I saw this article on FB today:
I have a gut-level negative reaction to pictures like this. The uniformity of color… how much clothing must a person own in order to have those shades of pink? A fuck ton of clothing. How much does it cost? I think that really is the point of many of these photos. To drape a fuckable person in front of a background of waste. Essentially saying, “I have so much wealth, it really doesn’t matter if I spent this much.”
Reading more about it, how was MoIC funded? It says she put money into it, but how much money does a person have at 25 after paying for a private NYU / Parsons education and living in NYC?
While buying a bunch of clothing?
Do you think you will stay in New York?
New York is home for me at the moment, however I am not geographically constrained. I never want to restrict myself.
Do you feel like you wear all of your clothes?
I’m a really good purger. So yea I do. I get rid of clothes at least every other week. I donate a lot of my stuff to Housing Works.
Waste waste waste!
While attending fancy parties?
Not much (props for the 4 steps book on her bookshelf). More likely: rich family.
As a recent Parsons graduate living in the West Village, Bunn found the city’s existing institutions disappointing: They hadn’t adapted to larger cultural currents, she said, leaving little that would “engage and capture” her demographic.
What a fucking princess.
More specifically, it looks like her “business partner,” a Yale graduate who worked on Wall Street for a shit ton of money, then burned out and quit to do art stuff, had the cash to fund it.
How did you fund the venture?
It took less than a week’s paycheck to start the company. We put in under $10,000. In the first two years, our goal was to operate off of $80,000 to $100,000 annually.
If a week’s paycheck was $8k, that’s $32k a month take home pay. $384k take home pay per year. Maybe $500k total compensation? It says he took a 90% pay cut to move to the air industry. $50k seems like a minimum to live in NYC. He was making bank at Citigroup and those hedge funds.
What was your life like on Wall Street, before Artlog?
I worked at a hedge fund for five or six years. Then Citigroup for 2 years before that. It was the most unhealthy lifestyle. I gained 25 pounds and stopped thinking creatively.
I graduated the year after 9/11. The tech bubble had burst. My peers and I had become so risk averse — we went to the “safety” of Wall Street. So launching Artlog was about shedding risk aversion.
Artists and entrepreneurs are very similar. They’re within a different world of thinkers. And they’re very people driven. On Wall Street, you’re part of a system. A role player.
I do have a great deal of empathy with him on this. I’ve definitely sacrificed my creative happiness for money in the first 10 years of my career, a decision I may never be at peace with. lol FU i ended that sentence with a preposition.
Who was Walt Disney at 25? He was born in 1901, so it would be 1926. Mickey Mouse wasn’t invented until 1928, when Disney was 27. Disney got a job as a commercial illustrator at age 18. He raised money from local investors, started a company, bankrupted, moved to California, and started Disney. From the time he started working, it was 9 years and several failed ventures before Mickey even existed.
Not much has happened to a person at 25. And certainly it can be said that MoIC and Disney both have enjoyed great success. But let’s not equate somebody working for 9 years, failing, restarting, failing, and restarting with a bored, rich person with no real track record.
Perhaps what made this more infuriating is that I generally agree with the premise: retail is dead and people will look for experiences. I remember looking around my local Barnes and Noble (before it closed), and imagining what the perfect store might be like. Clearly, it can’t compete with Amazon. So I thought… the Barnes and Noble would only contain the books a person would want to see in real life before buying. Books a person would need to experience. And then the book would be mailed to them. It wasn’t but a year or so before Amazon came out with an app where a person could point their phone at a book cover in B&N and buy it for 20% less. I wasn’t surprised when the store closed.
With the warehouses, inventory systems, subscriptions, electric cars, and traffic-aware, GPS-enabled, mathematically optimized routing, the path to a life where more is delivered than brought home is clear – especially for wealthy people living in big cities like NYC. Time is money, and it makes less and less sense in an information economy to spend that time waiting in checkout lines. The existing retail space will transform into something new, new and still useful. But what will that be? Will it be museums of ice cream? Miniature schools to help people learn mid-career? Will it just be more housing? Preventative medicine clinics? Hydroponic farms? Vape shops?
I’ve said it before, and I still believe it: escapism does well in a recession. But I think I really mean $10/month Netflix does well in a recession. Not $29 two-hour MoIC rich millennial playground. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe the niche market of wealthy city people stuff will skip the next recession. But I don’t think it’s the future of the American economy, at least not the future of a happy economy. The big issues for the American economy are healthcare, housing, energy, and education. Specifically, education that gives Americans skills relevant to what the global economy will demand in 2030. A political science grad is probably worse than somebody who didn’t go. At least they don’t have the debt.
It is businesses in these areas that I think are most deserving of attention and (when they make real progress) praise.
I think I’ll close by pointing out the obvious. Who doesn’t want to make millions creating an ice-cream fantasy land while being a hot 25-year old with nice clothing? It sounds like a pretty sweet deal. And I think creating that fantasy land is a lot of work. It’s not like you snap your fingers and the money arranges itself into whipped cream on the wall. So when I write a post like this, is it a reflection of some jealousy? Absolutely. And that’s kind of ridiculous, right? I’m already living the dream. It’s not a sane jealousy, just a lack of discipline.
Is this article fair? No, it’s not fair. There are interesting elements to the MoIC story that deserve attention, and I won’t bother to dig into it. Specifically, the idea of energy. It’s clear Maryellis Bunn has a lot of energy, and often I don’t feel like I have as much as I want.
At the end of the day, you go to a place like Vietnam, and you think, “do they need the MoIC.” Fuck no. They need the basics. So you think – okay, maybe I could give the profits of MoIC to people who need help. And you could – but that’s just building a leech on the side of an inefficiency. The real work is a lot less glamorous.