An Evening with Fred Seibert and David Karp

Left to Right: Albie Hecht, Fred Seibert, David Karp
Left to Right: Albie Hecht, Fred Seibert, David Karp

Macaulay’s New Media Lab director, Albie Hecht, invited the founder of Frederator Studios, Fred Seibert, and the CEO and founder of Tumblr, David Karp to speak with students at the Macaulay Honors Building on December 5. The event was coordinated by Ann Kirschner, the University Dean of Macaulay Honors College, and the New Media Lab Team.

The talk began with a moment of silence for former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away at the age of 95 that day. Dean Kirschner and the New Media Lab then welcomed Hecht, Seibert, and Karp to the stage. The guests explained how they got into their respective fields and answered questions from the audience, which ranged from “How did you make the decision to drop out of high school?” to the pronunciation of the “GIF” image format used on Tumblr.

During the two-hour conversation, Seibert’s topics included his college media studies at Columbia University and the creation of his first company, Oblivion Records. Seibert stated that he was interested in the “business of self-invention” and that his goal in life was to “live to work” rather than “work to live.”

Seibert also discussed how he discovered David Karp. Karp has worked with Seibert at Frederator Studios since his internship, which began during his freshman year at Bronx Science. High school did not interest Karp because there were no classes offered in his area of interest: computer science. Karp’s parents helped him drop out of high school at age 15, so he could work with Seibert full-time while being homeschooled.

Karp was later hired by UrbanBaby, an online parenting forum, as a software consultant. He worked for the site until it was sold to CNET in 2006. During his time at UrbanBaby, Karp moved alone to Tokyo for five months in order to experience the technological developments that were occurring in Japan.

After leaving UrbanBaby, Karp decided to start his own software consulting company called Davidville. He began working on Tumblr, a blogging website that was launched in 2007. Tumblr turned out to be a huge success—the site currently hosts over 160 million blogs. Karp’s new company, Tumblr, Inc., has grown from three employees to over two hundred.  Karp says that the most amazing thing about Tumblr is that it gives everyone a voice—many artistic people can showcase their work and become famous through Tumblr.

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