Are Real Names Required For Real Socializing?

Over the weeekend my friend Jeff Jarvis and I had a twebate about this topic. You can see it in action on storify thanks to David Connell.

I'm all for real names if people want to use them. I use "fredwilson" on every web service I can and that is almost all of them. It's a vanity thing for me more than anything else. I want to get to the service early enough that I can grab that handle.

But not everyone wants to use a real name. There are all sorts of reasons for that. This post on the EFF blog, which kicked off the twebate between me and Jeff, lists a bunch of them.

This community is a perfect example of the value of anonymity. Kid Mercury, FAKE GRIMLOCK, Prokofy, JLM, etc, etc. They are some of the most engaged community members. We love them (at least I do), and I could care less who they are in real life. What I care about are their ideas, their voice, their participation, and their energy. If anonymity brings that out in some, then bring it on.

David Weinberger left a comment on Caterina Fake's blog that I love and reblogged on Tumblr last week:

In our culture, we’re suspicious of strangers. They’re a threat. They lurk in shadows. On the Web, however, strangers are the source of everything worthwhile. Strangers and their utterances are the stuff of the Web. They are what give the Web its matter, its shape, its value. Rather than hiding in our tents and declaring our world to exist of the other tents near us — preferably with a nice tall wall around us — the Web explicitly is a world only because of the presence of so many strangers.

The desire to clean up the web, civilize it, and sterlize it pisses me off. I hate it. The Zuckerbergs can run a sterile community on the web if they want. That's just fine. But to suggest that real names is the source of their success it to learn the wrong lessons from Facebook.

Facebook is successful because they bring structure (phototags are the best example) and order (the newsfeed) to the social web. The requirement to use real names is a weakness not a strength of the service.

But of course not everyone will agree with me on this. Jeff doesn't. We ended our twebate with an agreement to take this debate to the stage. I hope we can do that this fall somewhere in NYC. I'm hoping for some sketchy dicey neighborhood to be honest. This is an important debate as it impacts the way social services are designed and executed. So let's have it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    Agree with your points. But let’s not mix up pseudonymity and anonymity.

    1. fredwilson

      right, but they are related

      1. JimHirshfield


      2. awaldstein

        That is key to me.Kid Mercury has a pseudonym but he is hardly anonymous. If he only existed as an untraceable utterance on a forum or BBS, this becomes a game and the game play the value not the person behind it.Even with persistence (and without identity even behind a pseudonym) it’s less human behavior and more posturing. To me less interesting.The web (to me) is not made up of strangers as in a cyber board game but possible connections. That’s why meeting people here, on blogs, or in real life on a plane, in a vineyard in Sicily is interesting.The wonder of the social web is that possibility of connection.The key to me is not what you call yourself, but that you are willing to connect at a genuine level.

  2. Dave W Baldwin

    Looking forward, it is better to allow both.  In my opinion it means more to deliver a controversial opinion with your name beside it, but there are some who simply can’t do that.OTOH, the idea and/or counterpoint is what becomes more important and delivering that at a moment’s notice is what will win.

  3. Colin Walker

    This debate is not going to go away.Personally, I prefer real names so I know who I’m dealing with but am also perfectly happy with pseudonyms in other forums.Having real names on Facebook is a requirement of the service as it is designed to let you find people -this would not work with pseudonyms, how are you to know that John from school goes by the online handle quark123!FB and G+ are developing models as indentity providers for both internal and external services so we have an element of trust involved, especially where any form of ecommerce is involved so we just have to go with it in those services.There is a time and place for everything, however, and there is no problem with anonymity or pseudonymity in other forums – and it is to be encouraged to allow those in genuine fear to be able to express themselves etc.

    1. fredwilson

      It’s easier for me to find a person on twitter who uses a handle than it is to find a person on facebook. Twitter is crawled by google and facebook is not

    2. Sid

      Colin, you write “Having real names on Facebook is a requirement of the service as it is designed to let you find people -this would not work with pseudonyms, how are you to know that John from school goes by the online handle quark123!”Presumably, if John from school wants to be found by you, he will use John and his lastname on services where he wants you to find him.  However, why do you assume John from school wants to be found by you?  Perhaps John is only using FB to socialize with coworkers or with neighbors, all of whom he’s told “I’m quark123”.I find the statement that FB (or G+) must *require* users to use names (presumed to be) more readily findable to be extraordinary.  The phone company allows me to have an unlisted phone number, and it doesn’t impair my ability to socialize with friends in the least; clearly the idea that FB needs to use real names is stuff and nonsense.Real name requirements boil down to “requiring people to be findable by anyone who knows their name”.  Really, if I want you to know where to find me online, I’ll tell you.  Like many people, I’d prefer to only socialize online with people I _like_, and I rather value the control a handle gives me over who looks me up. For that matter, the preferred way of finding people on FB is by email address, since names are not unique identifiers.  Sure you can look people up by name, but how many John Smiths do you think there are in there?  

  4. Peter Sullivan

    Fred you are comparing apples and oranges. This argument needs context for both sides. Ever go back to your AIM contact list. It was a nightmare to manage. The focus there is people. Forums are formed around shared thoughts. Not the actual index of people.

  5. LIAD

    This isn’t an issue of real vs fake names. It’s an issue of consistency.Consistent identity is the foundation of a positive community.  Who you were yesterday should be who you are today and who you will be tomorrow. Whether that identity takes the form of a real or fake name is wholly irrelevant.Some services benefit from the *additional context* real names provide. For others its a hinderance. Flitting between identities makes it impossible for a community to develop.Relationships and bonds can’t be built if everyone wears a different mask each day.

    1. ShanaC

      Why should my identity be consistent across the web?

      1. LIAD

        Not across the web – just consistent within the service.

        1. K_Berger

          Or within a community, which I guess is pretty much the same as a service.  So there is one DISQUS profile which is consistent as opposed to a different, anonymous identity for comments in different places or at different times.  But it doesn’t all have to tie back to your Facebook page.

          1. baba12

            True but there maybe different identities within DISQUS for some who feel that expressing themselves may get them into trouble with where they work.Also I have found that many choose to keep certain things private such as sexual proclivities online connections etc.I think having a consistent identity will be something to strive for but for many it is difficult to present themselves openly/transparently even when anonymous.

          2. K_Berger

            Agreed.  That’s why I think consistency within a community is the bare minimum.  For me, DISQUS works for that.  But if I participated in different communities all using DISQUS (professional vs. personal, for example), then having different identities doesn’t bother me.

          3. ShanaC

            That doesn’t mean I want you all to know everything about me, or that I want you to know about other parts of my identity.I think there isn’t such thing as one true identity – and being forced to claim one actually makes me uncomfortable some days

          4. Guest

            RE: “I think there isn’t such thing as one true identity – and being forced to claim one actually makes me uncomfortable some days”Good stuff Shana! People wear different hats and play different roles. I am not sure they are different identities but I am not sure anyone needs to be forced to put them all in one place for everyone to see, or piece together.

    2. fredwilson

      I totally agree with you about the power of consistent identity. That’s why I use my avatar everywhere online

      1. Robert Holtz

        Consistent identity is absolutely a good thing but not necessarily across the entire web.The biggest thing holding back Facebook and now Google+ is this insistence on so-called Real Life (RL) identities.  It is asinine. Just as there are many distinct social graphs, a single person can maintain multiple identities with distinct social graphs of their own.  For some people, those alter egos are just as much or MORE their true selves than their legal name.  When social first started on services like Second Life, creating an alter ego was basically the norm.  There are definitely pros and cons of EACH. That being said, to ignore invented identities from the social graph is to paint an incomplete picture of what is really happening online and inworld.

    3. Tereza

      That’s precisely correct, L1AD.  It’s not about name per se, but that someone has a “character”.  It requires repeat contact.Pseudonymous one-time comments come from three types:1.  a shy commenter.  {Let them speak!  This is good!}2.  spam.  {pfft.}  3.  the sniper.  {his mother would give him a finger-wagging if she saw his name attached to this comment}It comes down to how much value do Shy’s bring, versus how much do Snipers weigh us down.  There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be shy.  On our own site, we will soon on-ramp one of the world’s top sex and intimacy experts.  FUN!  But for people to feel comfortable asking great questions about sex, they probably need a pseudonym.  So we’ll allow for that … overlaid on top of their FB identity.  So if they take it over the line, we as Admin can deal with them.The problem with Snipers is bigger than the person he sniped.  It’s — who decided NOT to write because they didn’t feel safe.  And how many days did it take for them to jump on the horse again, if ever.  I don’t do TechCrunch at all, for this reason.  Who needs the grief?  Sniping probably turns off women more than men. It’s biological wiring.  I’m pretty damn tough and when I saw that jerk hate on JLM and Aaron the other day, I flagged him several times but the comments didn’t come down and I didn’t get any sense that it was being taken care of.  It put me out of the mood for a few days.I come here to see my friends and make new ones.  I LOVE meeting strangers and am usually quite good at making them feel welcome.  It takes effort and I demand to be treated with the same respect I afford others.  Gritty neighborhoods?  Bring ’em on.  Grit and respect are not mutually exclusive.  We can and want to have both.Early in my AVC commenting career, someone called me an ‘idiot’ and the Fred told the guy to “take your comments to TechCrunch”.  That gesture was hugely important for me, and gave me the boost to keep going.  So — I don’t care to have the asshole’s name.  I just want to know that he’s not coming back to piss on my parade, and everyone else’s.  I’ll love to attend that debate when it’s scheduled.  And I think there must be a gender layer to the discuss because M/W respond to sniping differently.

      1. Guest

        Heartfelt, wonderful reply.

      2. Aaron Klein

        I remember when the idiot called you that, and I remember the brilliant riposte from Fred. That was a classic day in the annals of Cheers…er, AVC.

      3. Guest

        I totally get what you are saying. But. On the other hand. “Trolls” have been around since the internet has.  And, in my mind, they serve a purpose.  At their best, they challenge views and make people (or viewers of the comment) think through what they are actually saying.  I love AVC.  But I rarely read the comments, because I find so many of the people who leave comments are essentially Fred groupies.  And friends of Fred groupies.  And sometimes the substance of what is said is secondary to being a Fred fanboy.  This is where anonymous snipers, as you call them, have a role.  If a sniper challenges what you say, and the only rejoinder is: you’re anonymous…well, that’s nonresponsive to the challenge. Dumb comments, just because a bunch of Fred fanboys have your back, doesn’t give them validity.  

        1. Tereza

          Not all comments are created equal and challenges are part of the fun… whether named or anonymous (btw I’ve been disagreed with plenty of times by people with names) Calling out BS needs to happen and I’ve landed on both sides of that.It’s the non-factual malicious ones I’m talking about. Name-calling. Hateful speech. I’ve said this before and it’s an elephant in the room but the fact that Fred funds companies and most of us need or will need funding creates a useful natural tension which generally leads to productive discourse; or at least, not as much jerky activity as elsewhere. And probably, as you describe, fanboys and friends of fanboys. All in all, it’s gluier than a straight up media site as there’s a party ‘host’. I liken it to a party and I would never show up to someone’s party and yell “F YOU!!”. But — I would try to add to the convo constructively and respectfully disagree when that’s called for. Some days I’m better at that than others. But maybe that’s just me.

          1. Guest

            “I’ve said this before and it’s an elephant in the room but the fact that Fred funds companies and most of us need or will need funding creates a useful natural tension…”See, this is where we differ.  I don’t think the fact that lots of people need or want capital creates a useful natural tension. I think it leads to a bunch of groupies.  Fanboys.  Fanpeople — I should be gender-neutral ;)Not that there’s anything wrong w/ being a Fred fanboy.  But it leads to groupthink which isn’t what you want from people who talk about innovation.

          2. Tereza

            There is no gender restriction on annoying. Equal opportunity!The dynamic you’re describing — I get it — though I see it more over Twitter RTs than here on the boards. (“O.M.G. BRILLIANT post by @FredWilson!!!!”)When I think of my list of AVC regulars one by one, none occur to me as a suck-up. Perhaps I’m a brainwashed barfly who’s been here long enough to have witnessed each let something rip in Fred’s general direction. Or maybe, I just like them and am giving them stickers for having been nice to me. Quite a few have become actual friends and taken the rel’ps offline. With some I chat more OFF avc than on it.BTW it bears mentioning — I’m utterly unbothered by you being signed in as “Guest”, whoever you are, mysterious person (and, hell, maybe we even know each other in the real world). Your Guest persona of the moment is intelligent, civil, and engaging me in a valid discussion. And as a bonus, you haven’t called me a bitch or an idiot. For that, you get a Like! 🙂

          3. Guest

            I understand where you are coming from Guest but I think @Tereza:disqus is also spot on about AVC regulars. Since starting to come here regularly a few months ago I have seen folks I see frequently here (“regulars”) disagree with Fred on a variety of things. Still, glad you posted this; I think group think can be dangerous and it can creep into places – even by accident. Nice going.

      4. lawrence coburn

        The repeat contact point is a good one.  This is part of the attraction of real names for me – it allows that repeat contact (and associated reputation) to be built across a variety of sites and interactions.  Judge on the body of work, as opposed to a snapshot in time.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. lawrence coburn

            sites yeah, but how about real life?

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. Matt A. Myers

          You can have quality repeat contact with a fake name though too. And you can always ask to find out who they really are if they feel safe sharing with you. 🙂

      5. Matt A. Myers

        Aww. <3 again. 🙂

    4. Jon Atrides

      LIAD i think you make a really good point but I’m not sure whether consistent identity is enough for a positive community. Another key ingredient is responsibility over one’s identity.A member of a community may be using an anonymous identity to vent negatives aspects of their real life personality. Even if this identity is used consistently, it might do damage to the community in the way Tereza describes above.The power of real names is that they force a member of a community to really examine his or her conviction in their opinion before posting it.But I think resorting to using our real names within online communities so as to import such responsibility is a missed opportunity. There is great fun in the challenge of creating mutually respectful anonymous communities. The internet´s ability to defy social norms would suffer if we all had to be linked to what´s set out in our passports.



  6. William Mougayar

    The Web allows variety and flexibility, so let it be. I’m siding with Fred on this one. People can use real names or fake names as long as it’s an identity that is genuine. What is unfortunate is when fake identities are used to cause trouble or malice.There are cases when the individual needs to protect their real identity (for several reasons,- job security, potential harm, privacy, etc…) and they should be allowed to do that.

    1. Fernando Gutierrez

      And anyway, the line between real names and pseudonyms is not that clear in many services. how can I know that @wmoug:disqus , which appears to be a real name, is not an alias of Darth Vader?

      1. William Mougayar

        You’re right I should have used wmougayar or williammougayar

  7. Harry DeMott

    I prefer real names. I tend to use hdemott everywhere I post anything – and I don’t think I’ve ever posted something that would make me think twice if it were traced back to me directly.that said, many people do want to express themselves without that direct name connection. Like you, I’ve met JLM – and my guess is that he posts under that name out of ease of use rather than anything else. I seriously doubt he would be worried to share his opinions under his real name.the one thing I do notice though is the following: if you send out vitriolic or flaming comments under a pseudonym, it is easy to dismiss those comments. If you use your real name and argue cogently for a point of view that I might despise, it is still hard to dismiss the comments – no matter how badly I might want to.Probably human nature.

    1. JLM

      Harry, I went to your new theatre in Austin w/ my wife and we had a great time.  I think it will be a great success.  It is very unique but the prospect of such convenient parking in downtown makes it particularly easy to embrace.It is a mad bit of genius and I love it.  

    2. Tereza

      I think when someone puts their name behind what they say, it does force a discipline of thought that everyone benefits from. Plus it gives the person an opportunity to build their brand and meet new people.When it’s a real person, I will take time to try to understand them, even though I disagree. I can assume a basic level of mutual respect.When it’s a pseudonymous one-timer I don’t know what/who I’m dealing with, so I dismiss.I do have to say, when last summer I got gang-banged on YC’s news thread by pseudonymous geeks who don’t know me and made no effort to, that was vomit-worthy. Happened to me over at Reuters, TC. Really sick mysogynistic stuff. For someone who’s worked life long to be a ‘good girl’ — and delivered — it was a kick in the stomach. But, hey, seeing the ugly face of how some people truly, deeply think helped me realize the problem cut way deeper than I ever imagined. Also that there are a lot And drew me to the conclusion that the status quo is unacceptable. And I’ll put my name behind that any day of the year.



        1. Tereza

          The opposite!  You qualify as a “recurring character”, FG.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. Robert Holtz

            AVC would NOT be the same without you, FAKE GRIMLOCK.The online world NEEDS giant robot dinosaurs.SUPERMAN was more the real person than Clark Kent was.  My impression is the same is true for you.  I think the GRIMLOCK persona allows you to put some piercing truths out there that contribute a LOT to our debates and discussions here that wouldn’t have nearly as much impact from an ordinary mortal with a working Caps Lock button.”Be as you are,” friend.

  8. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    I started “participating” on the web about two months ago and I did so under my name.  There is a real divide in our society; I have been told by numerous business associates that one does not express themselves in public.While there appear to be no de jure policies there are de facto policies that management does not have profiles on Linkedin, does not blog, and does not share ideas or information; again, all my anecdotal experience is local and old economy.Call it peer pressure if you want, but I get at least 5 emails a week from people who thank me for blogging and then add that they wished they could blog and or comment.Facebook is a success because it is nothing more than a family reunion/class reunion social network.  I call it the “wading pool” of the big pool that the internet represents.  If “pseudonymity and anonymity” is what it takes to get more people to take the plunge into the big pool then fine .  I realize for most of you your world and your issues with pseudonymity and anonymity are on a different plane.



      1. Tereza

        Is that because, in the way a tattoo starts out looking like a fine young lady, and then drifts and starts looking like … Australia?Is it that the blog does not age well, or that, simply, at a certain age and certain industries it’s just ‘not ok’?I will tell you — for years — I was NOT to have my own persona.  Worked for a firm. So everything I did was ghostwritten.Over that!

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Okay big guy….I set up a personal network last year to get younger people to get involved and blog within a defined social network and while I got over 150 members I could not get any of the young people (college students to early 30’s) to blog or even comment but they did visit and read daily.Now, I don’t have any tattoos…but I think that something bigger is at play, maybe its regional in nature, or maybe its industry in nature but there is more to it than just age and owning ones employer…..

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Dave W Baldwin

            @FakeGrimlock:disqus is right Carl. Actually you should push the age group up to 35.Within 6 months they will be doing everything via combination of Twitter/4Square and then the following 6 months comes down to the fight over GPS coordinates sensative.In the meantime, the fight on the Fb side will not produce excitement many hope for due to folks not wanting so many choices… just want what works for them.

  9. Jan Schultink

    I agree that we do not need real namesBUT: there should be a way to track you down in case of abuse, illegal behaviorIf someone has a high-profile Internet identity that is not her real name, she will protect that with the same rigour as if it were her own.And hey, maybe FAKEGRIMLOCK will actually change her real name in the end to… FAKEGRIMLOCK

    1. ShanaC

      I voted in an election once where that “legal rigor” actually didn’t turn out as planned.  I honestly think the judge in this case did the right thing by throwing out the case before the identities of the people in question were revealed.  And I think that is the right way to go about it (first ascertain if the anonymous people did something wrong legally, then go find them).It is equally wrong to blow someone’s cover for the sake of the law, especially if they are found not guilty.

      1. Jan Schultink

        I am not saying that identities should be thrown in the street, there should be a way to get hold of them. The judge did the right thing

        1. ShanaC

          Yes, but there is always that temptation in a court of law…and that makes me nervous



      1. Jan Schultink


  10. Eric Leebow

    Real names and real photos in general keep it real. As someone who is launching a social network soon, I know that it’s in my terms to keep it real.  I believe it’s important to keep what’s in the real world mirrored to the online world, and it prevents confusion.  If someone meets you in the real world, and sees you as Fred, and then views you online as Mike, it’s not consistent and could lead to confusion. People who have pseudonyms or aliases online can cause problems in an online community, or may not be taken seriously by their peers.  The one thing I wouldn’t want to see is the extreme case when someone who signs up for a community as a real cartoon character such as Mickey Mouse.  This user is not real, and people know that. If you see someone online with a real name, then you know they are real.  I believe a community connected geographically by location with real names is more authentic and will be taken seriously by its users opposed to one that links users to usernames only.

    1. B10136953

      From the standpoint of a “social network”, all of these make sense. But why would it make sense from the point of view of a “community”? Communities based around ideas or common interests don’t really need this. What is real and what is authentic should be valued based on the content, not by who it was posted by. An anonymous person might contribute something of immense value to a community, and they will recognize it and embrace it. The only difference is motivation – everything you contribute should be perfectly valid with an identity and also without it. If you desperately need to attach your identity to everything, as much as it might be very good, helpful or high quality, it starts to smell with ego boosting.That said, I agree there are times and places for a consistent identity, but I still don’t think connecting the “real word” with the Internet is the correct way. People were, are and will be evil / jealous / vengeful, and you should have all the means to protect yourself from them, if you wish so. It might sound asocial, but this is how I think it should be.

      1. Eric Leebow

        Agree, social networks need real names and real networks if they want to make the network mirror the real world connection.  If they aspire to be broadcast or microblogs or online communities, different story.

  11. Sebastian Wain

    Anonymity is a tool and was used in the History for important reasons and in political fights. Also was used for writers and other professions for personal reasons. So I see being anonymous as an important right.It’s easy to speak against anonymity when you are just sharing family photos on Facebook but not when society and your life is in danger and you need to communicate.

    1. Maurice Walshe

      Quite I was active in the 80’s in some of the very earlyonline communities (BBS Prestel etc)  which was all done via handles  – I even have a dedication via my handle in abook written by Indra Shah (booker short listed author)  about these communities.  In real life I usedto work for British Telecom – which in parts of the UK was seen as”crown forces” and therefore a legitimate terorist target in the eyesof the IRA In the wrong part of belfast no way would I let my (catholic) lastname be made public.I am reminded of the time when a mixed group of bt employees accidentallywandered into a unionist bar – and everyone suddenly decided that their namewas “BILLY”  or Wilhelmina for the females. You have to read “BILLY” in the voice of the Rev Ian Paisleyto get the Joke here. 

    2. Tereza

      How about all the pseudonymous and initialed women writers through the ages. It’s only in recent history where women could publish.

  12. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Anonymity : Creates Chaos. Chaos will lead to creativity. Entire world (living beings) cameout of chaos and creativity. Anonymity is for the people who beleive in evolution. Evolutionnever had gone the negetive way by all means. So I support your view on Ananymity.Identity:   Creates Orderliness. Orderliness never been creative … but can be manipulated …  Identity is for the people who want to take control. Good for better governance   So the answer lies there. Whether we want control or creativity.

    1. Guest

      A great way to summarize the topic.

  13. Ciaran

    As with most things, you’re both right.It shouldn’t matter whether someone uses their real identity or not. But, in many case, I think that it does. With no data other than my extensive use of any number of web services, I would say that anonymity breeds agression and disrespect. That’s not to say that services which only allow ‘real’ identity don’t suffer from this too.But the fact is that trolls, abusers and downright nutters almost never sue their real names, and having recently been on the wrong end of someone (using a false name & email), calling me a c**** because they disagreed with a post on my blog*, I have to say that I’m all for forcing people to man up and admit who they are.I should add of course that in certain instances (whistle-blowers, etc…), anonymity is a powerful, and important defence. But abusing someone because you disagree with them isn’t powerful, or important.*In case you’re wondering, the post was about a song used in an ad. Yeah, really.

  14. Daniel Andrei R. Garcia

    They each have their own value. Why make it an issue of “for” or “against”?

    1. fredwilson

      Because I think real names are becoming a fad and I think that’s a problem

      1. Daniel Andrei R. Garcia

        With respect, I must digress. Though the usage of real names may be perceived as “fads”, another point of view might say that people are merely rediscovering their inherent and historic advantages. In the truest sense, nobody is really “anonymous” as we have witnessed recently with the apprehension of the key members of the hacker group. G+ and Facebook are but large countries in this planet, there are havens and other options that offer alternate levels of discourse and anonymity.   

  15. JLM

    There is a huge tradition of anonymous commentary going back to Thomas Payne and Witte the With from Revolutionary times.In those times they wrote anonymously — not really as they were both well known to the literati, intelligentsia and illuminati, take your pick — in order to be able to speak truth to those who would otherwise squelch their voices and perhaps snuff out their lives.Thomas Payne was probably worth a couple of divisions with his inspirational thought and writing.There is some panache to anonymous thought and the convenience of not having to deal w/ other contacts and the aftermath of it all.I recently have had the great privilege of meeting a few of the posters on this site — which is my favorite bar none — and it is a pleasure to meet someone you admire whose thoughts you have shared.  I have now done this in Austin, NYC, Phoenix and San Antonio.  Great fun indeed.I have had discourse with others and have shed the cloak of anonymity.  Not really much of a cloak since it is so easy to figure out who folks are.As for me, JLM is my initials and I have been an “initialer” of things since time immemorial.  It is how I signify, even to myself, that I have read something.My avatar is a logo from the corner of a building in Austin, TX that I renovated years ago and which I have always loved.I am on about my fourth act in life and hope to live forever.  Thus far, it’s working out just fine.  I am on about my millionth turnaround and everything is just fine.Jeffrey L MinchPresident, CEOLittlefield Corporation2501 N Lamar BlvdAustin, TX 78705512-476-5141 office512-656-1383 celljminchatlittlefield.comjlm73tx — TwitterShhh, don’t tell anyone.  Stay cool out there.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      I was about to write … but thought it is a intrusion… some creep was mentioning your name in the comment section about a week and I searched for your name … I could come to your company website.It is not possible to hide behind anonymity for long … but once in a while we can speak up (out) if anonymity is available. If you are a high-profile man you can express what you think…but not for a common man.shhh… i know who kidmercury is. I think many of us here who follow AVC for more than 2-years will know. Probably Fred does not know 🙂 …

      1. JLM

        I believe that all men are “uncommon”, special really.I think there are no extraordinary men, only common men who rise to the occasion in extraordinary circumstances.I just got done reading a fabulous book — “Brother, Rivals, Victors” which deals with the relationship among Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton before and during WWII.What is extraordinary is how ordinary and predictable these guys were and how Ike — who was a Lt Col at the beginning of the European conflict and had not seen any action in WWI was catapulted to the top over men who had been his superiors just a few years earlier.I am a huge fan of Eisenhower — made the alliance work in WWII, NATO C in C, rebuilt/saved? Columbia University (which banned ROTC) and then served 8 years without involving the US in a war (his family business BTW) and balanced 8 straight budgets on the first submission.We could use a bit of that today.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Yes, Ike did well.  E.g., he saved about 100 K US casualties/deaths letting the Soviets take Berlin.  His excuse was that his orders were to defeat Germany, which he had done solidly, and not to do house to house fighting in Berlin.  If the Soviets wanted to have fun firing massive arrays of artillery to bounce the rubble in Berlin, plundering whatever they could find, killing as many of the men as possible, raping the women, and getting killed fighting in the rubble, then let them do it.I would have just put a fence around Berlin, let nothing in, and offered food, water, and shelter to anyone who wanted out until the place was empty.  Then level it.How he balanced the budget during the massive Cold War RDTE in the 1950s was amazing.  Yes, on war, maybe he made the Red Chinese “an offer they couldn’t refuse”.  And he may have kept us out of a war with the Soviets or in Asia.But in his ‘Crusade in Europe’, he was so circumspect I never could find the ‘real’ man.  I did suspect that he deliberately and cynically exploited the Patton slapping incident in Sicily along with some of Patton’s public statements to undercut Patton and, thus, eliminate some competition for how to direct the rest of the war in Europe and, in particular, help enable putting Bradley over Patton after D-Day.Also maybe should blame Ike for the failure at The Kasserine Pass and for General Fredendall.My understanding is that much of the Ally victory in North Africa was from the British breaking the German communications encryption code which resulted in much of Rommel’s supplies on the bottom of the Mediterranean.The friendly fire during the first hours of the Sicily invasion were really bad planning.The paratrooper drops with wildly inaccurate navigation on D-Day morning were really bad planning.Omaha Beach was some really bad planning.Then there was the failure to let Patton close the Falaise pocket.Apparently Ike let Montgomery go ahead with the disastrous Market Garden.  Montgomery was always too ‘cautious’ except for Market Garden where he was a high roller, idiot.  Not good.I got the impression that by D-Day Ike was a bit complacent:  He knew that the US Eighth Air Force, at high casualty rates, had done well on German industry and cities.  The Soviets were charging in the east.  Due to Germany having nearly no surface fleet and due to Ally ASW progress, Germany had lost the war in the Atlantic.  Germany had no ability to hurt England.  Germany was very short on fuel.  The effort to convince Hitler that the invasion would come via Calais was successful.  Germany had next to nothing in the air over Normandy.  Germany had a tough time moving resources in France.  US resources would just keep building and overwhelm anything Germany could do.  E.g., to get out of Normandy, just use the US Eighth Air Force and total air superiority to plow a patch of France from the air and then drive through.  So, victory in Europe was just a matter of time and routine effort.I did get the sense that Ike did understand that by the time the Allies had reached the Rhine the front was so long and, thus, often so thinly defended, that the Germans would be able to punch through somewhere if they insisted.  So, Bastogne was no big surprise.Of writing relevant to Ike, Patton, and Bradley, I got by far the best sense of what happened in Europe from Bradley’s ‘A Soldier’s Story’.  E.g., when out of food, water, and ammo, are out of the war or some such.  E.g., the main issues are quite simple.It appeared that basically Bradley tried to pick good people (although often he had no real freedom or choice), told them what they had to accomplish, monitored them only loosely, worked to keep the logistics flowing, didn’t ask the impossible, and relieved them if they clearly messed up.  He was looking for routine work on routine tasks and not for brilliance or something wildly exceptional.I did notice that Bradley believed that the US had inexhaustible resources, including soldiers.  It appeared that he looked at US soldiers being killed as comparable with jeeps getting blown up, etc.If the book you mentioned has more, then good.

          1. JLM

            Wow, you really know your stuff on WWII.  You will LOVE this book as it addresses much of what you write.  I just gave my copy to a friend or I would send you mine.I agree with you on almost everything.  I will quibble on the following.Ike saved Patton countless times (only w/ the approval of Marshall, VMI guy, who was the best judge of military horse flesh in the history of the world) because Ike recognized that Patton was America’s best General on the attack and the very best on the pursuit.  He and Patton were friends going way back.  Great friends.Patton, who went to VMI for a year before going to West Point, was a WWI hero w/ a DSC and Ike sat out the war.  In less than 3 years, Ike goes from LTC to 5 stars.The team of Ike, Bradley and Patton were the best that America produced in the war and their complementary strengths are just fabulous.Bradley was the best Army and Army Group commander produced maybe in US history.Kasserine Pass was a “welcome to the varsity” show w/ the Afrika Corps teaching the Americans how the cow was going to eat the cabbage.  To Ike’s credit he sacked Fredenhall and put Bradley and ultimately Patton in charge of II Corps where Patton worked his magic.  Patton was a ruthless bastard but he could find them, fix them and kill them.He was a cavalryman who stepped off his horse and into a tank and used them both in the same swashbuckling way.  He was America’s Guderian.An interesting anecdote is that Patton was reading and re-reading Rommel’s tome from WWI — Attack — when he was fighting him.  It was hard to find an English translation in those days.  I studied it myself @ VMI and it is still relevant today, the best small unit tactics primer ever written.He used Rommel’s book against him in real time.I could go on forever — read the book, you will love it.

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            and @sigmaalgebra:disqus … you two have sold me on the book!  A note from a guy who uses his real name (jk;)).It is amazing the different personalities brought together via conflict. 

        2. Alex Murphy

          yes, Colin Powell, please run.  We need someone that can round up the children. 

        3. Donna Brewington White

          It was from a side discussion somewhat similar to this that @RichardForster:disqus suggested “Looking for Trouble” by General Sir Peter de la Billiere which I bought for my husband (who just tonight told me that it is the best book on leadership that he has ever read even though not really about leadership). A little sidenote — could only find it used on Amazon and ended up with a signed copy. Score!Now, he’s eager to read “Brother, Rivals, Victors.”  Thanks for the suggestion.

          1. RichardF

            glad he enjoyed it Donna.  The signed copy is a really nice bonus.

    2. panterosa,

      A personal favorite of mine is X writing about containment policy, though i am a very poor history student so really only know the basics of the story, though it intrigued me.

      1. Alex Murphy

        George Kennan, not so anonymous.

        1. panterosa,

          Yes I know that.

    3. ShanaC

      JLM – I have to ask – do you want this much of your contact info out there

      1. JLM

        Inasmuch as my “give a shit” meter has been inoperative for a great number of years, I guess I just don’t care any more.I don’t like the idea that someone thinks my anonymity — which really was just a happenstance of using my initials in the first place — is something that would otherwise color my thoughts.I have a single voice not an anonymous voice and a public voice.I don’t natively like to be “out there” but privacy in America no longer exists, so I might as well fashion it on my terms rather than having someone think I would otherwise GAS.Plus I have that concealed handgun carry permit.

        1. markslater

          awsome! love it

        2. Alex Murphy

          Rock on!  

        3. ShanaC

          I like the idea of fashioning your terms.  I just do, I think we should have that everywhere on the net.

    4. Tom Labus

      Nice to meet you!!!

    5. MartinEdic

      Nice to meet you, Jeff.

    6. Aaron Klein

      JLM is on Twitter? How did I miss this?The comparison with Paine is an apt one…common sense is your trademark, after all.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Ha — you didn’t waste any time following him!  Right behind you, dude.

        1. Tereza

          Has a Twitter handle. But does he actually tweet???? @jlm73tx:twitter He should tweet all his Disqus comments.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Surprisingly, yes, he does!  “He should tweet all his Disqus comments.”So true! Earlier I started a comment that I didn’t get to finish suggesting that he just have someone go through his comments and pull out choice tweets.  He has several years’ worth already.Hate it that Fred has posted a topic for which I might actually have an intelligent comment and I don’t have time to compose it!   Now with 175 and counting I think it’s time to just read everyone else’s — and say “hi” to my friends.  Hi.

          2. Tereza

            LOL — hi!

      2. fredwilson

        What is JLM’s handle on twitter?

        1. Aaron Klein


          1. Tereza

            is that TX as in…Texas?

          2. Aaron Klein

            I’d have to assume. 🙂

          3. William Mougayar

            He’s got it protected…

        2. Donna Brewington White

          You deleted it! 

          1. Matt A. Myers


    7. markslater

      Well its a pleasure to meet you Jeff – or is it Jeffrey. Life just got more boring 😉

      1. JLM

        Jeff or Shithead — I respond to both.

        1. andyidsinga

          You rock JLM 🙂

    8. Alex Murphy

      Since we are getting personal, shoe size and height please 🙂

    9. PhilipSugar

      Fred, I see both sides of the point, but I think you removing the info (which I agree with) proved the con to your post.Best regards.

      1. albeit

        I think an unnamed moderator removed the info.

  16. panterosa,

    I post under panterosa, a pseudonym, since I was stalked many years ago after creating a racy art series, bearing my image, which also happened to be under a pseudonym. The art was much more daring since it was under the cloak of a pseudonym, but the person who stalked me met me directly and hence knew me and the persona.To this day I haven’t joined Facebook and have real trouble connecting my face and name to my brand, though I stand 100% behind my work.I read avc everyday, yet I post infrequently enough here to not raise much of a flag. I posted for several months on themonsterinyourhead without revealing my identity to Jerry. I posted on gothamgal and then had the chance to meet her and introduced myself. I have no problem being outspoken in person, and the same holds true in posting. I just don’t enjoy having a public profile.

    1. ShanaC

      I don’t blame you -I keep thinking how I want to do this one activity (posing for art) that some people consider very racy (honestly, from the other end, it really isn’t – you end up thinking about the shape of arms and how they look like cylinders not about anything else…)And yet because I am here I haven’t (yet, we’ll see long term).And that is also on top of being stalked twice….how are you handling it long term?

      1. panterosa,

        Posing is not racy at art school, and I did it for years. The real world is different, even the art world.It was a terrifying experience. It truly shaped my life afterwards to know there was no safety in that kind of public expression. Ironically, it is that expression and sensuality which most people deeply crave.20 years later it has shaped my life in many ways and I bear many scars and cautions which others don’t. So it affects the way I live and work, and yet I still believe in it deeply, and think the same way. I have not reconciled how to express any of it except in private. And those who I do share it with consider me extremely brave and are grateful that I have the balls to still be that way. They admire it and support me, and I am grateful for that.

        1. ShanaC

          You sound braver than I.

          1. panterosa,

            If you chose to pose, I recommend using some kind of alias and being very self aware of your boundaries. The growth can be incredible and is worth pursuing.My public shyness is in inverse proportion to my camera shyness – I was a favorite for the tremendous ease I had on camera (stills), and for the ability to synch into the mood seamlessly. It is an incredible experience to do that with yourself, and to even lose yourself to become the picture, the clay, the image. It is intense when dressed, and more so when not. Should you have any further questions I’d be happy to answer them if you post an address.

          2. panterosa,

            Or, perhaps easier for you not to post yours, I’m at panterosaatnycdotrrdotcom.

    2. fredwilson

      you make my point better than i did

  17. Guest

    I struggle with this topic and so its a tough post for me to find the right words. Going to give it a go though.Being able to be anonymous is important. I can see where it can offer a psychological or emotional security blanket for some. Yes there can be issues with anonymity as well. But for the most part I think knowing there is a way to provide shelter/cover (not hide) from temporary maelstroms (real or imagined) is a very powerful tool that humans need – maybe not all humans. Talk to any famous person about what they miss or dislike about their current ‘celebrity’ situation and you will often hear its the lack of anonymity. Sure sometimes this is just some line that plays well to the masses (a populist approach) during an interview but I don’t think it always is. I believe that often the knowledge a celebrity has about how difficult it is for them to blend in, even a temporary camouflage, is truly troublesome for them.Society definitely needs to be able to ‘find’ folks who engage in extreme and/or unlawful and harmful behavior certainly. But I am not sure it is worth the cost of putting a spotlight on every single person all of the time:Too much sun and even the toughest plants and trees wilt, burn and die.Fred and this community offer a lot of great content that often gets a Retweet/Like/Etc. This is one of those topics where I think it makes sense for folks to go beyond our normal channels and share this post with people who do not use Twitter or Facebook or G+ etc. For me this is more than a TECH issue. This issue is one, of a few, that sits squarely where technology and the future of the human experience and condition not only intersect – but collide. For me it is a topic worthy of general, massive awareness and open debate and discussion among everyone. I hope that if the debate happens someone can video tape it.

  18. RichardF

    “Facebook…The requirement to use real names is a weakness not a strength of the service.”I don’t understand that statement Fred. Surely Facebook’s whole network has grown by connecting real people/identities.  In my experience I’ve reconnected with people on Facebook because they have seen my activity on a friends profile page or friend list.  If I was some anonymous avatar they would not have necessarily know who I was.I dislike Facebook for many reasons and I certainly do not want them to be the conduit for my online identity but for many people they are happy for Facebook to take that role.OT – when are Disqus going to fix the bug that prevents you seeing what you are typing beyond about four lines of text.  It’s starting to piss me off.

    1. Guest

      RE: your OT Disqus issue.I have not engaged and, therefore, have not used Disqus much recently. It does the same thing to me as well Richard.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      For something to type into, HTML multiline text boxes totally suck.  For nearly any typing, need some decent software tools, say, a good text editor.  Then type into that editor, do proof reading and spell checking, keep a copy as a file, flow the text as desired, and THEN copy the post to the system clipboard and paste into a text box.  

      1. RichardF

        You’re right sigma it does suck and I have ended up typing a comment in wordpad and then pasting it in but I never used to have to do it in Disqus. So I just wish they would sort it out.

    3. fredwilson

      it is a weakness because it opens up a whole swath of opportunity for more openminded networks to flourish

      1. JamesHRH

        Fred – Gotta challenge this. Name the service that is making Fb regret its ‘real name’ policy – there isn’t one, IMO. Fb has benefitted from every policy that makes is ‘mass market friendly’. Most of those policies do one of two things: make users feel comfortable about FB; make FB easier to use.

  19. Jean-Marc Liotier

    There are quite a few people that, for years, I have only known by their handle. Whether you use ‘real’ names or not isn’t the problem – the problem is identity management with the goal of letting the individual establish trust relationships on his own terms within the frame of a consistent identity he is comfortable with.

    1. Guest

      That is a beautifully concise way to put it. I do think the forcing (for lack of a better term) to use a real identity has longer term implications however. Some of which might not be good. 

      1. fredwilson

        i agree. that was very well put by jean-marc

  20. Dmorris86

    Fred,This typically isn’t my style but as you have mentioned a charity campaign of your own, I’d be truly grateful if you could take a minute and checkout one that I am extremely close to  A quick blurb about on your blog could go a long way to this much needed family.Thank you,Dan

  21. laude05

    Social growth always takes place on the fringe, a place where nicknames and pseudonyms rule. The more structure you have the less room for innovation. 

  22. SL Clark

    Amen Fred. Authentic voice is much more important to me than actual ID. The trouble comes from those that don’t play nice, *hiding* behind their Net cloak. Most communities figure out how to cope, but requiring front facing proper ID is the wrong approach for Social Networks.Happy hunting on the neighborhood for your debate. Be safe, but not overly so. ;-))Cheers, -Steve

  23. Tom Labus

    This goes to the larger issue of privacy and an individuals expectations of being able to remain anon, if they chose.Both companies an individuals have been dealing with this since the web started.  Scott McNealy, former long time CEO of Sun, said about privacy in 1999 “get over it, you have zero privacy anyway.”2011 with check in and location it’s tough to sneak around.

  24. Avi Deitcher

    My $0.02: I think the value is the ability to choose and not be required to do anything. Because people can choose, others can choose to interact with (respond to, value, ignore, etc.) posters/users based on those factors (as well as others), and thus add/remove weight.Essentially, it becomes a marketplace of ideas. That very ability to choose what you want to do and say, and have others choose who to respond to it, is the basis of the success of our economic system, and, in my opinion, is the basis for a successful social interaction on the Web.On Fred’s blog, I tend to “rate” comments based on content, but linger for longer over those that have real names beside them (@JLM:disqus , I enjoyed yours until now, likely to spend longer on them now that you are a “real” person), but that is my choice. The very choice is what works.Why do we need to enforce only real names or only anonymity?

  25. MartinEdic

    This discussion is not about names, IMHO, it is about reputation. If you believe, as I do, that reputation is the currency of the future, then the ways you use your name or an avatar, help determine that reputation. I happen to use my name, in part because it is fairly unusual, and because I get some value out of being public. But I also don’t go on rants or get abusive because of using it. Honestly, if you use a pseudonym for privacy reasons but still understand that you are building a reputation under that pseudonym, it is no different than using a name, at least online. But if you use a pseudonym to hide while you throw mud, you are scum, IMHO, and hopefully will be outed, with the ensuing reputation damage you deserve.And anything you do to enhance (or demolish) your reputation is now a part of your permanent, public record.

    1. fredwilson

      great point

  26. Point_Taken

    I propose you do this debate at The Drink in Williamsburg. A perfect place for this discourse.…

  27. vankula

    Now it’s a race to see who can get the handle fredwilson for the next big thing! 

  28. Aaron Klein

    I support anonymity as an important tool though I’ve never seen the importance for myself. I follow a rule I once tweeted in response to the latest “privacy crisis”:”If you don’t want people to know about it, don’t post it on the Internet. That was free.”

  29. daryn

    Andy Weissman (  @aweissman:twitter  ) had a great post about pseudonymity versus anonymity yesterday – it is a very important distinction.…Also, a great quote in the comments over there:”Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth – Oscar Wilde”

    1. fredwilson

      i should have linked to it



      1. panterosa,

        FAKE GRIMLOCK read Sun Tsu?

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  30. Cam MacRae

    There’s a trend towards *throw away* accounts on Hacker News where one expresses a view or asks a question which might reflect negatively on an active user’s identity. If that particular (open and *very* civilised) community feels it necessary to inoculate themselves in that fashion, I can’t even begin to think how an activist in Syria must feel. I think Fred is absolutely right: “The requirement to use real names is a weakness not a strength of the [any] service.”

  31. Shahar Nechmad

    I agree that it is important to keep the web a free, open place. But I have to disagree about the point raised on Facebook.Facebook became what it is today because you use real names. Because of the real identity aspect of it.Let’s go back to where it all started – in colleges around the US. Like many other social companies, Facebook  success didn’t start because it helped us connect with our far away grandparents, or change the world. It was all about young kids who want to check out, flirrt and date with people of the opposite sex. It was basically a great dating service in disguise. And what is the number one, most important thing for dating? Trust.Using real identities gave Facebook what everyone else were missing – a relatively high trust level between people.When you were talking with a guy you had the sense that he is probably around the same age he states in his profile, his photo is real and more important – the social connections made it easier to make sure he is not a psycho killer.Real names are the cherry on top. They give us a better feeling of trust which translates to more open communication.

  32. saranyan

    I think the point is to be consistent with whatever we chose so that the social graphs are stronger. It all boils down to tracing back. Same handles for different services irrespective of being the “real name” is of more value even to the user and service providers.

  33. Esayas Gebremedhin

    I think names are just the beginning how identities can be applied in online services. The spectrum that we are talking about starts at SecondLife and ends at (let’s say) AppleStore. Authenticity is only important when there is a REAL LIFE connection to a service. The more virtual it is the more open it can be for a FAKE LIFE identity. BUT, I believe FAKE REAL is not sustainable and leads sooner or later to a REAL REAL scenario.I would argue that the value and even existence of the web will depend on authenticity.A great TED speech I have watched over and over and over again to deal with the universal question “is it real to itself?”WATCH IT:

  34. Jordan

    Anonymity can bring out the worst in people. At the same time it can bring out a person’s true personality – their core likes and dislikes. On Facebook most users screen everything they post and everything they like. They try hard to create an ideal image of who they want to be but not necessarily who they are. You may be 25 and love Pokemon but you’re not going to post that on Facebook…In my opinion a persons true self can only come out through anonymity. The startup I’m working on focuses on group discovery and meeting new people. We originally launched requiring first and last name but quickly transitioned to only requiring a screen name. We encourage our users to be anonymous so they aren’t afraid to join the groups that truly interest them. The drawback to this approach are the small percentage of users who use anonymity to spew racism, bully, spam, etc. To deal with this you need to have a great administrative portal with the ability to ban users (the iPhone has made this easy as it allows you to ban a device).From my experience the pros of anonymity outweigh the cons…

    1. Andrew

      “You may be 25 and love Pokemon but you’re not going to post that on Facebook…”You don’t have the same Facebook friends as I do, obviously.

    2. Nicholas Crown

      I’m not buying this.  The person who loves Pokemon needs courage, not anonymity.  Either that or new friends who will love them for who they are.  

  35. falicon

    I also try to grab the Falicon handle on all the services I can…but I have a very common real name (Kevin Marshall) and so my motivation is simply in making it easier for myself to stand out…you can do a google search for my real name, and thanks to some books and things I’ve done I generally appear in the top ten (but not always)…but do a google search for my ‘real’ online handle of Falicon and I basically own those results……and my choice to avoid my real name is just one case for allowing it…as others have pointed out there are plenty of others…so I completely agree with you that it’s more about the thoughts, the participation, the energy, and the passion than it is real names tied to real identities…

  36. krave

    I do think the facebook real name requirement is part of why other services feel more comfortable using them for SSO. If I’m a service trying to avoid spam, facebook is a strong filter that I only get real people coming through my door.

  37. Alex Murphy

    FB’s real names are less of a weekness than an opportunity for someone else.  Different people like different things and there simply isn’t a one size fits all for everyone.  FB is annoying to some (well, me anyway ;)) and that is why new services are embraced with an increasing velocity as more people become more connected to the myriad of services that are available.There are many of these debates about X vs Y and how one is “the way” … BS in my opinion, there are many ways!  That is exactly what is so great about the web, the creative it takes all kinds and styles way of life that is our lives today!

  38. TVP

    Using your real identity online isuseful (and even necessary) in many situations, like buying things with yourcredit card or setting up a LinkedIn profile. Same goes for offline situations,like meeting someone for the first time or registering to vote. But the ideathat ALL of your offline interactions should require your real identity isabsurd. Outside of Elaine Benes, I’ve never heard anyone suggest that everyone shouldwear name tags. So why should a virtual name tag have to accompany everyinteraction I have online?Facebook’s call for doing away with online anonymity is so clearly self-servingas to be disingenuous. When they say everyone should use their real identityacross the web, is it a stretch to assume that they mean your Facebookidentity? Facebook describes itself as a servicethat helps you connect with the people in your life. But the people in my lifeby definition know me personally, and have less of a need to identify me by myreal name online than those who don’t know me. So, ironically, using my realname on Facebook isn’t especially useful unless I’m hoping to be found by oldhigh school acquaintances. Ideally, people will use their real nameonline when it’s in their self-interest to do so, not because they’re compelledto as a toll for participating.

  39. Douglas Crets

    How about you come up to the Bronx at the school I work with and debate this, and talk about community advocacy, social web’s role in education, and the rise of the conversation web and how it applies to the connection between realtime education on the web and the 21st Century working world? We’d love to have you! 

    1. fredwilson

      sounds like a great idea

  40. Stephen

    The online computer games industry shows this whole debate to be myth in the making. I have been playing computer games with the same people for over 5 years and never needed or wanted to know their real names (altho some I do)World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons Online have deep social interaction, including guilds, guild leaders, officers, people in charge of various bits and pieces. Also recruiting and training of new membersNo one cares about real names and the communities are vast and happy

    1. Gabriel Gunderson

      Same goes for me, but with IRC.

    2. Tereza

      Great examples of L1AD’s ‘continuity’ in action. You don’t need real names, but to create relationships you care about and want to return to, you need named ‘characters’ who return day after day.

      1. Nicholas Crown

        The operative word here is reputation.  You need to establish trust, and that requires a reputation.

  41. Ron Zeligzon

    Sketchy Dicey neighborhood, that’s awesome! Would the Red Light District Count?

    1. fredwilson

      yes, but i prefer some non gentrified part of NYC



  42. Gabriel Gunderson

    Wow, the comments are all over the place here… Let me respond to the original question… “Are Real Names Required For Real Socializing?”No, they are not. The absurdity of that is illustrated by asking a similar question, “Are Real Profile Pics Required For Real Socializing?”Nicknames and avatars are often *easier* to associate with than a name. It get’s to the point where you don’t even read the nickname, you just see the letters and it acts like a fingerprint for that user.  The same is true for the avatar.  I don’t look at Fred’s iconic avatar and study the overly pink cheeks or the doughy eyed stare; I see some green corners with a pale, pinkish center… BOOM, I know who I’m socializing with.  This is especially important in social streams where the data comes flowing quickly.Now, why would we be pushed by companies to provide ‘real’ names?  Well, those companies have a profit motive for providing that social experience in the first place. They want those revenue opportunities to be one-click away. So, there really is no time to get your legal name before the transaction. Anyway, that’s my take on it.

    1. Douglas Crets

      Agreed. The question, when put by certain people (not Fred Wilson) is really a canard for the real conversation. The real conversation is really about whether there should be monitoring bodies and “decency” patrols on the internet that keep strict hierarchical controls in place in society. I think it’s interesting that you see different conversations around this topic. The conversation in China about real names is definitely about political control, censorship, and being able to hunt down the rumor progenitors. The conversation here seems to be more about decency and marketing and making sure a brand’s values are not harmed by untruths, slanders, or misrepresentation.

  43. Oo Nwoye - @OoTheNigerian

    I think the fundamental question is “What is your name?”My full name is Osita Orji Nwoye hwoever, I have always been called Oo (my initials) by family and friends. My Mum, Dad, Sister who have known me for 28 years of my life have ALWAYS called me Oo. They only mention Osita when i am being introduced to some people. 90% of the people who have known me in the last few yeas do not even know my name as Osita. If you go to where I have lived in the last 5 years and ask for Osita I would walk pass and they would not know who you are talking to .Recently, I have attended tech  events, introduced myself as Oo had a quick chat and moved on only for the person to come back and say, “Hey, wait a minute, are you OoTheNigerian?”What then is my name?I would say it depends on the circumstance, but the main reason for having a name is for identification. What ever can identify you to a person is your name. It is also interesting to note that your name is not for you to use but for others. Of course, my cheques are written Osita Nwoye.  Money has a way of settling these disputes :)PS: I am turning this into a short blogpost 🙂

  44. Denim Smith

    I like the thought of there being somewhat of an intellectual AVC Justice League!  – General JLM- Kid Mercury – Fake GrimlockKeepin’ it real in disguise.  And at our service.Would be a fun night of conversation over beers.

    1. Douglas Crets

      I like this take on “anonymity” as gleaned from Best Buy’s emerging media director in an interview. a little of the way down the page of this blog post:



  45. Mike Cane

    How bloody ridiculous.Back before any of you were online, the early 1980s, there was the CB Simulator on CompuServe.  99.9% of people used fake handles.  Someone in the NYC area organized a party.  I attended.  They were all frikkin normal people.  We didn’t need to worry about who was lurking behind an alias.

  46. M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

    FAKE GRIMLOCK isn’t real? Next you’ll be telling me the debt / deficit deal isn’t a sugar coated Satan sandwich!

    1. ShanaC

      @FAKEGRIMLOCK where are you?

      1. fredwilson

        he’ll show up. he’s a late riser 🙂

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. wfjackson3

            Am I the only one that would love to see a Fake Grimlock animated cartoon comedy show? Picture 1984 style Grimlock sitting in a cubicle, grunting as it tries to reach the keyboard. With some good writing, that thing could be comedy gold.

          2. JamesHRH

            Structure it like Dilbert, with FAKE as Dilbert, JLM as Wally, whoever that dork was who was flaming JLM on the weekend can be the pointy haired boss…….Each episode ends with FAKE eating the root cause people of his frustration and then sitting down to code……

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. ShanaC

          I get concerned sometimes. Also, is kidmercury ok – he’s really disappeared.


        HERE. WHERE YOU?

        1. ShanaC

          Oh, I’m here, you just kept getting mentioned, and I wondered where you went

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            HAD WORKING. 

    2. JLM

      The really funny thing is that some dweeb “focus grouped” that phrase before Nancy P trotted it out.  Can you imagine that conversation?Ahhh, Nancy, we think you should call the debt deal a SATAN SANDWICH WITH A SIDE OF SATAN FRIES!Nancy: Huh, WTF are you talking about? You’re nuttier than I am. OK.And these are the folks running the country.  We are screwed.

  47. michellegreer

    Not sure why the internet should break norms that have been used for centuries.  It’s called a “pen name”.  

  48. mindctrl

    Kudos to Fred for standing up for what’s right. Anonymity has existed for a long time. Those who seek to kill it have an interest in killing it. People should ask themselves why.

  49. gubatron

    The internet has this thing (think the big picture of it) where it brings the best qualities of left wing thinking and right wing thinking in one place, no politicians necessary to self regulate. (and yes, I know there’s a lot of bad shit happening here too, but I think the good outweighs all the bad)Anonymity, freedom and the culture of free are I think the best leftish things it brings.Efficiency, competition, innovation and alternatives are I think among the best rightish things it brings.Let’s not make the internet like the real world, it’s great as it is, if anything, let’s make the real world evolve as fast as this world wide network is evolving.

  50. howardlindzon

    Ideas and a timeline are what matter most and twitter is proving it. I dont care about your name, color, weight, shape if you can make magic happen and me laugh in a docimented way.People need anonymity in many ways 

    1. fredwilson

      “make me laugh” that is great advice my friend

  51. Clyde F. Smith

    Supporters of One Single Identity Represent a Police State MentalityOne aspect of this discussion I’ve generally seen missing is the fact that a lot of people have alternate names by which they’re identifiable in their particular communities.  Those names are very real and represent a conscious choice by an individual to choose a name that fits their identity within that community.If you spend any time in alternative cultural settings, from Deadheads to anarchists to hip hop, you find all sorts of interesting names that individuals use on an ongoing basis and ultimately build personal and professional brands around.This is very confusing to those with a Police State mentality.  Cops typically refer to hip hop artists’ stage names as street names.  They can’t get past the idea that these are the names of gang members who don’t want their Government Names, i.e. their given names that establishes their identity in the eyes of the State, to be available for identification by the authorities since they must be criminals if they can’t use their so-called “real” name.This is also confusing to people from a monocultural perspective with limited experience of the world, like Mark Zuckerberg.This is different from being anonymous, which is also a necessary aspect of identity in a world which still punishes those who think differently.Though that last line may sound like Apple-speak, if you follow their actions in China, you realize they’re part of the problem as are folks like Zuckerberg who will ultimately capitulate to and facilitate the State, no matter how many people it destroys, in order to make that dollar.I may use these products just as I may call the cops when necessary but that doesn’t mean I have to buy into a Police State mentality.  I’ve always used my so-called real name online but that doesn’t mean I need everybody to do what I do.  I’m not that ego-centric and I don’t need everyone to follow my rules.

    1. ShanaC

      This is brilliant – and so true.  Identity is as much what you name yourself in a location as anything else, and as we have freedom of movement, we have freedom of identity.

  52. Denim Smith

    Oh and meet my friend Jonathan Smith aka John, Johnny, Smitty, Daddy, Dad, etc. All *trueudonyms* for him in real life.

  53. Prestonpesek

    I feel as though anonymity should be defended fiercely, as it remains one of the last remaining strongholds of privacy in a world where “you have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” -as articulated by Scott McNealy. I believe that accountability in public discourse is a major virtue that should also be enforced.  However, the degree to which we find greater utility in anonymity or accountability is determined by the nature of the regime under which we speak freely. I hark upon the Schutzstaffel, among whose core mission was to  “know everything” through constant surveillance of it’s subjects’ private lives.It is extremely myopic of companies to pretend that the free speech protection prevalent in the country of their product’s origin can be applied anywhere their products may be used, and not to offer anonymity to any user who so desires it. If we have no way to protect ourselves from the all-seeing-eye by any means, including through anonymity, we surrender more than I’m comfortable with under any regime, even that which claims to operate by it’s people’s bill of rights.

  54. fredwilson


  55. Yoshi Komada

    An interesting take on this debate: look at Japan where for a very long time it has been the case that a great number of users- if not the majority- use pseudonyms on the social web. While the explanations are mainly cultural, it has been suggested that Facebook’s instance on real names is one of the main reasons they have still not cracked the Japanese market. So, in effect its likely a personal as well as cultural choice. A choice that I, for one, think people should be allowed to make. 

  56. research paper

    Excellent thoughts and very worth project to push forward.

  57. Gary Sharma

    What about a compromise solution where one can use an anonymous alias on a service but its tied to some real world verification behind the scenes that only the service provider is privy to? That would create some level of accountability and inhibit anarchic behavior. 

  58. StockRake

    Going back to Compuserve days, then irc, linux I was always used to only using a “handle” then I missed the web 2.0 “use your real name as your blog title” era.Still don’t blog/post under my real name. Had too many people actually call me based on whois records on some of my domains. Really annoying.

  59. Jillian C. York

    I enjoyed this (and am proud that my blog post has inspired so much discussion 😉

  60. James Mitchell

    Facebook’s requirement for real names is one of the reasons I put up with it. I am so sick of phony names and stupid handles. I only want to deal with real people. On Facebook, in most cases I believe the profiles are real.



  62. Toma Bedolla

    Fred,I think this debate is at the core of the original promise of the Internet. Anonymity accomplishes so much in the realm of equalizing, brutal honesty, whistleblowing, and on and on. Certainly there are abuses, but there are plenty of examples of people misinforming the public in broad daylight (Glenn Beck anyone?). Arguing the practicality of these concepts framed within platforms like Facebook, MySpace, Lunch, Quora etc isn’t where the debate should go. Rather consider a ubiquitous platform where one can be anonymous, use a pseudonym or declare “It’s Me!” to the public who consumes the content, but is never anonymous to the platform. This creates an opportunity to measure the quality of contributions over time…anonymous or otherwise. It’s not a choice of one or the other, but really three choices.-Toma Bedolla

  63. YokRoo

    this makes a whole lot of sense dude. Wow., Good stuff

  64. Reykjavik

    Anonymity does breed uncivil discourse, but there are lots of worthwhile things that would not be said if real names were attached. For instance, I can’t imagine anyone voicing negative comments about organized labor in New York City and having their real names attached, even though there are ample examples of abuses that cost the citizenry many dollars. If you’re in a management role and have firsthand knowledge of union-related abuses, there’s no way you’d stick your neck out, even though that info would help to influence a wider discussion. Perhaps I would like to comment on other issues that my job gives me better information on (assuming that they’re not proprietary or confidential). Multiple identities gives me that option.Also, I like to keep my personal and professional lives separate: I don’t want folks at work to know how I vote, where I worship, my views on non-work things, etc. In the pre-digital world, this was handled by using discretion on where and how you voiced opinions. But in the digital world, everything is equally (and indelibly) visible.I’m not sure if there are any ways beyond community moderation to balance these concerns, but that’s what makes this new dynamic so interesting.

  65. Matt A. Myers

    The place where anonymity shouldn’t be fully had is when needing to know who has spoken of a threat or something that is defamatory; I’m not saying to publicly out them immediately, due process should be had — if they are found guilty or something illegal or untrue then perhaps out them as apart of the process. But otherwise, it does provide a protection even from drawing unwanted attention even that is perhaps positive in nature.This is why community like Reddit has thrived. People can have different personalities, separate their opinions like Google Circles allows as well; I know many friends would dislike how much I talk about yoga – but others love it. Just like I know how I wouldn’t want to discuss my thoughts on equality, abortion, gun control, violence, education, money, health care, etc. with certain people because they’re not open to discussion but in debate-mode where everyone feels like they’ll lose — just not worth the energy in certain moments.I appreciate anonymity as much as I dislike the abuse that some people use it for.P.S. I was hopeful Kid Mercury was someone’s real name..

  66. Sheamus

    “On the Web, however, strangers are the source of everything worthwhile.”Wow… even putting aside that most ‘worthwhile’ strangers are and always have shown up using their real and actual names (and are happy to do so), this has got to be one of most ludicrous and flat-out dumb statements ever made.

  67. giffc

    I think google+ makes a big mistake by trying to force real names, just as second life made a mistake by forcing fake ones. Let the user decide. Anonymity can bring out the worst in people but I’d prefer to err on side of freedom. It’s worth the moderation cost.

  68. Riley Harrison

    It seems to me the use of false names and trying to establish a sense of connection and community (as many bloggers state is their aim)  are mutually exclusive. Otherwise I might enjoy what you write and but accept that there is no real connection or friendship in the making.Riley

  69. wfjackson3

    I have to disagree. I don’t think requiring real names is necessarily a good thing, but I think the presence of people using them on things like Twitter vastly changes their utility. If everyone used a pseudonym then wouldn’t we be more likely to behave less like ourselves? Or is it the other way around? I am getting visions of THX 1138 now.

  70. Tim Leon

    If someone has something of value to contribute why would they not want to stand behind that contribution? The problem is that more often than not anonymity allows people to engage in silly, mean acts that are designed to cause pain and wreak havoc. I’m guessing that Fred has never been a victim of the evil that men do and so anonymity is not an issue for him.

  71. Tom Grubisich

    Real names are desirable for community-based sites, where people mostly know or know of each other, and don’t want to be gamed — for example, by somebody from an out-of-town PAC who’s trying to upend the local school board race and doing so anonymously.Blogger Anil Dash, who’s passionately for transparency, offers a solution that keeps anonymity but with some moderate limits —…I tried to discuss this issue, non-absolutely, in a recent Street Fight column —

  72. David Fleck

    There is no such thing as anonymity online, there is only pseudonymity.  This is a philosophical discussion about what the internet represents.  I believe the internet is about choice and democracy.  Give publishers (and, hence, users) the choice to use pseudonyms, but also give the community the ability to vote up/down commenters (pseudonym or not) and publishers the ability to screen out inappropriate comments (pseudonym or not).  I think Google will eventually embrace pseudonyms, even though they are not right now:… (trust me, I am in the ear of the + team on this point).  Why?  It is the antithetical – and I believe correct – strategic move to what Facebook requires.  Google is all about being as open as possible and giving users control, whereas Facebook is increasingly becoming as closed as possible and making user controls opaque.  Over time, I think the open POV wins…My $0.02.  

  73. Brandon Burns

    The bigger issue that people seem to miss with names is that it creates a single, permanent link between who you are and the content you put out into cyber space. If you cut the name link, you cut the need for extra security/privacy features because hacking in doesn’t give the perpetrator anything anyway. This kind of liberation could actually lead to people sharing more, and sharing more interesting things because they never have to be worried about it coming back to haunt them.

  74. Fergus Hurley

    Great post! I think Facebook is successful because they bring the most relevant content (photos, links, videos, etc.) to the mainstream user from the people they care about on the social web.

  75. Henry Blodget

    Couldn’t agree more, Fred.  Especially for professionals, requiring people to use their real names means shutting out 90% of would-be commenters.  When you’re employed, what you say online (or anywhere) can get you in trouble or fired.  Why would anyone take that risk?

  76. Keylogger

     I liked this  concept. Real names usage are good. Thanks for posting this article.

  77. Adrian Palacios

    i’m a little late to the comments here, but i saw a fascinating blog post titled “‘Real Names’ Policies Are an Abuse of Power”. That’s a rather provocative title, but I’ll skip to the punchline, where the author states:”Another site has popped up called “My Name Is Me” where people vocalize their support for pseudonyms. What’s most striking is the list of people who are affected by “real names” policies, including abuse survivors, activists, LGBT people, women, and young people. […]The people who most heavily rely on pseudonyms in online spaces are those who are most marginalized by systems of power. “Real names” policies aren’t empowering; they’re an authoritarian assertion of power over vulnerable people.

  78. Alex L

    Great article, Fred.  Very thought provoking.  I’ve been thinking about this, and I”ll claim that the justifications for anonymity are totally context based.On a site like AVC, I completely agree that anonymous posts aren’t harmful at all.  However, take a look at the dating website landscape, in particular OKCupid.Dating sites are traditionally anonymous — users are self conscious for being on the dating site, provoking them to hide their identities from their possible dates.  On OKCupid this creates an unfortunate reality that males can send whatever messages they want to women, because they have nothing to lose, no identity to shame.For this reason, you get a lot of messages that go like, “Hey baby, wanna get naked?”  etc etc.  This behavior cheapens the site experience a lot.  When women get 50 messages a day and 48 of them are uninteresting sexual invitations, finding a good date becomes very difficult.Though no one to my knowledge has done it, I expect a dating site that was not anonymous would shun away people that don’t take dating seriously, leaving a community of people truly interested in dating one and other.Anyway, names are the most holy things we each have.  Sometimes they’re good to reveal, and other times not :).

  79. Cape Coral Properties

    I just love this kind of healthy and informative conversation.

    1. Manila School

      I agree.haha

  80. MaximumHUGE

    i’m not sure it really makes much of a difference. be anonymous or be known, the most important factor is the content of your character, not your name.and believe me, in this day and age, the ability to stay anonymous or private is a near impossibility. it’s not difficult to figure out, or subpena the ‘real’ out of the anonymous.

  81. Eunice Apia

     I actually am 50/50 on this topic. I think for socialnetwork sites like facebook, real names are better. For sites like twitter andtumblr which is used more for entertainment,  it doesn’t matter. I have two real names andtwo different personalities. Online and off.  Both personalities and names are real. Onlyone has internet presence but it’s not my legal name. Not because I’m hidingbut because I just think my legal name can be an obstacle.  People choose names that represent them, makes  them feel comfortable expressing  themselvesor to have a persona and hide behind.  Unique names are conversationstarters.  I am a person who takes peoplemore seriously online when they have a first and last name.  For me, it makes them more real. Not sayingthe ones with alias aren’t real people. I think you are held more accountablewith a first and last name. Why should people be held accountable online forthings they say or do? So that your heart can pulse and beat. So you won’t turninto a robot zombie. If you’re held accountable, you are socializing,interacting and not invisible. The internet can be lonely like the real worldif nobody knows your name. I’ve written someweird  stuff online, cringe worthy andembarrassing stuff.  With a fake name I wouldprobably be more outrageous. My real names keep me in check.  Whether it’s a good or bad thing to have selfcontrol on the web who knows.  There areso many distractions online that if you are completely  “invisible”, you can get away with any thing.Which can be fun or dangerous. Like living a double life. 

  82. jengroff

    The AVC community is not representative of the mainstream web. Anonymity on this site is not likely to encourage spam or nastiness. But most people who have run large, general audience media websites (as I have) will tell you that complete anonymity can bring out the worst in some people. It doesn’t even have to be a large % of the people — a couple nasty comments in an otherwise productive comment stream will ruin the conversation.In these cases, enforcing some kind of identity authentication (even if that identity is itself spurious) tends to improve the quality of interaction.

    1. fredwilson

      at one time the community here was mean and nastyi spent time engaging and cultivating a culture and it cleaned up pretty nicely

      1. Mark Essel

        Cultivating a comment culture. Farmer Fred has a nice ring to it.

  83. jengroff

    Perhaps levels of anonymity should vary based on the type of social interaction. We all have many social graphs, as you’ve pointed out before (here’s my take on it, fwiw: and not each is predicated on a pre-existing relationship. For example, if people are connected to each other by virtue only of their location (shared Wifi at Starbucks; Yelp), anonymity might not matter. But when there is more at stake — when people are sharing a great deal of private and personal information with each other, as on Facebook — real identities matter more. Forcing the recipient of your personal data to tell you who they are before you share it with them adds trust and credibility to that particular human interaction. Not every social interaction requires that, however. 

  84. Guest

    People are often most themselves behind a mask.

  85. Cape Coral Rental Management

    It is okay if not. but it is better to use the real one.

  86. Amit Patel

    real names aren’t required for a good conversation.  real names are only required when we are the product.  The google’s and Facebook’s are in the business of selling us.  Can’t help but feel like they perfected drug dealers business model’s “to get ya on the comeback” offer a free service as a taste then hook you for life through your connections.  profiting from your addiction all the way around.  Real names don’t change your content to the people you’re trying to send it to.  Only makes it more relevant to marketers trying to categorize you.couldn’t agree with Fred more ” I couldn’t care less who they are in real life.  What I care about are their ideas, their voice, their participation, and their energy.”  I’d rather judge ideas on their own merit rather than by who they came from.  but then again I may just be a privacy nut

  87. Prokofy

    I’m all for persistent nyms (as distinct from anonymity, which often involves constantly shifting nyms).But I do think that different platforms are perfectly justified in having different policies on this, and my own policy on this isn’t absolutist in favour of nyms, as you can see in this piece, and is pretty dry-eyed about all this hysteria about requiring protection for dissidents, abuse victims, minorities, etc:…My best friends in Belarus and Russia always used their real names, never hid behind nicks, and went to jail under their real names. And as a result, they have the trust of the public and when eventually they are freed from political jails, they will have accountability to the public they sought to lead in various civic movements. How long do you think you can get away with running around with revolutionary nyms like Che and inciting people to demonstrate on public squares, but not use your real name and accept accountability?If you are a domestic violence victim, understood, but you don’t *also* need large sharing platforms to be visible on either, yanno? You can go on the platforms that enable anonymity. See, that’s why people are so disingenuous and fake about the nym wars — what they want aren’t just nyms with protection, they want nyms AND access to huge mindshare and thoughtleadership nonsense by having gadzillion followers.My own pseudonym was long ago linked to my real-life name — about six years ago, when stalkers and harassers who didn’t like my critical statements about privileged developers in Second Life began to Google witch-hunt me and track clues and triangulate until they could out me. I’ve endured some of the most malicious and nasty harassment since then — calls to my real home, scaring my children, people sending me photos of my real-life front door and messages about how they “know where I live,” hate mail, death threats, etc. etc.And I refuse to buckle and I continue to use my Second Life avatar name to comment on forums and blog with. It’s my choice, and you will not dissuade me from it.I’m not “different” under a pseudonym or “nicer” under my real life name as you can assure yourself by reading my comments on TechCrunch, where I don’t get a choice anymore — if I want to comment there, I have to use my Facebook. That leads me to get harassment-friendings, repeated hate messages, etc. as a result. I don’t care. If I get the choice, I use this name because I like having search show up everything related to tech surrounding this name, and everything related to my RL writing under my real name.I link my two names on my blogs — you don’t even have to be a good Google witch-hunter to find me.But I’m going to continue to exercise free choice on this matter, when and as I please.Google+ should have real-name sign-ups, but the option to display nyms. Facebook I feel is different, and should stick to RL names.

  88. Dale Allyn

    I had the same thought, Charlie. Unless it involves giving some money back. 😉



  90. fredwilson

    i like using words like twuestion, twebate, etc

  91. Dale Allyn

    No worries, Fred. I just enjoyed the ribbing. I’m sure I’ll love it when you’re promoting my brand too. 😉

  92. Alex Murphy

    The list could be expanded quite a bit, but I put together 10 of them a few years back:…

  93. Robert Holtz

    A good friend of mine calls those “combinyms.” :-)I love that you love those kinds of words too. There is a world class marketer hiding in there within you, Fred.  It is going to burst out of you one day and you’re going to want to take back all the terse things you’ve ever said about marketers and brand builders.Well, food for thought anyway… and DISQUSion! ;P

  94. fredwilson

    I publicly apologized for my comments about marketers a while back

  95. Robert Holtz

    Truly and sincerely, I did not realize that had happened.  That being case, please accept my public apology to YOU for still giving you a hard time.  I wrongly thought you were still holding that line.Please know that while that debate brought be to AVC, I’ve tried to stick around as much as time has allowed because I’ve come to genuinely greatly appreciate you on a lot of levels and the community you’ve cultivated on AVC.  I also found a great source of pickles, met a giant robot dinosaur, and supported a few worthy causes on Kickstarter.  Enjoyed the VENTURE DEALS book as well.I will make it absolutely official and unmistakable: My sincere apologies, Fred.

  96. fredwilson

    no worries. seriously none at all. i just wanted you and others to know that i did aplogize

  97. Robert Holtz

    I’m glad and grateful to know we’re alright. I’m being totally straight up with you that I did not know you had posted updating your view on that front. I wish I could tune into AVC for every single post but I get inundated. And sometimes even when I do make my way to AVC (which I try to do as often as possible now), I’m sleep deprived and not up to posting. I’m amazed you were able to read my post to you… it is so incoherent. In any event, please accept this virtual handshake with my thanks and goodwill. I respect you a lot, Fred, and do apologize to you if my passion for the issue we were debating crossed any lines. I wish you much love and happiness.