When she interviewed me, she asked, “What life lessons have you learned? . . . How much stock were you able to sell before the Crash? . . . What has become of the company you founded?”
I could tell she was seeking some story of drastically altered lifestyle, like the opening of a hot dog stand or an extended stay at a Zen monastery. I said, “I’m writing a book.” But I guess a lot of her interviewees were writing books. She didn’t ask me much about it.
She seemed a bit disappointed when I told her that Neoforma was still in business, and even more disappointed when I told her that Neoforma was profitable. And she wasn’t particularly happy when I pointed out that I had been ten or so years older than the twenty-something dotcom darlings of the day, that I had started the business before the Boom, and that I had created the business before I had created the business plan.
“We were just trying to build a good company and offer good services.”
I could tell that the picture she was trying to paint—a time of gleeful excess followed by a monumental crash-and-burn—was getting muddied by this conversation.
She asked me to ascribe a meaning to this defining moment in history, which she classified right up there with the Industrial Age and the Depression. I told her that I didn’t know, but I was writing a book to help others figure out what it all meant. She thanked me for my time.
Later, when I contacted her to ask when the article would be published, she apologized profusely. She said she had wanted Neoforma to be listed as “the only grown-ups we’re going to profile.” But her editors had cut out our story, telling her that there would be “little reader interest in a real business that doesn’t have bells, whistles, or a talking-dog mascot.”