November 1, 2006 Ben Casnocha – One of the Best Entrepreneurs Under 25 Congrats to my friend (and world traveler) Ben Casnocha for being highlighted in BusinessWeek as one of the best entrepreneurs under 25. Previous PostAmy’s Trip to New Orleans Next PostCompany Stages – Revisted Peter i don’t know this dude at all, but my ‘gut reaction’ is that he’s just another rich, spoiled son of a wealthy Republican family – a family who has a Republican daddy in politics and got him his contracts with ‘local government agencies’. His ‘right-leaning’ economics and ‘socially liberal’ talk is code for ‘California Republican’ – i.e. poor people deserve to rot because they are black/lazy/etc. He’ll be kickin it at the Hertiage Foundation as some sort of ‘special scholar’ in a couple of years, and then he might do a few months at that other DC ‘laisse faire’ propaganda outfit, Cato, and then he’ll probably end up running for Congress, continue to make the rounds on CNN and Fox, etc., ‘en bowtie’ like Tucker Carlson, his hero, all while sticking with the “I decide my politics on an issue by issue basis” party line. it’s all completely predictable. it’s not his fault at all, yet, mind you – it’s mostly on his parents, and a good bit on our corrupt society. he’ll most likely never escape the doom of the moral self-adulation he’s currently heaping upon himself (along with the strong support of the right-wing ‘future propaganda stars support network’), and that’s a shameful blight on our society, but one not at all uncommon, unfortunately. by the time he’s 30, he’ll have had time to enjoy the party, and he’ll have had time for some de-programming. if he chooses to continue to crush poor people after that point in time, then _he_ will be morally responsible, not his parents and society. his favorite future quote – i don’t know the exact wording, but it’ll be something about ‘people being able to do whatever they sent their mind to’. the usual stuff will be left out – upbringing in upper-class, wealthy family with myriad social and business connections, George Bush-like ‘starter’ money from daddy, mommy, rich uncles, or loosely-affiliated business partners of daddy (so as to not trace too directly to daddy, and therefore prove the propaganda myth about ‘anybody can make it in America’ a sham), education at a private high school and probably other elite university institutions, etc. Like George Carlin said, the ‘American Dream’ is, in fact, just that – because you have to be asleep to believe it. http://www.feld.com Brad Feld Peter – unfortunately, I believe your “gut reaction” in this case is completely incorrect. I’ve known Ben since he was 14 and he’s a remarkable, self-directed person with incredible presence and insight for an 18 year old. He’s also an independent thinker, does his work, forms his own views, and accomplishes things as a result of his efforts. Nothing that I read from your response feels informed by the reality that I’ve experienced with Ben. Your assertions – and the vitriol with which you spew them – makes me sad. Peter I believe your “gut reaction” in this case is completely incorrect. nothing would make me happier. Your assertions just going off the information I have available to me, which is not much – just the typical ‘I am a phenomenal kid’ spiel, with no background info. my assertions about the phenom are hardly assertions of fact – as i’ve stated i know next to nothing about him. but my other assertions about Cato and Carlson and crew – they hold, and i can back them up. and the vitriol with which you spew the vitriol? if you insist. i’m just calling it like i see it. most people would like to, but they’re too worried about upsetting Mike Arrington or Brad Feld or the thousands of other opinion-makers who could make their life difficult, or make social situations a little less comfortable. well, maybe some folks should be a little less comfortable. that your sensibilities are so upset at my rather mild thoughts goes to show just how insulated and sensitive-to-criticism our techie/vc/male/white/upper-class culture is. http://www.feld.com Brad Feld Peter – you didn’t “upset me.” You made me “sad.” I think there is a huge difference. It’s sad (to me) that someone (you) who doesn’t know another person (Ben) should feel compelled to be so negative and aggressive in his (your) uninformed criticism of them. I have no idea who you are and while – obviously – the medium of a blog makes it easy for you to write whatever you want and remain anonymous – it does make me sad that you feel compelled to attack someone that I respect, especially with the disclaimer that you don’t know much about them. This is not a “sad that lingers” – just a “wow – how sad” kind of moment. It’s even more ironic here since it’s very easy to find a tremendous amount of information about Ben, what he does, how he thinks, and what he cares about since he publishes two excellent blogs – http://ben.casnocha.com/ and http://bigben.blogs.com/gapyear_travels/ http://www.whatisleft.org Chris Sacca Whoa. Peter, what is really bothering you? You are so far off in trying to stereotype Ben that I kept reading through your comment waiting for the ironic punchline. Ben is an inspiring guy, no two ways about it. He busts his ass, thinks until it hurts, and shares with those around him. Ben spends an extraordinary amount of time learning about and from others, then reflecting on lessons learned for the benefit of all. Ben is a total class act. Maybe you should stop by his blog and take a look for yourself. http://ben.casnocha.com Ben Casnocha Peter — Rip into me all you want (I’m used to it) but don’t you dare say anything bad about Tucker Carlson. Do you realize how long it takes to tie one of those things? Bill Adkins When did opinions and debate move from one’s forming them based on piqued interests inspiring research, devouring information and educating onesself, to this display of publically bragging about ones own ignorance (criticizing someone you admit you dont know at all), based on assumptions and prejudices? Isn’t there another word for this? Peter – you may be right or you may be wrong about Mr. Casnocha. I have not met him and it would be ignorant of my to assert otherwise. And even if the comments were true, they dont make him a bad person, just someone YOU have a problem with, which is perfectly fine – different strokes… But you have made it clear you are willing to judge and criticize without as much as learning about this person. Re-read your post and ask yourself what an objective person is to understand about you, if they didnt take the time to get to know you and only based it on what they read here? As we are LESS THAN a week away from Election Day, I ask that everyone reading this blog take this little exchange to heart and do their best to not vote on emotion and prejudice, but to truly understand whatever issues are important to you and your community. Far too many people out there are not willing to do the work, and would rather let their initial opinions be their final verdict. THAT is sad. Dave Jilk Why are you guys wasting your time with this Peter person? Typing “Ben Casnocha” (with the quotes) into Google returns 59,500 results, and he chose not to read any of them before making a comment about Ben. In other words, his opinion is dogmatic rather than reasoned, thus merits no consideration or response whatsoever. Ben: Congratulations! http://www.sequelventures.blogspot.com Krish Peter, Like Brad and others who knew Ben, I didn’t feel just sad, but I really feel pity for you. Ben is currently on his world tour and is now staying in my house with me in Mumbai, India for a few days. I feel so proud to have him as my guest. I think this opportunity to know him from upclose qualifies me to give you one back on what you’d written. Ben is not just a brilliant kid, he’s a prodigy – not just America but the whole world is going to be proud of him. May be you or someone else close to you tried something like what Ben is working on ( I doubt that ) and had failed. There is no reason why anyone should spew so much venom on such a fine boy. I am 42 and have over 14 years of experience in Investment Banking, Private Equity & Venture Capital. All these years, I’ve never come across someone so young, yet so well informed about entrepreneurship with clear thought processes. I’ve seen the books that he reads and am amazed by the choice of his picks. ["Why I am so wise" - Friedrich Nietzsche, "How American is Globalization" - William H Marling, "Man's search for meaning"- Viktor E Frankl etc.] Now how many kids do that…? I asked him how did he manage to find funds for his world tour while he’s just out of school. I was pleasantly surprised when he said ” I had little material needs all along and ever since I was just 10 when people asked me what would I like as gifts, I’d been asking for books or requested them to give me money instead”. And now you can see how he put his savings to good use. If possible, help such young turks realise their goals. If not, just shut up. http://shmooth.blogspot.com/ Peter I am not anonymous by any stretch. i regularly criticize all the powers that be in the techie/vc/male/white/upper-class culture. i used to link to my own blog, but people criticized me for blog-whoring, so i stopped adding my URL. but now you have it. go make me some money. thanks. http://shmooth.blogspot.com/ how about a little brain, now, folks? seriously. this is pathetic. quit whining. I said what i said – deal with it. if you can’t take criticism, don’t have a blog. if you can’t have criticism directed at the people you are pimping, then quit pimping those people. if you want to be TechCrunch, another pseudo-tech blog that deletes all comments it doesn’t agree with or acts hysterically whenever someone criticizes something associated with the blog even tangentially – that is, another propaganda outfit just like Cato/Heritage/etc. – then do so – i’ll stop coming back here – i promise. If you’re not up for Nazi-esque comment scrubbing – that’s good, but you also need to try to show a little gumption when someone challenges your pov. Ben just did – why can’t you? It’s sad (to me) that someone (you) who doesn’t know another person (Ben) Ben has remained as anonymous as he wants to be. Without the benefit of knowing all the things I surmised were his upbringing/connections/etc., we can know nothing about him or his ‘success’. I did a few minutes of reading on Ben. In fact, I’d believe I’d seen him and some of his connections in the past and probably read more about him than I’d consciously realized when I wrote this comment, so I felt as though I already knew his online persona. If you think you know someone based on what is written about them on a few websites, then congrats to you, but I choose to live in the reality-based community, and I’m very good at spotting hearsay and propaganda, and I digest new and different forms of information and contextualize and analyze it very quickly, and I’m very smart – probably smarter than most of the haters on this blog. Blame my mom and dad for that. As for my criticism of Ben, I don’t know how to be more clear about this – bunch of WATB’s over here – I. Do. Not. Know. The. Dude. I had already stated, by the time the real whining started, that ‘nothing would make me happier’ were I to be proved wrong about Ben. Are we clear on that? Ok. Good. Now, I am criticizing what. i. know. about this guy called ‘Ben’ whose carefully crafted online persona is all most of us _can_ know about him without actually personally knowing him. What is y’all’s problem with that? Should we not criticize anyone we don’t know personally? All this carping about my criticism is pathetic. Grow up. feel compelled to be so negative and aggressive It’s sad to you because you have no clue where i’m coming from. you don’t identify in the least. you don’t know war and pestilence and violence and oppression and the close alliance between state power and the rich and powerful persons of those states, around the world – or more probably, you don’t care to admit to it. That is sad. The proper response to my comment? It was essentially your first comment. It’s, “Peter – you’re so wrong – at least about Ben. This dude is the bomb. He’s like Jesus, but without the misogynism, homophobia, racism, etc.” Very simple. And my very simple response – something along the lines of, “Cool. That pleases me. I hope in time I find that I agree with you.” was appropriate, too. The problem occurred with your ‘sad’ comment – as if anyone should actually deign to criticize ‘the Benster’. The nerve of some people. It should be said that i don’t aim to make people sad – there’s enough of that in the world. But if Brad Feld gets sad for a few minutes at one of my comments, then that is a sadness i am very willing to tolerate as a side effect of my not-so-politically-correct comments. Many people in the world are suffering miserably vs. rich-white-vc-dude gets sad for a few minutes because someone criticized his friend – yes, that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make on occasion.