Dear Cofounder of my Dreams,
I’m exhausted as I write this — it’s been another day where I only had 2 hours sleep (not even polyphasic). You’re at it as well, that I know. :)
You work hard, but know how to take the right kind of break to recharge efficiently and bountifully. You know who you are and have the ability to balance between bohemian hedonist and military drill sergeant, that fine path towards become takumi well before your time. You have the intense tenacity to get things done and yet you know how to let go when that needs to be.
You have an awareness of self that sometimes feels like an out of body experience, where you realize you are letting your emotions get to you, and you can both let yourself be fully present in the moment and also separate yourself from that, to see the greater picture and decide objectively. Despite psychological stackoverflows, you are able to debug yourself.
You conserve energy strategically: you know the difference between accomplishment and blindly spinning your wheels. You consistently achieve the right kind of exhaustion: actually getting something done vs trying really hard aimlessly. You are a child of modern times: you have explored the world, and yourself within via psychedelics. You understand that there is a difference between feeling good without bigger meaning or effect (so trivial. pop a pill. get high.) versus feeling good for successful execution in creating something that might be able to help people. You believe in a creative meritocracy because that was always the way you have functioned.
You are self-sufficient: you can solo solve your own deepest existential crisis, because you have been to the ends of your own universe and back.
I am unicorn startup or bust. I am 36 now, and I’ve been building software professionally since I was 12. I have survived the first .com bubble and built software platform on Flash, went away, did some crazy stuff like a brief sprint in bioengineering then physics grad school before Flash got killed, then came back to Second Life and returned to programming when Unity first got its funding to become big. I have in the last decade built a niche expertise for creating all sorts of augmented reality software platforms — beyond winning TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Grand Prize twice and myriad others, to projects that help other people’s startups get funded, elevate corporate innovation teams to promotions to winning coveted industry awards, such as SIGGRAPH Real-Time Live. I have gone big-company abstinence, and just can’t take working for someone else seriously. The startup comes first. I’ve decided to go child-free and post-relationships. (I have also been disowned by my Trump-supporting father, so am no longer indebted to them, the way an Asian daughter ought to be.) To make even more time for the startup, I am trying to minimize and ultimately grow free from the monetary shackles of client projects. I’m considering escaping San Francisco and California — my expensive habits on top of a cost of living that’s 5 or 10 times that of a typical US city.
You realize how much I have sacrificed, the sheer volume of work I have created, the potential of the platform, and have the experience and ability to execute on making business things happen. You are able to see the startup as your family, like a founder, and can make sure that the logistics are covered so that your team can focus on the startup — instead of needing to take on client projects, or worse, to have to sell your Daenerys to Drogo to make your own ends meet. When you raise or think of money, you think of the team and the project. Like me, you try to spend what you can for the startup, to get more done, be strategic, so that the company can grow. Even if it is just you doing everything. The hope still burns, even if the vision may be shrouded temporarily by logistical miasma.
For now, I often feel like I am Anakin Skywalker dumpster diving in opensource and fashioning obscure repo’s into magical software that has clear value prop that even private equity investors understand (though can’t seem to wrap their heads around how I build it all myself). You understand that there is something deeply magical, perhaps even a fundamental truth of the universe in Moore’s Law and the acceleration of computing towards becoming faster and more democratic — what once took a billion dollars and an army to program can now be done by a kid. You are someone whom I can trust, so that Anakin would not become Darth Vadar, and we would not be building the Death Star.
Even in the worst of times, you are able to see the universe as a friendly universe and thus pull yourself out of the abyss and even conjure up a metaphorical rocketship to a different plane of existence.
You can see through a facade, but not be judgmental about it. You see it as a construct in another being’s ability to interface with reality. You help whom you can, if it’s on the way or just a slight detour. You are charitable in sharing the wealth of insight, and savvy enough to convert it to an acceptable local currency of perception. You give the perfect advice that gets people where they want to go.
You are able to defy some laws of the universe, squeeze free time out of nothing, because you understand that goals are abstractions and that time can always be made up for. You have achieved omnipresence because you are always there for your team.
Somehow you know how to convey all this, eloquently, as if it is your aura. It’s evident in your actions, it echos in the way that you speak.
You are the amazing you. And somehow I have found you.
Of course you don’t exist, so I am for now amused and content in writing another letter to myself for why I have to be a solo founder.