One-point-six-five billion dollars. And I'm stunned. Why? Because I had the idea for YouTube before these guys did! I mean, I can't sue them or anything, but I've got tons of things on tape that I shared and swapped with friends and family since the dawn of the VCR age. Funny commercials, school shows, mock music videos, the' 86 Mets, award shows. I remember thinking: if only there was a way to lend these tapes and not worry about getting them back since I'll never get them back... And the thought went away. I was this close.
In fact, when I bought my first videocassette recorder more than 20 years ago, I was oddly familiar with the concept of taping television shows so I could watch them later. Why did it feel so familiar? This too was my idea, from the first time I missed an episode of "That Girl." I remember sitting there, sick at the thought, thinking if only there was a way to see your show when you can't be there and not have to wait for summer re-runs.
Years ago I had a summer job and was forced to miss "All My Children," and in those days, you missed a soap, tough, that was it. Necessity breeds invention, and I had a plan. I paid my brother Dwayne five bucks a week to make audio tapes of the show for me, reasoning that at least I could listen to it when I got home. It went like clockwork until Dwayne himself got so hooked on the show that he forgot to hit "record" on this one crucial day, so there was no tape, and he just blurted out "Jeff went back to Erica!"
Despite that frustration there it was: the seed of videocassette technology. I had the audio part, but not the video part. I was halfway there.
But why didn't I follow through? Why didn't I connect the dots on these weird little ideas I was passionate about, like these techno-brilliant guys did? What's the next big thing? A brain chip/memory implant with programming accessible by merely thinking about it? A fat-burning nasal spray? A body-massage coat? $1.65 billion dollars! Wonder when the YouTube guys will get the check. And when they deposit it, will the bank hold their funds for five business days? Isn't that annoying? If only there was a way for deposited checks to instantly be considered cash...
Hey, that's not bad.