Thank You For Being Our Friend

We all start with a blank page and a blinking cursor.

Maybe a prompt or two to get us going.

Then the first letter drops forming the first word. For some of us, that first word is just that, a word. For others, the letters push words to form sentences, and we never look back.

And then, at the end, our blank page with the blinking cursor is filled with ideas that will survive in the minds and hearts of those we hold most dear.

My friend Ted Rheingold’s story has come to end. Well, his part of it anyway.

There are so many better photos of Ted. But that face.

It was fucking hot that first time I met Ted in person. It was at the Dogster office (wholly shit why was it at the top of an SF hill) and yes, he was dressed just like the above.

Years earlier, I had read all about the launch of Dogster. While the fantasy in my head was of a group of friends that saw the growth of social through Friendster and, over a couple of beers, said “Fuck it. Dogs need their own social network” and built it, the truth, as most Silicon Valley truths are, was complicated.

But that never stopped the love and community to be front and center.

When I met Ted for the first time, I expected to meet someone who was so enthralled with dogs, he spoke in pet. Nothing was wonderful. It was always wooferful. Purrfect. There was no pet pun that Ted didn’t espouse as gospel.

Puptastic. fuck me.

“I hate people. People are so maddeningly selfish.”

“I fucking love people,” Ted exclaimed. “It is the center of all that I do.”

Ted is an inside-out person. He cared so much more about how he effected others, than how they effected him. Most of the people in our industry are outside-in. They want to know how things will effect them.

About six months or so ago, Ted and I had lunch. We connected now and again, but busy is as busy does, and it always seems to win. I had tried to not impose on Ted’s time for too long but I knew that the amount of time we had was complicated.

His eyes were tired, but twinkled. He was moving a bit slower, but his energy and desire hadn’t ebbed.

We spent a glorious hour or so talking about people. Whenever he spoke about his legacy, it was always in relation to people. What could he do for people, his people and our people.

It was clear that his struggle wasn’t with being sick it was with the limitations that sick brought. He wanted to do so much, but his boundaries were shrinking.

All of the horrible emotions Silicon Valley forces us to feel: from jealousy to envy to indignant brush-offs, had left Ted.

And as we ended lunch and he stepped into a car, I never knew that was the last hug I was going to give him. I walked across the street headed to a therapy appointment smiling and thinking about all the ways Ted had affected my life over the years.

Ted taught me that you don’t have to stand on the top of the mountain to make change. That change comes from reaching out and helping others climb the mountain. Change comes from creating and participating in a community of people who care more each other than Teslas and exits.

Ted, once more, thank you for being our friend.

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