Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
It would have been a long commute anyway. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
First off, I love this kind of story. It's sort of like the guy who wound up a billionaire (and the original CEO of Twitter) because he replied to a tweet in 2010.
Anyway, meet Brian Acton. (If you already know who he is and what his story is, don't ruin it for everyone else.) Exactly 13 years ago today, he posted this on Twitter:
Acton had been kind of a big deal in the Web 1.0 days. He graduated from Stanford and wound up an early employee at Yahoo. (Remember when Yahoo was the big thing?) He'd also been at Apple.
But, he'd lost a huge chunk of his fortune in the dotcom bust, around 2000 and 2001. I don't think he was broke, exactly; reports are that he took a year and traveled the world around 2007 or 2008.
Still, like a lot of us, he needed to work to live. But: No-go at Facebook.
And (posted a couple of months earlier, but it's easier for me to tell the story like this), he'd also been turned down at Twitter. Which he also documented, on Twitter:
He was 37 at the time, and he had no idea what was next. He toyed with a startup idea, but it wasn't going anywhere. And as Marc Cenedella wrote on Medium, he was. ...
...feeling a bit washed up. His 11 years as an early employee at Yahoo! was now two years in the past. He'd bounced from job to job in Silicon Valley's startup land ... It's kind of scary to be pushing 40 and feel like you're being pushed out the door.
But the most beautiful thing about Brian is the good grace and optimism with which he handled his rejection?--?
"It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life's next adventure." The hurt radiates from those 140 characters. And also a strength of character.
Setting aside the fact that neither you nor I believe that "pushing 40" is old (probably not Marc Cenedella either, as I have it on good authority he’s over 50), there's a fun happy ending to discuss here.
Acton went to work with an engineer named Jan Koum, with whom he'd been friends for years, since the two had worked for Yahoo together.
Acton got "the grand title of 'co-founder' and no salary for his efforts," as Cenedella points out--but the two became co-founders of WhatsApp.
Acton joined on in November 2009--three months after his Facebook interview. They launched officially in January 2010. Four years later, Facebook bought their company for $19 billion.
Acton's take? An estimated $3 billion at the time--although now for a variety of reasons he's only worth about $2.8 billion according to Forbes.
Anyway, I’ve ruminating on something lately, about how some people manage to handle rejection much better than others. It hit me first after Curt Scheier wrote about James Patterson last week, who said he wasn’t discouraged by getting 31 rejection letters—and having Stephen King call him “a terrible writer.”
There’s something worth mining there. Stay tuned.
Oh, and by the way, I'd be remiss not to repeat briefly the story of the other WhatsApp founder, Koum, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine at age 16, worked at a grocery store, and eventually dropped out of San Jose State University before working at Yahoo.
His stake in WhatsApp was even greater than Acton's. When he signed the paperwork from Facebook that would make him a billionaire by acquiring his company, he did so outside the welfare office where he used to get food stamps every month.
How's that for a happy ending?
7 other things worth your time
The website of Taiwan’s presidential office went dark Tuesday due to an alleged distributed denial-of-service attack, with other government websites also impacted. The attack took place hours ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The Chinese government threatened to take action to respond to the trip, and Taiwan is reportedly readying air raid shelters in anticipation of a potential Chinese attack. (Politico)
Hackers drained almost $200 million in cryptocurrency from Nomad, a tool that lets users swap tokens from one blockchain to another, in yet another attack highlighting weaknesses in the decentralized finance space. “We are aware of the incident involving the Nomad token bridge,” the startup tweeted. “We are currently investigating and will provide updates when we have them.” (CNBC)
Wikipedia has locked its page devoted to "recession," after hundreds of new users keep creating accounts to try and change the definition, as a public battle wages over whether America is in one right now. (Bloomberg)
Kansas voted not to change the state constitution to allow abortion restrictions. The Georgia Department of Revenue announced that in-state residents can claim embryos with a “detectable human heartbeat” as dependents on their taxes. And, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit arguing that Idaho's near-total abortion ban violates federal law. (NPR, The Hill, NBC News)
Airbnb said it's removing listings described as places where enslaved people in the U.S. once lived, following a viral TikTok video slamming a Mississippi property described as a "slave cabin." The property at the forefront of the controversy is the Panther Burn Cottage at the Belmont Plantation in Greenville, Mississippi. It is no longer listed on the site. (NBC News)
Ohio man goes viral after saying he quit his teaching job because he can make $12,000 a year more working at Walmart. Last year, he made $43,000 teaching in Ohio's Stark County. Now, he said he'll make $55,000 before bonuses at Walmart in Massillon, Ohio, as a stocking 2 coach, which includes ensuring delivery trucks are unloaded. (Business Insider)
TikTok-infused trend: Permanent jewelry, welded together on your wrist or neck. (Insider)
Thanks for reading. Photo credit of cute dog looking as if he or she had been rejected: Unsplash. I wrote about Acton once before at Inc.com. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here. See you in the comments!