Tuesday, May 6

Ode to Yahoo! (part 1)

All day today I thought about the TechCrunch article with the headline: "Yahoo!'s Falling House of Cards." How many houses did Yahoo! buy us? Gosh, three between La Gringa and me.

I've decided to do a random yet chronological ode to my beloved purple and Yellow. This post: 1997-1998

1997 -- All of Yahoo! sales being run from a dorky short guy's apartment in NY (he's now a state senator) and out of a trailer in Santa Clara by a smooth, cheesy motivational quote-slinging dude with silver hair.

October 1997 - La Gringa and I meet. She in overalls, me in oversized sunglasses. We meet Tdwag too that month from an acquisition of Four11. Our future team had met.

December 1997 - Starving and pulling all-nighters, someone gets bright and starts bringing in bagels on Tuesdays, dumping the ripped paper bag onto a table in a tiny kitchenette by receptionist-turned-product brain EM (who is still kicking at the big Y!). It was the only food in the whole fricking Yahoo! HQ.

January 1998 - We shuffle cubes. Everyone, *everyone* is in a cube. Everyone has an all-access pass to our fearless leaders. I don't use fearless lightly. Certainly not afraid of wacky Marc Cuban whose token cube was put across from mine. Marc was the only one I ever saw running down the hall. I have no idea where the hell he was going so fast.

February 1998 Someone starts thinking we really should do some games. Yahoo Games is created by a bunch of us sitting around on desks, floor and beanbags in a producer's cube. It's happening all over the company -- Instant Messaging (Yahoo! Pager with a single hard-coded ad for E*Trade in it), Chat (where La Gringa was the Sheriff patrolling porn while I was busy selling porn for $11 million that year), Clubs (where we hired my (then unborn) children's godfather). The list went on. Inspiration was *everywhere*.

March 1998 - A few product guys and I get busted for not wearing shoes to a meeting with AT&T. Corporate pigs, we think. Little do they know, we'd been there for three days straight. Little did we know, it was an acquisition inquiry. D'oh.

A few days later, David refuses to let us run advertising on the Monica Lewinsky testimony pages that are being released exclusively to us. We could have made $1 million in that single day. We went ad-free.

April 1998 - TK stands on the cafeteria table and tells us what's going on before the he talks to the market for our Q1 reporting. None of us have any idea what it means -- we've each hit paydirt. Jerry is grinning ear-to-ear. Filo has an old t-shirt on and smells like it. :)

Spring 1998 -- Absolutely gorgeous and brilliant and fair Indian guy, VP of sales tells me to get on a plane for a handshake. Nothing, but nothing is worth the price of a handshake. No worries about budget. I have no idea how many planes I was on that year.

Summer 1998 - As we roll up the In-N-Out truck, a bomb scare hits the building. Employee #3 and big time product brain stands on his desk screaming; tells us to run like hell. We ran like fucking hell out of that building. Goddamn competitor Excite had done the bomb scare. Bastards caused us to get key cards (we had just used a regular key to get into Yahoo! HQ until then).

During the summer sales conference in Santa Cruz, our General Counsel gets arrested (he took the hit for all of us that night). I took him a jacket and went to see him and a few others in jail. They were asleep! Police let them go after getting a bit, um, dryer.

August 1998 - Our servers, some under desks, some in the server room, get under some sort of weirdness (attack?). We go black. Holy fucking shit. We finally complete the exporting of our servers offsite. The tiny locked door next to engineering with all those servers in it are now gone. Offsite forever.

September 1998 - Some guy named Seth Godin starts trolling around. Little man with a big voice completely changes the face of sales and promotions at Yahoo! I'm not sure for the better. Strategic promotions, permission marketing become my world. We're all saying, Seth who?

Fall 1998 -- La Gringa dyes her hair purple with a giant Y! in the back to raise money for charity. She was only half as cool back then...