It’s quite a feat to be considered a maverick in an industry without a rulebook. Yet in just five years, Philip Kaplan has truly earned the appellation, most notably by having founded F***edCompany.com: a hugely successful website that tracked dotcom failures at a time when the online industry was crumbling faster than the Death Star.
Call it shooting fish in a barrel, but the 29-year-old entrepreneur (and onetime head of his own consultancy firm, called PK Interactive) insists that he never took undue glee in calling out the floundering on their way down. “I wouldn’t say it was sadistic,” Kaplan offers over lunch during ad:tech New York. “I would just say it’s funny. A lot of these companies started to go out of business despite these fabulous websites that we were making them. [So] I said, somebody really needs to track this, somebody should do a website that chronicles all the companies that went out of business.”
That “somebody” turned out to be him.
The thing you come to understand upon actually meeting Philip Kaplan—or “Pud” as he’s commonly known—is that all the stories you’ve heard about him are more than likely to be true. Over the course of two days, I learned that there’s little distinction between the sleek, self-made millionaire/bestselling author/magazine coverboy and the t-shirt & jeans-sporting programming geek who saunters in late to both our introductory cocktail meeting at Manhattan’s lush Soho House and at our lunch interview the next day (he apologizes for both).
Kaplan in the flesh is chatty and fraught with nervous energy; he’s a case of ADD mixed with a strong dose of political incorrectness.
“I’m not famous for being politically correct,” he tells me the second time we meet. “Every day, I’ll get a hundred emails that I offended somebody. I really looked up to Howard Stern in a lot of ways. Howard Stern offends equally. So I really took that to heart when starting F***edCompany.”