I met Jad in San Francisco back in 2000, just as the first Internet dot-com era was coming to a close. At that time, Jad was organizing an entrepreneurial networking group called GreenHouseForStartups. He had moved out to San Francisco in 1999, after the Denver ISP he had founded was acquired. With his first win under his belt, Jad thought Silicon Valley would be the natural place for him to go next. While many other entrepreneurs (like me) in the bay area shared Jad's sentiments & optimism, unfortunately for him (and us) the plug was just about to get pulled on round 1 of the Internet boom. Still, we became fast friends and enjoyed sharing thoughts & conversations about the Next Big Idea and how we might get a new startup off the ground.
Jad spent a few years enduring the post-boom dot-com crash, and most of the money he'd earned from his first acquisition was put into 2-3 other ventures he hoped would turn into further successes. Alas, it was not to be. Times were tough in the valley, and Jad had no way of knowing the next boom was at least another 3-5 years off. Jad did make a name for himself rather famously by authoring a piece called 'Diary of a Failure' that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle in late 2001. With that he became a bit of a poster child for internet entrepreneurship, but i think he enjoyed the PR regardless. Although the article was pretty depressing -- believe me, it was a depressing time for ALL of us who stayed here through it -- still, Jad struck me as optimistic by nature and i was sure he'd bounce back in the future.
In 2001, Jad decided to switch gears and go back east, to try and make it as a writer in New York (or teacher? apologies if i'm getting any of the facts wrong here... i'm sprinkling some links to his writing during the time that may have more accurate details). He was in NYC when 9/11 occurred, and he wrote about that experience. For a short time he also thought about going to the Middle East to learn more about the challenges taking place there, but after thinking about it for awhile decided to stay in NY and became a math teacher.
Then in 2003, Jad got the itch to travel and see more of the world. Ever the entrepreneur, he decided China was the next big wave of opportunity, and so he moved to Liaoning to teach English. He also started writing a regular newsletter on his experiences in China which i found fascinating. it was interesting to hear about his interaction with a new culture, and his efforts to learn Chinese (language, culture, people). i occasionally would IM jad late at night and catchup with him. one time i helped another friend of his in China do some AdWords buys, to help drive traffic to a tourism site for the city he was staying in. he wrote some great stories and poems about the Chinese, and about color and women. i think he was really starting to get into the flow of China. i hope so, i really would like to think he was full of optimism again before he passed on.
I don't know if this short story captures the flavor of Jad, but i thought it important to write down what i remember. He was a good friend and a thoughtful person. He had wonderful ideas -- though some a bit far-fetched, but that's an entrepreneur for you. His creativity and writing were a joy, and they made me laugh, made me think. It's sad he passed on so young, because he had so much still to offer the world. But i hope he enjoyed as much of it as he could, and i know we all enjoyed Jad and our time with him.
So here's to Jad, aka TJ, aka TokyoJad -- my friend, fellow entrepreneur, cherished traveling companion on the road ahead.
Peace be with you my friend.
- Dave McClure Redwood City, California January 20, 2006
Lately i've been thinking a lot about how i measure my life and goals. Seems like the ruler i use has changed a lot in shape and size.
Perhaps it's because i haven't (yet?) attained some of the more outsized goals i had as a younger man... i'm sure to some extent that's true. I'd hate to think i ever "settled" for a lesser version of the younger me's dreams. But as you grow older, it's perhaps inevitable the gap between reality and desire closes one way or another.
And for those who at one time entertained thoughts of playing professional sports, founding a hugely successful company, becoming a grammy-winning rockstar, or winning a Nobel prize -- well, one day you may wake up and discover you're not quite the Michael Jordan you once thought. As the years pass, most folks either rationalize their achievements or downsize their goals. Very few choose to live with the actual gap, and the dissonance & dissatisfaction that may come from not changing the goal or the goalposts.
I still consider myself young at heart, but i'll be turning 40 this year. While i hope to end up a very old man someday, it's sobering to realize that by some projections my life could already be half over. Makes you wonder about the road you've been traveling, the map you've been following. Is there a greener destination ahead somewhere, or should i just be enjoying the journey? What's really important to me, material success or just spiritual enlightenment? In short: what will it take for me to be happy with the time i've spent breathing in the air?
Obviously these aren't simple questions, nor are they likely to have short or simple answers. But i do know that both questions & answers are a good bit different from 20 years ago when i was in college. I still have dreams of founding another company, of doing what i can to change the world for the better, but i also have more straightforward goals of raising a family and spending time with my wife & son -- hell, these days i'm pretty happy if i manage to get out & play a little ultimate frisbee and come home without an injury ;) Still, i hope some of my loftier aspirations haven't been completely downgraded. And perhaps i can say i've made a bit of progress towards a few of them. But being honest with yourself about where you started & where you stand isn't always an easy task.
This morning i happened across this piece about Allen Iverson. Like many men who border on "short" (with the right hat, i tell people i'm 5' 9"), i sometimes have a bit of a chip on my shoulder. When i play sports i probably try a bit too hard to show i'm just as good as the guys a few inches taller, and i pride myself on playing well and without fear. Guys like Iverson and Steve Nash have always been an inspiration to me, simply because they compete with other NBA players who might be a foot taller and outweigh them by more than 100 lbs. Yet they're stil fearless, even dominant at times. But this piece told a different story about Iverson, one that explains him getting better with age -- not to mention approaching the game with a different attitude, even a different set of values. What's interesting is that he describes much of the change in his perspective coming from his relationship with his kids, and how he would like that relationship to be in the future. I think maybe i'm starting to understand what that's about.
So i hope i'm making progress towards my goals, and also that i haven't reset those goalposts too much from when i was younger. And i do hope i've gotten a little better at the game i've chosen to play -- that is, entrepreneurship. But perhaps most importantly, i think i've started to realize i'm not just playing for myself anymore... i'm playing for a team called "family". And perhaps playing the game well is just as important as winning. Actually, scratch that -- playing well *is* winning.
well time to wrap up all this sappy introspection. i just heard the halftime buzzer, and i think i need to help change a diaper. see ya on the court...