Here's to the Misfits
Vu hands the disk to the banker, then to me. Its surface is perfectly machined, the blank beauty we've come to associate with high-end technology. It's strangely alluring. "We showed this to women, who are the hardest group to get to accept wearable technology," Vu says. "We didn't tell them what it did. We just asked, 'Would you wear this?' And 20 percent said yes. They would wear it just as jewelry even if it had no function."
Vu runs down the list of investors who are already committed to Misfit: former Apple CEO John Sculley, Vinod Khosla, one of the most renowned venture capitalists in the Valley, and a host of other firms. They've invested millions. A campaign on the crowdsourcing site Indiegogo, where customers could reserve one of the first Shine devices for $79, raised nearly $850,000.
All this for an activity tracker? Part of my agreement with Vu is that I won't write about Misfit's future product plans, but by the end of the day it's clear that Shine is just the beginning, and that I'm not going to find out any more about Misfit's future anyway. Later I will walk up to the second floor to get a snack, past what would normally be the house's two bedrooms. Each room now hosts half a dozen engineers and their computers around a large common table. Within a few minutes of my coming upstairs, the doors quietly close.
Vu's meeting wraps up. The folder the banker has brought with him, pitching his global firm's ability to help startups raise capital, is never opened. As he leaves, it's pretty clear he has made the transition a lot of people seem to make when they spend time with Sonny Vu—from thinking he has something to offer Vu, to hoping he can convince Vu to let him in on the next big thing.
On the down low
You discover two things pretty quickly when scouting stories in this part of the world. First, how many Christians there are. This is not the Bible Belt by a long stretch—pastors, church planters, and ordinary Christians describe the kind of cosmopolitan secularity that's familiar to residents of London or New York. But in the past decade the San Francisco Bay Area has seen a resurgence of vital churches, such as Reality SF, the church Sonny and his wife, Christy, attend with 1,200 others. Ask about Christians at the top of major Bay Area companies, and you get a far longer list than you would in, say, New York City.
The second thing you discover is how few of these Christians want to be identified by name in a story for Christianity Today, all the more so the younger and the more recently successful they are. In no other place we've reported for This Is Our City, even the far more secular city of Portland, Oregon, did we encounter such diffidence about being publicly identified as a Christian.
For now, many of those influential people want to stay on the down low, even as they curate their social media platforms with unsurpassed skill and dedication. But a few founders have taken a different approach.
On the wall at Fig's subleased offices, located in a small Palo Alto office building, are four large cards: "Affirming human worth." "Pursuing truth." "Cultivating authentic community." "Becoming and achieving." Tacked to each card are corporate logos—new-economy darlings like Zappos and FedEx—companies that set the pace for Fig's core values.