2003 July 20

That's it, then

It's a weird feeling, shutting down a computer for the last time, as if I was killing something. Well, strangely final, anyway. I was surprised by how I felt on Friday, like my gut hadn't kept up with my brain, and couldn't believe what I was doing. I've been thinking about quitting and starting a business for months, and I decided to do it weeks ago, and have had the final day on my calendar likewise, and yet I still feel caught somehow unawares.

When I resigned from Stanford, I expected a wrenching transition, because I was turning my back on an academic career that I'd spent my whole life working towards. And yet, I was swept along by events and kept so busy, first with the Ars Digita boot camp then the immediate job offer, I hardly had time to feel anything but exhilarated. This time, I thought it would be easier. I wasn't giving up a way of life, just a job I wasn't that fond of anyway, but it's hasn't been -- it's been much harder, and I'm not sure I can put my finger on why. Security, I suppose, is a big part of it. Intellectually, I've very deliberately given up my security -- rationally, I'm convinced I won't regret it, however this turns out -- but emotionally, I guess it's a different matter.

Also, and maybe this is more important, I'm realizing that I've fundamentally committed myself to a fight with the world. For at least the next few months, I'm going to have to live every day convinced that I'm right and the rest of the world is wrong (because if a dinner club is such a good idea, why doesn't it exist already?) It's going to drain a lot out of me -- it's doing it already: I think this is why I've spent so much time lately re-reading Pratchett novels that I've read twice already and laying on the couch watching the Tour de France. It's like comfort food, requiring no initiative since mine is all already booked up.

Friday morning I talked with an accountant about things like choosing to be a corporation or an LLC, and whether I ought to register in Massachusetts or Delaware. She was reluctant to express an opinion about my particular situation without knowing a lot more about what I planned to do, which is fair enough, I suppose, but I kept at her with the questions I wanted answers to until I got them. I felt right executive doing it, too -- it seems important not to let advisors set the agenda, or at least, without understanding why. I didn't want her to tell me what to do; I wanted her to explain things, so I could make my own decision. The buck stops here. I think it was my first real action as a businessman.

It looks like the somewhat unfashionable S corp is probably what I need. Pass-through taxation is an advantage in the first year, and it's easily switchable to C status if it turns out I need it. Also, I need to look into whether the E-2 visa requirements will allow my investment to be a loan, or if it needs to be a purchase of stock.

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