A letter I wrote to our programmer’s grandfather.

To run a start up, the leader has to make sure everything in peoples’ lives are going well. Working in a startup is not a career, it is a lifestyle. You count the hours you don’t work, and you live and breathe your products. For this reason, my job is not only to make sure everyone has a fulfilling and meaningful career, but also a fulfilling and meaningful lifestyle. Even when the business is going well in every way, personal issues become some of the the toughest challenges in a start up. Family members usually never support working at a startup due to the high risk and initial low compensation, and they give a lot of pressure to startup people, as if there are not enough problems already. In this case, I wrote to our programmer’s grandfather and hope he would approval of what we are doing.

Hello Mr [omit],

How are you doing? I hope life is treating you well! I noticed that Steven has not responded to your email for awhile, so I said he should email you, and then I thought it would be a good idea for me to write you an email too, since that might make you more comfortable with what he is doing here. I felt bad a month and a half ago when Steven told me that he realizes you are visiting him from Aspen and would miss him. During that time, I have actually just returned to CA from Aspen too. I was invited to help out at a conference “Selling without Selling Out: CEOs of socially responsible companies that are bought out by internationals” (I’m just a helper and do not qualify for that title). I got to meet the founders/CEOs of Ben & Jerry’s, Odwalla, Dagoba Chocalate, and a few other great people on a very intimate level, and I have learned a great lot there. Aspen is a great place to be, and if I had known earlier, I would have paid you a visit too there! (assuming you welcomed that obviously)

Future Delivery plans to develop a continous and long term relationship with Steven. Steven and I were good buddies from awhile back. We went to the same high school quite awhile ago. I used to teach him chess and take him to chess tournaments, as well as worked very hard to prevent him from failing Forensics class. It wasn’t a subject that he cared to put much time into, haha. After going to college (UCLA), I became an entrepreneur, and have spent every hour of my spare time trying to build good businesses that make a positive impact in society. Before I gradauted, I conceptualized the concept of converting a virtual world (usually used for gaming and escapism) into a professional tool where people can do business and find jobs in. Essentially, it is a game where, the more hours you spend on it, the more productive you are (our company motto is combine work and play in every single way). The concept is appealing in the sense that we recruited some top talents in the industry, including our CTO, who is a senior engineer in Toshiba, holds 24 patents, teaches at UC Irvine, and was the first employee for Xerox in China. We also put together a very strong board of advisors, including the founder of Google Adsense, the founder of the Google Earth company, the lawyer who worked on the News Corp – Myspace aquisition, and the accountant who worked on the eBay-Skype aquisition.

While I’m building the business, I kept in touch with my high school friends. Steven and others were extremely interested in the project we were doing, and were interested in helping out. Good programmers are always looking for good projects to work on. I heard that Steven, along with Mike and Tony, were very good programmers, and I thought of something that is very intriguing. When I tell the Californian folks that I am from Kansas, they all say it is very random. I thought it would be quite awesome if we formed a Blue Valley team that would become famous when the company starts to make a big impact. The goal is to have it so that, a decade later, when people hear about Kansas, the first things they think about are Jay Hawks, Oz, and Blue Valley. Working with old friends are obviously very fun too. So even though we had a lot of resources and talented people here in California, I invited them to come, and tour around CA too. I’m sure you will agree that travelling and learning from different places and cultures are invaluable experiences that school can never install in you.

So here they are working at our Summer internship. Because of the low resource and nature of the startup, we declared very early before they agreed that they won’t be paid a wage. They came here purely for the fun and challenging project, experience, and seeing CA (besides Steven I would say). After they came, I decided to give them each 5,000 amount of stock options, which may or may not be valuable in the future. Since we plan to build a longterm and continous relationship with Steven, later on we will defintely pay him in the future when we have the resources. Right now we all are at an apartment work station close to UCLA, and half of it is for sleeping, a quarter of it is the work place, and a quarter of it is the gaming place. Right now me, Tony, Steven, Mike, and another person name Chan live here. Besides Chan, we are all from the same high school. Mike goes to UI-Urbana Chapagn (the 4th best school in computer science), and Tony goes to KU. I try my hardest in making sure they have a good environment and are having fun here (which is what the company stands for). I cover their living costs, cook for them, do their dishes, do their laundary, and take them to places. I also sponsored accupressue massages for them. We’re all here to have fun, do good work, and make life more meaningful.

As for the hours, Steven pretty much does everything on his own hours. He would sit in front of his computer, work, surf the net, play games, work a bit, and then go and play video games. It seems like he’s only interested in his computer, video games, and eating. Everyone here plays video games freely, and since I know Steven has an ingrained interest in getting the codes to work, I don’t really monitor much. He’ll do it if it is work that he likes. I’m not sure if that answers your question.

Finally, I did make plans to take them to a lot of places around Southeran California, including famous beaches, Disney Land, Universal Studios, Getty Center and such. However, it seems that Steven and Mike are not interested in going anywhere. Only Tony is excited to go to places. I didn’t want to force them to spend money and go to places that they don’t want to go, so I often let them stay home and play video games and sometimes only Tony goes to certain places. Steven and Mike are really the type that prefer to sit in front of their computers or play video games. However, I did emphasize that being outdoors is important, and made them go out and play basketball once. That is when I realized Steven never played it before and does not even know the rules. Mike also felt it was torture. I also promote walking whenever we can, instead of driving. At this point, I’ve only been able to show Steven Chinatown, Korea Town, Hollywood, Walk of Stars, Chinese Theater, Disney Concert Hall and the UCLA campus. He says that since you suggest it, we can go to the Getty Center to take a look (it is just 10 minutes away). I hope I can take him to more fun places, but it probably depends on his consent.

That pretty much sums up how his life has been here in Los Angeles. I hope I addressed most of your concerns, and feel free to ask more. I know the email is pretty long so I do thank you for reading all of it. I thought it is something that is important in your mind, so I decided to elaborate more on it. I know that you would still like to talk to Steven, so I suggested him to call you in the near future. I think he will do so soon. Anyway, I hope you have a great week, and that you will be successful in every activity you engage in!

With Sincerity and Respect,
Yu-kai Chou
Future Delivery
Tel: 323.633.8323
Fax: 866.734.3124″

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