Sunday, January 12, 2014
Over the years, I’ve caught bits of the movie Startup.com here and there, but never sat down and watched it end to end.
Each time I’ve seen these bits of it, I’ve gotten some sort of nugget of inspiration, seen something pertinent to my experience at the time. So when I recently watched a part of the movie again, I also set the show to record on my DVR. I’m planning to watch it soon with all the undivided attention I can muster, given my current life’s engagements.
For those who don’t know startup.com, it’s a movie about a well planned and funded startup of the late-last-millennium, leading up to the famous dot com bubble burst of 2000. The once-thriving young company, loaded to the hilt with venture capital and great ideas, went down in flames along with so many other dot.com wannabes.
The dot com-bubble-burst impacted the team that I managed at my prior job profoundly. A well staffed team that was developing some rather sophisticated integrated marketing applications was on the chopping block entirely. But at the morning of the cuts, I had ten team members. By the end of the day, I had five. It could have been worse. We provided enough value to the company to remain in place, though dramatically altered. So while my team’s personal experience in totality, was not a happy story, it was certainly a happier outcome than the ultimate collapse of govWorks, the company documented in Startup.com.
Anyone who has seen a movie that somehow resonates with them, and have watched this movie at different times, will understand how each watching can reveal new truths as your perspective grows with experience. How it can help reveal the sort of synchronicity that can mark points on a life’s timeline like cities marked on a map used for a long distance voyage.
In 2000, when the dot com bubble burst, I had perspectives that related to the events laid out in the movie based on some startups I had dealt with, and based upon a certain perspective on the business world.
But now, in 2014, I am in a true startup, in many ways, like the company in the movie. I’ve watched the venture capital process, and how the power of the board influences the vision of the entrepreneur who started our company. As my life has changed to this “insider view” this new perspective makes me able to see things in the movie, and in life, as I never saw before. As I watched the characters, dynamics, and interplay within the movie, I more personally relate to the tensions that lie behind the many changes. I see the tip of the iceberg, but knowing a little more about what lies under the surface, I have a sense of the cold that is unseen.
Some of this synchronicity is a comfort. Some is not.
But such is the reality of life general, and such is the reality of the startup world, for an old school guy like me. Maybe that is, in part, why there are only a handful of us that are over 40 in the startup company I am with now.
The only thing I know for sure, is I have no regrets in moving to Silicon Valley, the most fertile soil of the startup, despite the cautionary tale of Startup.com.
This adventure continues, and promising results in Q4 of 2013 at the company I work for bring many, many new challenges in 2014.
So I’ll watch this movie, now in its entirety, regard both the caution and hope, and continue starting up.