The Launch

“Born Under Punches” – David Byrne

Monday, March 29th, 2020 – 7am: We have sent out the first HowHookup dates. is live!

It’s time to capture the moment. The following post chronicles the weekend leading up to the LAUNCH. We’re a quite allergic to `back office’ talk, but, for the legacy (and the fun of it), it’s time to divulge. This was too fun to pass up – blame the mother of invention: reckless compulsion.

This is a long post, and a soundtrack of some of the music we listened to along the way is in order. Start with Born Under Punches. This is a live version and worth scrolling up to check out what’s happening from time to time. It also captures a bit of the feeling.

Friday, March 26th

A&B, walking home to the Snakehead (proper name of the Chinatown/LES intersection neighborhood) from a meeting at the Bowery Hotel with a potential investor. Slightly daunted by the immensity of the project. Big picture talk: Twitter Strategy, Mobile Application, Facebook, etc. etc. By the time we get to the Whole Foods on Houston, our attention turns to the question at hand: “When are going to Launch?”

Preparing the 2,000+ date ideas for the Datetropolis. Thx to Jenny Mashberg (intern extraordinaire) for leading the charge. We start loading our blog onto the hidden part of the site – the mysterious staging server.

Psyched about content. Ready for bed. Slightly petrified regarding development (our destiny is in the hands of one Flip Sasser, lead developer at Intridea).

And with that, let’s pause to introduce the young and unsuspecting hero of this story: Flip. Flip lives near Baltimore. We’ve become rather close…we’re talking, he got off the phone on Friday and one of his co-workers asked, “Do you always speak to your wife like that?” Flip’s response, “Uh, no, that was Aaron.” Yep. We’re in the proverbial bed with this 26-year-old very straight man. More on Flip in a moment.

Time for bed, for real.
Soundtrack: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Home

Saturday, March 27th

The door bell rings. It’s Anne, our intern from France, who is simply incredible at spotting problems on the site. Brian gets up, tells Anne, “It’ll be like family today.” (i.e. We’ll be in sweats all day.) Door bells rings. It’s Judd. Then Connie. Then Rose. The team has assembled. Time to start loading dates, blog posts, photos and all the stuff we’ve been creating onto the mysterious staging server.

All interns are gone. Time for food. Dumplings, obviously.

Time to go through the site and find every single problem we possibly can (for the 70th time). This can get a tad scary. “This link goes to nothing.” “The photos make ppl look like rats.” “The copy here was written in like 1980, WTF?!?” “And where are the dates??!?!?” Flip!!!!!!

Canal St. in the Snakehead, eating a chicken cutlet sandwich and Sour Cream Ruffles. Still no clue about our launch capacity. Problems are getting resolved. But we’re finding problems much much faster than they’re fixing them. A strategy emerges.

Launch the site to a small group. Force the question of readiness upon us. Create urgency for Flip. And go from there.

We have a content problem. We need writers. It’s a good thing that about 140 people have applied to write for us. Time to check’m out. Thx here to the illustrious Liu sisters, who broke into Aaron’s email account and read and rated all the submissions. Decisions are made about a first team of writers. Bam.

Soundtrack: Sigor Ror, Hoppipolla

Sunday, March 28th

Time to get on the phone with the writers and make some deals.

A few hours later, Flip assures us: “We are going to be ready.” Note: We’ve heard this before.

We can’t quite believe it but it seems like we’re really gonna do it.
Obviously, we create a small shrine in our office emblazoned with the likes of Bo Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal rookie cards. The icons are meant to protect the To-Do List. Not joking.

Um, we have a content problem. These posts seemed good in theory, but now we have to actually post them. Uh, no. Not on my name. Call our dear friend Scott. Tell him to write a piece about the sexiest superheroines ever. Call Chiara, give her free rein.

Only music and coffee can save us now.

Soundrack: One of the most played from the past 6 months: T.I. and Rihanna, Live Your Life

Um, we have a bigger problem. “Flip, please prepare for your wife to hate you for not ever coming to bed tonight.” The site cannot be deployed with the number of bugs we continue to find. Flip is a trooper. His wife must despise the so-called A&B. Oooh, the irony of it – us starting a dating site and all – is a bit much.
Sound track: Flip’s speed metal from Baltimore on skype.

Time to start creating new blog posts for the rest of the Date Report.

Flip becomes utterly delusional and regressive. Talking like a little boy while banging out code like a maniac. We’re terrified.

Snake Head pork dumplings. Bass ale.

First draft of launch email written. Uh-oh. Big emails are like a mirror unto one’s state. And we’re really friggin sleep deprived. The email includes phrases like, “The gateways are opening” and “We are very very BLANK” with like 8 variations on that BLANK.
Sound track: Mix from high school. Unfortunately, we forgot Tweezer Reprise. But we’ll put it here. (Shhhh….we were actually at this show.)

Flip (who we’re now in constant communication with) requests that we put on the Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want.” We have a subtle feeling he’s trying to tell us something. Behind the babbling, he’s emanating: LOYALTY.


Flip’s whole team is long gone, but he’s just nailing it. (Early on in the process of creating HowHookup, we learned that techies like to talk about ninjas, a lot; they say things like, “That’s some AJAX kun fu right there.” We don’t know what they mean.) But on this night, we find ourselves saying things like, “Aw-yea Flip, bust that Jujitsu.”

See Flip there on the right? The bugs in the system are Johnny. Daniel-son’s about to kick some ass.
Sound track: Om on repeat. Just joking. This one’s too obvious. Ziggy Stardust:

Flip is like, `Alright boys. It’s fucking ready.’ We’re like, “Alright dude, let’s fucking do it.” Moving a website from the staging server (which we imagine as existing somewhere in, say, Omaha) to the production server (which we imagine existing in the center of the universe) is kinda like one would imagine launching a rocket or dropping a bomb. (Not that one should imagine such things.) But we had to start audio recording Flip, for the legacy.

Some memorable quotes from Mr. Miyagi’s disciple:
“Charities. Can’t forget the charities.” -Flip

“Deploying. And boom” Flip (x20 for each step of deployment.)

Upon seeing the Jay-Z blog post: “Jay-Z. Jizzle. Jizzle. Jizzle. Boom!”

“Aaron’s comments. Hrm. Should we leave those in?”
(Since Aaron has been making completely inappropriate comments on the staging server for weeks.) “No Flip. We shouldn’t.” – Aaron

“Boom.” “Bam” “Kazaaam”

“Uhh…Wait till you guys see that fucking pagination! It’s sick.”

OMG. It’s going live.

Some waiting time as everything’s being moved over. A moment of recognition – “Um, we have about 50 other things to do right now.” Spreadsheets for the investor from Friday. Returning to that email and realizing that the word “very” cannot appear more than 20 times and that the word “gateway” can never ever be used.
Sound track: This one is so obvious (it serendipitously comes on whenever something momentous is occurring): Ain’t Got No – I got Life by Nina Simone

7:00am is live! Text messages sent to family. Dates are delivered.
Sound track: A moment of silence.

HowHookup. was now live.

Let’s check it out. I want to see my profile. Uh-Flip. It’s not moving. Flip!!! There are a lot of problems here. Flip. Flip!!! The ever-centered one in Baltimore: “We got it guys. Fear not. I’m pushing things on to the server so it’s gonna go slow for a while.”

Aaron: “Dude, so, do you think we can send this thing?”
Brian: “No clue.”
Aaron: “So, should we?”
Brian: “Um, let’s fix a few more of these problems.”

8 hours latter. Email sent, inviting the people who first signed-up for on to the sight. Sigh.

Highlights from Day 1:
* God loves Michael Rudokas, our housemate, who made us breakfast this morning (and like every other morning for the past 3 days). The bacon was outta control. And poached eggs. Everyone knows poached eggs are superiority itself. A picture of Michael ignoring our sleep deprivation.

* Brian’s brother attains strange Passover date. Look at how hot his profile picture is:

* AHHHH!—-High speed fixing of the 100 little screwy things on the live site that weren’t there before. Getting user feedback. Making changes. Moving fast.
* Chiara Atik solves a problem via gchat that we’ve been working on for like 6 months – what to call our date-centric equivalent of the wink. “I’m intrigued.” Nice one, Chiara. We love it.
* As indication of the confusion that no sleep creates, a Gchat between Brian and Rose.

Tuesday, March 30, 2020

We sign up as a new user and dates are in our inbox. We tell Flip we love him. We’re ready.

12 new dates delivered to all NYC users.

Email sent to 3,500 New Yorkers inviting them to

Someone proposes a date directly to Brian.

Michael signs up and has a box full of dates. Yes, it works for gay men!

Pause. It’s working.

Back to work. Let’s go!

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make this possible. Definitely couldn’t have done this one alone.

And a huge huge thanks to everyone who is now using The gateways are open and it’s very very very very very very very … good.