November 06, 2003

Help Make Tony Rich

I signed up for the AlwaysOn Network blog a while back, and occasionally visit it to read the interviews. There are some VCs who hang out there, including some, like Draper, who like to solicit ideas from the suckers who signed up for AON (including me), as if they're really going to invest in something that's pitched to them publicly in a blog.

Today I got an email from AON founder Tony Perkins. You remember Tony, the "prominent opinion leader" and "pioneering media entrepreneur" who founded Red Herring magazine, the chronicle of the greedy 1990s? The publication is defunct now, died when the bubble burst. AON is what rose from the ashes.

What follows is the email Tony sent to the AON members today, with some between-the-lines interpretation thrown in, in a pale imitation of Bruce Sterling's Viridian Notes commentary.

Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2003 14:01:57 -0800
Subject: Help AO write a book on Google

Googling Google


I have just decided to write a book about Google. When I finished my last book, The Internet Bubble, with my brother Michael, I can remember thinking, "Damn! I'll never do that again!"

I smell money. I want you to help me make more money. Google is the way I'm going to make money.

Writing a book is a very painful experience. And frankly, the only way I can pull this off under a tight deadline (I want it out before Google goes public), is to write it with AlwaysOn members.

Writing a book is so painful, I find it easier if someone else does all the hard work. So I'm asking you, members of the AlwaysOn network, to give me all of your ideas.

As the folks who have been following AlwaysOn know, we believe that our competitive advantage is you. While John Markoff of the New York Times and David Kirkpatrick of Fortune may have bigger Rolodexes, and while they may often have better access to sources, we have thousands of members we can turn to get the real inside track. And that's who I'm counting on.

The only thing more impressive than a big bank account is a big Rolodex. But we can beat those journalists by using the power of the network. Just imagine. If every AlwaysOn member gets five friends to find something out about Google, and each of those five people get five friends, and so on, we can have 100,000 sources for this Google book! Of course, only I will get paid when it sells a mllion copies.

Before I tell you how you can help, you might wonder, Why a book on Google?

Actually, if you're an AlwaysOn member, you're not wondering at all, are you. You know full well that a book on Google that comes out right around the time of the Google IPO is a great way for an outsider to ride the Google bandwagon and cash in on what's going to be the greatest Internet party since Netscape IPO'ed back in August 1995.

First, I think Google is a great portrait of how the American dream is playing out in this century. Two Stanford students build a better mousetrap, attract top-tier VCs, recruit an incredible CEO, develop a unique business model, and help reinvent Silicon Valley all over again.

If I suck up to the Google execs now, maybe they'll grant me an interview.

This in itself is a great story, but there is much, much more.

And I'm counting on you to tell me everything.

Having reached a billion dollars in revenues, Google now sits in the sights of the most powerful and crafty competitors on the planet: Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, and the Almighty Microsoft.

Wow. A billion dollars. Drool. I wish I could have some of that. Wait. I can! With your help I can!!!

My inside sources tell me that Microsoft recently offered $10 billion to buy Google, and the boys said no way. Bankers I know say that they are looking to fetch an $18 billion IPO valuation, so who needs Microsoft, right? We will see. And that is why this book needs to be written.

Okay, so my inside sources are the same as everyone else's: Slashdot and CNET News and the New York Times and Yahoo News. But, dammit, this book needs to be written because it's going to sell really well no matter how good it is. Maybe Google will include it in the prospectus! Wouldn't that be cool! We will see.

It will also be fun to examine the forces behind Google's IPO. Did you know that Andy Bechtolsheim (Sun Microsystems co-founder) gave the Google boys a $100,000 investment before they even named the company? Just think how much money he is going to make on the deal. Did you know that the company's two primary investors, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, still own 9% of the company? Each. It doesn't take a person smart enough to work at Google to do the math on how much these stakes are going to be worth after an $18 billion IPO.

Dammit! If ONLY I'd given $100 to Larry and Sergey back in the day, I'd be RICH next year. Can you imagine what $100 in 1997 Googlebux would be worth in 2004? Fortune beyond your imagination, that's what! God, to have 9% of the company. That is so totally awesome. Those dudes are going to be filthy rich. Wait! They're already filthy rich! Even more awesome!

As we say in the world of journalism, "This is a story that needs to be told."

As we say in Silicon Valley, "There's never enough money. Make more."

And why, you might ask, should we be the ones to write this book? Because the last time I was hanging out with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, he once again reiterated that the interview series he did with AlwaysOn was the best he'd ever done. We're the right scribes for the job.

Why should we be the ones to write this book? Because nobody else smells money sooner or hypes a tech company faster than the people who founded Red Herring. And we can make Eric and the rest of the boys look good in print. Which will be important to helping them get that $18 billion valuation. Hell, why stop at $18 billion! Let's shoot for $100 billion and break the record!

My hope, and my advice to Google, is to wait until August to go public. But given that the company has been actively talking to bankers, the IPO could be as early as January.

I'm an important player in Silicon Valley. Why, I've hung out with Eric Schmidt. I've got cred! And I still haven't washed my hand since I shook his. He trusts what I have to say. So when I give advice that Google wait until August 2004 to go public, just you watch and see. They'll wait. After all, that's what I advised. And besides, it gives me more time to get the book out the door. But if the IPO is as early as January, we'll be ready. As long as you help me write this book.

Either way, we have lots of work to do. So how about it? Watch for my regular posts, and let's make this happen.

No pain, no gain. And I want to gain. With your pain, I'll gain.

Note to members: AO members are encouraged to post their thoughts and reflections on what I write in this ongoing blog on Google. The goal is to work with AO members to write a book that gets published before Google goes public. If you have a really juicy scoop, please email it to This email will only be read by me, and I promise to keep whatever you send to me in complete confidence unless you advise otherwise. Those members who either post or e-mail me inside information that I end up using in the book will be listed as contributing editors in the Acknowledgements section of the book.

In fact, if you act now, I'll include a FREE AlwaysOn t-shirt (size X SMALL, M SMALL, or SMALL) and you'll have my everlasting gratitude. Together, we can make me a boatload of money cashing in on Google's IPO!

Tony Perkins

Posted by brian at November 6, 2003 08:44 PM


Brian, I hope Tony takes note and throws in some sushi parties. I've got just the caterer in mind. Also, let's lobby Tony to closely follow the outcome of the Google IPO to see if it pays off for the early birds who jump on the wagon upon IPO release and public sale.

Posted by: Chuck Bennett at November 12, 2003 02:19 PM

I think Brian is right. I read Tony's Google plea and had similar thoughts of how gullible he thinks his readers are. I do give extra credit for the timing though, even a bad book should print money during on this one.

My suggestion is that he should split the projects content into two tracks. On the one side he should open-source "GoogleTales" while creating a shadow site to monitor the IPO and related Google opinion.

The second track would accept chapter and content ideas in rough form resulting in an open selection of co-authors and a rev share for the selected stories/talent.

Begging for content may raise Tony's traffic, but in the end I think his PageRank will suffer.

Posted by: robert reddick at November 14, 2003 06:39 AM

I know Tony and it is not just because he is a friend that I respond to your unusual approach to his idea. All books today stand on the shoulders of those who have written before them.

I am using most of the words that Shakespeare, Dryden, Robert Frost and you yourself use. We borrow, we reinterpret and we cull from our fellow writers all our ideas. For you to suggest that this is money play or a way to rub shoulders with titans is an indication that you don’t know the man or understand the nature of the project. Have you every seen the credits at the end of a big motion picture? These films are blogged into existence. If you think Tony’s cut himself an easy task you are misunderstanding the level of difficulty You write a book and you put it out there and you become a target for those who think your work is great or think your work is another piece of crap on the sidewalk on their way to an expense account lunch just after they have dropped off 8 form letters to authors telling them “your stuff stinks.”

With respect I want to tell you that this is not and easy, a safe nor a necessarily very profitable thing Tony is doing. It is one thing to judge a book by its cover it is another to judge it before it has been written. You are probably a perfectly nice guy but I believe you missed the mark with your comments.

Posted by: jamis macniven at January 23, 2004 04:06 PM

I stand by the comments. The letter sent out to AlwaysOn members was sleazy and reeks of good old Silicon Valley greed. I was attacking the letter, not the book, by the way.

Posted by: Brian Dear at January 26, 2004 06:22 PM

Niccceee pagee

Posted by: Meban at February 20, 2004 04:55 AM

Respected Brother
It is stated that I am married man having two little children. I am jobless last 13 months and I send many applications to different government offices for job but there is no response from them my wife is disabled she lost her right leg in her childhood in road accident from hipjoint.and I am facing many crises I am only supporter of my family and currently not able to give my children two time meal.
Respected Brother I am sending you email without approach because I am not rich father’s son and don’t have any approach.
I need job to support my family. please sir made me rich or made me able to support my family brother I am needy person. I pray for you five times to my God for your long life and good health.
Yours Brother shakeel hussain

Posted by: shakeel at March 30, 2004 05:01 PM

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