Berliner (captward) Thu 19 Sep 02 08:55
Hey, you should link to this discussion down there at the bottom of the page!
David S. Greene (dsg) Thu 19 Sep 02 10:04
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Thu 19 Sep 02 10:59
I know *some* people worked those hours, and some people bought cars on stock options they hadn't cashed yet. But sometimes media attention can make exceptional cases seem like the norm. And, given the amount of posturing going on, perhaps some of those sleeping bags were talked about more than used? That's what I'd like to get a handle on.
David S. Greene (dsg) Thu 19 Sep 02 12:10
Of course I worked at a retail dotcom entity where people stayed up all night but it was usually because they couldn't stop playing "Quake".
Jesse Jacobs (jessejacobs) Thu 19 Sep 02 13:09
Brian, I agree with you that as David Neuman, the ex-President of DEN so acutely commented, (to paraphrase him) "the stories about people who DIDN'T work all day and night at dotcoms aren't the stories that sell magazines or books." And, I couldn't agree with him more. So, the answer to your question is that we'll never know the exact % of those that worked crazy hours to those that didn't, and how that % compared to the % of hours at non-dotcoms. However, we do know that the New Economy shepherded in a new work culture and work environment. One that was probably exaggerated a fair amount, but one that did exist. We know the characteristics of that culture: more "flexible" hours, blurring of the lines between work and pleasure, alternative management structures and techniques, unusual working environments. Does that mean every dotcom had all of those characteristics? Absolutely not. But, we would be remiss to ignore the effect of the New Economy on worklife.
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 19 Sep 02 13:50
If only I could figure out HOW to link this discussion to my site. I'm told I need to buy something called Dreamweaver... Actually, that disconnect is something I point out in the book: I could barely figure out how to use my garden-variety word-processing program, yet I was hired at a six-figure salary to become Vice President and Editor-in-Chief at a Web-based company! I didn't even know what HTML was. (And I still don't know HTML, just what it is.) I mean, I was a journalist and med student. What did I need to know about technology and the Internet? I'm realizing now how "behind" I am. I'm dependent on the Internet for research, and given that it's 2002, I should really learn a thing or two about creating a simple Web site and hyperlinking to the WELL.
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 19 Sep 02 13:55
Re: David's comment #79 about "Quake" (see, if I knew HTML, I'd know how to copy his post in this very space). Part of book's "Culture" chapter talks about the fact that for many people, these companies became their surrogate families. So people worked long hours (or, I should say, "put in" long hours) for the comaraderie. You get stories in the book about how folks really spent their time in the office. I found it fascinating, because I was older than the just-out-of-college crowd, so when my work was done, I couldn't wait to leave, to get back to "my life." But for many of my colleagues, and those I knew at other startups, this WAS their life. Even when people were laid off, someone in the book says that people at his company volunteered to come in and work for free, because they didn't know what to do with themselves outside of work!
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 19 Sep 02 14:00
Gail Williams (gail) Thu 19 Sep 02 14:01
The hidden post is How To Link To This Topic from a Web page.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 19 Sep 02 14:28
Lori, re. dotcom revival... maybe it's more appropriate to say 'revivals,' plural. That article mentions companies that would have gone away, but were bought by former employees and 'revived.' Re. the dotcom 'continuation'... I think there was clearly a point where you couldn't get funding for a 'dotcom' startup, and there were whole PILES of dotcoms that might as well have burned to the ground... I can't help thinking that survivors were more of an exception...
Gerry Feeney (gerry) Thu 19 Sep 02 15:42
We definitely worked crazy hours at WebVan. I typically started at 5 AM, but there were times that I started earlier - 4, 3 even 2 AM. How long the day would last would depend on how things went overall. I didn't have stock options because I was a contractor. The upside of that was that I was paid hourly. I guess in the long run, I made out better than many of the employees. Louis Borders was good about providing meals for eveyone, so you didn't have to go off-site to eat. At the corporate office in Redwood City, they had plush offices with a lot of recreational stuff, such as ping-pong tables, stationary bikes, games, etc. But at the Distribution Center, we worked in very shabby office space (inside a trailer, actually), with anti-ergonomic furnishings, and nobody there ever had a moment of leisure. So there was definitely no Quake or anything like that going on. It was work-your-ass-off from start to finish, with terrible working conditions. You were constantly running all over a warehouse the size of seven football fields, checking on peripherials and scanners placed along 4 miles of conveyor belts. Having to service workstations and scanners in the freezer (-15°F) was the pits.
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 19 Sep 02 22:56
Whoa...I'm glad they paid you hourly, Gerry. I hope you RAN to the bank with those paychecks! And Jon's right -- more the exception than the rule. Did you read the stories in the book about those people trying to get funding and what they had to go through?
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 19 Sep 02 22:56
Ah, Gail, my HTML mentor! I will take a look and attempt to link. Fingers crossed, everyone!
this tastiness cannot be carried even by by both hands (sd) Fri 20 Sep 02 04:17
just an opinion about the front page of the website. there is a lot of text for the average reader there in fairly small print. it might be better to edit the text a good bit or to put it on another page and link to it from the front page. i think site visitors might also be frustrated by the link to the public radio interview that is dead dead dead. ditto the page about the link that says it is a work in progress. maybe you could have your friend either fix it or remove both references.
David S. Greene (dsg) Fri 20 Sep 02 07:39
There's a Reuters article out today that discusses the failure rates of dotcoms backed by venture capital firms and the dollars lost. It claims that in 1999, 22% of the 1,842 companies backed by VC dollars went under, as compared to a 15% failure rates for similar companies started over the previous 7 years. Of the startups begun in the year 2000, the failure rate was 18%. This study was carried out by VentureOne. What was *not* counted were startups that made it to IPO and *then* failed. The dollars lost since 1999 in the failed companies amounts to $15.3 billion. Strangely, my reaction is excitement and optimism that over that two year period, it appears that somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of the startups WERE successful. An enormous amount of money and time were *well* invested and remained viable at least during that period. A one in five or one in six failure rate for a brand-new medium and a nascent market (as cold as this may sound) are more likely chalked up to the growing pains and necessary cost of experimentation. The only way any new industry can find success is through the inevitable risk that some trials won't work. Jesse and Lori, what do you take away from this article? Btw, my data came from the article at http://digitalmass.boston.com/news/2002/09/20/dot_coms.html
David Gans (tnf) Fri 20 Sep 02 12:33
Lori, Jesse, and David, our next interview has moved to center stage -- but that's no reason forthis one to end. Please carry on, and thank you for joining us!
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Sat 21 Sep 02 14:13
Before I sign off, I want to tell David that I wholeheartedly agree --not bad stats for a nascent industry. In fact, I find that a shockingly successful rate, in anything. Also, thanks to all of you who joined the discussion, checked out the book, gave me personal Web site tips, and generally made the whole experience incredibly enjoyable :) And thanks to David Gans, for moderating it all. Who needs Charlie Rose?
David Gans (tnf) Sat 21 Sep 02 14:17
Hey, all I do is unlock the door in the morning and make sure there are fresh towels in the green room. And again, there's no need to sign off: please continue if you're so inclined!
Jesse Jacobs (jessejacobs) Sun 22 Sep 02 06:45
David, That article certainly does illustrate that more dotcoms "succeeded" than people think, but I'm a bit suspect of the assumptions: 1) Excluding firms that went to an IPO and then crashed skews the numbers. 2) I know that we're comparing this number to the benchmark of 15%, but I imagine that benchmark of 15%, but that 15% is over the last 7 years. So, I imagine that the comparative %s for 1999 and 2000 are wel below that. So, the 22% and 18% in 99 and 2000 look a lot worse. 3) What does it mean to succeed? Is DrudgeReport included in there? Probably not. Is a company hanging on as a shell of its former self considered a success? I guess my point is that I, too, believe that the New Economy was more of a success than people give it credit for. Both, economically and sociologically. Numbers such as those are certainly helpful, but seem a bit tainted to me.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 22 Sep 02 10:15
Perhaps the 'new economy' succeeded where it wasn't 'new,' i.e. where models and assumptions were grounded in economic reality. And I agree that by some measures of success, we were wildly successful -ge.g. where innovation is a measure of success.
David S. Greene (dsg) Sun 22 Sep 02 11:57
I think Jon's post makes a great deal of sense. Thank you, Jesse and Lori, for your responses and for this wonderful work. I'd also like to thank the Inkwell team (David, Jon and Cynthia) for setting up the interview and asking me to participate.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 23 Sep 02 08:15
It's been our pleasure to have y'all here. Thanks so much for joining us.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 23 Sep 02 13:41
Yes, thanks much!
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 2 Oct 02 06:11
I got email from Lori, with some info on her book-reading/signing tour. ******************* FROM LORI GOTTLIEB Just a reminder that I'll be on the San Francisco stop of the book tour to celebrate the release of my (and co-writer Jesse Jacobs') "hilarious" and "gossipy" (says Wired News) INSIDE THE CULT OF KIBU: AND OTHER TALES OF THE MILLENNIAL GOLD RUSH, a very personal, "inside" collective memoir of the New Economy. Tuesday, October 8 7 p.m. Borders Books, Palo Alto University Avenue Wednesday, October 9 7:30 p.m. Books Inc., San Francisco Chestnut Street "Inside the Cult of Kibu deserves a place on the bookshelf right next to that other classic of digital bubble-popping, Michael Lewis' The New New Thing." WIRED NEWS Looking forward to seeing you! (If you missed us on CNBC, "The Early Show," "Marketplace," CNET Radio, etc., you can hear us talking about it all live from San Francisco on KQED's "Forum" and NPR's "Tech Nation.") ********************
Lori Gottlieb (lgottlieb) Thu 3 Oct 02 22:46
Thanks, Cynthia, for the shameless plug! I'll be curious to see who comes to the San Francisco and Palo Alto signings...I've received emails from several of the book's contributors saying they'll stop by. All WELL folks are also welcome :)
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