Bill Nye the Science Guy seems ubiquitous this year, from his brief stint on Dancing with the Stars to an upcoming appearance on The Big Bang Theory.
But he says he's staying on brand with his message of changing the world through a new partnership with subscription-box company Quarterly Co.
With Quarterly, a startup founded in 2011, users pay anywhere from $25 to $100 to subscribe to a box of gifts curated by one of 40 contributors, from Pharrell Williams and Nina Garcia to blogs like Laughing Squid — true to the name, they arrive every three months. It's a small company, having raised $2.5 million in funding thus far, and recently hired ex-Netflix and Redbox executive Mitch Lowe to help it expand. Nye is a new addition to the roster after hearing about Quarterly through his Fantasy Camp baseball team.
"It's not imaginary teams, it's where you pretend you are a major league baseball player," he said in a telephone interview with BuzzFeed. "So you're an aging man, hurtling towards death, you go and play baseball — not softball, baseball — with other aging men, also hurtling towards death. One of the guys I play with is connected to the guy who runs Quarterly. It was just word of mouth, and it's just the coolest thing."
He said he hopes the items he selects are consistent with his message that "the key to the future" is doing more with fewer resources, though noted he will also include "hilarious, fun things," maybe even pens, which are one of his favorite items. (Currently, Germany's Lamy brand is top on his list.) Handwritten letters will accompany each $50 box, explaining what each product means to Nye.
Something like Quarterly — which is in the realm of something like Birchbox — couldn't have existed without the internet and social media, said Nye, who is a big fan of Twitter, where he recently passed 1 million followers.
"Social media is the name of the game, I am kooky for the social media," he said. "That is, if I may, how I roll."
"I'm going to be on the Arsenio Hall Show today, so you can tell everybody that, rather than hoping they discover it or relying on network public relation departments to make it known to people," he said. "Or, to me, shutting down the U.S. government is a sign of incompetence, not a sign of macho. So I can make that statement easily using Twitter, for example."
With Nye's increased profile this year, and his goal to get people to treat their environments better, would Bill Nye the Science Guy consider returning to television? (The show won 19 Emmy awards in its five-year run, which ended in 1998.)
Nye has some ideas on how that would look.
"The thing might be to have an internet subscription service where Bill tells you, shows you, a science demonstration, connects it with climate change, shows you some scientific information from journals on a Science Guy show-like set, then we could use things akin to Vine to do location pieces associated with that, that we could embed," he said. "Bringing the show back would be very difficult because television has changed, but I'd love to do it."