Dec
31
2011

  Time for Nostalgia

Some years, it seems like New Year's Eve is about the future, but tonight both T and I are feeling nostalgic. The local radio station is putting on a show "Partyville" which is just making it very easy to get in a party sort of mood. Basically, their lineup is the New Year's Eve mix tape that busy people just don't have time to put together, so all we have to do is listen to the radio. I am such a fan of 106.1!

So Prince's tune, 1999, comes on the radio. "So tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999." It was futuristic when it came out in the early 1980s, but what came to mind now for T and me was that 1999 was before the tech bubble burst. When online trading was fresh and new and AFS was a major player. When the valuation for his company was insane. 1999 was good times in the tech world, crazy times. We know exactly how we'd party like it's 1999-- with a raucous party in a huge rented club with top shelf liquor and champagne flowing all night long with a different expensive DJ in each room. In NYC, of course. Of course, we didn't actually get the deal to sell the company signed until 2000 when the decline had already begun, and wound up getting 10 cents on the dollar down from the valuation at the deal announcement date. But hindsight is 20/20, and T was so young back then (in his 20s), how could he have known just how soon the party would be over? We figured we'd just live and learn, and be in a better position to cash out before the NEXT bubble burst. Which we were, and did, in 2007. But we remember what it was like in "silicon alley" back in the good old days.

When "Camel Walk" came on the radio, I howled along, and W turned and looked at me in shock. I laughed. I was remembering what it was like to be at a fun party back in the day. Generally, the days before I met T. I told W that way back before I met his father, I used to regularly hang out with people who knew how to have fun. Fun with a capital F. T is and has always been significantly less than carefree, to put it kindly. Stick-in-the-mud and killjoy come to mind, too. I learned early on that my best defense would be to have other party-people join us. Which was easy to manage, since T is always the designated driver of choice since he's a teetotaler. When there is a car full of people laughing and carrying on and generally having a very good time, T is less likely to cut the evening short. If it's just me with him, he'll often want to leave a party early. This was more of a problem back in what I'll call the "good old days" when we actually went to kick-ass fun parties. Now if we go out at all, there are kids around, or everyone has babysitters and eventually has to get home to the kids, so there isn't nearly the revelry that there used to be. No one is interested in staying up past the wee hours when there are wee mouths to feed at 7am. It is hard for me to imagine now, but I remember that we used to sleep in to 2 or 3 in the afternoon on Sundays, get 10 or 11 hours sleep, something like that. I was glad for the parishes with the Sunday-evening Mass times. I think I'd head over to Lex & 23rd when we lived in NYC, and down to St. Anne's in Hoboken when we lived in JC.

I think this wave of nostalgia is being triggered by T's new business situation. It's looking like he might be heading up a new start-up tech company, rather than just selling the charting software that he built this year. So they'll be looking to sell the COMPANY rather than just the software. It will take a bit longer to cash out, but the beautiful thing is that T won't have to do all the work himself, he can still focus on his music. And companies have much greater valuations than just pieces of software. The situation just kind of immediately fell into our laps during this week, we hadn't even considered it as a possibility. But we're not in our 20s anymore, and know how to act on an opportunity without dithering about it until it disappears. We're in. Boom.

The big players have been trying to buy out sites like Groupon and facebook, etc., and the guys in their 20s who are running them have been turning down the offers. What T and I know, having been through this before, is that they probably should have taken the offers. The IPOs have underperformed. These kids have no idea how HARD it is to run a profitable company for years and years. It's brutal. Although if anyone is cut out for it, it's gangs of dreamers in their 20s. They have both the energy and lack of other responsibilities that make the grind possible.

T will not have to go back to that with his current arrangement. A young guy volunteered to do all the business work for equity. Young men without wives have the time and drive to do the work necessary for a startup to succeed. Old guys with wives have the capital. T had an old guy investor for AFS. We paid him well for years and years, and he just had to make a few well-placed phone calls and stroll through the office from time to time. Now T is that guy. Well, kind of. T actually built this software himself, so he's more of a technology guru than an industry insider like they had for AFS. Still, both T and I are just now realizing what having another start-up could mean for us. We could have a very exciting year or two ahead of us. Very exciting. It's hard to describe the excitement that attaches to a startup company to someone who has never worked at one. And if you are an owner, multiply that by hundreds. It's electric. It is the antithesis of just showing up for some job that you do just to pay the bills. It's also far more difficult and stressful, which is why it's not for everyone. I'm already looking forward to the parties. . .

Here's to 2012! The possibilities are tantalizing!