WASHINGTON -- — Livr, the social network for drunk people, had all the trimmings of an ascendant tech start-up. A slick promotional video featuring two Eisenbergian CEOs. A hip website littered with buzzwords and trademarks. Press releases. Stickers. Posters. T-shirts. An auspicious, grassroots buzz that began in Reddit's technology forums and bubbled into the mainstream press.
Livr's only problem? It was all fake — an elaborate hoax engineered by Brandon Schmittling and Brandon Bloch, two Brooklyn creatives with a lot of free time and little patience for what they call the "absurdity" of modern Internet culture. After dreaming up an idea for a start-up so ridiculous no one would believe it, Bloch and Schmittling set out to entice people to buy in. They bought a domain name, designed a website, enlisted actors to play Livr's earnest cofounders; they "leaked" a fake press release on Reddit, promising an improbable "online party at all times," a social network limited only by the user's blood alcohol concentration.
First Engadget blogged about it. Then Next Web. Soon Mashable and CNN. Within hours, one of Silicon Valley's top investment firms contacted the Brandons, asking if they needed venture capital.
"Livr was one of those ideas you have when you're sitting around the bar with your friends, and someone says, 'Wouldn't it be crazy if . . . ?' " laughed Bloch. "But these days there's no such thing as too crazy. The cultural landscape is just getting more and more absurd."
In the purer, wide-eyed days of yore, April 1 marked a once-in-a-year-opportunity to print phenomenal whoppers in newspapers, tell your children penguins can fly and otherwise violate the everyday norms of human behavior. But pranksters hardly need an annual indulgence for their hijinks anymore: On the Internet, after all, every day is April Fools' Day.