In 1993 Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe launched WIRED, a magazine that would go on to become the mouthpiece of the digital revolution, fusing art design and technology to spearhead the charge into a brave new World Wide Web.
Today WIRED is read by some 900,000 people every month; has British, German, Italian and Japanese editions and an online resource with more than 28 million users monthly.
Chris Nelson and Demi Taylor spoke with founders Jane Metcalfe and Louis Rossetto for documentary series The Ripple Effect to tell their story of how acid house, Timothy Leary and Amsterdam sparked the idea for Wired – the magazine that turned nerds into idols, technology into the new rock n roll, changing the way we look at new technology and the people behind it forever.
Louis Rossetto: It was crazy to think about what we actually did, to hatch this idea in Europe, where we had been for 10 years, we had absolutely no US business contacts, maybe a few editorial contacts – even those were a handful, and to think we could come up with this idea in Amsterdam, in a little apartment, with no money…
Jane Metcalfe: We had no money at all. We couldn’t even pay the rent.
Louis: We came to America and we started beating on doors.
Jane: We had no credit history in the US, we had no jobs, and we said, “Oh we’re here to make a magazine” and they said “Yeaaaahhhhhh.”
Louis: Looking back it’s like a unicorn phenomenon – everything lined up. It’s so complex the things you have to do. There are so many aspects to this moonshot that aren’t apparent to people looking from the outside.
Jane: I keep marvelling at the fact that we never once thought that this wouldn’t work. We could see it so clearly.
Louis: The biggest piece of luck was that we caught the wave that we saw coming for a long time from our little perch in Amsterdam. We could see this thing coming, we happened to be there at the moment when we could get on it.
Louis: Europe had a big influence when we came to launch WIRED – we did no radio or TV advertising, we did street advertising because that’s what we could see was effective when we were riding around on our bikes in Amsterdam or walking in Paris or London. Magazines like I-D, Actuel, The Face, a bunch of influences we wouldn’t have had if we hadn’t been in Europe. And the Rave Scene…
Jane: That kind of viral, nobody knows where the party is going to be until a certain time – it’s open source. Emerging Behaviours – all parallels with new technology.
Louis: It was also a moment when things were coming loose. Psychedelia and ecstasy in Europe was part of the world being different, looking different, feeling different. Not unlike the first hit of Acid in the sixties with Leary. The commotion that loosened people’s attitudes as to what’s possible and opened their minds as to what was possible also paralleled what happened in the late 80’s and early 90’s…
Watch the film and hear the full story on Red Bull TV HERE
Season 2; Episode 2
Director: Peter Hamblin
Writers: Chris Nelson, Demi Taylor