When Paul Carr is not introducing guests at PandoMonthly, offending 20 percent of our audience on the pages of PandoDaily, or hosting the sometimes-weekly PandoDaily show “Why Isn’t This News?” he is actually working on his own company.

We all knew that on some level, because he announced he was doing this company months before PandoDaily even existed. But it’s been difficult to actually see all the hard work that was going into the site, until now.

As discussed on WITN earlier today, NSFW Corp has finally — FINALLY — launched. Go here now to subscribe. Paul won’t actually let you in for another week, but after that you can read all the NSFW you want. Really, this time.

What’s that you say? You don’t want to risk $3 on unseen content? Here’s a snippet of content by James Aylett about one of Paul’s favorite topics, Julian Assange:

Julian Assange is the diplomatic equivalent of syphilis. The Australians gave him to the Swedes. Then the Brits had him and, in all probability, the Americans will be next. For now, though, he has holed up in Ecuador’s embassy to the UK, presumably after reading a travel advisory from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning of an elevated risk of sexual assault in the South American country and thinking, “Oh yes, I’ll fit right in there.”

One of Paul’s gripes with the pilot published some two months ago is that it wasn’t as acerbic, funny, or offensive as a typical day hanging out with him. After spending the last four years hanging out with Paul, and my morning reading NSFW, I can easily say mission pretty much accomplished this time around. The trick will be keeping it up.

I also have to say I love the design, the more I read. Once you figure out where to click (Hint: It’s not what appears to be the headline. It’s the text. Confusing, I know. I think it’s some kind of “cool” test. Don’t worry. I failed too.) the page swooshes and moves in nice but not overstated ways. Paul’s developer Josh Ellis rebuilt it from the ground up after the pilot, and he did a great job, along with designer Roger Erik Tinch. And — not surprisingly — I love the illustrations by our own Hallie Bateman.

The bigger news is what’s powering the launch. Other than Paul’s blood, sweat, tears, and a daily gallon of Diet Coke, it’s a new infusion of cash from the Vegas Tech Fund, the investment vehicle of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project.

Now. Here is where we fall into an abyss of disclosures. In addition to Paul being my best friend, and a contributor to PandoDaily, my husband is a photographer who is spending the next two years documenting the ambitious Downtown Project. Hsieh is also a personal investor in PandoDaily. While we’re at it, CrunchFund invested in both us and NSFW too.

Back to the news: Paul has raised a six figure follow-on round from the Vegas Tech Fund. It was the sole investor in this round and this makes the Vegas Tech Fund by far the biggest investor in the company. Paul won’t let me disclose the actual amount, out of some fit of absurd paranoia that writers will demand higher salaries or people will sue him or the world will come to an end or something equally unlikely. (He well knows this is one of my biggest pet peeves.)

Suffice to say, it’s an impressive sum in an era when investors are very reticent to fund content companies.

But I couldn’t help but wonder, why not raise more? Media companies are incredibly hard to build. It’s a day-in, day-out slog, and it always takes longer than you’d like. Plenty of generation one blogs raised the minimum they needed, and then had to go back hat-in-hand to raise more at disadvantageous valuations. Worse, they had to take revenue where they could get them and that wasn’t always in the interests of the readers. And Paul and I share the philosophy that good talent should be paid promptly and paid well. (This is why I raised a pretty large $2.5 million seed round, after starting out to raise just $1m.)

The answer, in part, is that Paul isn’t building a blog. He’s building something different that people will actually pay for. That means while we share a lot of the same journalistic values, we have totally different economic models. We need mass and influence so advertisers and sponsors will pay us; he just needs thousands of people with $3 to spend on topical humor.

Rather than filter his thoughts through my biased lens, I decided to ask him the rest of my hard questions over email today. I’ve posted both below and will let you judge his prospects for yourself. And in case you are confused by who is talking, I’ve posted the mini-Paul and mini-Sarah faces Hallie has drawn for your convenience. It looks like a conversation between a bored reporter and a worried entrepreneur, but it’s still more visually stimulating than WITN.

Sarah: Why didn’t you raise more — are you one of those lean startup nut cases?




Paul: Yeah, I’m renowned for my financial prudence. No, the simple truth is we didn’t need more. Aside from some design and tech, our major outlay is the writing. (We pay every one of our writers, and I think pretty well.) Unlike hiring brilliant developers, hiring brilliant writers is a reasonably affordable proposition, providing you can find them in the first place. Also, I suppose I like the idea of pseudo bootstrapping the thing: Comedy publications with millions of dollars in the bank are very rarely funny, for some reason. Maybe it’s an underdog thing.

Sarah: How many subscribers do you have to sign up to make the economics work?




Paul: For the first year, none. After that, things go south pretty quickly unless we have at least 10,000. 50,000 would mean we can keep doing this thing for the rest of our natural lives. 100,000 and I’m selling to AOL and handing over the reins to a 12-year-old drunk.

Sarah: Why’d you raise so much from Vegas? Don’t most people go there to lose money?




Paul: It’s not really about taking money from Vegas, it’s about taking money from investors who aren’t scared off by the idea of a crazy Brit wanting to spend their money swearing at politicians and journalists. That’s a short list. It’s basically just Tony Hseih, CrunchFund and Judith Clegg.

That said, Tony was the first investor to encourage me to start the company, and to move to Vegas. Both turned out to be pretty good ideas. I love it here, and I love what’s happening with the regeneration of Downtown. I love the fact that you avoid all of the assumptions people make about a media company being based on the East Coast (or in London) or a tech company on the West Coast. Also: interesting people come to Vegas all the time — I want to have as many talented, funny people in the room at the same time as I can.

SO, given all of the above, when we decided to raise more money, Tony (and Vegas Tech Fund) was the obvious first call. He’s been a model investor: zero interest in influencing editorial, zero attempt at telling us what to do generally (apart from encouraging us to be in Vegas) and willing to offer — in our attorney’s words — “ridiculously generous terms.”


Sarah: How are things going with the whole Downtown Project generally?




Paul: From my point of view, fantastic. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now. The regeneration means there’s always something interesting — a bar, a concert hall, a startup — popping up. The people, as you know, are fascinating. There’s a real entrepreneurial spirit. As for the Downtown Project generally, you’d have to ask Tony but signs point to so-far-so-good. I’ve said before, his biggest challenge will be avoiding the whole thing becoming Zappos Town. Hopefully we can do our bit in helping with that.


Sarah: Back to NSFW — what parts of the original vision are still there; what’s gone?




Paul: The original vision: a paid subscription publication that talks about the week’s news, with jokes, is entirely intact. Most of the specifics have evolved through the pilot period though. For one thing, it’s not weekly any more — we realized (embarrassingly slowly) that grouping stuff together into a weekly package makes zero sense, no matter how much we’d like it to. Also, we’re not on the Apple Newsstand. I actually can’t believe I was willing to entertain the idea of giving anyone — let alone apple — an effective editorial veto on what we could publish. The 30 percent is fine, but the approval process is bullshit. We’re HTML5 all the way, even if the path to purchase is slightly more painful.

That said, we’re publishing our ebooks through Apple and Kindle and Nook because, well, that’s how people buy and read ebooks. Re: my point about editorial approval, we’re already embroiled in a fight with Amazon over our first title, so my HTML5 decision is looking good. On the content side, as I said in this week’s WITN, I realized that we pulled too many punches. I don’t know if it was fear stemming from having raised a bunch of money, or just he fact that I haven’t edited comedy for a while, but too much of the pilot wasn’t funny, it was “humorous”, which is the fucking worst. That’s entirely my fault, by the way. The writers did an amazing job (and they’re all still with us) — I just forced them into a box.


Sarah: Is this the last launch? Will it be published regularly from today on?





Paul: Yes.





Sarah: You love to joke about being a failed entrepreneur, but my sense is you have legitimately learned a lot of lessons from those failures that could help other entrepreneurs. Can you share some with us?




Paul: The number one lesson is to make sure that you are the best in the world at whatever your core offering is. I co-founded a print publishing house in 2005, despite having no experience with books back then (leaving my business partner to do all the heavy lifting). Then I created a social network, despite the fact I hate people. Other lessons: you can be a boss or you can be a drunk, you can’t be both. Trust your gut and retain as much control as you can. You’ll need it.


Sarah: You and I share a Messianic view about saving journalism. What are you trying to bring back that has been lost?




Paul: In the words of Monty Python (and possibly Kara Swisher), I’m not the messiah, I’m a very naughty boy. Yeah, I think we’re both trying to build companies that achieve the (some say) impossible feat of producing genuinely high quality editorial, produced by world-class writers and journalists who are being paid a respectable (maybe even generous) wage for their talents.

The two biggest things that NSFW Corp is trying to bring back are a satirical magazine that readers are excited (and a bit scared) to read every day/week/month (like I was with Private Eye in the UK of my youth, and I guess people had here with Spy) — and from a writer’s point of view, a place to call home. Somewhere where you can write your heart and soul and gut and know that your editor relishes the ensuing fight as much as you do. If this isn’t fun, we might as well kill ourselves, right?