Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Enterprise - 59

Alan flew out West, the new king consolidating power across the farthest reaches of his realm. He organized a video link to address the entire company with Bill by his side. The images were grainy and the audio cut in and out but the job was done: a show of unity, of authority. He’d extended a bridge loan to cover expenses, he explained. Someone who shall not be named, but didn’t need to be, had, according to Alan, suggested asking us to forgo our pay. Alan intimated that he was arrogant enough to assume we’d comply. There’s no way I’d ask any of you to do that. The winner writes the story.

Still changes had to be made. The bloodbath swept away my boss Ed and Mr. Fun. Julie, Peter, Steve and Jimmy. David. Anyone in any kind of soft role like marketing—gone. In Sunnyvale the hard skilled were not exempt. Some stayed, some went. Many of these people had qualifications and expertise far beyond my own. That’s what I thought anyway.

I was among the lucky ones.

Alan hired a bright young man named Josh to handle biz dev. He’d been at Goldman Sachs but hated it. Even with the piles of money he hated it. He was that sort of person. Ernest, idealistic. Looking for a purpose. Eager for a challenge. He was exactly the sort of tireless and dedicated worker you’d want if you needed to save your company.

It was rumored that part of his compensation consisted of extraneous office furniture.

Josh had been given a specific task: cold call giant corporations and try to sell the Product as a customer service solution. If there was no money in the curses and insults of twelve-year-olds, maybe there was in online shoppers whose packages were delayed or cable subscribers who’d forgotten their passwords. This made sense to me. The prosaic nature of the proposition, the dreariness of it, stood in contrast to the world-changing dreams of transforming humankind’s relationship to information. This is how money is made, I thought. This is how jobs are kept and retirement accounts funded: by selling enterprise customers on potential reductions to their overhead of tenths, maybe hundredths, of one percent. Not by declaring victory and throwing candy in the air. Of course. Of course it isn’t easy. Of course it isn’t fun. There was cold, grim satisfaction in this new direction. Except for one thing: no one was buying.