“Hello my name is Russ and I am a Dot.com survivor. I worked for four dot.com. Only one of them is still around. The last dot.com I worked for I survived five rounds of layoffs. By the time it was my turn to get laid off I was even relieved. I even asked my boss if he was okay, because he was more broken up about it then I was.That was in May of 2001.” I heard this monologue in my head as I was reading the article “10 Years That Changed the World” in this months issue of wired. I imagined that I was in a room full of ex-dot.comers as we take turns telling our dot.com survivor stories.
As I continue to read the article, which has a chronological order to it, I read from year to year and I think about where I was working in each of those years. It was the dot.com years so of course you never worked at the same place for more than a year. A fact that almost played against me when I first interviewed at my current job almost four years ago now. Of course I used monster.com to find these jobs. Monster being the first dot.com to spend all of their advertising budget on a super bowl add which worked for them. The very next year their were 17 dot.coms doing the same thing, it didn’t work as well for them. Can you remember any of them? Me Neither.
In 1999 I worked at two dot.coms, the first one moved up north to the silicon valley a month after I started, they moved, I didn’t. The second was a dot.com that had a personalized license plate for a URL. It was a contract job of course, and we all started with brand new G3 macintosh machines, and 21 inch CRT monitors. We were spoiled right from the get go. When they redesigned the new office space to have a fountain soda machine in the kitchen I should of known things were in trouble. Through giving computer geeks an endless supply of caffeine is a good way to get tons of work out of them, and they did. The deal breaker for me was, we had a huge project to do for the “Folks in New York”, so I worked from 5am and work till 9 pm for a couple months. The Execs saw what they wanted to see and our pleased boss took us out lunch to celebrate. Then he proceeded to congratulate his very attractive secretary whom hand only been there a week for the success. Two weeks later I was working somewhere else. What can I say, all I had to do was post my resume on monster.com and my voicemail would fill up with offers from hunger recruiters (head hunters) who didn’t know what HTML was but they knew they could get a finders fee for bring in someone that did.
2000, another year, two more dot.coms. The first was little startup that had great ideas, and offered me more money than the previous job. So of course that sounded great. However it ended on a Friday three months after I started when the “Big Boss” called us in the the conference room and gave a great speech about being a team and reorganizing for the betterment of the company (his wallet) , after that I was called into my bosses office, and laid off. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”. A month later I finally got my last paycheck from them.
The second dot.com was one that you may have actually heard of , but I’m not going to tell you. This one had music though, and it was a blast, a lot of fun and a lot of work. I’d work till 4am sometimes, in a well designed working space blasting my music as loud as I wanted sitting in my Herman miller chair, and drinking all the free soda/caffeine that was offered. I got to meet quite a few famous people, and didn’t even have to leave the office. This place was the epitome of the rock and roll internet company. Honestly, if I told you that I accidently bumped in to a rock star in the hall, I really did. I was working here when the dot.com bubble burst. I saw the large offce space shrink. We moved from working in to stories of a completely overpriced building on the Miracle Mile, to everyone fitting on just one floor again. I saw my friends and co-workers get laid off, and waited for my turn. My turn came May in 2001. I called my Beautiful wife, told her the news and bought her some flowers on the way home.
So that is it, those are my dot.com days. I worked in some of the nicest buildings, with the nicest office furniture money could buy. Others had the refigerator in the server room, and would open the frig door every once in a while if the servers got to hot.
I may not work for a dot.com any more, but I am still in web development, Sr. Web Developer in fact. I heard that most the dot.comers became Real Estate Agents. That makes sense, they just traded one comdity for another.