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There is no Jake Frink (reddit.com)
77 points by lpr4 on July 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

So I have a friend. For the purpose of this post, I'm going to call him Hideyuki Chikafuji. That isn't his name, but it gives the right sort of feel. He works as a well-paid professional in an industry which isn't investment banking, but could be. He has a degree from Northwestern in, well, let's call it Physics. Magna cum laude.

What question do you think he gets asked in every job interview? If your answer was "Do you even speak English?", you win a gold star.

Hideyuki recently got his first name legally changed to Frank. Whammo. No more awkward questions.

I would further note that there is at least one person widely respected on HN who does business under a name which is not their birth name, specifically to avoid pervasive problems with this issue in our industry. (His story is not mine to tell.) The practice is also endemic in journalism, acting, etc etc etc.

It probably isn't the only issue: Redditors are nortoriously anti-capitalist, too, so it's much more convenient to be a community-minded hobbyist developer than to be a corporation (gasp!) with investors (gasp!) and hundreds of thousands of dollars (gasp!).

P.S. If race is totally not an issue, it would be a wee bit instructive that people get so pissed of when someone pretends to be a white guy.

I think you're mistaken about the issue at hand here, patio11. This has nothing to do with being anti-capitalist or having an Asian sounding name.

This has to do with lying to the community about your story, playing up the good parts and running under a false narrative for no good reason. As pointed out in the linked thread, a competitor to Teevox, WellPlayed.tv has been completely transparent about the fact that it's a company that runs it, not some unemployed dude fantasy, it lists the exact users who represent it, and doesn't do things like violate Paypal TOS and solicit donations under a false name for a corporation. Also, this is not OSS Teevox is peddling here. They were actively receiving funds for profit and nothing was Open Source about it in the least.

It's Reddit. Reddit, when it comes to doing things for the community, absolutely doesn't care what your race or gender is. What Reddit also is, though, is violently anti-commercialism. Any sort of additional advertising, or company-posing-as-a-user, or anything that tries to take advantage of the community's overall good will in that fashion, will get slapped down.

That's currently the case here. It seems to be a company (a small one, mind you), who lied about who they were, and why they were doing what they were doing.

Now, it seems to be a small enough company that if they had let this be known from the get-go, then Reddit wouldn't have cared. However, from what seems to be the case, they didn't even use one of their cofounders as a "company face" sort of deal-- they have, in essence, made up a person from the ground up, to the standard of "Well, Starcraft players can relate to someone like this", to PR for them.

That is what's got people pissed off.

I should add something to your statements. SCReddit is a lot of things (not good), but their leniency towards commercialism is by and large more flexible than the other SRs. It's mostly driven by the fact Starcraft has been an underground, disproportionately represented (compared to how much "passion" the TL/etc community as put in) community. As such, they are starving for progress.

That being said, there are some "new kids" to the SC scene which create a stink at every turn. Overall, your description of Reddit is more or less accurate.

I think you can see now that "JakeFink" has more or less won the day over there.

I'd be thrilled if what you describe is what happened here. All it would take I think would be the actual developer speaking up and clarifying. However, the situation does have the potential to be a bit more complex. If Warp Prism was a commercial venture from the start, I think people will have a problem with that. It was marketed as the effort of a community-minded developer who was soliciting donations. If such marketing was a scam, clearly it was being done to play on the personality quirks of Reddit that you describe.

It's also a mistake to assume that Starcraft fans of Reddit have have a problem with for profit companies; they don't. The entire former moderation staff started a for-profit company (http://wellplayed.org) and they are still on great terms with the community. I think the problem alleged here is the misleading marketing. We just need to wait and get some clarifying remarks from the developers of Warp Prism in order to determine what has actually happened.

I do business under an assumed name, FWIW.

I assume you're talking about Andrew Warner, which is an assumed name (I think the original was super obviously Russian Jewish or something); I remember that he went into this on Mixergy with someone else who had also changed his name.

The main issue here is that it appears that a YC company was claiming to be a hobbyist developer that solicited (and received) donations.

They haven't responded, so it could all be a misunderstanding. However, it doesn't look good.

They actually have responded[1], and it seems like they pretty much put their foot in their mouth, based on the highlighted reply.

[1] http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/im6r4/there_is_no...

> Redditors are nortoriously anti-capitalist

I'd say: 'anti-corporation'

I've been using Teevox (Warp Prism) since the first version was released on Reddit. For those unfamiliar, it is a web application that provides a convenient interface to watch the video streams of professional Starcraft players. It was marketed as the effort of a single developer, a labor of love. Donations were solicited to that effect and I'll admit I was taken in by the whole thing. The narrative was appealing to hacker and Starcraft fan alike. I'll wait to hear a response from the developer, but if the whole thing was a marketing ploy its a damn shame.

They were taking donations in the name of a fake person? At first it sounded like they just got caught doing a harmless marketing ploy, but if they were taking donations, that's way worse.

Nothing is confirmed yet, so I'd be careful about jumping the gun. What is true is that the first version of Warp Prism was released by a guy named Jake Frink. He claimed it was his solo project and it was his way of giving back to the community. There was a lot of interaction with Jake on Reddit. Personally I found it really cool. People gave him feedback on Warp Prism and bug fixes and features were put out on a rolling basis based on community feedback. I guess the issue being brought up now is that Reddit suspects Jake is a fake narrative, essentially a marketing strategy for a company. And yeah, there was a donation button on the initial versions of the site.

I personally don't have a problem with some guys making money off of a product like Warp Prism. I'd pay a monthly subscription for it. But what would be an issue for me is if a story was fabricated in order to market the product. But like I said, lets not jump the gun here until we get both sides of the story.

I think whats way worse is not only denying the JTV streamers ad income they deserve, but showing their own ads.

Hi everyone,

I apologize for this mess. I made a video telling my story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiRzBnlbpUs

You don't owe anybody an apology.

There's a probably apocryphal story of the ancient Romans having a dwarf in the chariot with generals at their victory parades. His job was, when the throngs were shouting the general's name, to whisper "Nah, you're not really that special."

Sometimes I think some folks need whatever the opposite of that dwarf is. I know I have needed it on a time or three. Ignore this if I'm stepping on toes, but otherwise: you're doing pretty darn well. You got into YC. Yeah, you had a product shot out from under you, but it happens. All your buddies will tell you the same. You then subsequently made something which is both technically impressive and rabidly loved by users. Very, very few people can say that. (It may not look that way, given selection bias among the folks you know personally, but trust me: hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent to less effect than making WarpPrism. Many, many times.) And you're clearly on the ball with talking about the product, which is another thing that not all engineers are good at.

If continuing in the project is what you want to do, great. If you ever want to try something else or just hear "No dude, seriously, you're awesome", talk to someone. I'm positive anybody in the greater YC mafia would say that or help hook you up with the next big adventure, whatever you want that to be. (FWIW: I would, too.)

Also FWIW: Reddit is sometimes bat-shit crazy. I would not let their current opinion of you factor too highly in your "Am I having a good day?" barometer.

Yes, during the Roman Triumphs[0] during the Republic and heavily during the Roman Empire there purportedly was a slave who held the wreath of a victor over the head of the Imperator or who ever else was being celebrated and whispered phrases like "Respice te, hominem te memento" -- Look behind you, remember you are only a man and "Memento mori" -- Remember (that you are) mortal.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_triumph

Gamers can be really sensitive to this stuff. Most games are easy to pirate, and game communities tend to grow out of faith in the developers and a desire to be "included" in their story, at a level beyond the typical customer relationship. Add to that the fact that gamers are usually pretty smart and motivated, and you set yourself up for a shitstorm if there's a hint of betrayal.

In this instance, the company received _donations_. That is one serious perversion of karma.

I can't rationalize this strategy in this circumstance. You have a small tight knit community of starcraft viewers who religiously watch streams. You create a product to cater to this audience. You lie to your audience about the origins. There is no broader audience you're trying to gain before your deceit is revealed. If there was some broader race against gaining wider traction, I might understand. But in this instance, it makes no sense. Funded and organized groups have gained support, this audience doesn't really hate companies like some niches. They like a good product.

I don't understand how (or why) this is even a marketing ploy. Users would have adopted it just as well if they admitted that they were two developers and left it at that.

Even if they're working on it full time, it actually IS a side project! The end user doesn't suspect a profit motive because there really is none at this point.

So why lie at all? Seems completely redundant.

OK, so this is the second time in a week I'm going to have to post this PG quote: "Your comment is a classic instance of people on a forum rushing to judgment based on incomplete information. It's isomorphic to the sort of thing one sees on reddit, except that it's about startups rather than the federal government or international bankers."

Edit: it looks like Jiggity (aka Jong-Moon Kim, Warp Prism's creator) has gone and posted a lot more details here: http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/im6r4/there_is_no...

If he's come forward and put all the details on the record, I feel comfortable putting a lot more details here, along with my own commentary on the whole mess.

Jiggity was indeed a co-founder of Teevox, which was in last summer's YC batch. He and Andrew were one always one of the most energetic, technically impressive, and just fun-to-be-around founders in the batch. Seriously, one of the bright spots of weekly dinners was always the corner of the orange room where the Teevox demo was set up each week, greeting passerby with equal parts cheeriness from the founders and magic from the slick Hulu demo.

Which is why it was so heartbreaking when Teevox was one of the first startups in YC S10 to die. It was a sober reminder to everyone that coming up with a clever product just isn't always enough, and we're all in a low-success-rate business.

In any case, Teevox is gone. Dead. Kaput. No longer there. Corporate entity unraveled. It happens to startups. People who spend time here should know that, even though the reddit posters cluelessly assume that Teevox lives on with a team of coders and a "slick marketing team".

Andrew went back to school but Jiggity decided to keep on plugging away at some side projects. One of them turned into Warp Prism. I think that this is fucking awesome. In fact, it's pretty much the classic startup feel-good turnaround story: smart hacker down on his luck, has a startup shut down and fail, keeps on hacking away and eventually stumbles upon something people love to use. He keeps on iterating on the product, out0executing a similar competitor all by himself. (one of the posters in the linked thread said s/he was always suspicious that WarpPrism could ever have been built by one person!) Awesome! This is the classic inspirational never-give-up narrative in action.

Except in this case, some moron hiding behind an anonymous pseudonym does a simple whois search, discovers that the domain is registered to the same guy who happend to found a startup the year before and - gasp - concludes that s/he's unearthed the scandal of a century! WarpPrism can't be the work of a lone hacker, it must have a whole "slick marketing team" behind it! Angry reddit mob, enter stage left!

I do not know why Jiggity chose the name "Jake Frink". (In retrospect, isn't that um, sort of obviously a pseudonym?) I do know that Jiggity has previously used various aliases in everyday conversation, and rarely his real name. But the reality is, aside from that one name, every other detail of the original story is true.

Why was everyone so quick to rush to judgement? Is it a reflexive distrust of anything that might be backed by a company? Is it a predisposition to believe in a made-up but apparently widely perceived trend that, in the words of another poster, "the newer YC bunch are playing dirty to win"?

In any case, this time it makes me upset. It's one thing if people mis-read a boilerplate line in the Dropbox ToS and decide to get angry over that; Dropbox is doing well and will be fine, internet mob or not. But this is different. This is not a large successful company, it's just a friend who has bravely marched straight through the hell that every startup founder has nightmares about. but the one that is never far from my mind when it's racing late at night - the idea that all your hard work will eventually evaporate.

I went through that period once when my first startup died four years ago, and it put me into a rather severe months-long depression. Thankfully my current startup is doing quite well, but the memory of what happened before and the gnawing fear it could happen again is never far from my consciousness late at night when my mind is racing and I have trouble falling asleep. I think pretty much every founder feels the same way all the way until (at least) the liquidity event. It's a special kind of overbearing stress that only other founders can truly understand.

Jiggity pushed right through that, and created a kickass product people loved using. The three months after my first startup died I spent mostly half-heartedly applying for jobs and walking around the streets of Palo Alto in sort of a daze; Jiggity spent that time single-handedly creating the best way to watch StarCraft 2 games in the world. And when those users find out, that gasp, the creator of the product they love so much was using a pseudonym - this is how they react.

I advise everyone who reads Hacker News and is thinking of one day starting a company to think of Jiggity's story as inspirational, and the reaction to it as a warning. In the end though, despite the fact that I was moved to post this long rant, I know he'll get through it just fine. He's thrived after going through much worse.

This looks pretty cut and dried, frankly. If it's not, will the real Jake Frink please stand up?

From this[1] thread exchange, jakefrink is still keeping up the guise of the poor, trodden developer working his ass off for the community. This is either genuine and there's been a mistake, or Teevox guys are delusional and too caught up in their own web of lies.

edit: After reading your long edit, it looks like it was case number 1 and the story is genuine. You know much more about the background of this story and I sincerely apologize to Jiggity for the uproar and frenzy I caused. It was unnecessary and in hindsight really silly. Perhaps Jiggity/jakefrink can post a full update of what happened on /r/starcraft to explain with a link to this comment of yours and redeem himself and his awesome site. You have been wronged Jiggity.

[1] http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/im6r4/there_is_no...

Based on this[1], it appears that the jakefrink account has been ninja-editing their signatures, from "-Jake", to "-Jake (Jong-Moon)", to nothing right now. So yes, it seems like the latter right now.


Thanks for posting this. I put it on /r/starcraft…I hope it's seen. Such a great product, and he sounds like a scrappy guy.

He posted a full explanation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiRzBnlbpUs

I think they are more upset that he is denying ad income from JTV streamers and putting up his own ads. Also intentionally misleading the community, why not be upfront from the beginning.

He's not though, only Pre-stream ads are disabled due to the problems it would cause while switching streams.

All the ads that use "/commerical" work fine

ok he's not blocking all, he's blocking the most revenue generating ads for the streamers. As a streamer the pre-roll ad is the most important and brings in the most revenue.

He just responded on this, it isn't intentional, it's a bug in Justin.tv's API so he's not blocking any of the ads by himself.

I find it ironic that Reddit, the usual source of anti-commericalization, is now complaining about software that block ads.

I wonder if part of the doubt is due to Redditors not believing that one person could found a company, and that one person could do so much. Might that shine an uncomfortable light on some people?

John Frink is "obviously a pseudonym"

Jake Frink and using this persona to interact with so many people is going to raise questions when it is all fake. You think anyone would hesitate to email jiggity at gmail or respond to a reddit user name jiggity or jwk or anything else?

I would say it is based on sounding white, but it makes no sense to hide korean name when you are catering to a Starcraft community.

"Your comment is a classic instance of people on a forum rushing to judgment based on incomplete information. It's isomorphic to the sort of thing one sees on reddit, except that it's about startups rather than the federal government or international bankers." Hmm, pointless interjection of comp sci jargon like "isomorphic", I dunno, that doesn't sound like Graham at all.

Okay guys, WHAT THE FUCK ?

I don't even know where to start... Why would he chose a white-sounding name ? To "bide" his Korean name ? Once again, what the fuck ? My alias is Teraka since something like 10 years, I originally took it because I liked Karate and had no imagination (I was like 8 or something), and I'm not Japanese, I'm French... Why in hell would you need a reason to pick whatever alias you want ? It's even the reason why there's aliases... Seriously...

Next, the conspiracy theory. What is the point in thinking that it's in reality a big company that just wants to make profit ? His explanations makes perfect sense, he made a 20 minutes video in which he explains in great details all the questions you could have, and he did nothing that could make anyone thinks he's a fraud, except for using a domain name that he already owned, because of a copyright issue...

I can't believe how stupid the internet can be sometimes... Let the poor guy alone, and thank him for doing all his work so that YOU could watch Starcraft more easily...

It's difficult to see his replies because they are being downvoted on reddit, but at the very least he seems to be confirming that Jake Frink isn't his real name. http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/im6r4/there_is_no...

I can buy that he wanted to use an alias, but pretending to have done it all on his own and having no affiliation with any company was a bad move.

I'd like to wait for more info before burning him on a stake though.

EDIT: "I was ashamed. It was the first time going through a startup experience. After telling everyone I'd be going over to the Bay Area to setup a startup, it was hard realizing it had failed. Those months after were very tough and I didn't know what to do."

There's no scam.

See mlinsey's comment: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2749838

He posted a full explanation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiRzBnlbpUs

Seems a lot of the newer YC bunch are playing dirty to win. pg encourages[1] this naughtiness, but I wonder if they sometimes go too far and what the recourse is after brand damage like this and a major shunning from the very communities they're targeting for. Startups like Airbnb which have engaged in this sort of behavior are a little entrenched by now and have considerable traction, but for littler guys like Teevox, this is pretty strong stuff I'd imagine.

pg obviously isn't going to micromanage every startup he funds every season, yet there's clearly a problem.

edit: Then again, it could be argued these sorts of things are necessary in some cases to build traction. YC startups just need to learn to be better trolls and build up better, more believable stories. Or actually be more transparent in cases like this which don't involve divulging actual userbase yet (which is crucial in the case of something like Reddit, which had to do this in a sense. Who wants to use a dead/empty site?). The fake dude and all was unnecessary. Another small company in the same space (in this same thread) was more transparent about it all and this was appreciated by the targeted market and gave them good karma and brand value in the minds of readers who'll stumble across the name again and again.

edit again: also some commenters on Reddit have pointed out other shady tactics including blocking jtv ads which are the income source for jtv and the players, as well as soliciting donations under the guise of the heroic lone coder giving back to the community...which turns out to be a violation of Paypal TOS. Redditors have already reported them for this.

[1] http://paulgraham.com/founders.html

Honestly, I don't know if this was naughty in the way PG would define it. Naughty is a kind of word with a gleam in it's eye and nothing to be ashamed of. Based on the link from the "Naughty" section of your link[1], it seems more like a liberal, anti-establishment-for-the-sake-of-establishment mindset, and that's the sort of thing people like Banksy are lauded for.

This whole thing isn't naughty, just stupid in the extreme. There was no additional market to grab with this lie, just the potential to hemorrhage users once word of your initial shady tactics get out.

[1] http://www.reddit.com/r/starcraft/comments/im6r4/there_is_no...

There's no Jake Frink?

Next thing you'll be telling me there is no Satoshi Nakamoto!

There'll always be an Alan Smithee, though, right?

The difference is that Satoshi is a known alias, whereas this is intentional deception.

I must admit from this reddit excerpt I can not infer what is going on, except that somebody used a fake name on Reddit (the horror). Would be thankful for explanations.

Jake Frink <--> Fake Jrink :)

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