A Thicket of Thorns

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Hello, readers. My apologies if this post lacks my usual pluck, but it has been a trying week. The boys at the home and I used to play a game called “Rose and Thorn,” ranking the highs and lows of our day, and, well, these past few have been a thicket of thorns.

 

First, Erlich announced that he would be journeying to Tibet, and I’m confident he did not research the necessary vaccinations before departing. So there’s that to worry about. Second, we attended Hooli-Con, which was a ticker tape parade of disillusionment.

 

My singular purpose there was to promote our Space Saver app, and I toted Pied Piper banners, caps, and foam fingers — all the usual showstoppers — to do so. You can imagine my disappointment when I saw our booth was located in the middle of the row, granted only a sad folding table and chairs like a recent divorcé’s dining room. No matter, I thought. I’ll forge ahead. I’ll hand out pamphlets with the zeal of a pilot during the Blitz.

 

My brief moment of optimism ended when I overheard some unnerving discussion back at the booth. I put on my noise-cancelling headphones, but even Terry Gross couldn’t calm my nerves. I closed my eyes, Uncle Jerry’s words echoing in my mind.

 

If I had to pick one “thorn,” though, I suppose it would be witnessing a hero succumb to the worst of his impulses, prioritizing a childish prank to temporarily salve a wounded ego over the security of his colleagues. Watching the violent sparking of several HooliPhones wasn’t ideal, either, but I have to say this confrontation with moral fallibility was the low point for me, personally.

 

Anyway, I’m off to search for a “rose”! I’ve almost earned enough PeaceFare points to host a virtual food drive, and that will feel good.

Brrrr!

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Greetings, friends, and to my fellow Californians, I hope you’re bundled up! A cold snap has hit the Golden State, and we here at the hostel have each been combating the chill in our own ways. I took my trusty pea coat from my Vassar days out of mothballs, Dinesh has been coding in mittens, and Jian-Yang has been absconding with neighbors’ newspapers to burn in the fireplace.

While at first the weather just seemed like a chance to brew my stovetop cider for the gents, it brought a butterfly effect of consequences that led to a massive Azure hosting bill. The others were quick to blame this all on “Richard’s curse,” but I worked long enough in a New Orleans Wicca shop to know that was nonsense. No, all we needed was another customer.

VR wunderkind Keenan Feldspar seemed like the answer. We were the preacher’s daughter, and Keenan was coaxing us onto the back of his motorcycle, promising to take us wherever we wanted to go. We even flirted with the idea of acquisition, but, as you may have guessed from the latest Hooli-Con ad, Keenan just gave his spare helmet to Jack Barker. The two are probably riding be-goggled and barefoot across the Hooli campus now.

Although Richard is surely disappointed, I think my beige sweater helped him to stomach the news. (His stomach has already had a difficult few days.) I only wish the unflattering knit could have comforted Erlich in time, who reacted to Keenan’s betrayal by burning his beloved palapa to the ground. All that’s left now are its charred shadows and the outdoor kimono Erlich so loved to wear beneath it.

Fear not, though, dear readers! I can see in Richard’s eye — and by the return of his restless leg syndrome — that he’s already thawing from these icy days, looking ahead.

Fight on, Pied Piper!

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Have you heard? Our new app Space Saver has cracked the Top Five Hundred rankings! I went to the Hooli App Store, clicked the Utilities tab, selected sub-group mobile, selected sub-group storage, kept scrolling down to number 499, and there was our name in lights! Yet no sooner had I prepared to blast the Joan Baez and toast our success than we were hit with some bad news.

First, there was Richard’s osteopenia diagnosis. I purchased chocolate-flavored Viactiv Calcium Soft Chews to show him bone density maintenance can be fun and cool, but still, I know he was shaken. Second, there was Stu Burke. This patent troll spotted Space Saver, an ingenue fresh off the bus from Iowa about to catch her big break, and he pounced. Luckily, our Richard was armed with justice and, some minor financial casualties aside, Pied Piper prevailed!

While Richard was on the front lines of patent litigation, I was fighting my own war on the homefront — me, a mildly-scoliotic David, against Microsoft Azure, a corporate Goliath. How could I get them to reduce our cloud storage rate? Well, as Anna sings in The King and I: “Make believe you’re brave, and the trick will take you far.” So, I became Ed Chambers.

Ed was everything I wasn’t: suave, confident, able to stomach hard liquor and dessert wines. While I always stay on the line after a customer service call to rate my interaction, Ed just hung up ‘cause he had a disco to get to.’ And while my dreams are a labyrinthine theater of repressed memories, Ed’s were just a cheerful replay of his favorite Super Bowl halftime shows.

It was a thrilling foray, but in the end, Ed’s brashness was his undoing. He had to be let go. Farewell, EC — we may be back to the core Pied Piper team, but you and your colorful exit interview won’t soon be forgotten.

 

Interpersonal Relations

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As Pied Piper’s Head of Business Development, I wear many hats. (Figuratively, I mean — wearing a hat indoors is a little fresh for my taste.) Most recently, however, my head has been occupied by one chapeau in particular: interpersonal relations.

The first challenge arose when Dinesh and Gilfoyle tested the alpha of our new app, and a merge error left each one’s data on the other’s phone. I thought we’d all just have a good laugh about it — Dinesh would tease Gilfoyle for buying tickets to a Satanist film festival; Gilfoyle would mock Dinesh for his Notes file “Non-Threatening Pickup Lines”; I’d lightly rib them both, very much included in the fun — but things quickly escalated into a standoff. The entire ordeal tested just about every non-violent conflict resolution tactic I learned at last year’s conference in Sacramento, but in the end brute force prevailed and the phones were destroyed. At least this gives me a scenario to role play at the next conference!

On top of that, Richard came to me with an urgent romantic crisis. Details of his sexual escapade are best kept between him and myself, the closest of confidants, but suffice it to say he needed to cut ties and maintain his “ramblin’ man” status. We brainstormed a graceful exit strategy, although I’m sure it will still take time for the young lady to move on. After all, Richard has such a remarkable mind, but it is just one among many remarkable organs, like his heart.

After these trying journeys across the waves of human emotion, I think it’s time for another Redfin holiday. There’s a beautiful Colonial that I’m sure will sell fast, and I want to spend some time imagining its rat-free charms before the listing is taken down!

Pied Piper’s New Partner

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Typically I write these posts from my living room work station, listening to the familiar music of the hostel: the babbling creek of Erlich’s bong water, the keyboard taps of Richard hard at work, the dueling banjos of Dinesh and Gilfoyle insulting each other as only two best friends can. Today, however, there’s a new, silent yet utterly overpowering orchestra member in the room — a portrait of our recently announced partner, Gavin Belson!

Yes, friends, as you may have read in Code/Rag, Richard and Gavin have joined forces to create the next Pied Piper product. And though Gavin is not physically here at this exact moment, he’s present in the spirit of business collaboration and a penetrating photographic gaze. Exciting!

I’ll admit, the intervening days have been a bit of a roller coaster for me personally. During a recent meeting, I not only tragically flubbed a drumroll cue, but I also lost my temper on Bryce, Gavin’s transfusion associate, when he interfered with our presentation. It was no judgment on his profession — I actually find parabiosis to be an incredibly intimate demonstration of corporate loyalty, and it’s a pity Richard and I have incompatible blood types — but I had to defend my CEO. And sometimes defending your CEO means accessing reserves of anger you keep vacuum sealed like a guest duvet in the closet of your mind.

But all’s well now! After taking in Frank Capra’s World War II propaganda classic “Why We Fight” over at the Stanford Theatre and a quick muffled scream into my Pied Piper jacket, I feel much better. I stood up for Richard, Richard stood up for Gavin, and my friend Gloria stood up for me when someone cut me in the popcorn line.

Well, I’m off to watch the fellows drink a beer in celebration of Dinesh’s return to Pied Piper!

Together Again!

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Our hero Richard has returned! We were all shaken by his weeklong leave, even though the rest of the gents put on their bravest faces. They pretended they didn’t even notice the monumental absence at our work table, those stoics. I found ways to keep busy — arranging my button-down shirts by intensity of hue, and practicing my calligraphy, of course — but these were flimsy distractions.

When Richard finally came home, I was happy to see a renewed sense of mission and a little color back in those cheeks. But I was surprised to learn he had taken on a new partner, whose name I won’t disclose but whose character is questionable at best. I knew that Richard would need protection, and I certainly couldn’t leave it to the Brett Saxbys of the world, who drink with abandon in the middle of the workday and skate by on charm. No, I had to rejoin Pied Piper.

Being a part of Richard’s project is a dream come true, and that’s not a phrase I take lightly! (The last time I used it was when my third grade class visited the fire station, and the firefighters let me organize their gear.) One of my first orders of business? Cutting through the profanity-laden facade of Gilfoyle’s bravado and getting him back on our team. Of course he would never say it out loud — that’s Gilf for you — but behind his unblinking eyes I knew he was just as happy as I was to be back in the Pied Piper fold.

Oh, Gilfoyle is telling me he needs to encrypt my computer “to limit the consequences of Dinesh’s inevitable sexual failure,” so I better sign off. Until next time, readers!

Where Is Richard?

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Where do I begin? Pied Piper Founder Richard Hendricks is missing. No, dear readers, this isn’t just a nightmare narrated by a raspy voice you heard on the other end of a ringing payphone by the Chevron station when you were thirteen. This is real. Richard Hendricks is missing, and has been for the last three and a half hours.

I’m sure you’re all wondering how we got here. Well, earlier this week Richard was in an absolute state. After he and I weathered the storm of his nail-biting together, I watched helplessly as Richard again lost his sense of internal equilibrium. At one point he even walked into the pool without letting me know so I could lifeguard.
 

But we turned a triumphant corner in the basement archives of late tech titan Peter Gregory. I’ll admit I was a bit off-kilter after seeing a self-driving car that once drove me to a traumatizing abyss. Yet amid the hoarded debris of this man’s life Richard found what he was looking for — proof that he was onto something great. What a moment it was!
 

Then I arrive, a grim reaper with a scythe in the form of a patent number. I cut down the great oak of a dreamer’s dream. And now Richard has left the hostel without any indication of where he’s gone or when he’ll be back. I know the 911 operator is right: I’m being alarmist, and this was a completely unnecessary call. If I know Richard — and I know him better than anyone — he’s just taking a walk to process the news and mourn what might have been.
 

Richard, if you’re reading this, come home! We’ll figure this out together. Oh, and your sandwich is wrapped in wax paper in the fridge.

Farewell, PiperChat

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Hello, friends! If you’re anything like me, you start your day with a cup of coffee, a pep talk in the mirror that is encouraging yet realistic about your limitations, and a scan of the day’s tech news. I have no doubt, then, that you’ve already heard about PiperChat’s recent acquisition by Hooli. While I’m not at liberty to discuss the details, I can say with certainty that we no longer have any formal business affiliation with PiperChat. Good thing I hadn’t ordered those logo beanies yet!

On a different note, I sometimes like to use this forum to muse on various topics in technology. Take, apropos of nothing, terms of service. We all love to read them, of course, delighting in the voices of our favorite authors. (Myself, I’m a fan of the quiet wit of the Spotify TOS.) But they’re more than pleasant bedtime reading; they’re essential to the legal protection of any startup. So take note, fellow entrepreneurs, and add those terms of service. Without them, you may be doomed to hear the endless click of the Agree button like a tortuous telltale heart, echoing against the uninsulated walls of a ranch house’s garage.

Anyway, just some food for thought! And speaking of, one last tip from Jared Dunn to you: should you ever find your clothing covered in sick, try baking soda and lemon juice! It will loosen the stain and weaken the odor.

Thanks for reading!

To Every Thing There Is a Season

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Well, it has been a season of change here at Pied Piper. As Sylvia would often say when another couple passed over me for adoption, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” I finally understand that Sylvia meant something more than a tip to escape through the opening in the attic. The door of my service to Pied Piper has ended, but the window of PiperChat has opened! Indeed, many PiperChat windows have opened, because our video chat platform has a remarkable hosting capability for multiple simultaneous users. Check it out!

Yes, readers, our pivot to video chat has become a full-blown sprint: we are gaining users by the day, our technology is superior to any other conference platform on the market, and we’ve named Dinesh Chugtai our new CEO. The next stop on this journey is funding. Our brush with fraud — Oh, Jared, did you not think that sin would stain? — has hindered us, to be sure, but we remain undeterred!

Amid the giddy thrill of this new chapter, we must take a moment to honor Richard Hendricks, who has parted ways with PiperChat. He may no longer be our CEO, but he will always be our Founder and our friend. Few captains are so brave as to shed their crew, guided only by the stars and a whiteboard. But you are on your own journey now, Richard, like Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love. You have left the painful past of the platform behind you and are bravely entering a new chapter of spiritual growth and technological adventure.

As for me, I’m off to make Dinesh a cup of tea and work on our burn-down chart!

Pied Piper Pic: Facing the Music

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Here we see Richard and myself, accepting the heavy judgment of Raviga for the sin of click-farming, a sin that began with me. So when shortly after this was taken I sustained a head injury, my first thought was: This is so, so much less than I deserve. My second thought was: I require medical attention.

Pied Piper Pic: The More Things Change…

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So it seems we are now fully a-pivot to video-conferencing! What a long gavotte this Pied Piper has capered, from Richard’s original music app. Yet, there are certain fixed stars that remain constant, that we may navigate by, constants like: Jian Yang, though an exceptional programmer, does not fully grasp the concept of the “prank call.”

Whirlwind!

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Where to begin? Lewis Carroll famously said, “Begin at the beginning, go on to the end, and then stop.” But that is hard advice to follow when one’s head is spinning, when one knows not if he (or she!) is coming or going, as I am hard pressed to say myself. And, of course, when the speaker had extremely problematic relationships with female minors, as did Carroll. (Yes, it was “another time,” but still.)

First off, I could begin by writing that it seems we are now…a video-chat company, on the order of Skype! Since our broad-based platform proved too intricate for a mass audience, we have pivoted to a new product, a crystal-clear communication app Dinesh hacked together with Richard’s algorithm and the peer-to-peer network our ex-employee Carla coded in embryonic form, and Gilfoyle built out.

Secondly, we have been purchased by Bachmanity, Erlich and Big Head’s joint venture! Although a vigorous discussion of revising the cap table is now underway—believe you me—great thanksgiving should be made to Erlich and Big Head for this acquisition. Because, the bid they beat belonged to none other than Gavin Belson, who no doubt would have folded Pied Piper’s IP into an update of HooliOffice or something, and in this way all we worked for would have been lost.

What lies ahead for Pied Piper? Who can say? But I, for one, cannot wait to find out!

Pied Piper Pic: 500,000 Installs!

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The PP team watches as we cross half a million downloads of the platform! Though the celebration proved premature, I shall always cherish this evening at Laurie’s peculiar, modernist home, whose geometry seemed oddly non-Euclidean.

Everything is Fine

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Not much to report this week, dear readers! Everything is perfectly fine. I don’t have a single complaint. We’ve put together a great team, built a wonderful product, launched it to some fanfare and the rest? Well, that lies to the judgment of history. You see, in the grand scheme of things, some products fail, others succeed, and although Pied Piper’s blazing speed and hyper-functionality do seem overwhelmingly likely to win us millions of Daily Active Users, far more than enough to start monetizing premium services and reaping rich rewards thereby…ultimately only time will tell. But I’m not worried. The signs are all good. No, great!

But the important thing is, not whether a given product becomes the market standard or a laughingstock. But rather, how we conduct ourselves regardless of success or crushing, demoralizing, abject failure; and in the event of the latter, how we dig ourselves out of the grave of black despair and move on with some shattered, rickety semblance of our former lives. While, of course, trying to be haunted as little as possible by what might have been, if things had gone differently. None of which, of course, remotely applies to us.

Because, as previously stated, everything is great! Well, onwards and upwards!

Pied Piper Pic: Attention Must Be Paid

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Richard Hendricks is a good man. A brilliant, hardworking gentleman of the old school. And so if certain liberties were taken to ease the passing of his beloved Pied Piper from this world—much as one gives an old cat one last fish-head before the shovel comes down—well, then, on MY head and none other heap your opprobrium. Heap it high!

Pied Piper Pic: Behold, A Pale Unicorn!

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“And his name that sat on him was Erlich, and Profligacy followed with him!” (With apologies to Revelation 6:8.)

Sadly, Erlich’s Bachmanity boondoggle has led to his being unceremoniously bucked off the Pied Piper unicorn, stock-and-Board-seat-wise. (Chin up, Erlich—head of PR makes a lovely consolation prize!)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Pied Piper Taps Erlich Bachman for SVP Public Relations/Chief Evangelism Officer Position

Palo Alto, California—To manage its increasing media profile caused by its rapid growth, pioneering compression firm Pied Piper today announced it has hired veteran Valley entrepreneur Erlich Bachman to head up its public relations department, according to Erlich Bachman, Pied Piper’s SVP Public Relations.

Bachman, in his 30s but appearing years younger, launched Pied Piper at his Palo Alto incubator and was its first investor. He is no longer an investor; this might conceivably constitute a conflict of interest. No causality should be inferred from the proximity of the previous sentence’s two clauses.

“In the age of digital media, it is more important than ever to have a steady hand at the tiller when navigating the oft-treacherous waters of the press and public opinion,” said Bachman, rolling emails al fresco at his Newell Street hub of operations.. “As the compression space becomes more frothy, I intend to make sure everyone remembers who whipped up that froth: us.”

Successfully luring Mr. Bachman into Pied Piper’s employ, given the great demand for his services, is widely regarded as a coup, a second feather in Pied Piper’s cap, and a sign that the company’s well-documented stumbles are a thing of the past.

Erlich Bachman graduated from Hampshire College with honor.

 

Contact:
Erlich Bachman
Pied Piper
Newell Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303
These United States
www.piedpiper.com

Pied Piper Pic: A Tale of Two Lauries!

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One offers lucrative term sheets, one fires Richard. One frees us from the yoke of Jack Barker, one ruthlessly strips Erlich of his Pied Piper shares on the secondary market at below-market value. Which Laurie shall we meet next? This complex woman contains within her (as do we all, to a degree) both Arthur AND Mordred, Goofus AND Gallant.

Welcome (Back!) Erlich Bachman!

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Even the best of friends sometimes turn the worst of enemies: Mailer and Roth, Richards and Jagger, Christ and Judas. In each of these examples—besides my perhaps unfortunate choice of the last one—bygones were allowed to be bygones, water flowed under bridges, and harmony was restored. And so it comes to pass that despite their recent contretemps, our doughty CEO Richard Hendricks has brought a new (old?) Piper on board as our new Head of PR.

And who better to manage the public image of our company, to play the tech press like a Gypsy violin, than our charismatic Barnum, our Rasputin, our David Koresh (in a good way) of the Hacker Hostel, Erlich Casimir Bachman!

Yes, recent unfortunate financial reversals may have cost Erlich his 10 percent ownership stake in Pied Piper. Yet, it is clear Pied Piper continues to hold 100 percent ownership of his large, warm heart.**

(**This is not meant to imply that Erlich in any way suffers from an enlarged heart, or in fact any cardiac disorder, but rather that his loyalty to PP is not in doubt.)

Pied Piper Pic: Moment of Truth

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Richard and Dinesh look on as the fruit of our mighty labors, Pied Piper’s compression platform, is launched! We await the judgment of history!****

(**** and the subsequent launch of subscription-based Pied Piper premium services for business!)