Josh Tetrick is a Silicon Valley startup CEO, but eased admiration out of me as soon as we first talked on the phone earlier this year. Tetrick isn't making an app or a service to pick up your dirty clothes—he thinks the way we eat has some serious problems, and he thinks he can fix those problems. I think he probably will.
What strikes you when you talk to Tetrick is that he doesn't sound like a cartoon character. He doesn't use tech buzzwords, marketing unctuousness, or ever seem like he's pitching you. If he talks about himself, it's only for background. He possesses modesty and social graces. He's fucking smart. If he sounds hurried in his words, it's not with a Zuckerbergian ominousness. He just wants to explain why chicken eggs are so fucked up, and how his company, Hampton Creek Foods, is going to replace chicken eggs. Eggs, Tetrick will tell you, are bad: they're raised in grotesque factory farms, they pollute, they suck resources, and they're not very good for you. So, Tetrick got together some very bright people who might have otherwise been swiped by grotesque software farms, and the San Francsico company is replacing the eggs we grew up on with a plant-based synthetic substitute. It is a plan utterly without gimmicks.
Fake eggs sound strange, and maybe even gross, but perhaps sensing my skepticism, Tetrick sent me a box of cookies made with his plant eggs, and they tasted very good. I ate all of the cookies. He also makes mayonnaise, and who knows what else if you give him a few years.
So, Josh Tetrick is my hero for 2013 because he is a terrifically smart "tech person" who got a bunch of money from "tech investors" and is actually doing something cool and useful with it. If this radical "let's make a truly good thing that people will pay money for" thinking spreads, Valleywag will have to shut down, but I don't care—keep making those fake eggs, Josh.
More Gawker heroes: Ken Layne on Pope Francis, Hamilton Nolan on Subway Brie Man, Cord Jefferson on Vanessa Van Dyke, Rich Juzwiak on Kanye West, Camille Dodero on Antoinette Tuff, J.K. Trotter on Erik Wemple, Adam Weinstein on Alice Munro, Taylor Berman on Anthony Graves, Beejoli Shah on Shia LaBeouf, Caity Weaver on Beyoncé Selfie Perfect Teen, Sam Biddle on Josh Tetrick, Lacey Donohue on Wendy Davis, Tom Scocca on Ai Weiwei, Max Read on @Dril, and John Cook on Rob Ford.