How does a college drop-out deep in debt end up seven years later holding a patent on popular social media app
"Hallucinogenic optimism," says
According to the memoir - which the 40-year-old says he wrote in just two months - he remained in debt until 2010, when he sold some of his shares in
Yet Stone still drives a Volkswagen Hatchback, a family car which he describes as "perfect for his needs" - he and wife Livia, a book editor and animal rescuer, have a son who is nearly three years old.
He has bought his mother a house. "I've bought several people houses," he adds on the subject of money. "That's the nice thing about making it, you can take care of people who need it."
There is no doubt that he has made it. He left
Jelly launched its first product this January, a social media app of the same name, which allows users to post and answer questions related to images and photographs. Using it is like playing an addictive quiz game with questions ranging from "What kind of lizard is this?" to technical queries about car engines, questions about books and what to order in restaurants. Users can send "thank you" cards to those who answer or positively rate others' contributions.
So how does Stone expect to make money from Jelly? He says: "In this business, it's a little cart before the horse to think about how you're going to build a revenue model. You need to prove there is value in the service model first. There really is no such thing as an app with 100 million users that doesn't make money. You really have to reach that scale first."
It is a business model that worked for
When he dressed up in cap and robes to deliver a commencement address at the college in 2011, it pleased his mother no end.
"I'm pretty sure my mum thought I was graduating," he says, laughing. "When I was a little kid, I told her I wanted to be an inventor and a businessman. I hold the patent for inventing
In addition, he was named Nerd Of The Year by
"When I was young, I couldn't say 'Christopher', I said 'Biz-ah-bah'. My mum thought it was funny and started calling me that," he explains. "She used to tell people 'Biz' was short for Elizabeth."
He had worse problems in his growing years. His parents divorced when he was a child - his father is an auto-mechanic and Stone stopped seeing him in high school.
"We were very poor, we were on welfare," he says. "My mum didn't have a career. I worked starting at age nine. Every few years, she would sell our house and buy another one in town, a slightly lesser house, until we got to high school and our house had a dirt floor. It was a horse stable we were living in."
In the book, he writes about how he told his teachers he could not do homework because his after-school job at a grocery store helped his family make ends meet. He graduated and won enough scholarships for a year at
After leaving Xanga, he got into
"humanising" the application for its users, and making it easier for laypeople to use.
Blogger was the brainchild of Stone's future
Stone and Williams later left
The early job changes sunk his finances - he went into debt to pay for a car to drive from
From 2006 to 2010, he remained stone broke. Today, every author, artist and actor, not to mention politician and major corporation, has a Twitter account but, at the start, the micro-blogging site was plagued with software crashes. Stone's shares in
The social media utility gained traction with the 2008 US presidential campaign, as candidates such as current US President
In 2010, as
Money is a great by-product of his career but Stone makes it clear that it is the "creative process" that fascinates him. That is why he left the job security of
Optimism carries him forward, the same attitude that led him when flat broke, to create a fake online persona in his blog as the owner of "
"It's just better to go through life being nice to people and having a positive attitude," Stone says. "If you're sleeping on the floor, at least there is a carpet. Positivity is a good thing."
Things A Little Bird Told Me: Confessions Of The Creative Mind by
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