Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Enterprise - 55

Alan was among those spectral figures who are spoken of in deferential, even fearful tones, who see you as a box in the org chart with a salary below your name though you don’t see them at all, unless you did that one day they left the elevator and you were going in, you’ll never know, but they’re always hovering, watching, paying the bill for the candy, paying the bill for the heat: the VC guys.

For years I’d heard of him like a rumor. Now he was here.

Like a conquering king, he gathered us round the back of the office to declare himself the new CEO. He paced a little back and forth and spoke with a lisp that made him spit a little. In people like me such an impediment would make us tremble with shame and self-loathing; in him it seemed a mark of authority. He introduced himself, saying some of you know me, some of you don’t. He was from the VC firm, he said—SkyClimber.

“You’ve all been pretty patient and I think you’ve put up with a lot, really, honestly I do,” he said. “I think you deserve for some changes to be made.”

Alan delivered a kind of cynic’s motivational speech—one that took into account the absurdity of our industry, the fruitlessness of our efforts to date, the uncertainty of success. Promises remained vague and threats unspoken. But somehow at the end of it we didn’t feel too bad. Maybe even better.

In the days and weeks thereafter things did change. Gradually, without fanfare. I overheard Dennis and Peter chatting at Peter’s desk as I walked by. Dennis seemed shorter to me than usual.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s just, it’s time, you know,” said Dennis.

“Ah, OK,” Peter replied awkwardly.

“Things are just getting. Yeah.”


“You know, too…”

“Yeah, too…”

“Too… too. Too too!” Dennis concluded with a wan smile.

And that was the end of Dennis.

One evening at about six or seven, the office half empty, I sat working on code when shouting erupted from the conference room. Alan and Sam. It was about priorities, the future of the company, big-picture stuff. But they insulted each other venomously. One would assert and the other would protest NO! NO! NO! As though something deeply, personally offensive had been proposed. They went around in circles like this, stepping over each other with ever louder, angrier interjections.

It was still going on when I left. And that was the end of Sam.