Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

The Beaver Brothers of Zazzle Talk About Customizing, Well, Everything!


A few weeks ago, BoomTown motored down to Silicon Valley, to the Redwood City, Calif., HQ of Zazzle, the online site that lets users order a variety of custom products by using a special (and patented) printing technology.

I went to talk to the Beaver brothers–Jeff and Bobby, who founded the company with their father, who is CEO, way back before the first Web 1.0 bubble burst in 1999–about recent changes, including finding more ways to slap custom designs on more products and recent international expansion.

Funded to the tune of $46 million by Kleiner Perkins and Sherpalo Ventures, Zazzle’s profitable business essentially remains pretty straightforward: A customer can pick from both branded and user-generated designs for a variety of items, such as T-shirts, shoes, skateboards and more.

Zazzle also offers a marketplace, under a commission structure, for those who do contribute designs.

But in the video below, the pair talk about the more intriguing and more innovative idea of making pretty much every retail product completely customizable and available on demand.

It’s an interesting idea, to be sure, and probably inevitable.

Here’s the video of the interview, as well as a tour of Zazzle’s offices:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work