Ben Huh

Internet culture connoisseur

Read this first

Know When to Fold'Em, Know When to Drive to Columbus

I’m posting this from a Delta flight from Columbus, Ohio on my way back home to Seattle. This trip home would mark the last journey in the month of October, capping an epic 40,000 mile trek around the globe. But October wouldn’t go down without a fight.

About 24 hours ago, I was in NY, being interviewed on Anderson Cooper’s talk show as the deadly Hurricane Sandy came barreling in to the East Coast. It was an eerie feeling on Sunday night when I came to town. The streets were deserted, the usual assault on the senses replaced with a deadness unfitting of Manhattan. As the night wore on, and as the city started shutting down its trains and buses, my interviewers were canceling one by one.

I had a hard time sleeping that Sunday night. Sandy was forecasted to make landfall on Monday, a day sooner than we had expected. I had dinner with my friend Tom and we talked about Hurricane Irene...

Continue reading →

How I Jumped Off the Corona Arch and Survived Fear

The Corona Eleven


On Friday, May 18th, just after sunrise, I stood at the edge of a 150 foot tall natural rock arch in the Moab desert looking over the side, ready to jump. There were an infinite number of reasons why this was a bad idea.

Just how did I get here?

A person stands on the jump spot atop the arch

In February, a viral video of the insane jump off Corona Arch was making the rounds. It had accumulated more than 10 million views. So that same month, when Francisco Dao, organizer of the 50 Kings conference asked me if I would do the jump. I didn’t hesitate at all. It looked exciting and fun.

Fast forward to last Friday, I hesitated the morning of the jump trying to pick out what I would wear. I unknowingly brought a FAIL Blog t-shirt. If I wore it, would I be tempting fate? Would it be funny? Would it scare everyone else doing the jump? What if I really did die wearing our own branded shirt?

Friday morning at 5:45 am, the...

Continue reading →

Note to My Public Self: Strategy and Execution

If you’re lucky, you can have a simple strategy with simple execution.
But you’ll never have a complex strategy with simple execution.

View →

Working with Brad Feld

Brad Feld is a managing director at the Foundry Group, one of the venture firms that invested in Cheezburger. If you are a person in the startup world, you already know him as a venture capital rock star thanks to his track record and his openness.

I just spent a day in Boulder, presenting to our investor’s investors, and I wanted to memorialize my interactions with Brad here as honestly as I can. And if you have the good luck of getting a term sheet from Foundry and/or Brad, this should help you understand what it’s like.

I’ve been fortunate to have him on our board and he’s helped us even before we took funding. In start-up lingo, he’s my number one value add, even on a board studded with greatly helpful and wickedly smart people.

The funny thing is, I would describe my interactions with Brad as slightly weird. Yup. Weird. Not in the creepy WTF? kind of way, but good, like...

Continue reading →

Standing alone means raising the bar

I love the fact that Louis C.K. unclogged the pipes to direct distribution. I also love the fact that Aziz Ansari showed that it can be done again.

Don’t know what I am talking about?
Exhibit A: Louis C.K.‘s personally produced special.
Exhibit B: Aziz Ansari, being himself.

In the past, comedians didn’t get to own their work. They had to water down their words, their voice, their talents to satisfy an endless stream of constituents other than the viewer.

Why? Because you have to listen to who pays you if you want to get paid.

But now, as comedians and other acts find themselves being able to create a product directly for the consumer, there is no other customer than you. While that seems like an incredibly liberating proposition (and they clearly say it is), it’s going to raise the bar.

The old media infrastructure isn’t parasitic. I know it’s easy to think of them that way, but...

Continue reading →

Seeing into the future

I’ve been learning more and more about how venture capitalists and investors operate in the past year or so (after raising our first venture round). They are an interesting bunch of animals.

One of the most interesting traits I’ve seen is their ability to look into the future. Basically, the best VCs I’ve met are a) good human beings, and b) can see into the fabric of tomorrow.

Now, none of them will tell you that they can actually predict the future – and I am not saying that either. But all of them are keen on seeing what’s happening today and having a broad, general idea about how it’ll impact the world in 5-10 years.

So let’s take one of my favorite futurist topics: the quantified self.

In the 1990s, the mobile phone industry exploded into the scene. They demanded ever smaller components, ever lighter, and ever power thrifty. Merge this with low cost manufacturing of...

Continue reading →

Just the right amount

A study from the University of Illinois in Chicago has found that men that have drunk a few beers were better at solving brainteasers than sober counterparts.

It’s Friday. I’ll just leave it at this.

View →

Don’t Fear the Press

I often see very puzzling behavior from some entrepreneurs when it comes to dealing with the press and media.

Either they are desperate for it and would kill to get a press write up, or they vilify the press and hate them for whatever happened.

As far as I am concerned, there are two ways to behave towards the press:
1) Treat them with respect and make sure you are open, real, and fair.
2) Shut up and let them know you’re not ready to talk about it.

Maybe having been to journalism school helps me see this from both sides, but journalists and bloggers are people. The are not gotcha artists, they are not out to get you and dig up dirt (the reputable ones, anyway), and they have a job that you can either make easy or difficult.

They are also not an ATM. If you only approach reporters when you need something from them, it’s not going to work well.

There are some exceptions to this...

Continue reading →

Here’s to the weirdos

I’ve been telling startups to ignore the mainstream for a long time. Often, I see too many start ups try to tackle the middle without ever understanding the weirdos. The weirdos are where the future is at.

A normal distribution, or a "bell curve".
(credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going to paraphrase the “diffusion of innovations” theory by Everett Rogers. In a normal distribution, a standard deviation of 3+ will yield just 0.1%. These are your experimenters, those who will try anything once. A SD of 2+ is 2.2%. These are your innovators. A SD of 1+ is 15.8% are the early adopters. The vast, vast majority of companies will never get here. These three groups are the weirdos.

Startups are not trying to replicate the successes of existing industries. Startups are trying to invent something new, create value by destroying inefficiencies, create new industries, etc. In the world of startups, you don’t get to the destination by focusing on...

Continue reading →

Science Faction

One of the most common questions I get is “what do you read?”. Over the last few years, I have moved from business books as my primary diet to fiction.

Fiction provides more context, perspective, and ideas for my work and life. It’s an unfettered view into what the world could be, not a partial, fashionable view of what the world was.

Besides, fiction is more entertaining.

If you want to read three books to help you understand technology and business, I recommend:
1+2) Daemon, and Freedom™ by Daniel Suarez
3) Avogadro Corp. by William Hertling

I had an opportunity to talk to a bunch of really brilliant, overachieving high school students last year and they asked me what advice I would give them for the summer break. I told them to “read more fiction.” They all voted to spend more time on Khan Academy. Oh well.

Continue reading →