Face the Dawn

Matt is walking home from San Francisco

The 1st startup and Highway 17

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I had never worked for a startup before, so I had no idea that it was unusual that people at the 1st startup didn’t work like madmen and madwomen. To me, it was pretty much like other small companies where I had worked: interesting, but not anything to get obsessed about, and not likely to completely take over my life except occasionally and temporarily.

The thing I remember most vividly about it was the deadly commute on CA 17. It was a reverse commute so it never bent me completely, but I saw something horrific on that road about every other day — usually going the other way, but still really really scary. There are many “Blood Alley”s in the US, but I think this has got to be the original one. Imagine a fairly dangerous and curvy mountain road, then double it in size, increase the speed limit, and put a concrete barrier down the middle. Then fill it with thousands of people rushing to get to high-stress jobs. Convince those people that because they are really smart they are also the best drivers on earth and then forbid them to drive with any degree of wisdom or politeness. Then make sure that six months out of the year it is raining torrentially during commuting hours, and you have a pretty good idea of what it was like.

But a sane life at a Bay Area startup is like some kinds of subatomic particles — so unstable it is bound to fly to pieces shortly after birth. So of course the 1st startup was “acquired”, and this by the biggest Big Company of them all — a place I swore I would never work, though I did accept their offer to interview me at their headquarters at their expense. How else was I going to get a good look at the belly of the beast?

Written by walkingman

August 30th, 2008 at 9:23 pm

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  1. […] was still pretty sane when I worked at the 1st startup, but the 2nd startup was the classic version where the two guys started it in their apartment by […]

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