Why I Recently Nuked My Startup and Told Many of My Industry Friends to F#ck Off…Again!

Please refer to legal disclaimer at the end, which explains how this entire post is meant for entertainment purposes only. This post also appears on Medium. Please see the end of the post for my request for support.

Below is an email I sent to a real estate industry colleague regarding my current professional station, which is far lower than the one I envisioned when I first conceived of the Change Order Group. For two years, I’ve thanklessly pushed the startup, which is an assembly of the world’s top real estate researchers and technicians directing their efforts to the world’s most pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges. Somehow, it wasn’t enough, even for the most smallest investment or job.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I wrote a post directly accusing my team for colluding with systems of oppression and violence. This might strike some as an odd move for a founder and CEO responsible for raising money and building esprit de corps

The post was not a “gotcha” moment in some master plan. I enlisted the group because they were, to my mind at the time, the best for minds for the job at hand. Had anyone given us an opportunity, we would have over-delivered. But we never got that opportunity. 

The lack of opportunity, while disappointing, had no, or negligible, impact on my team, none of whom gave more than an hour or two to the group in a given week — usually less. Most, though not all, of their schedules were taken by lucrative ($10,000–75,000/month) contract work or were consumed by their own startup fundraising hijinks. 

Many in the group witnessed me in this same predicament just one year ago when was living in my minivan — first, at a parking spot in a makeshift junkyard, and later, when I overstayed my welcome in the junkyard, in Walmart parking lots. The continuation of my work— which the group agreed was important and necessary — is really tough when I’m busy surviving or getting by. This, apparently, was my problem, not theirs. 

When I told the group I was out of money, only one member offered to help in any way. Of course, it was the member of the group who had the least to give.

Greg Lindsay is a particularly prime example of the kinda top-heavy, $10K generic keynote-giving, privileged AF, chock-full-of-contradictions, convenient, high-sheen urbanism that’s polluting ESG discourse. 

The group’s blindness to my plight is a perfect analogue to the blindness I see everywhere between those living in the problems and those with the resources to solve the problems. The two groups are seldom the same people, and the solver’s concern only goes as far as the faintest signal they might have to give up any of their wealth and privilege for even a second — or give others some of their skills.

My group is a prime example of this phenomenon. To one extent or another, they see climate, housing, and social crises; they are well paid to research them, complain about them, and opine about solutions. But they are not paid to solve anything. To some extent, many of their brands depend on being different than, superior to, or in opposition to the mainstream, making meaningful change an occupational hazard.

A meeting of the blinds. Greg, unlike me, loves being everyone’s friend. 

Whether in Fairfield, Bethesda, or Walnut Creek, the wealthier group members believe they can socioeconomically insulate themselves from what’s happening to the planet and its populations. Greg Lindsay has the money and geopolitical mobility to emigrate to and buy a new house in Montreal with his American wife — a prime example of the rootless wealth he’s professes to hate. 

With his WeWork money, Darrick Borowski purchased New York town and country homes, works from morning to night for often-suspect concerns, and laments about the death of community in New York City because of rich people like his employers.

When circumstances ask these children to put up, grow up, or stop what they’re doing, they shut up, disappear, and say I’m a nut to cover their own cowardliness and greed— not exactly the kinda allies I needed, given the nature of the problems we were attempting to tackle. 

I reached out to the colleague in the email because I could use money and work — maybe even in real estate. I almost forgot I spent the last decade working in the industry, having returned to my old trade of writing for the time being. Until conversations change, the current order will remain unchanged. 

I’m not too disappointed, since I can rely on my ability to show up and tell the truth. My writing exploits the hell out of all my real estate, activist, and literary talents and is all put to good effect in my efforts to cut down as many enemies of the people and the planet as I can. 

If you can help, I need it: money, press, general support. Request below.

Re: Checking in

On Tue, Aug 24, 2021 at 11:19 AM David Friedlander <______@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear _____,

I hope this email finds you and your family feeling and breathing well. Perhaps it was me watching “Time Bandits” last night, but I felt compelled to say hi and give you a detailed update (no veiled comment about your height…the Brit part). As I’m persona non grata in the AEC, PropTech, VC, CRE, Capital Markets, media, et al circles, don’t feel compelled to respond.

After pushing Change Order Group with monkish sobriety here in Colorado (a year already!), I realized it was not going to get traction. There was no deck slick enough nor modeling robust enough. What I was attempting to do was antithetical to everything the North American, and to some extent global, real estate market stands for. It was clear I was and am being actively held back by the aforementioned forces (not least of which by Brad and his now numerous allies). I’ve heard backend requests to ensure I was not anywhere near a deal I sourced.

A month ago, I lost it on a team call. I could not handle the amount of external and internal inertia in the face of everything that is happening in the world. The internal inertia included my group, many of whom were still doing well-paid contract work while I ran out of money for the umpteenth time while working on COG. Several in my group could have bankrolled the lightweight MVP starting points I kept developing. Instead, they did as everyone seems to love to do to me: they used me for my ideas and connections, but when it came to putting their money or names on the line publicly, their enthusiasm never paid the bills or got the deals. Needless to say, this was especially true of Jon, who should have been able to help me way more than he did. Jon’s current position — which, we all know, is a liability shift — is the final balance for all his friendship and fuzzy headlines — I thought he had higher character. I was mistaken.

I hope you know I’m not a silly person. While shocking from the outside, I don’t regret anything I’ve felt compelled to do these last two years to bring attention to what I’m bringing attention to. So when I say I “lost it” last month, I didn’t lose anything. I did something I did my best to avoid: I pulled rank. I’m not Brad Hargreaves or Brendan Wallace or any number of these children playing real estate. I’m someone. I’m from people.

I may have mentioned some of this in passing, and I’ve attempted to downplay it because I thought it made me sound crazy and I thought I was pretty swell without telling people, but twenty years ago, I was identified by a mysterious German woman as the guy who’s going to save the world. The woman groomed me for a couple years before more or less disappearing until the summer of 2019. The woman is Ray Dalio’s assistant and his HR sorceress…or something. The three of us never met. I swear I’m not making this up. There’s this whole convoluted lost royalty European plot I don’t quite understand but I seem to be the center of attention for many in the know.

Per my allegorical David versus Goliath role, I’ve been using the gravity of my background (unfortunately, laden with the intrinsic unbelievability of the story), along with a lot of connect-the-dots market and trend analysis. Here’s a fun piece I did on the inveterate ripoff artist Brad, in fact. So much of what happens in the Venture and Capital Markets is about pissing contests, so I am undressing and discrediting the prime offenders as much as possible — especially ones who leveraged their associations with me for shit purposes. I’ve shifted away from biz dev because no meaningful climate, social justice, or economic action will happen until certain bad actors, and bad institutions, are vanquished. I’m done negotiating with terrorists and they’re far weaker than their balance sheets suggest. It seems the poorer I get, the bigger the target I choose. I’ve been through a lot, so I am preternaturally confident of good things to come for me, personally.

I write every day and am working on building momentum and a critical mass with grassroot housing activists, mostly in NYC and the Bay Area. Most of my stuff is self-published but I had a couple pieces published in some well-distributed publications, including a big swing at the current Colorado governor in Boulder’s newspaper. I also co-authored a piece with a NYC City Council candidate about the city’s absurd glut of inventory across asset classes. I’m actively looking to level the CMBS market, which is still being used to spur new projects that would make Dr. Evil blush despite its junk value.

I suppose I’m reaching out for ideas for income and work, but to be clear, I’m a liability to most North American real estate projects. I do have a passport, fancy European ancestors, and am still quite useful. In fact, despite all of the above information, I’m doing extremely well — perhaps better than ever. I spend my days writing about stuff I’m passionate about and running in the mountains. I would like to live less precariously (I’m not anti-wealth! I’m anti unearned wealth!) and anonymously. I’m certain my time could be directed towards earnest efforts and players looking to save the planet and the life it supports. I’m learning it’s best to keep me far away from everyone else, and that’s fine.

While I’ve ostensibly veered from mainstream corporate capitalism, one thing I’d be overjoyed to do is direct my crazy views towards proper climate-risk-adjustment for Capital Markets (real estate, supply chain risk, you name it!). I had a long conversation with an AEC consultant who worked with Swiss Re and Lloyds about the massive exposure the world’s assets face not only due to climate risk but innovation risk — so many buildings have been designed to increase risk exposure. I went on record with some of the world’s top climate experts shorting LA, LV, Miami, and other cities. I’d think someone would want to get a jump on the underwriting and bond implications for all that. I’d be happy to get paid shorting assets and their derivative markets all day long.

Like I said at the beginning, I am writing based on a feeling, so do what you will with this information. If you know of anyone or any place that might know what to do with me — ideally well-backed, open-minded, and remote or near an Alpine area — let me know.

All the best,

David

Request for Help

I’m out of cash and deep in arrears. I don’t claim uniqueness in this position. I do claim uniqueness in the work that I’m doing. No one else can do it, and it’s a full-time job. I write about thirty-to-forty hours a week writing and communicating what I’m up to. Per the above, I can keep working without a home and scrounging for food — as I did it last summer — but it’s not ideal and takes me away from my specific work, which is speaking truth to power, or, as I choose to see it, me defeating Goliath.

Ways to help:

  • Donations, alms, whatever. I don’t have money for next months rent yet, much less my innumerable bills. I live extremely modestly and thriftily, but I do have expenses. Any amount is greatly appreciated — the more the better. The easiest way to get money to me is Venmo (@davidcfriedlander); email me at the email below if you’d like to contribute some other way.
  • Press!!! I’m being stonewalled by major press outlets. I’m a voice that needs a bigger platform than self-published articles — I don’t think this is arrogant to say in a media landscape dominated by billionaire men-children leaving a burning earth for joy rides slightly beyond the stratosphere.
  • If you have a services to offer, hit me up. I made special email for people to connect with me at: thecomplexmessiah@gmail.com. I’m starting a movement and have a lot of crap to do that requires way more than I can do.

Love,

David

Legal Disclaimer: While this post mentions actual people and events, the entirety of the post is meant for entertainment purposes only. None of the following statements are to be considered factual or true. I, David Friedlander, the author, place complete intellectual and legal burden of conclusions derived from reading what I have written upon the reader. Further, none of my statements are meant or should be considered legally binding or intended as a means to communicate with any person(s); further, the fantastic, deliberately ambiguous nature of my writing precludes any of my statements, including those statements in any and all linked posts, and those statements as they relate to my children, to be used as evidence for arrest or proof of my mental fitness, lack thereof, or any other legal proceeding intended to limit my ability to freely exercise my First Amendment Rights as an American, writer, historian, researcher, seeker, and — above all else — a storyteller. I have a decade of notes showing how I use the written word to make sense of the world, hoping that inquiry has relevance for those who choose to read what I write. TLDR: I’m just telling my too-fantastic-to-be-real stories. Truth is in your Court.

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