The Story of a Hat

I recently had a fun conversation with the founder and CEO of, Jerry McLaughlin. Among other things, Jerry asked this question: "SightSpeed bought a lot of hats from us in our early days. Why?".

For those who don't know, they are my preferred source of schwag. The answer to "Why" is simply "quality, service, and cost". The "Why hats?" question is a little more complicated.

Here's my perspective on the schwag hats: They were for tech tradeshows and friends of the company. Specifically, we traveled the world with Intel as part of their "partners showcase". If you have ever seen an Intel booth, you'll know they are large, beautiful, and in the prime location at any tradeshow. We wanted to use the hats for a couple of reasons:
  1. If you give something meaningful away at a tradeshow, you will have a crowd at your booth.
  2. If you have a hat, you can have people put it on right away as part of the condition of getting the hat
  3. If you have a video-cam focused business, you could take video of them wearing the hat.
  4. If the executives from Intel see a crowd people wearing SightSpeed hats in the Intel booth, they are happy because they like crowds, and if those crowds like SightSpeed, Intel execs keep inviting us to tradeshows.
  5. People will continue to wear a hat at the tradeshow, and other people would come find us to get a hat.
In order to get a hat from us, all they had to do was:
  1. Give us a card or email address
  2. Put the hat on.
  3. Record a video mail message and send it to someone. (People really liked that, often sending fun video clips home to their families.)

Making the case

I'll tell you three other stories with the hats:
  1. I almost shouted with joy and lept into the air when I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Hamburg Germany and saw a random guy walking across the nearby plaza wearing a SightSpeed hat!
  2. The producers of the movie "40 Year Old Virgin" asked our permission to use the hat in the movie (which we granted). I have seen the movie a handful of times and never seen the hat, but it might be in there somewhere.
  3. When SightSpeed was acquired by Logitech, we didn't really have any "company sale souvenir". So I made one of my own by putting the SightSpeed hat in a case and putting it on my memories shelf. That's the hat in the picture above.
Jerry, thanks for reminding me of those memories! All the best on selling more hats.