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A Tale of Two WIGs

29 Nov

James Clark and Kristin Hinze

Here’s an interesting WIG story- I’m calling it A Tale of Two WIGS…

Once upon a  time there lived a girl called Kathy Clark. At a friend’s birthday in 2000, she meets a guy called Chad Hurley, who at the time worked as a designer for PayPal. They fall in love and get married. Fast forward 2 years, and PayPal gets bought out by eBay. Chad as one of the founding staff of eBay (he actually designed the eBay logo which still stands today)  gets a nice little payout. Not phenomenal amounts, but enough to buy himself a new Tag Heuer watch, and put some money aside for a new project (yet to be decided on). After bouncing around some ideas with PayPal buddies, Chad decides that he wants to set up an internet site that allows people to easily share videos with their friends online. So in 2005 he does. And he calls it YouTube. Nice huh? But the story doesn’t end there.

Fast forward four years to 2009, and a beautiful Australian model, Kristin Hinze, 28, is preparing to wed internet gazillionaire James Clark (Netscape founder) on Branson’s Necker Island (which also played host to Google founder Larry Page’s wedding).  If you are in to trashy TV, you might recognize Kristin Hinze’s name, because she is the presenter of Project Runway in Australia. But to be honest it would be more apt if she was presenting “10 years younger”, because that’s what she is…. Yes, she is 10 years younger than her now stepdaughter Kathy Clark  who is married to the co-founder of YouTube, Chad Hurley, and is the daughter of James Clark (get it now?!). Pretty complex so I will map it out for you.

WIG Central

Long story short, what the above map is showing you is a plethora of incredibly established multibillion dollar internet companies, a bunch of incredibly accomplished internet entrepreneurs, and bang in the centre of all, Kathy and Kristin.

Not a bad place to be huh? Nestled in the protective cushion of Google, AOL and eBay.

But actually, things become even more interesting/complex when you look back at the reported ease in which YouTube came in to existence. Hurley says that he got no help from father in law, James Clark, and that his wife merely “advised” him, but I find that very hard to believe given that her father-in-law basically owned the internet in the early naughties. So if the Clarks didn’t help Hurley out, how did YouTube become so successful so quickly? In a 2006 article with TIME magazine, Hurley attributes the success of YouTube in part to MySpace.

“The idea of a video version of HOTorNOT lasted only a couple of months. “It was too narrow,” says Chad. He notes that another early idea was to help people share videos for online auctions. But as the site went live in the spring of 2005, the founders realized that people were posting whatever videos they wanted. Many kids were linking to YouTube from their MySpace pages, and YouTube’s growth piggybacked on MySpace’s… In the end, we just sat back,” says Chad

I think it’s really interesting how YouTube managed to ride through the storm whilst MySpace crashed and burned in the wake of a competitor.

Final interesting observation about this whole ménage… it has been reported that Kathy Clark is a VERY private person. And surprise surprise I could find no pictures of her and Chad together on Google…  Oh but wait, isn’t her hubby a key Google stakeholder now that Google own eBay? Hmm..maybe ensuring her privacy was part of the buy-out deal.

Chad the fashionista...

In other news, Chad Hurley announced at the Founders Forum this October (great day out for a wannabe WIG by the way) that he is stepping down from his role as YouTube CEO. His next venture?  Drum roll please… fashion. Yup.  Are we sure he’s not a footballer??

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Great ‘Wannabe WIG’ Fodder…

27 Nov

October 10 issue of Wired - "Europe's Next Billion Dollar Start-ups"

… The October issue of Wired. It’s basically a dating directory for wannabe WIGs. But on a serious note, the cover story is a really interesting and optimistic look at the European internet start up scene, highlighting a plethora of  highly successful European internet companies.

Of the dozen or so entrepreneurs profiled, one that I think I will do some more research on is Kristian Segerstrale of Social Gaming company Playfish. Those outside of the gaming industry may not be aware of the company, or its founder and CEO, Segerstrale, but Facebook users will have no doubt come across the company’s most successful game, Pet Society, which for a long while was the most played game on Facebook.

Originally from Finland, Kristian is now a British citizen who studied at Cambridge, and then LSE. He’s only 33 and has already sold two companies (Playfish was sold to EA games in 2009).   He’s a pretty ambitious guy, and in the Wired article describes Playfish’s sale to EA as a covert “reverse takeover”. It’s fair to say that his future is bright.

So I know all the girls are dying to hear one thing …what about the WIG?

Phwoar...

To be continued…