It’s Time For Me To Tackle Something New

Will Smith
Sep 10, 2015 · 4 min read

Cue the sappy music. About six years ago, I pitched my idea for Tested to the folks at Whiskey Media. My pitch was simple, let’s make a technology site that’s about having fun with technology instead of showing people how snarky and cool we could be.

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I never could have predicted the way that one conversation would change my life. Since Norm and I launched Tested in 2010, I’ve been privileged to go places and see things that I never thought I’d see in person. I stood on top of a nuclear reactor (while it was running!), I was the kitchen assistant to a couple of world-class chefs who were developing recipes for astronauts, I helped test different ways to waterproof cameras, I hosted a bunch of 24-hour charity shows, I tested talk time on six phones simultaneously, I 3D printed LOTS of goofy stuff, I learned to race quadcopters, I made a bunch of goofy faces, I saw the future of robotics, I helped turn a San Diego bar into the carbon freezing chamber from Empire Strikes Back, and I had the opportunity to work with and learn directly from Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman on a daily basis.

Put another way, I’ve spent the last five and a half years meeting thousands of amazing people and helping to tell their stories every day. The places I’ve been and things I’ve seen are nothing compared to the amazing makers, scientists, nerds, students, and entrepreneurs I’ve gotten to meet while making the 2512 videos (as of 9/10/2015) that we’ve posted on Tested since 2010.

But, now it’s time for me to step away from Tested and take on a new challenge.

One of the things I’ve realized about myself over the last five years is that I’m happiest when I’m testing the tech on the bleeding edge — the technology so new that the creator’s original intent is still visible and the long-term potential is murky. The decisions made in these early moments of a new technology are the ones that change the world. By the time designers are worrying about incremental updates and chamfered edges, I’m bored.

Enter VR. I may have accidentally become the face of VR thanks to a couple of excellent photographs that Norm shot (Thanks Norm!) , but I find VR captivating nonetheless. From my perspective, VR is the next rough-edged technology with the potential to change the world.

After sharing a virtual world with another person during the Oculus Touch demo at E3 this year, I became a believer. I can’t stop thinking about the potential of VR as a communication medium. To that end, I’m starting a company to test out some different ways to communicate in VR. I’ve put together what I think is a pretty solid plan, but need to start doing all the scary business stuff I’ve never done before — raising money from investors, building a development team, hiring a lawyer, figuring out how to do payroll, and a bunch of other stuff I’ve probably never considered. As I ramp up my new company over the next few months, I’ll be gradually stepping back from my day-to-day duties on Tested.

Don’t worry, I’m leaving Tested in good hands. Norm and I have always run Tested as a team. Both of our business cards have always said “Editor”. We’ve always done what we wanted on small stuff and consulted each other on big projects. The results show on the site. I have the greatest confidence that Norm will continue making Tested the most interesting site on the Internet.

And I’m not going to disappear from Tested. I’ll continue on Still Untitled as a regular, a guest on This Is Only a Test, and probably even pop up in videos from time to time. And Norm, I’m available as a guest for LEGO With Friends! And yes, I’ll be at the live show in San Francisco next month.

So what’s next for me? I won’t be ready to give the full details for a while, but you can sign up for my TinyLetter to get 100% spam-free email updates about how things are going, follow me on Twitter for company updates (and other nonsense), sub to my YouTube channel, or subscribe to posts here.

Thank you all for your support over the years. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the everyone from Whiskey Media (including our former partners-in-crime at Giant Bomb, ComicVine, Screened, and AnimeVice) and Whalerock Industries who have made it possible for me to do everything that we’ve done at Tested so far.

More than anyone else, Norman Chan has been an amazing creative partner over the last 8 years, both at Tested and Maximum PC. Thanks Norm.

Edit: Like the biggest asshole ever, I didn’t post the right version. Joey Fameli has been behind the camera on the vast majority of videos we’ve posted over the last five years. He is the reason we look good in our videos. He shot the very first videos we put on the site, dealt with my amateur behavior while we were learning how to do video, and gently nudges us in the right direction. Thanks Joey.

It’s been an amazing ride and I can’t wait to show you what’s next!

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