"Trust me," Hoy declared, "one day we're all going to be working together and it's going to be huge."
We were at the An Event Apart after party in March 2007, and I was very happy to meet Greg Hoy. He had recently opened Happy Cog's Philadelphia office after many, many years of managing web production shops for various companies. Hoy talked openly of his ideas on how to improve the industry, offered many suggestions on how to better handle business operations, and displayed a wit compatible with the current Airbag standard. I knew that evening that I had gained a friend and mentor whose opinion and confidence I could trust.
"Screw LA," I replied to Jeffrey with a grin, "if I'm ever going to become Happy Cog then it's going to be Happy Cog West."
I was standing in his apartment, wrapping up a very pleasant afternoon spent with Jeffrey and his family, catching up with personal news and talking shop. Airbag was about to grow by a third and I had flown to New York City to reaffirm my desire to continue to work with Happy Cog when and where it made sense. Having exhausted current events, we started to talk openly about future possibilities when the subject of Airbag and Happy Cog's future came up. After I gave my response, we chuckled, quickly said our good-byes, and I headed for JFK airport on a warm spring afternoon in April, 2006.
"You should quit your job and start your own business," he said in-between bites of Pad Thai, "I know you'll be good at it."
In December, 2003, I called in sick at work so I could drive up to Pasadena to have lunch with Jeffrey. After-all, It's not every day that Zeldman makes it out to California, and he had invited me to lunch on his only free day. Across from the table Zeldman continued talking, improving my self-esteem by orders of magnitude with just about each sentence thereafter. By the time we were cracking open the fortune cookies, my smile wouldn't fit through the door, and my head required FAA clearance for the flight path back home. Despite the enormous feeling of empowerment, the advice was hard to internalize because I wasn't in a good position to act on his advice, but even more difficult because I didn't want to believe it.
"You should call it Airbag, because that's how everyone knows you," Zeldman said over the phone. "You're Airbag."
It was June of 2005. The Rocket Scientist and I were about to turn a new leaf in our lives after twelve very difficult months. She had just started a new job that made it possible for us to take the risk of starting a business without any dependable income. We wouldn't be living in luxury any time soon, but I had good advice from many successful people that if I didn't try, it would become my single largest regret later in life. On the phone, Jeffrey offered words of encouragement and offered a few suggestions for getting started. A few days later, I called my lawyer and had him start the process of incorporating Airbag Industries into an Limited Liability Corporation. A month later, it was official.
"Hoy and I agreed that at the end of the day, if we are going to open another office then it has to be with you." Hoy nodded with confidence as Jeffrey spoke, "It has to be with Airbag."
We were sitting at the far end of the concierge room near the top of the Hilton Austin in March of 2009. South By Southwest Interactive was in full swing below and even at that height you could tell that the ants were nerds. While Jeffrey and Hoy continued talking, my head was in a mind numbing haze as I replayed some of these conversations and events from the last six years over and over. Though it may be easy to connect the dots now, I didn't see this coming and I certainly wasn't expecting to receive such an invitation. "We would like Airbag to become Happy Cog West," they said. "We have similar processes, our teams work and play well together, and combined, there's nothing we can't do." Everything they said was true and I knew it. Ten minutes into the meeting and the subject changed from "what if" to discussing next steps, goals, and timelines.
"Done and done," I posted last Friday in response to signing the final document.
It is now August 3, 2009 and it is with exuberance and joy I am very pleased to announce that on this day our friends become our family. Airbag Industries has merged with Happy Cog™ Studios. Many months of planning and negotiations have lead to this event, and I'm very excited about the potential that lies ahead for all of us. Today marks the next step in Happy Cog's evolution and the future before us is filled with more opportunity than I can currently fathom.