It’s not often website founders become rock stars — or achieve a sort of spectral fame like them. But as I waited on a crowded Hollywood Street deep in the heart of the Sunset Strip — outside an Irish bar called Rock and Reilly’s, I felt a distinct concert vibe. Scads of T-shirt-clad “Chivers,” the name given to the denizens of one of the web’s biggest success stories, were waiting to gain access to a special tasting of The Chive’s latest merchandising gimmick — beer. A black lager to be specific. Me? I was there to drink some beer and find out just how the hell a family (yup, most of the governing body of The Chive and its affiliates are comprised of brothers, sisters and cousins) had transformed a funny/sexy/awesome photo site into one of the most popular — and diverse — communities on the internet. And in the process, an apparel empire, a haven for charitable acts and, now, a brewery. Not even 4chan founder “moot” has his own beer (probably for good reason — God knows what 4chan would put in a bottle).
As two giant tour buses pulled up (fashionably late), revellers and VIPs strolled in to shouts of The Chive’s signature motto: “Keep Calm and Chive On” (KCCO). Of course, even though Halloween was long past, costumes were naturally welcome and an old Rolls Royce pulled in to dump off a quartet of costumed superheroes. But none of them were John or Leo Resig, brothers and founders of this strange new world. No, I stood outside confused, wondering if I’d somehow missed them or if they’d been shuffled in the back to escape the throngs of people endorsing The Chive lifestyle. While waiting, I got to talk with Patrick Killoren, the Marketing Manager for the brewery. “Resignation Brewery is actually an entity of The Chive. John and Leo … were the ones who came up with the original recipe for the beer. From there, they were able to partner with Red Hook Brewery to come up with the mass distribution of the beer, hence “Resignation Brewery.” We created an outlet to distribute this beer to all our fans.”
And then, just when I was about to determine the hosts weren’t coming to their own party, they slipped in. Casually walking up the street, just the two of them — no entourage, no showgirls or bikini-clad Chivettes affixed to their arms — two guys, heading into a bar. One of the security detail even had to assure the bouncer that the two of them were “on the list.”
In true Chiver fashion, there was no elitism from the brothers — don’t get me wrong, there was an upstairs V.I.P. area to be sure, but John and Leo chose to stay downstairs in the over-loud, overstuffed barroom, chatting with gawking fans and taking in a fine bottle of KCCO beer.
When I put Leo on the spot for a description, he grinned. “It tastes like angels ought to smell.” He’s not wrong. Being a web tycoon must be a pretty sweet gig. Keep Calm and Chive On.
For more on kickass new media parties, check out the following: