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CalacanisCast #24

Jason Calacanis w/

Special guest: Dan Albritton - Co-Founder of iminlikewithyou.com


In this episode, we take a behind the scene close-up tour of the invitation-only hotness known as iminlikewithyou.com












JASON: Okay everybody welcome again to another CalacanisCast. This is number 24. CalacanisCast 24. Back by popular demand is Toro, my bulldog. Everybody’s been asking for him to be on the program.


Tyler: He’s got a busy schedule.


Jason: He does have a busy schedule and we’re lucky when we can get him. He phoned into the last one, you just didn’t hear him cause he didn’t have a lot to say. What did you think of the Sam Zell episode Tyler?


Tyler: Real interesting. Mr. Tribune. I think there’s an award out now to find out who Mr. Tribune is.


JASON: Exactly. Well you know what’s getting interesting; people are starting to watch the show on a regular basis…


Tyler: Right.


JASON: And they’re starting to get into it. It seems like when we have a little bit of a passionate discussion or debate about something people really respond to it, and the Larry Sanger episode has had a lot of fallout.


Tyler: Right, yeah, I saw the e-mails.


JASON: Yeah. So there’s e-mails flying around. Jimmy Wales e-mailed me in fact.


Tyler: I saw that one as well.


JASON: And said he wants to come on the program.


Tyler: That’s right!


JASON: He didn’t watch the program yet, but he heard that I called him a liar. And I said well, you know, I looked back on it and I did actually call him a liar.


Tyler: Right. So you reviewed the clip…


JASON: I didn’t review the clip, but I just remembered that I said he lied about the two issues that came up on the show. He told me straight up that Larry Sanger was not the co-founder and everything is pointing toward him being the co-founder so you know truth is an elusive thing so maybe Jimmy’s not lying and I’m the incorrect calling him a liar about it.


Tyler: I think you even said in the clip he either has a bad memory or…


JASON: Yes! That’s what I said. So, I mean, it’s not exactly that I said he’s a liar, but I just said it’s very weird to think, and anyway, revisionist history who knows? Truth is an elusive thing is the point, you know? And that’s sort of what this show is about. We try to and get to the truth, the bottom of things in an ever-changing world. Media, technology, I mean that’s what we talk about here. Finance as well, since I’m pretending I’m a V.C. right now. That’s what I tell people, they’re like “oh, you’re a venture capitalist!” I say no I’m pretending I’m a V.C. People don’t understand what the Entrepreneur-in-Action, Entrepreneur-InResidence title is. They actually think I’m a V.C.


Tyler: Right.


JASON: It’s not what you do when you’re an Entrepreneur-In-Residence, an entrepreneur in residence means you’re an entrepreneur hanging out.


Tyler: Yeah.


JASON: That’s basically what it means.


Tyler: In the warm up…


JASON: Yeah, you’re on deck, it’s exactly how you look at it. At some point you can get off the bench and get back in the game. So anyway, today I’m very excited about who we have on the program. You know like when Twitter just busted out? We got Twitter - we got Ev - on the show what like three or four weeks after it busted?


Tyler: Right.


JASON: It popped. Which is great. He’s busy as a hawk. I’m telling you right now… this next site is gonna reach, after this program, Twitter-like proportions. I am guaranteeing it. The site we’re gonna talk about today is Iminlikewithyou. Im-in-like-with-you. So that’s I-M-I-N-L-I-K-E-W-I-T-H-Y-O-U.


JASON: That is a long domain name, but don’t hold that against the site. The site, it’s just, taking off amongst the sort of Silicone Valley brat pack. You know all those Gen-X, Gen-Y kids in Silicone Valley, Kevin Rose and all those guys who are dating in San Francisco, so that’s how most of these trends start the San Francisco kids or the Silicone Alley kids in New York sort of playing with it, it bubbles up and then it gets mainstream more and fizzles out, so on the phone with us we have Dan Albritton.


JASON: Dan, are you there?


Dan Albritton: Hey! How’s it goin?


JASON: Dan. Thanks for coming on the program.


DAN: Thanks for having us.


JASON: The site has really been taking off, and so you’re the co-founder, you’re in New York City. Is it cold is New York City still?


DAN: I’m doing pretty good. We’re having some crazy weather. It’s like 70 degrees one day and like 30 the next.


JASON: Yep. Gotta love that global warming.


DAN: If you guys are investing in “Green Stuff” it’s a good market to be in.


JASON: No, no, Sequoia Capital doesn’t do anything green. We’ve been having an ongoing joke on the show about like, if you’re an entrepreneur and not doing “Green Stuff” there’s something wrong with you today. But of course, you’re not doing anything green, you’re going Old School. You’re going to dating. And dating is like, by the way, one of the top things to do on the web, one of the things that actually makes money, and so tell us what the premise of Iminlikewithyou.com is.


DAN: The premise is that men behave badly, and they behave really badly on the web. And if you are a attractive woman, the web is not a good place to meet guys, despite the fact that it seems like it might be. So, we got like so many different ways to meet people on the web, spanning all the way from you pay thirty bucks a month and they kind of screen your profile Match.com way down to who the hell knows what’s goin’ on at Myspace.com. And you when you think about all of these social situations, they kind of play out like the real world does to if you’re an attractive woman, and you go to a bar, you’re going to be mobbed by guys, but in some sense there’s social pressure of keeping guys who are really not in your league away from you, and on the internet there’s no pressure there. So, if I’m a guy and I’m not that good looking and I’m not that smart and I’m not whatever. I have no compunction chasing down the hottest women on Match.com and chasing them down all day, and I have no problem cruising around Myspace sending messages to girls that would never want to talk to me. And if you’re a woman on any of these sites that’s really, really annoying. If you’re on Match.com you’re expecting to get high quality matches but actually what you get is a box full of spam. So any guy who joins one of these sites, especially a site where you have to pay, feels like they have to get their money’s worth each month. So when that subscription date comes up, guys just start sending out tons of messages…


JASON: See the thing is, I’ve never spent any time on these sites because I got married whatever and to the same lady for five wonderful, wonderful years, but it is true like you loose that fear of rejection online so all these nerds and other guys just absolutely go crazy and there is no friction, which is supposed to be a good thing, right Dan?


DAN: Yes, absolutely.


JASON: Getting rid of friction is what makes internet sites do well, but you’re reintroducing friction because removing the friction as you’re saying created this crazy imbalance where women would just have their inboxes filled on sites like Match.com.


DAN: Yeah, and not only are they being filled - because you could even imagine that there are thousands of genuine guys out there who really want to meet whoever woman this is, that’s no problem - but any guys figures this out really quick. You send a message, you craft this beautiful heartfelt message to the girl you’ve seen online and she looks amazing and you imagine your life together and you send it to her and you get no answer back. So what’s the next thing you do? Send that same exact message to 500 women! So the spam problem is just killing everything out there, and if you think about Myspace today you’re a reasonably attractive girl on Myspace and you have some photos up, especially if your profile is public, you will just be bombarded all day long. And if you’re a guy on Myspace, you’re going to be bombarded with similar parasites but kind of different. You’re going to be bombarded with girls trying to sell you themselves on their Web cam for like 5.99 a minute.


JASON: Yeah, and you know what other group of girls try to sell you are the ones who have like really bad cd’s available for 14.95 and the ones who are like the models, not models, I’m making air quotes right now like car show models. You know?


DAN: Right, yeah, so basically the spam problem is now starting to run both directions, like from men and to men. So our whole premise is there should be a better way to match people and to search and sort and filter people but the general sort of overall premise is put people who want to meet other people in ultimate control. Now we know it’s mostly going to be woman who are pursued by men. So in our case giving women more control than they’ve had anywhere else. Its setting up a very strong filter about how somebody can contact them and providing lots and lots of tool to manage that contact. So how does it really work? You want to kind of go through the site and I can show you how it goes?


JASON: Yeah, maybe the best thing for you to do is to, since I have the site up here we’ll go through it, but how does it basically work?


DAN: It basically works like an auction. Now you may be kind of freaking out, an auction, it’s actually not an auction based on real money, but it’s an auction based on points. And so you must bid for the attention of some girl. And you can’t talk to her, you can’t send her messages, you can’t communicate at all until she has sort of chosen you as the winner of this bidding process. So we call the bidding process a game and it kinda works like an auction but not really so we’ve chosen a different word. So, each bidder submits a number of points with their bid and their profile and a little bit of witty, interesting text. I’m sorry, let me just back up real quick, a game is the way you actually meet somebody on our site. You can’t actually talk to somebody until they’ve been the winner of your game or you’re the winner of their game…


DAN: So I’m a girl and I decided I want to meet some guy and I’m looking for drinks on Thursday so I make a game “Drinks on Thursday”. I will start my game on Monday and maybe I’ll make my game last three days. Over the course of three days, guys come through with their points and their profiles and a little bit of witty text just for my game and they have to bid, each bidder being a higher number of points from the previous bidder. At the end of the game, when the game is finished, as the woman, I can chose from any of the top five bidders. All the bidders know this, so what does this do? It makes competition because everybody has to be in the top five to even have the chance to talk to this girl, but, as the female host of the game I’m left with a really good selection – I’m left with a selection of those five guys and all of those guys have been trying to compete for my attention.


JASON: And also the game is a little bit of flirtation so you can see sort of how well a person interacts. So if you’re good at flirting you have a better chance of winning the game. So how many points do I start with? And how long does a typical game run? And how to I get points? Do I buy points from you? Do I earn points? How does that part work, the point system?


DAN: You have to earn the points and the idea of points is they are a scarce resource in the system to represent attention and they also are sort of rewards for doing things that would normally be considered a chore. Like uploading photos, updating your profile, checking the site each day, making new games, choosing winners. There’s hundreds of actions in the system, which will gain and lose points. And there’s a lot of sort of unique abilities that we’re going to unlock in the future that will cost points. But the basic way to do it are kind of things that would be chores and manicuring your profile and all that.


JASON: So I add a photo and get ten more points or something like that, I add to some questions I get points, see that’s brilliant because basically they give you more attention, you give them the ability to have more attention from other members. So that becomes a virtuous cycle.


DAN: Right, the idea is like every thing a person does in our system that adds value to our system; we want to give them back value in points.


JASON: It reminds me of Genie. Genie now… we’re gonna have David Sacks on the program soon, I think, and Genie has the same sort of thing applied to family trees which is oh if you put your photo in or if you put in where you work you get points. Did you get the idea from Genie?


DAN: Oh, we’ve been out for… we haven’t been really public and that’s a whole story in itself, but we’ve been out for a fair bit longer, I think, than Genie has.


JASON: Where did the idea for the points come from?


DAN: Umm, so the idea for the points originally actually came from my partner, Charles Foreman, who had this idea, he and I were both working in Asia, I was in Tokyo for a long time and he was in Tokyo and Seoul for a long time and when he was in Seoul he noticed there were a couple of online gaming sites where you could buy additional points or abilities in the system… In that case, you could actually buy points for money…


DAN: But the example that he was really interested in was there’s a game where you can buy for a dollar this power–of-ring and the ring would give you three extra lives compared to everyone else in this game and so over the course, if you played the game even just a few times, the dollar became clearly worth it. Your power in the system was so much greater that these sort of micro-transactions or micro-upgrades became very valuable, and so they had a point economy in that type of game and if you think about it it’s really similar to an MMO RPG where the more you do, the more experience points you build up, the more you can do within the system.


JASON: So, it came from gaming.


DAN: Yeah. I mean it came from gaming but the idea was also: this system works to limit the way people play in games so why couldn’t it work to limit the way people play in almost any other system?


JASON: Right. Okay, so I get it. You basically get some points, you can use the points, you play the game, you win the date or you win whatever the activity is. Now, people could…


DAN: Yeah. We’re pretty open ended on what the activity is, in fact we really aren’t even encouraging people to make a date or make an activity, like we want to keep really casual... We’re not trying to be a dating site. We’re not trying to be a site where you meet this perfect person. All we are is a new way to meet people who you might want to meet, who might live near you… online. And just keep it like casual and fun. So, we don’t promise a date, you don’t have to even make an activity you know I’ve seen games that say like “What is your favorite Led Zeppelin Album?” And clearly, that person is just trying to show something funny about their personality to attract other people who kind of have a similar way of thinking, so we don’t really want to promise anybody a date at the end of the day. All we really want to do is do the introduction and once the introduction is made, we want to provide a really, really safe and secure way of communicating.


JASON: Right. So they can communicate through the system with out ever revealing themselves, they can put themselves under a pseudonym and you have to win the game anyway and you have all those great things so lets, we have a couple of url’s up here, let’s walk through the url’s, you tell us what I’m looking at, and we’re going to actually put them on the screen for the viewers so I will go up the screen, so I’m looking at that first page there, what am I looking at here?


DAN: It’s just a homepage. It’s got like our intro trailer and if you kinda scroll partway down you can see a selection of hot games and new games and progress and new people who have joined the site, so that’s just like the Welcome page and if you go to the next page which should be the browse page you can see all these different people. So those are all the games that are active listed first and then all profiles that don’t currently have a game running are listed second. So if you see someone that is kinda cute and you’re kinda into them but they don’t have a game there’s actually a way to request them to start a game, but of course requesting them to start a game costs you points.


JASON: Right, got it. So….


DAN: Yeah, so lets take like an example game if you go to like the third page.


JASON: Right.


DAN: So, this is a girl Julia and she has a game running right now in New York and you can just kind of see what’s going on with the game, so upper left we have our photo viewer and if you sort of mouse over the photo viewer you’ll notice that the photos are a little bit interactive.


JASON: I kind of like the way, yeah it gives you a little something to do, how it floats around and it sort of looks like a movie camera. It’s sort of like that documentary technique in the kid stays in the picture where they turn those pictures into something a little bit more eye catchy. This is a real person?


DAN: Oh yeah, there’s no fake people on this site and in fact you know if anybody signs up with like a fake photo or a fake name we basically kick them off the site.


JASON: So this game is going to expire, she’s got 164 points I see right now. You can bid. And a bunch of guys have bid and…


DAN: And you should see that all the guys actually have or some of the guys will have a little bit of text associated with their bid, which is kind of like a quick note you can make to this person. You still can’t contact them fully by e-mail or anything, but it’s just a quick way to take something witty kind of get their attention.


JASON: Hmmm. So this is interesting. So now if I’m a guy in system, what is it everybody get 500 points in the system when they start?


DAN: Yep.


JASON: So if a really hot girl comes in the system and says, “who wants to go to the movies with my Saturday night” some guy in gonna be like 500 points or something like that immediately? Has something like that happened?


DAN: Yeah, well actually there’s also an upper bid limit right now. So what we’re kind of trying to do is curve bad behavior especially by men and one of the problems that guys have is a lack of I don’t know the word, with a wandering eye, and so there’s an upper bid limit, which means in order to stay in the bidding with Julie’s game, you’re gonna actually have to come back and bid a couple of times over the course of her game, but that’s really one of the ways you prove you’re actually interested in her.


JASON: Right. So you get outbid, you come back, so like people can’t just go start 17 different accounts and immediately go in, although guys will definitely do that, I mean they’ll get 10 different IP addresses so they can you know…


DAN: Yeah, we have some pretty good ideas about how to stop people from gaming the system, but if people start really trying to game the system, that’ll be a measure of our success so….


JASON: No it’s an opportunity for you to differentiate.


DAN: And to make things a little easier actually, if you are bidding your game and you get outbid we actually send a text message to your phone that’s like “hey you got knocked out of the top five bidders” and you can actually bid back from your phone through text message.


JASON: Alright so what you’ve got here is a mashup between Match.com, massively multiplayer online game and eBay.


DAN: eBay, Yeah, and Craigslist a little bit.


JASON: It is so brilliant. I mean Tyler, it’s brilliant, right?


Tyler: It has a lot of the way that there’s Asian sites that kind of bend the traditional concept about how these things are to be used. I lived in Tokyo myself for a while and it reminds me of the creative stuff that you kind of see over there.


DAN: Yeah, I mean I think this is kind of like you know we were both over there looking at some really interested stuff that was going on that way much more highly interactive than what you have you know here in The States, and you know there’s…


Tyler: There are blends the online/offline in a brilliant way like this.


JASON: Yeah.


DAN: Exactly.


JASON: You know who should steal some of this stuff, Meetup.com*, Scott Heiferman’s* company. You can actually take this into groups as well, a group of people doing some activity, you know, whatever, but ok so I’m looking at the fourth URL here. System messages that were received…


DAN: Yeah, I don’t know you’re probably logged in as Tyler. I don’t know what your messaging interface looks like right now, but…


Tyler: Tyler is going to have a lot of people bidding for his attention. He’s a good-looking guy.


DAN: Well after you start collecting people as a bidder, let’s say I make a game and you know all these girls bid on my game and I pick on girl as the winner and now she’s added to my contact list. So that’s the only way you can get added, I’m sorry, you can get added as a contact like that or you if you invite your friends they become a contact, but you have this list of contacts and so our site basically has two stages to it:


DAN: The first stage is before you become contacts. That’s what the whole bidding is about, the game, the profile. Once you’re selected as a contact, now you’re moving into kind of like stage two, which is the communication stage. So our idea is something like: we don’t want to promise you a date, we don’t know how it’s gonna like go, all we’re trying to do is give you a natural way to communicate with whoever you’re contacts with and if something happens like great and if it doesn’t well like try again. So, in the communication stage, it’s really, really important for things to be like natural and safe.


DAN: So, in this example, like lets say that girl Julie chose me as the winner, so she chose me as the winner and right when she chooses me as the winner she actually sends me the first message through the system. So the message comes through, now I actually have my phone entered and I have SMS messaging and I have MMS messaging turned on so I actually get a message with her picture that says “Julie chose you as the winner and here’s the first message from her”. And if I want to, right from the phone, I can actually just type back to her. So she’s like at home on her computer she’ll actually get the message like popping up on here screen “Hey Dan wrote back to you.” Now what’s cool about that is she doesn’t know my phone number cause it went to the system and when I write back to her even if she has SMS turned on, I don’t know phone number.


JASON: Yeah, it’s like those safe dating things, she can get a feel for you prior to the date.


DAN: Exactly.


JASON: And reveal if she wants to. She could just say “Meet me here”. She doesn’t have to give you her phone number, or address or her e-mail for you to stalk her.


DAN: Right, exactly, and in fact, we even make things really easy, we have anonymized* phone calling so there’s a button on the site and there’s also a main number you can call in and it’ll like list all your contacts and then I can chose callers.


JASON: Wow this is very thought out, how long did it take to build this?


DAN: Um, I mean the entire site, we’ve been working on it for I don’t know 6 months or so.


JASON: It’s really well done, who designed this? The design is beautiful.


DAN: All the graphic design is done by my partner Charles who is like an amazing designer.


JASON: What’s this like fifth link we have here with the woman with all the stars on her video going crazy?


DAN: So, that’s actually a thing that Charles has done. Part of what he did in his previous businesses was camera tracking and computer vision and so he thought, hey this is really cool and super fun and nobody had done this on the web, why don’t we just make this thing that’s a fun way to make videos. We have ability on our site where you can go on your profile page and record a video of yourself off your web cam so people can see what you look like, and so we thought wouldn’t it be fun if we could do some like augmented reality with that it’d be pretty cool and it’s a good way to get people to just upload videos of themselves messing around.


JASON: So that’s the cam toys thing?


DAN: Exactly, so you’re looking at Cam Toys, which is sort of a promotional, just fun thing we do where you can augment like live video and then save it and anybody can watch it when it comes back. There’s, I think three different variations right now there’s ‘sparkles’ and ‘bubbles’ and ‘fire’.


JASON: Interesting. It’s funny the first thing I clicked on here is like this girl iJustine and she is like on Twitter, I don’t think this girl is real.


DAN: No, no she’s real!


JASON: She’s real? Because I don’t know what the site, the site Justine she looks like a catalogue model or something, and she’s got like a blog and all these fake girls on Twitter are like befriending everybody, so you go through the top thirty there’s always like fake you know like Lonely Girl type things.


DAN: I can assure you IJustine is real, you can actually go and see her video of her moving.


JASON: I’m watching the looping video of her, I mean maybe not real but is it an Astro-Turf type thing where she’s like a model being hired by William Morris Agency or Endeavor or something to you know I don’t know, who knows, is she like one of these made-up celebrities or something. I don’t know?


DAN: If she is she’s fooled up pretty well, but we were actually, yeah she’s a friend-of-a friend.


JASON: Okay, if she’s a Faux maybe she’s legit. She sent me a direct message on Twitter and I was like okay this is another one. You know what I like about what your doing actually is you sorta nailed it with the problem with Myspace. Because anybody can add anybody, everybody does. It’s sort of considered rude to not except and add, there’s no way to remove ads kinda you know? And you basically have made a way to have there be a cost to adding things and one thing this reminds me of is Goodmail and Goodmail was/is an e-mail solution where everybody who sends and e-mail gets charged one tenth or one one hundredth of a penny it’s nothing. You could but ten bucks in your account for a year and it would cover thousands of messages, whatever, but because everybody has to you know pay one you know tenth of a penny to send and email, if you were to send 100,000 Spams it would cost you a hundred bucks or something and it would stop Spammers and the system got totally taken apart by goofballs at the EFF and other people who wanted to sort of slam it as being a way to inhibit communication when in fact it’s a marketplace solution, you’ve created a marketplace solution to friend Spam.


DAN: Yeah, that’s exactly right and In fact it all goes back to our sort of core mission of providing women with choice and so one of the things you have to do is provide them with choice or freedom or ability to not accept people they don’t like. To keep people away, and so as a woman if there’s a couple of guys you really want to meet and they’re both bidding on your game yeah you can only chose one but you can send little winks to encourage all the other ones so if they see you make another game in the future they’ll kind of know that you’re still into them and you can come back or if you get enough guys that you really don’t like, in any game you can actually chose no-one, and also women can invite me to start games now it’s mostly men inviting women, but when you know a girl invites you to start a game that’s a pretty strong invitation so everything is viewed in a sense to make the market work for women being able to pick and consult with the guys that they wanna meet.


JASON: So, my sister-in-law is in the system now and she invited me to get in there. There system isn’t open to the public you have to be invited right now?


DAN: That’s correct.


JASON: So basically you’re in private sort of Beta kinda mode right now. What kind of things are you seeing in the system? How many page-views or growth? What’s the attention? Are people spending a lot of time on it?


DAN: Just before that lets go back. We’re not really in private beta. I think there might have been some text from the site that says that, but we think we’re going to say invite only forever.


JASON: Oh, ok that’s smart.


DAN: So, why are we doing that? We just wanna make sure that the people signing up are in some way accountable. So your sister-in-law invited you, the only way she could invite you is if she got extra invitation codes. Now how do you get invitation codes? Currently, probably we just looked at her and said wow she’s like made a good profile, she’s been playing in the system, she seems like a good user, here’s some more invites. So, one way to get invites is to actually just have us give them to you and in terms of controlling the user base, making sure everybody’s really cool and like kinda doing what they should do and being polite, that’s worked out really well. Now, if people aren’t being polite, like there’s a guy who kept uploading photos of Seinfeld characters to his profile, right, so we not only banned that guy, but we actually denied all the invites he had pending. So he’s sort of like a dead vein in the tree.


JASON: Yeah, yeah it’s like Gmail. You guys are smart, you’re like looking at all the great little features that are popping out on other sites and you’re just sort of contextualizing them and taking the best of breed and putting it off to the sides, very well executed I think. It’s extremely well executed.


DAN: I might say we’re actually looking at all the problems that are on other sites and trying to solve them in whatever way we can.


JASON: The point is Gmail came up with that sort of Invite–A-Friend feature. I mean that’s a very cool feature and I think you’ve adapted it in a very cool way. So, what’s your story, how old are you? What did you do before this? Who are you? Where did you guys come from?


DAN: So I’m 29 and Charles is 27. I was doing some school in New York for awhile and then went to work for a Web Consulting firm in San Francisco and then that took me to Tokyo and I lived in Tokyo for four years and then I came back to New York to do graduate school at NYU.




DAN: Yeah! At ITP.


JASON: Oh! Red Burns - my old friend. Who are your teachers over there? Is Clay Shirky* over there?


DAN: Yeah, Clay’s over there.


JASON: I almost wound up teaching at the ITP back in the day, but who else is over there? I had a lot of friends who went there, like Jamie Levy went there. I’m talking about the first wave of ITP in 95, 96 when they were doing like interactive television on public access.


DAN: Right, well that’s a fair bit before my time.


JASON: You were in Jr. High School yeah. So did you finish ITP or no?


DAN: No, actually I decided to stop ITP because this came along and it seemed like such a great opportunity and Charles was living in Chicago for a long time, he was working for some advertising agency there and then he also moved to Tokyo actually before I knew him and he was doing some interactive work in Tokyo and then he moved to Seoul and he was working for SK Telecom for awhile doing some kind of advanced media stuff for them and he actually worked on the SkyWorld?* project for awhile so he’s kind of a leader in his field.


JASON: Where did you work? What Web Design firm did you work at?


DAN: I was actually working for Dentsu over in Tokyo.


JASON: Oh yeah, and where did you work in the United States?


DAN: I was working for some guy called MarchFirst I’m sure you’ve heard of them.


JASON: MarchFirst of course! That was like the uber consolidation like, they had like five thousand Web developers at the peak and then they crashed and burns and I guess they survived. Did they survive or not?


DAN: No, but various pieces of them got bought up. It was a crazy debacle and if that guy Bob Bernard is listening he still owes me $3500 dollars from severance.


JASON: Oh you got screwed in Web 1.0?!? And all you got was…


DAN: Even the CEO bought a 7 million dollar apartment in San Francisco two months before the company declared bankruptcy.


JASON: What a mench... What a mench, god that’s crazy. So you’re like just two dudes who were web designers and like thinkers and you came up with a great site, it’s off the charts, I think you guys are going to be hugely successful.


DAN: Thank you. And to be fair by the way, the core idea really came from like Charles doing analysis of what was going on in this sort of dating market in the Korean market I mean I’ve been helping out on all of that so I’ve gotta give him credit where credits do.


JASON: Alright, so unlike Jimmy Wales, you’re giving credit to your co-founder. You’re not removing him from your Wikipedia page or anything like that?


DAN: I don’t think we have a Wikipedia page yet so it doesn’t even matter.


JASON: Well if you ever get one you should vote that you’re not notable because once you have one it’s very hard to get rid of. I highly recommend that you do not get started on that, that is my advice to anybody out there. You got to vote it down, create a bunch of sock puppets and vote yourself down cause once you’re on that it’s very hard to get off. It’s terrible. So what are you going to do, you’re just two guys working from home how many of you are working on this?


DAN: We got actually a couple of guys who came onboard recently to help us do some of the code and they are just amazing. So we’ve been really getting a lot more stuff done, putting in new features that we want, making things super speedy, we just rebuilt the entire back end so the whole site not is really scaleable and we rolled out onto a whole bunch of servers.


JASON: What is this, this is LAMP? This is LAMP?


DAN: No we’re doing all this in Rails.


JASON: Oh you’re doing all this in Rails?


DAN: Mhmmm.


JASON: Dude, that’s never gonna scale. You better change that right now.


DAN: It’s good. We got it lined up, I think, we’re doing a lot of pretty crazy stuff. We’ve got a very aggressive cacheing strategy. We update the database three times a day.


JASON: What are you doing Memcache or something?


DAN: Yeah, exactly.


JASON: You know ‘cuz the thing is all these Ruby-On-Rails kids they’re like “oh look, I build the website in an afternoon” and I’m like okay get 10,000 people to hit it in the same five minutes and tell me about your website cause what’s the biggest Ruby-On-Rails site? ‘cuz every time I talk to Ruby–On-Rails site developers they can’t tell me the largest site and nobody is an example of really scaling well with it because you do have to do this memcaching stuff because Ruby-On-Rails is just major database hits.


DAN: Yeah I mean it’s major database hits if you don’t actually know how to like write your code well. We definitely found as soon as we scaled up to like a bunch of people really using this site a lot like all day every day we found some hotspots in our application we said okay great we’ve just got to go and cache all this stuff so like as soon as you implement intelligent caching you’re pretty much okay. I mean am I going to be saying the same thing in 6-8 months? I don’t know we’ll find out, but we’ve got a pretty good synergy so far.


JASON: The site feels snappier right now. How many are coming to the site a day is it like above 10,000 under 10,000?


DAN: Definitely under 10,000, but really what we’re interested in is Stickiness so if we have between 60 or like 100 something people on the site at any given time actually doing stuff and they just stay. We have people logging in the site in the morning and we’re really excited about just destroying their productivity at work because people login in the morning and just sit there and chat with their contacts all day, bid on people after lunch, upload some photos later in the day when they leave work they start sending SMS messages back and forth to people so it’s pretty addictive right now.


JASON: Okay, let me ask you like the standard two or three really stupid venture capital questions. This’ll just be prepping you for when you have your venture capital meetings. Let me ask you these stupid venture capital questions, then you can just answer them in, you know, the standard entrepreneur, it’s like role-playing.


JASON: So, how defensible is this business, like, can anybody do this?


DAN: Yeah, but why haven’t they?


JASON: Exactly, good answer.


DAN: I mean, who has made something that’s really fun and engaging in this space. If you ask, take in example Match.com users. Are they satisfied with Match.com? Now, if you look at the entire dating market, the entire dating market right now itself is terrible. The dating market revenues have gone completely flat through 2005 because everybody is unsatisfied with what they’ve got.


JASON: See that’s a better V.C. answer. Let me give you another way because the V.C. will say to you: “If you know, the uh, Match.com just takes these features and put them on then what happens to you then?” So what you’ve gotta say is: “Match.com? We work 24 hours, 8 days a week here! I will kill Match.com! I will chew them up! I will spit them out! I will kill their children! I will burn their house to the ground! I will kill Match.com!” Like, you have to be insane like that! VC’s love that when you say I will destroy anybody, I love competition, we will not sleep, we will kill them, we will fight them on the beaches.


DAN: Yeah, I think it’s certainly worth trying to hit some heads up, but also Match.com isn’t doing a good enough job killing themselves so sort of it’s our game to lose really.


JASON: Exactly. And you’re not going to sleep, you’re going to die…so here’s another really stupid V.C. question: “So the site, how does it make money? Kid, how you gonna make money off this??


DAN: I mean I think that everybody asks that question all the time and everybody is giving the same answer right now which is yeah we’ll figure it out. I mean we’ve got a bunch of ideas on services people would want to pay for that will be like incremental add-ons to the site, even in the same way that, you know, the Korean sites are monetizing some of the gaming stuff. Now, you might be asking yourself like, “oh, do you guys wanna charge for points?” And the answer would be, “no we never ever want to charge for points.” We might actually like, sell upgrades, so what if you could only use text messaging if you pay us 50 cents a month or something like that.


JASON: Or, so basically, your answer is premium services.


DAN: Maybe, you know what? If you think about it logically, our demographic is like the Myspace, Facebook demographic and what we know about those people is and myself included, we don’t want to pay for anything. It has to be free. So any way we’re going to actually monetize it has to be through some kind of marketing, branding, promotion, whatever.


JASON: Yeah, so they’ll be advertising like okay I want everybody to play my you know Budweiser sports trivia game, you know, or you could have branded games that people could template or they could template their pages or stuff like that and feature listings is the other thing like I want to have my game featured on the homepage for a 100 points or 10 bucks or something.


DAN: (Buzz) Oops, sorry, I was just getting a message actually from the site. It says, your friend Tyler just joined the site. Thank’s for signing up Tyler.


JASON: Yeah! Tyler would like to play a game with you Dan. He wants you to start a game with him.


DAN: I think if you look in the preferences you can see I’m not that! way, but it’s okay.


JASON: Hey, listen, you never know, he’s just saying he’s in like with you.


DAN: That’s okay, people ask about this a lot. They say, can only woman make games or, can women bid on women, men on men, the answer is of course. Anybody can make a game, anybody can bid on anybody else. In the future you might be able to restrict bidders based on their sex, you can say I only want to meet women or I only want to meet men.


JASON: If you wanna be homophobic you can, yeah, you can pick. Cause you know there is actually a very big trend here in Los Angeles called “Mandating” also known as a “Mandate” get it? Like a mandate, but with a space between the man and the date. What it basically is in Los Angeles, like going to go hang out is a lot different than New York. You know I grew up in New York, I lived in New York my whole life until a couple years ago and like in New York I say, “Hey Dan after work lets go grab a drink let’s go to or whatever, let’s hit this place _ or whatever” and it takes five minutes, so it’s not like too much of a man date situation, however, in Los Angeles since you have to get across town you’ve got to plan stuff out. So then once you start planning getting together with a guy it moves from just hanging out to really a man date. So you should basically have a man date feature in here.


JASON: Tyler and I go on some man dates once in a while, we play pool, we do a man date for a little pool. So Dan, how many V.C’s aside from me, I’m not really a V.C. I’m sort of joking, are you getting like crushed with investment? Whose flipping the bills for this are you guys like trust fund kids? What’s the story?


DAN: I wish, no, we’re both going broke doing it.


JASON: Really? Okay, good.


DAN: We raised a very small angel round just to kind of like get us going and in terms of VC’s calling us it’s like X where X is greater than one and less than twenty.


JASON: Oh okay. So you got some interests or whatever but you guys don’t really need a ton of money to do this, you just need to be patient, so my advice for you is just be patient. Right? I mean this is just gonna get bigger and bigger, and it’s all about quality because with these sites, the thing is it’s like building a fire. You don’t want to get like a bunch of gasoline and throw it onto a bunch of big logs and just flare up and you have charred logs afterwards. You want to burn this nice and slow, get the sort of core membership going crazy, which it seems like you’re doing and people really want to get in here. Is that the marketing strategy Dan?


DAN: That’s exactly right, and so you know we have a couple of ways to do that type of thing, just inviting key users and watching who they invite and having them invite their friends, getting bits of press hit now and then so people are kind of asking us for invites. So yeah, the idea is to like let this thing go and you know what people they’re just having a great time doing it and it’s been spreading exactly how it should so we just wanna let that go.


JASON: Have you been in like the New York Times yet or the Wall Street Journal?


DAN: No, I mean we’re kind of trying to avoid that kind of press because it’s not valuable to us in terms of building our user base. Those aren’t really the type of people who are going to use the service so we don’t really want a lot of people who are like onlookers and bystanders. We want people who are actually going to play with the site and use it.


JASON: Right, right I got it.


DAN: So you haven’t gotten a ton of press yet, I’m guaranteeing right now… Tyler, I’m good at this, I’m telling you when something’s gonna hit. Next year. The story of 2008, you heard it here. Twitter, Genie, Iminlikewithyou.


TYLER: So we better get an agreement from Dan to re-appear next year.


JASON: Yeah, Dan, listen, I’m interviewing you now when nobody goes what’s going on. Don’t get all high and mighty a year from now when you get bought by Yahoo!, or Myspace, and you don’t got the time to be on CalacanisCast okay? Seriously dude, this thing is dope, like anything else, God is in the details, it’s all about execution, the people who listen to this show tend to be entrepreneurs and stuff and I’ll tell you something right here, these guys have got it exactly right.


JASON: These guys care about three things. Product, product, and you probably guessed the third thing, the product. The product is really well thought out, like every page in the system, it’s sort of like Kurosawa, what they say about him like not a wasted frame, everything meant something. When I see this I see like a Kurosawa film, it’s really, extremely well designed that nothing is wasted, it’s a beautiful site and you don’t see enough of that. Everybody’s trying to do too much, you know? Technorati is the perfect example. It was great at Blog search and then they bolted every non-sensible feature that-you-don’t-want on to it, and they corrupted the whole thing. This is like 100 percent pure.


DAN: Well also, think of who our user base is. Like, we’re not targeting tech nerds like me who sit around and can figure out like crazy. If you can use Microsoft Outlook, than you are too far advanced a user for us right? That’s the most confusing piece of software ever made. We’re targeting people who are just hanging out on the web, it’s not what they do all the time it maybe isn’t even their job so it has to be simple enough for them to use that they can kind of get in and not feel scared.


JASON: That’s a great analogy because I still haven’t figured out Outlook. I’m still the guy who uses Outlook Express. I’ve been using Outlook Express forever because I don’t know what this contact thing is and like to do lists and meetings I just wanted to do e-mail you know? And why does each e-mail message have to be six lines long, can’t it just be one line? There’s no blow-ware here. It’s a gorgeous design. How did you come up with the name?


DAN: We were just sitting around and we were talking about how it’s like one of the things you say when you can’t explain what feeling you have for somebody is. We’ve been going on a couple of dates, it’s like not too serious, but maybe it will be in the future I don’t know like what do you call this, so…


JASON: Well, it’s kind of like what I’ve told Tyler over the last couple of weeks as him being the producer of CalacanisCast I like him a lot. Alright Dan. So there you have it. Iminlikewithyou.com the site is really dope, people cannot get an invite right now, but Dan you’re gonna give me like 20 invites in the system so I can invite people or something? Cause you know I’m a married guy, I can’t be out there like flirting with girls on this thing, I’m gonna have to limit myself to reverse homophobic setting. I should probably list myself as a gay guy because I’ll get in less trouble with my wife. My wife logged on to to my Myspace page and that was like a 45 minute discussion, she was like who are all these people I’m like I have no idea I just accept everybody.


DAN: I think you should just make your profile, put it out there, and start fishing to see what you catch.


JASON: Yeah I’m gonna catch myself into like a three-hour discussion with my wife about how come like Bambi wants to play games with me on the system. What’s good about it is like none of the stuff is public right? You can’t surf the site so you have no pages in Google except for the main page.


DAN: Correct.


JASON: Yeah, that’s kind of cool. LinkedIN has this whole conundrum at LinkdIN ‘cause with you guys I feel sort of like a LinkedIN sort of vibe too in terms of LinkedIN has a high high quality, no fake astro-turfing stuff in there, but now they have this big decision time like okay they started with non-public profiles now they are letting people put public profiles out there. They’re getting the Google traffic, but of course then you’re going to put less information maybe or think about it, you can act a little freer in here with it.


DAN: Actually misspoke a little bit before we do allow people to see game pages right now for the purposes of sort of advertising things. So you can see a single game, but you can’t navigate away from the game.


JASON: Right, so the game pages are exposed so you can…I don’t know, you might even want to close those off.


DAN: Well, I’ll tell you though… We have this idea, right, which it’s not so much about meeting your perfect person. Part of it is about the thrill of the chase and seeing whose out there and part of it is just about entertainment. So, we really just want this at the end of the day to be a good time. Whether you met somebody or whether it was just fun to surf around and bid on people and see how it goes, it’s okay for it just to be entertainment and so to that end we will probably unlock the viewing of the pages so you can kind of view profiles and view games, but you still can’t get into the system, you wont go to make a user, you wont go to bid.


DAN: And I think we’ll make things more public in the future because part of what we want to do is just provide entertainment and it’s okay that it’s out there because if you look at our userbace and you think about who we are and we use the site and who we’re targeting, these are people who are pretty extroverted right? I mean, you’ve already got your own Myspace page, you’ve already got some other pages, all your photos are out there on the internet anyway so we’re just providing you a much more entertaining way to present yourself, but I don’t think it’s so important to keep the whole thing locked down and private forever.


JASON: That’s interesting. I guess these young people they just live so publicly about all this kind of stuff, it’d be interesting to see, you probably know best. You’re the entrepreneur and you’re doing it. Hey, check it out, Mikipedia is on here, she works at Revver right? Yeah, she’s the Revver girl. We had the CEO of Revver on the program, he’s a smart guy. We should have Mikipedia on the program like a couple of video bloggers. That’s what we’ll do, when ______is in town we’ll have like a video blogging roundtable.


JASON: Alright Dan, this is awesome, I think you guys are doing kick ass stuff and thank so much for coming on the program.


DAN: Thanks for checking it out.


JASON: Alright man, I’ll hit you when I’m in New York, maybe we could grab a drink or something.


DAN: Okay cool.


JASON: Alright man, be cool, congratulations this is awesome.


DAN: Alright, so this is time for the post banter.


TYLER: Right.


DAN: Tyler, you could put the microphone on yourself. Everybody’s complaining in the comments that you don’t go on microphone, but I tell everybody what am I supposed to do spend thirty bucks on a microphone for dial up? This microphone cost a thousand dollars for me. If I buy Tyler a microphone that would be like $1030 dollars so increase the cost of the entire program by 3 percent. We gotta stay focused and eyes on the prize. So what do you think of the site dude?


TYLER: It very much reminds me of Tokyo stuff you see in Asia and the way that the entrepreneurs there they just approach it from a different angle, they are trying to solve different problems in a different way and it’s awesome to see it come this way, additionally it’s like you touched on it for a second, it does kind of pick up where Myspace left off in a way. Especially for the people who started Myspace, you know I consider myself one of the early adapters, we’re tired of it.


JASON: Adapters or Adopters?


TYLER: Adopters.


JASON: Early Adapters, that in some ways…oh rim shot! Oh!


TYLER: I think this is what we’re gravitating towards.


JASON: You know what’s interesting too is if you ever want to know how to build a really good business take the biggest business out there, this is a little test I use sometimes. Pick whatever’s a great, great business and look at whatever their weakness is and then see if you can come up with a creative way to solve their weakness, and even if it’s a tiny small thing you might be able to build something out of it. What’s an example of that, well Apple’s a good example of that I guess or what’s Apple’s weakness? Apple’s weakness is that they have a closed proprietary hardware system. The way you can fight closed proprietary hardware systems is to make an open system.


TYLER: They had an open system years ago.


JASON: Which is what Microsoft became so if you flip it, you know, what is like if you were gonna try to break Microsoft Office, what is Microsoft Office’s weak point? I’ll tell you, but you might think of it in a second.


TYLER: It doesn’t translate to the web very well.


JASON: No, that’s not really a problem.


TYLER: Well nowadays it is. It wasn’t such earlier on.


JASON: The problem with Microsoft Office is that it costs a lot of money.


TYLER: Okay.


JASON: That’s really the big problem. Alright, a weakness. Luckily we haven’t said your last name on the program or you’d have like federal agents at your house.


TYLER: I’m saying maybe I’m working somewhere that’s part of…


JASON: Oh, I see, not that you downloaded off of the pirate bay. Nobody here has every stolen…haha. I worked in IT where they had one copy of Office for like 300 people! They were like, the serial number for like Office would be on the wall! It would be like one of those apartment hunting things with strips at the bottom where you just rip off the tab. Yeah but it’s like 300 bucks! So if you’re Google and you really want to stick it to Microsoft what do you do? BOOM! You…


TYLER: You make it free…


JASON: You make it free. And that’s what’s been done. Now if Microsoft wants to stick it to Google, what’s Google’s big weakness? AdSense. They make all their money as a commission on sales. I was running Microsoft and I was my typical insane aggressive self, I would make a marketplace like AdSense, and I would say, “we are only going to take one or two percent commission”. Right now I think on average, Google makes twenty-five cents or thirty-five cents of every dollar. Microsoft should just come in and say, “we’re gonna have a system where we only make two percent, so all of you people who are running sites like outsourcing the management with AdSense, make a really uber cheap AdSense for the next ten years the rates are going to be one percent guaranteed.” That’s it, and after that we’ll figure it out. We may to increase it but we’ll do it as a loss-leader or break even and man, New York Times might go, “why are we running AdSense?” We’ll tell all the people to go to Microsoft Ad Center we keep 99 cents of every dollar and then Microsoft can say yeah they can spend on Microsoft search engines and Microsoft Office as well and people would leave Google AdSense.


JASON: There’s a lot of advertisers who would, a lot of publishers who would be drawn to that, especially if you buy direct. Which I think actually is another that Google doesn’t tell you how much, they weren’t telling you a lot of information it wasn’t very transparent so if you wanna, there are other people who are doing transparent Google AdSense in Marketplaces telling you the exact percentage you get. It’s just a good, like Iminlikewithyou looked at those existing big companies, so if you’re an entrepreneur out there look at a big company, figure out their biggest weakness and then just pour salt in the wound and rub it and punch it. It’s like when you have a boxing match and the guy starts bleeding. Like, ever see the guy comes out in the next round and then just punches him where he’s bleeding, you just keep punching until the eye swells up so much the guy can’t even be in the fight anymore. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.


TYLER: It’s kind of like when you and I play pool.


JASON: It’s like when you and I play pool. When you try to do the no-look shot.


TYLER: We’re gonna leave that outta here!


JASON: Leave the no look shot! And miss! And then I went up, hit three balls in a row, did the no look and sunk the 8-ball and won your twenty bucks. I mean you still thinking about that twenty bucks?


TYLER: It’s not the twenty bucks I’m worry about.


JASON: You’re still feeling that loss though. It hurt. And it was in front of like ten people, it still hurts.


TYLER: It still hurts.


JASON: It still hurts. We’re gonna have a rematch and we’re gonna videotape the rematch.


TYLER: I had to change my email to itstillhurts@gmail.


JASON: So this is a great CalicanisCast. I like this format of showing the site, I’m interested to see how it comes out. When you do the site and you look at it, try it close up a little bit, so when they do it on their Ipods they can see it.


TYLER: This is perfect for people who say check out my thing, check out my thing, check out my thing, this is the perfect thing as an example of…


JASON: Also cause they can’t get in to see it. That’s another thing you know, they have to get a membership so maybe they can’t see the membership. Actually, we could do ASmall World, cause most people can’t get into a small world unless you’re an Elitist like myself, you can’t get into ASmall World, but I have ASmall World account.


TYLER: We’re gonna do Jenny or Geni.


JASON: Geni is awesome. G-e-n-i. Have like three members of my family filling out the tree, I get like e-mails every day. My great, great grandparents are now on Geni because my mom filled out…


TYLER: Wait, Great-great grandparents, you don’t mean they’re alive on the thing.


JASON: Yeah, re-animated, Geni brings people back to life you didn’t know that? That’s why it’s worth $100 million dollar evaluation. It’s not a coincidence. My mom, is actually using it and she put in her great grandparents which are actually my great-great grandparents I have no idea who they were I still don’t, we don’t have very many pictures of them, but…it’s great for CalicanisCast, put the ad in the front I’ll do the ad in the back, thank you so much to Podtech, Podtech, Podtech.net. 24 episodes, we’re halfway through the fifty show run almost and to Go Daddy. Go Daddy, Go Daddy, Go Daddy. GO DADDY is the greatest register, I’m looking right in the camera, GO DADDY is the greatest registrar in the history of domain names. Network Solutions forget them. I shouldn’t disparage competitors.


TYLER: Unless you like paying five times as much.


JASON: Unless you like paying five times as much for a domain name, why wouldn’t you use GoDaddy. Use GoDaddy. Use the Jason 1 code, J-A-S-O-N 1. You get a discount on almost everything. I think there’s some services you don’t. There’s a Jason 2 code and a Jason 3 code. Each one does some things. You need to ask Podtech what the three different codes do. I know Jason 1 is the ten percent off code cause I use that code! I actually use it myself, I put in my own code when I order. So, go order domain names, use the Jason 1 code on Go Daddy and we’re gonna do a thing where, cause you know all the sponsorship money from here goes to Bay Ridge Preparatory Schools opportunity fund which helps put disadvantaged kids into private school and help change their whole lives, it’s totally awesome.


JASON: We’re gonna have like a thousand dollar donation program where if you donate a thousand bucks, I’m going to Bay Ridge Preparatory School in Brooklyn and I’m gonna say a thank you on the air like this, Tyler if you had a thousand dollars. Fat chance, but…if we play some more pool maybe. And you give a thousand dollars I’ll thank you here. Thank you for giving a thousand dollars to Bay Ridge Prep, I’m gonna thank you in my Blog, on the Blog post you can write a thank you and then on Twitter, I’m gonna send a thank you to like 1,500 people on Twitter, thanks to Tyler URL.


TYLER: Who was it recently?


JASON: Shellen did it, I said the first person who donated a hundred dollars to AFF I’m going to thank them on Twitter and Jason Shellen donated to it, he sent me the receipt and I said thanks to Jason Shellen I put his URL. Pretty funny, right? Media Philanthropy. I tried to get that going.


TYLER: Micro Philanthropy.


JASON: No, Media Philanthropy. You know I come up with a lot of buzz words and like one out of five sticks: fatblogging stuck. This stuck. Media Philanthropy we’d like to get that going.


JASON: OK, see you everybody next time.

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