PAW web exclusive column by Wes Tooke '98 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The right way to rip off Princeton
By Wes Tooke '98
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
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.
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.
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 email@example.com