A Long Way Down...

Hotel, motel
Make you wanna cry
Lady do the hard sell
Know the reason why
Gettin' old
Gettin' grey
Gettin' ripped off
Gettin' sold
Second hand
That's how it goes
Playin' in a band

It's a long way to the top
If you wanna rock 'n' roll
It's a long way to the top
If you wanna rock 'n' roll
If you wanna be a star of stage and screen
Look out it's rough and mean
It's a long way to the top
If you wanna rock 'n' roll

TNT (1994)
It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock 'N' Roll)

Whew…. After finishing my recent book that seemed like it would never end, I dove into looking at some new projects, making calls and throwing myself back into the world of the living. In Silicon Valley that means a non-stop string of holiday parties and a fabulous relinking-up with my buddies. Oh yeah, and business/pleasure meetings….

I sat in on a think tank session/dinner with IBM execs John Patrick VP President, Internet Technology, IBM, (whose recent book,
Net Attitude: What It Is, How to Get It, and Why Your Company Can't Survive Without It, intro by Stewart Alsop, you can get at Amazon Link) and Don Neely, e-business Strategy, IBM. Also in that group was Susan Duggan, our wonderful host and CEO of the World Internet Center, Joe Gotshall, OEM Sales Manager, US, SSH Communications Security, Inc., Serge Miat, Founder & CTO, Promind Systems, Parimal Patel, Co-Founder, Adjectivity, Steve Schmidt, founder and CEO, ejobShop.com, and Adrian Scott, co-founder, Flycode, and www.weboffinance.com Needless to say it was great conversation and fabulous food for thought. You should check out WIC (www.WorldInternetCenter.com) regarding their Thursday night pubs, good times.

Well, during this WIC sponsored conversation we talked about a lot, including the future success of a micro-payment system. I had just recently talked with Joe Chouinard, VP New E-commerce Channel, who had just spearheaded a new consortium with all of the major players of commerce transactions – American Express, Master Card, etc., and were looking for a solution to the micropayment issues that will either hinder or move e-commerce forward. As he said, it takes money to move money. It does, but there has to be an easier way for micro payment structure so that when the e-ink.com people get their products out and we have a completely readable, mobile, low energy screen with Internet technology built we’ll have a way to purchase a short story or a movie online without a second thought.

Joe Gotshall and I headed up the group in talking about nanotechnology – a subject we saw coming to fruition a lot sooner than the rest of the group. We were practically vibrating with excitement talking about the future and nano applications, and of course – I suggested that IBM sink some money into exploring teledildonix. After all, when use of the Internet has achieved transparency — what will people want next on demand (and this is the way its always been delivered—via technology) but orgasms? Yes, this is the Brave New World.

There was also the black tie and evening gown holiday party at the World Internet Center – what a great time!!!! It was so nice to see that the majority of people took the "black tie" invitation seriously and were actually dressed in tuxes. It is a very rare experience to see an engineer in a tux, you can often tell who are the VCs and CEOs at this kind of party. But the party was great, Sue Duggan did a fabulous job at closing out the year with a big bash with lots of class and style.

And the Burning Man Office Party earlier in the week? A very interesting event – I was hit on by a beautiful lesbian, propositioned by a couple and had my ass grabbed by Santa…what more could a gurrrl want for Christmas?! The party itself was great, held at a club closed for the party out by the the Giant's Stadium (or whatever it's called). Lots of other holiday parties to attend and I’m looking forward to Carla Raisich’s famous Solstice party that's about to occur.

I recently spoke to a pal who is contracting on a job – he has been run round and round, has been taken advantage of and he still won’t say, “hey, this account is more problems then it’s worth and this is why.” Instead he is making up excuses about why he can’t continue on with the contract. Why do this? It’s so much more freeing to be straight up, because why would you ever want to work in that chaos again? Why would you want to work with someone who completely drives you into the ground, and expects you to come back with the enthusiasm of 110 percent?

Been there, done that, I guess that’s why I work for myself. Somehow people seem to treat you with respect if they know you can walk away. And if they don’t see you as an equal worthy of respect...that’s when you get into trouble. I try only to work with people I respect, and who respect me. That’s why I work for myself. And if I get burned on a deal or project, I have no qualms in dropping the verbal grenade on my way out the door. No screaming, or arguing, just a few carefully crafted sentences that take no prisoners. You see, there are so many people in this Valley who are two faced, and say one thing, and believe another. People may only be friends with you here because of your Rolodex, or your position in a company. You don’t see many Sys Admins or AAs invited to power parties, and if you come upon them it’s kind of like encountering someone that has slipped through from a parallel universe — you don’t always know what to say.

Then again, in this Valley, it’s not uncommon for an investor to have such a personal loathing for another investor in a company that they may even try to get better terms and burn the first round of investors just to have the upper hand. I’ve also seen those within companies and investment groups that let their irritation build until they can find a way to fragment the company, start a competing startup or investment group. Backstabbing is not uncommon here.

On that same theme, many people were humbled here in the Valley when bad times hit and they were shot down from their ivory towers. And people remembered. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with people whose sentences start out, “You won’t believe who called me and WHAT they wanted!” There’s usually hardy laughter after hearing the request and what they had done to the person they were now asking a favor or intro from. I really am weirded out by these calls when I get them, the request is usually greeted by my awkward silence and me cutting the call short and remembering not to answer the number turning up on the caller ID. Cold hearted? I don’t think so. So many of these people are just toxic and turn up like bad pennies, others I know want to give them another chance and I hear later they got screwed again. Are good manners so much to ask? The saying, it’s a long way down, serves us well here.

On the other hand, there are plenty of great people who appreciate your hard work in the Valley, plenty of partners who will keep their end of the deal. Frankly will anyone ever want to honestly partner with ATT again (without an iron clad contract) after what went down with Excite@Home? Last night, on my way home from an outing of bipping around Downtown Mountain View with my goddaughter, (around midnight) I looked over my shoulder going north on the 101 and saw the Ampex sign lighted (I think it’s actually an historical landmark now) next to the still lighted Excite@Home sign looming in its background. Yes, the landscape is changing and there are too many good companies and people to keep working with assholes. I get all these calls from stressed out people saying they should have listened to their gut about working on a project or with a company or individual. My advice for the New Year (take it or leave it)? Listen to your gut and be brave and take risks so you can choose your projects in the future.

It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, and an even longer way down. Play nice with your friends and associates this year, because they will remember.