I wrote a very personal note to a bunch of men last night; a group of Christ followers who I had come to know over the last 5+ years while being out here in Silicon Valley.
Christianity is a strange thing out here on the left-coast; much different in shape, form, and manifestation than the right-coast and definitely counter to the so-called “bible belt” in the south / south-east.
Here, it’s both respected and ignored; just another world religion from another crazy. I mean, we’re all crazy out here, especially those in early-stage startuplandia. So what if he’s a practicing buddhist / neo-liberal-but-really-woke (like really) with conservative ideals while also growing in THC/CBD combo-hits while banging micro-trips and acid on the weekends as you code-binge while executing against mindfulness between avocado toast breaks… hey, if that’s your thing, fuck, whatever — just do it, right? Steve recommended acid to everyone as baseline.
… this is not me, by the way. I simply don’t have enough friends for any of those things to make sense and I barely ever leave my home.
Here in The Yayarea™️ you can be a wimp and not share your faith or you can and no one really cares. So, how do you stand-out? How do you make something “spiritual” worthy of attention? Well, the first-step is to accept the fact that if you’re trying that hard to just stand out then you’re doing it wrong; that was never the way™️.
What folks out here respect, more than anything, is putting your money where your mouth is. It’s about building cool shit and then getting everyone to like it. You get bonus points if you’re able to “predict” those outcomes and then go build that prediction into reality (minus a point if you’re an asshole and try to make everyone eat shit in the process by doing “I told you so!” on the way to an exit).
But, we all dream of that latter scenario because it’s built into our DNA. We want people to fail while simultaneously winning. It’s bad, but, at least we should acknowledge that we all (can / sometimes) find sick pleasure in seeing our enemies get what’s due.
So, instead of preaching, you process. Instead of bible-thumping, you build. You play the game; you do as the Romans do when you’re in Rome and then you execute so well that no one can ignore you.
This is what I saw in the scriptures and what I studied when I committed myself to 7.5 years of study — I barely graduated because my credits were starting to expire! You see, in SF/SV, it’s about being amazing at your work and showing others that you can, in fact, love some guy named Jesus while also making a trillion dollars.
Or, at the very least, build in a way that honors your staff and that ends with your teammates saying “She was a good person. She treated me fairly, kindly, respectfully. I’d work with her again. That was a good use of my time.” Then, you try again.
Christianity and being a lover of Christ isn’t weird; it’s actually very acceptable out here in Silicon Valley! It’s just that you’re too insecure to see that.
And that’s sad.
If there’s one thing that I know to be true about the faith of an authentic Christ-follower is this: It’s fucking unstoppable.
There seems to be nothing that can stop them (or the larger movement). Nothing. I have studied most major world religions — this precisely why I went to seminary! — and what I discovered was that Christianity has the fundamental inconsistencies that make it truly, unbelievably, antifragile. Christianity is a never-ending black swan; you literally can’t kill this motherfucker.
Get this. At the center of the entire story is a guy who predicts his own public murder and resurrection… and then goes ahead and does it — with witnesses! The OG “screenshot or it didn’t happen” final boss. He made it look easy.
Consequently, the frame was established and the bar was set. If you’re going to do something for His glory then you might as well go as hard as you possibly can, use the skills that you have and the knowledge you’ve acquired and use them to the utmost. YOLO. I’m not even kidding.
This is what I believe St. Irenaeus meant when he said:
The glory of God is man fully alive.
Christ-man was this in perfection and we’ve all been trying our best to copy his model ever since. In order for us to achieve this level we must become “fully alive” and I take this to mean that we must find what we were meant to do (in whatever way, shape, or form that might take) and then execute as hard as you possibly can.
You do your best work; that is all that anyone has ever, really, required. “Just don’t waste your life” is what I hear in the back of my head every single day.
And that earns you respect and a seat at the proverbial table here in Silicon Valley. It’s not the most “fun” or exciting pathway to a place of position but it is how this particular spread of geography works. And, if you study history, you’d know that. I am not surprised; I was ready.
So when I came out here I knew that I had to do something special, something distinct, something that would dignify the very cost for which I was purchased. I tried many things over the last 5 years; I was learning my craft and I was slowly coming “alive.”
It was training; preparation for
The “crown” of Silicon Valley in everyone’s current, contemporary memory is Facebook — it is the reigning king of the web and the face of what we know as “Web 2.0” and “social media.” It has also brought ruinous harm to our society and culture and many of the founding team (and financiers) have changed their tune entirely; some of them are dedicated to reducing the power of their creation and even dismantling it entirely.
I get it; Facebook is shit. I quit a while ago — 9 years ago. I have strong opinions about them. In fact, I knew that their time in the sun was over but was unsure of what would take its place. Would it be decentralized systems and applications? Or a new centralized player to take top spot? The answer would have to be both.
To build an “unstoppable community” it would have to have the inconsistencies and features of antifragility based on models and systems that have proven to work. In short, I took much of my learning from my time studying an unstoppable world religion and began seeing associations and opportunities to build something like it.
That solution is YEN.
It’s completely under-stated and it doesn’t look / feel like what most folks are used to. In fact, there are features that are blatantly and obviously left-out! For instance, in the future, we don’t have any annoying or FOMO-inducing notifications because our lives have been made objectively worse with them.
So, that’s what I did when I designed and built YEN — I left that “feature” entirely out. In my world (and yours, if you build one — it’s super-easy to metaform!) you simply aren’t worried about the things in the Web 2.0 layer.
In a way, you feel inversely-unstoppable — you feel as if you’re back in control of your internet use. It’s a truly magical feeling.
But more than that I built it in a way that ensure the continued growth of the Christ-follower tradition, regardless of where you might sit on the spectrum of faith-options and denominations. Hell, even fringe cults that have borrowed Christian rhetoric and behaviors but are not fundamentally trinitarian will find a tool that will enable them to build a communication uplink with their community(ies) forever.
An unstoppable community platform; it’s like we’ve given everyone the “power” of having a (mini) Facebook in their pocket. Imagine that! Because that’s what I’ve built.
With YEN, you can start a new community of faith (or build one for your existing church, congregation, or small group, or missionary outpost) with just an email address. And, if you encounter any “resistance” from local or federal organizations, especially in places that lack privacy and information protection rights, that’s okay because you can quickly “decompose” or delete rooms or even the entire community space and then just spin up another one with a different email address later.
Really. It’s unstoppable. Censorship-resistant. Invincible.
I built it this way because my wife and I have made a lifestyle of supporting missionaries who continue to build value in places that are beyond “deep six” — they would be killed or, at the very least, severely harmed if they were discovered. And, over the years, I built custom software for them so that they could communicate back home, get the support they need from family and friends, and even send money when they needed it most.
These were complicated systems that required a ton of operational procedures to work properly and there was always a risk of being discovered or a part of the “chain” becoming weak due to mis-management, improper handling, or just common human mistakes. But the cost of failure was imprisonment or death or worse.
It just wasn’t scalable in any real way. The technology wasn’t ready and I didn’t know enough about privacy / security and every payment rail was expensive and inefficient. I knew I had to, eventually, build something better.
I had to build something that was truly unstoppable. It has to be resistant to both outside authorities that would want to shut it down and human error because you simply can’t trust either one of them to get this shit right (even though most of my missionary friends are genius-level folks, they are super-dumb with computers).
What Facebook did was create a singular model for how technology could scale across multiple geographies, timezones, cultures, and contexts. What YEN has done is decentralized that power and made it equally-accessible for every single person on the planet. You can’t create something that profound without it also having the impact and eventual “success” — all we have to do now is wait, very patiently, for the world to wake up to this new reality.
It’s a bit like Bitcoin; ignored at first and now look where we’re at today. It made noise. It got people’s attention. It’s changing things. People hate it. People love it. That’s kind of by design. That’s to be expected. Nothing truly original is unanimously approved-of and loved in this world. That’s why we know it’s OG.
YEN is the most important project of my career because it’s the most important gift that I’ve given to the capital-c Church. I wanted to use what I had to build something worthy of the one who’d I’d have to give it to. I wanted to build an unstoppable tool for an unstoppable movement for an unstoppable God.
And I think I’ve done just that.