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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday October 04 2014, @06:05PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Need-help?-In-the-U.S.,-call-1-800-273-8255 dept.

Nellie Bowles writes in Recode that three of the most prominent high tech entrepreneurs involved with Tony Hsieh’s project to build a startup city in Downtown Las Vegas have recently committed suicide, sending the tight-knit community into a tailspin. In January 2013, Jody Sherman, the 48-year-old founder of Ecomom, one of the most prominent Vegas tech-funded startups, shot himself while in his car. His company had been going south. In January 2014, 24-year-old Ovik Banerjee, who was part of the first Venture for America group in Vegas and an integral member of the Downtown Project team, leapt from his Town Terrace apartment in downtown. In May 2014, Matt Berman, the 50-year-old founder of Bolt Barber, the flagship shop at the center of the Container Park, was found in his home in an apparent suicide by hanging. Whether or not the suicides are statistically significant, the deaths have clearly shaken the entrepreneurs.

According to Alyson Shontell, in a social media age where word of success and failure travels fast, entrepreneurs say it's harder than ever to run a company — and it's harder than ever to fail. "It was a hell of a lot of work for not a hell of a lot of return," says Dave McClure, an investor in Ecomom and the entrepreneur behind investment firm 500Startups. "And then there are days when you sit in a corner and cry. You can't really do anything else. You don't have a social life. You don't really want to interact with family and friends because there's just not much context for them. Your world revolves around your startup and it's all about trying to survive and not look like an idiot in front of employees." "In the past, failure was very contained," another entrepreneur says. "When you failed, you felt bad around your family, the people you raised money from, but it wasn't as public. Failure in an era of social media and social video and global events is a very public thing. Jody [Sherman] put himself out there this time and became very respected for what he was doing. That possibility of very public shame is something that didn't exist before." Brad Feld writes that if you are ever considering committing suicide, reach out to someone and ask for help. "It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to lose. It’s ok to be depressed. If you are contemplating suicide, get help. If you have an entrepreneurial friend contemplating suicide, do your best to get them help."

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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:17PM (#101736)

    is money, wealth.

    It is a feminist country.
    You cannot have/marry/etc young female children
    (who are often very pretty and nice and sweet).
    Unless you wished to be raped by homosexuals in prison.

    The only happiness to have comes from wealth.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:08PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:08PM (#101824)

      True. Not a troll.

    • (Score: 1) by art guerrilla on Sunday October 05 2014, @01:10PM

      by art guerrilla (3082) on Sunday October 05 2014, @01:10PM (#102009)

      okay, i'll take your comment semi-seriously...
      the first statement about wealth/money being the highest 'good' in amerika is indisputably true...
      (and irredeemably sad...)
      that this is a result of being a 'feminist country' is, um, weird...

      if *ANYTHING*, i would say rapacious unrestrained kapitalist imperialism is a MASCULINE 'trait'/outcome...
      PURE testosterone and 'might makes right'...

      the next part is some kind of new weird i'm not up on, so not sure how to respond... except there is a kernel of an idea which comports with reality: which is to say, that it *does* make it infinitely easier to meet/marry/mate and raise rugrats 'successfully' if you have more money than less...

      the last statement is not what naturally follows, but -again- has a certain degree of validity: economic stability and lack of want almost certainly correspond with a certain level of happiness, in terms of basic human wants/needs being easily met by means of more than adequate monetary resources, PLUS a degree of security and permanence...
      conversely, LACK of economic stability and monetary means ALMOST CERTAINLY promotes a great deal of UNhappiness...

      c'mon, that is simple common sense; regardless of what greedy 1%'ers would insist is true...

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:20PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:20PM (#101738)

    I'm sorry. I'd really like to say something humane and touching here, and the severe depression and suicide of fellow human beings does touch me, but the news stories calling them "founders" and members of some sort of "foundry community" hit some chord of anger in me that takes precedence over my compassion. The last link was especially infuriating:

    If you have an entrepreneurial friend contemplating suicide, do your best to get them help.

    Why not, "If you have a friend contemplating suicide, do your best to get them help?" Why the entrepreneurial adjective? Simple: because even through the suffering of others, this guy is trying to reinforce a notion of identity for himself and his readers, that they belong to the exclusive club of the "entrepreneurs" and "founders." It's sociopaths networking over the corpses of other sociopaths.

    The dead, I feel sorry for: but the living who call themselves "founders" (hip, upscale version of "job creators") and especially the guy who wrote that last article, they can go fuck themselves.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:34PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:34PM (#101742)

      There's no need for you to apologize. Your statements are perfectly valid.

      I'd like to think that the community here at SN is a lot more mature than, say, reddit or Hacker News when it comes to discussing tough matters like suicide and failure.

      Over at those sites, they're like a bunch of children, even if their ages suggest they should be adults. If you don't put on a show of bullshit "sympathy" or preach your love for Aaron Swartz-types over there, then the reddit and Hacker News warriors of social justice will hunt you down and at the very least downvote (a.k.a. censor) every comment of yours, if not worse.

      That is not what should happen here, and I sure hope that it never does.

      If we can't be blunt when discussing matters like this, even if it may bruise the feelings of wimps and sissies, then we are nothing.

      • (Score: 4, Funny) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:02PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:02PM (#101758) Homepage

        Excellent first post and your post is also great.

        To put both of your points more bluntly, I feel no sympathy for anybody who commits suicide over their goddamn job. Painful and terminal cancer, sure. Spouse of 30 years leaving overnight and then all your kids dying in a car accident, okay. Trying to be the next Steve Jobs and not succeeding, um, no.

        I'll be sure to kick those boys' asses and take their flaming lunch money when I see them in Hell.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:16PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:16PM (#101762)

          I never understood why the Reddit and HN crowds think of people who have suicided themselves as being "victims" or even "heroes", especially during the whole Swartz brouhaha.

          Suicide is selfish. It's the sign of ultimate weakness. It's rather pathetic, really.

          Life isn't easy. It never has been, and probably never will be. When faced with adversity, suck it up and deal with it, instead of taking the quick way out.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:45PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:45PM (#101774)

        (a.k.a. censor)

        Repeating the same lie over and over again does not make it the truth.

        • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:52PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:52PM (#101778)

          Care to explain to us how making a comment harder to read isn't censorship?

          Censorship doesn't mean that the comment has to be completely gone. In fact, the worse kind of censorship is the kind that leaves the material available, but just obscures it and makes it harder to access.

          That's exactly what downmodding here, or at Slashdot, or reddit, or HN is doing. A comment that isn't visible by default, or is otherwise harder to read, has in fact been censored.

          The only comments that aren't censored are those that are visible. If a comment isn't visible, for whatever reason, then it has been censored.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:21PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:21PM (#101790)

            A comment that isn't visible by default, or is otherwise harder to read, has in fact been censored.

            By that logic, doors and houses are censorship, and so are crowds or any gathering of more than a tiny group of people.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:28PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:28PM (#101792)

              If you're really having trouble comprehending this simple concept, Tork, just ask yourself one basic question: "Has information of some sort been obscured?"

              If the answer is "yes", for any reason whatsoever (that includes downvotes, moderation, doors, or crowds), then censorship of some form has taken place.

              • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:38PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:38PM (#101795)

                Sorry, but I'm not Tork. Censorship has a pretty specific meaning; it does not mean "anything that makes me have to spend an extra couple seconds". If you're being modded down, its less likely that you're being censored and more likely that you're both incorrect and a dick.

              • (Score: 2) by Tork on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:10PM

                by Tork (3914) on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:10PM (#101825)
                Lol! He swngs... He misses! Sorry I'm not on as often as you'd like.
                --
                Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
          • (Score: 3, Funny) by Tork on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:08PM

            by Tork (3914) on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:08PM (#101823)

            Care to explain to us how making a comment harder to read isn't censorship?

            When you +1 a single comment, you've 'censored' the rest. Stupid fascist jerks!

            --
            Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @10:54PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @10:54PM (#101817)

        I think your idea of what constitutes maturity is quite juvenile. In particular your portrayal of sympathy for someone like Schwartz as bullshit and your feelings of persecution for being downvoted for expressing that juvenile attitude. It is also ironic that you are defending the bruising of people's feelings when you so obviously have had your feelings bruised to the point where you feel you have to complain about it.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @03:21AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @03:21AM (#101879)

          His last name was Swartz. Since you can't get that basic fact right, whatever else you said (I didn't bother to read it) is probably wrong, too.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @03:57AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @03:57AM (#101889)

            Woo-hoo!
            Spelling flame for the win!
            I'm soooo not surprised.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @12:48PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @12:48PM (#101996)

              We can't have a discussion here if you can't get the basic facts correct, Tork.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @04:05PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @04:05PM (#102066)

                > We can't have a discussion here if you can't get the basic facts correct, Tork.

                Spelling flame double-down!
                Ironic though that in accusing me of being Tork you've made a much more significant error in basic "facts."

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:43PM (#101746)

    So let me get this straight. We have so-called "entrepreneurs" and "founders", who are often the kind of people who go out of their way to get publicity in any way possible. They'll buy it in the form of advertisements, or create it themselves in the form of blog articles and social media postings. They'll hype their so-called "startups" at conferences and whenever else they possibly can. Then, after going to so much effort to put themselves in the limelight, they don't like it when these same forces highlight their failures instead of their successes? It sounds to me like they're responsible for creating the publicity machinery in the first place. They shouldn't be surprised if such forces are eventually used against them, even if it's done in a perfectly legitimate way. Coverage of bad events should be just as celebrated and encouraged as coverage of good events.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:47PM

    by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Saturday October 04 2014, @07:47PM (#101748)

    Yes, this is a tragedy, and I don't mean to belittle it. But I'm not getting the technology connection. The biggest thing at this "high tech community" is a barber shop? I didn't know what Ecomum was, but imagined some kind of high-powered, fiber-optic commodities trading platform. The first google hit says Ecomum "specializes in providing eco friendly and organic products to moms" - this is high technology? These may be startups, but they're not technology startups and seem to have the most marginal connection to technology, if any connection at all.

    Do we even know the suicides were connected to technology, or even startups? Has a direct causation been established? I'd read the article, but I can't. When I click the link, a page of gray gradient and no text comes up.

    --
    (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:19PM (#101765)

      Most new businesses fail (90 percent first year, 70-80 within 10). That is a fact. The 'new shiny' way of calling them startups or 'tech hubs' actually just glosses over that fact. It even feels like someone else has figured out a business of scraping money out of them and has put a pretty spin on it.

      People fall in love with the idea of 'be your own boss'. Yet they fail to realize they would suck as a boss. A good boss is one who is a bastard once and awhile and sets good guidelines of what is expected. A bad boss hovers and makes sure every last little detail is just perfect. Then overspends on to make sure the front room is that perfect shade of egg shell matte white with a hint of rust red no that OTHER red no the OTHER ONE. Then is not sure how to get foot traffic in the door because they have no advert budget because the front room has that perfect color.

      It is why leach businesses like amway succeed. Not because it is actually a good business. But it sells people on the dream of being rich and powerful. Most have no idea what they would do if they got the 'power' anyway.

      http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229604 [entrepreneur.com] He has an interesting take on it. Most of the very successful ones are actually not that good at first.

      To succeed long term you have about a 1 in 100 chance of doing it. Most people do not realize how *bad* those odds are. To show people how bad it is. Ask the to play the lottery once a week. After 2 years come back and say the number of times they one. It would on average be about 3 times as the odds are 1 in 32 of winning anything even though they played about 100 times. Now Succeeding in a business is even worse than that. It would be like starting up 2 new businesses every week for a year. After 10 on average only one would still be standing.

    • (Score: 1) by tftp on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:43PM

      by tftp (806) on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:43PM (#101798) Homepage

      The first google hit says Ecomum "specializes in providing eco friendly and organic products to moms"

      That is a stupid business idea to begin with. A business generally wants to cater to 100% of the market, not to 1%. Specialty businesses have to charge you, the 1%, a hefty premium simply because you are so special.

      Eco-friendly (?) and organic (?) products are sold by Whole Foods, which is a pretty large grocery chain. I am not sure how a tiny newcomer can compete with them. Looks like the whole business was ill-advised. When it inevitably crashed and burned the same people were unable to deal with it.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by PizzaRollPlinkett on Saturday October 04 2014, @10:20PM

        by PizzaRollPlinkett (4512) on Saturday October 04 2014, @10:20PM (#101810)

        Even the niche is crowded.

        http://www.mothersorganichealth.com/ [mothersorganichealth.com]
        http://www.ecobusinesslinks.com/natural_baby_products/ [ecobusinesslinks.com]
        http://www.happyhippie.com/directory/kids.htm [happyhippie.com]
        http://www.ocfamily.com/t-FirstYears_organic_products_baby_food_clothing0209.aspx [ocfamily.com]

        my favorite: http://www.mommyonthegobag.com/ [mommyonthegobag.com]

        ... and I gave up after that - there are pages and pages of the stuff. Who knew that organic mom products were so popular? Not me, obviously.

        I still don't see anywhere that the suicides were connected to these awful business ideas. There's got to be more to it than that. You'd expect this business to fail, and the guy behind it probably lived it up for a few years off of investors' money.

        Now I want to collect all five designer organic diaper bags.

        --
        (E-mail me if you want a pizza roll!)
        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday October 05 2014, @11:53AM

          by VLM (445) on Sunday October 05 2014, @11:53AM (#101981)

          the startup scene is waaaay too full of people who know their business idea is idiotic, but they are sure if they're just crazier more extreme jerks than the other 11 guys with the same idiotic idea, that they'll "win" by doing the best job of it, last to go out of business or whatever. It is a sports mentality. Lets make our business model, "carrying a ball across a line on the ground". And all that matters is our team does better than their team. Yeah I guess that is kinda a useless business model, but all that really matters is beating the other teams.

          Another aspect not often discussed is some (not all) are kids, and we've been training our kids to fail by participation trophies for all, no experience with failure, etc. No great surprise they first time they really screw up, instead of bouncing back like people should, they start doing flight tests and eatin bullets. They were set up to fail. Not WRT their idiotic business ideas, but set up WRT handling failure and bouncing back.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:48PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:48PM (#101801) Journal

      Actually the whole article and the summary was such a cobble of concept words that I had a difficult time figuring out exactly what the hell they were talking about:

      build a startup city in Downtown Las Vegas: No wonder this failed, there was already a city in the way of their planned city?
      Vegas tech-funded startups: Tech doesn't fund stuff. They must mean http://vegastechfund.com/ [vegastechfund.com]
      Container Park: Maybe include a reference to exactly what that is: http://downtowncontainerpark.com/ [downtowncontainerpark.com]

      This whole thing just looks dodgy the more you look into it. Like a bunch of hippies trying to elbow into big-money territory.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @09:52PM (#101803)

        Even after looking at your links, which did clarify things somewhat, I'm still pretty damn confused about this whole ordeal.

      • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:16PM

        by Dunbal (3515) on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:16PM (#101827)

        Lol Vegas high tech - isn't that the town with the really expensive monorail that no one rides at all?

  • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:13PM

    by Gaaark (41) on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:13PM (#101761) Journal

    The weird side of me (who is re-watching the X-files show) questions whether they ARE suicides, or if it is a 'nefarious scheme' by a 'beyond the government' agency to rid themselves of some troublesome kids (and their pesky dog, too).

    Sorry, but it was the first thing i thought of when reading this.

    WAS it suicide, or.....

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @08:19PM (#101764)

      That's what pretty much everybody thought over at /. when this exact same story, word-for-word (I think; I couldn't actually be arsed to read the entire thing, though), was submitted there by good ol' Mr. Pickens: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/14/10/04/0151255/downtown-project-suicides-shock-high-tech-community [slashdot.org]

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @02:55AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @02:55AM (#101871)

        Thanks for that; I hadn't checked the other place.

        Vegas. Failed businesses, people probably owing money. A number of them suddenly commit suicide, maybe. Vegas. I'm guessing they owed money to organized crime.

        That's the most likely out of the brighter, shinier, screenplay-ready possibilities. Personally, I find the possibility that they really did commit suicide far darker and more disturbing, because it highlights a class of people so heavily narcissistic that they crave positive attention and feel absolute, overpowering shame at setbacks, shame strong enough to drive them to suicide. It's almost like this class of businessmen have a lifestyle that promotes borderline personalities. I kind of find the Cosa Nostra hypothesis more palatable: the alternative scares the hell out of me, because we as a society have put a lot of faith (and resources) in these businessmen.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @08:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @08:48PM (#102167)

      Suicide is contagious. [nytimes.com]
      I'd be more inclined to go with that than a conspiracy.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 04 2014, @11:11PM (#101826)

    ...with these "suicides".

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kaszz on Sunday October 05 2014, @12:33AM

    by kaszz (4211) on Sunday October 05 2014, @12:33AM (#101843) Journal

    Perhaps being around when your (US) business fail sucks big time because the society doesn't have any rational way to handle these things? no health insurance? becoming homeless? and getting the badmouth all over the place? while no one cares for you on a personal level because all your time was sucked into doing business ?

    It's so easy to point fingers at others for "taking the easy way out" when the alternative perhaps actually suck!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @03:55AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @03:55AM (#101888)

    Freshly bankrupt stock traders were jumping out of high-rise windows to their deaths in 1929 in New York City (and elsewhere?) when the stock market crashed. Did they do the same thing in 1987 and 2007? I haven't heard of any.

    There is more to life than money. But if all you can see is piles and piles of government-issued IOU notes and feel totally powerless and helpless if you DO NOT have a large pile of it at your beck and call, then at least think twice before you 'perform' a PERMANENT solution to a TEMPORARY problem....

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @04:08AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05 2014, @04:08AM (#101893)

    http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/ [metanoia.org]

    ABSOLUTE BEST PAGE I've seen that tackles this SENSITIVE subject!

    If you or someone you know wants to 'end it all', PLEASE (have them) read the text at the above URL first!