An attentive reader will depart from Ad Age's profile of Foursquare creator Dennis Crowley wondering, "How is this guy possible?" It all just seems so implausible: a startup founder who defaces New York taxis, a guy whose backers prize his hedonism like it was a rare, precious commodity. What a gig.
The profile's strangest moment comes as Crowley's business associate Frank Lantz, a professor in NYU's videogame program, carefully sizes up the CEO's enthusiasm for fried pork chops and cocktails and parties as though it were a deep mystery — a paradox that encapsulates the secrets to his success:
He wants to meet up with his friends on the spur of the moment and have drinks and have fun and that's what he's motivated by.
Dennis Crowley is motivated by his love for fun, drinking and friends. If only we could all posses such unique entrepreneurial drive.
Then there's a whole digression into how Crowley is a "storyteller." That's supposedly how he built this big, well-funded tech company with lots of users — telling stories. Not elbow grease, not crafting the app, not hustle, moxie or diving into the code ("I'm not an engineer," Crowley said pointedly), but telling stories. "I tell the story. That's what I do." Cue dramatic staring. The CEO studied journalism and advertising at Syracuse University. And "he's one of the best storytellers of his generation," said one of his colleagues Yet this landmark storyteller somehow languished in obscurity before starting his texting service Dodgeball while attending graduate school at NYU (an arts/tech program at Tisch, not storytelling). Crowley became famous after he sold the thesis project to Google for "high seven figures," or around $7 million-ish.
Google stupidly let Dodgeball languish, but in another surreal twist of fate Crowley was allowed to leave Google and basically re-start the same company under the name Foursquare. Foursquare is now valued at $600 million and has raised around $70 million on the strength of its near total lack of revenue or a business plan or advertising. Along the way, Crowley netted a $5 million bonus, which he will split with one co-founder. How. Does. He. Do. It?
Anyway, Crowley was, obviously, comfortable vandalizing a cab in front of the Ad Age reporter:
Crowley... hailed a cab across the street from his downtown Manhattan office. Inside, he pulled out a deck of Foursquare stickers and quickly slapped one on the vinyl wall that separates the driver from the passenger. Does he do that in every cab ride? "Only if I happen to have stickers," he said, "which I usually try to have on me."
There is nothing wrong with Dennis Crowley getting rich drinking, eating fried food, hanging out with his friends, and "storytelling." It's actually kind of awesome in a way. Godspeed, bro! He's probably even done a fair amount of actual hard work since graduating from NYU 11 years ago. But when we read about this goofy Midas securing funding for his, like, marijuana smoking startup, or "getting blown by models all day" company, that is when we sell every stock we own and declare the onset of Tech Bubble 3.0 (Apocalypse Edition).
[Photo of Crowley via Dell Inc./Flickr]