The Story of MSCHF, a Very Modern … Business?

Gabriel Whaley and his colleagues do whatever they want all day. Sometimes, they even make money.

Comments: 82

  1. How do these guys make money?

  2. It's in the article.

  3. @Ryan W but we didn't hear about trust fund.....

  4. This article is spot on for what Gabe and why the team at MSCHF are succeeding where others failed. They come at a time to call out all of the issues in the DTC world, new media companies like Buzzfeed, and vanity metrics that the tech world is used to standing by for success “Forbes 30 under 30,” and oh yeah startup merch...except there isn’t pure cynicism behind it. It’s more playful and fun than let’s say Valleywag :)

  5. @Gabriel Schillinger There’s a sucker born every minute. Happy Birthday

  6. Clearly there is a need for real designers in every area of product development....why waste time and materials with silly adolescent jokes ....people need real value now more than ever....also their bathroom is filthy. Grow up boys and step aside for real designers.

  7. @Sandra Garratt This doesn't make sense. Step aside...from their own company?

  8. how embarrassing... i am sure these are smart people. but next time around maybe they can do something worthwhile with all that brain power. gaming the system just isn't that glamorous. and, please, clean up your bathroom.. unless mom comes to clean up after you?

  9. I guess "how to run a business in 2020" doesn't include hiring women.

  10. @Eric 10% - they've got one.

  11. @Eric In this case, women are just smart enough to avoid this meaningless "business".

  12. @Eric You said it. First picture says it all...7 men 1 woman, from what I can tell. Also, the culture described is decidedly unwelcoming to women, not because it's not soft and frilly enough. Just under-representation. Look at the movie posters chosen--it's a boy-cave.

  13. I guess payday is timed to the trust fund payments. Most of us have to actually make a living.

  14. The amazing and shocking thing about this is that it’s not being done with trust fund dollars. It’s being done with millions of dollars in VC money. Although I grant that there may be a fruitful discussion to be had on whether there is ultimately much difference between the two.

  15. And you wonder why we have Trump?

  16. Precisely

  17. am I the only one who feels dumber and slimier after reading this??

  18. Is MSCHF Andy Warhol digitized and deconstructed?

  19. @ClydeS Warhol actually had talent as a graphic artist and photographer.

  20. Is this bad art posing as a bad business model, or a bad business model posing as bad art? More importantly, who cares? So... a bunch of bros rent out Brooklyn warehouse space with their trust funds and produce viral social commentary gimmicks. Good luck with that

  21. @Mark They've already gotten $11.5 million in funding and a profile in the NYT. Most businesses would kill for that. I'd say they're already having good luck!

  22. @Mark Bad art is an incredibly lucrative business if you can con rich people into thinking they're missing out by not buying it.

  23. This is sad. America used to make actual things, and people had solid jobs. Then we transitioned to the services industries. Now this... I don't even know what to call this... Just plain sad.

  24. @James I agree totally. Glancing at the article, I thought the title was "How to ruin a business in 2020..." Hmm...

  25. They’re having fun. It’s as simple as that. Does it matter if what they do is insignificant in the extreme?

  26. "...according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, MSCHF has raised at least $11.5 million in outside investments since the fall of 2019." I need to find out their sales pitch, or at least the contact info for those "investors."

  27. Banksy lol

  28. I nominate Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos fame, to be their CNO - Chief Nothing Officer.

  29. This is amazing. An art collective figured out a way to get bankrolled by venture capitalists. Very serious rich people are forking over millions to some weird and brilliant people whose job seems to be playing pranks on capitalism. Advent of a new patron model for artists? Will our generation’s Michelangelo be striving for series A and B funding?

  30. Exactly! This is conceptual art fit for 2020, and I love it. Conceptual art is usually hard to monetize as there is nothing physical to sell, but these guys have found an alternative patronage stream via venture capitalists. Art patrons are both visionaries and dupes..the VCs are no different.

  31. “The day we sell hoodies is the day I shut this down.” The day I paint a pentagram on my office floor as both decor and an ad-hoc meeting space is the day I need to be institutionalized.

  32. @Dean358 It is a little strange to pick that icon as a symbol. It has such baggage. But maybe that's the point.

  33. So basically they are Adbusters and the Yes Men, but with more marijuana and less politics.

  34. They might want to consider for their next hire - if they actually do something that's so boringly conventional - none other than Elizabeth Holmes. Their message is quite powerful, as was her startup, Theranos. Enjoy your 15 second of fame boys (and 1 girl). You made the NY Times fashion section, umm, (hip and trendy) business section.

  35. Attention humanities majors: don't listen to your parents telling you that your senior thesis in late-capitalist ennui isn't practical.

  36. @Moderation Man Oh don’t be fooled. It is utterly worthless.

  37. MSCHF cuts out the middlemen (clients) and makes more fun and money—so efficiently subversive! The tension of a company making social commentary pranks taking $11.5 m in venture capital is delicious. Is it the VC equivalent to spending $1,495 for Jesus Nike’s? Or ground floor of Carlyle Groups $500 M investment in Supreme?

  38. Seeing an awful lot of negativity and cynicism for some folks who are making money doing whatever they want. Hope you have that same sorta disgust for banks, wall street, day traders, and the financial institutions that profit off having money alone. Which does less for society?

  39. @Vic Making money? I wonder...

  40. @Vic actually i do have the same disdain. it's just that these bros think they are better?

  41. @Vic “Which does less for society?” Are you joking. Without financial institutions you’d have a barter economy. What ya gonna trade your chicken bong for then, dude? Rent?

  42. ......reminds one of play-school with code.

  43. Thank God for creative thinkers. Now if we can apply it to the means of economic and civil governance for community cohesion and individual liberty, we’ll be amazing.

  44. I love it.

  45. I mean I kinda get it. It makes entrepreneurship palatable for the socialist chic crowd.

  46. Abbie Hoffman is is laughing into his bi-polar soul as he reads this in heaven.

  47. What a bunch of nonsense. This is a product of our culture. Sad.

  48. Their stuff really isn’t that inspired. The shoes are terrible, the bong is silly, and the movie posters are unfunny. Nothing here rises to the level of the satirical magazines of yore or your average culture blog. How is this team valuable?

  49. This is a really long-winded way of saying, "Boy, isn't it great to have a trust fund and no student debt because I'm daddy's special boy?"

  50. I don't understand the World anymore. -C

  51. the title is misleading. i still don't know how to run a business in 2020......

  52. They're the Pet Rock of the 2020s. I just shows to go you, if you've got no shame you can be a millionaire, or pretend to be one. Woo Hoo.

  53. Good for them. At our company we have fun as well but we actually make stuff from steel. But if you can’t enjoy what you do why do it? My dad told me years ago “if you can’t get up every day and be excited about going to work you need to get another job “

  54. So witty. So tired. This whole idea is played. It’s definitely ready for mass middle brow consumption. But please do it somewhere else that needs it. New Yorkers have had enough of this ‘provocative’ pretending not to be into money all about money.

  55. They should have fun, it's not like they're hurting anyone. By the time they're 40 they'll be running hedgefunds and grooming their kids for the ivies just like all the 60s counterculture radicals. We've seen this before, let them enjoy it! They think they're anarchists mocking the culture, but soon they'll be the culture. Then what?

  56. Wow. Here I am, trying to follow a legit business model, doing just ok, because I am a skilled trade/service person running a traditional brick and mortar and here’s this group, doing nothing (well I guess a crucifix adorned sneaker isn’t nothing!) hanging out, getting high and pulling in the VC. I feel sadly, like I’m not “equipped” or hip enough to understand what it is I’m missing about these folks and their “business model”.

  57. More proof of the bubble created by the overcapitalized venture capital marketplace, and the joke is on their investors. VC partners monetize this silliness by collecting service fees, so there is no downside for them. Too much money chasing too few companies actually solving problems.

  58. Kudos to MSCHF. They managed to get a NYT article about them, increasing their cache many fold. Manipulating the media is the new business protocol. It ain't the steak that sells, it's the sizzle. Some people prefer the real thing.

  59. After thirty years of creating educational software l read this article and wonder what I've been doing for most of my life. I think I've lost contact with the new world.

  60. So because it's not a physical product (mostly) it's not real? Is this any different than espn.com or yahoo? Does espn.com play sports? does yahoo make news itself? Did netflix start off making content? They're critiquing the world around them, like espn articles are for sports. News flash, the world is very different than 20 years ago. I see comments that this is why we have Trump. I would argue that not understanding this change is why we have Trump, the make America great again crowd not understanding how the world around them has changed. Run wild, MSCHF, do your thing.

  61. Good for them. The fewer young people seriously applying themselves to better their economic station in life, the more money for us older people. Keep up the fantastic mindless pursuit of experiences and ignore the harsh reality that's facing you. I'm laughing all the way to the bank.

  62. What the cynics miss is the value of authenticity which CAN be monetized

  63. I'm happy to see there is still room for the creative disrupters in our society.

  64. This is an art project. Just because they call it a business and it’s funded with VC doesn’t make it ‘How to Run a Business in 2020.’

  65. wow, i really don't understand these comments. very tiring to read. these guys (that's an unfortunate aspect -- 10 men, only 1 woman) are creating very interesting, funny, engaging products and encounters. They've raised 11.5 million. They employ a bunch of people. they aren't interested in a lot of the traditional corporate trappings. What's not to like?

  66. @stephen williams Interesting? Funny? Engaging? Uh, sure, to their demographic I guess (totally not surprised that it's 90% bro). I would not characterize any of it as adding beauty, commentary, or thoughtfulness to the world, unlike quite a lot of art that doesn't get funding.

  67. I hate everything. Please stop this ride and let me off the planet. This whole world is so dumb. We’ve broken democracy, the planet, art, even irony. Why do I always take the bait and read every NYT story like this, which is clearly intended to make me feel 100 years old and grouchy as hell. NYT, please stop trolling us. For my blood pressure’s sake.

  68. @Seattle Perfectly stated, completely concur.

  69. Man, that’s some truly GARBAGE graffiti. I’m not expected to read an article about a guy who won’t even hire good graf writers to hit up the outside of his building, am I?

  70. It's an art project oriented toward cultural commentary. It's premature to call it a business, other than to say that they are funded by investors that normally fund businesses. And that's all fine. Art can make money, in a variety of ways. And there are all sorts of revenue streams today that didn't exist twenty years ago (though the article doesn't mention how the investors plan on exploiting any of them). It's the "run a business" tagline that is ruffling people feathers here and appropriately so. And anyway, a whole lot of Gen Xers did this kind of stuff 20 and 30 years ago. They just didn't get piles of free money to do it with.

  71. @jsomoya Right on.

  72. Interesting, but this reporting pretty much takes them at face value. I have no idea if there's something real here, or if they're just a bunch of bro poseurs. And how does the woman feel about working there? A documentary that tracks them for 2 - 3 years would be worth seeing.

  73. who else reads this and is glad they are mid to late career and past this poppycock

  74. I taught high school chemistry to this kid, to say we're proud of him is an understatement. Having said that, however, the profession of chemistry is probably better served with Gabe running MSCHF. Gabe and chemicals were not always the best combination if I remember correctly. And I can remember exactly where he sat, asleep most of the time. I never thought he'd do much after my time with him as a junior, but he was elected student body president as a senior. My school is full of really interesting kids (residential STEM school), but Gabe stood out. Still does.

  75. How about they instead use their talents and money to develop new antibiotics and/or new ways to sequester carbon?

  76. @Dalgliesh If we don't have art (or dumb meta jokes in this instance), whats the point in saving the world?

  77. @Nick ART ??? Sure...

  78. just fascinating! (i find the green sponge especially compelling) s/

  79. Gosh, this sounds like a GIANT con job. Maybe you should call it: Laughing All the Way to the Bank: How to Convert $11.5 M in Venture Capital into Your Own Pocket, While Punking Stupid People with More Money than Sense on Social Media. Or simply, "The Emperor Has No Jesus Sneakers."

  80. VCs always want their pound of flesh eventually. It’ll be a fun ride while it lasts.

  81. Low bar

  82. It looks like its data mining masked as artwork, apps and collaborations. “TEXT US AT 917:746:5934 TO GET ON THE DROP LIST” is at the top of their website. Before I became an entrepreneur, I sold radio advertising and we would sell our our text to win or get on the VIP list for concerts and events campaigns to businesses and our radio station would acquire the mobile phone numbers of all the people that texted in for that particular campaign. Over time we acquired a massive mobile phone database that we catalogue, categorize and subsequently sell text and advertise to. The Venture capital investors want access to a database and audience that they can promote their next product launch to. The investors which may be masked as political campaigns want to reach a certain voting demographic that MSCHF “mischief” can reach via text messaging and most likely email. IMHO