October 05, 2005

Web 1.0 we had it right

I wrote and built my first website in 1996. Shawn Bernard -- a destined-to-be-gifted web designer -- and I did the whole thing. You can take a stroll through a lot of it here thanks to the wayback machine. We ran contests and gave away stress balls and pens and books. By February of 1997, we had a reference library of downloadable white papers, articles, and publications. We even had a registration page with a backend routine that sent an email to me to let me know who had registered and what their company information and needs were. Today you might just call that lead generation.

The site was a hell of a lot less primitive than IBM's at that same time.

We were stars in the data warehousing space in those days because we got tech, we got the web, we got data. (If we'd only had a product!)

Five years I spent getting it and giving it, sometimes round the clock, for the common cause.

In September of 1997 I had a baby.

By the time I came back to work, we had new management brought in by the investors. We were working really hard on that product we needed to actually have in order to sell it.

Our site was growing. IBM's site was this cool.

When I came back to work after six weeks on spare-change disability, I hemorrhaged, returned to the hospital for emergency surgery, and almost died.

I was in the hospital for 10 days.

Our website was looking good.

Between my delivery and my emergency surgery, during the 2 weeks I was back at work, I talked to the new CFO. I told him things about our business.

The CFO, his name was Sam Johnson, maybe he goes by Samuel Johnson now, no not THAT Sam Johnson, and maybe he moved from Atlanta to Chicago, I can't quite remember, it being Web 1.0 and everything, but I know Sam Johnson works in financial services, maybe he was a CPA, I couldn't tell you because he was just a young punk then.

I let him hold my newborn baby. I still regret it.

Sam was a corporate evil doer. He was also a short, bald brother, and I mean really short.

He said that this webpage thing wasn't going anywhere. I said it was. He tried to out-MBA-speak me. He said we do not need this webpage expense. I told him, it's not an expense--we have our own server and this web site saves us on the hard copy white papers we're always shipping. He said, if IBM doesn't have a webpage, we don't need one. I said IBM does have a web site, but ours is better. He said million dollar corporations are doing business without having these homepages, so we sure don't need one. I said, that's exactly why we we do need one. Because we're not them.

When I came back to work six weeks after my emergency myomectomy, I didn't have a job anymore.

My baby was 12 weeks old.

Web 1.0 taught us Internet jockeys a lot. Like you can find my brand on the net, but you can't find sam johnson the CFO.

Eventually, the company I worked for would be bought several times over, first by Prism, then by Ardent, then by Informix, and finally by IBM.

I love irony.

Sam, you were wrong 8 years ago, and I was right.

It's Web 2.0 and I'm still smart.

And I bet you're still an idiot.

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