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Chronicle of A Death in Venice

Posted June 1, 2002

Carl Cohn, Webmaster

"Hey babe, it's Carl. Meet me on Speedway, near Zephyr Court. Bring some big black trash bags. Like the one you would put leaves in when you rake."

"Rake?"

"Oh never mind. The Big Glad ones, 30 gallon volume."

"How am I supposed to know how many gallons it holds?"

Carl briefly contemplates the disadvantages of a trophy girlfriend. "I don't know, try filling one. I need two, no four, at noon. Love you. Bye." Carl hangs up.

Noon rolls around. Sarah appears, wearing her most unobtrusive,

don't-mind-me-I'm-just-a-spy Leopard-print Oakleys, and sits at a park bench. It is 75 degrees, but she wears a fashionable olive trench coat. She stares from side to side, to the Starbucks, then McDonalds, the fish taco joint, the new Fusion lunch spot with a line down the block. She abruptly looks back at the seat next to hers, where Carl sits. Sarah jumps.

"What the hell are you doing here already?"

"What the hell are you doing wearing a black trench coat in July?"

Irate, Sarah's head falls into a nascent pout, which she aborts on discovering three enormous, full, black trash bags.

"What's in those?"

"It's my stuff. From my cube. We're dead. There's a meeting today, this afternoon. Totally moribund. Pink slip fever. Give me the empties," he motions to the folded black bags coming out of her pockets, "and I need you to take these three back to work with you."

"I can't carry all that!" she protests.

"Sure you can, you're a big girl," he laughs, and then realizing the potential harm he may have done to her body image, "I mean strong. Little. Little and strong."

She isn't fazed, and Carl rejoices.

"But that's like 90 gallons!" she whines.

"Don't concentrate on volume. It's low density."

* * *
This story is available in Sweet Fancy Moses.

Randall Sawbuck, Engineer

I am a 56 year-old psychoanalyst in training. It is time to switch careers, something I stress to the other programmers, it's never too late to change what you do, especially when you are a computer programmer and your wrists constantly ache from hunting and pecking on the keyboard, and when all of your coworkers are a cubed root of your age.

A good friend of mine, actually my dealer, got me this job. He is better at finding me jobs than any headhunter I've ever had because he likes to keep his clients gainfully employed. The interview was over pretty quick. I met the president, the Vulture Capitalists, they asked me if I knew any Unix programming, and I told them I invented it, and they believed me. It's almost true, I met Linus Torvald at a conference once.

The New Guy - 6:18 am

I start this great new job today. I get on the Santa Monica freeway real early, to miss some of the perpetual traffic. My mom is real worried, she doesn't like that I left my bank job to work for a dot-com, but this place is great. Bleeding edge technology. Sure, a lot of companies are going under right now, but these guys seem like they know what they're doing. Their business plan is solid. I take a swig of my decaf non-fat Chai latte. I bet I can get a laptop out of them, or at least a Palm Pilot. Don't worry Mom, I'm gonna be a dot-com millionaire. Plus, they have a foosball table.

Arianna Winfield, President

I graduated college in '95. It was a good liberal arts school in New England, a cross between Amherst and Williams. I studied hard, got a well-rounded education and a useless degree in sociology. My junior year, we got to talking about Generation X as a sociological phenomenon, rather than as a bunch of Nirvana groupies. The gist of it is that the baby boomers wouldn't retire for another 20 years, by which time the Gen X-ers wouldn't have a chance to compete with the next crop of eager beavers waiting for the low paying introductory positions.

"You are," Dr. Glick proclaimed somewhat amused, " The first generation of the twentieth century to be worse off than your parents."

Congratulations. Go us. I moved to California, with about fifty percent of my graduating class, and worked for a Berkeley coffee shop for a while, until I got to the point that coffee started brewing from my skin in the shower. I quit the next week, drove South to Los Angeles to become an actress, if for no other reason than I was guaranteed a lower standard of living than my parents.

Then out of nowhere, the Internet happens. I used email all through college, so did everybody, and then, I remember looking up when Jerry Garcia died- I found out on Yahoo.

I wouldn't call myself a visionary, but I was sick of temping and not getting any auditions other than commercials, so I thundered upstairs and snuck past the executive secretaries at the office where I was working. It was a venture capital firm, I had discovered, looking for some hot new Internet ideas. I pitched one, they liked it, and before long, I was president of my own dot-com, making 100K a year with enough stock options to let me to retire before I hit thirty. So much for making less than my parents – I net the same by myself in Venice as they do combined in New Hampshire.

Steve Banner, VP Accounting

I stare at the ledger, actually it is a spreadsheet, but had this been 30 years ago, it would have been a ledger, and semantics aside, I cannot seem to make the decimal point move to the left and absorb that mistake. Maybe it's my lack of formal accounting experience, since in my entire post collegiate life, I have worked at Carl's Junior, a guitar shop, and here, and have only accounted anything in the last six months, but I am somehow disappointed that I cannot move decimal points with my mind.

How did Mina spend $100,000 on a three month marketing partnership? She ordered Razor Scooters with our logo. We don't make scooters. We don't write programs for scooters. Her budget cannot be more than 10,000 a month. Is she insane? Does she want this company to go down in flames tomorrow?

At Carl's Junior, I worked the FryolatorTM. My first day of work they left me back there, staring at the Tayloristic computer monitors clocking our every move, and then this buzzer goes off and a light starts flashing, I reach out to open the lever next to the blinking light, and the assistant manager tackles me screaming "Don't touch that, you'll kill us all!"

I've got a punk band, called the Screaming Assholes. I play bass, sing lead vocals, manage the band, and write all the songs. The other two guys, Trevor and Chip, are the screaming assholes.

Sometimes I fart loudly during meetings with strategic partners, so they know who has the upper hand. It works every time. I have 150,000 shares of stock, but if I cannot move this decimal point, it's back to the FryolatorTM.

Carl

Venky didn't show for work this morning. I passed by his cube on the way to my office, and it was empty, barren. The only thing he left was a useless Java book; every single page is dog-eared, and he bent it back over itself so many times the spine is completely broken. I pick it up, thinking Sawbuck might want it, and the book slips out of my hands. The cover is no longer attached. I hate when people do that to books.

"Has anyone noticed that our cadre of Indian engineers is rapidly depleting?" I shout to no one, my department is empty except for Viru, who's in the nap room. Randall won't be here until at least noon. One by one, we‘ve been losing our Indian programmers. One we fired for bad programming. He passed himself as a Senior Java engineer, then promptly misplaced a full 100 lines of my code. I looked at his resume, and noticed that he'd been programming Java for six months. That makes you a senior engineer? Time to buff up my resume.

The last one, Venky, was great: he knew his stuff, he was fast, and he was responsive. A couple days of weeks ago, he started showing up late, like after 1, and wearing these awful blue Mommy suits. And today he's gone. Viru is the only one still here, but I don't think we can hold him much longer, not without a Porsche and a $100,000 bonus.

Randall walks in at noon, on queue, wearing a simpli-city.com tee shirt.

"You are a walking advertisement. Don't you have anything to wear other than tee-shirts from failed dot-coms?" He probably gets his whole wardrobe from Linux World Expo.

"Don't you wear anything other than Patagonia shirts? At least I didn't have to pay for the ads on my shirt. Besides, simpli-city.com is still in business, I just got this shirt free at Linux World Expo. What's your problem, anyway?"

"They repo'ed our foosball table this morning."

Sawbuck

The trouble for me started back when I worked for one of the big guns, a huge company, although according to the legal settlement I cannot disclose who that was. They'd hired me to brave the ugly jungle of their outdated Unix networks, since I'd written BSSH, the bucksaw shell, or bullshit shell which I fancy calling it, the company figured I knew enough to keep them safe from the Black Hat hackers. It was the only time I'd worked for any technology firm that was bigger than a startup, because I had needed the money. Child support.

I have never in my life considered hacking for profit. It would be too easy. You break into a system, steal a bunch of trade secrets, working at one of the community college computer labs that never ask for an ID, and disappear with a few million on one floppy disk. Provided the thing doesn't mysteriously corrupt on its way home. Okay then, two floppies, one for backup, because other than invisible ink written on a loose-leaf on fire, floppies are the worst storage medium on the planet.

I've had friends who work this angle, but not Sawbuck. I am guilty at most of a broken marriage, dissolved in the post 60's hangover, and smoking too much pot as a preemptive strike against Alzheimer's. I regret neither. The Company, after I'd been there a few years, claimed I broke into their system with malicious intent. Sawbuck had been out of state, and given myself a little back door into the system so I could get some work done.

Oddly enough, Sawbuck triggered alarms that he forgot he had written into the system, and was narc'd out by Maxwell, an uptight C.S. PhD who couldn't stand hackers, or casual drug users, or anyone else who seemed to get a modicum of enjoyment from their existence. The trial was ludicrous, with the prosecution claiming that since the word "hacker" appeared 420 times on Sawbuck's personal web site, using the search tool in his shell, no doubt that he was a criminal menace. Sure, Sawbuck has done enough LSD to be described as criminally insane, but a menace?

Ultimately, the judge was fair, because he reasoned that one would not likely hack a computer at ones' own workplace, unless he were exceptionally stupid or arrogant. I carefully demonstrated neither trait during my trial. I countersued the Big Company, and made off with a sizable settlement. Sawbuck has long been planning to switch careers; his back hurts from slouching in front of a desk, not to mention the numerous ergonomic toys he needs to populate each new cubicle with to fend off the RSD, or arthritis, which is becoming more and more likely a diagnosis. I am almost ready for the full time switch to psychotherapy, and will be licensed within a year. This company will be out of cash long before that, but it's an amusing distraction, plenty of neurotic young heads to shrink.

When I get into the office today I see Carl first thing, hard at work debugging some code with Viru. It seems like if you emigrate to the United States from India, you have two options at Immigration: "Oh, you're Indian, great, you can choose from one of two jobs: either a cab driver, or a computer programmer."

"Hello, Viru, good morning Carl. I was listening to NPR this morning, and I heard our company advertised. Must have been Mina's doing."

"Wow, that is indeed very cool," says Viru.

I don't have the heart to tell them that they will have to give up their $3,000-a-month apartments near the beach and move in with twelve of their closest unemployed dot-com friends. Although the free dot-com tee shirt is a invaluable indicator to estimate the remaining lifespan of a dot-com, NPR ads are much more reliable. Every technology company I have heard advertised on NPR has folded within a week.

Arianna

I went into Starbucks this morning to get a double espresso before my morning meeting with Mina and Morgan. Mina has an MBA, bitch, spent $50,000 on it, and she doesn't seem to know any more about running this business than I do. Here it is, all you really need to know: feed your staff and they'll be happy. I picked up that gem when I was working at the Outdoor Sporting Goods store to pay for school. Morgan, who displays his Harvard Business diploma floating in a crystal orb on his desk, loves to throw around acronyms. Every morning, I learn a new one, but my favorite must be SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. There you have it, I have just leaked the single most important lesson from B-School. That will be 50 Grand each. As I wait on line for coffee, I SWOT our company:

Strengths: Our VP of Development is a Capoeira master and can bench 300 pounds.

Weaknesses: I can't believe we just hired Mina. She doesn't know any acronyms.

Opportunities: I've been on a lot of dates recently, guys seem to dig that I'm president of a Dot Com. I thought they'd be totally threatened, but no guy I've ever dated seems to mind that I pick up the check.

Threats: If Alan Greenspan gets has a bad day, my entire New Economy Way of Life crumbles.

I ask for 4 large coffees for the senior staff, and my double espresso. I refuse to use their stupid, trademarked names, like "doppio". Will someone explain to me why a small is TallTM? And a Venti? That's Italian for 20. I guess it's because the Italians have no direct translation for "Super-Size It!"

After I place my order, the mousy cashier mumbles something under her breath that sounds like "Anything to go with that?"

"No thanks," I reply. Another mumble.

"Excuse me?" I put my ear as close to her face as I can without violating stringent California health codes.

"Would you like an espresso brownie with your espresso?"

Are you mad? Why would I want an espresso brownie with an espresso? That's so boring, so thoughtless, so big business. And second, if you're so embarrassed about having to ask if I want a stupid dessert, then don't ask.

"No thanks," I reply sweetly.

As I walk to the office, I remember how portly little Doc Eggers, Introduction to Business and Management, freshman year of college, waxed eloquent about the booming success story of 'Hot'n Now', a drive thru fast food franchise. My hard up friends and I giggled at the name, wondering if they might be so successful because they also provided a male escort service.

"At Hot'n Now, they give it to you Hot And Now. That's their business model, and mission statement, in one nice little package, rolled up nice like a hot dog. Their whole esprit de corps, joie de vie, je ne sais quoi, in three monosyllabic words: Hot N Now."

Is ‘N' a word? I wondered.

"Hot'n Now. They have your change ready for you, they give you the ketchup and the napkins in abundance so that you don't have to ask for it, wasting you precious time. Hot'n Now. They do not ask you if you want fries with that, because if you wanted fries with that, you would have told them so. If they waste time with stupid questions, your burger will be Cold and Tomorrow, not Hot'n Now."

Doc Eggers was so excited about Hot'n Now, he looked like his flexing, heaving jowls were going to bust open his starched collar and maul someone in the first row. It's a wonder Starbucks stays in business. I'll bet they don't feed their staff. But then again, Starbucks is no Hot'n Now.

Mina Patel, VP Marketing

"Oh my GOD, did she actually say that? Ugh, that little wench. Seriously, Sarah is such a slut. I know, I know, did you see what she was – can you believe that? It's like, ‘Hello, Fashion Police – you're so busted.' Yeah, he's totally hot. I cannot believe he was with her, she is such a little slut, but I'd totally fuck his brains out. Oh, listen, Katie, I've got another call, bye!

"Mina Patel speaking, what's up, I mean, how are you? Yeah, it's a totally nice day out.

"That sounds fantastic, you're fully adding value here. When I was in B school, yeah, Columbia, '99, no, I didn't know him, is he cute? Oh, you're married, that's great, anyway, as I was saying, I think this partnership will totally work out, great for you, great for us, are you going to that Industry Standard party tonight? It's supposed to be awesome, I hear from their marketing department they're giving away Banana Republic tee shirts, I have no idea what color, oh, you have to go, okay, ‘bye. "

"Hi Sarah, it's Mina, hey, you would not believe the deal I scored just now, I'm like the total deal maker, we got a three month advertising deal for 10 grand, and that's so within my budget, yeah, I'm gonna ask for another raise, I totally kick ass at this job. Oh, are you going to that party tonight? Sweet, everybody's going to be there, oh yeah, I do know the door prize, no, that's not what I heard, I'm really tight with the Standard's marketing director, you, won't believe it. I'm not supposed to say. Okay, okay, BR tee shirts! The cute little tight ones! I'm gonna snag like five and totally re-gift them all! Christmas comes early this year. I'll get two for you and Josh. How is Josh? Oh, I'm so sorry. Oh, honey. She was French? Oh God, you can't hope to compete with that. Oh I guess you did tell me. I remember, I'm so sorry. Hey Sarah, I have a business call. G'bye!"

"Hey guys, I'm going out for a shopping break. Anyone need anything at Anthropologie?"

New Guy – 9:30 a.m.

I get to the company, and they've given me my own parking spot! The bank would never do that, I can tell you that right now. They put me at a desk, a real wooden desk. There's no desktop there yet, but that's no big deal. Arianna just stopped by and gave me a copy of the products and services descriptions. She said she would have called to welcome me this weekend, but she didn't have my home number.

I wonder what the social scene is like at this place. Arianna is really hot- I wonder if there are any rules there about dating your boss? She's probably with somebody, it always works that way. There's some California State law, "Any woman who is hot must have a boyfriend or girlfriend at all times".

Steve

I get in this weird conversation with Arianna today. She seems bummed that we're burning through $150,000 a week and we haven't produced an iota of revenue. Didn't she ever read Burn Rate? Apparently, our VCs have been getting a little nervous lately, and she takes it personally.

"You know, these fifty-something multimillionaire businessmen know nothing about how to make money on the internet. They don't know anything about this business, the rules are different. Name one site that has it figured out so far."

"E-bay," I respond.

"Yeah, but they were charging from the very beginning."

"And companies that charge money don't count?"

"No, that's so old economy."

"Okay, how about Yahoo? They have survived on ad sales, they are in the black, and they have $3 billion in cash in the bank."

"I'll bet they go under in a year."

"Sure, that sounds right."

Carl

We changed our name. In my three years working at three start-ups, I can tell you, this is the dot-com death knell. It happened after we lost the second Indian Engineer. It was a simple name it worked, it told you what we did. Then one meeting with the VCs, and all of a sudden we've got a new name, something barely pronounceable, that makes your friends go ‘Whaahh?' when you say the name, because it is so embarrassingly stupid that you mumble it. SynerJazz? "Hello, you've reached the voicemail of Carl Cohn, webmaster of ‘Company name that must not be mentioned'. I'm either away from my desk or being laid off, so please leave a message, and if I'm not frozen out of the voicemail system while being led out by the Simian Security Firm, I'll return you call as soon as I finish getting canned."

Mina and Sawbuck

"So, like, I'm writing the uh, bios for everyone in the company, most of them I can do off the top of my head because I know everybody, and I realized I totally don't know what you do. You're in sales, right?"

"There are two ways I can answer that."

"Alright."

Silence.

"Okay?"

Sawbuck screams out an improbably high pitched Banshee wail. Mina jumps back a few feet from his desk.

"That was answer two. I usually prefer silence when answering such imbecilic questions, but in this case you gave me no choice." He turns away and begins typing.

"Uhm, I'm sorry? But I really don't get it. You see, I'm the VP of Marketing, and I'm composing a fact sheet on the SynerJazz staff. Maybe you can help me, tell me stuff about you, or if you prefer, I can just make it all up if you're uncomfortable, like when I did this for me I gave myself an MBA from Columbia, no one will ever read these boring things, anyway, maybe we can start with your title? Are you a Vice President of something?"

Sawbuck contemplates pretending he's deaf, since young people are so uncomfortable around the disabled. Instead, he sighs his best defeated sigh.

"Unix Shell Programmer."

Awkward shifting around in response.

"Senior engineer?"

Silence.

"Applications Developer"

"Hmmmmmmmmm," followed by nail biting.

"I write web pages."

"Ohhh, that's totally cool, I have my own site that I got free through Yahoo, it's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan appreciation site. It was totally easy, I don't understand why you web page guys make so much money. Wait, isn't that Carl's job?"

"Young lady, you've just used up my tolerance quota. Perhaps you would like to focus your keen sense of ignorance at someone else, or find some way to creatively channel it into some useless marketing project that will hemorrhage a bit more precious funding out of this company, eradicating my last chance for a peaceful retirement before I'm 80."

"That was totally rude!" Mina stands to her full height.

"I could write software to replace you. In fact, I have written software to replace you. You are loud, effusive, pretty, young, and you weep far too easily; you are my natural enemy, and make my job impossible, because you use inappropriate jargon that you couldn't possibly fathom, which makes our funders think that we are creating 'X' , when all along we have been creating 'Y', and then Carl, Viru and I have to hack for 72 hours straight so that we can deliver X. This is the technology department. You have no place here. Go find a focus group or something. Goodbye."

Steve

"Yeah, Arianna, about this meeting this morning…we need to talk before we go in."

"Okay, sure. What's up?"

I nervously run my fingers through my hair, double checking that I showered this morning. I did, but my hair is unusually greasy. I'm not sure why this happens, but every time I speak with a woman, irregardless of age, my pores exude a grease that must be stored up from the years at Carl's Junior.

"We can't bring Randall into this meeting."

"Why not? He's like an Internet hero"

"Okay, umm, there's a couple of reasons. 1. He starts every sentence with ‘The problem with Microsoft is…'. 2. The man is a shrink. I don't think it would be smart to have him analyzing the childhood of the Goldman Sachs VCs. 3. He smells bad."

"Okay, you're probably right," she laughs and throws back her hair in that special cute blond woman way that makes me crave seratonin.

"Is that all?" she asks.

"Uh, no." Please, God, kill me now. I cannot talk to this woman any more. She's like a mosh pit to my soul.

"What else, Steve?"

"Fire the Marketing Department."

"We can't".

"You must."

"Why?"

"She makes numbers bleed."

"I can't do it. We need her."

Okay, uh, shit, here it goes. I'm back to servicing the FryolatorTM, the cruel snarling bitch that she is. Vice President of Accounting my ass, this company has more Vice Presidents than parking spaces. Still, I'll miss the free food.

"I have the resignation letter of every employee here, demanding the dissolution of the Marketing Department. I even think Mina signed it, she didn't bother reading it. Anyway, if you don't fire her, we all walk today, and you'll have to go to that meeting with Mina."

Arianna shivers. I straighten up. I have defeated the FryolatorTM.

"Fine, we'll liquidate the Marketing Department. I really have to go to this meeting now. Anything else?"

"Yeah, will you come see my punk band tonight?"

"You have a band? Great, I'd love to come. What are you guys called?"

For the first time, I would regret that we are called the Screaming Assholes, but I have fainted with joy.

Mina

All my friends are totally amazed how well I've been doing since losing my dot-com job. I don't tell them I got fired, of course, I told them I resigned because their careless business strategy was wasting my time. The truth is, every time I think about those 150,000 stock options I lost for no good reason, I feel like covering my face with my pillow and screaming really loud like some kind of psychobitch.

I'm bartending these days – it's real fun, all these totally cute boys drool all over me. I asked the owners if they wanted any marketing help, even though my dot-com experience was very different from marketing in the hospitality industry. I explained to them that my knowledge would cross over. The owner like, laughed in my face! I guess he knew that he couldn't afford to pay me that kind of salary.

New Guy

After lunch, they promised to find me a computer. It is really weird sitting around in a cubicle, in the engineering department, without a computer. You can't even surf the web. I'm done with the L.A. Times crossword, and it's only 1pm. My mom warned me that I'd be really busy working for a dot-com, that I'd have no social life, and there'd be nothing to show for it after a year of 80-hour weeks. I can't believe that, it's been really easy so far today. Can't do too much work here without a computer. And people don't work 80-hour weeks, no way, that old guy who walks around wearing only socks got here at 11.

Arianna

The ending begins like this: at eleven, we're called in for a meeting with Morgan, our liaison with the VCs. No one else is in yet, so we reschedule tentatively for a meeting at 3. Carl has been so tense the last few days, he has taken to smoking bong hits at his desk. I can't say anything, what's the point?

At 2:30, these two scary looking guys in suits and overcoats waltz into our offices. One looks like he runs with the Diane Fosse crowd, and the other is a dead ringer for Gary Sinese. They speak to the receptionist, who since she's a temp, seems to think that her job is to make personal calls. She could have replaced Mina. She says something like ‘yeah, sure, go right in. I have no idea who he is.' I'm sure she didn't even notice their badges. They approach his desk, nearly bowling over Viru. At first I think they're going to bust Carl for smoking.

Gary Sinese pulls out a photo and sticks it under Randall's nose. "Is this you? Are you Randall Sawbuck?"

"Yeah, who wants to know?"

"We're from the F.B.I., and you're under arrest for illegally accessing computers across state lines, conspiracy to sell stolen Viagra over the internet, corruption of minors, marijuana possession with intent to sell, felony parole violation, and $50,000 in parking tickets."

Randall starts gathering his belongings from his desk.

"Don't touch anything," growls the Primate. "This is all federal property now. Step away from your desk!"

Randall does, and the two agents push his torso forward until his bulbous nose touches the desk. Primate holds him in that position, and Gary Sinese cuffs him. They lead him out of the building, past the temp who keeps talking animatedly in Spanish about her yeast infection.

"Hi!" smiles Morgan. I jump. He's holding a clipboard. In the year we've been here, I've never seen him with a clipboard, and I have certainly never seen him smile.

"Time for our meeting," Morgan smiles for the second time.

Carl

That's it. They gave the senior staff the news, in the main conference room, there's no money, no chance of money, I'm not even sure the money we started out with ever really existed. We blew through $15 million in ten months. My parents will be proud. At least they're giving us 15 minutes to clear our stuff out after Arianna emails everyone. Mina calls me while I'm typing up our epitaph on the website home page.

"No, you can't come to the launch party."

"Oh Carl, come on, even though you guys fired me, no hard feelings. Why can't I come?"

"You just can't."

Steve

I help Carl clean out Randall's desk. There's police tape around his cube, since this is all supposed to be evidence, but oh well. A guy gets seized by the feds, the least you can do is pack up his stuff for him. It is a war zone.

"How can you get a cubicle this dirty after six months? This is disgusting."

"I think we found ground zero for foot and mouth disease."

"Can we list that among our assets?"

"Sure, that and 3 pairs of dirty socks, an ostensibly clean sock no match, one cereal box, empty, one half-full, so I'm an optimist, is this a great time or what, 3 2-liter bottles of diet orange soda in various phases of drainage, a floppy disc which is stuck against the desk top, and 3 Frisbees from various dot-coms: Pets.com, Kozmo.com, and Boo.com."

"It's the dot-com Frisbee graveyard."

"Yeah, you think if we sell these on E-Bay we can prove that we have a business model?"

"You see that meeting Arianna's in with the big boys?"

"Yeah?"

"It's too late for a business model."

Email from Arianna

Sorry guys. It's over. They've pulled the plug on our funding, they arrested our senior programmer, and this evening, Viru will be flying back to India to start guiding treks in the Himalayas. What a talented guy!

They're shutting off the power, locking us out of our computers, and giving us 15 minutes to leave the building. I can't imagine why they'd shut us out of our computers, what are we going to do, steal the business plans that burned through $15 Million and didn't make a product?

No severance pay. Please forward any questions about our coming launch party to the now defunct marketing department. Let's meet in a half hour for fish tacos and margaritas - my treat. I suggest you steal anything you possibly can, Carl has some extra trash bags. Thank you for participating in the new economy. You're part of history.

http://www.synerjazz.com

You've reached the former home of Synerjazz, the dynamic new solution in B2B enterprise solutions. Unfortunately, as a result of economic setbacks throughout the technology sector, we've been forced to close our doors. Thank you all for your support.

New Guy 3:45 p.m.

A day. My dot-com career lasted a day. This afternoon at 3, someone gives me a copy of an email from the president. Turns out they didn't really have a foosball table after all.

I have no cube to clean out, no knick-knacks to pack, so I just call out "Good bye" to no one in particular. They all seem to be going out for drinks later, but what's the point? I don't know any of these people. I call my mom from the car phone and let her know I got fired.

"It happens, son."

"You're not mad?"

"Of course not, Martin. I didn't like the name of that company anyway."

 

 

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