on Mahalo are these How-to guides. Obviously, Valleywag’scome out with some coverage that was less than not-good. I read yourresponse to them that it’s an experiment and that you’re trying tostill figure that out. But I’m curious though is if that is an experiment,how are you measuring the effectiveness of this experiment?Jason Calacanis: Okay. For a little background,the original idea was, if somebody was looking for how to book a cheaphotel or how to travel with pets. That’s a search term, right?So we’ll make a search response and we’ll just link to the people who have those how to’s already. What we found was, a lot of those how to’s have repetitive information. They were of varying quality.
21:46 And so we made the list, here are the eight or nineof them. We had taken the time to read them all. Some of the advicewas good, some was bad. And we have some people on staff who’ve maybehave written 300 or 400 travel search terms. So they’ve become kind of expertsin a way about this kind of information. So what we said was read theten out there, take your own advice and make a ‘meta how-to’. Sothe how-to to end all how-to is about booking a cheap hotel room, ortraveling with pets or learning to speak French.One of my guides said, “I think I could do this in a day or two,” and they spent three days. And wow, that is a really great page. It’s actually the best page on the internet on how to book cheap flights. Let’s publish it and let’s put it on Del.icio.us, Reddit and Digg and let’s see what happens. And boom! It’s number one on Del.icio.us. Boom! It’s on the Netscape home page. I said, “Okay well there’s something there.They’re bringing traffic and they’re helping people a lot.”
22:40 And so your question was how do we determine success on them? For me, determining success on them is do theyhelp people a lot? And are they bringing people to the service? Andare they inline with the mission? The tagline of the company is”We’re here to help.” And so my feeling was this is reallyinline with the mission. Really helping people. So let’s keep experimentingwith this.So we have two people working on them. And some of the otherpeople from our staff will do one. It’s a nice way for them, as a careerpath for the guides, for them to do something other than writing their 500 search terms which gets pretty boring. They actually get to do something and really think.It’s maybe not for all of our guides but it’s possible that the Greenhouse, some people from the Greenhouse could contribute to this. It’s a little bit about doc comments. It’s a little bit eHow or WikiHow or Engadget.I mean actually how-to started essentially on Engadget. Philip Torrone for Make Magazine now writing the how-to’s. It was one of the most popular features there. So again a page from the old Weblogs, Inc. handbook and so far so great.
23:43 Sean Ammirati: That’s very helpful,I think, context for how you guys are measuring the effectivenessof that. Now I just want to read through a quick set of personalquestions about you as an entrepreneur, things that you’ve learned,that kind of thing. So the first one is, you have a pet pitbull, isthat an analogy for being an entrepreneur? Is there more there? Shouldwe read something into that?Jason Calacanis: I actually have an English bulldognot a pitbull but it is a bulldog. But they are bulls. And they are strong, stubborn, loving creatures. So I think yes, I think people pick dogs based on personality. And I think an English bulldog with the perseverance and the tenderness but strangling a bulldog will probably be a metaphor for my career. Sure and I’ll go with that.Sean Ammirati: I always wondered. Okay. So you touched on this earlier, the entrepreneur should take advantage of Valleywag.Do you think though that any entrepreneur can do it? Or do you think you are in a unique position because you and Nick were competitors for so long. Is that a realistic strategy for all entrepreneurs?
24:50 Jason Calacanis: I mean clearly, NickDenton has very low morals and ethics and is a very suspect character.And he really likes to leverage his blogs, specifically Valleywag, to attackcompetitors. I mean on a regular basis, they attack Engadget which eachof them may attack. Perez Hilton and TMZ which have destroyed Gawkerif you look at the Alexa ranking .So Nick is seeingthe value of a lot of his properties, he really likes to use Valleywag to attack those people whoare beating him in the market place which is a great strategy for him.I would never do it but like I said, he’s got very low sort of character.And so he loves doing that. And so if you’re dealing with somebody who’s being ridiculous like that, you should leverage them for their evil and nefarious strategies.
25:44 Can anybody do it? Well obviously they’re going afterpeople who are higher profile. But I do think other people could doit. And so like if your company is not getting any attention, sending them a thingthat there is a coup going on and the CEO’s going to be replaced. Orthere’s a battle between these people and whatever. Even if it’snot true, you’d probably will get press. If it bleeds, it leads. Ifit’s nasty, they’ll go with it.You saw how they wrote this slanderous article about 365 Main beingshut down by a drunk person and then writing a retraction about it.They’ve really damaged 365 Main’s brand. I mean if I was 365, I would definitely consider suing them for libel because they printed a tip based on an instant message. And they printed the headline without a question mark. They just said, “365 Main shut down by drunk guy.”I think everybody will associate, I know I do and the many people I’ve spoken to, 365 Main with a drunk employee destroying people’s web services.
26:48 They’ve damaged it with a lie. It’s slander in my mind, even if they doa semi-correction like they did. I didn’t know what 365 Main was beforethey slandered them ror I think potentially slandered them. Maybe365 felt differently about it but it certainly feels like slanderto me to print a lie about them without ever calling them on the phoneor verifying stuff or having any evidence.That’s why journalists willhold information like that because the damage you can do if you releaseit is greater than the need for the public to have it. It’s better to sit on it for an hour or two. It turns out that that whole rolling black out… A rolling blackout occurred in the area at the same time Valleywag reported that a drunk person turned off all the servers. Let me think about that for a second.A rolling blackout hits an entire 10-block area for the first time this year. And that same instant moment, a drunk guy turned everything off?Something a little bit of a coincidence to me. Pretty easy to verify that one. I think people could get away it.
27:49 And if you sent in like maybe from two or three differentpopmail accounts or different IM accounts. We sent them one tipthat I was trying to hire Dom Imus just as a joke. Figured that would get everybody thinking about podcasters and it printed immediatelywithout verifying it. So they obviously have no ethics and you couldobviously get them to print anything.So I would tell entrepreneursdefinitely go for it because at least people would be talking about yourcompany. They’ll know it and then maybe some legitimate journalist like ReadWriteor TechCrunch or GigaOm or PaidContent, the good people in the world might actually learn about you from your slanderous article on Valleywag.Sean Ammirati: Okay, I appreciate that perspective.Three other similar personal questions, one is about a year ago you were talking a lot about media philanthropy. And I think your podcast is probably the highest profile example of that may be. Fred Wilson’s blog is another. Have your feelings changed on this at allover the last year? What’s your thought on that? It stumps me if I’m getting as much out of it as before.
28:50 Jason Calacanis: Yeah, it’s workingfor me and it’s working for the school I’m working with. I’m very thankfulthat Podtech and GoDaddy are supporting it. And we’ve got 31 of 50 episodesare done, so we have 19 more to go. I’m definitely considering renewingit and doing another season. I’ll assess it after the 19 episodes aredone. So I think it’s a great idea. I wish more people would get intoit.But I don’t want to preach to people. I always find it kind of annoying whenpeople are telling other people what to do in terms of philanthropy.Like you go to conferences sometimes and they sort of berate people in the audience that they have to do more. And it’s sort of like I was saying on Facebook, “I’m not a cold-hearted guy but like how many causes can you join and support?” I sort of think that if you are a productive member of society who doesn’t like the trappings of society then you are actually then a productive member of society.
29:47 If you create jobs for people and put revenue into theeconomy, then you’re helping society. And then if above that you chooseto help people more, great! That’s the whole icing on the cake. But ifeverybody is deciding to sort of take care of themselves, we have a lotless problems. We don’t even know that benchmark right now. So I’m sortof a very personal-responsibility kind of guy. Take care of yourself,take care of your family and then go save the world.But I come from a different perspective. I grew up middle class. Mymom’s a nurse. My dad’s a bartender. I’m very happy to take care of my family right now. I don’t feel the need that I have to change the world or help a ton of people. I mean I’ll try. I give to causes. I go to a benefit. But normally, I find people are very preachy about that kind of stuff. And then when you look at like they’re families or friends, they’re not even taking care of their family or friends.
30:45 I think that media philanthropy has got potential that I don’twant to tell people what to do. If they want to do it and they’re inspiredby what Fred’s doing or what I’m doing, great. And if they have a differentspin on it, great. People are so quick to tell other people like aid Haiti, help the environment or they need to help this group or that cause.I think they’ll have to look within and they have to find the thingsthat, in their life personally, they need to work on. And that really actually is agood starting point for people. I don’t think people are doing thatenough.Sean Ammirati: Sure. Okay, I want to end with two pieces of advice specifically targeted at young entrepreneurs. The first is, what’s the most influential book you’ve ever read?Jason Calacanis: “A Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Franklin.Sean Ammirati: Okay, great! And the last thing is, just a completely wide open question. If you could give one piece of advice to entrepreneurs, maybe you were at this debut and we’re out doing Silicon Alley Reporter, what would that piece of advice be?
31:43 Jason Calacanis: Never give up, resiliencyand being an entrepreneur is about who can withstand the largest numberof challenges, detractors, negativity. Anybody who’s doing anythingthat’s ethic or worthy of attention is going to basically be attackeduntil that’s not possible. And you’re going to face days where you wakeup and the challenge that you see is insurmountable. And the peoplewho do great things in life are the people who look at those insurmountablechallenges and say, “I’m going to try and get through somehow.”And the person who would stand the most pain is the one who typically wins.It sounds crazy but you know I’ve seen so many entrepreneurs just give up. And it’s like, “You know what, if you just made it over that next hill, you would have made it to the promise land.” It’s like sort of people trying to swim for shore, lost in the desert and trying to get past that final sand dune and the oasis is there. And some people don’t give up when they’re 50% of the way there, 80% of the way there.
32:47 So resiliency and never giving up and pursuing yourpassion, those are the things that I really think an entrepreneur ismade of. Honestly, entrepreneurship is not for everybody.Anybody can do it. But it’s not for everybody. I don’t think you haveto be an entrepreneur and be successful in life. There arepeople who support entrepreneurs and who are part of an entrepreneurial companyor team. That’s fine as some people like to go work at a gig at Microsoftor IBM and not be entrepreneurial. And get home and see their familybefore the sun’s down. I respect that too.I mean at a different point in my life maybe I would be less entrepreneurial. I don’t have kids or anything like that. Okay, it’s a little bit of an entrepreneurial bias that I think we have sometimes. Like entrepreneurs are the most important people in the world. They’re not. There are other people. It is in some ways a psychosis. It really is a disease that I think some people have, or entrepreneurs. They feel like they absolutely have to build something. And I know I’m that way.
33:46 I’m addicted to the concept of finding a problem, findinga solution, building it, getting people to believe in it. Arguing with people toconvince them of, “This is a real problem that we need to solve.” And Ijust love the process. I would love the naysayers and people sayingit’s not possible. And then showing them it’s possible.To me it’s like thisgreat epic struggle. I always look at entrepreneurs as samurai. It’s a lonely pursuit at times and basically your life is to fight.And you get done with one fight. You clean the blood off your sword. Youput it away. You walk 10 miles to another village. And then you got to clean up that village. A couple of people got to lose their arms.And then you clean the blood off your sword. You have a cup of tea and some rice. And then you walk to the next village. That’s the metaphor I work under which is it’s a war and you have to just be stoic. And you have to fight hard. And you’ll be successful.
34:44 I can’t picture any other life. But I know some peoplewho look at samurais and go, “That dude’s weird. They just kill for a living.”Like their job is to just run around in swords and clean up villages.Get rid of these hoodlums. But it’s a life. It’s a living. .Sean Ammirati: Thanks, Jason.Jason Calacanis: My pleasure.
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Comments»

1. Scripting News for 8/31/07 « Scripting News Annex - September 1, 2007

[…] Furrier has the transcript of a Calacanis podcast chutzpah-fest at RWW. He’s a blood-thirsty samurai, so he says. […]

2. Luv Sayal - September 1, 2007

I met and spoke with Jason at a conference in Barcelona, Spain a few months back. This interview reminded me of the way he attended to me personally and answered my doubts. You’ve been and continue to be a great inspiration for me Jason! And i’m sure for other entrepreneurs as well…
Great interview by the way!

3. Louis - September 4, 2007

Great interview!

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4. SEO Critic - September 8, 2007

Really good interview! Thanks!


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