Marc Andreessen, of Netscape/Loudcloud/Ning fame, has had a very interesting blog going lately. His recent reference to Startup.com, a documentary from 2001, brought me back. I think our entire company – all five of us – went to see that in the theater when it first came out. I don't have a sales bone in my body, so my involvement in our startup was almost strictly on the technical side. As a result, I don't have the vivid memories of VC pitches that our other founders do. Nor did Zango (nee ePIPO, then changed to 180solutions, before we made Keith stop picking corporate names) have the same dramatic rise and fall characteristic of so many other startups from the era. But the emotional thrill ride, the tensions, the camaraderie, were beyond belief, and the movie captured them perfectly.
My favorite story from back in the day: it was Dan Todd's birthday, and we had made tentative plans to celebrate it after work with a dinner and go-carts. We were only seven or eight employees at the time, and around 7:00 pm, one of us looked up from his desk and said, "Hey, aren't we going to go out?" So we got up from our desks, gathered in the center of the office, waited for everyone to arrive – and then, on cue, without saying a word, we all walked back to our desks and started working again. (We eventually did leave – but too late to make it to the go-cart facility.)
I hope it doesn't cheapen Shakespeare too much quote him here:
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Certainly nobody who went through that era – in any startup that had any measure of success – could disagree with the sentiment.