Saturday, January 22, 2011

Allen Paltrow: A Most Promising Princeton Freshman

Fast Company: Allen Paltrow: The First Time I Met Steve Jobs

So Marty Monaco got a room at General Assembly for my mock pitch to Brad Hargreaves yesterday. 11:30-12:30 Room 1. I sent a text to Rachel. "Top Guy, running late, 15 minutes."

I had five slides prepared on Google Docs. My machine does not have Microsoft Office, never has had one. The five slides were barebones. White background, ugly black letters.

"You did not talk about the market at all!" Marty later said. How could I have forgotten to mention the market!

I rehearsed with Rachel twice. The first time the presentation ran to seven minutes. No good, I said. Let me get it down to five.

Marty came in. I went ahead and got Brad.

I "introduced" Brad to Rachel and Marty. Brad has agreed to play the role of "the asshole VC," I said. Brad immediately took to the role. He started doing email on his phone. As in, I am not even going to pay any attention while you go through your presentation.

"You got an accent!" Brad finally said after two pitches. "You speak super fast, and you got an accent. I think I can handle only one of those two at a time. When you start talking about an important concept, you speak two times faster than your own speed."

Sunil came in late. He noticed there were absolutely no images to go with the slides. Put images in the background, he said.

Sunil and Marty - my tech partners - just raised a bunch of money. They should know. I am going to listen to them.

The three of us went for lunch. Sunil suggeted. I protested.
Image representing Foodspotting as depicted in...Image via CrunchBase
"You like to go to expensive places!" I said.

So we walked over a block away for Shake Shack Burgers. Rachel had to take a long phone call. So we brought back one for her. Or, rather, Sunil did. His wife has a job. It's always great fun to bootstrap when you have a fiance and she has a job.

It was not what I had - a burger - or even where I got it - Madison Square Shake Shack - but rather who I had it with - Sunil, Rachel, Marty. If FoodSpotting does not "get" social fast enough, I am going to revolt.

"Are you staying for Happy Hour?" Sunil asked. This was barely past noon. The Happy Hour started past six. Am I staying for Happy Hour? Made me think.

If I can have a laptop, or some people to talk to, I will stay, I said. Well the laptop was a no go. Why would anyone have a spare laptop for me? But people to talk to, that you can have, Sunil said. Okay then, I am staying for Happy Hour.

Ended up what I got was a copy of The Economist. So I am reading away The Economist, and it said something about oh no, not another war, and I am feeling like I have been so obsessed with tech news I have not been up to date with what might be going on in the world, and I am someone sorely needed for Obama's re-election bid. I was for the guy when he had nobody and nothing, I am not going to abandon him when he has the mightiest political office in the galaxy.

I noticed pictures being taken. A camera pointed in my direction. A minute later Brad came over to relay the news: some people from the New York Times are here. Wow, they took a picture of me reading The Economist?

"That makes me look smart, right Brad?"

Happy Hour rolled by. I don't drink. But I talk. And, boy, do I talk! The Happy Hour lasted four hours. I met a bunch of people. Some were repeat offenders, met many new people. The most amazing new person I got to meet was Allen Paltrow.

Allen is an intern with Artsy. He is a Freshman at Princeton. He is a New Yorker, a Bronx guy. He was top of his class in a class of 800 people. I talked to him and I am like this is a guy to watch. I wonder where he will be in 10 years.

"Allen has two moms," Rachel later said to me. That made it even more fascinating to me. His parents are a lesbian couple. He has a twin. He was conceived in vitro. Amazing.

Marty did not leave all that early, but he left earlier than the rest. He left with his college friend who is a high school principal in the South Bronx. Sunil asked if I wanted to go to Marty's place, it is near Union Square.

So Sunil, Rachel and new Yipit guy Steve - from Madison, Wisconsin, barely two weeks in New York - hopped into a cab. I sat first. Rachel came in from the other side. She looked at me, I looked at her. I am like, hey! It's me again.

The South Bronx principal dude, college friend to Marty - they are University Of Notre Dame crew, a wild football school, I moved to New York from Indiana, that would be Indiana, not India, I am fairly positive - asked me how I knew Sunil.

"We are both Indian," I said. He got the joke. He started laughing.

When I was traveling through the country - and I have been everywhere in America - I would meet people in these small towns. Are you from India, they would ask. After I confirmed - "Yes" - they would pop up the name of that one Indian person they knew. Did I know that person?

We ordered some Thai food from the nearby Spice restaurant. That went past midnight. Steve left early. Then we went to a bar nearby. I don't drink, but I talk. And I can swing to the music without getting up.

"Julie and Julie was shot in this bar," Sunil said. Or was it Julia and Julia? Or Julia and Julie. One of the above.

Where is the camera when I drop by?
Cover of Cover of Julie & Julia
Rachel is going to put me in her movie. I am going to be in a movie!

Marty left early. He is like, I got to go. He and Sunil had a call with an investor at 1:00 PM Saturday. They have not closed the round yet.

The three of us went underground, 6th Avenue, 14th Street. Sunil and Rachel took the 1 train, I took the L. Sunil was only a few blocks away. The guy can talk for five hours straight and not repeat a sentence. I'd know. That was my first lunch with him in Chinatown weeks ago.

When I went to bed, it was past four. That was more than 16 hours devoted to one mock pitch to some guy called Brad, not very efficient, but great fun, and if I can nab Allen Paltrow, it will have been worth it.

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