22 August 2006
My friend Julian Weber died Sunday in New York.
He was already
mostly retired from a successful career in law and publishing when
he helped us start Viaweb in 1995. He'd been, among other things,
president of the National Lampoon. This was our kind of
Julian gave us the very first funding to work on Viaweb, back when
it was just an idea. He also did all the company's legal work, and
taught us some of the mechanics of business, including how investment
deals worked. He was for years the voice of sanity on our board.
Viaweb would never have made it without him.
Julian was a big part of the inspiration for Y Combinator. His
example showed us the magic combination of ingredients you need to
add to hackers to make a startup: seed money, legal work, advice
about deals, and a (comparatively) calm source of advice in moments
of crisis. Our goal with YC was to reproduce what we'd had. Among
ourselves we called it RoboJulian.
What we can't reproduce is his particular breed of biting wit.
Everyone always shut up when Julian was about to say something. We
never knew if it was going to be advice or a joke, but we knew it
would be worth hearing.