Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Mon 16 Sep 02 08:12
I know David's the question guy here, but I'm curious: Jesse, are there a lot of folks who worked at startups in your class, or are you one of the few who brings that experience to Wharton? At Stanford, for example, because of its location, it seems so many folks either worked at a startup or know someone who did. Is the same true at Wharton? Or does it seem like some exotic (or misguided) experience to your classmates?
Jesse Jacobs (jessejacobs) Mon 16 Sep 02 10:26
Well, the majority of the class is still drawn from I-Banking, Consulting and the like, but there is a group of ex-startupers. I would imagine that the percentage of startupers is higher at Stanford, but I would surprised if it was considerably higher. While I can't personally speak for Stanford, I do know that there is some dotcom refugee backlash in the b-school and law-school admissions offices. So many ex-dotcommers are out of a job and think it's the perfect time to go back to school because of the economy and job market. The admissions offices are highly aware of this, and have their sensors tuned to weeding out the "refugees." And, I would imagine that Stanford would be more sensitive to this than any other school given their location and strength in entrepeneurship. Finally, to answer your last question, my experience certainly seems more unusual to my classmates than the experience of those who worked at Bain, Morgan Stanley, etc... but I don't think that anyone feels that working at a dotcom was exotic (at least anymore). Mainly because - as you mentioned - everyone knows (or knew!) a dozen other "normal" people working at dotcoms. The culture became so pervasive that it lost its exotic appeal, to some degree.
(fom) Mon 16 Sep 02 10:46
>So many ex-dotcommers are out of a job and think it's the perfect time to go back to school because of the economy and job market. The admissions offices are highly aware of this, and have their sensors tuned to weeding out the "refugees." And, I would imagine that Stanford would be more sensitive to this than any other school given their location and strength in entrepeneurship. Why is this? I mean, why weed out the "refugees"? (Am I missing something obvious?)
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 16 Sep 02 17:09
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David S. Greene (dsg) Mon 16 Sep 02 19:45
I'm curious about what fom asked as well. Seems to me these are *perfect candidates* for B schools, since they've had a taste of the business world in a very real way, and now they'll absorb the material with appreciably more depth and commitment.
Jesse Jacobs (jessejacobs) Tue 17 Sep 02 09:16
By weeding out the refugees, I mean that admission officers are aware that many dotcommers have lost their jobs during the past three years. They are also aware that these people have had trouble finding jobs. So, the thought process is that these "refugees" are basically freaking out. They're thinking, "I'm 27. I don't have a job. My career path just stopped abruptly because my industry fell on its face. What to do? Apply to B-School. Apply to Law School. That seems like a good way to pass these years of a tight job market and economic distress." The admissions officers are looking for candidates that can explicitly and competently state why and MBA would help them. Why now. An unacceptable answer is "I just got laid off, I can't find a job, and I 'hear' that it's a good time to go back to school." So, by "refugees," I mean those people who are applying to grad school for the wrong reasons. You can still be an ex-dotcommer and not a "refugee." Hope that clears up my point....
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Tue 17 Sep 02 17:06
Funny, I work as a writer in L.A., and down here the "refugees" are those who left their Hollywood gigs for startups and now can't seem to get back into the business at the same level or in the same position. They've been replaced at their former jobs, the market is tight, so the "refugees" are now "consulting" for entertainment companies. And this leaves me with mixed feelings about what happened. I think people learned a lot from their sometimes shockingly brief experiences -- I know I did -- but many are now stuck with no job, no place to take that experience. Even those who left stable jobs in law firms or investment banks and yes, Hollywood (although, is anything "stable" in Hollywood?) don't seem to have the option to bring this newfound knowledge base to their former positions. Great for the gloating masses who stayed put in the late '90s. But there were some valuable lessons to be learned by doing something non-traditional (as the dot-com phenomenon began; later it became something else), and it's sad that now a lot of these people are struggling to bring all this somewhere else.
David S. Greene (dsg) Tue 17 Sep 02 17:29
If you were one of the "refugees", where would you want to go next? What would be your next project/career?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 18 Sep 02 06:36
Lori, speaking of Hollywood, I was watching the film 'Swimming with Sharks,' in which Kevin Spacey plays a particularly toxic film producer, and thinking how much the various types represented in the film aligned with the business people I've known who tried to redefinte the Internet as a money/media machine. Now I know why! Jesse, speaking of MBAs: somebody told me an MBA grad can get a 100K+ salary "out of the box." I was thinking the MBAs I met, for instance those who were attached to Arthur Andersen, Accenture, or KPMG hives, made quite a bit less... that they were working for peanuts in order to get established. Which is more correct? Also, I know you're new to the MBA thing, but do you have a sense that emphases within MBA curricula have changed in the wake of the dotcom slimedown and the various recent corporate implosions?
poking the ladyfingers in the notice board (abbess) Wed 18 Sep 02 08:54
Even without an MBA, my impression was that the Arthur Andersen, Accenture, and KPMG hives paid more like the 100K salary out of the box to their new hires; and that it only became working for peanuts in that you'd have to look at their jobs as 2 full time 50K/year jobs put together to get a real picture... the sacrifice is in the working 80 hour weeks, all the time, part. but that was just secondhand experience from college acquaintances who went directly from undergrad to one of those places.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 18 Sep 02 09:47
And there's that huge difference between the Stanford MBA and the University of Phoenix MBA, of course...
David S. Greene (dsg) Wed 18 Sep 02 09:53
So I shouldn't trumpet an MBA from the College of the Lesser Antilles?
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 18 Sep 02 10:13
What, the Harvard of the Caribbean?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 18 Sep 02 10:38
Just ran across this piece at CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/internet/09/18/second.webshots.ap/index.html Kind of a dotcom revival under way...
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Wed 18 Sep 02 11:05
Well, whether it's $100K or a two-fer hour-wise at $50K each, it's more than Joe and Jane Dot-commer made once their stock options became worth nada. Even if you were paid well at a dot-com, you were working more hours than my medical resident friends at Stanford. Do the math on the hours, and you were really paid peanuts. It was the stock options that were supposed to be the real compensation.
David S. Greene (dsg) Wed 18 Sep 02 11:38
<<We've put the crack pipe away," said Chris Kitze, who invested $9 million of his dot-com fortune to revive Wine.com, one of the Web's biggest busts, with a strategy that mostly promotes the sale of premium wines. "It used to be all about getting the 'first mover' advantage on the Internet. Now that people have become more rational and sane, there is an understanding that it's all about becoming the last man standing." >> Those lines could have been lifted directly from your book, right, Lori?
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Wed 18 Sep 02 12:07
Not everyone at startups worked crazy hours. Was it even a majority? Perhaps it's more the reputation than the rule. (As a programmer I worked late into the evening, but I also came in at 11.)
poking the ladyfingers in the notice board (abbess) Wed 18 Sep 02 12:36
...and the conventional wisdom around my parts was that the stock options should always be assumed to be worthless, and if what you were earning, or even whether you were loving what you were doing, was not enough to make you want the job if it *didn't* come with options, then you shouldn't be taking the job. Was Boston so different than the West Coast during the Internet boom? Are the people I talk to so different? I'm also a data point for startups, if not literal "dotcoms" that did not involve crazy hours or low salaries. (Or stupid business plans.. hmm, maybe there's a pattern...)
Jesse Jacobs (jessejacobs) Wed 18 Sep 02 13:37
To address the question about MBA salaries, the average at top 10 schools hovers around 100K with a 20K signing bonus. As an example, Goldman Sachs pays first year associates 85K with a 30K signing bonus and a 20-30K guaranteed first year salary. Consulting firms pay very high as well. Usually 100K plus with nice signing bonus. However, those who go straight from undergrad do not make this typ of money (right away at last). It's usually about 50-60K. Several years ago, during the boom, it was not uncommon for MBAs to have 5-10 offers. From startups, I-Banks, Consultantcies, etc.. Now, well, it's a different story. Hiring has plummeted, and although I-Banks and Consultants still recruit, the number of offers they give has gone way done, the bonuses have gone down, the first-years bonuses are often not guaranteed. It's a different climate to say the least. So, at Wharton, you're seeing a resurgance of interest in old-economy industries: packaged goods, manufacturing, insurance, healthcare, etc... As for curriculum changes, there is certainly less of an emphasis on "E-Commerce" classes, although they still exist, and an increased interest in Ethics and Accounting classes.
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Wed 18 Sep 02 17:56
FWIW, a recent _San Francisco Chronicle_ piece casted some doubt on just how hot a property an MBA is. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/08/27/B U99160.DTL
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 19 Sep 02 08:36
About the so-called dot-com revival - our book makes it clear that there were dot-coms that were out-of-hand, and dot-coms that acted like bona fide businesses. And in the "hereafter" chapter, you can see what those latter businesses are, as well as the businesses people have started as a result of the lessons they learned the first time out. I wouldn't really call that (as the media does) a "revival" -- it's more of a continuation. No one stopped starting up these companies. The media stopped covering them, and now that several have proven themselves to be successful or on the path to success, the media is spilling ink on 'em. The funny thing about the media is that it considers "news" it doesn't print like the tree that falls in the forest. If no one hears (about) it, it doesn't exist. So now that the media is writing about those trees, it's considered a "revival." Very amusing to me.
David S. Greene (dsg) Thu 19 Sep 02 08:43
We know Jesse is firmly ensconsed at Wharton, but what is LORI doing next? Is there a new project? A book? A different path? What's on your radar screen/
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 19 Sep 02 08:45
In Silly Valley, as it was called, people really did work those crazy hours (one person in our book says it was a badge of honor to have a sleeping bag under your desk) and the salaries varied. Some companies didn't pay very well (the smart ones) while others threw their VC stash around willy-nilly. You can see this in our book, where people share very different stories (although many do follow a pattern). We did, however, talk to folks for the book who worked at startups in other cities like L.A., NYC, Boston, even states like Kansas (!), and yeah, there seemed to be similarities among the L.A.-NYC-SF group in terms of hours, but those elsewhere seemed to have been more "sane" in terms of hours and salary (meaning: well-paid but not obnoxiously so; stock options clearly not to be counted on in the minds of employees. The epigraph to the book is: "Madness is a rare thing in individuals -- but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages it is the rule" - Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 1886. That may explain why in places where the concentration of startups was highest, the madness increased.
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 19 Sep 02 08:49
Well, I've always been a writer, even before medical school, when I worked in Hollywood and as a journalist. So even though my parents keep asking when I'm gonna get a "real" job, this week I've got two magazine pieces due, I'm taping a public radio piece, and working on a television project (off to a meeting on this right now, in fact...and haven't showered yet! Arg!). Of course, there's always the possibility of a third book, she says coyly :)
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 19 Sep 02 08:51
A friend just re-designed my really lame Web site for me, and although it's missing most of the info about my writing, you can get a tiny window into it if you check out the site: www.lorigottlieb.com For what it's worth.
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