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Fortune Takes a Look at Bram Cohen

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the if-you-can't-beat-em-join-em dept.

200

jackstack writes "Fortune has an interesting article about bittorrent creator Bram Cohen. 'Right now I'm the CEO because I don't trust anyone else to be the CEO,' Bram says. The article goes into some interesting detail about Bram's state of mind, his poor history in college, and gives a glimpse of what it's like to go from being an unknown, brilliant geek - to the CEO of an $8.75 Million startup company."

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They neglected the important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812356)

Why did he change his name from Adrian Paul? Was he that ashamed of Highlander Endgame?

Re:They neglected the important question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812386)

blaa

FP! DOGZ??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812364)

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Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)
Problems regarding accounts or comment posting should be sent to CowboyNeal.

It's all about the community (5, Insightful)

Red_Foreman (877991) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812374)

It's all about the community - what Bram did was to unify the community into donating bandwidth through BitTorrent, and that's what makes it so special.

Bandwidth costs money, and offering, say, Linux ISO's is expensive. But, if people opt in (BitTorrent) each person is joining a community and helping out with the cost of bandwidth - especially those who are accessing via an ISP and not through work.

It's the same level of cooperation that makes OSS so special.

Re:It's all about the community (4, Insightful)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812410)

Your first line should read - "It's all about the community - what Bram did was to unify the community into donating bandwidth & pornthrough BitTorrent...". He made it popular by offering pr0n. See he has some marketing skills in him. I think he is qualified to be CEO.

Re:It's all about the community (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812446)

It's the same level of cooperation that makes OSS so special.

Bandwidth wants to be free, eh?

Re:It's all about the community (2, Insightful)

dabigpaybackski (772131) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812934)

What is remarkable about Bittorrent is the protocol, not the rather limited Bittorrent app. The polished and feature-rich Azureus rules the Bittorrent sphere.

Hear that, Mr. Cohen? There's a better than even chance you're reading this, so here's my advice: ditch your app, rebadge a version of Azureus, and make that the "official" Bittorrent application.

Re:It's all about the community (1)

Mozk (844858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813133)

BitTorrent runs like horse shit on my computer. I'm not saying it runs slow on all computers, or that Java is inherently slow, but one of the nice "features" of the official BitTorrent client is that it isn't overloaded with features.

Re:It's all about the community (1)

Mozk (844858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813149)

Replace the first BitTorrent with Azureus and there's my post.

Re:It's all about the community (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13813134)

"feature-rich", now there's a term straight out of Redmond. Why does it suddenly smell like the field in a newly-built stadium?

Obligatory Library of Congress reference (1)

hugesmile (587771) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813080)

Shame on me for R'ing TFA, but:

The first real world test of whether the principles would work on any large scale came in 2003, when open-source software company Red Hat released its Red Hat Linux 9 operating system. Demand for the product was so strong that downloaders crippled Red Hat's servers. Eike Frost, a computer science student at Germany's University of Oldenburg, however, had managed to get a copy. He ran it through BitTorrent, then posted a link to popular tech site Slashdot, inviting folks to come and get it. The swarm was immediate. Within three days the Red Hatters traded 21.15 terabytes of data--equivalent to more than all the books in the Library of Congress.

The technical article in Forbes is complete... I can stop reading at page 4 - where it references the universal unit of measure.

Re:Obligatory Library of Congress reference (1)

hugesmile (587771) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813091)

oops, I mean Fortune. Well, 1 Library of Fortune Magazines = 1 Library of Forbes Magazines....

Ummm (4, Interesting)

cached (801963) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812376)

I don't mean to troll, but given that he has Asperger's Syndrome, should it not be in his best interest to give the job of CEO to somebody who is more charismatic (in the sense that he can communicate exactly what people will want to hear), in an attempt to gain extra customers?

Re:Ummm (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812451)

It's important to note that it's a self-diagnosis, not a medical one.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812709)

+1 Insightful.

Re:Ummm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812455)

"I don't mean to troll, but given that he has Asperger's Syndrome, should it not be in his best interest to give the job of CEO to somebody who is more charismatic (in the sense that he can communicate exactly what people will want to hear), in an attempt to gain extra customers?"

Buying-in professional management... because that worked so well for Mandrake, etc.?

 

Re:Ummm (1)

f0dder (570496) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812906)

almost wrecked google?

Good call on Bram's part (4, Informative)

MacFury (659201) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812456)

He developed something unique and functional. If someone else takes over the company, they will probably just not "Get it"

Besides, CEO's of american companies are usually in it for the quick buck and end up screwing over the company they work for and all of it's workers. One CEO of a rather large company, forget his name...well...he presided over the company while its stock plumetted 20%, took a massive severence package and ended up making $54,000 an hour when it was all said and done. The average yearly salary of his employees...$35,000.

Re:Good call on Bram's part (1)

GremlinDelirium (855548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812849)

Not to say I'm challenging you about CEO's. However you can't remember his name, but you can accurately remember all those numbers?? This I question.

Re:Good call on Bram's part (1)

microwave_EE (768395) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813029)

It was a recent Reader's Digest headline.
No link handy, though. Sorry

Re:Good call on Bram's part (0, Redundant)

cbelle13013 (812401) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813034)

Michael Moore said it so it must be true.

Re:Ummm (1)

nkh (750837) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812465)

I've read that his syndrom was self-diagnosed. Whatever the truth is, AS does not seem to be a huge communication problem for him if you compare him with other aspergers.

Re:Ummm (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812472)

Why should he hand over his title to some facist punk that will bank on his hard earned work. He's the brilliant guy that came up with this, he should run the company as he sees fits. Sometimes it's not about profit, but about ideals and vision.

Re:Ummm (1)

master_meio (834537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812621)

Sometimes it's not about profit, but about

ideals and vision.

Re:Ummm (2, Insightful)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812687)


Why should he hand over his title to some facist punk that will bank on his hard earned work. He's the brilliant guy that came up with this, he should run the company as he sees fits. Sometimes it's not about profit, but about ideals and vision.


Yeah - because when someone has ideals and vision and doesn't care about profits, they DEFINITELY wanna hook up with venture financing people. I hear those big money guys are all about dreams and couldn't give a fuck about profits.

Re:Ummm (5, Insightful)

Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812518)

but given that he has Asperger's Syndrome, should it not be in his best interest to give the job of CEO to somebody who is more charismatic

The job of a CEO is to provide direction and strategy for an organization. I would say that maybe he needs a PR person. He seems to be doing quite well as the CEO.

The other thing that has me thinking - who diagnosed his illness?
I've met quite a few people who said that they had various illnesses. When I asked them about the diagnosis and what the physician (or some other qualified expert) said, they don't say anything about an expert diagnosis: just something vague. I don't know about him, but I think a lot of folks use popular illnesses as an excuse for their own shortcomings or as an excuse for not doing something that they're not interested in doing.

Forgive my spelling, but I have spellexia.

Re:Ummm (0)

m50d (797211) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812585)

The other thing that has me thinking - who diagnosed his illness?

He diagnosed himself, and is certainly not qualified to.

Re:Ummm (5, Informative)

MoggyMania (688839) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812696)

Aspergers isn't an illness -- it's a neurodevelopmental disorder on the autism spectrum. It's also not "shortcomings" to be designed to do things differently than most people.

According to experts on autism Baron-Cohen, Atwood, and Wing, people identifying as being on the autism spectrum are accurate 99% of the time, because the internal characteristics are so striking. They can include severe sensory sensitivity, extreme motor clumsiness, weak or lacking depth perception, difficulty speaking (often with loss of speech under stress), extreme difficulty changing from one task to the other even if we want to, native use of different (autistic) body language that is incompatible with that of non-autistics, having multiple senses report one sense's information (like seeing colors for sounds)...

A LOT of stuff that comes nowhere near the neurotypical experience, and that we're aware is different long before we can name it.

Speaking as the moderator of three of the largest online discussion groups for adults on the spectrum, plus having been heavily involved in the community for four years now, I can pretty much verify their claim. Out of the many hundreds of people that have joined thinking that they're AS, I can only offhand think of one clearly that was obviously wrong, and two or three where I was uncertain.

Also, I can't imagine why anybody would *want* to claim they're one of us if they aren't. It doesn't get us out of anything that isn't obviously a meltdown-inducing problem (plus rarely even then), we're subject to constant criticism based on our differences or what we are... I'm proud to be autistic, but I hate the prejudice I encounter.

Re:Ummm (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812933)

"Also, I can't imagine why anybody would *want* to claim they're one of us if they aren't."

You'd be surprised.

While it may not be present (or at least prevalent) in your circles, it's rather "popular" for teens to claim to have some kind of disorder. Whether it's Aspergers, dyslexia, bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, OCD. I've seen threads on sites like deviantART dedicated to things like "What kind of mental problem do you have?" and the post numbers are in the thousands, with people claiming to have all sorts of problems but offering no information when asked about diagnosis. Some even claim to have combinations of disorders that would be impossible to have in reality. I'm guessing it makes them feel "special" or "different." Like this one [deviantart.com] .

Re:Ummm (3, Insightful)

still_sick (585332) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813174)

For a while, whenever a similar story would come up - there would be a myriad of posts ala "I like technology and am socially awkward, therefore I must have Aspergers!".

Why would they make the claim? Probably it gives them an "excuse". It's no longer "their fault" that they're clueless when talking to people.

Of course one post on Slashdot does not equate to seeking out and joining one of your groups. I have no doubt that your claim is true.

Re:Ummm (1, Troll)

CaptainUberJimmy (910899) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813242)

I think it's really just that a lot of people don't want to admit that it's their fault but in the case of people that actually have Asperger's it is very different in that it is a neurological condition and that they are different themselves.

Trust me when people claim you I have ___ and they don't it pisses me off!

but asperger's is very much real.
Very Much so.
I have it and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
Just like being bi or any other part of me.

Hard to believe (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813226)

According to experts on autism Baron-Cohen, Atwood, and Wing, people identifying as being on the autism spectrum are accurate 99% of the time

It's hard to believe any clinical studies when Ali G is involved.

Re:Ummm (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812869)

Forgive my spelling, but I have spellexia.

Which physician (or some other qualified expert) diagnosed you?

Re:Ummm (3, Informative)

AsmCoder8088 (745645) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812519)

Asperger's Syndrome, for those who don't know what it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger's_Syndrome [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ummm - no! Not at all. (2, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812537)

For one thing, I think Asperger's Syndrome is a very real condition, but the jury's still out on whether or not it just describes a variation of normal behavior, or whether it's something worthy of considering as a "mental illness" - implying a need for treatment.

The simple description of "a mild form of autism" leaves it pretty wide open to describe a whole spectrum of behaviors. But the condition interested me, personally, only because I realized that I probably have it myself after reading enough about it. In my case, I think I've partially "overcome" it as I've gotten older and forced myself to break myself of some of my older, more "anti-social" habits. But the side-effect? It seems pretty unlikely I'll ever accomplish any brilliant or great projects anymore, either.

In the case of BT's creator, it seems to me like the guy is following the same path I did - and I'd predict his days of intensely focused, marathon coding sessions are nearly over. (He got married, etc.)

He's the one who created BitTorrent, so he's the best choice to head up any company trying to market the technology. According to the article, he already hired on a guy to communicate his product to the recording industry execs, realizing he wasn't able to do that so well himself. He's smart enough to get the right people for those jobs, as needed.

They often suggest Bill Gates had Asperger's too, and he seemed to manage to make a semi-successful company out of Microsoft over the years as C.E.O.

Re:Ummm (5, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812544)

Asperger's lies on the Autism Spectrum. However, the Autism Spectrum is extraordinarily vast, ranging all the way from barely impaired to completely nonfunctional. Most geeks are probably somewhere on the spectrum, they just aren't severe enough to consider getting tested. Since this guy is self-diagnosed, it's impossible to tell where on the spectrum he is. Most Asperger's people have perfectly normal lives, and can learn to be great communicators with training.

In my Management class last semester, we had a few CEOs of local companies come in. One said he had always been extremely introverted and technical (Asperger's? Possibly), but had learned to overcome it to an extent. As long as he could have his required periods of downtime by himself, he could handle the day to day CEO duties, including the public and social aspects.

A person with Asperger's is not necessarily retarded, and in some ways can be profoundly gifted. In my mind, someone with the analytical frame of mind that most Asperger's people have is the perfect candidate for a CEO position, which is concerned mainly with long-term strategy.

Re:Ummm (1)

trewornan (608722) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812669)

It might be interesting to see how a company does when it's run by somebody who tells his customers exactly how things really are without any sugar coating, rather than a typical lying bastard. I for one would be delighted to find myself dealing with a company like that.

Re:Ummm (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812835)

Spoken like someone who will never make more than a middling living. Does hating people who have the drive, desire, and ability to attain wealth make you feel better about how badly you have arranged your life?

Re:Ummm (0, Offtopic)

RocketRainbow (750071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813007)

You're just the person to buy my second-hand volvo 244. It's not sexy, but with all the diseases going around, who wants to be sexy?

Volvo: Boxy but good.

Re:Ummm (2, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812723)

Since he is a grown-up, don't you think he's capable of making his own decisions about who he wants to have running his company?

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812804)

RTFA?

Re:Ummm (1)

che.kai-jei (686930) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812805)

funny how in today's society we think it odd that someone who is not naturally pre disposed to lying and mis representng the truth is unsuitable for leadership and fiscal resonsbility.

che kai jei

Re:Ummm (2, Informative)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812843)

I don't mean to troll, but given that he has Asperger's Syndrome, should it not be in his best interest to give the job of CEO to somebody who is more charismatic (in the sense that he can communicate exactly what people will want to hear)

Balmer, Fiona, or Gates were neither charismatic nor said things I wanted to hear...

Re:Ummm (1)

Hachey (809077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812848)

There are reasons to think that Asperger's Syndrome has some good to the bad. [wikipedia.org]

Don't forget the list of famous people who could have been (are?) autistic. I don't see it holding any of these people back. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Ummm (3, Insightful)

Jozer99 (693146) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812923)

Sometimes fame outweighs charisma. If Linus hadn't invented linux, do you honestly think he would be a spokesperson for Transmetia?

Not long now. (0, Offtopic)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812408)

Hmm, if Bram = CEO = bittorrent.com = $8.75 Million startup company, then the search box on that site cannot be long for this world.

Loved and hated (5, Funny)

Vvornth (828734) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812431)

I can picture all the recorded media company execs getting together in small cabals, swapping stories on ways they'd like to kill Bram Cohen.

Re:Loved and hated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812736)

He's not the Messiah he's a very naughty boy..

Correction: (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813213)

I can picture all the software company execs getting together in small cabals, swapping stories on ways they'd like to fucking kill Bram Cohen. (And Google.)

bittorrent as a business??? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812432)

I may be a good way to share files, but I'm afraid the investors are throwing their money away. It's like trying to make money off of FTP.

Or the Web. (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812692)

I mean, after all, anybody can set up a Web site. How could a company possibly make money doing that??

Re:Or the Web. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812936)

I mean, after all, anybody can set up a Web site. How could a company possibly make money doing that??

Congratulations on picking out the lone exception to his statement. Of course, I could be wrong, but if I am then I look forward to reading your book, "Think and Grow Rich Using GOPHER".

Re:Or the Web. (1)

mrscorpio (265337) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813056)

Anybody can make lemonade. How could anyone make money selling that?

Re:Or the Web. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13813112)

Didn't know lemonade was an internet protocol. Learn something new every day.

Re:Or the Web. (2, Insightful)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813222)

Most didn't.

Re:bittorrent as a business??? (2, Interesting)

alc6379 (832389) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812711)

I may be a good way to share files, but I'm afraid the investors are throwing their money away. It's like trying to make money off of FTP.

you mean like these people do?
http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=%22ftp+client% 22&btnG=Search+Froogle [google.com]
http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=%22ftp+server% 22&btnG=Search+Froogle [google.com]

People make money all the time by selling client/server software for FTP. I venture that some websites even make money by offering downloads of content via FTP. Maybe Cohen is going to offer some kind of licensed/authenticated Bittorrent protocol, or something along those lines, to give people a reason to pay him for his work.

Re:bittorrent as a business??? (2, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812719)

If you read the article, it sounds like BitTorrent Inc. is trying to build a mostly-unrelated business (media-on-demand, similar to the iTunes music/TV store) that happens to use the BitTorrent technology and brand.

Worth (4, Insightful)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812437)

How can this company be worth 8.75 million. What does it do that is worth that much a year? As far as I can see nothing. The only "product" it has it gives away for free. If it started charging a dozen open source versions would appear in it's place. Even if they didn't the system can be copied by others for virtually nothing. What is it with these really high value estimations?

Re:Worth (2, Funny)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812449)

Hey man, those PayPal donations sure mount up! Once you've paid the fees.

Re:Worth (4, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812467)

What is it with these really high value estimations?

That's just the dollar value of how much capital investment the company has received. Obviously someone thinks the company has potential, just because you are not privy to their business plans doesn't mean that the plans are not feasible.

Re:Worth (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812473)

The company is actually worth much more, considering that $8.75M is the amount that VCs have recently invested.

Re:Worth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812502)

RTFA and you'll see they have a deal with Ask Jeeves.

Re:Worth (2, Interesting)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812510)

Stone soup.

He's the Russian soldier that comes into the village and coordinates everybody for the common good.

Re:Worth (5, Insightful)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812512)

How can this company be worth 8.75 million

When Fortune magazine runs a story on the CEO.

The name BitTorrent is alone worth that. This is a name millions and millions of people know - it would take more than $8.75 million dollars to achieve that through advertising.

Re:Worth (1, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812589)

If I've told you once, I've told you a billion times to not exaggerate.

I think millions and millions is really overstating it. Sure, everybody in the /. community knows about it. That does not consitute millions and millions.

Re:Worth (1, Offtopic)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812773)

What's the highest Slashdot UID these days?

Re:Worth (2, Informative)

asavage (548758) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812850)

Right now there are 600,000 people running Azureus. There are probably over 3 Million active users. This is just one of many Bit Torrent Clients. I wouldn't say millions and millions is an exaggeration.

Re:Worth (2, Informative)

ThousandStars (556222) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812918)

Well, the article says that 45 million people have downloaded Bittorrent. It doesn't cite a source, but I'd imagine it means the offical client downloads. Plenty of other people download clients from other sources -- Azureus from Sourcefoge comes to mind -- so the real number may be much, much higher. Still, even if it isn't, and 45 million includes a lot of duplicates, I wouldn't be surprised if a few million people know what Bittorrent is. Certainly at least a few of my non-geek friends, the same ones who would give me a funny look if I said "Slashdot", know what Bittorrent is, which indicates to me that it's penetrated the mainstream at least somewhat.

Re:Worth (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812720)

The name BitTorrent is alone worth that. This is a name millions and millions of people know - it would take more than $8.75 million dollars to achieve that through advertising.

While I agree with your post, this is like the "inventor of SMTP receiving $X million in financing" I don't see what Bram brings to the table. Its a standard protocol with some different implementations to get the social part working. Why that's worth more than $10k I don't know. Perhaps that's why I'm still working? ;)

Re:Worth (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812546)

Its possible that you're right, and that the business is worth next-to-nothing and its only a matter of time before Mr. Cohen makes several million dollars for himself after an eventual IPO; leaving a burned-out-husk of a vaporware company to rot on the internet.

However, its also worth noting that virtually the same criticism was leveled against Google at one time. It wasn't until they developed a solid advertising model (ad-sense) that they became profitable, and worth much more than a few million in VC.

Just because its not obvious how to profit from bitorrent, doesn't make it impossible (although you make a good point -- its pretty damn unlikely). This AC thinks that it really depends on the userbase and what they'll put up with.

Re:Worth (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812578)

"As far as I can see nothing."

that's why the guy has investors and you don't. He has a plan, and people think that it's a great plan.

I think it's pretty obvious. (1)

nathan s (719490) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812581)

I think Bittorrent is planning to team up with content distributors of all types, and develop "official" systems for various networks to deliver content to their subscribers. The value, I think, lies in the fact that Bittorrent can help content distributors secure their content, which is something that, AFAIK, free Bittorrent doesn't currently do well (short of obscurity). If Bittorrent can come up with a way to help film distributors deliver movies online without them being pirated, or do a better version of Steam, or push the latest albums securely (think iTunes maybe), there is a lot to be made for content providers AND Bittorrent itself.

Of course, I could be totally missing it, but it seems not implausible to me.

Re:Worth (1)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812599)

BitTorrent has pretty much a lock on the "real large file" distribution market. What other way is there that you can easily and quickly grab files ranging in size from hundres of megabytes to gigabytes?

BitTorrent has the technology and the name recognition. Hollywood really wants to move to digital distribution method but has two problems: security and efficiency. BitTorrent mostly solves the efficiency part very nicely.

  -Charles

Re:Worth (1)

nooby_god (874734) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813069)

How can this company be worth 8.75 million. What does it do that is worth that much a year? As far as I can see nothing. The only "product" it has it gives away for free. If it started charging a dozen open source versions would appear in it's place. Even if they didn't the system can be copied by others for virtually nothing. What is it with these really high value estimations? He doesn't have to sell Bittorent at all. Instead the company could start up a distribution network for Hollywood, the music industry and the TV industry to sell their stuff via the internet. The company could advertise "Download Season 1 of Lost with Bittorent!" Then everyone would be using that network to get the latest songs and TV shows. Bram could then take a cut of the profits or something.

That kind of company could make millions if not billions.

Going from P2P to P-NP? (3, Funny)

adavies42 (746183) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812552)

In the very last paragraph, it mentions Bram dropping by an old Bell Labs friend to talk about "satisfiability testing". If they're talking about 3SAT, does this mean he's working on P-NP?

enough with the aspergers (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812560)

there's always been smart people who can do complex topological analysis in their head but can't balance their checkbook

likewise, there have always been people whose minds always flit from one subject to the next every second- in other words, attention deficit disorder

but now we have these buzzwords, asperpgers and ADD and others, and people think its some miraculous discovery, and its all they talk about and they act like it explains all sorts of behavior

but it's just a fad, and meanwhile, the conditions have always been there, always will be there, and those who have these conditions are no more special or less special than the rest of us

cohen is a smart guy, and he can concentrate on a complex math problem, and he likes to do it, that's all, that's it

i'm just so sick of everyone jumping on the buzzword bandwagon, it doesn't mean anything

there once was a time in the 1800s when everyone thought phrenology was the end-all explanation of character and intelligence

it's long forgotten, like the racist pseudoscience it was

meanwhile, in a hundred years, when our language and our attention isn't controlled by the marketing department of large pharmaceutical companies, our hypochondriacal way of looking at our mental differences will have moved onto the next stupid fad

Re:enough with the aspergers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812627)

Watch Slashdot fail again! Automatic +2 to someone who doesn't know what the hell they are talking about!

I don't see how classifying people that have a tendency to follow a specific behavior pattern is in any way ostracising them or being controlled by the "pharma-industrio" complex. Should we treat people that have mental and/or behavioral disorders on a case-by-case basis, discarding any prior research on the matter and start from scratch with each individual? Because, in essence, that's what you're proposing. Just because research might show that a particular drug can mitigate the symptoms of the behavior in 75% of the population that has the disorder doesn't mean we should use that research! Just throw it away, let people suffer!

OTOH it is patently ridiculous for any journalist or Slashdot editor to include a reference to whatever disorders Cohen may suffer from if it implies that he obtained some recognition or position because of said disorder.

Re:enough with the aspergers (4, Insightful)

hkb (777908) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812731)

Why is this marked as troll? Cohen goes on about his "SELF-DIAGNOSED" Asperger's in every single fucking interview about him. He's never been diagnosed by someone qualified, like oh, say a doctor.

God it was stupid and pathetic the first time, and each successive mention just compounds the stupidity.

He wrote Bit Torrent, he didn't create the world in 6 days.

Re:enough with the aspergers (1, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812893)

Here's a testimony of a person suffering from AS http://www.well.com/~jerod23/bp/AspergersSyndrome. htm [well.com] . From the link:
"An odd fact that has turned up in my brain scan and in studies of other autistic individuals across the spectrum is that our cerebellums are smaller than normal while other parts of our brains, and our total brain sizes, are larger than normal. This helps to explain some of the behavior explained above and to focus on which genes to hunt for abnormalities."

So there IS some proof that Asperger's syndrome is real.
There ya go. The problem with discrimination is that people don't understand those who are different, and reject them.

You know, you seem pretty ignorant - thinking a disease doesn't exist just because YOU can't find any evidence of it. Therefore, you end up thinking that all people with social problems have them because their own fault (reminds me of the guy who wanted to clean a negro and ended up killing him because he couldn't wash his blackness away).

Finally, let me say that while I don't agree with some buzzwords (compulsive eater, for example), that doesn't mean they aren't real. Some might not be, but some ARE real. Trying to generalize all mental diseases as buzzwords describing a normal phenomenon, is just plain nonsense.

Re:enough with the aspergers (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812968)

Q: Where in the parent post is it denied that AS is real?

A: Nowhere.

Re:enough with the aspergers (1)

hkb (777908) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813164)

Uhm, where did I say Asperger's syndrome didn't exist? Hint: fucking NOWHERE.

I seem ignorant because I don't trust his _unqualified_, _undiagnosed_, _self-diagnosis_?

And then you go on to cracked-out analogies about killing Negros. You're mentally stable.

Uh. Ok.

Re:enough with the aspergers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812845)

Thank you. I couldn't be in more agreement with this. If I went to a pshrink, I'd likely be diagnosed with ADD and Tourette's Syndrome. Big deal. I just consider myself the type who likes to multi-task and happens to have some facial tics...like a lot of geeks actually. In fact, if you look at the geek population, it's probably the 'normal' people who are in the minority and ought to be getting labeled :)

Re:enough with the aspergers (1)

try_anything (880404) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813072)

You have a point, but it's just the way doctors think and communicate. They don't do math; they're not scientists who deal with fields or probability distributions. They're trained to look at a patient, apply a set of labels, search through their medical school training for rules involving those labels, and then apply those rules. They investigate continuous phenomena by dividing the spectrum into discrete chunks, each with a label, and systematically creating rules involving those labels. That's why medical diagnostic systems are such a successful application of classical AI: once the doctors handle the subjective task of applying labels, the only difference between a doctor and Prolog is that Prolog can operate faster, more reliably, and using more rules than any single doctor.

Some researchers may come up with theories about continuous phenomena, but it's alien to the way doctors think.

you made a mistake when you said the word (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813147)

"doctors"

everything after that is a mistake

i'm talking about personality, not medical conditions, and the way society talks about each other

if we were in a hospital, talking about patients with liver disease or cancer, you would be 100% right

but we're not, we're talking about this hychondriac way people talk about simple personality differences

the world i am after is a world with more tolerant of more ranges of personality differences

as cohen is a ready example of, it is not all negative to have a quirky personality

but in a world you are living in, where anyone vaguely outside the norm is diagnosed with a medical system, we are talking about a world that is promoting sameness and conformity

at the loss of what?

at the loss of people like cohen!

so that is why i find it disgusting that anyone, including cohen (we're all hypochondriacs... read any psychology text book describing mental disorders and i defy not to say at one paragraph or another "hey! i've felt like that before!"), should think that just because he can concentrate hard and can't tune into what people are saying that great, is someone with a medical disorder

same with ADD

what if ritalin and prozac and other drugs are destroying the cohens of this world?

is ADD all negative? well, is asperger's all negative? what great writers, comedians, directors, etc. have been destroyed because they were treated with drugs, someone with an ability to focus on other things than the here and now- that's all negative? well i can describe asperger's in dire negative ways... but cohen is a shining example of why its not all negative!

so how about LESS medicalization of personality types, and MORE tolerance and acceptance of a range of quirks?

because the only people who win in the world you describe- the medicalization of personalities, are pharmaceutical companies, who want to prescribe us a pill for every perceived quirk of character that someone can pin down

it's disgusting, it will turn us into a society of robots so that some pharmaceutical company has some more cash in its bottom line

well how many riches are lost when our picassos and shakespeares and einsteins and cohens and hitchcocss are medically treated into personality sameness?

Re:you made a mistake when you said the word (1)

try_anything (880404) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813251)

You are worried about a future where difference is pathologized and everyone is medicated into sameness. You want "MORE tolerance and acceptance of a range of quirks."

Yet you object to an article that presents Asperger's Syndrome as a normal, liveable condition that involves advantages and disadvantages and can lead to unique contributions to society.

How is this supposed to make sense? My interpretation that you were objecting to the arbitrary discretization of a spectrum was the only sensible reading I could see, so I went with it.

I hate to point out the obvious (4, Funny)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812597)

... but an undereducated, socially-crippled, obsessive-compulsive, uncouth geek found a fertile, viable woman to not only marry him, but bear him child thricefold...

dude is just getting his license. this is far more amazing than bittorrent and deserves its own thread.

does anyone know if she's hot?

Re:I hate to point out the obvious (2, Funny)

cloudkj (685320) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812717)

From TFA, she used to be a sysadmin. I don't know about you, but the only female sysadmin I've seen looks like Natalie Portman.

Re:I hate to point out the obvious (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812738)

... or cute?

Re:I hate to point out the obvious (2, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812864)

does anyone know if she's hot?

When a developer says "free as in beer" he means he needs lots!

Or maybe she does...

Re:I hate to point out the obvious (1)

Error27 (100234) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813018)

He lives in Oakland. Lots of people in Oakland don't drive. Over half of my friends don't have a car.

Re:I hate to point out the obvious (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813035)

It wasn't meant to insult the guy. I live in New York. We don't drive either.

Re:I hate to point out the obvious (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813260)

What on earth are you talking about? I've been to the bay area doesn't of times.. if there is one thing I have definately noticed, its that you can live under a bridge, but you sure as hell better have a Mercedes! Californian's without cars? Thats like Oregonians without rainjackets! (yeah, we rust, not tan)

Congratulations and ENCOURAGEMENT for all of us (4, Interesting)

Work Account (900793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812665)

Bram Cohen, congratulations on your accomplisments.

May you continue to live a productive and happy life and continue offering innovative and hopefully open source software.

Let this serve as encouragement to all of us: with desire, dedication, brains, a computer, and Internet access, anything is achievable.

Do what you do best; for most of us this is coding!

Re:Congratulations and ENCOURAGEMENT for all of us (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812860)

Let this serve as encouragement to all of us: with desire, dedication, brains, a computer, and Internet access, anything is achievable.

Until you type in 'slashdot.org' into the address box. It's all downhill from there.

Fortune = Barbara Walters of Businesss Mags (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812726)

Ah. The Barbara Walters of business magazines. You want a puff piece, read Fortune. You want news, read Business Week or the Wall Street Journal or even the Economist.

I wish him luck (4, Insightful)

SimplyBen (898147) | more than 8 years ago | (#13812793)

As a founder of a funded startup myself I hope he suceeds, but statistically he won't. Maybe i'm alone here, but i'm having a hardtime envisioning the business model of such a company (and doubt his ability to lead it to profitability). Sure bittorrent is a neat technology: but its just that a technology, and an open one too. It appears to be a long shot, and thats why funding came from venture capitalists. From most slashdotters POV i'm sure that sounds awesome until you realize what accepting venture capital is typically about: 90%+ stock takeovers with rider clauses allowing the investment firm first dibs on any money withdrawn from the company. I hope he hires someone to run the company that can translate whatever products he comes up with into something that can actually be sold.

Frist s70p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13812800)

bit torrent (0, Flamebait)

hutchy (31659) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813184)

Anyone that tries to "monetize" an open source application, should be put up against a wall and shot!

When your big, bandwidth finds you. (3, Insightful)

IpSo_ (21711) | more than 8 years ago | (#13813270)

"In mid-October, Apple unveiled its long-rumored video iPod and started making some TV downloads and Pixar shorts available through its popular iTunes service. Navin says that the Google and Apple moves are both competition, but that BitTorrent's market will offer much more than just movies and TV shows. Plus, he speculates that Apple is paying "an astronomical price for bandwidth."

For anyone big, bandwidth becomes more and more of a non-issue. Only the little guys actually pay a significant amount for it.

Having worked for a web hosting company that went from small, averaging only 50mbits/sec in total, to over 800mbits/sec their overall bandwidth costs actually went DOWN. Why? Because once they started pushing over 100-200mbits/sec they could sign free, or next to free peering agreements with major Tier 1 providers. As long as you don't piss them off, and the agreement continues to be mutually benficial you get "free" bandwidth.

I'm sure Apple and any other big players pay fractions of a cent on the dollar for bandwidth.

I still believe Cohen's company can help out the little guys sell their wares, at least until they push enough bandwidth that it becomes cheaper to host the content themselves. I doubt you'll ever see Apple or the MPAA paying him money to host content though.

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