Pied Piper Pic: The Banality of Evil

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The banality of evil: Even the monstrous Gavin Belson—when not plotting Pied Piper’s downfall—puts his FitBit on one strap at a time before heading to a Vinyasa Flow class, just like the rest of us.**

(**In fact, I have never seen nor used a FitBit, and am not at all sure how they come to be affixed to one’s wrist. Naturally emaciated, lucky me!)

Personal Management

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Hello, friends. I am writing to you from my cozy corner of Erlich’s garage (although the photo above depicts otherwise). Which, thanks to a helpful and reasonably priced exterminator, is now almost primarily rat-free, judging by the decreased instance of both droppings and bites on my extremities as I sleep. I gave you an excellent Yelp review, Mr. Yaruslav!

Oh, I can hear those eyebrows raising; I know it doesn’t sound like much. But I’ll have you know none of my foster homes were remotely this luxurious, and my dorm room at Vassar was nearly as Spartan. Furthermore, Erlich is still not charging me rent, which could not be said of my college lodgings and the crushing debt I incurred there, nor of the attics and semi-enclosed porches of my childhood, which I paid for with endless, backbreaking chores and things no child should see. But I digress!

In any case. My topic today is “personal management.” Which is a fancy way of saying a concerted effort to maintain a healthy work-life balance. An example: Shortly after being rightfully reinstated as Pied Piper’s leader, my CEO Richard Hendricks embarked upon a liaison with a highly suitable senior Facebook engineer. Their relationship unfortunately ended after a disagreement over an arcane question of coding protocol. Engineers, am I correct?

Nonetheless, I took Richard’s dip into the dating pool as a cue to relaunch my brand in that arena, as it were. Because devoted as I have been to the company’s well-being, I’ve found if I fail to devote myself to to my personal well-being to some extent, I am doing the company a disservice. And since I started “getting out there” and meeting potential romantic partners, my productivity at work and my general well-being have both skyrocketed: I am getting more done, and the frequency of my night terrors has slightly decreased. As for Dinesh, who once told me in a very fresh manner, “Jared, if you ever actually got laid, I bet you’d ejaculate for six hours, and afterwards you’d be four feet tall and translucent.” Well, Dinesh…still just as tall, and no paler!

Pied Piper Pic: Unnecessary Luxuries

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Getting rid of the unnecessary luxuries acquired under “Action Jack.” Everything must go,we’re selling it all—except world-class compression technology, that is!**

(**=Actually, we of course do in fact intend to sell that as well as part of the Pied Piper platform, which we are at this moment hard at work on. Sorry for the confusion!)

Changes Both Near and Far!

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So many glad tidings to relate, loyal blog readers! (“Bleaders”? Probably not, but since video + blogger = “vlogger,” I thought it might be worth a trial balloon.)

After being most fearfully tested at great length, with all manner of appalling tribulations, our own Richard Hendricks has been restored to his proper station of CEO! We leave shortly to celebrate this fact, at a local, modestly-priced Mexican restaurant from which Erlich has never (yet) been asked to leave.

But oh, did Mr. Jack Barker, former pretender to the CEO throne, leave a mess behind for Richard and the rest of us to clean up. His reckless expenditures forced us to surrender our offices and again work from Erlich’s humble abode. Yet despite economizing in this way—and letting go non-essential staff—our coffers remained in a parlous state, so empty we could not afford to pay the engineers we needed to finish the platform. So I had the notion to stretch our pennies by outsourcing basic engineering functions to eager young developers in the developing world. With new blood toiling away for us in India, Bulgaria, Estonia and so on**, Pied Piper has become a veritable League of Nations of compression!

Dare I say: I believe this reordering of Pied Piper might actually serve as a model for other startups? We are leaner, we are meaner and we are more efficient by virtue of geographical diversity. (Diversity! Yay!) Most of all, we are definitely more true to the original spirit of the company, with Richard back in charge. Once again, I can say that Pied Piper feels like a womb in which I float: warm, safe and, mercifully, entirely dreamless.

**A quick note, dear readers: The three new engineer bios on our site are just a sampling of the nine engineers we have hired to work remotely, some as far as India, some as near as Colorado. (Go Rockies!) You’ll find bios for three of the off-site engineers who allowed them to be put on our site: Others refused for reasons ranging from fear they’d be used by their governments to capture and torture them (for unspecified activities) to—very simply—a strong, visceral dislike of me.

Pied Piper Pic: A Tangled Web

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Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive! In Jack Barker’s case, the Maleant Data System deal was certainly not his first web—but it turned out to be his last, the one where the spider found himself the one bound in silk, his liquefied entrails drained by the powerful chelicerae of Laurie Bream!

Pied Piper Pic: Up-Shirting

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Richard has repeatedly asked that I stop photographing him without his knowledge, but I simply could not resist “up-shirting” this snapshot: His brilliant, kind, yet firm and uncompromising nature shines through, even in this undignified pose. Last one, I promise!

One Step Back, Then a Giant Leap in the Right Direction

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That is not only a description of a possible way to evade an assailant when a small crevasse or stream presents itself, but also of recent events here at ol’ PP.

At first it seemed as if a détente had been achieved, between our little group and the hand-picked CEO Raviga had set above us. An agreement that, if we delivered Mr. Barker his cursed Box, we would then be free to build the broad platform we had always intended. And our engineering team of Richard, Dinesh and Gilfoyle outdid themselves, exceeding by an order of magnitude the specs required by “Action Jack”—a show of good faith if ever I saw one.

What did they get for their trouble? A contract with ’90s-era tech dinosaur Maleant Data Solutions that **exclusively** licensed the Pied Piper algorithm to them for use in said Box for five long years! I suppose it should hardly come as a surprise that a usurper should also be a double-dealer, but I had hoped that Jack’s soft, jowly smile was not merely the mask it proved to be.

Once again, Fortuna had decided to use our hopes as a punching bag, our dreams as a urinal. Whence should our salvation come? From a most unlikely quarter: the same VC firm that forced Richard out and installed Barker! Thankfully, Laurie Bream came to her senses after Jack’s crass Box was thoroughly discredited by Hooli’s acquisition of the Endframe platform.

Unlike when Richard was deposed, in this case it was fortuitous that the bottom line means far more to Raviga than innovation. Thus, when it became clear a platform strategy in compression was more valuable than an appliance play, Mr. Barker was shown the door. The last action of “Action Jack” was to slink out with his tail between his thick, oddly shaped legs. So dear readers: We are not out of the woods yet, but we have taken a step in that direction, and a step away from that terrible, windowless shed under the pines.

Cry, The Beloved Company

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What have I done? I fear I have destroyed our beloved Pied Piper. I fear I have destroyed us all.

I write this from Jack Barker’s office. He has called us in: Richard, Dinesh, Gilfoyle and myself, and here we wait. Jack has left us sitting here, and has stepped out for a moment. A coffee run? A bathroom break? A miniature psy-op designed to demoralize us still further? Who knows. But when he comes back, all hell will undoubtedly come with him. Why? Well.

We thought we were so very clever. We intended to subvert Jack’s Box project by feigning our assent to build it, while in secret we meant to build the platform instead.  But we were discovered, because I quite literally tripped Richard up with an appallingly filthy “joke” that, even now, I cannot believe escaped my guilty lips.

What will he do? Fire us all? Press charges for attempted fraud? Blackball us from other employment by sullying our names? Resort to physical violence? We will soon find out: I see him now, lurching in his ungainly fashion in our direction, through the glass door of his office.

This is my fault. The fault here is mine. My disgrace is utter and complete. I should have counseled Richard not to take this dark path, but instead I encouraged him, with exciting anecdotes of the Great War that strengthened his resolve. Failing that, I should not have punctured the deception with my vile toilet of a tongue. I should never use that tongue to speak again. I should tear it from my mouth. I should be made to live in a cave. No, a hole. And eat garbage and offal.  And wear rags. Or nothing at all. Like a beast. The beast that I am. For I have destroyed us all.

“Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man is conceived.’ Let that day be darkness.” —Job 3:3-4

Pied Piper Pic: Thank You Erlich!

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Because of the sudden transformation of my Airbnb client from polite temporary renter to (possibly drug-addled) squatter, I am most grateful for the continued use of a corner of Erlich’s garage as sleeping quarters. You’re a good man, Mr. Bachmann, and I promise: Hands off the Fages!

Pied Piper Pic: Separation Anxiety

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Oh, Jian Yang. Despite Erlich’s feeling that fresh digs might jump start his next app, Jian Yang has wrapped himself in the banner of the Bear Flag Republic, and its powerful legal protections against tenant eviction—laws which I myself have mixed emotions about.

Boxed In

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The last time we spoke, dear readers, I was trying to come to grips with reality. To be more specific, the upsetting reality that Richard Hendricks—the man I admire most on this big blue marble (tied with Herb Cohen the visionary author of several books about negotiation strategy)—has been forced from the helm of Pied Piper and replaced with an interloper. Yes, for a time it seemed that Action Jack’s presence would be a positive. To wit, he did snag us snazzy new offices and handle much of the tedious administrative tasks that Richard chafed at as CEO. But, sadly: He has turned out to be nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s easy-fit chinos.

Richard and the rest of us have from the very beginning seen Pied Piper as a potentially revolutionary platform company. But, thanks to the whim of Jack and his army of salespeople—who resemble nothing so much as corn-fed date rapists escaped from a frat at some nightmarish Midwestern land-grant university—we have now been forced into being an appliance company. Making the Pied Piper Boxes: rectangular, glorified thumb drives that resemble nothing so much as old Betamax machines. And I can most definitely assure you, having grown up in the foster care system: I do not enjoy being forced into a box against my will.

Thinking Inside the Box

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Hi, folks. Jack Barker here.

Now, normally I let Jared deal with all the web-logging and whatnot, but I thought that I might jump in on this occasion to introduce: the Box, by Pied Piper. For too long, Pied Piper was a company in search of a product. (And a logo that wasn’t quite so darn penile, to be quite frank.) But as it turns out, Pied Piper was really in search of a CEO: someone who could motivate the very talented team here to find an actual product that actual human companies would actually want and need and use—not some broad, vague, airy-fairy platform that does everything except make you toast in the morning! That CEO is myself, and that product is the Box.

So what is this Box you keep mentioning, Jack? Well, I’ll tell you. It is a very, very exciting new data backup device that uses Pied Piper’s next-level compression algorithm to store duplicate copies of vast quantities of data. It is fun; it is sexy; it is the future of information safeguarding hardware. I am tingling just writing about it. So even in the event of a catastrophic system failure—caused by hacking, some natural disaster, or what have you—not one kilobyte would be corrupted or lost. So the Box is also peace of mind, whether you’re a large healthcare corporation, a large for-profit prison corporation, or even a large government agency.

We’ll shortly begin entertaining bids to license our Boxes to interested parties, and large-scale manufacturing will begin concurrently. So come on in, the Box is fine!

Pied Piper Pic: The Humbling

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Though sting it surely did, Richard Hendricks has nobly stepped into a lesser role, as CTO, for the good of the company. Though prone, he did not cry, at least not that I saw. After all, seeing you cry is half the pleasure for them, as they used to tell me.