Google fired the engineer who convinced Virgin Founder Richard Branson and Google Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to participate in an elaborate hoax (see press release) inviting individuals to apply to live on a Mars colony sponsored by “Virgle.”
Wired Writer Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides called it the “funniest April Fool’s Day spoof I have seen.” Whitesides is the founder of a local chapter of the Family Circus Fan Club, and has California’s largest reported collection of Alf memorabilia.
David Scheyd, the 28-year-old Google engineer who conceived the gag last February was, yesterday, inexplicably dismissed from his position at Google — a job he held for 4 years. “Scheyd presented the Virgle idea with such passion that we really thought it would be funny,” said Melanie LaForge, a Google spokesperson.
“It was with great regret that we had to let Scheyd go. It became clear yesterday to both Google and Scheyd that the attempted gag was too obvious and failed to amuse even the most affable and simplest minds employed by our company — the NYC media sales teams.”
Scheyd declined to comment except through a written release, in which he attributed the prank’s failure not to its concept but its poor execution. “The poor video deliveries by Branson, as well as Page and Brin, brought a sad and creepy fakeness to what might have been a very funny and believable bit.”
Neither Google nor Scheyd’s spokesperson could confirm if Scheyd had any credentials prior to leading the blunder.
Georgetown Business Historian Professor William Lawler called it “corporate America’s least-funny practical joke by a landslide.”
The only thing less funny than the prank, said Lawler, was the discussion group thread that had such actual unfunny quotes as:
- Maybe the cure for cancer and aids is on Mars.
- Curing cancer and AIDS would no doubt be a wonderful thing, increasing the quality of life for many.
- Consider, however, that once eradicated, there will be other things that crop up, things we didn’t foresee.
- There are several Mars analog projects that have been underway for some time, testing and trying to make colonization of the red planet a possibility for humanity’s future.
Scheyd would not confirm rumors that he has been offered a writing job for YouTube comedian Sxephil.
P.S. I’ve just informed that April Fool’s is over, and I’m not supposed to tease people with fake stories. But the ImprovEverywhere guy told me April Fool’s is amateur day. So by writing a fake story on April 2, I’m communicating to you that I’m a pro.