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'Twas the Night Before Funding
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jducoeur
Although I generally consider myself to have completely moved in with Kate, that ignores one little detail: the roughly 200 boxes that are in the basement and storage. So part of my daily routine these days is spending 30-60 minutes unpacking something. Lately, it's mostly been boxes of random papers. This is quite a treasure trove -- while I am deliberately throwing out the majority of it, I'm finding delights on a regular basis.

One of them is this. There's no attribution, but I probably wrote it -- it's certainly my style. (Especially the parenthetical in the middle.) If I had to guess a date, it would probably be Christmas 2000: from context, it clearly was during Trenza (my Crazy Bubble Company), which was seeking funding right around then. (We didn't ever find it -- I eventually quit when they asked the employees to stay on at half-salary while they tried to talk AOL into buying us.)

Anyway, it's rather fun -- one of my better pieces, IMO -- and worth preserving. And as my next company moves to Alpha, it somehow seems appropriate. So here it is -- feel free to share...

'Twas the Night Before Funding

Mark Waks, circa 2000

Twas the night before funding, and all through the cubes,
Not a creature was stirring, 'neath flourescent tubes.
The demos were rigged and the movies prepared,
So Patrick and Bob could go show off our wares.

The hackers were sitting there, still quite awake,
All fragging their friends in the levels of Quake.
When noises distracted me from playing Hack; it
Caused me to look and see what was the racket.

I ran to the skylight, and to my surprise,
A copter was coming down from the night skies.
And then he emerged, in the moonlight so clear,
The man who could only be our financier.

And out, just to make sure that we weren't crooks,
Came eight small accountants, each one bearing books.
They ran off before him, and all came inside,
And checked all the ledgers while I heard him cry,
"Now, Checkbook! Now, Spreadsheet! Now, Ballpoint and Quill!
On, Income! On, Debit! On Invoice and Bill!
Now into the files, the numbers you'll crunch,
Then, diligence done, you may all go to lunch."

They finished the books and all scampered away,
And the Man Himself entered to give his okay.
And I saw from the small Netscape tie-tack he wore,
That this man with the money was none but St. Doerr.

(At this point, I should interject that I don't actually know much about John Doerr, so this description probably isn't accurate. But he seems to be the appropriate mythological figure for this poem.)

He was dressed all in wool, in a Brooks Brothers suit,
The pockets a-bulging with stockmarket loot.
A bundle of options were held in his hand,
To exercise if all should go as we planned.
His handshake was firm, and his voice was most clear,
Assuring us we'd have the cash for next year.

He ran round the cube-farm, dispensing advice,
On how we should market, and what's a fair price.
He filled all our notebooks with wisdom on high,
On how valuations can reach to the sky.

And then, as his Palm Pilot gave out a beep,
He rose through the skylight in one mighty leap.
Back into the copter, with bookkeepers eight,
So his next appointment would not come too late.

Yet then in a panic, I realized one fact:
His signature was not upon the contract!
But I heard him exclaim, as the copter set sail,
"Don't worry about it -- the check's in the mail!"
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(Deleted comment)
Yeah, I often say that I learned valuable lessons from each startup I've worked at, but I learned a *lot* of lessons from Trenza.

(Lesson number one: come to a clear consensus about what you are building, and why, *before* you start building it. I will always remember seeing the art team's little movie of their vision for the product, shortly before shutdown, and thinking, "Ah -- *that* is what we should have been building. Pity it wasn't.")

It was fun in a train-wreck sort of way, but exemplified everything ridiculous about the Bubble. Going from that to Buzzpad (in many ways the best company I've ever worked for) established many strong opinions about How To Do It...

(Deleted comment)
I actually wasn't as bothered by 1 at the time, IIRC. But yeah, 2 and 3 were both deadly...

(Deleted comment)
What's a "Palm Pilot"? ;)

I joke, of course, since Jeremy worked for Palm for a time. Great bit of poetry, Jeremy has definitely been in very similar situations.

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