So far in our project, we’ve mostly spoken to people who were involved in startups that went public in the dot com era. But as I’ve said many times, that’s only part of the story. I very much wanted to speak to someone involved with a successful startup that was acquired by a larger “portal” site. So, I reached out to Ted Barnett, who was one of the founders of the early web calendar site, When.com, which was eventually acquired by AOL. In this episode, we talk about the economics and strategic considerations of a 90s startup that found overnight success, but could not scale in a way that would allow it to continue to grow without hooking up with a larger, deeper-pocketed partner.
But Ted’s career is so interesting and varied, we also got to delve into a bunch of other fascinating topics: what it was like to work at Apple in the late 80s, early 90s John Sculley-era; the pre-web “bubble” of pen-computing startups; working at AOL at the height of its late-90s powers; how a company like Kodak dealt with technological disruption completely decimating its 100-year old business; and even the current prospects for Virtual Reality technology.
Because our discussion with Ted paints such a well-rounded picture of a technology career lived in full… recounting how a young technologist can work their way up the ranks, all the way to founder and CEO… I would go so far as to say this is absolutely an essential listen for young people who are starting out in Tech today.