Scott Schnaars

Scott Schnaars
Master of GEvil; Yahoo at Yahoo!

Tottered on: 8 May 2006
Temperature: na
Ceiling: na
Ground: na
Wind: na


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TT with HD: Scott Schnaars


[Ed. note: The following virtual teeter tottering session was conducted via Yahoo! Messenger chat. For readers unfamiliar with Google corporate culture, it's useful background that there is apparently an explicit admonishment: Don't be evil. When you reach the end of this conversation, you'll want to visit GEvil or buy a T-shirt.]

HD: Scott, This is merely a test of Yahoo's Mac Messenger. The email I just sent confirmed that Wednesday at 4 Pacific is fine. But today is also fine, perhaps even better. Cheers, Dave

SS: Hey Dave, want to shoot for today at 4?

HD: Wow, it works, sure! I had stepped away from my machine to get a tuna sandwich. That's why the lag.

SS: No, I actually just got back about 2 minutes ago, so it was a very quick response.

SS: You on your Mac or your PC?

HD: I'm on my Mac. Okay, so I'll see you back here in two hours, right? It's 5 here now.

SS: Yes, see you in 2 hours.

HD: Roger that. Cheers. [Ed. note: 2 hours elapses] Hey, it must be exactly 7pm because my automated email from Staples alerting me to all kinds of in-store savings just came through. You there?

SS: Nice. Buying anything cool at Staples?

HD: Not for the longest time. Some modular office furniture. So the concept of this GEvil logo is brilliant in its sheer simplicity. Were you drunk when you came up with it?

SS: I can't remember. Probably.

HD: If you can't remember, that's a good sign it was liquid inspiration.

SS: Actually, I came up with it as an exercise to learn how to use Photoshop. And my goal of learning Photoshop happened to coincide with the release of Gmail.

HD: I was going to ask anyway if you did the Photoshop work yourself. So I guess the answer is, Yes.

SS: Yes, I was working on the Y! Messenger team at the time, which, with Mail, rolls up under the communications umbrella. And when GMail was released, I designed the GEvil logo and some of my friends on the mail team said that if I put it on a T-shirt that they would buy it. So I uploaded it to CafePress. And the rest, as they say, is history.

HD: So I didn't compare the Gmail logo and the GEvil THAT closely. Did you use the 'G' and the 'I' and the 'L' from the original and just know the font well enough to match the 'V'? Or did you just pick something close and do the whole thing from scratch? I mean the 'E' in Evil is clearly a rotated envelope [from the GMail logo].

SS: I used the 'G' from Google, the 'E' is the 'Envelope M' rotated and the 'V, I, and L' are just tweaked in PhotoShop to get them as close as possible. If I recall, I think that I used a stretched out Arial bold.

HD: Got it. So you're not a graphic artist by trade. What exactly do you do for Yahoo! ?

SS: No, far from being a graphic artist. At the time that I did that image, I was responsible for monetizing Y! Messenger. Essentially, acting as a middle ground between sales, ad agencies and the messenger developers to build ad units into the product. I needed to create a ton of mocks, hence my need to learn Photoshop. Today, I do sales for the HotJobs division, selling recruitment media, which is a new focus for that team.

HD: I find it difficult to use the word 'monetize' in natural conversation. I mean, I know how to use it and what it means. It's just that it makes me feel like I'm someone I'm not.

SS: Yes, it isn't one that comes up too often in the course of a conversation, unless you are talking about making money off of something. Such as, we could monetize the teeter totter by charging $5 bucks for people to see the only teeter totter in the Ann Arbor area.

HD: Hmm, interesting idea. I don't think we're quite there yet on the demand side.

SS: LOL

HD: So I'm pretty sure I've got the only teeter totter in Ann Arbor. You have any out there in the Bay Area?

SS: I don't think so. I've asked a lot of the parents that take their kids to parks and no one knows of one. My wife knows of the lame-ass springy one, but I don't think that really counts, does it?

HD: No. Not even close. That's been well established in previous Teeter Talks. Where is GEvil in terms of its buzz curve? We're just a sleepy little midwestern town and I'm just a guy with a teeter totter in his backyard, so as far as I know this already be totally old news?

SS: I like to think that it is still in the nascent stages of buzz.

HD: How much media attention has there been on you? Radio interviews? TV spots? Newspaper articles?

SS: Like I said, I did it to learn Photoshop and to make something for some friends. When I put it on CafePress, it somehow got listed on one of the blog sites and a few people picked it up and it spread from there. To date, though, I've only sold about 50 shirts. I was told that I got mentioned in some paper in Boston, but no one was able to get me a link and I never found it, so it is clearly early stages. You are ahead of the curve.

HD: Perhaps it's choice of garment. Anybody who knows anything at all about CafePress knows that one of the items it's possible to create is thongs. So on your website you say that if people want thongs they should email you and you'll add them. So I emailed you and said I thought there should be thongs, but still no thongs last time I checked. I don't know. Maybe offer the thongs?

SS: That has actually been on my list of things to do. You were the first person to request them. Unfortunately, I can't use the same image as I used for the T-shirts. I need to resize, but still keep the integrity of the image. Not sure if someone would want to advertise GEvil on a thong, though. Something wrong with that image.

HD: I can't believe I'm the first person. I made the same observation about lack of CafePress thongs to a recent tottering guest who's part of a grass roots movement to preserve the bus service in Ypsilanti, which is the next town over from here, and they've set up a CafePress shop with their Keep Ypsi Rolling logo. Also, no thongs. As she put it, The world is not waiting for a Keep Ypsi Rolling thong.

SS: I think that she is right, I am not sure if the world wants a GEvil thong.

HD: By the way, how do you pronounce GEvil?

SS: Gee-vil. But I think that it is up to the speaker.

HD: But the 'vil' part, Is it just /uhL/ like 'weevil' or /vIL/ like Advil?

SS: Good question, I'm from Philadelphia so I say 'Vil' the same way whether it is 'weevil' or 'Advil'. Rhymes with 'Evil' is the best way I can think of.

HD: Hmm, if this weren't just a virtual totter, we'd really get to the bottom of this. It's worth mentioning that we're conducting this virtual totter via Yahoo! Messenger ... for Mac on my end. By the way, I had to install it just for this session, and the Mac version install took maybe 2 seconds.

SS: Love hearing that, thanks for the plug.

HD: And I'm not just saying that to suck up to you ... because sucking up to you wouldn't do me any good anyway ... or would it?

SS: It might get you a shirt, but I can't pull free Yahoo! services or anything like that.

HD: Well, you're getting a Teeter Talk T-shirt out of this in any case. You'll just need to give me a regular postal address where I can send it.

SS: Cool, thank you very much.

HD: I'm curious, did anybody from Yahoo! (notice I've nailed the exclamation point every time) pull you aside and give you a talking to about the logo and T-shirt?

SS: No, we are actually a pretty relaxed company in terms of those types of things. Most of the people who have purchased shirts work here and have blogged about them, which has generated a bit of traffic for me. It is nice to see people wearing them around campus, too.

HD: And when you say campus, you mean the Yahoo! campus?

SS: Yes.

HD: How big a place is it? About how many people work there? I mean just ballpark ...

SS: We have a pretty nice facility here with about 3500 people.

HD: Holy crap!

SS: Yes, 7 buildings.

HD: So did you know this Dave McClure guy, who's the guy wearing the T-shirt in all the photos you've posted, did you know him before the T-shirt came out, or did you become friends as a result of the T-shirt?

SS: No, didn't know him prior to making the shirt and I've only traded an email or two with him since. But I was actually looking for the previously mentioned article from the Boston paper when I came across the picture of him with Sergey Brin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/500hats/50282408/

HD: And I guess this reveals what a bumpkin I am, but before I exchanged emails with you I had never heard of either one of those guys.

SS: No biggie, though Sergey has been in the news about as much as everyone. So I loved the picture and sent Dave an email thanking him for posting on Flickr.

HD: In one of the photos, the one guy from Google who's wearing a Google shirt next to Dave in his almost identical GEvil T-shirt looks a little pissed.

HD: Do you know who that is?

SS: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lantzilla/45021050/ - This one?

HD: Yeah. I guess pissed isn't the right word. Maybe 'hammered'.

SS: The guy wearing the GEvil shirt is Lance, he is a Yahoo. Not sure who the two Googlers are. The GOOG guy might have been hammered. That was at a party here at Yahoo after we acquired Flickr.

HD: Right, my mistake on the GEvil T-shirt ID. So the parlance you use out there is really "he is a Yahoo" ?!

SS: Yep. Not sure what the history is to that, but I think that it stems from Gulliver and the really early days of the first employees calling each other that.

HD: So have you heard from the Google legal team at all?

SS: Not sure, CafePress shut me down for a couple of days, so I don't know if GOOG legal went straight to them. But I did a bunch of research on parody law and sent a long-winded email to CafePress' legal team and called out a bunch of other parody related shops that they have. And essentially asked them to take down all parody clothing if they are taking down mine. And a day later my shop was back on line.

HD: Yeah, I read through that material you provided and it was quite compelling. CafePress seemed to be pretty responsive, I thought. Not at all evil.

SS: Not at all, CafePress has actually been pretty cool to work with. Is that who you use for the totter shirts?

HD: No, I use a local T-shirt printer for the Teeter Talk T- shirts. Right now they're just a gift I provide to totterees in appreciation of their willingness to ride the teeter totter with me. Perhaps in the future, when I um, MONETIZE, this operation, I'll have them for sale.

SS: You get a point.

HD: I did the first batch at a place called Sunrise and a second batch at a place called Ascott. Sunrise was fine. Ascott is just closer to my house. And lugging 25 T-shirts by bicycle is not small undertaking. They make for a surprisingly heavy load. So just curious. Why do you hate Google? And also why do you hate America?

SS: America? Where did that one come from?

HD: I probably should have put in one of those smiley icons. Just kidding. On both counts.

SS: Whew. All of a sudden I was wondering what I had gotten myself into.

HD: No worries. It's all in good fun here on the teeter totter.

SS: Coolio. Like I said, the GEvil was just a fun play on words with some people that make a competitive product. I think a lot of people think that because I designed a T-shirt that I don't like GOOG, when in fact, like any very big company, I think that they do a lot of really cool stuff. And a lot of questionable stuff.

HD: So do you use GOOG at work?

SS: For search? Or in general?

HD: For search.

SS: Not too often. Probably 1 [out of] 10 times I will use them. I've been a Yahoo! user almost since its inception.

HD: I've tried to force myself to at least try other engines recently, just for comparison's sake.

SS: So it is now more of a habit just to use our companion tool, our search box in the upper right hand side of all of our pages. I don't do too many deep searches that either engine will return such radically different results.

HD: So it's not like the Yahoo! campus has a filter on Google on all its machines.

SS: No, not at all. For me it is just a tool. I've got 5 hammers in my garage, most times I will grab which ever is on the end. But if I have a specific need I will grab the right tool. Same with search. I do think that they have a much better blog searching tool. So I use that a lot.

HD: Here's something you can look forward to: after this is published, when you Google your name, the Teeter Talk session will likely be in the top five results, if not the very first one.

SS: Nice. I'll have to do some ego surfing to find that

HD: Try, for example, Googling "Steve Glauberman"

SS: Nice.

SS: You don't have Y! pointing to your site?

HD: Not sure what you mean by 'pointing'? I think I submitted it to the engine several months ago and it shows up somewhere in most results, but not as high as on Google.

SS: Odd, I checked it at http://www.langreiter.com/ and HD didn't even show up in our top 100. Very strange.

HD: Listen, I really appreciate the time you've taken to chat.

SS: I enjoyed the talk, Dave. Thank you.