Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #3 – Philip Kaplan of AdBrite

Share the word


This Internet bad boy doesn’t think he’s so bad, and one of the top venture capital firms agrees to the tune of $4 million. Don’t know who Philip Kaplan of AdBrite is? Well if you were doing anything remotely dot com related in the late 90’s you probably know who Philip Kaplan of F___edCompany.com (FC for short) is. His site grew famous, if not infamous, for posting the latest additions to the ‘dot com dead pool.’ Now with his current prize business, AdBrite, he intends never to join the businesses that FC featured.

Philip was not nearly covered as much for AdBrite as he was for FC, so we decided to catch up with him on the phone. He didn’t sound as eccentric you might expect of someone with his resume, but he still has the attitude and smarts needed to be a dot com muckraker.

Watch that language: We try to keep our podcast pretty clean, but there’s no getting around the F-word when talking about Philip’s past (and Philip doesn’t say ‘the F-word’), so don’t blast this podcast in your office if it’s bring your child to work day.


Show notes:

2:35 The LA Times dubbed Philip Kaplan ‘Internet Bad Boy’

  • ‘I’m probably not as bad as [spammers and hackers] but I’m flattered nonetheless to be in their company.’

3:10 Origin of FC

  • ‘We were happy to build sites for people but a lot of their ideas were quite ridiculous, and we would tell them ‘I don’t think this is a business, but I’ll build it for you if you pay me in advance.”
  • ‘The whole dot com thing was ready for a major change and I figured there should be a Web site that chronicled it.’
  • ‘Did I write about my clients on FC? That probably would have been a good way to lose clients.’

5:30 Birth of AdBrite

7:30 Funding from Sequoia Capital

  • ‘Relatively few of the investments [Sequoia] they made, in comparison to the other the venture capitalists, made it onto FC.’
  • ‘Sequoia is well known for acting fast, they don’t dilly dally.’

10:00 FC today

11:15 New York to San Francisco

  • ‘In New York you could go months without meeting another person in the Internet business, and you often do ‘ or years.’

13:15 AdBrite growth

  • ‘Part of the goal with hiring is to make sure that you hire people who you actually like.’
  • ‘People always want to partner with their friends, or they have this kooky idea that they’re going to work on and they’re like ‘Oh, Bob and I are going to partner on this.’ 99% of the time it’s a mistake. The only time it’s not a mistake is when that partner can absolutely, positively do something you cannot do yourself.’
  • ‘That said, I have two partners now.’

18:35 Profanity in Web sites

19:10 AdBrite blog

  • ‘The whole blog is an advertisement for AdBrite.’

19:30 Blog industry

19:55 Media matters

  • ‘The media never really knows what’s going on with anything.’

21:40 Reading and watching habits

  • ‘I read surprisingly little.’
  • ‘I like it a lot either when they do [Biography shows] on serial killers or entrepreneurs.’

24:05 Philip’s book, F’d Companies

24:30 New opportunities on the Web

  • ‘There’s a ton of opportunity in search.’
  • ‘Nothing’s happened yet on the Internet.’

25:25 FastCompany

  • ‘Somebody actually approached me, asking if I wanted to buy them or be involved in it. And I said no.’

25:50 AdBrite in three years

Philip Kaplan official bio:

Philip J. Kaplan is a 29-year-old entrepreneur based in New York City and San Francisco, USA. He has founded and manages a number of web-based properties. Philip is also the bestselling author of F’d Companies, and founded PK Interactive, an Internet consultancy that was sold in 2001. Philip’s sites have been named “Site of the Year” by Yahoo!, Rolling Stone, and TIME Magazine.

List of Episodes