The past few months have been bumpy for tech pundit Robert Scoble. They have included a confession about being sexually abused as a teenager; a diagnosis of cancer; a decision to go to Alcoholics Anonymous; a new best friend who had him wearing a "Hustler" cap (see above) and making videos about "Hustle University"; and now an announcement on Facebook that he's going dark on social media for the next two months so he can work on himself and his family life.
Before I go on, let me say this. It's easy to view Scoble as a ridiculous narcissist and reduce him to a kind of cartoon character. I've done it myself, plenty of times. But while Scoble might be a doofus, he is also a lovable doofus. Watching him unraveling these past few months has made my heart ache.
Scoble first became known as an in-house blogger at Microsoft. He left there and became an evangelist of sorts for Rackspace, which sells online hosting services. That job has basically involved bouncing from one tech party to the next, while blogging and podcasting and making videos about new gadgets and startups.
Late last year that life started to catch up with him. In November, after returning from a booze-filled trip to the Dublin Web Summit, Scoble announced on Facebook that he'd been sexually abused as a teenager.
In the midst of all this, Scoble teamed up with Damien "Dee Hustle" Bryant, who says he once managed Snoop Dogg. Dee Bryant has dwelt at the margins of Silicon Valley for the past few years. He's had a party bus at South by Southwest, and has hung out with Shervin Pishevar of SherpaVentures and Travis Kalanick of Uber.
Inspired by Dee Hustle, Scoble started wearing that Hustler cap and making videos like this one, with Dee Hustle. The photo above is a frame grabbed from that video. In the video Scoble does a rambling, eight-minute talk about being a hustler, and all the mistakes that entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are making.
"Let's do some more of these Hustle University videos, and teach people how to hustle. Cause they don't know how to do stories. Which is really what sells," Scoble says, in a voice that sounds all messed up.
When I saw this video, all I could think was that it seemed like a cry for help. Apparently it was.
I talked to Scoble and Dee Hustle last week. They were planning some kind of big event for South by Southwest, which happens next month in Austin, Texas. I asked Scoble how he was going to stay sober while still attending all these boozy conferences.
In his announcement yesterday, Scoble said he's no longer planning to attend South by Southwest. That seems like a good start.