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Copyleft puts the open source into geek chic

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Site News Hurrah! Now that the first Register t-shirts have shipped across the world, it seems like an appropriate time to tell you all some more about Copyleft, the New Jersey-based designer of geek chic and partner of the Register, London-based supplier of geek cheek. So here's a Q&A with Tedd Blood, co-founder of Copyleft. Tell us about Copyleft - we like the sort of profit tagline- Copyleft actually began as a nonprofit project. It was part of In Limine, the same organization that created the Bazaar. Due to annoying US tax laws related to nonprofits selling stuff, it was easier for us to create a for profit company and give away money. There are other companies that use this model, most notably Paul Newman's company, Newman's Own. The motivation to give money back to the projects and the free software community comes from working within the community for a while and knowing how it works. Free software is all about giving back and it's a principle that Copyleft has been built upon. In addition, as a for profit, we've been able to get the capital from investors that made growth possible. Whose idea was it to form Copyleft? Steve Blood came up with the idea. Originally, when it was still a non-profit project it was called Xunilung. Xunilung appeared briefly at Linux Expo '98, before it was changed to Copyleft. It was actually on the car ride home from Durham that I convinced him that despite how clever a name Xunilung was (gnu/linux backwards) it wasn't good to have a name that people could not say, spell, or remember. Copyleft was born in the summer of of 1998. We needed some money, so, Steve and I raised our first round of micro-seed capital (with 2 more rounds to follow) and geared up for operation. Neil Blaney (the guy who mails people) came on board having never before used Linux and read O'Reilly books for a few months straight before building the entire site. Our official online launch came on November 11, 1998 How many are you? 2.5 - we've run on a small budget for the last 14 months. We are presently closing another round of financing and expect to have enough capital in 2000 to bring on some of the cool people we want to hire and do a lot more of the fun stuff we've been waiting to do. Of course, our commitment to supporting the community will not change. How many t shirts do you make/sell each month? I don't have exact numbers on t-shirts, but we just recently shipped out our 10,000th order. We also sell plenty of books, stickers, hats and a surprising number of those highly addictive penguin mints. Are you a web-only retailer/manufacturer? Yup. We don't even have a phone number. :). We are thinking about doing a catalog though, because we've had a number of people express interest in our products, despite never having heard about free software and who don't have access to the Web.>/b> When do you IPO? :). More and more people are asking us this. An IPO is an exciting prospect, but you end up losing some freedom as a company. Copyleft has always been a fun, low stress place to work (unlike a number of public Internet companies where my friends work). I suppose if we could ensure that the important aspects of Copyleft wouldn't change, and we could raise capital to allow us to do more cool stuff, we'd consider doing an IPO. When? That's hard to say, but if we do it'd probably be in the next year or two. Anything else you'd care to share with us? Mostly, we'd just like to thank everybody. Copyleft has thousands of customers and hundreds of supporters, without whom we'd be nowhere. We've worked hard to make people happy and to create a community-conscious business. The main thing we look forward to, is doing more cool stuff for people and projects. If anyone out there has ideas or suggestions for us, please don't hesitate to send us an email.

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