Cowbird, Inc., A Love Story
Today, Valentine’s Day, 2012, marks two important milestones for Cowbird.
First, we are announcing our second saga, First Loves, consisting of stories from people all over the world about the first person with whom they fell in love. It is a beautiful saga already, filled with hundreds of heart-stopping stories — like Aaron Huey’s impromptu wedding on a Russian tank hours after facing death by the Taliban; Annie Atkins’ clinical diagnosis of heartbreak; Whitney Jones’ rhythmic recollection of 28 firsts; and my own decision to break a long silence with my Dad. Take your time, have a look, see what you feel, and add your own story of first love.
Second, today we are creating a company to solidify the little labor of love known as Cowbird. Since launching Cowbird two months ago, the response has been tremendous, and it’s quickly become more work than I can do alone. My dear friend, Annie Correal, has joined Cowbird as our full-time Community Manager, and Dave Lauer has been a hero in keeping our servers alive. We need to pay these folks for their excellent work, and there are many beautiful things that we want to build, for which we’ll need some resources. So we’re planning to raise a small amount of money over the next few months to help propel Cowbird into the future. We’ll continue to take a slow and thoughtful approach to everything we do, but there will be some exciting additions coming soon.
I never thought I would find myself in the position of starting a company, but it seems to be the path that makes the most sense. We considered keeping Cowbird as an art project, but that would limit our ability to grow and evolve. We considered starting a non-profit, but the prospect of constant fundraising and bureaucratic red tape felt like a costly distraction. Starting a company felt like the most nimble and flexible approach. But don’t worry, we’re going to be a nice company!
We still have the same threefold mission: to build a space for a longer-lasting kind of self-expression than you’re likely to find anywhere else on the Web; to pioneer a new form of participatory journalism grounded in the simple human stories behind major news events; and to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons.
In the long-term, we believe it’s crucial that Cowbird be self-sustaining financially. We’re committed to keeping Cowbird free of advertising forever, but we have some other interesting ideas around building a creative economy (without selling your personal information), which we’ll introduce at some point down the line, when the time is right.
We’re not sure where this path will lead, but we’re incredibly excited for the journey. In the words of Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan, “There are thousands of paths. They all lead nowhere. You must ask yourself one question: ‘Does this path have a heart?’ If it does, the path is good. If it doesn’t, it is of no use.”
Here’s to a path with a heart,
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