Dec 102005

Like Fingernails on a Chalkboard

Like Fingernails on a Chalkboard

Anyone who worked in the Internet in the early days probably remembers all-too-vividly how silly things got near the end.  Even those who had nothing to do with the industry but who were alive at the time with an extra dollar or two to invest in the stock market probably has some conception of the massive roller coaster companies were on in those years.

The memories/images/perceptions all come crashing down in the latest chapter of Tom Evslin’s blook in a manner that reminds me of the sound of fingernails racing down a chalkboard.  You’ve heard it before, you can’t forget it, you squirm every time you hear it, but you can’t tear yourself away from it.

I think Chapter 9, Episode 6 and Episode 7 lay out every single stereotype of the Internet’s bad old days in two easy tales:

– The CEO who says “The main reason for this meeting is to figure out how to get the stock price up again”

– The blaming of the investment bankers for the bad business model

– The head of sales who doesn’t understand his vanishing pipeline and the CEO who turns a blind eye, sacrificing future sales to make the current quarter’s numbers

– The surprisingly shocking realization that adding 30 new people per quarter costs a lot of money

– The parade of the lawsuits, lawyers, and insurance policies

– The notion that all problems can be solved with a new product, which of course must be built immediately, but with a smaller engineering team

– The struggle about laying off staff and the comment that “you can’t cut your way to growth and greatness”

If you’ve haven’t tried the blook yet, you can start at the beginning with the daily episodes, on the web or by RSS, or you can download chapters in pdf format on the site.  It’s a great piece of daily brain candy.