Chad Hurley, the co-founder of YouTube, has stepped down from his position as CEO of the company, which he sold to Google for $1.65 billion in 2006, to work full-time on his menswear label, Hlaska. Founded by his business partner Anthony Mazzei in 1994, Hlaska is mostly stuff that a young Silicon Valley employee would wear to work: there’s a lot of short-sleeved collared button-downs (perfect for crumpling into a ball at the foot of your futon after a long night of coding) as well as laptop covers and leather messenger bags. But despite the tech-friendly designs, doesn’t Hurley’s switch from web mogul to fashion retailer seem kind of random? He recently explained to Forbes that no, it isn’t at all:
We make wallets, bags and shirts we’d want to see sold in stores. In that sense it’s exactly like YouTube. We wanted something that wasn’t available, so we built it ourselves.
He’s also planning to use some of the sneaky business tricks he learned from YouTube to make his clothes “go viral”:
It’s cut from the same mold. While a menswear company can’t “go viral” in the Dancing Baby sense, you must ask yourself what makes something spread so fast. It’s people’s experiences. That may be something funny, like a Dancing Baby, or something shocking. Or merely just great customer service. Sure, word of mouth is slower than an Internet video, but they’re born of the same principles.
Plus, with a name like “Hlaska,” how could he go wrong? Explains Hurley:
It’s a combination of Hawaii and Alaska. My business partner, Anthony Mazzei, and I love the dichotomy. Alaska and Hawaii are hot and cold states, small and large, and represent the last of America’s expansion. It’s that tension that we love.
Hlaska currently has stores in Palo Alto, San Francisco, and San Jose, and plans to open more stores in L.A., Austin, and New York in 2011.