Friday, November 05, 2010

The Enterprise - 9

David and I had twenty minutes or so before our flight to San Francisco. I followed him up the stairs of the Continental departures terminal at Newark Airport.

"Let's go to the lounge!" he exclaimed like a child, and led me to the hushed and privileged sanctuary. We'd used our miles to upgrade to first class, at his insistence. An elegant woman welcomed us between the double doors and showed us in with a gracious bow.

Inside, we sat in silence at the bar. It was like any other airport bar. More or less. But you couldn't see out a window to look at any planes. I liked to look at the planes.

David's left leg fidgeted maniacally. He checked his watch.

"Guess we better get going!" he said.

We were on a mission to better understand our users. Or to better understand our product, as there were in fact no users yet. To understand what a prospective user might expect from the Product, such as it was. In anticipation of launch – with the shot clock in the lower twenties – an idea had been floated around senior management that David and I should fly out to assist in the conduct of a round of usability testing. We were at our desks on a conference call with them – Sam, Neil, Bill, Elaine and Judy, the West Coast-based Vice President of Product Development.

"We need some end users to poke some holes," Judy explained.

Mutters of approval and encouraging sentiments followed. Judy proposed a Tuesday and a Wednesday in early November, not two weeks away, and David and I were told to make plans.

Now we floated high above the Rockies in vast leather seats, warm nuts and whiskey arrayed on the wide flats of our armrests.

David drove us in the rental from the airport down Route 101 to Silicon Valley. As we approached our destination we gazed left and right at the gleaming industrial parks, immaculately landscaped, housing the intrepid startups that would still beat back against the season's dismal tide, repositories of vain aspirations and tragic dreams, some, perhaps, destined to be spared.

One of these companies was ours.