Thursday, April 2, 2009

Entrepreneur Diaries I - Pet Psychic

To entertain old friends and colleagues and “épater l’industrie"…An entirely scabrous and fictional picaresque narrative chronicling the adventures of Case, a serial entrepreneur who falls victim to almost every fad in the tech industry.

…At some point in his life, Case decided that he was an ideas person. As such, he sought his fortune in the late twentieth century tech gold rush, with its promise of riches beyond belief, for enterprising, entrepreneurial fellows, such as he.


In 1999, a chance acquaintance with a hippie chick at a bar gave Case the idea for his Dotcom. She was cute, chesty, naive and he had nothing better to do. So, the following afternoon, he accompanied her to a seminar at the Mind Spirit and Body Center for Holistic Animal Health.

The seminar was led by a large muumuu-clad Earth Mother type—a pet psychic, or “animal communicator” as she preferred to be called. The incense was getting on his nerves and Case was sure the animator was on to him, when she asked him why he seemed troubled during the group meditation. He had to think fast to come up with an alternative to the actual horrifying image he'd conjured up--that of being smothered by muumuu woman's ample bosom. However, just as he was planning his exit, she read a testimonial that piqued his interest.

Dear Gwendolyn:
During our session on October 5th, while talking with my cat Gandalph (real name withheld), you said that his spirit appeared as a Christmas tree. I couldn't believe it. Christmas was Gandalph's favorite time and he often slept under our tree.

One year, he brought in a mouse he had hunted and put it under the Christmas tree with all of the other presents. Because he loved Christmas so much, I put up his very own miniature Christmas tree on my nightstand in the bedroom.

Shortly after Gandalph's passing, the lights on the tree began burning so bright one night they actually woke me up and I touched one of the bulbs, burning my fingertip. The lights went out before I even unplugged it. I replaced the string of lights that evening. Thank you.…

As it turned out, Gwendolyn and her colleagues were eager to take their message to the Internet and Case succeeded in borrowing money from his family to hire the two coders who responded to his ad on Craig’s List--Duane and Sanjay.

This was 1999, talent was scarce. Recruiting wasn’t exactly an option. You had to take what you could find, and even they might be picky. You had to sell them on the dream.

Case: So let me see, Duane, you actually worked at, Wow! How was that?

Duane: Yeah man, it was great. We were gonna rule the world.

Case: So why exactly was it that you left?

Duane: My manager and I had differences of opinion about the strategic direction the business should take.

Case: Umh?

Duane: They wanted me to actually show up, Dude. Fucking slave drivers, can you believe it? Always on my back checking my code logs during my telecommute time. I’m a creative type, inspiration comes in bursts.

Case: [meekly] Well, I’ll want you to show up.

Duane: It’s 1999 man, there’s the Internet. Heard of it? We telecommute. Anyway, that’s what’s on the table. Take it our leave it. [Breaks out a joint, lights up and takes a drag]. Want some?

Case: Er, no thank you.

Duane: Come on man, it’s very important to me that my employer understands my lifestyle. [Case reluctantly takes the joint, puffs and coughs]. If you don’t cough, you don’t get off.

Case: [Passes joint to Sanjay] So Sanjay, do you have any questions about our business model?

Sanjay: Does your business model include an H1-B visa for me?

Case: Um yeah, sure.

Sanjay: I am not com-for-table with our target market. In Bangalore, nobody would pay to talk to their pet.

Case: Listen, Sanjay, this is America. There is an endless supply of cretins out there.

Sanjay: Sure, I get that. But tell me what has this got to do with the web?

Case: Many of them are beginning to penetrate the online space in search of their own kind. The online human psychic market is pretty much cornered, but many of these people have pets. I tell you, the animal psychic market is ripe for picking. For the right person, that is. The kind of person who has the vision and the cojones to go out there and stake a claim.

Sanjay: Ok boss-man. Sign me up.

And with that, Case was off to the races. This was it, his own chance at the big league. Time to dream big dreams and raise big money. He was born to be big-time, his mama always knew it.


Anonymous said...

so did your sister-in-law's boyfriend understand this one and like it?

(I liked it... but I thought it ended before the ending)

Anonymous said...

Something tells me this is not entirely fictional... is it? Was there a Duane in early JBoss?

Nathalie said...

Hello Anon 1,
Are you referring to Ivar? The Entrepreneur Diaries is meant to be an ongoing series. I originally intended it to be a cartoon, only there's one drawback--I can't draw.

Think situation comedy with the same cast of characters a la Saturday Night Live--not a seamless narrative.

Anon 2, In answer to "was there a Duane"? All I can say is that you won't get any direct identifications from me, although it is possible that such a character is based on an "amalgam" of inspirations:)

My intention is not to write a "roman a clef," which would only be entertaining to a few insiders. Shallow as my characters may be (see "picaresque" link in intro), they are meant to represent a time and place--which was Silicon Valley in the late 90s.