Can Justin Kan get Silicon Valley to slow or stop drinking?
In March 2007, a 23-year-old named Justin Kan began live streaming 24/7 video of his life.
Justin strapped a camera to his head and went about his day. Anyone could tune in to see the world from Justin's point of view.
The show's slogan was "waste time watching other people waste time." And tens of thousands of people tuned in.
Viewers were hooked. They wasted hours of their days watching Justin. They jammed his inbox with emails, pinged him in chat rooms (back when chat rooms were a thing) and called his cell phone, which Justin would answer live.
Fans even called the police to report false stabbings at Justin's apartment (you can see actual video of the cops busting in, guns drawn)... and sent loads of free pizza.
He parlayed his early fame into Justin.tv - a platform where anyone could stream video of themselves living their lives. Other than a ban on sexual content, everything was fair game.
And that's where the trouble started...
The most popular feature on Justin.tv turned out to be pirated sporting events from around the world. A savvy Chicago Bears fan figured out how to wire his cable box to his computer... and he started broadcasting the NFL.
From there, soccer matches, UFC fights and every other sporting event imaginable was streamed on Justin.tv. And viewers loved it... the site hit 20 million viewers a month at the peak.
Obviously, the NFL, UFC and other entrenched organizations that made a fortune from broadcasting rights didn't like this new competition. And a flurry of lawsuits hit Justin.tv.
After years of battling lawsuits and trying to attract advertisers to such an unpredictable media channel, Justin and the other founders of Justin.tv pivoted...
While Justin.tv was searching for its identity, a small group of fans were forming a community around live streaming video games. And traffic was growing.
Justin.tv focused its attention on these gamers and launched a sister company in 2012 called Twitch.tv. Two years later, Justin.tv shuttered so the founders could focus exclusively on Twitch.
And two years after that, Amazon bought Twitch for $970 million.
Now Twitch has over 15 million daily active users who consume nearly 900 million hours of content a month.
Today, Justin is the CEO of a legal startup called Atrium and a private investor.
But he got attention for another reason in June 2019...
In a blog post, Justin announced he was giving up alcohol. He wrote,"I've decided to quit drinking alcohol permanently. This will be a tough challenge for me: Drinking has been a big part of my identity since I was in high school. Unfortunately, it's also been an unhealthy way to avoid being fully in touch with my emotions and my experience of life."
He was open about the dark sides of life as an entrepreneur and how he used alcohol to cope.
When he announced his decision about giving up drinking, Kan was very open about the dark sides of life as an entrepreneur and how he used alcohol to cope with them.
Kan had talked before about the negative psychological toll that being an entrepreneur had taken on his mental health, but he opened up even more in this most recent blog.
He talked about the way he'd used alcohol to cope with high-stress situations and the unhealthy relationship he developed with it over time. He also explained that he wanted to share his story to encourage others and hold himself accountable in a public way.
Beyond Not Drinking
In his blog post, Kan also included a "guide to feeling good."
And quitting drinking is just one step in Kan's process to live a happier and more mindful life. He also suggests writing in a gratitude journal, talking to a therapist, meditating and spending less time on your phone.
He encourages anyone who wants to follow him on this journey to try to take these same action steps. He also notes that he started as a beginner with all of these and has had to work hard to make them habitual.
The Sober-Curious Movement
You're likely going to see more than just Justin Kan drinking soda water instead of an alcoholic beverage in the coming years. Recently, the "Sober-Curious" movement has grown in popularity, with many people choosing to abstain from alcohol, including those who do not consider themselves to be necessarily addicted to it.
Other well-known entrepreneurs are joining in on the Sober-Curious movement, including Soylent co-founder Matthew Cauble, who recently created a non-alcoholic beverage company known as Kin.
What Does the Future Hold for Kan?
So far, Kan seems to be doing very well on his no-drinking journey, as well as in his other steps to live a more mindful and purposeful life.
Considering his trend-setting past, it's likely that many others are going to follow in his footsteps, especially as the sober-curious movement, as a whole, continues to grow.
Are you interested in joining Kan on his quest?
He's created a Telegram support group, which currently has over 1,500 members, for those who want to see what it's like to give up drinking and receive support from others who are alcohol-free.
You can join the group here.
We'd love to hear about your experience.