Karp, in a lightweight hoodie, and Forman, in a tight button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, leave the Tumblr offices around six. The two actually met not through JDate but through John Borthwick, who runs a Web-investment company called Betaworks, out of which both Tumblr and iminlikewithyou grew. They're on their way to something called New York Tech Meetup, the brainchild of Scott Heiferman, founder and CEO of Meetup.com, a website that helps people form clubs and groups off-line.
Sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Forman produces a steady stream of non sequiturs. "I like people in cute T-shirts who look really angry," he says. Just as he's launching into a description of founder fetishismthat is, when a woman goes only for men who have started high-tech companies, his phone rings. His girlfriend, Julia Allison, is on the line. "She has it," he mouths. Then he says into the phone, "Of course I miss you. I always miss you."
A blogger and sex columnist for Time Out New York, Allison, who gives her age as 26 on her MySpace profile, is a regular subject in Gawker and a Wired cover girl. Her relationship with Lodwick was the stuff of Internet legend. They blogged so much about themselves and were tracked so closely by the online media that followers learned about every fight, every make-up, in real time. She's also an original fameballer, a term coined in the summer of 2006 by Lodwick at the height of the couple's notoriety. The word refers to the way in which Internet celebrity snowballs with each Gawker item or salacious blog post. Karp and Forman are expert fameballers. They're known for taking mock-homoerotic pictures of themselves holding hands or cuddling in bed, and leaking those pictures to Gawker.
Outside the Meetup, a couple of guys are handing out promotional stickers for their companies. "Charles? Are you Charles?" one of them asks as Forman brushes past. Forman hands the kid one of his oversize, multicolored business cards, which says on the back that if you've been handed one it's probably because he doesn't feel like talking to you. (Followed, of course, by an LOL.)
For the next two hours, tech-world strivers give presentations and the audience bombards them with questions like "How do you plan to monetize that?" Karp's girlfriend, the wide-eyed CNET blogger Caroline McCarthy, has joined them in the back of the auditorium, and the three whisper, take pictures of their feet and each other, and make comments about the "retards" in the audience until the presentations end and it's time for the invite-only dinner at an Italian restaurant a couple of blocks away.
At the meal, Karp, Forman, and McCarthy mostly keep to themselves. There's more photo-takingTumblr lets you "push" a picture from your phone right to your account, where it's posted instantly, allowing for real-time communication with your followersand a lot of gossip. They talk about friends like Adam Rich of the Internet newsletter Thrillist and Mike Hudack of Blip.tv, both of them young company founders. Jacob Lodwick, who is not only a friend but an investor in Tumblr, comes over, as does Kevin Rose of Digg, the four-year-old site that lets readers give the news stories of the day a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Rose, a 31-year-old former TV host, is something of a role model; his company is valued at upwards of $300 million. Karp's and Forman's companies are comparatively embryonic, but in these halcyon days of Web 2.0, investors are happy to give promising ventures like theirs time to grow.