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Jason Goldberg

Making everyone more ‘Fabulis’
By Neal Boulton

Manhattan resident, Jason Goldberg, has introduced yet another fun way to celebrate gay life. Capitalizing on the social media wave of the past few years, Goldberg launched Fabulis as one of the new frontiers in online communication and interaction. Mark magazine caught up with Goldberg to discuss his endeavor and the idea of being ‘fabulis’:

Tell us about your life, where are you from, how did you grow up—and what in your life led you to your career path.

Jason Goldberg: I was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area -- in Rockville, Maryland to be exact. From an early age I sought out leadership positions and opportunities and took a lot of risks to pursue my dreams. Looking back on that, I really credit my parents instilling in me the belief that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. I actually dropped out of school twice to pursue opportunities. The first time was as a sophomore at Emory University when I quit school to go work on Bill Clinton's first campaign for President. We ended up winning the White House and I went to work there for 6 years as an aide to the President, which was an amazing and tiring experience. I dropped out of school again a few years later when at Stanford Business School I went to work for an Internet company in the heart of the dot-com bubble. In both cases I ended up completing my education but also got the real-world experience and the bug for risk taking to try to achieve big things.

What were your major influences?

Many people have helped me and guided me throughout my life. Firstly, my parents who always told me anything was possible, and all you had to do was set your mind to it.

Erskine Bowles-Bill Clinton Chief of Staff, taught me that people in the position of power do things cause they want to, not because they have to, and the take the journey with you, instead of telling them where to go.

Richard Socarides–was the gay liason for the Clinton administration and the first person I came out to. He also demonstrated to me that gay men could hold a place of power an be respected by their peers.

Bradford Shellhammer-Co-founder/Creative Director of fabulis who taught me to add color to everything you do, and how to laugh at myself.

Christian-my boyfriend who taught me that ninety percent of my life is about work, but the ten other percent is more important.

Tell us about your career. What was your trajectory?

The same bug of risk drove me to quit my corporate job a few years later (in 2004) to start a company, Jobster. I ran Jobster for 4 years and learned a ton about building a company from that experience. At one point we had more than 150 employees at Jobster and we raised millions of dollars from venture capitalists to finance that company. Jobster was recently sold.
After Jobster I started another company, socialmedian, which was a nice quick win. We started socialmedian -- a social news website -- in January 2008 and then ended up negotiating to sell it less than a year later. We sold socialmedian to a German company, XING (which is kinda like the LinkedIn of Europe) and as part of that deal I had to go work for XING in Hamburg, Germany in 2009, which was an amazing life experience. We had offices in Barcelona and Istanbul and I got to travel across pretty much all of Europe last year.

When did you know you were gay?

Early on, but I didn’t come out till I was 26 years old, and between knowing and running out of the closet I had several girlfriends and several beards. I was not out at the white house, but was surprised at how many successful gay men I met there, and the positions of power that they held. When I was at Stanford the gay guys were the successful ones best parties, most creative, super cool. My house was known as “BGH” the big gay house, and we always had the best parties. Some of my closest friends are those I made at Stanford.

Have you always been community minded?

Always put myself in leadership positions, in high school I was the regional president of youth group four states, organizing events, was an activist in Clinton campaign, spent six years at the white house. My first business venture was about creating a community where people connected to find jobs and build careers. Fabulis is about connecting the gay community on a global scale to learn new things, help each other, find out where to shop, what are the trends etc the who what when? Its not easy but we are trying to build the first gay social networking site that is not about hooking up for sex. Its about where to go, what to do, and who to meet. It’s about bringing the gay community together.

Tell us about the the moment Fabulis came to you.

Idea of fabulis had been in my head for a good 10 years. When I was a baby gay coming out of the closet, the only thing around was glamour.com, an email list to share knowledge, ideas, fashion tips, destination ideas etc. It was an issue that there was nothing to connect the gay community, it was hard to tap into the gay network, there was know guide to what hotel to stay at, what beach to go to, what bar to go to, clothing advice etc. I thought to myself there must be a way to harness the power of the gay world and help others, benefit from each other. The exact moment was in 2009 when my boyfriend Chris and I were planning on traveling. We were spending hours on researching hotels, restaurants, destinations, and the mainstream websites to figure it out. The problem was there was nowhere for us to get the gay advice/input. I would instead end up asking friends on facebook for tips/advice, but it was always disorganized, and there was no way to keep it all stored in one place. So I thought why not have a place for it?

It became more apparent when I was visiting Prague with my parents, it was hard to find good shops that weren’t tourist traps. My mom said, “I wish we knew where Bradford would go,” and then later that night while I was trying to develop plans for the night I couldn’t find where to go or who to meet, spent the night in, and ended up finding out later that I had gay friends in Prague that I could have met up with, but I had no idea. I thought to myself, we needed a place to find out all this information, a social website.

Why Fabulis and why now?

No day, but today. The mission for fabulis is to help gay men celebrate life. Gay men come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one common denominator; to celebrate life, to experience new things, to live. We want to create a service that enables that to happen. We want to create a positive image for the gay community, and provide the where to go, what to do, who to meet, and allow gay men to celebrate life!

Our vision is to create the next great interactive media company for the gay market, but that will only happen if we are able to create a valuable resource to our users.

And your future, it sounds as if it might just be pretty fabulis indeed...

Well, I hope to see its success continue, and turn it into the definitive resource to gay life for gay men. Chris and I love to travel and I would like to spend a year living abroad again, and spend at least two months living in Australia, raise an intelligent healthy puppy. I want to keep learning, evolve, and expand my investments into different business ventures. I dream to one day to author a novel. I would love to DJ a party, be in a better shape at 45 then I am at age 38, and go to culinary school.

Are you doing what Jason Golberg was always meant to be doing?

Absolutely, it has always been in my DNA to start things, morph things, build things. I have always been a fire starter, full of passion. It is awesome to work on something so personal such as fabulis.com. We are creating a product that I benefit from. I am helping build something that my friends and I can use
I judge every experience based on what I learned from it, and I will continue to learn from my mistakes, try new things, and do better the next time.