theCHIVE’s existence as you know it today hinged on a moment. This one-in-a-million shot we call theCHIVE is not some premeditated social network backed by millions of Venture Capital dollars. It’s creative purpose was to be a beachside corner market of the internet, a place to stop in for a 10-minute distraction and some beer. Once upon a time, its future hung by a thread. This is the story of those bygone days in Venice Beach.
Our initial internet preneurships yielded little success. We failed at everything from a photoshop blog for actor head shots to celebrity satire blogs. But we learned everything about blogging from those early failures. When we purchased theCHIVE.com on GoDaddy for $9.99, we were poised to get it right. We could feel it. Unlike our other attempts, theCHIVE was an instant hit.
theCHIVE’s immediate success was our biggest problem. In late 2008, Leo, my cousin Bob and Rick, Patty, and two buddies were squeezed into a 3 bedroom ranch home on Rose Ave in Venice, California. We saw traffic flooding into our themed photo galleries, but serving that many images proved to be a massive hosting expense. At the time, I recall we were eating a lot of bean burritos from Taco Bell. If somebody splurged on the beef burritos, we’d chide them as the Nouveau riche, King of Burrito. One time, when Rick tore his favorite cargo shorts, he cinched the hole up with duct tape. That same month our hosting bill on theCHIVE was $16,000. We were fucked.
The vultures swirled. That’s the trapping of success with no cash reserves to sustain your growth. The “institutional money” puts you in their crosshairs. Looking back, we must have looked like a prize pig ready for slaughter. I remember the offer was as alluring as it was depressing. In exchange for low-six figures, the VC’s would own 51% of the company. Afterwords, we would have little say in the direction theCHIVE could turn its sails after that. We would be sellouts – the literal kind – not the kind that trolls call you in the comments. We had maxed out our credit cards, exhausted our bank accounts, and in front of us lay a bundle of paperwork that, if signed, would make Leo and I a lot less poor. It was a tough call.
Leo and I drank a lot of Jim Beam that night, more than usual. At night, our cousin Rick (theBRIGADE) used to walk around in a leopard-print vest with a guitar strap wearing a sombrero and his duct taped cargo shorts. Strange, if for no other reason than Rick did not play guitar. “Rick, why do you wear that ridiculous getup every night?” Rick turned slowly and spoke, “Because I’m an American who appreciates a good sombrero.” Rick didn’t give a fuck what anybody thought of him. To this day, I wish I was more like him. Leo and I looked at Rick and it all made sense. With friends like these, who needs money? We burned the papers in the fire pit in the backyard.
We didn’t know it at the time, but that drunk decision would ensure theCHIVE would remain a privately-held, family-owned company. Given the size of theCHIVE, we are the first and last of our kind.
We took on a small investment from one of our best friends – enough to keep the lights on for a few more months. There was this small t-shirt shop in Venice called The Avenue. We printed theCHIVE slogan on a simple black t-shirt. Leo and I expected it to take a few months to sell them all, if they sold at all. But we had to keep trying. The first 200 shirts sold out in a minute.
We were floored. The Avenue didn’t have many black t-shirt blanks so we drove all over town buying as many as we could and used The Avenue’s digital printer to print out theCHIVE logo. 200 more shirts sold in minutes flat. My point – it was not Leo and I that saved theCHIVE. We took it as far as we could take it, I guess. Ultimately, it was theCHIVERS who saved us, buying that simple Chive Logo tee. That’s not revisionist history or opinion, that’s a fact from where my brother and I sit. Without you, I’d be an employee for an indifferent internet conglomerate, a line item on a quarterly earnings report.
That’s the Reader’s Digest version of where we came from. Here’s a look at which direction we’re turning the sails. I hope you find it informative…
theCHIVE has big things on the horizon. My Chive will soon take on a life of its own. You’ll be able to follow other Chivers, a discussion forum is nearly complete, you’ll even be able to create your own gallery to possibly become a “guest editor” on theCHIVE. Here’s how it works:
I’m sure you’ve thought to yourself, “I bet I could post content better than any of those clowns.” Well, now’s your chance. For the first time, on the desktop only (coming SOON to mobile), Chivers can submit an entire post through our new Submit A Gallery feature on My Chive. Our editors will review submissions and post the very best of the best on theCHIVE homepage!
A Chive Podcast has been in development for a year now and we’re a couple months from launching the weekly podcast. It will be hosted by myself and Bob, with appearances from all theCHIVE editors.
The podcast format is being fleshed out now but I expect it to be a live version of the mixed bag that is theCHIVE – any topic is on the table – current events, sports, you can even call in to discuss why the goddam app is crashing. We’ll also have your favorite musicians dropping by to play some songs and answer mine and Bob’s hard-hitting questions about their pets and food catering preferences.
That’s Chive Nation Peninsula there – Dave, Nikki, Aaron, and their shuffleboard table. These three are one of the reasons I love how we have evolved and grown. I always wanted to be accessible to Chivers no matter how big theCHIVE became. If you need to get ahold of us, the Three Musketeers are everything from your party planners to your help line. They are your connector pieces to everybody else here at theCHIVE.
Nearly every unofficial meetup raises money for various charities. It’s not a requirement, it’s just what you do. Chive Nation is scarcely a year old and these unofficial meetups have raised over $2 Million for charity to date. You have forever changed and even saved precious lives.
We also began recognizing the top chapters in the country with our Bona Fide status. Chive Nation’s brand-spankin’ new site was launched. Berry Chapters started to pop-up around the country. In the next six months, Chive Nation will continue to reach out to an online community whose passion is found offline. Get in on the action and follow Chive Nation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find your local chapter by checking out our own Chive Nation map.
We’re announcing tickets for our official Chive Meetup in Vegas in about an hour!
theCHIVERY App has blown away all our expectations thus far. The 5-Star App is crushing it, but not for reasons we expected. The breezy navigation ease of checkout is fantastic, but we’d better have gotten that right. It’s the Chive Everywhere function that turned out to be the runaway hit. When you upload a photo, it geolocates your position and allows you to tag photos as you wish. Chivers are using the Chivery app to connect with each other locally like never before. It’s really fascinating to see how creative you’ve gotten, using the technology to connect offline.
In the next 6 months, expect a flourish of new, creative designs from theCHIVERY. I don’t believe we released as many new designs over the summer as we could have. I’ll take the blame for that. The Chive Tees we did release were very well received but you shouldn’t have to wait so long for new designs. That’s going to change in a hurry.
Also, we need to offer our servicemen and women a higher quality tee. The military tees are getting a sleek new overhaul with specially tailored cuts and breathable fabric geared toward the specific needs of military members.
theCHIVERY is also starting a blog which will not only chronicle our antics, but also walk you through the design process from buildout to sale; a full behind-the-scenes experience with contests and daily giveaways for those paying attention.
A monthly subscription service is coming soon. You’ll have access to all the newest and most popular tees before anybody else, in addition to access to special discount codes. It’s actually a pretty cool feature, and since we don’t have a Chivery CPA, or know what CPA stands for, some of the discounts will be hilariously steep.
Lastly, we’re going to join forces with some of your favorite college and professional franchises to bring you a more local Chive experience. This rollout will happen sooner than later in increments. Subscribe to theCHIVERY Newsletter to keep ahead of the curve.
Also, the famous Chive Fall Hoodies return on Thursday, September 18th!
We’re shit giggling happy to announce that theCHIVE has acquired theBOMB.com – I cannot say much more on theBOMB right now, but I can tell you it will be a video-driven platform where the best and funniest videos will trend once the fuse is lit. It’s going to be the bomb dot com.
Sign up to be the first to experience theBOMB right here!
Mac continues working at theCHIVE in various capacities. He wanted to take a sabbatical to become an alpaca farmer last week but then he found out that alpacas were actually not “really big cats” and changed his mind about his big cat sabbatical.
Chive Live (Chive Fest)
This year, I got my bachelor degree in the music industry 101. We’ve learned a lot. My brother and I go to music festivals often and it’s always the little things – or the inaccessibility to amenities such as water, food, bathroom lines, beer lines, etc. that have always rubbed us the wrong way. We set out to create a comfortable music festival, and I think we’ve succeeded in doing so. It hasn’t been easy. Our Chive Fest team deserves some sort of Olympic Medal.
A big thanks to Chicago, Seattle, and Denver… especially Denver so far. The city took a big risk on Chive Fest as it was widely reported. We were protested against – Few events have ever been held in the iconic City Park. Chive Fest would become a testing ground for other possible future festivals. The neighborhood association adjacent to City Park where the event was held believed the Chivers would desecrate the park. A sentiment the Chive community would quickly disprove. A town hall meeting was held prior to the festival. One woman protested,
“The Chive calls the users misfits… you really want misfits in the park??!” In the end, the city council, “Found that more people supported the festival than don’t.” We were allowed to move forward with Chive Fest.
A recap article titled Chive Fest Kept Calm in City Park accurately summarized the event:
Deep in City Park on Saturday, past the father and son playing catch and the picnicking family, in a fenced off area, was a sea of “Keep Calm and Chive On” shirts and neon green. It was the first Chive Fest, and after several hours of music and revelry, a few minutes of near total silence descended. That’s because, on the roof of a building right near the event, a couple was getting married, and the festival’s organizers promised them the party wouldn’t interrupt the nuptials.
Stopping an entire festival to please a bride and groom demonstrates the sensitivity and care Chive Fest took in order to hold a rare admission-based event in City Park, something that was both difficult and expensive. But any concerns of rowdy-festival goers destroying the park or disrupting the surrounding neighborhood Saturday afternoon proved unfounded.
Tickets for the Halloween Chive Fest Dallas with Jake Owen availableRIGHT HERE.
The nerds behind theCHIVE
Meet theCHIVE’s unsung heroes, Alen and Chris. These two work tirelessly behind the scenes to keep theCHIVE live. To lend some perspective on how difficult this can be – theCHIVE serves out 30 Billion images every month, over three petabytes of data. This presents a myriad of obstacles which Alen and Chris troubleshoot daily across all platforms. It’s not easy.
Update on theCHIVE iOS and Android Apps: The latest version of theCHIVE app has been submitted to Apple and is currently waiting approval. The most notable change is that Chivers will finally be able to submit photos directly from their smartphone via theCHIVE App. That’s right. No longer do you need to be on your desktop to submit your favorite photos. Now you can upload your best pictures on the go. Submit photos directly to theCHIVE through the SUBMIT button on the bottom toolbar. I’ll include a sneak-peak of the new submission screen in the DAR today.
We’ve also made some performance improvements and fixed annoying bugs, like that fucking GIF loading meter. No more crashing.
We’ve come a long way since the Chivers rallied to save the Fluvanna Country Volunteer Fire Department. What used to be a charity campaign every 3-4 months is now once, sometimes twice a week. Chive Charities alone has provided $2 Million in grants to over 50 underfunded causes, with the Chive Community injecting an additional $1.7 Million of Flash Fundraising, $3.7 Million total.
The recipients of these grants likely have diseases you’ve never heard of. They are the orphaned causes of the world left to languish on the vine with no big charitable machine behind them. We’ve put a global spotlight on these causes and helped raise massive awareness in addition to the financial piece. Helping just one recipient creates a charitable domino effect that touches many others with the same disorder.
Chive Charities continues to surge. Next week, we are launching an online grant application system that will streamline our vetting and grant processing, allowing us to help more people than ever before.
KCCO Ability Field is almost finished! Opening ceremony will be on September 20th. Everyone is invited out for the festivities.
Green Gala is November 15th and invites will be sent out next week. Many of those you’ve helped will be in attendance for one magical evening.
KCCO Black Lager has hit 20,000 locations nationwide and is now the fastest-growing beer in the U.S. It’s pouring on draft as well (use the beer locator). The delicious misfit has a big brother rolling out nationwide this November, KCCO Gold.
If you attended any of the Chive Fests, you got first crack at KCCO Gold. The crisp lager with notes of honey and biscuit was a fan favorite at the festival – you drank all of it.
We’re looking to construct a brewery in Austin with groundbreaking within in the next 6 months. We envision a beer drinker’s paradise with adult activities (working title). Selfishly, we always wanted to have a local hangout, a Cheers Bar – but instead of Norm and Cliff you get Mac and Doug. More on the brewery soon.
Lastly, KCCO White Wheat debuts in February 2015 with a flurry of launches in Texas. We’re pushing for 16-ounce cans because Texas.
We’ve come a long way since Rose Ave. I get the question a lot, “You know you have the best life ever?” I don’t take it for granted either. I get to go to ‘work’ everyday with my my brother, sisters, and cousins. They say you can’t choose your family, and that’s quite true, but if I could, I would have picked Leo, Emily, and Megan. To be able to share this success with my family has been one of the great pleasures of my life.
The caring people who work at theCHIVE are an extension of this family. They’re truly hilarious and talented individuals. We all hang out together, laugh a lot, and live our lives at 90 proof. But none of this would have happened if it was not for you guys. This is never lost on us. Thank you again.
John n’ Leo
ps – I’ll be in the comments for a bit to answer any questions you have that I didn’t touch upon here. I hope this runway of events has helped. I’ll keep doing it every six months if you like it.