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Started a stupid company. Failed.
1344 points by themanthatfell on Nov 27, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 407 comments
Ran out of money. Ran out of credit. Losing house in two months (already foreclosed). Wife pregnant. Three kids all under 6. Pretty sure I am the opposite of everyone here. I am no man. Just a statistic. Everything is gone. Selling spare parts to keep the lights on. It was a nice fantasy, HN. To the rest of you: fight hard and good luck.

Hey, other comments are going to give you a few lines telling you to not quit, that you should hang in there, and that it'll be alright. That may be true, but to me it sounds like you're possibly not doing well enough to make any of that possible, and you probably need to find work fast. Here's what I want to do:

1. I have a little list of companies looking for employees that I'll send you. Not much just companies that have contacted me looking for people. 2. I am a bad ass writer and have a crazy resume, but more importantly I know how to craft resumes and I'll look at yours and help you fix it up. 3. If you're in the San Francisco area I'll meet up with you and listen to what happened and see if there's a way to work out of it, or at least listen. 4. If you email me at help@learncodethehardway.org I'll talk with you and see if there's other ways I can help.

I'm serious, hit me up on email and I'll help out if I can. In fact, this goes for anyone else looking for work right now. Email the above and I'll reply with my little list. I don't make commissions on placement or anything like that, just a good thing to do.

Thanks for offering this guy light at the end of the tunnel. This reminds me of a a talk i had with my cousin a while back. I said to him that he had it easy growing up with his dad being an entrepreneur(construction industry), he laughed and said no way, maybe my younger brothers. He says that one day he gets home from school, his mother is sitting outside crying and guy's are moving furniture out the house, creditors where seizing all their stuff. He called his dad but nothing could be done. To top this off, his dad would be gone by 4am get home late at night and he would hardly see him.

So, his dad borrows some money from family and friends, keep in mind everyone was talking shit about him now, both friends and family. He took them across state to a rural area and told them that a lot of construction was going to happen here and that he was going to setup shop here. He hardly saw his dad and he doesn't remember a lot about how his dad did it but things started getting better, his dad got a contract with a huge mining company and shit just took off. We were discussing this at his beach house, that his dad bought for him. He said that he remembers the hard times but his younger brothers, think that there was no suffering just happy times and the life they have now. My uncle is now retired and the business is totally family run, he spends more time travelling than anything else.

In tech, we honestly glamorize startups, but what about all the others, the 90 out of every 100 startups that fail or just stay in zombie status. My point is not to encourage the OP to dig in but to let him know that it is ok to fail, many do with families as well but he will bounce back with a good job or something else down the line. Zed has provided that ray of light and hopefully u can turn it into a rainbow!

That's the risks of entrepreneurship. I come from an extremely entrepreneurially inclined family and I vividly remember having sheriffs of the court coming to knock on the door when I was growing. Its not all rosy when you are in the inside. I remember the kids at school were impressed by the big house and nice cars, we had 3 but only 2 driver, but there are other things that happen behind the scenes.

Good luck man, keep the faith.

> That's the risks of entrepreneurship

Not in the web world it doesn't have to be. It all comes back to the right way and the wrong way to start your business.

The wrong way is by taking out credit, quitting your day job prematurely, spending other people's money, leveraging your family's future, and jeopardizing your mental/emotional well being.

The right way is by creating a system that is robust; a job to pay the bills, allocating some amount of free time to working on the business, focusing on sustainability, refusal to take shortcuts, spending your own money (when it's needed) and not being in such a fricken hurry to get somewhere.

You do it properly by slowly gaining mastery in your business until when the time comes you've EARNED the right to quit your day job and go full time for yourself.

But hell, why would anyone want to do that? It hardly even makes for a good Hacker News story.

You reaply have no way of knowing this is how it happened for this guy. Id even hazard a guess and say he ran out of his savings cushion and then ran out of credit, cause like, thats what he said in the first 6 words.

I dont know what your trying to add to this conversation but its not helping anyone that reads these forums.

I think he's just saying that if you let your cash [commitments] get out in front of your business [income], you set yourself up for catastrophic failure. If you rented an office or bought a company car -- or took out a loan -- before you had good income, you made a risky move with consequences.

If you have a 9-to-5 and build up clients on the side to the point that you can eventually replace the regular salary, you win. You let the cash pull you into the business, not the business pull out all of your cash.

Honestly, I've had to sluff off clients on the side because I'd rather keep the "real" job for now. But if I was happy with $25-30k a year to start, I could've already made the move. Be patient, bide your time, don't let the cash get in front of your business, and wait until your business selects you. That's good advice.

Just like Facebook

I have for a while thought of you as (total honesty here) a bullying cock (though talented at what you do), but this comment which is sincere, genuine and offered to someone for whom this could be greatly helpful has made me seriously reconsider. Kudos.

Getting a bit OT here but I have to wade in...

To people that know him personally, like myself, Zed is a great guy. My guess at the problem is that his Internet persona took on its own life outside of his control, and it grew to such a bad situation that it was better to not try to feed the trolls and simply put some distance from it.

In other words, let the haters hate and be ignored, stand up for yourself when appropriate, and the good people will eventually acknowledge good deeds and fight for you.

I don't personally know Zed outside of his internet persona -- and to me it seems like he's just a guy who doesn't put up with bullshit. I have never seen a time where he's an asshole to anyone who isn't shooting first. He puts his opinions out there and sometimes those cause flame wars so if you catch him in the middle of one those on Twitter then I can definitely see where people might think he's a jerk.

His tweets are comedy gold though -- highly recommend everyone follow him -- @zedshaw

edit: case and point -- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6806748

> doesn't put up with bullshit

Unless it's his own, like all the FUD he spread a number of years ago about Debian.

Even beyond that, I guess I'm just not a fan of the "it's ok to swear and be harsh to people as long as you happen to be right" approach to life.

Look at how kind and helpful someone like patio11 is, without all the vitriol.

Zed has to do Zed, just like Patrick does Patrick.

"case in point" :-)

TBH, when I first started following Zed on twitter I thought he was an ass, but recently something changed. Now he just seems like a normal dude who kills it.

Have you ever seen him talk?

I love this video where he is debunking a lot of which is holy on HN - at BubbleConf 2012 "Peddling Luck": https://vimeo.com/53494258

"I'm totally an asshole"

At around 34:30 he admits he's an asshole in the context of slamming other people's work.

For him to jump all over the person above who called him a cock, well, all I can say is "pot-kettle-black, motherfucker".

"I'm busy helping people, you're busy calling me a cock".

Cry me a river. In the video he gets real busy rubbishing other people's work. Not to say he didn't have some very good, honest, refreshing points. But one needs to be able to take it if one dishes it out.

I'm not sure I get you, are you really complaining about motherfuckers refusing to accept cock after slamming assholes, or do I have the wrong end of the stick?

He's brutally honest. I don't know why people can't be more honest. I knew 7 guys about 15 years ago who started a gaming company. It became successful. When ever they talk about their now defunct company--they all lie about how they became successful. The truth is one kid had a rich, lawyer father. The father set everything up, and completely funded the company for years. Everyone of them leaves that out of the "I want to get laid speech". It's nauseating. The ironic part of their company success story is they sold out too early, for 500K a piece. As far as I know, everyone of the 7 dudes is broke now--or just game testers. The two guys I kept in touch with thought they were going to make a fortune in the stock market with their big brains; they lost everything in 2008.

It strikes me that Zed has been on the receiving end of way more bullying than he has given out (including being called a cock by you in this very post)

"I have for a while thought of you as (total honesty here) a bullying cock"

Notice the past tense. I based that opinion on the many aggressive attacking posts by Zed (for which he is well-known), particularly the attack of Mark Pilgrim (now deleted.)

That impression may be right or it may be wrong, but for good or for bad it's one that I got, and I felt my not mentioning that or hedging it here would be intellectually dishonest.

Note what I said next:-

"but this comment which is sincere, genuine and offered to someone for whom this could be greatly helpful has made me seriously reconsider. Kudos."

Which I really meant sincerely. It was actually meant to be a genuine compliment, but it is really hard to put that across without sounding sarcastic. Ah well.

Again, rewriting history. I attacked Mark only after he refused to fix his book, despite my offer of help, and told me to go fuck myself. He'd also attacked many other people in an exactly similar way before I did. I mean, c'mon, all I did was replicate this post Mark did:


I didn't see you calling Mark a cock after he wrote that. And, let's not forget that when Mark did take his gear off the internet I was sympathetic and told people to not "kick a man when he's down", something I'm damn sure he wouldn't do for me.

So if you're bringing out Mark Pilgrim as your shining example of people I "bullied" you pretty much picked about the worst example ever. Mark was a dick who shit on quite a few people in his day and deserved a little bit in return. Thinking that he was some choirboy that I beat up is a very naive way to view the world, but that's what I expect from someone who builds up mythical opinions of people they've never met.

Anyway, closing this tab now. I've sent out about 60 emails helping people find work and will be looking at about 10 resumes tomorrow in the time it took you to write these little comments. You rock dude!

I don't think it's rewriting history to say you were aggressive and attacking, I do absolutely accept that you might have been 100% in the right and justified in that.

I got the impression you were being bullying - my whole point here is that I felt I was wrong, and your kindness made me reconsider.

My little comments (indeed they are little, I make no claims otherwise) were actually genuinely and seriously meant to be complimentary while being open and direct about the impression I had.

Actually, please do ignore me and carry on helping people. These kind of arguments are a waste of time, what you're doing to help these people isn't. I admire it.

singular, don't worry, your post was fine. The self-confessed asshole (Peddling Luck vimeo - 34:30) overreacted due to a self-appointed discussion thread-relative moral high-ground.

"Fuck that book...fuck that bad advice, those people are lying... he/she is full of shit" etc etc. That was my first introduction to the Zed, just 5 min ago.

Then, singular comes along and says "I once thought you were a cock, but not anymore, kudos", and that gets a rage-reply from the Joker? Well, that's funny. People are hilarious!

By the way, someone has released an open-source Job Board project, maybe interesting to mention in this context: https://github.com/acapilleri/job_board

There's a difference in the two phrases: I love you, but you're fucking stupid. You're fucking stupid, but I love you.

I prefer the former to the latter. Sweeten me up then crush me with reality. A lot of people see the latter and just absolutely stop reading after "You're fucking stupid", especially people with admittedly short attention spans.

That would be the only thing I would apologize for or alter, personally. I understood the sincerity immediately but this is because I come from a long line of men that have taken the latter approach and I have to willfully ignore the negative because I know some positive exists or they wouldn't bother saying a damned word.

The point is that you stand in judgement of Zed.

Just because you now have a positive judgement doesn't change the fact that a few hours ago you judged him to be 'a cock'.

Why shouldn't he be pissed about that, and why should he care what you think?

Hmm, I don't think "I have for a while thought" is past tense. I'm going with 'present perfect.'

"I thought of you as" is not the same thing as "you are a".

It still makes for a pretty damned backhanded compliment.

Understandable that it came off that way, genuinely not intended as that.

It's bloody hard to express something sincerely on the internet without sounding like you're just being sarcastic.

IMO the best way to go about it in this case would have been simply to express your appreciation/admiration/whatever for his actions here, and ignore the past. That would clearly imply that you've at least somewhat adjusted your opinion, without having to explicitly bring it up.

Of course, it also wouldn't have spawned a hundred-comment sub-thread.

Why? I'd rather have someone tell me what they thought of me and that I managed to change their mind.

I can understand that POV, but I expect you're in the minority. Most people in my experience respond better to "I respect you," than to "I used to think you were a cock, but now I'm reconsidering and starting to respect you."

Well, he did call _why a dick (which is just a no in my book), but when all is said and done I think this is irrelevant. He's giving a guy in need a hand, and I think we should all look up to Zed for it.

Speaking of cocks, the technical leadership at two well-funded startups systematically harassed Zed by adding him to github repos that contained nothing but ASCII cocks. I know this because they bragged about it openly, thinking it hilarious.

Zed takes a lot of abuse for little reason.

I debated naming the companies here, but they appear to be failing anyway. Probably because they hired the sort of people who find harassment hilarious.

edit: removed oblique reference to one of the companies. I don't feel like giving those firms any publicity, even if it's bad publicity.

For those that don't know what hbags is referring to:


Apparently the twitter account referenced on moron5.com is still active and is passively still trying to be a dick


Who let the 4chan kids out of their cages?

Edit: No, seriously, that "DongML" stuff is like something 4chan's technology board might aspire to, if they could put down their bongs and endless WM tweaking for five minutes in a row.

Time to name and shame.

I have no idea if he is a bullying cock or not, but his personal website is a spectacular artifact of narcissistic douchebaggery. I am not sure I have ever seen someone tell you he doesn't care what you think of him so many times in such a short span. It reads like a high school journal.

One day, when he is an adult, he will look back on that and really cringe.

Zed is often misunderstood by those who have never spent time with him in person.

He's a hoot! Funny, insightful, earnestly well-intentioned and full of ideas that are IMHO way ahead of the curve.

Him reaching out to help is not surprising.

Well, here we go again. You'll call me a cock, and then I'll rip you in half verbally, and then you'll forget that you called me a cock and go off telling everyone I'm such a big bad bullying meanie for all the horrible awful things I said to you, and then I'll be crushed by the general opinion all you highly influential meaningful people have about me that I'll...

Wait, actually I don't give a fuck what you think. I'm busy helping people while you're busy calling me a cock. Fuck you.

...but this comment which is sincere, genuine and offered to someone for whom this could be greatly helpful has made me seriously reconsider. Kudos.

I felt you'd appreciate an unhedged opinion rather than me adding a bunch of weasel words like "I had the impression, right or wrong, that you were a bullying cock..."

I meant to say, very sincerely, that I was moved by your offer of help and it very much made me reconsider my opinion, as that gesture of kindness is really at odds with that impression of you.

So - sorry for calling you a cock. I thought what you did here was very noble and I admire it. I just felt there was no other way of expressing what I felt without being cowardly and weasel-worded about it.

What a world, what a world.

If a man helps another man, which I consider normal and I thought everyone would, you are "moved" when someone is nice. On the other hand it's a scandal if someone seems unfriendly, even though their actions are kind.

Stop please. And as parent wrote, nobody really cares that you changed your opinion. Opinions are nothing, you know. Actions on the other hand really count.

If there is no way to express something without hurting either yourself or the other one, express yourself on a different topic. I would hate this comment too if it were directed at me.

Terrible, terrible advice.

Every interaction with someone carries the chance of impact, the closer you get to talking about things related to or stemming from their core values the higher the chance you'll provoke a strong reaction (positive or negative). If you're not willing to potentially (perhaps not intentionally) express a viewpoint that could hurt the other person, then you'll be forever only talking about unimportant gumf or giving half-stated opinions that might not get the gravitas of a situation across.

Looking someone dead in the eye and without ego telling them "You're fucking up right now. Here's why" is a loving thing to do, and I'm thankful that someone cared enough to "hurt me"

Well it's a different kind of thing to say "I think you're a cock" vs "Hey I think you're doing this wrong - I'd do this and that to improve". While the latter can have the impact you describe, the former will just create alienation and destroys any basis of sensible communication. As demonstrated above.

Hurting is optional for learning. And personally I think it's entirely disposable.

First paragraph : Note that he didn't say that. Revealing a previous passive observation versus giving advice is different. He was basically just trying to say "I think I've had the wrong impression of you", but perhaps wanted to let him know just how strong of a negative impression he had. To me it read more like a sort-of public apology for holding a mistaken belief about Zed's character and possibly nudging others to reconsider any similar viewpoints.

Second point: Yup, optional just like most tools, and just like most tools there's always a set specific challenges where it can work wonders compared to the rest of the shed.

Your mileage may vary but I'd be very surprised if you can't think of a single lesson you've remembered better because there was some pain involved, we're supposedly hardwired to better remember those lessons, for obvious life-prolonging reasons.

You'd be surprised how many lessons are quite useless, regardless of their painfulness. Many of the things that happen don't have a systematical meaning that we can adapt our behavior to, but they happen because of chaos. A car accident that teaches you to always look left first (because you looked to the right, and bumped into a car coming from the left) at intersections can be very hurtful, e.g. if people are killed. And you will never-ever again forget to look left first, and never have an accident again due to this very reason, right? But, is that lesson any good? You might never again get into a similar situation, because the reason you looked to the right at that very moment was some dork honking at you. Or even worse, this lesson could lead to another accident because you are neglecting cars coming from the right.

Pain keeps you from touching that oven or from jumping down your balcony, but it's not a suitable tool to drive home a lesson. It holds us back. If you add painful lesson after lesson on top of your "fixed constraints" stack, then you won't be able to freely move after a while.

Nobody would grasp at straws enough to suggest to another man that the pain with a lesson is directly proportional to it's usefulness, that would be terrible, like the fate of the idiot in your analogy that decides the lesson learned is to look left.

So you burn yourself taking a casserole out, do you stop cooking? I'd hope not, you just now have the good sense to pay attention when dealing with hot, dangerous objects. We cherish this feedback, both as people and as entrepreneurs, that's one of the reasons we build MVPs

We could go a bit abstract and talk about pain/discomfort (including emotional) as devices, and I could give you anecdotes of when a former boss took me aside and plainly laid out why I could never hope to get where I wanted if I followed my current vector, but as we're anecdueling where's the fun in that :p

Talk to any gymnast and they'll usually be able to tell, if not show you physical remnants of, all the painful lessons they've learnt along the path of self-improvement. Ask them if they'd be half as good if they hadn't made those painful mistakes. Better yet ask them what makes an awesome gymnast, they'll usually tell you it's more about having "no fear" when going for stuff. Of course that's an oversimplification and discounts the years of training and talent, but there's a realist perspective in there.

Yes there will be painful lessons along the way, such is life. Not to go all ad populum on you but it's a fairly standard cliche that the people who can take the experiences, learn from the setbacks and not let the fear of another fall stop them trying will learn an awful lot faster and deeper than if they shy away from anything potentially upsetting. That fear of being upset by something is a personal issue and may limit what someone can achieve.

I also read it as a public apology.

I hate to be go all happy family on you, but please avoid swear words in a public forum like hacker news. There are enough forums where that sort of behaviour is a part of the culture and it degrades everyone.

I would assume that discouraging people from speaking their minds the way they feel like to is more harmful to a community than having to tolerate the occasional cuss word.

I know this is just a plea of yours, not an order, but it still comes across as patronizing to me. If you hate going all happy family on someone, don't do it. It will achieve nothing but aggravate them.

What you're actually asking is for people to repress their emotions, and that's way more degrading.

There are many ways to express emotions.

Ah... and you know the right way.

In a civil, intellectual manner that shows deliberate thought, as opposed to letting garbage tumble from the mouth, perhaps?

I don't see a single fucking swear word in his reply...

I love you Zed. I would bear manbabies for you.

I can remember the old days when there wouldn't be a week without Zedshaw this and Zedshaw that on HN.

And the very fact I love you is your pure, raw, passionate ethics.

I like you because you do not just ignore dumbasses. You give them a chance to see gravity of their delusion and to repent. If that means taking a dude and rubbing his nose into the poo, then be it.

Zedshaw is like an amplifying mirror. Be nice to him and he will reflect and amplify the niceness. Take him for a fool... Brace down for some Righteous Fury (tm).

I think you greatly misunderstood the intent of that message. Still, I doubt you give a fuck what I think either, so as you were.

I don't think Zed misunderstood anything. That poster is standing in judgement of Zed, and has Zed expressed his reaction.

Why not try turning the attack into a compliment and make the attacker love, that's what alpha males do. :) If you need to say fuckk, your original point wasn't strong enough and you needed to reinforce it.

Saying fuck normally should be used to create rapport with someone and allowing him to use the word too.

Welp, quite some deep psycho analysis shit here.^^

Hmm, I didn't read his reply that way. Maybe you're just going off... half-cocked?

This entire post should be about the OP, and now it is about ZS. Can we just delete this entire subtree, please?

I actually like your personality. You're one of the few people that don't take shit and actually stand by your actions/words.

Even with all the people shitting on your online persona, you continue to work, you've produce some stuff that people enjoy (learn the hard way), it's really admirable.

People like you - the genuinely transparent and fearless - are the only ones capable of sincere gestures. The scoundrels and cowards hate you because your honesty makes them self-conscious, so they'll fight you on grounds of "politeness".

Thank you for your honesty. Whether you care or not, know that the people that value it -truly- do (unlike the cooze that reacted on you).

Also, thank you for your amazing coding lessons. Your CLI book/guide is largely responsible for helping me land my current job. I have ADHD:PI and find your "cut through the bullshit" method of teaching INCREDIBLE. I've purchased your Python book and look forward to the experience.

> People like you - the genuinely transparent and fearless - are the only ones capable of sincere gestures.


I assure you that I am very little like Zed -- apart from my fear and opaqueness, I also appreciate the mean as an excellent first-order summary statistic -- and yet I am very sincere in my belief that your response is pure vacuity.

How can someone opaque and fearful make sincere gestures? Sincerity is only possible through honesty and integrity. Honesty and integrity require courage.

As for the mean as a first-order statistic, we clearly have different values... I like mine better.


I'll upvote any use of the word "cooze" especially one so apt.


> Wait, actually I don't give a fuck what you think. I'm busy helping people while you're busy calling me a cock. Fuck you.

You so don’t give a fuck that you replied straight away.

But at least you didn’t have to repeat how busy you are helping people, since the poster you so-don’t-care-about-that you-had-to-reply-to specifically called it out as noble, amirite?

Whether the post was ment ironic or not: golfclap

Nice, thanks for the laughs.

Hah brilliant!

Am I the only one laughing after reading Zed's comment? Haha, nice reply :P

Yea, seeing zedshaw's comment I thought he was about to ridicule the guy for whatever reason. This was unexpected. A good deed, though it doesn't make him not a bullying cock all of a sudden. He's a stellar rockstar with attitude. It happens :)

Will people please stop replying to this otherwise HN's 'flame war' and controversy detectors will kick in and bury the posting.

Christ, not this shit again.

Can we all please rise above talking about personalities? How fucking drab.

Grow up and stop worrying so much about what people think or say.

Every coin has two faces.

I agree, if he were young and single with no dependents maybe "hang in there" would be appropriate, but this guy just told us he has a wife, three kids, and a fourth on the way. To add to that he is out of money, out of credit, and out his house. When you haven't got a nickel to your name and you have five dependents, that's hardly the time to go "down for doubles" on a big risk (unless you are out of options)

Class. I don't care if people think your style is too harsh. You're here setting a positive example of altruism, and genuinely trying to help out a complete stranger. Props.

Zed, you truly are an inspiration. The real deal. You inspire people.

Wow ! What a man ! By reputation, I knew you from your rant on Ruby on Rails years ago and your move to the python ecosystem. As a Rails lover, at first time I was thinking like the mainstream about your rants and your opinions. Later I discovered learnXthehardway series and your work and found them awesome. But today, I definatelly appreciate you Zed, hope one day I will meet you in person, even for a 15 minutes coffee time. Have a nice day and good luck themanthatfell, one advice. Never give up, as a men we should never abandon even how deep is our situation (I even took the risk to quit my job in 2011 while my wife was giving birth of our first child), you'll always find a way. If you have 1 chance on 100 to get something, just try 100 times and you'll get it, even Thomas Edison tried 10K times before finding the way to make the light bulb.

I encountered Mr. Shaw's rant on Rails years before I happened to find myself on a Rails project, and thank God I did; otherwise, my experience with Rails might've led me to think there was something wrong with me.

You taught me python the hard way. I watched all the videos at 1.5x speed so I will always picture you as having a curt, snappy, slightly high-pitched voice.

Also, that's nice of you to help out. I hope he gets in touch with you.

I can't believe I didn't know about you. I'm devouring your blog posts now while listening to Session 22. Both are quite (very) enjoyable, thank you.

Zed, You are an example to many if you deliver on this. I hope the OP follows up with you so you can.

Just found one more reason to be your fan, Zed!

Kudos to you Mr. Shaw. I enjoyed your books that you so kindly made available for free but this act just made me respect you tenfold. World needs more people like you.

Wow... that's a really nice thing to do for one in need. Gotta be your friend Zed!

Zed helped me back when I lived in NYC and was really depressed despite me being a total stranger from the internet.

Despite what people may think based on his "style", he's always come across as a really nice guy to me. Reminds me of one of my best friends actually, seems like an arsehole but is one of the most genuine and caring people I know. Funny how that can be the case :)

I loved your comment more than the story. Really, it's good to see that we people do actually care for one another. This kind of thing could happen to everybody.

Good luck helping that guy and others that have real problems, wish you both all the best.

Helping out, Motherfucker - Are you doing it? <3

I read "I am a bad ass writer and have a crazy resume" and then thought "oh who is this guy?". Then I saw it was Zed lol. yeah, totally a badass writer. Carry on.

So cool that people are stepping up to help instead of kicking someone while they are down. This guy isn't a failure until he gives up. It just wasn't the right time, and I look forward to a future post where he talks about his next shot at doing something.

Good on all of you to redeem the HN community in the eyes of all.

I've said it once before and I'll say it again... Zed, if YOU are ever up for it, I'd love to buy you a beer man. I live in the bay area and so meeting up should be of little issue. I've seen the comments from your fans AND detractors, and I must say, I've never really bought into the negative. I'm not surprised by this comment and your willingness to help another individual who has fallen on hard times.

Completely agree. In addition, since he seems to have struggled for a while, I suggest not maximizing income and instead focus on a less stressful 3-4 year plan to get back on his feet.

Life is long so there will be plenty of new chances to swing for the fences if that is what he desires. And if his 3-4 year plan is executed ahead of schedule plans can always be changed.

You are a gem, if we get couple of thousands like you with loud voice this world would be a great place to enjoy.

Big fan of your books, an even bigger fan of you now. You sir, are a good man. Here, have a virtual hug !

Thank You Zed, you are truly awesome!!

The Internet ought to get you a beer.

Fan of your work... now an even bigger fan! :) Thank you making this world a better place.

Thanks for doing this, Zed!

Let's not delude ourselves here; these days getting work is all about network too. Fantastic resume is fantastic, contacts who can get it at the top of the pile: even better.

That's incredibly nice of you Zed. Seriously - it's pretty fucking awesome.

Oh - and I suggested Python the hard way to a bunch of people, and those that stuck with it, found it great.

Zedshaw, you win coolest guy on the Internet today. Your response may have made Thanksgiving bearable for me by reminding me that good does exist in this black-friday-world.

Thank you.

> Hey, other comments are going to give you a few lines telling you to not quit, that you should hang in there, and that it'll be alright.

You got to know when to shoot a dog...

Zed shaw for president.

You're awesome man, really warmed my heart to see this.

Thanks for NOT giving him the "hang in there" speech and some real alternatives to get him back on his feet. You're awesome, man.

good guy zed shaw. kudos to you sir, and if you ever want to grab a beer/bourbon around SF message me! good deeds need to go rewarded

please accept this small piece of karma as a token of appreciation for helping this person. we need more people like you in this world.

Good on you, Zed.

I think that's a great response indeed.

Wow. Very cool.

Just great. I love this community just because of a comment like this, once in a while.

You sir, are a good guy.

Faith in humanity... restored, thank you for being this nice.

This is awe inspiring. I wish I can help like this too..

It's posts like this that make me love HN :')

Arnold's 6th rule. giving back to the community.

Amazing. Really nice. You're a good man.

I'm glad there are people like you !

Awesome, Zed

Can I pay you to fix my resume?

Try asking for help first.

Thank you for your nice help.

You are awesome Zed.

Good for you, sir.

Awesome, Zed.

I love you

very cool! initiative.

Zed Shaw you are the man

you are awesome !

you rock, zed

I'm really glad that people like you exist, Zed, and keep fighting. (Also, I'm a fan of LCTHW.)

Silicon Valley was built by people helping each other out and paying it forward. The current Atherton/Sand Hill Road, "fuck you I've got mine", NIMBY, crowd seem to have forgotten that.


As jaded as I am on altruism and human nature, this post gives me a slight glimmer of hope.

Don't worry, I'm sure the next person you meet will bring you crashing back to reality.

@OP.. it may not help much in your position, but that Man in the Arena quote seems relevant here. Imo you still deserve more respect (all other things being equal) than the vast majority of the world that not only never attempt great works, but actively try to prevent others from trying or succeeding too. Hope that your next endeavor goes better.

Damn dude, you're really nice. Props. Also, hope everything turns around for you, themanthatfell.

No lectures--no advice=The World needs more guy's like you. I hope you can help him.

Awesome, Zed! I guess that you'll receive a lot of emails :) Me included. lol.

My wife cried reading all of your comments. I guess we were looking for some sign that someone somewhere is pulling for us. During the first hour this post was up I hovered over the delete more than once. It doesn't seem right to bring an entire ecosystem of ambitious and wonderful people a story of failure. I guess I learned that hitting delete would be worse. Thank you from the 5.3 of us.

These stories should be required reading. To that end the community would benefit massively from you documenting it.

Just as there are Journals of Negative results [1][2] so too should there be a journal of failed startups. Your detailing of what caused the failures could save thousands of man hours and potentially someone falling into the same traps.

Goal #1 for you right now is to get your family in order and steel the troops for tough times ahead as you get back on your feet.

In short order though you should start simply documenting the process that led to your company failing. Not only will you learn from it but it will help others.

If you are in the DC area don't hesitate to reach out to myself and my family. We have kiddos the same ages as yours so they would have a ball.

[1] http://www.jnrbm.com/ [2] http://www.jnr-eeb.org/index.php/jnr

I'm sure that would be nice to have. I'm can relate to OP, I'm out of pretty my all of my savings and trying to think of ways to shutter my co. I already have four kids. When a friend of mine said to me, "perhaps we should disect this failure", the zing from that made it all that much worse.

I'm sure there's plenty of lessons to be learned from failed startups, but even 5 years after my first failed startup, I still don't like thinking about it, least of all documenting what went wrong.

Now, fortunately I do have a venture that's been somewhat of a runaway success, in spite of me. The only truth I can relate do what you must and then get lucky. There isn't some secret method to success(despite what your methodical brain tells you).

It may be survivor bias or whatever, but I still don't like harping on my failures. I know the severe guilty feeling that I get knowing that I not only risked my own but my family's well being possibly, but then again, at least I tried. Life's tough, live to fight another day & survive long enough till you get lucky. I for one am not looking to revisit my failure any more than I already do, it's too traumatic to relive.

I can't speak for your situation so don't take this as a goad, only my thoughts on the idea of doing a triage/after action/autopsy.

I know that feeling. I have failed before and hard. I did however resolve to ensure that it wasn't for nothing by, as your co-founder suggested, dissecting it. What I found was that instead of it just being a downer, I realized how many good things were done and how many exciting developments, both personally and professionally came out of what was at the end of the day a failure.

In the end the margin of failure can be tiny - but I would guarantee that you will also be able to find some massive successes in there as well. Adding to that the benefit that others would take away and I think it would be of great benefit.

> Just as there are Journals of Negative results [1][2] so too should there be a journal of failed startups.

We used to have something like that.


I got laid off when my son was 2 months old and my wife was on maternity leave. That was about 9 years ago. You can pull through this.

(My solution was to relocate countries, from Victoria, Canada to Silicon Valley. We did this in 2 weeks. Now, ironically, I'm doing a startup, but living back in Victoria.)

If you're a programmer and a US citizen, you have won the talent + nationality lottery. (I'm the former, but not the latter.) If you're both, realize how fortunate you truly are.

One course of action is to...

1. Move to Silicon Valley if you're not there right now. It's a boom, and it sounds like you don't have much to lose at the moment.

2. Go be an early employee at some startup that is funded. Maybe you'll get lucky and it's the next Dropbox or Snapchat. Or maybe you'll just earn good money in a great climate.

3. Consider doing another startup once you have savings or can bootstrap doing consulting. However, bootstrapping takes a LONG time and requires serious commitment.

Good luck! Peter

Please do reach out to Zed Shaw. His offer is genuine and I can't think of a better person to offer you some help.

You're always welcome. You've got a long road ahead of you, but that's not a bad thing. That means plenty of opportunities. Work hard, take advantage of the awesome opportunities in this thread, and push for others. If you don't ask, you don't get, so don't be shy.

I'd wish you good luck, but you don't need it. It sounds like you've already got a wonderful family. That makes you a pretty lucky guy when you think about it.

Just keep your head up, and know that you've got a lot of people rooting for you.

Don't feel bad about bringing a story of failure. You're keeping it real and there's nothing more valuable than a dose of reality sometimes.

Hey man, just had a baby daughter myself and I know what the feeling of responsibility is like for the parents in the family. Hang in there. The job market for IT people is huge right now. You can turn this around.

Seriously....reach out to everyone, including me. Not sure in which part of the US you're located, but I seem to know people in lots of places. Let us help, you may end up helping us right back one day.

Failures are the things you learn from the most. What have you been trying to do the last months with your company?

Perhaps some of us might help :)

Why don't you describe what you were trying to monetise? Possibly someone here can see an opportunity in it?

To the O.P. - please post a follow-up to let us know if things improve. Happy holidays.

reach out, this thread has support

You are a husband, and a father. To me, that is never failure, no matter what happens.

Keep it together for your family. Your kids and wife need you right now. You are the pillar of the house and if you stand tall your strength will make the rest of your family emotionally better off.

So you may lose the house. Happens to a lot of people.

Whatever money you have right now or can get, keep it. Stop paying any of your bills, except the necessities.

Who knows how many weeks, months it will be until you are kicked out. Stay in your house until you are forced to leave. When you do have to leave, go get a rental.

Go find your self whatever jobs you can get to get some income coming in. This could be delivering pizza, snow romoval, mowing lawns, etc..

While your doing this, find another software job.

None of this is easy but see this as another start up. This time its literally to start you back up again.

Remember, you are in the States, no matter what happens, your wife and kids will never go hungry. You will provide for them no matter what.

Amazing comment !

I do not know the level of despair this man has been going through to, but I'm sure this kind of comment will make him feel better.

Thank you for your kindness, world really need more people like Zed and like you.

I don't care if I get down voted. But if a person already has 3 kids and another on the way, why would you spend all your savings on a startup ? even if you run out of savings, why would you max out your credit ? There is something called calculated risk.

My thoughts as well. It sucks that this failure happened -- failure does happen, and it sucks more the more people are affected by it -- but putting your kids in a position like this? Your spouse has the choice to support you, or to at least try to talk you out of either doing what you're doing or dumping all of your assets into it. Your kids don't have the understanding to know the difference or understand the situation.

Hindsight is 20/20, but people seem too often to forget that foresight can go a long way towards saving you from having to stare backwards at a disaster. Hopefully the OP learns from this and makes his future failures (because we all fail, and just doing it once would be an incredibly rare feat) more palatable to himself and his family.

Calculated risks, no matter how number of, or how precise the calculations, often still fail. The idea that all risk can be eliminated is a fallacy, as there is literally always a risk of failure unless you're already independently wealthy.

Even if you are independently wealthy, there's risk of failure: Health reasons, financial reasons beyond your control (e.g. currency hyperinflation; draconian tax measures as happened in Greece and Argentina and will likely happen in other places as well; Significant loss of finances to fraud, as in the Bernie Madoff case)

It's never possible to eliminate all risk. However, there's a difference between taking a calculated risk, and being reckless -- and reckless people more often than not believe they were taking a calculated risk. This is especially true of people with gambler personality.

(Not making an opinion about original poster - I have no info to base an opinion on. Making a general statement)

> there's a difference between taking a calculated risk, and being reckless -- and reckless people more often than not believe they were taking a calculated risk. This is especially true of people with gambler personality.

Just quoting this because it deserves to be read twice.

You're not wrong -- I just wanted to delineate between 'failure' and 'bankruptcy'. Clearly, if Bill Gates wanted to start a new company, the likelihood that it would bankrupt him is indeed minuscule, though not impossible. I would wager though, that unless it was exceedingly ambitious (e.g., very high risk), the possibility of him going bankrupt from any new venture is infinitesimal.

It's also perhaps worth noting that yeah, I'm also not making any value judgements on the OP, except to say that sometimes, even calculated risks are subject to sheer and utter failure, and that even playing things extremely safe, unless one has piles and piles of money, could easily lead to bankruptcy-worthy situations.

Sometimes I think I envy people who can think like you do.

But I find people who know what it means to be irrational are far more interesting.

Frankly there are many ways you can be irrational. Your thoughts, your actions, your creations. But don't do that at the expense of your family. If you want to take too much risk, don't start a family, heck you can even stop at 1 kid to manage risk.

You forfeit the freedom to be irrational when you have a child, let alone four of them.

100x this.

On a tangentially related note, what is the moral philosophy around having children? I'm not familiar with this area at all. Is having children generally considered a (or close to) a human right? Because it seems a lot of discussion about social policy (especially minimum wage) revolves around the assumption of supporting more than just oneself.

As a parent of 6, I call bullshit.

I want my kids to take risks. I want them to challenge the status quo. I want them to think for themselves. I want them to appreciate the irrational.

I don't care if they get an xbox for Christmas.

I'm pretty sure we're discussing taking risks that could move your kids into foster care because you're homeless, not the risk of not being able to afford an Xbox.

No we are not. It might be rough while the dad gets a job, but people don't go from startup founder to homeless.

... said jaxn in the thread about the guy whose home is being foreclosed upon because he lost his credit and mortgage money in a gamble.

I don't know how many kids you have or how many failed startups you have had, but I have some very relevant experience here. Give it 3 months and ask the OP if he ended up homeless.

The fact that he has 3+ kids and a wife seems to be relevant now that the start up has failed. So, it should have definitely been taken into consideration at the beginning.

It's always easy to criticize from the outside. I don't know the OP's details enough to make a judgement like yours.

It's not like you have another life to hedge against. what sort of life have you led if you have never pushed or tried or taken a risk. is it riskier for your kids to grow up thinking life is playing it safe.

People make stupid mistakes when chasing after their dreams. Especially when heavily influenced by survivor biased that is rampant in tech media. Its the failure that make you smart in the long run.

I agree. :-(

Because people who take these risks change the world. Failure just goes with the territory sometimes. Without entrepreneurs, you'd have life filled with many more daily aches and pains. We need to celebrate these folks. They are the real heroes of society.

I'm mobile now so excuse the brevity.

If you're in the Twin Cities I'd like to extend a hand in you running on two legs. I'd also like to help out giving your little ones a memorable Christmas. No strings attached.

I can get you in front of some bigger names here and get you interviews, depending on what you do. tbese

Email is josh@josh.mn

Class act, as always Josh.

If you're really done, don't listen to the people saying "don't give up" - give up, and get back on your feet, whatever that takes. Then, get back on the horse when and if you're ready - I just came off a year of re-building my life after a failed startup, and I'm in such an insanely better position to start my next company now than I was then, but it's only been made possible by the fact that the moment we realized the funding was not going to happen, we gave up.

We had a shitty 4 months, and it could be longer for you it could be shorter, but go through it and come out the other side. My new startup is now about to close funding, but it only happened because we put ourselves in the position to succeed, not by continuing to try to force something that wasn't going to happen.

Knowing when you're dead is the first step.

good advice, iteration works :)

I'm on my 5th company. The first 3 failed so miserably that there's not even a crater from where they imploded. The fourth had one of the founders usurp control and steal >$1M from the rest of the team and we were left exactly where you are - tapping 401Ks, taking our savings to $0 (and in some cases <<<< $0) and with terrified wives/kids/families/pets.

The 5th hit $10M in revenue in 3 years (completely bootstrapped).

Everyone else has great advice here - I just wanted you to know that there are others who have been where you are.

Much as everyone else expressed... if there's anything I can do, please reach out. mmurray / at / MAD Security.

>The first 3 failed so miserably that there's not even a crater from where they imploded.

Beautiful way to put it.

Thanks. I watched my partners struggle with wives and kids. Me, I only had a wife and cats... which made it easier in some ways, and harder in others....

pets ...hahahhahaha

To the OP: Thank you for sharing this. I'm sure it wasn't easy. I hope that some of the many folks offering help can give you a leg up.

To everyone else: I like HN, but I often wish that it really was Hacker News instead of Startup News, and this is one reason why. I worked for a startup for a while, until it folded; now I'm maintaining servers at a university library, making mid-five digits a year, and I'm as happy as I've ever been. I've got stability, I've got low stress levels, I work 40 hours a week and then relax at home or with my friends; and I've got enough money to live comfortably, save for retirement, and have a few luxuries besides.

We need to stop telling aspiring coders that they're not worth shit unless they're taking risks, burning with ambition, dreaming of being billionaires. Some people really enjoy that road, and that's okay, but sometimes taking the safe and easy path is a perfectly fine and noble thing to do.

It's true. None of us (in the "first world" at least) are truly short on money. What we're short on is time (life is short). The wisest advice I ever found on Hacker News was to live each day such that (1) it is enjoyable today, and (2) it also improves your prospects for tomorrow. If you neglect either one of those, you're screwing up and you'll eventually regret it.


"Lifestyle business" or even "enjoyable job" are not dirty phrases.

Hey bud,

Hitting the bottom after a long fall is the hardest thing you can go through in life. A year ago I was working on my own stupid startup, ran out of money, ran out of credit, wasn't sure there would be another blue sky in my life. Everyone has ups and downs, its the hardest thing to go through.

However, life is not over. It may feel like it, and you may even want it to be. But YOU are still writing YOUR story -- do you want to be the guy who fell and didn't get back up? Fuck no. You want to be the guy who had nothing left and no matter how far down the rabbit hole you go, you find a way back out. You want to be a success. You want it all. You'll have it all someday. Is that day today? No. But because you're still alive you have the chance to make it a reality.

So get back up, find work, pay off bills, and you'll be back in the game before you know it. You're intelligent, smart, driven. Remember -- do not let failure dictate who you are. You're not a failure, failure is simply something that happens to all of us. Learn from failure and let it compliment your decision making in the future. You'll be wiser and you'll learn from this mistake.

Good luck and I'll see you around, Tiger

You have a decent enough point you're trying to get across, but the 'bud' and 'tiger' really cheapen it. I mean, you're responding to a grown man and father of (almost) 4 here, not some pre-teen kid.

"Tiger" is referring to himself (see username), but you're right about "bud". I hate being called bud.

I worked on my own stuff for a long time, trying to live off next to nothing. It didn't work and eventually I ran out of money.

I got a job as a programmer-grunt. I saved up basically everything I made. After two years my bank account hit $50K and I quit and started working on my own stuff again. Life is so much easier now that I have some cash in the bank.

Burning through credit cards seems like a bad path. It's just not necessary. I remember being afraid I would get addicted to easy money in the corporate world. I didn't. The lifestyle was nice, but the lack of freedom made it easy to quit.

Now, I don't have a family to support. That would of course make things harder. I just wanted to strongly recommend the nest-egg approach to anyone grappling with finances.

You should comment with a list of skills, maybe either a fellow HN-er offers you a job, or knows someone else that might be able to.

It's close to Christmas guys, help this person if you can.

Edit: Also, I noticed you said you're pretty sure you're the opposite of 'us', I can assure you, there's at least another 'failure' to join you, me. I've failed plenty of times in various ways. I used to have a company (not a startup in the common sense though, just a small business) as well some time ago, it didn't fail per se, but I ended up closing it voluntarily because things weren't going in the direction I wanted them to, lots of external factors out of my reach. I felt terrible about it for quite a long time though...now I'm better.

You are in an unpleasant situation, but not in a tragedy by no means. To put things into perspective: imagine you have successful company but got pancreatic cancer.

Your to-do list is pretty straightforward:

1) Put your failed startup aside.

2) Find a job ASAP.

3) Try to save your house. Your family would need it. Beg your bank to give you ~extra month until your next paycheck.

4) In about a year you may return to thinking about another startup. Take another year or two to think it over, accumulate some funds, do some part-time research and then jump into your new startup again... or not. Being an employee until you retire is also a good choice.

I disagree about the house. Lose it. Strategic foreclosure is 100x better than continuing to pay for something you're going to lose anyway. Ride it out as long as you can, save what you can from the mortgage payments, then move into a rental when it's time to go.

Just curious, because other comments also mention staying as long as you can and then getting a rental : wouldn't the first part mess up your credit record so badly that you couldn't get a rental? Here in South Africa I'm pretty sure almost no landlord will rent you something with a bad credit record like that (having gone through the process of renting a place and seeing all the proof they require that you'll be able to pay). Probably because it's very hard to get rid of tenants once they're in though, so you have to make sure they're ok before they move in. Is it different in the States?

Same thing with employing someone here, you have to be very sure they'll fit, because it's VERY hard to fire someone.

Foreclosure is so common that a decent landlord will understand the situation. I'm a landlord myself and income trumps credit in most situations.

Bad credit can be overcome with a bigger deposit, higher rate, and proof of income. In the end those things still mean more money in his pocket as opposed to spending a few extra months futily trying to save a home in foreclosure.

1) Generally rent is more expensive than owning the house of similar size (in SF and NYC it's probably not the case though).

2) Moving big family is stressful and time consuming.

3) Generally it's better for your karma if you pay your debts.

If the situation is desperate then foreclosure could make sense. But healthy software developer in the US is hardly in desperate situation even if his startup just failed.

With 3 kids and another on the way, this is a risk you should never have taken. Even when I started, a single bloke, I started my company in my spare time working full time, and built up a huge safety net before quitting.

This is more a warning for others who think it is easy, or a fun thing to do. Don't.

You know what, this has been stated a couple of times now.

Your point is valid but every person's situation is different.

And frankly, its a moot point now. The dude is where he is at. I'm sure he knows better than any of us ever will what went wrong and the risks (good and bad) he took.

You have no idea what risk he should or shouldn't have taken. I don't know if you have kids or not, but as a parent you have to both care for your kids and also provide them a good example of how to live. For me, a life without risks is not the life I want for my kids.

If you are in Houston, johnny@cpap.com.

Give us a paypal link and we'll gap you.

I don't see anyone who's mentioned Portland, OR yet. If you're around there, I'd be happy to talk: pj@illuminatedcomputing.com. My startup failed two years ago, with a homemaker wife, two kids 2 & 0, no health insurance, and almost no savings. Pretty scary. I've been freelancing since then and it's a huge relief to be out of that place. You have more support than you know!

I'm going to echo a few other people here. You need to share more details (Location, etc)

Zed Shaw may be the most famous, but there is a bunch of us that can do things to help.

On the off chance you're in Australia (or if you just want a someone to talk to about this), feel free to email me at me@vertis.io

Trust me you are not the opposite of most people here. This site thrives on "survivor bias" and making it seem like its all rosy. If you're in Miami, I can help you get a job in startups.

You should take Zed up on his offer. If you want to be entrepreneurial again, you can be, after you’ve built up your bankroll. When you’re broke with dependents, you don’t have the emotional ability to make good decisions.

Very good points. Just recently being married has me in a strange provider mode where it wants to reign as long in my life. 5 dependents vs 1 is an even tougher game.

Stability is king but it ultimately comes down to happiness and joy. The path the op is on doesn't seem happy and I can speak to that personally. Everyone needs a reboot now and then. I don't expect most startups to succeed 100% of the time but the successful founders keep at it until they find that balance of the right problem to solve and the right attitude to persevere.

> Pretty sure I am the opposite of everyone here.

I am one like you with a wife and 3 Kids, that at one point couldn't afford bills/payments (exactly during this holiday season), Dec/January and February were the coldest and weakest I have ever felt as a man. Look at your wife and kids for an extremely good amount of energy and inspiration to go on and fight for them.

During these tough times, nothing comes better than believing in that 'one thing' that will always be true, and that is the love for your family. That's what helped me.

Somewhat cliche now, but it is true: It will get better.

...and of course, if you're in Washington State ( l o c o b o x @ that google domain for email )


Same here -- wife, 2 kids, house and in Seattle. More than happy to try to help a colleague.

I consider myself a lot less Smarter than people here on HN so I never comment. But your 70 words made me.

'Manthatfell' - You are a very brave person to write something up like this very openly. But, If a Man of the Family loses hope it tears that family apart. Trust me. I observed this very closely. HN Community is so strong, kind and supportive.

You already found a lot helping hands. You are now 'Manthatfellbutgotup'. Just start Running..

As a creator (don't like calling myself an entrepreneur) I have failed more than 30 times and out of this I lost everything 3 times and personally went bankrupt 1 week before my wedding (talked about this on Mixergy during Andrews failure week).

I'm now on my third success and each new project seems to get better and bigger, I still launch something that sucks here and there but I enjoy the journey and NOT the attachment to the end result.

I hate to sound all Zen here but failure is normal. I wish I had three kids, wish my wife was pregnant - you lucky man.

Failure cannot live with persistence.

90% of what we do sucks! but that's ok.

You really have no control over your future so enjoy the path.

From one guy that fails to another! @scottsbarlow

I have failed on 5 different ventures. Now going to try a 6th.

I am in the Bay Area. If we share a common grocery store. I'd be happy to send you a gift card for some groceries.

EDIT: Some of the ideas, for the curious, not in correct order

1. I thought that I could use Trolltech QT, when the green phone was coming out, to write apps, etc. The green phone never took off and was horrible to program with

2. I was writing backup software, OSX, successfully. Took on a partner for sales and he essentially killed everything. Sold the source code after a few years of it sitting idle for a few macBook's and misc hardware.

3. Started a 501c3 for storing information and could never get to writing the product with all the administration duties, compliance issues, etc.

4. Started an ISP back in 2003-2005 when I lived in a small town in NY. It was pretty successful. I broke even with all the bandwidth expenses, racks of hardware, etc. Eventually sold for very cheap when I just couldn't keep up with the company that had been in town for ever.

5. I bought a popular text editor and worked on it for years and just couldn't get it to where I wanted it. I always had more to do and just couldn't get versions out. I still have this code and consider getting back to it some day.

I thought your name looked vaguely familiar, then read bullet point 5 there. This editor wouldn't have happened to be Pepper, would it? I always wondered what happened to it after it had been bought. (I may have bought a license for Pepper; I know I had one for its BeOS predecessor Pe.)

Pepper indeed!

How are you still eating and have a roof if you failed five times? Did you take gigs on the side, or get back on your feet via work in between ventures?

it hasn't always been easy. I have taken contract work when things are slow or I am struggling to achieve the goals for the startup. I have also taken time off between and worked for companies. My wife has always worked full-time too.

Please share some more details - it would help us to give you more targeted advice:

1) What was the mission of your failed startup?

2) What was your personal role in it?

3) What city are you in?

this would be great

Hey dude, please post up a BTC address so we can send you some cash to tide you over.

Yes please do, I'd also contribute.

Hey There. 138 comments in, it may seem trite, but if you're in NYC, please shoot me an e-mail (info in my profile). I'm hiring across the board; even if it's just freelance to get you back on your feet, we can work something out. Please e-mail.

I've had one of the toughest years of my life. One thing I kept doing was writing a gratitude list. Almost daily. It may have saved my life. Good luck.

This is my worst nightmare - I have had my company for 10 years and we've come close to this position twice, first in 2008 during the global economic collapse and second in 2011 when the country I am in had a revolution. I can still remember the stomach churning fear in my stomach during the worse periods.

Good luck to you and your family - it was a brave thing to do. I pray that you get back on your feet as soon as possible.

While not completely analogous, when I graduated with a 4 year degree, I didn't know what to do in life. Went back to grad school - then exited - still lost. Two hospital stays with a wife and young child. No job. Life sucked. If your religious, cling to that. If not, cling to your wife and kids. THEY are the important thing.

I am religious, so I will be praying for you that everything will turn out. Keep us posted, man.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy"

You do what you need to get and your family through this. That's only only game that's important. The rest of this is just icing. If you are in Europe or the Bay Area feel free to reach out to me @kzhu. I'll help if I can.

It just seems wrong to have three kids under 6 and a wife pregnant and still try your luck on creating a new company. I think before anything else, you need to be responsible with the ones that depends on you.

s/wrong/selfish and irresponsible/

Hang in there man. Care to share more about what kind of company? How big of a gamble was it?

Bad bet to make or a good bet with a bad outcome? You may have already commented as much as you feel comfortable with, but would be important for readers to understand perhaps more on this point. In any event, this has some bearing on even how you perceive yourself when you say 'just a statistic'.

I wish you well. Do whatever it takes to keep your family comfortable, regroup and get ready to fight again. In todays economy, we're all entrepreneurs. You don't get to keep a job your entire life like some of our parents/grandparents did. You fight every day for your family, hustle, make friends, call in favors and help those that need it.

You tried. And you should try again. You've learned something from this but you won't get a chance to use it unless you try again.

> Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. — Calvin Coolidge

If you're in Boston and if there's anything that I can do, listening or some freelance work, we're always looking for talented people at Splitzee.com.

Also, full disclosure, I am the CTO of splitzee.com, a group fundraising platform. I wanted to share the link so that if anyone wants to create a collection for this guy, please let me know so I can make sure that there are no fees and that he gets every penny. Splitzee is a fundraising platform that can be used for any cause, and this type of fundraiser is what we see our site being used for all the time. I don't want my intentions to be misconstrued, I would love to see any collection set up so I can pitch in a few dollars, I just hadn't seen one, and really do think Splitzee would be a great choice. All the best!

Hey Man, Husband and Father. I have a large amount of respect for you. My only suggestion is to apologize to your wife and family for not being able to provide now. The love and forgiveness that you receive from them will lift a weight off you that you may not know is there.

Also, remember, you aren't the first Man, Husband or Father to be in this situation and that you are not alone. At this point, make sure not to be prideful and accept the gifts of known and unknown people who want to help you out. None of us made it to where we are without the help of family or the kind words of strangers.

This too shall pass and you will come out even stronger. I am in the New York area and depending on what you do, I might be able to help introduce you to people. You can reach me at rwoodruf at gmail dot com.

Man you're making me tear up here. Guys more often base their SELF-worth on their usefulness in their career than women, so when a man fails in his work or can't provide he often feels worthless as a human being. This is a FALLACY and it's not even true for a second. OP said he wasn't even a man anymore and that's heartbreaking to me. We all need a support net, every single one of us!


I don't want to overstep the bounds of a semi-anonymous comment thread, but some of the language you are using, and your choice of user name, has me concerned about your more immediate plans.

In the course of a very public failure and a long depressive phase I wound up in a mental facility for a few days. It's taken a long, miserable time to get back. I did not have the same stressors that you do, and the details of my situation are going to be very different than yours, but if you would just like to have a conversation with someone tonight, please feel free to get in touch. No judgment, no life-affirming advice, just that I would be very glad to hear what you have to say and to talk if you are up for it.

Email is in my profile, I'll keep checking it until pretty late. Good luck.

So, is a good or bad sign that he's just deleted his post?

This series of comments got an earlier one missing according to you? The way HN just stitches the comments back together like nothing happened is rather irritating. Can't it least have a space showing a comment was deleted? I got stung by this a few days ago due to a comment looking like it was addressed to me - rather than to the person disputing what I said who then deleted their comment.

You dont lose until you give up.

Find a good public school district near a bus line and get into the cheapest apartment you can find before the house stuff hits your credit history. Get the highest paying job you can get that is closest to home- I hope its a tech job but if its a service job so be it.

No cable, no smartphone, 1 car with payment < $200. Exercise- not by paying a gym membership- by walking with your kids or doing pushups in the living room. At night, work on plans to reinvent yourself. Every other waking moment of the day, concentrate on your kids.

Good luck.

Nobody wins when one of our own goes down.

Keep your head up and don't be afraid to reach out to this community or others for help. All is not lost and you are no different than anyone here, though you may have over-extended yourself. Beating yourself up will not help you or your family.

Dude, you got a paypal donation link somewhere? Just put it in your HN profile if ya want.

Here are two things you can consider:

1) Document why your company failed and have a PayPal Donate Button. I think a lot of people here will appreciate your sharing and glad to donate. I myself am one.

2) List out your skills and see if any remote work can be arranged.

If you're in Austin, NYC, or SF and want to work for a decent company, I may be able to help. victor@victortrac.com.

This is exactly the reason why I don't want to do anything like this.

I didn't get marry or get kids or build any asset because I want a stable career first before I start taking the plunge into starting a company.

Hell I thought about it. And that I can even mitigate the risk to with LLC/INC and I can do it on the side while having a part time or a consultancy job. If my bet doesn't work I can continue to work anyway. My plan was to get a stable and consistence income while having something on the side because it would lower my risk.

Anyway, thank you for posting this and I hope it gets better for you.

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