Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on August 17, 2012 By Draginol In Business

Guys like me aren’t supposed to get “rich”. When you look at the most successful (or rich) people in the tech industry they usually have remarkably similar backgrounds.

By contrast, guys like me are supposed to be relegated to some back lab coding drivers.  That was, when I was in college, the dream.  Of course, that dream didn’t come true because I couldn’t afford college and had to work multiple jobs at once to pay for school. I discovered that the best way to make money was to work for yourself and that’s how Stardock was born.

Only through the bizarre start-up circumstances is a guy like me still in charge. Most of the criticisms I’ve read about me are spot-on.  I’m not qualified to run a company.  I’m unpolished, unprofessional and opinionated. I’m *that* forum guy spouting off on what have you.  I have the social skills of a…well, a programmer.

In the early days, I wanted investors. I’ve always known I wasn’t “the right guy” to be a CEO of a business. But at that crucial time, it was the dot-com craze and no one cared about companies making software.  And now, of course, it’s too late. We’ve done well enough that money is more of a…theoretical thing.  I don’t even bother to pay myself any more than necessary to get medical insurance.  Getting a salary or whatever is irrelevant at this stage.

If I have a point, and I really don’t, is that the US is still the land of opportunity. If a guy like me, who grew up in an apartment with a single mother, can make it, there is hope for anyone.


Comments
on Aug 17, 2012

Good story. You didn't mention how we had the same ex.

on Aug 17, 2012

Remember now - "You didn't build that yourself"  

on Aug 17, 2012

If a guy like me, who grew up in an apartment with a single mother

Heaven help us if you'd grown up with two mothers....

on Aug 17, 2012

So... There´s hope for me too !! ??

on Aug 17, 2012

Heaven help us if you'd grown up with two mothers....

 

and sadly ,there are households with 2 mothers , I just don't know what this world is coming to.

on Aug 17, 2012

As a fellow Michigander by birth (and unfortunately living In Indiana), all I can say is... go Brad!  I did not know some of those things about you, and I am really glad things worked out for you, and your family. 

 

on Aug 17, 2012

What an inspiring, lovely story. Your mom must be so proud. Good job Draginol.  

on Aug 18, 2012

AceMatrix

Quoting Jafo, reply 3Heaven help us if you'd grown up with two mothers....

and sadly ,there are households with 2 mothers , I just don't know what this world is coming to.

 

only 2? that's called multiple families under the same roof. not uncommon back when.

on Aug 18, 2012

Heaven help us if you'd grown up with two mothers....

Good job he isn't a redneck - he'd be so inbred he'd have 1,128 mothers...

on Aug 18, 2012

Heaven help us if you'd grown up with two mothers....

but soooo not what you probably intended

on Aug 18, 2012

I discovered that the best way to make money was to work for yourself and that’s how Stardock was born.

Eheh. I am in no way at the same level as you or Jesh, but I got to this same conclusion through a different path: I discovered that the best (and probably the only) way to do what I really liked to do was to work for myself.

The money part came later, with the realization that I am now much better off working for myself than most of my friends are working for someone else. Worse, with the economic crisis, especially here in Portugal with small and medium companies going bankrupt all the time and a record high 15% unemployment, there are no 'secure' jobs any more.

When you work for someone else you have (had?) the security of a steady income, but that income still depends on someone else. When you work for yourself, your income is never steady and depends solely on you. If things go wrong (and they will from time to time), you have nobody to blame but yourself - that gives you a very special sense of personal responsibility and accountability.

If I have a point, and I really don’t, is that the US is still the land of opportunity. If a guy like me, who grew up in an apartment with a single mother, can make it, there is hope for anyone.

Funny, I also grew up in an apartment with a single mother. Hmmm... lol

Unlike yours, though, mine was never very supportive of what I did (she is now, though, eheh) and, as a teenager, I had to fight tooth and nail to become what *I* wanted to become.

As for the US, I sometimes wonder what my life would be had I been born there and not here. The only reason I'm able to do what I do in Portugal is because of the Internet, which opened up the whole world to me. Had I been limited to the Portuguese market and Portuguese lack of vision and lack of investment on new talent, I would probably still be doing boring office applications for some other company.

on Aug 18, 2012


Interesting; I come from a different perspective.  I grew up in a full family in a nice house with both parents.  While not 1%ers, they were well to do; my father was an engineer, my mother a homemaker.  I worked summer jobs, but during the school year, my job was to study.  I worked hard as well, went to a good school, but decided that money wasn't a metric for success; impact was.  I took a government job working at a national laboratory researching energy storage, both for transportation and grid stabilization.  There's some nonzero chance that the development work I did in the 90's led, in some small way, to the ability for you to put panels on your house for less than the price of your house.

While I consider myself fiscally conservative (money is an abstraction for me as well; we meet all of our needs easily), and socially progressive, I absolutely come down on the side that "tax and spend" is a good idea.  Governments are not like households; you do not, for instance, change how other people spend when you spend.  Governmental debt is not household debt; when a government has debt, its because a household, somewhere, is saving; they're buying a government bond.  As recently as 15 years ago, there was a concern (as in, the central bank was considering changing monetary policy because of it) that there would be too LITTLE governmental debt for us to have a robust economy (a government witout debt is a government that has sold no bonds, and therefore the banks have no place to stash money). 

I think the title of this post says volumes, actually.  "Unlikely" being the key word; Brad reached his measure of success despite a number of obstacles, both socioeconomic and resource.  I would claim him to be an outlier, however, and there's enough data to back me up; the more likely outcome for an child from a single, non-homeowning parent who does not attend college is to be in either in the lowest (<$20,000 US per household) or second lowest ($20,000-$27,500 US per household) of the income brackets.  While it is possible to overcome those odds (and in fact, it's extremely unlikely that at least a few people won't overcome those odds), the fact remains that, in the statistical regime, they are anomalies.  Holding up anomalies as good examples isn't a wise choice; it shows a lack of understanding of statistics.

A better way to achieve lasting, stable growth for a statistical majority is to try to change conditions so that the "unlikely" becomes "more likely".  And, while it is not impossible that wealth will lead to investment in society as a whole (and for some cases of wealth, they are game changing investments, like the Gates, Carnegie, or Rockafeller foundations), the truth is that, as taxes on wealth have been in retreat (they've been going down for 30 years), so has investment in the public good.

Brad, I'm sure, is a good man who takes care of his wife and children, laughs often, and takes good care of his employees.  He's also an anomaly.  While his story is inspirational, don't confuse inspiration with likelihood.  Some people with humble beginnings will be able to invest their time, effort, and will to achieve something well outside of what the majority of their peers will achieve.  The overwhelming majority, however, won't, without a more supportive infrastructure around them.

on Aug 18, 2012

Winnihym
the truth is that, as taxes on wealth have been in retreat (they've been going down for 30 years), so has investment in the public good

You imply a cause/effect relationship here.  What is the evidence for that?

What do you mean by 'taxes on wealth'?

What is your definition of 'public good'?

on Aug 18, 2012

What about all those roads and bridges Union thugs installed so that you could get to work?

on Aug 27, 2012

You explain your unlikely success story here...very nice...!! 

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