I love that this happened on the last day of the week on the last day of the month before the Xanga fundraiser deadline. I make New Year’s resolutions every year. I like apt timing.
@roadlesstaken interviewed John on his radio show tonight, live. I’m not great at transcription. I’m more into summaries and interpretations, which is why I ended up in appellate law and not court reporting. In appellate law we can take the raw material and twist it pretty much however we want. Just kidding. We totally don’t do that. Okay, we kinda do that.
I listened to the whole show. John hit the following subjects in roughly this order: his own experience meeting his wife on Xanga and co-founding Xanga in 1999/2000 (so cute); the names of the current Xanga members and their general area of expertise (Mark, Justin, Eugenia, Bob, and Dan); his dedication to Xanga (loves it); his feelings about what the users have perceived as a lack of communication (the team has been really busy, knee-deep in code, etcetera); his motivation for continuing Xanga (love); the fundraiser (more on that later); his vision for Xanga 2.0 (community, simplicity, privacy); the details of transfer for current Xanga members to Xanga 2.0 (you’re a Xangan 2.0 like it or not if you’re a current premium member. The rest of you should archive but he might transfer your data if time/money/headaches allow). He said the word “community” a lot, haha. I thought about counting how many times but decided that might sound petty or nitpicky, and I am neither petty nor nitpicky. I just notice funny things, particularly in presentations, because I’ve argued a lot of cases.
As always, Alex did a great job.
John made the following two curious points in close succession: first, he said he wanted to dispel any ideas that Xanga is just a hobby he runs out of his basement. He said he works on Xanga full-time, along with two of the other Xanga Team members, Justin and Eugenia. But second, he said he hasn’t taken a salary in years.
First let me say, John sounded genuine and serious and I have no reason to disbelieve anything he said. I don’t disbelieve him. I just want to be clear about that. He seemed like a very nice guy and his two babies in the background sounded adorable, if fussy. Ah, babies. Don’t miss those days.
So although I don’t disbelieve him, I am still mystified by the idea of holding a fundraiser for a business that I don’t expect to get paid for running.
I tried to imagine what reasons I might have for doing such a thing, and I could only come up with a few possible reasons: 1) I’m a SAHD but I need meaningful work and I don’t care if I make any money as long as I don’t go insane taking care of kids all day; 2) I’m a SAHD but I need meaningful work and also my spouse makes quite a bit of jack and my business losses are an indispensable part of our tax-planning toolkit; 3) I was born independently wealthy and remain independently wealthy (i.e., I am Prince Harry or Paris Hilton) so I don’t ever need to make a dime and can afford working full-time at something I love; 4) I make a distinction between “salary” and “profits from my business;” or 5) ——-???
If you’re thinking: 1) why do you care; or 2) why is it any of your fucking business, I think I can answer both of those questions at once:
John and others at Xanga have pleaded with me as a user and a community-member to “donate,” “give,” and/or “save” Xanga by pledging money for a paid blogging model.
Fundraising, in my limited experience, is not something one ordinarily encounters in a for-profit business. Fundraising is usually something one encounters in a non-profit setting or on a personal basis. In a for-profit business, money is ordinarily raised by a) selling something; or b) finding investors.
In this situation, I would not be an investor, that much is clear. No shares of Xanga are offered on Kickstarter. I might be buying something, although in my particular case, as a paid Lifetime Premium user whose account is going to be honored per John at Xanga 2.0, I would merely be donating. Or potentially purchasing a membership for a friend.
The question was asked, “how many pledges do you need, how many paying users do you need to attract, to be certain you can run the new site for a year?”
Good question, right? Because, I mean, if you’re buying something, and what you’re buying is a membership for a year, you want to be certain the site will be running in one year.
Answer: that’s really tricky. Fundraisers are different from a paid model. Many people have been very generous and as long as some people seem willing to help and support blah blah community value feeling friendship blah blah.
So, I mean, this is the crux of my confusion about John’s relationship to his business. Presumably, if he works at it full-time, and he considers it a business and a calling and a permanent job, he would like to earn a salary from it one day. I don’t know. That’s just speculation, I suppose. I have no idea whether this is true, but I suspect Mark Zuckerburg does not work for free. I mean, I don’t know. Admittedly. I actually have no idea.
On the other hand, if it’s a non-profit type thing, if John is an artist, for example, and Xanga is his art, and we’re donating as his biggest fans and the living part of his living art, well, okay. That makes sense in its own way.
John seemed to be saying, during this podcast, that $60,000 isn’t really enough to run the site for a year and it’s difficult or impossible to make money off community sites and he seemed to be saying that he never expects to make any money off the site. Yet he also seems to be saying that Xanga 2.0 is a done deal in his mind and he considers it his full-time job.
He said he is confident and optimistic about the fundraiser. I find this a tiny bit mystifying too, but then again, I know nothing about online fundraising.
Years ago I met a group of people on a public message board run by a corporation. 30 of us really hit it off. We met a guy, sight unseen, on the site, and he offered to host a private message board for the thirty of us. It was a completely closed off garden for us to chat every day, not much in the way of features, but plenty of community and privacy and simplicity. We all had to send him $5 a year for his costs and effort to keep our site online. I never met that guy. He seemed trustworthy. Some of my friends, the ones I had met, met him and liked him and trusted him. I’m FB friends with him now even though I left the site years ago.
So that model makes sense, in a lot of ways. I guess it even makes sense for a community of 200 or 300 people.
When he says community, does he mean me? I don’t know.
I suppose as a Lifetime Premium member I have three options to consider over the next fifteen days:
(1) I can donate however much money I choose to the cause of saving Xanga and rest easy knowing I’m set as a Xanga 2.0 member.
(2) I can keep my money and sit on my hands and hope that my community donates the rest of the money to save Xanga and rest easy knowing I’m set as a Xanga 2.0 member (but live with the guilt of being a freeloader).
(3) I can delete my email@example.com account on 7/15 and close this chapter in my life.