bennettk.com

hey, I’m going to LiveNation Labs

(tl;dr- I love JibJab, but have accepted a position at LiveNation Labs.)

(forgive me if this post comes across as a bit self-aggrandizing or if it’s ridiculously rambling- I haven’t spent much time writing in English for a while. I’m looking to change that.)

 

Today is my last day at JibJab.

 

I have nothing but absolute love and praise for both the company and all of my coworkers. The brothers Spiridellis (whom we lovingly refer to as ‘grevan’) have been working on JibJab in various forms since the late 90s- an ETERNITY in internet time (think pre-Friendster, when Lycos (!) was still the go-to search engine), and have really put together a company that’s unlike any other on the planet. Their persistence combined with their crazy energy and vision have kept them afloat for well over a decade, and from what I can tell, the company is only really getting started now.

JibJab is the master of producing artistic entertainment on the web, from eCards to political satire to music videos for Weird Al and Star Wars remixes. Plus, while I was there, we branched out into the children’s books market with JibJab Jr. We wrote all of the books ourselves (!) and brought in some of the best animators in the world to help bring them to life (have a look on the JibJab Jr blog or download the app– it’s free!). I am genuinely proud of my helping to bring that game-changing platform to fruition and I’m completely stoked for what they’ve got in store for it in the future. (Hey, I can say ‘stoked’ now. I live in SoCal.)

I’ve done my share of software and web development where the company would have, say, a designer or two. But JibJab’s got a full-on design team AND a fully stocked production team that’s capable of just about anything, from live action shorts to some of the most ridiculous animation you’ve ever seen to seriously beautiful still artwork. I mean it when I say that no company on the planet can do what JibJab does as well as we do it. The depth of talent in both the production / art teams and the programming teams is pretty astounding.

JibJab’s corporate culture (if you even want to call it that) is also unmatched. Not only did I move to L.A. and start working a block away from the beach, but it was at a company with a very well-stocked beer fridge, puppets and Star Wars crap hanging all over the place… and they even do my laundry. Pretty tough to beat that one.

 

But… if there’s one thing that I love even more than cartoons and technology… it’s music and technology. (See: my master’s degree.) When I was approached by Ethan Kaplan, someone I’ve been a big fan of for some time*, about a ‘startup’ he was building within LiveNation to reinvent the way in which fans connect with the live music experience, I was intrigued. The thought of leaving JibJab, however, hadn’t even crossed my mind in the year and a half since I’d been there**, so I pushed back. It wasn’t until I spoke with Ethan and his new partner in crime, Eric from BigChampagne and got a better idea of what they’ll be building and the big hand I’ll get to have in both building the products and establishing the corporate culture there that I realized I needed to pounce on this opportunity. LiveNation Labs is going to reinvigorate the world of live music or die trying.  If we can build products that are as engaging as JibJab’s and establish a culture that is merely half as awesome as what I saw at JibJab, I’d call that a success.

So… I’ll be in San Francisco on Monday helping represent LiveNation Labs at SF Music Tech, and then I’ll be off an running building some crazy things in Hollywood that I really cannot wait to share with the world.

Thank you, JibJab. And thank you, Venice. It’s been real. See you in Hollywood.

 

*when I was busy working on my high school ska band’s website, Ethan was working on murmurs.com, which would become REM’s de-facto fan site… and ultimately lead him to become the SVP of technology at WBR and WMG records and a very well-known and respected figure in the music industry.

** it is a wonderful time to be a computer programmer. We get calls from recruiters all the time, and I had blown off each one. This isn’t me tooting my own horn- we need more capable programmers in this world! Thinking of a career change? Check out http://codeyear.com/. You won’t become a programmer overnight, but who knows- perhaps this will set you down a path towards a nerdy and successful future.

  • Howard

    hey B, best of luck, sounds like a great move-start ups are exciting.  I should know something abou that.
    come visit when you’re back in nyc.

  • Erosen2

    Dear cool and amazing man,
    I will most remember you playing with my grandson on the hill. Your wonderful energy, fun loving spirit and sheer joyful prescience blew me away. Good thoughts on your new journey.
    I’m lucky to have crossed your path
    Gene

  • Justin P. McCarthy

    Congratulations! In the time it took me to read your post, I became a grandfather. Twice. Good luck, sir!

  • Robbie

    i was just talking about Lycos the other day, so nice reference. you will be missed at JJ but hopefully we’ll get that playing-music thing going (at least until your new and more talented musician nerd coworkers steal you away for a LiveNation band).

  • Julielandsman1

    bennett,
    You are so aweome!
    LiveNation is lucky to snag you!
    Who knew that buying you that sound effects item at Sam Ash many years ago, would lead you on this path!!
    I wish you muh success in your newjob!!
    xoxoAunt

  • Kim

    Didn’t get to Wurstkutckilmeil (I can’t remember how to spell it, but that’s definitely not it, haha) Friday, but congratulations on the new job! I’m sure you’ll do great things