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Boxed In


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.

Comments (3,310)

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  1. there is nothing so innovative as a new hard disk …

    But where is the blue sky R&D projects? Hooli even had z,x,y – it didn’t go well for anyone except the monkey… and perhaps the dept did explode like a potato hitting a wall out of a cannon… but a little startup in 1999 named Google have R&D, Jack, and you know what that little startup was called? Google.

    And while this box may be the best thing since my new WD passport last week, what’ll be your next generation of products?

    Besides R&D is a tax deduction – you know that – we all know that in Silicon Valley

  2. What you did and what you said have been a huge encourage on me. People should have the passion that you have for all the work they are doing. We all know that Pied piper are going through some unpleasant changes these days. But I believe if you guys work together and try your best to solve the problems as usual, we will see the big days of Pied piper’ real success are on the way!

  3. Hello Jared – I’m glad to see you’re doing well. We all miss you at Hooli, although of course we’re not allowed to mention your name around here! Quick favor to ask: could you refrain from saying anything bad about Gavin on this blog? He accidentally logged out of his HooliMail account and now he’s seeing the same results as the rest of the world instead of the more targeted, filtered content he’s accustomed to, and that’s been… challenging. I realize that your contract, including the standard non-disparagement clause, was found to be “not legally enforceable” and “catastrophically mismanaged to an absurd degree” but we’d just really appreciate it.

  4. Awn, Jared, I hope your house situation resolves quickly! And please try to get some sleep, you worry me! Erlich really should let you use the dorm room like before…
    Now is not the time to be zombified! Richard needs you more than ever! Your corporate know-how could really help during the board meetings, where the sales people are completely disrespecting him. :<

    At least I'm happy to know you are going through this together. Dream team!

    Sending you tons of courage and good vibes,

  5. Hang in there Jared, there’s a lot of people watching and appreciating how hard you work! Keep pushing and I know you will be rewarded for it!

  6. Hi There,
    John, AWS Cloud Analyst and SV fan, EMEA region (UK).

    If I buy two appliances, can I compress the first one with the second? Double middle out penetration?

    Regards –

    P.s Has Jared considered Bobby Womack’s “Living in a Box” as his ringtone?

  7. I think this is a ruse. Action Jack has proven himself with his ability to turn companies into empires. So he’s not as dumb as he’s pretending to be. Richard has said several times that he lacks vision for Pied Piper. I believe that Jack sees this, and he’s trying to get Richard to break out of his shell by instigating him into having no other choice but to take control of what he wants Pied Piper to become. When Richard finally breaks, I think Jack will admit that it was part of his master plan.

  8. “my bones are me and my body is my house… so I’m always home.” hilarious and sad, in equal measure.

  9. They made Pied Piper into WHAT!?! This is on par with when Michael Jordan said he was going to become a Baseball player!

  10. Just finished watching the episode, just feeling so sad for Richard. Hoping they kick some sense into Action Jack

  11. This is the best!!!! Can’t wait find out what happens. I hope you guys can overthrow that pompous ass, or as I refer to him ” Needle Nose Ned”

Problem 1:

Single Points of Failure

Libraries are vulnerable to losing their collection because all of their books are contained at a single location. Say, for instance, that there was a fire, or a flood, or a vandal defaced John James Audubon’s masterpiece Birds of America by giving all the Warblers human genitalia. Even worse, if the vandal recruited bird haters from other neighborhoods and got ahold of all the copies of the book in existence, it could be lost crude doodles forever. It would be a tragedy on par with the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.

The Problem

Because Birds of America is centralized in one public location, it’s susceptible to permanent deletion. The same goes for content on the Internet — storing all your family photos on a single account in a cloud service? They could all be wiped away if someone hacked your account or corrupted the host servers.

The Solution

Our solution: In our decentralized library, we would duplicate and distribute multiple copies of Birds of America to your neighbors — if you need a copy, you would just go to your neighbor’s house. As our Pipernet town of mobile devices grows, so do the number of neighbors who might have a copy of your book. And the more potential copies there are available, the more secure the book is.

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: spread your personal files on devices across the world, so they’re completely safe from bad actors manipulating or deleting them.


All copies of your files in a well-known, hackable location = RISKY!

Files copied and distributed to multiple locations = SAFE!

Problem 2:

No Privacy

In order to check out books, you must have a library card — an ID that links back to your real world identity. That library card reveals all the books you’ve ever checked out, where you returned them, and whether they were returned on time.

The Problem

The tech titans collect data profiles on us too, and theirs are far more comprehensive. They amass thousands of personal data points by tracking our activities in both the online and physical worlds.

Users don’t own or control their own data, so it can be used against them. Take, for instance, Richard’s lawyer Pete Monahan, who had his probation revoked when the state retrieved his library records. Which was… probably a good idea. But for this metaphor’s purposes: bad that they can access that information!

On the web, our data profile is far more detailed, the laws around privacy even looser, and more freedoms are at stake. For example, what if Hooli sold your search data to an insurance company who then denied you coverage because you’ve HooliSearch-ed “kindest Palo Alto based Cardiologist” a few too many times?

The Solution

Replace library cards with anonymous identification cards which are impossible to connect to your real world identity. Instead of using a library card (linked to your name, address, etc.) to check out books, you would swipe a nondescript card (containing no personal details). Your activity would be tracked to keep the system stable, but your identity would not be siphoned and sold. I, for example, would no longer check out books as "Donald Dunn," but rather the nom de guerre "h3w0vbk37vpm."

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: use its apps and services without compromising your privacy.


Trading your identity and data for online services = RISKY!

Using services anonymously so nobody can target you = SAFE!

Problem 3:

Censorship and Manipulation

Because a town’s library is run by a small group of administrators, they could theoretically decide what books are available to its people. They could even decide to ban Birds of America, depriving young birders of Audubon’s elegant illustrations, pored over page by page under a government-issued blanket after lights out, giving you hope that even a slender-framed, shivering boy could grow to be as majestic as a Hooded Merganser.

The Problem

On the internet, multinational corporations can screen content, or even “adapt” their services to fit the local government’s requests. In both libraries and on the Web, we’re susceptible to data being censored or manipulated by intermediaries.

The Solution

A peer-to-peer lending system backed up by a fully public ledger, allowing you to send and receive books freely to anybody in the world without worrying about censorship or interference. Want to add Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, or your controversial essay on Audubon’s coloring techniques? No problem, even if the town surrounded you with pitchforks to ban them, these vital texts would be available to share neighbor to neighbor, impossible to delete.

That’s what our new internet will allow you to do too: exchange messages and files directly with their intended receiver, disperse ideas and information free from threats of censorship.


Pushing all transactions through a central authority = OPPRESSIVE!

Establishing a peer to peer exchange system based on an immutable public ledger = FREE!

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