Web Exclusives: Tooke's Take
a PAW web exclusive column by Wes Tooke '98 (email: cwtooke@princeton.edu)

December 20, 2000:
More Money
The right way to rip off Princeton

By Wes Tooke '98

For a long list of reasons too embarrassing to list here, I found myself last Monday evening watching Boston Public, David E. Kelley's tepid new show. I was slowly sliding down my couch into my usual prime-time induced nap when one of the melodramatic plot lines abruptly dragged me from my reverie. The second snowfall of the season had fallen at Boston Public, and the students were planning to hold a "Nude Olympics."

Now Princeton writers using their Princeton experiences as material certainly isn't a new phenomenon-even F. Scott succumbed to the temptation, although This Side of Paradise certainly had other things to offer. And other Princetonians have used ideas they conceived on campus in the real world. Wendy Kopp, for example, turned her senior thesis into Teach for America. So my quibble with Kelley isn't over his use of a Princeton reference, it's over the scope of his idea.

Basically, although David E. Kelley might be winning Emmy's and Wendy Kopp might be a great humanitarian, I have to ask the logical question raised by the last five years of American history: Where's the IPO? In fact, after only a few short months in the Bay Area, I've determined that what Princeton really needs is more Princeton graduates applying their talents in the swiftly-shrinking Internet market. Otherwise, I fear that we will soon fall behind universities such as Stanford, which has fully capitalized on the New Economy and will soon be receiving stadiums and space stations and indoor table tennis facilities from grateful alumni. If Princeton doesn't want to fall further behind in the critical field of small-time racquet sports, we will need those Internet dollars.

So my idea (trumpets please) is that all Princetonians stuck in jobs that don't appear to promise at least 100 million dollars in stock options over the next decade have a moral obligation to the university to drop everything and start an Internet company. And the idea for that company ought to come from your time on campus. My idea, for example, came to either me or an ex-roommate of mine a few months ago-neither of us can claim full credit because the genesis of the idea came in a bar, and like many bar ideas the origins are lost in the mists of that last unnecessary beer.

The business concept comes from a story that was repeated a thousand times among my friends at Princeton. You return home from a night of drinking and that stupid part of your brain urges you to check e-mail. You read a couple jokes, write a couple friends everything is going fine. And then you realize that you haven't written your ex-girlfriend in six months.

You can't exactly remember what happens next, but the following morning you wake up with the nagging feeling that you might have made some sort of mistake. The exact nature of the mistake escapes you until you check your outgoing mail file and find the following message.

Hey Sexy!@!

I've been doing some tHinking to niight and we Aren't so difrent, are WE? I miss tyou!! Remebers the time with the water anfd the trees? I love that. Please calll and hang out and we''d --0-00j stupi d delete key. I love you and you and me are soright.


mr. SmOkey

Our company would prevent exactly this kind of tragedy-not to mention the horrible fallout soon to follow. SoberFriend (trademark pending) is a small breath analyzer that you attach to the side of your keyboard. Any time you want to log into your e-mail account, the automatic sensor tests your breath for alcohol to ensure that you are competent to be making these kinds of social decisions.

The business plan is simple. We'll sell the devices at cost, advertise heavily in Playboy and Cosmo, get a crappy Star Trek washout to sing lame songs for our commercials, hire a young, goofy-looking guy to accept our technology award from MTV, go public as our sales crest, and cash out before the market realizes that every man, woman, and child in America doesn't need three SoberFriends. I call our business model B to D, where the D stands for either Drunk or Dumbass.

And when I've made my cash, I'll hang a copy of this column over the fireplace in my outrageously large house. The paper will be encased in a hundred-pound solid gold frame bearing a minimalist modern art inscription: God Bless the New Economy.


Wes Tooke is a regular contributor to PAW Online. You can reach him at cwtooke@princeton.edu