Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


There's something about seasonal affective disorder -- an affliction I happen to be cursed with.

It teaches you how much more clearly you think when the sun dominates and the clouds only get mad once in a while by ranting a little thunder and lightning.

I'd like to prove to you that summer is the perfect time to start a business. And not just any sort of business, but a business that makes people happy.

The proof isn't merely in these six companies that were begun in the sun. It's in the sorts of companies these are and what their essential sunniness brought to the world.

1. Google. Founded September 1998.

Yes, it was just before Labor Day that year. But here were these nerdy types forming something they thought was amusing. In those days it was. The sunny side of their story is that Larry Page and Sergey Brin had no idea what Google truly might become. They picked a brand name simply because it seemed amusing. In fact, their first name was BackRub. Don't ask. Once the company incorporated in that sunny summer, they still offered to sell it to Excite CEO George Bell for a mere $1 million. He decided not to buy. Somehow, the essential sunniness of the enterprise allowed it to catch on. Of course, some would say that Google isn't so sunny now. But it's lasted a long time. In tech years, that is.

2. Tinder. Founded September 2012.

Can there possibly be a brand that has done more to sunnify the world than Tinder? Where once you had to write long profiles and charm a member of your target sex by writing turgid but interesting messages, now you just swipe right or left and hope they do the same. This charming, disarming simplicity recreates every bar garden in the world on a Friday night in the middle of July. You look at someone and in an instant decide that this person is attractive. Or not. Tinder allows you to do that thousands of times a day without having to even buy anyone a drink. There cannot be a more glorious contribution to the joy of civilization than that.

3. eBay. Founded September 1995.

You might not think of eBay as sunny. But just look at those bright colors in its logo. At the time of its founding, this simple little site allowed you to get a sunny feeling in your heart by outbidding another unknown soul for a sock worn by a limping quarterback in some forgotten AFC Championship game. eBay allowed you to feel that you'd won every single day of your life. How many brands (not in Vegas) can offer that possibility? eBay slipped in just one day before summer ended in 1995. But how much joy has it been responsible for since? How many times have people uttered these words, with a crowing cackle: "I got it on eBay!"?

4. Netflix. Founded August 1997.

You might now know it as the first streaming HBO, but look how much pure joy Netflix has brought since its inception. On August 29 1997, the temperature around Netflix's Los Gatos HQ hovered in the 80s. Before you knew it, you were getting DVDs in the mail. They arrived so promptly. They were of movies that you'd missed or even that you'd never heard of, but had added to your queue one tipsy night. Look how much pure, unadulterated excitement the company has brought you since. Yes, there was the wobble when Netflix decided to split off its DVD business and call it Qwikster. But when you look at Frank Underwood and marvel that you're not as subtle as he is, how can you not be grateful for the summer of '97?

5. Amazon. Founded July 1994.

How many times has your day been wafting downhill like an ouzo-laced skier when a package has arrived at your door or desk and lifted your heart? CEO Jeff Bezos knew he was onto something magically sunny when he initially named the company Cadabra. There was just enough brightness in Seattle at that time for Bezos to launch something so blessedly simple, but so very convenient and money-saving that we've come to believe it's almost a natural entity. Yes, it squeezes the competition until it gets sunstroke sometimes, but at heart it's a joybringer -- soon to be a joybringer by drone.

6. Snapchat. Launched July 2011.

Ask anyone under the age of, oh, 15 and a half which app has given them the most amusement, pleasure, satisfaction and joy and I guarantee that 101 percent of them will say Snapchat. The sense of immediacy, coupled with the (misguided) belief that anything sent will immediately disappear once viewed, offers Snapchat users endless hours of instant gratification. Don't think for a moment that Snapchat was an instant success, however. But the end of summer 2011, it had precisely 127 users. But the core of an idea was created in a happy space, in a happy place (California, naturally). Which is why you should cancel your vacation and launch your business right now.

Published on: Jul 7, 2015