Annamaria and The King of Severance

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      We were told we needed a firecracker, but what we wound up hiring was a genuine nuclear weapon. What the hell was I supposed to know about marketing people? I’m not a fucking salesman.
      I was sitting at the helm of a company with a product that was ready to ship, money in the bank, and the most finely tuned engineering crew I’d ever seen, and all the venture capitalists could say was that we were a disaster because we hadn’t yet sold anything. According to them, we didn’t know how to get out of our own way to make money.
      “You’re a bunch of engineers, Bob,” they told me. “You better find yourself a marketing guy right away, or we will,” Their threats slammed into me like bullets. “And while you’re at it, hire a marketing junior to work with him. Just make sure you hire the junior first so that there’s never a question about who’s really in charge. You are the one who’s in charge, aren’t you Bob?”
      Back in Winnipeg, people don’t talk to each other that way. Pressure’s one thing, but being an asshole is an entirely different matter. We may not always be quiet and polite, but we don’t snap out commands as if we were in some sort of high tech Marine Corps. It’s different, though, in Silicon Valley, where the clock ticks faster than anywhere else on the planet, and there’s no time to be nice and even less inclination.

Sex, Drugs and Unix

      Getting a job was another story.

 

      The girlfriend had gotten me so high on the idea of the adventure of coming to Silicon Valley, that it hadn’t occurred to me to think about what I’d actually have to do to get hooked up once we got there. I didn’t even know where to buy a bag of pot.

Sex, Drugs and Unix

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      For the first couple of years out of high school, I was living with the girlfriend in a killer apartment in Saint John. I had a job keeping the computer systems running down at the IGA, an old Valiant with four new tires, and all the time in the world for coding..
      Because nobody at the IGA knew that my job took only about two hours a week and they were paying me to sit in front of a computer for thirty-seven, I was free to do what I wanted all day. For me, it was like winning the lottery. I worked on my own code and learned everything I could about whatever interested me. Aside from a lot of other technical stuff, I became an expert on an old alternative to Windows and other operating systems, called Unix.
      At night, the girlfriend and I went to hockey games, drank beer down at the tavern with our friends, and occasionally visited the folks. Even though the girlfriend and I were working all the time, we never had any money in the bank. She never said much, but just got very quiet and things sometimes became a little numb between us, and there were too many nights when we did nothing but sleep. Things were obviously a little out of balance, but I didn’t know what to do to recalibrate until one day the girlfriend says, “Eddie,” we’re getting out of here and going to Silicon Valley. You may be the world’s greatest programmer, but as long as we’re living in Saint John, it won’t even buy us a plane ticket out, so we’re gonna have to drive.”