Where the geeks have no shame


Two all-nighters in a row is nothing. It’s how Geldof, Clinton and I got Live 8 to happen. It’s rock and roll. And these Google kids I hooked up with yesterday — fucking brilliant. They care deeply about Africa. Plus they really get their freak on. I’m a 47-year-old married man, so I hung back from the action last night. But these Google kids roll like rock stars. You wouldn’t believe the party. We left Union Square mid-afternoon for a penthouse somewhere below Market Street, at least that’s where I think I am now. I tripped over three pair of trousers trying to find the bathroom this morning. Not that I’ve slept.

The Google kids are like Geldof and Clinton. All play and all work. At some point between a huge vegan take-out meal and the part where everyone’s clothes started flying off, we banged out a working solution for Africa. Their thinking went really fast, but I took notes on my red iPhone.

THE PROBLEM:
- Product Red great idea, but Red iPods not selling. Red sunglasses even worse.
- Need to find large consumer spending area amenable to 40% markup.
- Red branding should enhance the utility curve without marginalizing the consumer into a substitution function. Something like that, it was hard to keep up.

THE SOLUTION: (RED) Ads by Google

It’s what every advertiser wants: Google text ads, only bright red. They cost 40% more than regular Google ads, but the Google product guy says they’ll “bump clickthrough rates out of the dead zone and into the Red zone,” which puts advertisers into the black.

It’s not charity. (RED) Ads are more cost-effective for the advertisers and more welcome by consumers, because who doesn’t want to help distribute retroviral vaccine to Africa every time they click? Fucking brilliant.

The crazy thing about the Googlers is they don’t wait around. We piled into two cars and drove down the Valley to wherever their CEO lives, Mr. Eric Schmidt, to get his approval to run (RED) Ads right fucking now. Schmidt was having dinner with his wife or his girlfriend — sorry, I was too tired to remember and too embarrassed to ask again — plus some other Valley guys and a couple of journalists.

I sat next to Schmidt at the table and lobbied for (RED) Ads while the wine poured freely. I never touch the stuff, doctor’s orders, but I admire the way these kids can put it away. They were groping each other’s dates before dessert. Schmidt got a little tipsy and gave my leg a good feel, I think mistaking me for his wife or girlfriend on the other side. The journalists were totally cool about it: “Off the record, Eric, off the record.”

Before things got too out of hand we left Schmidt’s with the green light for (RED) Ads and drove straight back to the city to make it happen. The Google kids fired up what they call a “point-one-percent trial in limited consumer verticals in specific countries” before they all ran to the roof naked to pile into the hot tub.

Edge sent me some Java code you can put on your blog to run the ads. Just plug that in and if you’re in the test market, your ads will turn bright click-me red like the Pope’s Pradas.

Holy sweet friggin mother of Jesus, I was supposed to fly to Uganda with His Popeness yesterday. Can you believe I forgot? I need to start sleeping more. One of the Googlers, Marissa, says she can get me there on her own plane. Which is good, because I don’t think Steve is going to lend me the Apple corporate jet anytime soon. He’s stopped texting me about locking him out of his blog. Now I’m getting PDFs from his lawyers to my iPhone demanding I cease and desist all publication of The Blog belonging to the Party of the First Part blah blah.

I love how you Americans work Saturdays, but I just forward these on to my people in Dublin, who’ll deal with it Monday morning. We’re all busy Sunday. Have you heard of this thing called church? There’s nothing like it. But I don’t think the Googlers will be coming with me.