- Share your favorite videos with friends
- Comment on videos and join the conversation
- Get personalized recommendations
- Enjoy exclusive offers
Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Sign up today to receive our weekly newsletter and special announcements.
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Codys. As a Courtesy, if you would please shut off your cell phone and pagers that would be wonderful. Well we are so pleased to have with us today Daniel Lyons here to read and discuss his third book "Options". Options is sort of a response of what becomes alleged most and that's blogging these days and here he has Steve Jobs blog for us and he started this in 2006 and it became a great big hit and now without further ado, here is Mr. Lyons. Hi. Thank you I bring you greetings from Cambridge and the weather isn't as nice there this weekend. So I will talk to you a little bit about my blog I guess and then how it became a book and then just have Q&A okay because it's I would rather just have a conversation than yap a lot but so I am a print journalist, I work at Forbes magazine and I cover business and I have been doing print for like 25 years my whole life and one of the big stories that print the business reporter is telling, I have written over and over and now we have like five stories we just tell all the time and one of them is "Disruption" and you know somebody some new thing is coming along and it's disrupting the incumbent players and so Linux disrupts Unix etc etc and a few years ago I recognized or realized that my own business was being disruptive, so the business I was actually in was facing this huge upheaval and and change and turmoil so all the things that I would write about and you know would mock people who didn't embrace change or you know like anything now it's happening to me and it was it was really scary, it's really really terrifying to be you know not old enough to retire and and not even close even old enough to retire, I have two year old twins, like I am never going to be able to retire or like barely and and then having to change in this profound way like I I really think media is is changing I mean if you look at the revenues of newspapers and print magazines, it's it's really not a very pretty picture and all of us print journalists for the most as we we are sitting as though so funny because we like the first guys to seize on it when it's a company we cover and we are all alert just to embrace the change but when it was us, we all sat there paralyzed like frozen, terrified, we didn't know what to do and we you know just wringing our hands and talking about this, it was terrible and this sucked and the internet was an awful thing we all were terrified at it. And then at some point I realized like I have to do what we were always telling people to do which is you know figure out this technology and try to embrace it and so I thought I should learn about blogging, I tried to get a transfer to the online division of Forbes and what I found was that and I think it's really most media companies, the online guys don't like the print guys just like the print guys don't like the online guys. Its political and they don't want to bring refugees over from print at all and they oh they bring a few over but but it wasn't you know and they don't pay nearly as well he is print, tell like he has to take a big pay cut to go to it wasn't really a good good strategy. So I thought well do it on my on, at least learn about blogging software. So the whole thing that's really ridiculous about this this whole like you know book tour and book itself and the blog itself to me is that it all began entirely as a joke just as a lark, like entirely as a fling you know and so I I started a whole bunch of blogs on WordPress and TightPad and Blogger and it was really just to learn how the software work, how the actual blog software you know learn how to do HTML embedded code and how to do photos, I mean really really nuts and bolts like I had to figure that out. So I did one of my on that was just you know the danlyons blog and nobody read it and then there was the I wrote a family blog with photos and then I got to Blogger and I thought what should I do and it was just about the time when all these CEOs where starting to blog and there were always stories about transparency and openness and honesty and how companies were going to like naked conversations as scalable book if you are familiar with that or so and a few CEOs actually were writing these blogs and sort of pretending to be like open and honest and transparent but they weren't, I think that there was all spin and bull right there was absolute just lie, they were just just as fake as as a press release which I thought was really hysterically funny just in and of itself. Right I really thought was funny and then I thought what if a CEO started a blog but like went off the rails, like like lost it and y not I started really writing the truth, I really really wanted to say and you know anyone somebody got a bad story, but it's company, he would make fun of them back and just really being like as angry as he probably was right and and now I started to think which one would be I tried a bunch of different ones and it kind of seized on Jobs because I am a big apple fan myself, I I like apple products a lot and my central frustration as an apple user is that and I was a long term windows user too but when I finally started using OSX, I I could not understand how 95 percent of the world you know looks at OSX and then looks at Windows and says well I am going to go with that Windows with the Spyware and the McAfee all of those sounds like and I was just it drove me nuts I thought if it drives me nuts, Jobs must go out of his mind I think must make him crazy, I mean he has been 20 years of his life, the roots of that I think go back to the Next days in 80's right. So 20 years of your life working really hard. You produce something really beautiful and the world goes it's okay you know no big deal. So I thought that must be that central anger of a character like kind of was the seed of what over the joke and my beginning was really sort of two dimensional jokes about Steve Jobs and hanging around in gravity boots and having meetings upside down or drinking smoothies and they were kind of dumb but then I started realizing as news would happen, things would happen that like I should be covering for Forbes but because we came out every we came out twice a month, so we had 20 editions here and we have huge lead time that right now we are already working on the December editions and so if something happens today and I really want to write about if Forbes like who is going to care about it in December so you have this out lead with a blog that you can do you know breaking stuff like that the minute it's announced. So I started writing like news, doing what I would do at Forbes only through the voice of Steve Jobs, right it was like a little bit Wacky but and it kind of worked right it kind of was like you know it was actually more interesting than anything I would ever say about some event because you could imagine what he would think and project that and so people actually started reading unlike my own blog which nobody read and I could have written the same thing than I swear no body would have read it. But because I had this conceit of you know this is supposed to be Steve Jobs, people started reading it. I did it for about six weeks and so I though that was fine, I learnt how it work and I shut it down. I said oh this is okay and then somebody else put it back up and they put the thing saying what happened to this blog, who is this guy, what happened you know and I and then all people started commenting and I wasn't aware they they were reading it. I knew I had sent it to two friends of mine, I sent them links and I just said I found this blog ha ha ha you know I didn't tell them it was me and one of them blogged about it and they sort of spread but I never owned that to it, so even my friends didn't know it was me and they they they would then sent it to me saying did you see this one today ha ha and I would be like yeah I think wow that's pretty good you know so I was just playing dumb and doing so I shut it down. So I started I back up because there were so many people reading and I didn't even know, this is not clueless, I was about blogs. I didn't know about site meter. We could put something on and it will tell you how many people are on at any given time and who they are I mean you so somebody actually he wrote to me saying dude you got to this is a thing called you put it on so I did, I started a backup and it was like oh like a hundred people there today that was like I told my wife this is weird like this people from England and you know all over the United States and I don't know who they are, it's not my friends, like I know the two people I told but I don't know any of these people right and some of them started commenting, you are just like like blogs take off like people start becoming regular commentators, they they became little characters in their own, there was a guy called Macgeekguy who would comment on every post, he lived in San Francisco, I don't know who he is or who he was but so I remember going for a walk with my wife and I was saying "you know this is really weird like I have been writing about the internet for you know since the internet began as a tech reporter, but like it's different when you put your hand on the third rail and you feel it and you are like wow like suddenly yeah this stuff it's so real like this is a a global network right where you would put some out there and it spreads I mean you know people all over the world were reading this in small numbers but and then I started realizing I could do something like a comic strip where these character sort of in my mind became like fictional characters, so Bono and Larry Ellison and Bill Gates and Al Gore in my mind started becoming I started reading about Jobs you know learning about him because at first I didn't really know much about him so I figured if I am going to do this I'd better learn it so I read a bunch of biographies, I learnt who the characters where at Apple and I started developing this world and it was like you could introduce a story on Tuesday like Al Gore get driven out of his house by his wife and he moved in with us, he is kind of driving us nuts leave it alone. Then you go back to covering the news and then Thursday go it's really getting bad. Al is like eating meat, he is leaving food wrappers around the house, he cranks the air-conditioning, he is pain in the ass you know my wife wants him out and then go back to covering the news, so and then like on Saturday is like okay we figure it out how we are going to get rid of him, we are going to turn off the air-conditioning in the guest house, we are going to tell him that you know we're going green and we can't afford air-conditioning now and that will get rid of him. And sure enough it does you know then Al leaves. So I I started realizing that you could do like Doonesbury kind of thing that was fun and then it became this hybrid of like sort of Doonesbury and then sort of news right and then kind of commentary so that was then it was actually interesting in worthwhile - it wasn't all jokes right. So and I was really just playing with the form and figure out what you could do and it of course are really powerful form because this this online diary and it's very easy to use, it's very automated and the blogs offer - even a blogger has become an - advanced enough that you can really kind of customize and do some cool stuff with it. So I started adding things like archives and this and that. Meanwhile, I think a fiction writer - I wrote two books before I started at Forbes at 1998 then I was writing two others that never could get done and I started getting really guilty thinking like I wasting all the time I should be working on my book, I am doing this instead and then I realized but this is kind of becoming like a book, you know it's - and I didn't know how to - what to do with it and then the SEC thing happened and the Apple came under fire and this options backdating thing and to me that seemed really compelling in the sense that I have this character who is really powerful and invincible in my mind like Steve Jobs is like this man god, son of Zeus and born to mortal woman and you know he can do no wrong right but suddenly now he is in a situation where we can't get out of it no matter how much money you have, you can't get out from out of this and the feds are after him. So at that that's enough of a things because I knew the story of that book wouldn't really have big - you know wasn't going to be really plot driven. I could have enough to give a motor to get through a narrative. So the book I wrote is not the blog between two covers and it actually is very little of the material comes from the blog itself, it's actually a whole new thing that sort of popped up from the world that I created in this blog, it was like I had spent a year doing - you know the exercise you do to write a novel or writing the back story for all the characters and developing there there - making a three dimensional. I had already done that but I had done it online and I could just draw on that, so I did lift something from the blog like some of the some of the things are really like that's like this one where they go - he and Bono go out and Bono smashes into a guy and then they make up on the side of the highway and so they it's some thing I like so I used that but basically it's a whole new thing. I also think that anybody who is reading the blog, I kind of think that I had a blog audience, if they are going to read the book they don't want to just read the same stuff they already read online so so I put together a proposal in - over a Christmas break very quickly I wrote may be 50 or 100 pages and sold in January and then then I realized I had to write it which is like oh man you know like that was was a wakeup call. So I had a really rough winter because I was doing that and trying to keep the blog going and like I said with these little kids and so it was a bad winter. At the same time part two of of the story is that you know I didn't tell anybody at Forbes I was doing this right and my our west coast bureau chief just walked in Quentin and he and I by the way another this is Quentin Hardy. Another aspect of this point another aspect of it is that Quentin and I had this idea to do like a daily show for business for Forbes.com on video. Every Friday with your little three minute video he'd be Jon Stewart, I'd be Colbert - or the other way around, what all we do like business news but funny but they didn't want it so it was - but we had that talk right - we had a meeting about it, we had some ideas, so we had this idea that you could make business funny which I don't think anybody had ever done - well you know I guess a little bit but like - that was another thing like to I think to ask to people who cover business, like it's incredibly funny. Right even though it doesn't seem like it because it's so boring, it's always the most boring part of newspaper, you read - you just - even I just skip over the business section at times but but yet if you cover it, it's amazingly funny because - and if we work in business you know how funny it is and how bizarre it is and how twisted a lot of stuff is and so that was the background for that so I never told anybody at force including Quentin but mean while the publisher of Forbes who is based out here started blogging about the fake Steve blog saying all of Silicon Valley is in an up roar and we want to know who this is, who could it be and I am like- it's a guy I know right - this guy Rich and he is you know he is like my boss's boss's boss but - and then he offered a reward and he and Quentin started to having guesses online who could it be, they are arguing back and forth you know I think it's this guy, I think it's that guy and they never guess me. Even when even when it came out that somebody spoke my - my my IP, trick me into something on - sending email and they said the IP address originates in Boston, I thought oh now I am dead because it's just like not many tech writers in Boston. They still didn't get it right which is like how invisible I am as a business reporter like how how like how little impact I have as a journalist, I was like wow I am like the invisible man here you know. I mean I saw these guys at a conference last October, after they had announced the reward and everything we had dinner, we had breakfast oh gosh I don't know the guy must be in Boston, I don't know - I am like how can you not guess so it was almost offending right, it was like it was like when HP pre-testing thing had and I think the only reporters who are really pissed with the ones who didn't get spied on you know like the guys who are like the HP didn't even bother, they looked like we don't care who you are calling right but so this went on for a while and then in January right after I sold the book, somebody asked me or I I saw some legal advise because I started really getting worried about my job right and you were like no I serious I was really I was it hadn't occurred to me and by this time had like 90,000 unique visitors some of get in audience like so I thought 90,000 peoples like biggest than the first newspaper I worked out at the college, that's like a real audience. So I I hired this lawyer for an hour so that she would be my lawyer and she couldn't tell anybody right like it would be an attorney client privilege thing. So it's like some stupid right - and meanwhile like you know I was - and she told me - I told her I am fake Steve Jobs and she was like - are you crazy you are a nut you can't do that, you are going to get fired, you cannot do that blog you have to shut it down shut it down now before anybody else knows and you know may be it will go away and people won't notice and just they will forget about it. Do the book and you know whatever - so I posted this thing as Steve Job saying well I have been told by Apple, PR that - Apple legal - Apple legal just told me I got to shut down this crazier blog because I can't be making fun of the SEC even when they try to put me in jail because I have these items where Steve Jobs would fun of the lawyers for the SEC like call them names and stuff - right which would be really not a good move right if it really work basing SEC investigations. So so I wrote this thing saying you know they told me to shut it down and it was misinterpreted to mean that Apple was going after another blogger right and suddenly like all these newspapers were doing stories about Apple going after the blogger they were calling Apple for comment, Apple saying no comments so then they think it's true. Right my site you know was just going like off the map like oh my traffic just exploded right and there are stories in New York Times, everywhere looking crazier but now I really I made a much worse right much worse right like I got like a five X jumping traffic like that blog have intense to go, you hit a plateau and then something wacky happens and you jump, then you hang under that - something like that happens in your jump. So I had this huge job like a big break through moment, by accident was trying to shut it down. Then everybody starts writing to me. "Is it true apple is after you bla-bla ? and then you know their - all the blogs are writing about it Apple is after the blogger - you know some like holy crap. So I start getting email from other magazines like Wired writes to me, we would like to host your blog, we think this is great and and they would love to have a little fight with Apple like that will be great right and then you know fortune magazine and all those started writing to me wanting to like you know we know who you are but may be you know bla bla bla So in this stack of mail I mean while I am in New York asking Forbes imprint for like a change in job with a little bit higher profile and this is like what a looser I am at Forbes right. Can I have a little bit better job, little more money? No, go away, you are an idiot go away - right so I go back to my hotel like heart broken I went like honey I cant get a - and I open up my email and I swear to god this an email form the publisher of Forbes, the guy who is - to fake Steve - to the guy - the guy who has get the reward out from me. Thus in email from him saying, dear Fake Steve my name is Richard Karlgaard and I am the publisher of Forbes magazine and I think you are a genius. I don't know who you are but I wonder would you like to come work for Forbes magazine and write a column for us right. So I am like - I can't believe it and I thought like at least I am not going to get fired because I am going to save this email for sure right. So - and I waited like a day and that was like I wrote back asking how much would you pay me you know they told well I don't know about the money bla bla bla which is classic Forbes also right oh yeah right now sun shined but money so we both back and forth and I collect all these emails and I am thinking like you bastard, if you try to fire me now I get like a paper trial right so - worse is that company that owns Forbes. They don't have the Forbes, it's a private equity company in the valley. They start writing to me saying we love your blog too and we want to invest in you and build the company around us. So I am like wow this is great right, so something like kaching kaching right? Because it is always dump money writing around like Facebooks at 15 billion I think if they worth 15 billion I will worth 1 billion right, half a billion right I should be able to get some of that money. So I am ready to cash in. So I have an agent who sold the book and tell how this guys with real money are here. So she sets up a meeting and I finally said, I got to tell them so I told Forbes last winter okay look at me and then the reaction of course, the reaction is like oh yeah yeah it's just you alright jack ass we don't want - you know so like - done but then we we decided we will start trying do something on Forbes, you need to be fake Steve or something like Fake Steve or some kind of column but we try to incorporate it into Forbes.com but that dragged on for months and months and months and finally in the summer we were just getting it together and working out terms and how would work it out and then the New York Times pick it out why it was and they were very crafty and the other people were trying to figure it out Valleywag out here. This blog was was really trying to make figure out where it was and and they kept guessing wrong and they would guess like people I knew, and you know when they do this big thing like you know we are best investigative journalists in the world we will announce it tomorrow who it is and I was like scared, I wrote to someone saying please don't do it, don't do that. You know you'll ruin the blog for everybody and like "Sorry pal!" they quoted my email like they were such bad asses you know and then they ran the wrong guy. I was like right. I was like I had like so much fun with that for months taunting them and they would e-mail me, I e-mail them back and give them wrong hints, I told them I lived in San Francisco. I told one guy that I I saw him every morning on the way to work you know, I saw you today in I was in -you know, I eat at Pancho Villa's on 16th street all the time. And he is like oh you were there too I was like, I know, I love seeing you there. And he is like you know, totally lying - but finally the guy from the Times, what he did was just so brilliant, or just he realized that if he sold the book, he used to work at random house and if he sold the book, you had to have shopped it. So he called around the people who didn't buy the book. He went to random house where his friends still work and he said, did you guys ever see this proposal for this fake Steve Jobs? Yeah you know he had he had read the book too, he read the Gallo ways and he liked it and he wanted to do a story about me and I said no, and then he called random house. Anyway he figured it out. August so finally in August after these months of like really working hard and drafting and redrafting, he had to write a lot of it fast. I told my wife like I promise you we are going to go to Maine for a week and I swear I am not going to work, I am not going to use a black berry, I am not going to do any blogging. I had a friend lined up to fill in as fake Larry Ellison for a week and she was doing like it was really funny right - but - so I had it all set up and I am literally half way to Maine and Quentin calls me and said, I just got a call from Brad Stone at New York Times and dude I think you are dead, he has your name, he knows who you are and I am like oh no, soon after I get to Maine, I took - opened up the black berry which I didn't for very long and then you know, and there is an e-mail from Brad Stone to my Forbes accounts saying, pretty sure it's you, we got to talk and I was like what you mean, but then I I thought like, I can't do that because he is going to he has got me cold. So I just fell on the grenade, I did an interview with him and - and he ended up doing a good story and he was fine everything worked out okay. Except that our vacation was ruined, right my wife was so mad right. And I just met Brad Stone finally yesterday, I had breakfast with him here he lives out here and his wife is pregnant with twins and we have twins. His wife is like just about to deliver and I told them I I am going to make two little voodoo dolls of your twins and I am going to wake them up in the middle of the night now I am going to torture you with your kids. But basically he is a good guy. I don't care. He worked out okay. and ended all ended up, so that's that and the the long story short of it is that the for me the ultimate part of the journey has been that I started out being this print guy, was kind of like hating the bloggers here and now I have become now by the way, now I have like million readers, it's not like 90,000, it's like a million readers. Like in august I had almost two million, it was crazy right insane - saying thanks to the New York Times. But I have actually started thinking like that media is changing and the old stuff is being, just like we always write about, old stuff is kind of not being destroyed but it's being threatened and reduced. But the new stuff, this is going to come out of this this is going to be amazing. And I actually think media is changing in many ways for the better and for one easy example is that, I don't really have readers, I have like a community of people and they know each other and they know me and they can communicate very fast and on the road, I mean going these events were in Toronto, there was no book store. But I posted some of these I am going to be in Toronto, some guys said, I will rent out a bar you know we are in a bar. 30 people who read the blog came that all want to meet each other and it's a much more immediate world and I don't know, I don't know where it's going to go with the next 10 or 20 years but like I am extremely now kind of excited about the next 10 or 20 years with my career in media. I think it's going to be I think it's going to be much better. I think we are going to involve into it. It's going to be much better than what we have had in the past and much richer and more diversified. So that's that's the end of my talk and I would like to take some Q&A if you have questions.