So there I was; I had dove in: or more like checked the water with my big toe. I had clicked on that Webmaster button, and I had begun to think about the possibility of opening a business in the online adult entertainment industry, and I was spending a lot of time lurking the Xbiz boards and reading the articles. I had also discovered other resource sites and was reading newbie how-to articles and everything else to better understand this new industry. That’s when it hit me.
It hit me how lucky we are. We live in a time where technology is being created at a breakneck pace. Seriously. I was thinking back to my childhood and I am amazed at what has changed in 20 years. Like the television remote control. Back then, I was the remote. My old man would tell me to get up and go change the channel. It didn’t take too long to see what was on either because there were only about 4 channels since cable had yet to arrive. I remember when we got our first microwave oven. It took me and my old man both to carry it in the house it was so heavy. Calculators had been invented but were too expensive. Digital watches where you had to push a button to see the red numbers. Video. It was all amazing and expensive. I paid about 3 grand for my 386 IBM clone back in 1992. I just paid $450 for a P4 and some of y’all are thinking right now you could get one for less.
But for me, it’s not the advent of all these cool gadgets and gizmos that make me feel lucky. Instead, it’s the opportunity to participate in the revolution that gets me excited. I majored in history in undergrad because I was fascinated with the industrial revolution, in particular, the railroad. I had always dreamed about being able to participate in something just as significant. Then one day I was in the computer lab writing a paper when I found out about Mosaic, the pre-curser to Netscape. That’s when something else hit me.
This here Internet will make the railroad pale in comparison. Well, maybe it didn’t hit me right then and there, but it hit me. What hit me right then and there in that basement computer lab was free porn. By the bucket load. If I remember right, it was all on university and college servers at that time. I guess that makes sense since that was most of what the net was made of back then. In spite of the distractions, I graduated and went on to B-school. Two years later, I accepted a job offer at Levi Strauss & CO, responsible for corporate sales on the West coast; A plum gig for someone who had paid his dues in retail. Most the time I was telling customers that no, they weren’t going to get 10,000 pair of 501s. They’re going to get 5000 pair and spend the rest on shirts if they wanted any at all. That’s how they trained us, maybe it’s why they’re in so much trouble today. Whatever the sales methods, it was a cushy job with a clear-cut career path. And that’s why I hated it. Never mind hating working for the man anyway. Not making a difference made me sick to think about. Then it hit me.
The company made a decision that changed my life. They hooked the corporate intranet up to the Internet. Unimpeded access. It was 1995 and I stopped working and started surfing. It was the cusp of the information revolution. Netscape went public and Marc Andreeson was a God. That’s actually when it hit me.
I will make my mark on the Internet. And within several months I had drug up from LS&CO and moved to San Diego as the biz dev dude at www.collegeclub.com, at that time a college-focused portal with about 300,000 members. My job was to monetize the eyeballs. Banners had just been invented. While my colleagues went after ad dollars, I used my experience in retail and wholesale apparel sales to create and merchandise an e-commerce section of the site to get some of that $35 billion in discretionary dollars that 18-24 year olds spend every year. I went and partnered with websites that sold merchandise that 18-24s buy in the real world. Everyone did what they were supposed to do and we all were having a great time. In the next 9 months Collegeclub membership grew to 3 million, we raised about 60 million in funding and were filing to go public. That’s when the bottom fell out. That’s when it really hit me.
It was over. I remember hoping something would hit me. It did. I was about to take the biggest risk I’ve ever taken in my life. Except for that time I had unprotected anal sex with a Brazilian transvestite. Kidding. Until next time…