For those of you who follow the business-doings of the internet, the last few months have provided plenty of captivating knockout punches, along with more than a few left jabs and body blows. Of course, everyone is waiting with baited breath for the Google IPO. We haven’t seen anticipation like this, arguably, since the heady days of Netscape’s IPO, when the sky wasn’t the limit – the universe was.
Social networking, the internet’s newest fad, is starting to make inroads – the mighty Google launched Orkut recently, which is not typical of Google – following in someone’s footsteps. Friendster, Tribe.net and a few others were there already and Orkut is not much different than any of them. Maybe some different colors here and there. But if Google wants to play in the public spectrum, they’re gonna have to throw a lot of toilet paper at the ceiling to see what sticks, because right now they have just one source of revenue – paid search. I know one thing, I wouldn’t touch a public offering with a ten-foot pole for a company that has once source of revenue that just happens to be hot right now. Who knows what that market will look like in a year.
Yahoo made their big move last year with their acquisition of Overture. Don’t let any of Yahoo’s press releases fool you – their comeback has not been fueled by great content or their partnership with SBC. Yahoo’s comeback is because of Overture’s paid websearch program. Period. End of story.
Anyway, roughly at the time of the Netscape IPO, two good friends and I were in the process of shutting down our little record label (more on that later) and I was, somewhat unknowingly, about to be plucked out of the HotJobs database and dropped into the internet bubble. At the time, I didn’t see myself as an internet guy as much as I saw myself just flailing around trying to latch onto something for a while. The record label was supposed to be my life. Music was supposed to be my life. Instead, there I was, freshly dumped (although somewhat mutually) by a long-time girlfriend, my record label dream shattered and I was severely in debt, living in a five-bedroom house in Allston, MA – and no idea what to do with myself, personally or profressionally. That period of my life, although not one I look back on with too much glee, changed me forever. It made me so much stronger and eventually gave me a little shot of self-esteem, which is probably still something I could use more of to this day. But that’s a story for another time. Bottom line: I dug myself out.
After many years in the record business, I landed at a dot.com. The name doesn’t matter and they don’t exist anymore. Over the next two years, I worked at two dot.com’s, met the person who is now my fiancee, managed to get myself out of debt and learned quite a bit about the “business” of the internet. I don’t necessarily consider this a major turn-around or anything – I was never ready to jump off a cliff or clinically depressed. Instead, I took a left at the intersection where I would normally take a right. Whereas in the past, I was always calculating and very careful, I decided to try some new things. At the time we shut down the record label, I believe I had enough foresight to comprehend that just being in the music business wasn’t going to be enough for me. Part of the reason the record label was shuttered was because I (and maybe my partners) started to lose passion for the one thing that put me in the music business – music. Duh. Anyway, I badly needed additional skills if I was going to have any measure of professional success and I spent those next two years getting them.
Which brings me to today. Thanks to a couple of people at the company I’ve been working at now for almost three years, my skills have been expanded to places that I never thought I could reach. I couldn’t have ever guessed back in 1998 that I would be where I am today. Again, those occassional left turns make all the difference. If I hadn’t met up with my girlfriend, I would have never gotten this job. If I hadn’t been randomly called by the person who ended up being my boss for a while during those first dot.com days, I would have never gotten to where I am today. If I’d gone right back to the music business, the only thing I would know is how to call up magazines and radio stations and beg to get records reviewed or played on the radio. Those skills in and of themselves are fine skills, but I knew it wasn’t enough for me.
So I think about where I was and who I was when I was 20, 25, and now 32 and I really cannot believe what has transpired in those 12 years. At 20, I never wanted to be who I am now. At 25, I didn’t know where the hell I wanted to be except at a nightclub, with a beer, seeing good music. At 32, I look back at 20 now and see how wrong I was. Sure, it’s all part of the passage of time and maturity. It’s part of realizing that life doesn’t revolve around one person – myself. What matters is the constants – the people who stick with you through any and all stages of your life, supporting you as you change and as you strive for……whatever. It doesn’t matter what you’re striving for – if someone is there and they have your back, there’s no better or more comforting feeling. Because all of life’s changes, left turns and ups and downs – they all happen because of chance meetings and people you know – the human factor – not the chair you sit in at the office you work at. IPO’s will always be around. Businesses being acquired will occur long after we’re gone.
How does this all tie in? Fuck if I know. The biggest period of change in my life has come from 1998-2003, and the bookends of that period have also brought the internet bubble full circle. I think that’s the best I can do to tie it all together. If you knew me in 1998 and still communicate with me today, in one way or another, you are one of those people who stuck by me. So thanks.
By the way, it took me four years, but I am very much a music fan again.
Song now playing: Otis Redding – “Just One More Day”