At bedtime, Tuesday night, I could have sworn I shut my ringer off before sinking my head into a pillow but by 5am Wednesday morning, I was alerted to my forgetfulness with beeps. The number wasn’t associated to a contact and I wasn’t sure what area code this was from. It’s not out of the ordinary to receive early morning calls because I speak with lots of family law attorneys on the East Coast, three hours ahead. I sent the call to voicemail and waited for the message notification. Nothing.
Pushing myself out of bed, I went to brew a dark roast cup of coffee. Black; no sugar, no cream; just how I like my… nevermind. The 60 seconds it takes are the longest seconds of my life, and I start thinking about how I take for granted some of life’s pleasures. People used to boil water before getting coffee and I’m over here frustrated that a website doesn’t load in three seconds. Pitiful, I know. Like anything, recognizing the problem is the first step. My coffee is ready. My phone rings again. Same number. I take a sip, let it ring twice, and answer.
Really tired, “Hi, this is Jon,” in my best attempt to not sound like a wannabe James Earl Jones. My throat is barely lubricated with this warm black gift from God. “Is this Jon Vaughn,” a hearty voice asks with British annunciation. “Yes it is, who am I speaking with,” I wondered. I can’t disclose his name but he follows it up with, “I handle early-stage investments for Andressen Horovvitz, the largest venture capital firm in the United States.” Skeptically mind-blown, I put him on speakerphone so I can Google the 650 area code. It belongs to Silicon Valley.
Is this really happening? “Umm,” I fumble a bit, “how can I help you,” responding like there was something I could actually offer the guy with access to billions. “You created the Genesis Child Custody Manager, is that correct,” he asks. “Yes sir,” I say with a little pride behind my still-scratchy voice. I clear my throat to begin what I thought was my pitch moment but he asks, “Our firm received a copy of your business plan and pitch deck through a mutual friend. Would you have time to come to Menlo Park today for an introduction to a few of our partners?” The butterflies race around my stomach. “What time works for you,” I ask casually like I’m getting together with a friend for lunch. “We’ll have a plane ready for you at Meadows Field. Can you be there at 11?” Holy crapola. “Yep, I’ll be there,” acting like this is normal.
Like a worried child, I called the number back, hoping it wasn’t a joke, and ask the serious question, “You mean AM not PM right?” He laughingly confirms, “Yes.” Okay bye.
Flowing through my body is steady stream of adrenaline. Moments like these just don’t happen in real life. My heart is pounding, my head is alive, and emotions are running wild. Do I need a non-disclosure agreement? Should I contact an attorney? Do I tell anyone? I want to post on Facebook. I can’t. My mom deserves to know. Should I tell her? What if it flops? All the excitement could turn to disappointment. Nope. Not telling a soul. Going to leave at 11, on a jet plane, and head to Silicon Valley to do this.
One of my best friends’ companies has a private jet. I’ve been on it before so I wasn’t overly-excited about the ride. I always get the willies during takeoff though, it’s an amazing thought that the first flight happened just 113 years ago. With just me and the pilot, I asked if I could sit up front. I’ve never done that before and this was one of those times to make a moment out of all the moments I could. The pilot said we’d be there in about 45 minutes. I started thinking about my coffee, how my impatience makes 60 seconds last forever. If there was a coffee maker on board, I would have made 45 cups.
Other people interest me, especially strangers. From taxi drivers’ countries of origin to learning of a person’s family, I love asking strangers questions because they morph out of being strangers quickly. Plus, I needed to get my mind out of the anxiety that possibilities create. The pilot only flies for their company, no kids, and gets to visit lots of different places. His favorite place in the world is Greece, a country I’ve always wanted to visit. Meeting with a venture capital firm is somewhere on that list also.
Lasting only minutes, it seemed like, and I was asked to sit in the cabin while he landed. The bright sun and cold wind crept through the opened door, and a black four-door sedan was parked about a football field away. I’m feeling a sense of royalty but know deep down, I’ll always be Jon, the guy that doesn’t take life too seriously and refuses to waste time on matching his socks. I sat quietly, scrolled through my Facebook feed, wanting so bad to post where I was and what I was doing. Thirty minutes later, I had arrived.
Speaking with him earlier that morning, the man with the British accent greets me. He asks me if I had lunch yet and a sense of Jon came back to me. “Thank you but I don’t eat lunch,” I truthfully replied, “it makes me tired.” We walked into a boardroom with four guys dressed in overcast beach weather, and a woman with the spitting image of legal. “Thank you for coming to Silicon Valley on short notice Mr. Vaughn,” says a guy wearing a hoodie. “We need to sign non-disclosure agreements before we can proceed. Are you okay with that?” It was expected, so I pulled the one folded into a quarter-sheet out of my back pocket and slipped the pen I keep out of my front one. I exchange papers with the lady of the law. “I’m excited to be here and I’m interested to find out why,” as we each sign. I take the seat closest to the door.
Unfortunately, I can’t talk about what we discussed but you can read the official statement here.