Chapter 8: The Dark Days and Appdiction
“Television is now so desperately hungry for material that they’re scraping the top of the barrel.
– Gore Vidal
I probably should not make light here, because what follows is not exactly pleasant. This part of my life is when things went seriously into the gutter.
Apple was about to launch a television show, Planet of the Apps. This was a MAJOR event. Apple was finally making its foray into television content creation. I got our team on the show! You can see the video here.
This was a miracle to say the least. Thousands upon thousands of people applied for just a few slots. Stephen and I submitted our Evolve app for the program. (Evolve tracked calories with your voice).
We were making it, but only just making it. I had a small amount of cash in reserves, but Stephen was fast going broke. To make ends meet, Stephen took to driving Uber.
It was a good thing he was doing Uber. We got an investor because of it.
The investor owned dispensaries across the city, L.A., and gave us $20,000.00 investment capital.
The first $10,000.00 was in cash, at the airport before he was flying out.
He did not sign any contracts or paperwork. Stephen and I were floored.
Our investor returned from his trip to China.
He gave us another $100,000.00 or so – CASH – for the Apple television show.
Stephen and I were ready to hire a team and kick Evolve into gear.
“Number one, cash is king … number two, communicate … number three, buy or bury the competition.” – Jack Welch
Besides Stephen and myself, there was a third partner, David, who handled the video work. The three of us got along famously.
David was supposed to be covering costs as a part of the team. If he could not afford to do so, he was to charge us what his fees were.
Stephen believed everything David said.
David invoiced us for $20,000.00 for video work. Stephen was set to pay him without question.
I have done video work. I smelled a rat.
I called around to a few places we worked. David had invoiced us for TRIPLE what it had cost him.
Stephen and I had no choice but to call him on it and fire him. This was not what you would call a friendly separation.
It was awkward. Like, walking in on someone awkward. Like, seeing your sister awkward.
Yeah; it was like that.
Stephen and I had no choice. David was trying to steal from our $120,000.00 investment.
“In the dark times , will there also be singing? Yes; there will also be singing. About the dark times.” – Bertold Brecht
Remember the stories about my watch and Zeus’ the yip-machine? Yeah; those are kid stories compared to what is about to come up. Settle in, get a cup of coffee, coke, tea or what have you, make sure you are ready.
So, we have $120,000.00 dollars in investment capital – cash. I have a drinking problem. I share this information with everyone I can.
Even the dancer I was dating at the time. I called her and we went out on the town.
We came back to my place. I stone cold passed out.
The next morning I wake up. The key to my safe was in my safe door.
It took a minute for my hungover brain to process what had happened.
There was about $90,000.00 cash, in stacks, in that safe.
Notice I used the term was.
The lady friend helped herself to some of the cash in my safe to the tune of $80,000.00 of it. She graciously? left behind a $10,000.00 stack of cash.
I had to tell Stephen. I did tell Stephen.
Stephen did not kill me, although we both wanted to die. You know, samurai style maybe. Or drive off a cliff Thelma and Louise style.
This was the worst possible feeling I could have. I was in a pool of crap emotions. You name it; I was in it.
But wait! There’s more! Just like the infomercial on televison. There is always another hook to draw you in.
I did what any normal human being would do in my situation. I panicked. I rolled into a small ball and wept on the floor.
The next day, Renovatio kicked in.
I had to find some cash to fix this.
I started calling.
“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.” – H.G. Wells
I called everyone I could call. The only reason I did not call you, dear reader, is I did not have your phone number. Trust me; I was gonna call you.
I threw Evolve + Planet of the Apps at everyone.
Two days later, I had us $60,000.00 richer. I can sell hurricane insurance to people in Kansas.
Stephen? He was still mad. Not quite as mad, but still mad. Can you blame him?
Our first investor? Remember beModel? Remember how incredibly it tanked? Yeah; I contacted that investor first in the throes of liquid courage – alcohol.
I emailed him, blindly, with the Evolve idea.
Two weeks later, he injected the Evolve team with $600,000.00.
I got robbed. I got drunk. I spoke to the last person I thought would help. I got us $660,000.00. Stephen got over being mad.
I told the investor what happened. He laughed. He did not send cash. He wired us the money.
Everything was going great!
Ice is coming to YOUR house.
Can you HEAR it knocking?
Are you ready?
What will YOU do?
– Cornelia Connie D. DeDona
At some point during Evolve, I started dating a meth user.
I started using with her.
I had a point where I was sitting on the floor in my apartment, doing meth, cutting soap.
I had been evicted for noise complaints.
I have made bad choices for sure. This was one of the worst I had ever made. I threw the meth down, dropped the girl and got back to do what I did best – coding and selling.
“There are seeds of destruction in all of us that will bear only unhappiness if allowed to grow.”
– Dorothea Brande
Evolve is ready to go. Stephen and I have the cash and are ready to crush it.
(If you want my business lessons, those will come later down the road. Meanwhile, thanks for reading. I have plenty of experience on how to start a company and have millions of dollars in error. Now, I want to share my story with you.)
Everything could not be better with the minor exception of my horrible drinking habit that is slowly starting to erode my life and everything in it. Stephen and I pay ourselves $8,000.00 a month – decent for a founder’s salary when you take the fact I live in L.A. and have a child.
Well, I had champagne tastes with beer budgets. Most of my paycheck went to three things: food, alcohol and drugs. I came up short all of the time. Being drunk, there is nothing serious to worry about, right? Just skim a bit from the business, and pay it back when I get paid. No problems. I did it that, and always paid it back. I am a lot of things, but a thief I am not.
I kept this up for about a month or two. I then realized I had about $5,000.00 in withdrawals and restaurant fees.
I lost it. My next check would only be $3,000.00 – not enough to support myself, bills and my habits for a month.
Let’s just make matters worse, shall we? What is the harm in throwing gasoline on a small fire, right?
Stephen checked the bank balance. Want to learn something ironic? I was the CFO, chief financial officer. You know, the guy who has lost millions more than once?
Side note – How I could always get by even when I lost money is beyond me.
There is a geyser, Old Faithful, in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful shoots a stream of steam into the air about once an hour, approximately. Geyser steam is incredibly hot. That steam would have felt like an ice bath compared to how Stephen felt when he logged into the bank.
There were seven of us total on Evolve. Stephen stripped me of EVERYTHING in the company. I mean:
Anything to do with the company.
All without me having a single clue what was going on.
Stephen contacted our attorney who suggested I get the axe.
I ended up like Jerry Maguire in Jerry Maguire.
I freaked. I cried, begged, pleaded and emasculated myself in front of my employees.
Me! The guy who scored us a slot on the Apple TV program! Me The guy who scored us
$660,000.00! What gives you the right!
In hindsight now, I cannot blame them. I would have fired me.
“Where two alcoholics are gathered, you will find a fifth …” – Unknown.
I meet someone, Jason, in my complex who has some sense about him. By hook or crook, he works his way into Evolve as the CFO and manages to get me back on staff as well. Jason and I are very similar in many ways and became close. Everything was great with one small problem.
Jason had a worse alcohol issue than I had.
I thought Jason and I could keep our drinking low key. Thought we could.
Jason and I would enjoy our tipples more and more frequently. My office hours started to lack, and everyone took notice. Jason got canned for coming in on a cocaine binge and ripped clothes because he had a fight with his girlfriend.
Stephen did not mince words, “Get the f*ck out.”
So, I am back at Evolve. I am not happy. I am drinking daily. I have no motivation. I am not happy. Evolve was Stephen’s brainchild. I did the work behind the scenes, but I had no emotional investment in the app.
I was just existing.
My ennui and apathy translated into worse drinking habits. Stephen kept me on board the entire time. When I was sober, I could crank and crank well. I could hide my problem well enough, I thought. I never drank at the office, but once five o’clock hit, it meant beer-thirty.
“There is a girl who stole my heart. She calls me Daddy.”
I started spiraling more and more out of control to the point Stephanie and my own mother threatened to keep Sage from me. It got to the point where Stephanie said I could not see Sage any longer. I lost it.
I fought about it until I agreed to get better.
I tried to get better. I truly did.
We keep going like this all the way until the end of 2018. I had to evolve, again.
“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
– R.W. Emerson
December 2018, I made a decision to leave the company I started. Gypsee is my passion now, and Gypsee is where I am leaving a trail.
Evolve was nothing like it was when Stephen and I first envisioned it. It was on the way out. Stephen and I made mistakes and burned through 1.7 million dollars in two years.
(I will work something up on startups later.)
“Recovery begins at the darkest moment.” – John Major
There is something, just, wrong about not being able to get better for all of the reasons I had before me. Not for my company, my family and not even for Sage, my life and soul, could I stop drinking.
Heed this advice, reader, and heed it well. You cannot force someone to do anything. It is worse with an alcoholic. There is no way to force an alcoholic:
To attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings;
Or threaten them;
It does zero good in the long term. There is one person who can help an alcoholic, and that person is in the mirror every day. You can love, support, help and assist. It is the choice of the individual to get help and start the healing process – it cannot be made for them.
“In life you need either inspiration or desperation.” – Tony Robbins
I have found a fresh passion in my life. I have a freshly lit flame burning inside of me to do the best I can do. I am actively seeking out, and finding, help. I meditate and work to better myself daily.
I am far, far from perfect.
I will tell you this much: I do not drink daily any longer. When I know it is time, I will put down the alcohol and never look back.
It hurts when my family does not see the strides I am making to be better. Perhaps it is they do see the strides when they compare me to then. If I reach out and touch any alcohol, my family goes into trauma mode and start passing judgments.
I hate that.
I know I am getting better.
Hi. My name is Andrew. I am an alcoholic.
Thanks for reading.