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Ars Digita and Ayn Rand


Is it just me, or is the whole Ars Digita story A LOT
LOT LOT LOT LOT like D'Anconia Copper in "Atlas Shrugged"?

In other words, is it possible that Greenspun trounced the company on purpose?

Matt H.
Monday, June 23, 2003

I thought so too, see last response in this topic:

http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=52028&ixReplies=14

mp
Monday, June 23, 2003

philip did trounce the company on purpose, but the reality was far from the conspiracy theory suggested on the other thread. he had a flash of inspiration that he could sue the VCs, and he did. the VCs did get screwed, but who cares? a couple other founders also got screwed, that is kind of sad. as for everyone else, they were largely a bunch of college students making $100K+ a year, so being "screwed" is a matter of perspective.

as a former arsdigitan who has worked another startup, i'm in agreement with the "What's the Big Deal about Arsdigita?" guy. sure it was fun, but not truly any different than any other dot com startup. i've always been kind of creeped out by random internet nerds who have this weird mythology about arsdigita. even joel's reverence creeps me out a bit, because as far as I know, he and philip have never met.

arsdigitan
Monday, June 23, 2003

Well, Greenspun claims he had no control.

But the actual act of control, putting Yoon
in charge, was done by Greenspun.  All
the while maintaining the facade that
he was not in control.

If the VCs were in control, how come they
had no say in who Greenspun appointed
to lead the critical s/w development,
on "the spur of the moment"?

Realizing that he had controlling stock
cannot be a "flash of inspiration", unless
Greenspun were much dumber than
he seems to be.  Somebody as smart
as Greenspun would certainly know all
the time how much stock he owns, and where
it puts him legally.

mp
Monday, June 23, 2003

The reason Ars Digita has a reputation is Greenspun's book. It's something like 600 pages long and neqrly every line of it is worth reading.

Restaurants go bust all the time but if Elizabeth David had opened one it would have been remembered long after the crumbs had been licked off the last plate.

Stephen Jones
Monday, June 23, 2003

So is your book better, or is Greenspun's?

mp
Monday, June 23, 2003

---"So is your book better, or is Greenspun's? "----

Sorry, I don't understand

Stephen Jones
Monday, June 23, 2003

This is not similiar to what D'Anconia did... Francisco destroyed the copper mines because he knew the government was going to nationalize it anyways.  Greenspun very voluntarily agreed to take onboard venture capital.  If there is any overriding theme of Rand's (absolutely brilliant) books, it is that one must live for themself, and create what one wants in the world.  Taking 38 million dollars of venture capital for an already profitable business does not exactly fall into that category.

mph
Monday, June 23, 2003

>Greenspun very voluntarily agreed to
>take onboard venture capital

I'm sure it could be rationalized like this:

1) The VC's were greedy, evil jerks that do not add value and try to take over businesses.  In other words, grifters or con men.

2) Conning a Con man is what they deserve.


----> Of course, I dunno.  With $20 in revenues at the height of the internet boom, he probably could have just sold the company outright for more than $8.6 million.  Then again, that would have been much less fun ...

(Anyone know how much aD was valued at back then? Eve speculated it had a valuation of 161 million - that's a P/E ratio of 161/1, which I think is overly high.  Then again, at the hieght of the dotcom boom, yahoo had a P/E of something like 1,000/1, while a whole lot of dotComs had a E that was negative ...)

regards,

Matt H.
Monday, June 23, 2003

we turned down a buyout offer from Oracle for $50M, when there were only about 40 employees. Sigh.

arsdigitan
Monday, June 23, 2003

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