Fools’ gold rush: How a website designer went from a tech startup to a billionaire
Fools gold rush?
We’ll never forget that.
But it’s been a long time since we’ve heard that.
I was a programmer at Yahoo!, one of the first companies to really break into the domain of the web and become the darling of tech companies.
I was in my early 20s.
I worked in the office from about 1995 to 1999, and was working on a site called aplog.com.
I spent the first six months there getting things to run well.
I had this wonderful, talented programmer who was the most talented person I’d ever known, who was so talented and was the kind of person who you could count on having a blast.
And then I moved to London, where I had a lot more time.
I started building the site, which was a big, big site.
It was a huge site.
And I was sitting in the conference room, with this very talented programmer, and we were sitting there and he says, “I think I’ve got a very good idea for the next thing.”
He was going through the entire site.
He says, We’ll call it ablog.com, and I’m like, “This sounds very nice.
It sounds very good.
I like this idea.”
And he says he thinks this idea will go really well.
He goes, And then he says we should call it fizzle.com and I say, “No, no.
We’re going to call it art.com.”
And then we’re in the meeting and the other programmers are like, Oh, that’s a terrible idea.
They’re like, I can’t believe this guy.
And he goes, Yeah, you’re right.
And we were like, What is it?
He said, I don’t know, I guess we should go ahead and call it flameweek.com or something.
And it was like, This is a great idea.
I thought, Oh.
We’ve never heard of it before.
And so we go ahead.
We do the design.
And now it’s just like, Okay, so what does that do?
I think we’re going back and forth for months.
And one day, the idea comes back and I go, “Wait a second.
How do I get this thing to run better than this?
How do we actually build this?”
And it’s the same with fizzle: it’s a new name, a new company, but it’s so different from the previous company.
And this was in 1998, and it’s still very much in its infancy.
I don:t think we have an idea yet.
And my boss, who’s the co-founder of the company, he goes: We have this idea.
So I go to my boss and I tell him, “Here’s what we’re doing, and this is what I think is wrong with this.
And you need to be like, Yeah.
This is wrong.
You need to do something about this.”
And the next day, I go up and tell him.
And the thing that he says to me is, I am really sorry that you’re going through this.
You are going through a great time and you have a wonderful company, and you are really a very talented person.
And that’s what he said.
And, well, I said, Yeah?
And I go back to my company and I think, I’m not even thinking about this anymore.
I am just like: This is just a joke.
And at that point, I quit.
I didn’t want to go through the whole thing again.
I think I really did it, because the idea of going through something like that is pretty awful.
And from that point on, I was really not thinking about what I was doing.
And even though I had built a pretty decent company, I didn:t want to be a part of a startup, because I was just really, really not a part.
And as a result, I have the same reaction as everybody else to these things: “What am I doing here?
What am I supposed to do here?
Am I really doing this?”
So I didn.t go back.
I’m going to be completely honest with you: I think that was a really good decision.
I felt like I got out of the fizzle phase.
And what I really love about it, I just thought, I’ve never really been a part in a startup.
I have not been part in this kind of a big company.
I just didn:d have the experience.
So for me, I think it was a pretty good decision because I got that experience.
And once I got there, I realized I had such a deep understanding of what this company was about.
I really thought, This isn’t going to go well.
And there was this whole bunch of people at the office who were like: What