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The History of FanBox.com 

Many people have asked how FanBox was started; by whom; and what are the motivations of the FanBox team.

Using this blog, I will do my best to bring you the FanBox story - by interviewing FanBox employees - both current and past employees. 

If you work (or previously worked) at FanBox, please
send me your stories, photos or videos -- and I will do
my 
best to assemble them into their correct chapter.

As I progress, I will continually add more chapters over the coming weeks and months -- and go back to edit previous chapters -- until we have the full story of the Good, the Bad, and Everything In-Between.

 

 

The History of FanBox.com

 

The Beginning

 

FanBox was started here in a 3-bedroom condo (apartment #402) in San Diego, California:

The History of FanBox.com

 

It was started in a residential condo (instead of an office building) because the company had no money and wanted to keep the costs very, very low.

Everyone knew that if they wanted to eventually be able to give money back to the community users and their chosen charitable causes, they would need to keep the company private and out of the control of profit-seeking investors.

This condo was owned by one of the employees, so they didn't have to pay rent.

 

 

The company had no money, and could pay no salaries or give employees any benefits -- for years.


Here's Greg, who departed a company called mp3.com to take on the company's marketing responsibilities:

The History of FanBox.com

 

 

Amanda was one of the very first engineers, and quickly got a reputation as someone who could do technical magic:

The History of FanBox.com

 

Amanda, like the other FanBox engineers, was amazingly talented and intelligent.


FanBox was an extremely difficult place to work if you were not simply the best at what you did, because -- due to the lack of resources -- you had to figure out how to get a lot done each day -- usually as much as what 5 or even 10 "normal" engineers could accomplish in a day.


Every single person that lasted more than a short period of time at FanBox, had at least the following three (3) things in common:


1) They were extremely intelligent, and world-class excellent at their craft. 

For example, Amanda had previously achieved a perfect SAT Score (ZERO wrong answers) -- it was discovered years into her employment at FanBox -- a fact that she had not volunteered up herself.

In another chapter, I will detail some of the technologies that these same people invented -- some of which are things that you are using today -- each and every day -- not just on FanBox but virtually everywhere on the Web.  

When I get to writing that chapter, you will be amazed that you didn't already know that many of the things that you use every day (on Facebook, Yahoo, Google and other web sites) were actually invented by FanBox employees -- and to prove it, the United States Patent Office recently awarded a series of official patents to FanBox for these inventions.

I promise to add another chapter (post), titled "FanBox Inventions", soon.

 

 

2) They were extremely confident in their capabilities, and believed that they not only could but had a responsibility to do something really big with their lives.

To survive under those difficult conditions (for more than a short period of time) they simply had to be driven by a higher purpose. FanBox's mission provided them that exact purpose. I will detail that purpose for you in the next chapter (post) of this blog.

When you're going after a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal), you are put to the test daily and you are constantly working under severe stress and pressure.

To add to that, your friends, family and loved ones are constantly and openly questioning your judgment -- for working double-long days -- for zero pay -- when you could easily be bringing home $100,000 or more per year.

So, one big part of the challenge was silencing "the noise from the naysayers", many of which went out of their way on a daily basis to remind you that this mission has never been accomplished before; that you were crazy for attempting it; and that the sooner you stopped wasting your life chasing this mission, the better off you would be. 

To be able to stay focused and achieve the near-miracles that you needed to accomplish almost daily -- often needing to literally invent groundbreaking technologies seemingly out of thin-air to accomplish a task -- despite all the difficulties, mental obstacles, and challenges you faced -- you simply needed to be operating at a higher level of purpose than most people.


 

3) They were down-to-earth and humble.

At FanBox, there's simply no room for arrogance or self-promoting.

When your brain is focused fully on a big purpose and you see a path towards that purpose, you simply don't care about short-term gratification, flashiness, big talkers, showing off or being full of yourself.

Under those difficult conditions, they were simply trying to keep their minds focused on the positive and make it through to the next day -- without breaking an important piece of software or having a nervous breakdown themselves -- knowing that the other amazing people -- that were also making huge sacrifices like they were -- were counting on them to come through with their piece of the complex puzzle.

 

Arrogant people were humbled very quickly by the sheer weight of the challenges they faced starting on Day 1 of their employment, and after just a week or two at FanBox either became quite down-to-earth under the weight of their challenges --- or rapidly quit and/or disappeared.


The survivors - the ones that were still around for a year or more after they started -- all shared the same characteristics of being amongst the best in the industry at their profession and skills; were noticeably similar in their deep humility; and shared the same sense of purpose and belief that they were going to succeed in helping make the world a better place.


                      ------------

 

Little by little, word got out to the local community about FanBox and its mission.

Many people applied to work at the company -- ALL FOR NO PAY -- but for a chance to make a difference.

Here's one of the bedrooms at the condo:

The History of FanBox.com

 

The kitchen was in bad shape:

The History of FanBox.com

 

The bathroom was in bad shape too:

The History of FanBox.com

 

But somehow, people didn't seem to care.

People left Yahoo to work at FanBox. They left Microsoft, Qualcomm, Price Waterhouse, and Genentech. They left Creative Labs, College Club and Google.

People came from all over the state of California to work at "The Condo" -- leaving their $100,000 to $300,000 per year annual salaries -- knowing full well that there was no paycheck; the working space was cramped and tight; and that work days were very long:

The typical day started before 8am and didn't end until after Midnight -- six (6) and sometimes seven (7) days a week.

 

Every night, the engineers took turns making sure the web site stayed up during the night, so people often took a nap under their desks during the night:

The History of FanBox.com

 

Monitors on the kitchen shelf showed important stats and numbers; flashing when a computer or server went down or was having an issue:

The History of FanBox.com

 

 

Due to the lack of space, interviews only happened in the fire escape stairwell, so everyone hoped it didn't rain (but sometimes it rained and interviewees got wet):

The History of FanBox.com

 

 

Company meetings had to happen outside. When the weather was good, the beach made for a soft place to sit and a fun place to meet:

The History of FanBox.com

 

There was only enough room in the condo for 35 employees, so to bring on a new employee (with a desparetely-needed skill) someone had to be asked to leave.

This was particularly hard because everyone worked very hard, for long hours and no pay, so asking someone to leave the company was one of the most difficult things to do.

The 35th person had to put a piece of glass on the sink in the bathroom, and get his/her work done from there:
The History of FanBox.com 


 

 

Eventually, the product began to come together, and the company started to generate revenues.


An important day:

Here's everyone showing off their very first "Paycheck" -- $100 for each employee. By now, many of the employees had been working for no pay and under these conditions for 2 or 3 years:

The History of FanBox.com

 

 

Those paychecks grew by $100 a month, until eventually everyone had a normal -- but small -- monthly paycheck.

 

One day, the city of San Diego discovered that the company was operating a business in this residential area, and put a "Cease and Desist" (order to vacate the premises) on the condo door -- ordering the business to leave in 24 hours.

The company would be forced to shut down, as it had no money to secure an office.


Coincidentally, that very same day -- only 3 hours after the notice from the city, the company received, in the mail, an unexpected check (for $20,000) from Sony Corporation -- paid in advance for advertising -- making it possible for the company to pay the deposit for an office ($19,975).

This coincidence continues to puzzle everyone, as the company had never made a penny from advertising before this, and had not served even one advertisement for Sony (or any other company, for that matter) and had only asked Sony (and been rejected) for an ad sale many months before.

-----------------

The very next day, everyone stopped what they were doing and helped move desks, computers and everything else to the new office:

The History of FanBox.com

 

Notice the "SMS.ac" stickers and logo on the office door. SMS.ac is the official (corporate) name for FanBox. The company now had the office space it needed to grow beyond 35 employees:

The History of FanBox.com

 

And it grew quickly - even though paychecks were still at only a few hundred dollars per month per employee -- about 10% of their "market rates".

 

Here, the company is celebrating an important product launch:

The History of FanBox.com

 

In this photo, Pradeep Menon, the company's first head of product, is standing in the front with a white shirt and his hand crossing his chest.

Earlier this year (2011) "dEEp" -- as they all called him --  slipped and fell, banged his head, and passed away within a few hours -- at the young age of 31.

His funeral was a chance for everyone to get together to honor him and his accomplishments; and also remind each other of how short life is and how quickly it can be taken away; and how important relationships become between people that set out to do something challenging and difficult together.


-----------------

As the company grew, it stayed focused on its mission, and although typical work hours still averaged around 16 hours a day, everyone often took the opportunity to have a laugh with their comrades.

Most people that have worked at FanBox can claim that some of their very best friends, to this day, are people that they met at FanBox and shared the same "brain-expanding, learning, goal-chasing, hard-working, fun, challenging, tiring, purpose-driven, emotional, difficult, exhilarating, scary, high-acheiving, growth-filled, sleep-deprived" experience.

Here's some of the FanBox staff taking a moment to have some fun at the holiday gift exchange party:

The History of FanBox.com

 

 

In the next chapter, let's explore what it was that motivated the employees of FanBox to take on those challenges -- and sacrifice as much as they did: The purpose and reason behind FanBox.

 

  >> Next Chapter >>

1191 Comments

interesting ..

34 months ago

Yes Anjana Raj

15 months ago

I agreed

13 months ago

It’s not only interesting but a very challenging story. History is always made by men of courage. History does not necessary happen on its own. When one reads this "HISTORY", one begins to wonder as to how they developed the inner will and power to drive themselves and keep track of the motion they had set themselves on.

Little wonder, people like Orison Swett Marden and Anais Nin had these to say;
“Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.” Orison Swett Marden (1850-1924)
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.” Anaïs Nin (1903-1977).

Events do take place which men record, but it is man that records those events , observes them, analyzes them and deploys the experience and lessons learnt into every strata of human development.

One is, therefore, free to agree or disagree with Bernard Edmonds in his statement, “To dream anything that you want to dream. That's the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.” Bernard Edmonds

I wonder how many of us had had the opportunity of reading about “The Great Man theory.” “The Great Man theory” is a 19th-century idea according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of "great men", or heroes: highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact. The theory was popularized in the 1840s by Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle, and in 1860 Herbert Spencer formulated a counter-argument that has remained influential throughout the 20th century to the present; Spencer said that such great men are the products of their societies, and that their actions would be impossible without the social conditions built before their lifetimes.
Alongside with Carlyle the Great Man theory was supported by American scholar Frederick Adams Woods. In his work The Influence of Monarchs: Steps in a New Science of History Woods investigated 386 rulers in Western Europe from the 12th century till the French revolution in the late 18th century and their influence on the course of historical events.

At the organization called FanBox today, we’re heirs to the great achievement of our Great Men of History. The question that always reoccurs in my mind like an endless recurring decimal is what values are we adding to what we have inherited? Are we playing the role of great men of our day by solidifying what has been left for us or do we think a display of unserious attitude will continue to sustain it?

What comparison can we make between our present attitude to work on Fanbox today and that of our men of history- which was borne out of deadly sacrifice? Are we improving on their legacy?

The questions to be asked are endless. Who is to answer them is the last one?

12 months ago

Amazing

34 months ago

Thank you for sharing such intersting history, it's always good to know.

14 months ago

ok

13 months ago

God loves this company, and he's going to continue to prove it. : )

34 months ago

good

13 months ago

wow fantastic and very interesting ! i really enjoy success stories

34 months ago

Seriously why do I get excited just reading about it just to know where FanBox came from!! All of this is so interesting to me, and I can't help but be excited of everything to come!! Awesome Blog J.C

34 months ago

There's a reason that Sony check just showed up in the mail when Fanbox needed it most...you guys are meant to be here in existence...you and your team are changing the world and that is a powerful force of nature...

34 months ago

I absolutely LOVED reading your story! I'm glad you stayed the course and remained focused. Thank you for not giving up! I love the concept of your website services for both bloggers and charities. Keep up the GREAT WORK! Grateful to have discovered your site. Now onward and upward for everyone! :)

34 months ago

WOOOW, what a story and for Mr. Deep, rest in peace...... THank you for you existence Fanbox love you more:)

34 months ago

Wow. Amazing and inspiring story . If you don't have specific and tangible goals, how can the Universe know what opportunities to present to you to assist your spiritual evolution? Really Great work with passion and commitment.

34 months ago

wow, wish I could also help in my own small way..jimbo69

34 months ago

i love fanbox

34 months ago

Whew! Seems my world stop spinning while reading this revealation. Your every word inspired me. I really felt lucky that way am a Fanbox blogger.Actually, also, it was not for money that firstly I entered this Fanbox blogging...it's my passion as well as my orphaned scholars that gave me strength to look for a ways to send messages about charitable causes. Now I have 4 orphan scholars from one previously...FanBox makes a difference! thanks FanBox!

34 months ago

I love the blog so much..... I learned a lot

34 months ago

a very inspiring story,, i loved reading it.

34 months ago

Inspiring! Just when I thought that most of humanity is only concerned about greed. That most people are rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful, and ignorant. Then, I read a story like this ... Wow! ... there is hope for humanity. Maybe 2012 will actually initiate the coming of a new cycle which will usher in an evolution of humanity into a higher state of consciouness. I now have a new respect for Fanbox and it's members. Let's change the world!

34 months ago

how inspiring what a great courage indeed as it relates to me to work as a volunteer years back forgetting about money. my family always telling me what would i be if i would have a family someday?or how could i make it through working as a volunteer without having a penny in my pocket?but the passion and love of working, the bonding moments, the tears, joys, laughter could not be replaced with money.....till now those memories still gave courage and inspired me, i would guess as i grew older...hehehe keep it up fanbox team......congratulations you all guys!!!!

34 months ago

The story of a 'winner does not quit and a quitter does not win'. Sad that Pradeep was lost!

34 months ago

reading about fanbox history gives fanbox member's a better understanding of the company knowing that a higher power was in charge of the making of fanbox . empowering the employee 's to reach higher goals. to go beyond boundaries . to achieve the impossible. I'm glad fanbox listened to the higher power {God} . giving him {God } permission to run the company. God rewards and gift those that do his bidding. God loves a giver. the fanbox company gives generously to each members accomplishment. fanbox is truly a blessing for fanbox members that are having bad financial problems though to the economy and fanbox members who lose their faith that anything good or , like this could never happen to them because companys on the internet never come though with what they promise . the way the world is today . everyone believes that cash comes before merits. fanbox company and it's employee's are an exception. to the 35 and the one that worked with fanbox from up above making it 36 employee's though their hard work , dedications and sacrifices without pay . may God bless each and everyone of you at fanbox for everything that you do in Gods name and everyone that you love for ever and ever .

34 months ago

A-men

14 months ago

congratulation that everybody work hard and make it now so biggest company...awesome!!!!!

34 months ago

This is a good history of fanbox, thank you that you share t to us JC.... more power to all of the staff and Amanda and Greg :-)

34 months ago

Its good to be in touch with such happenings. It serves as a way of encouragng someone to do the best inspite of all odds.

34 months ago

This is an amazing story of the Fanbox staff & leaders who sacrifice & their effort,determination,talent,unity that result to amazing success...

34 months ago

Awesome, a great sacrifice, since you all have chosen from beginning to make a difference to your world, the less privilege. the good Lord will continue to strengthening you all, give you divine wisdom and understanding to abide, He said, I did not call the seed of Jacob to worship (serve) Him in vain, so, your service to humanity will not be in vain. The check from Sony is not coincidence, it is a divine intervention of God. May he reward you all adequately more than you ever asked for or think in Jesus name. Am deeply sorry about Deep. Congratulations, keep hope and the good works alive and God bless.

34 months ago

Really great sacrifice of the staffs of FanBox....thanx for this awesome imformation....liked the passion od Amada and really sorry for 'deep' may his soul rest in peace...now i love FonBox even more.......

34 months ago

So, when would the MASTERS here among us, kick some a$$ in the humble presence of everyone? Just asking... :o)

34 months ago

your response pl.

14 months ago

That's a lot of time sacrificed for something they all have a passion for and to see it through....and to do it for no pay for quite a while....wow, that's really something. Not something you see too often. To stay with that goal / focus / dream to come true and finally to have the site as it is today....very inspiring story! Keep up the excellent work Fanbox staff - you're truly awesome!

34 months ago

The Gods are Great!!! They don't forget their created Ones. The Company will Survive to an endless infinity!

34 months ago

Very inspiring story... I've learned that there's nothing more important than something you love or really wanted to do in life. It's all about passion. It needs a commitment and consistant act to make those wonderful dreams come true. It's truly brilliant! Congrates to all Fanbox staffs and always keep up the great job.

Thanks for sharing!

34 months ago

GREAT INSPIRATION!
BEWARE OF SMALL THING THAT STARS IN A BIG WAY!

I WILL RATHER FALL IN A CAUSE THAT WILL ULTIMATELY TRIUMPH THAN TRIUMPH IN A CAUSE THAT WILL ULTIMATELY FALL!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

OJO KOLAWOLE

34 months ago

Please give me a bell for the next chapter.

34 months ago

I will say to all stay strong, because god will provide.

34 months ago

You just got the answer for Diligence and hardwork.

34 months ago

interesting

34 months ago

Wow! amazing story of humble beginning that lead to success. Thanks for sharing this to us. So inspiring!

34 months ago

great.

34 months ago

I congratulate the people behind Fanbox for not giving up, the story of humble beginnings inspires everyone. And teaches us that patience and the importance of working hard is important in achieving success!

34 months ago

yes right, my friend, work must with love...without love we will not success,..and have patience more big, and don,t give up from bad condition althought there is not give support,..but with faith of strong we will success b,coz God, ameen

13 months ago

Thank you for sharing this wonderful but sad story with all of us here on fanbox.I have liked this site since day one (I do not know why but I kept spending hours and hours and days after days here) This was at the beginning month that I found the site.I felt like this place was better then any place that I have ever been to before.Every day I hoped and I prayed that Fanbox would be so much more better then any other site on the Internet.I have been hooked to Fanbox since day one and I still am...I mean I can not go more then 10 hours without getting my daily dose of Fanbox (It just would not fell right to me now).

And now after this story I love Fanbox and the workers even more then I already did ( Each and everyone of you deserve so much and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart) I put your picture in a frame the day I got it (June 10 2011...But I know you know that I did because I made some pictures and a video of Fanbox.

This is All for a reason and us good people will stick together " AS ONE " and I am so thankful to be a part of "FANBOX" and everything that they are trying to do and everything they have done.

YOU ALL ROCK FANBOX AND ALL OF THE COOL PEOPLE HERE ON FANBOX ROCKS TOO !!!

Thank you so much for sharing this VITAL Information~I needed this blog to help me understand how this all started and where Fanbox is going....I am sure I will read this blog over and over again and It will be my favorite one that I have ever seen to date.

34 months ago

Thanks EVERYONE for your very kind comments and support!

I'm so glad that I will have the opportunity to bring you all the chapters of the FanBox story. Thanks in advance for your patience as I assemble the pieces over the coming weeks.

34 months ago

really wonderfull, and sad story it. i can,t a lot of tell it, i have facing of same with ROCKER LEE .... WE ARE ONE BIG FAMILY FANBOX,.. can share each other, can help each other,and give knowledge to each other... wow.. great , I will up again, now...thanks you Mr Jhonny Cash

13 months ago

very geat company... wow. it is fan box..
thanks to you Mr Jhonny Cash

34 months ago