Growth Spurt!

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Welcome back, dear readers! My, how things have changed for us here at Pied Piper since my last post: series A funding from Bream-Hall, expansive offices, fifty new employees. I even got to see Richard off to the Innovation Hall of Fame Ceremony. Like any head of business development, I’d envisioned this moment before, sending my CEO off to a black-tie event. (Richard didn’t want me to take a photo, but he’ll be glad to have it later.)

Richard’s bespoke tuxedo aside, I’ll admit that Pied Piper’s makeover had a bumpy start. We began with the hunt for new offices, and while I don’t believe in excess, the first option had a fluorescent, grim minimalism that prompted my worst panic attack since I was left behind on a Hooli off-site in Yosemite. But in the end, we found a gorgeous space. While it doesn’t yet have the lived-in warmth of our table back at the hostel, soon we’ll have enough twigs and cotton to make this nest our own.

Our next step was hiring. We had been thoroughly vetting engineers, hoping to hand select each new Piper, when Gavin Belson stole away all sixty-three of our candidates in one fell swoop. I always knew he was a snake charmer, luring coders away with his pungi of cash and lies. He’ll toast you with champagne and then stab you in the liver. He might be the devil.

No matter, because Gavin couldn’t poach the winds from our sails. Through a clever acqui-hire of Sliceline (which had just acquired Optimoji), our family of employees is now fifty strong. It’s the kind of mass adoption every orphan dreams of.

I couldn’t be more thrilled for Pied Piper’s next chapter and its new challenges. First up, comparing quotes on a modesty panel for Richard’s desk!

A Look to the Future

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It’s incredible how much life can be compressed into just a few dozen hours, isn’t it? Since I last posted, I have resigned, been fired from, and successfully rejoined Pied Piper. And while this whirlwind meant I used up my “tears budget” a bit earlier than usual this month, it also reminded me of how lucky I am to work for Richard Hendricks, a true technological visionary. In that forward-looking spirit, I thought I’d share my letter to my 40-year-old self. I revise this missive to the future each time I begin a new professional venture, but with any luck, I will have this job — and this letter — until the day I die. Enjoy, dear readers, and take care!

Lordy, lordy, look who’s forty!

Who would have thought Donald Dunn would make it to forty-years-old? After swimming through the piranha-infested waters of the Amazon, running with the bulls in Pamplona, finding love in Paris — and losing it in Malta —you’ve seen big things, Donald.

Your life has been a checkered quilt, and some of its patches have been rougher than others. But whether a coarse swatch best forgotten or a velvet one to be cherished for all time, they have stitched together the man you’ve become. A man who sees adversity as opportunity, melancholy as but a brief minor key in life’s longer song. Not to mention, you threw one hell of a fortieth birthday bash on that yacht. Good on you, Donald!

You can be hard on yourself, but it is the lofty bar you’ve set that makes you such an exemplary friend, spouse, and father. To think, you were worried about raising one little scamp, and now triplets! It seems the chemical traces in that shipping container all those years ago didn’t cause lasting medical damage, after all. Four is a nice round number for a brood, too, and you should be glad that you went with the maroon minivan. It was the right choice.

Donald, you’ve kept so many of the promises you made to yourself. To give all of your heart, mind, and physical well being to each and every company to which you’ve pledged your faith. To treat each friendship like a hummingbird: vibrant, yet delicate. And, of course, to always wear your retainer at night to protect against stress-related grinding. Your teeth are the sparkling Christmas lights for your face, Donald, and they must shine year-round!

You are a star shooting across the Great Plains, a manta ray swimming in the sundrenched, shallow waters of the Caribbean, a single hair that raises on the back of a child’s neck after he hears his first violin solo. Never forget that you are truly something, Donald. You are tougher than anyone I have ever met, but also a gentle soul that never ceases to give first, and ask questions later.

Looking back on your life, you wish you could tell your younger self to relax, and sure, have that second glass of sparkling cider. Your soul has always been older than your body, and one day they’ll have a name for that condition. In the meantime, savor your youth and this, your fortieth birthday (give or take, depending on which of those certificates was actually legitimate). Next up: nifty fifty!

You’re the best, Donald. Richard is proud of you.

Love always,

Jared

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!