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Silicon Valley - The Geeks Are Back In Charge?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the rain-rain-go-away-suits? dept.

Technology 209

securitas writes "The New York Times' Steve Lohr reports on a fundamental shift taking place in Silicon Valley in the post-dotcom era: the geeks are back in charge. New start-ups and companies that survived the bubble 'are based on innovation and are run by people with deep technical skills.' These companies have real technology and a solid technical base that have historically been the bedrock of Silicon Valley - something that was temporarily forgotten during the dotcom bubble. Profiled companies include Tellme Networks (speech recognition), InterTrust (DRM - digital rights management), VMware (virtual machines) and Scalix (Linux e-mail servers)."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313417)

go jets! J-E-T-S!

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313515)


The Jets? Winnipeg lost their hockey team in the mid 90s!

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

freeweed (309734) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313660)

The Jets? Winnipeg lost their hockey team in the mid 90s!

Yeah, and Phoenix has been sucking ever since.

It's neat, moving from Winnipeg to Calgary. Now I can go watch an NHL team that moved from the US to Canada (the only one IIRC) and snub my nose at idiot "Thrasher" fans.

Yup, 100% Offtopic, and 100% worth the loss of karma just to see *anyone* else on Slashdot who'll post about my beloved Jets!

Re:fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313716)

Uhm, we're talking about football here, dumbass. It's the New York Jets, not some gay ass hockey team from Canadia. Shut the fuck up and go back into your hole, you stupid fucking faggot. Suck some more dick, you fuckstick hippie Canadian snow nigger.

Re:fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313878)

Your Yankees lost last night, loser.

It was great seeing those losers crying.

GO MARLINS!

AMEREICA LIXORS A MASON DISXOP;lksdglkdsjf (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313418)

UR LIE KSO GHEY loololool
sddshnflsdhnfshgojfdshgkjhglkshgfgdg

i dont fail it bitch (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313420)

frosty piss!

YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313425)

Not only do YOU FAIL IT, but YOU FAIL IT to a Jets fan. I mean, it'd be okay failing it to a Chiefs fan, but the Jets? C'mon, the Jets suck. Losing to a Jets fan is just pathetic.

Re:YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313431)

YOU FAILIT bitch
i have frosty piss and your just a fuxing jets fan

Re:YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313438)

No, YOU FAIL IT. Shut up and go join the GNAA, you moron.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GNAA/ (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313843)

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Your comment has too few characters per line (currently 28.8).
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INIT SAID it has introduced a storage management platform called Openfiler which it says will build network attached storage appliances using X86 based architecture.

Openfiler, it said, is a browser based utility which using an underlying Linux OS can give a multi-protocol network attached storage (NAS) system.

Xinix claims that it will work well for networks which use a combination of Mac OS9/X, Windows, Unix and Linux systems.

It claims that when Openfiler is installed onto an X86 server or workstation, all the storage on a system plus extra storage, can be shared on an IP network using NFS, SMB/CIFS, and WebDAV. It will also support AFP for Mac OS 8.X and 9.X clients, and NCP for Novell.

Xinit says the Openfiler Project, released as Open Source, will cut the cost of deployment and managing storage by giving an alternative to proprietary NAS systems.

The code itself will be available for download on the 30th of October at Openfiler.org, while there is more information at the same web site now.

Quattrone is out/Torvalds is in (4, Informative)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313427)

As in you-know-who Torvalds and Frank Quattrone [bayarea.com]

NEW YORK - The month-long criminal trial against Frank Quattrone, Silicon Valley's once-high-flying financier of the technology boom, crumbled Friday when a judge declared a mistrial after jurors deadlocked on a verdict.

Inside Frank Quattrone's Money Machine [businessweek.com]

Nobody knew it at the time, but the apex of the Internet rocket ride came on the morning of Dec. 9, 1999. Executives of computer maker VA Linux Systems Inc. gathered at 6 a.m. in the trading offices of Credit Suisse First Boston (CSR ) on the 17th floor of a San Francisco skyscraper for the company's initial public offering. Among those assembled were Larry M. Augustin, the chief executive, and his friend Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the Linux operating system, who was dressed in his customary T-shirt and sandals. Their three toddlers scampered around underfoot while the adults watched in stunned silence as the stock price jumped from 30 a share to more than 200 within minutes. Augustin nudged Torvalds and whispered: "Did you ever think we'd be here?" At the end of trading, the company's shares were worth 239.25 apiece, up 697.5%, making it the best-ever first-day IPO performance.

Re:Quattrone is out/Torvalds is in (3, Funny)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313520)

Linus Torvalds... dressed in his customary T-shirt and sandals.

That's all? Too much information :-)

Re:Quattrone is out/Torvalds is in (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313602)

Posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

I used to work at CSFB, where Quattrone was. A bigger bunch of gung-ho cowboys it would be hard to imagine. I was asked to do such things as fiddle reports to show losses become profits (reasoning was given, but the reasoning was bogus and the guy just wanted to get a bonus). I edited code on live production servers. Systems fell apart on a more than daily basis. Some loon had decided the best way to look productive was to do a release every two weeks, regardless of whether there was anything to release or whether what was being done was actually in a production ready state. I had to argue with a project manager over the importance of primary keys in a relational database (he didn't believe in them. No, really...).

Presiding over all this rubbish was convicted criminal Quattrone. I enjoy that phrase. He shouldn't have been the only one.

VA Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313696)

Augustin nudged Torvalds and whispered: "Did you ever think we'd be here?" At the end of trading, the company's shares were worth 239.25 apiece, up 697.5%, making it the best-ever first-day IPO performance.
I'd hardly call a company with flat revenues and increasingly negative cash flows over the last 4 quarters to be evidence that "Torvalds is in".

Sure hope he sold his VA Linux shares on the day you quoted. It's down 98% since then.

Re:VA Linux (2, Insightful)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 10 years ago | (#7314020)

You missed the point: Quattrone was the reason a company with "flat revenues and increasingly negative cash flows" was up almost 700% the day it launched.

Let's not forget ... (3, Interesting)

nbvb (32836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313432)

Let's not forget our friends over at IronPort Systems (www.ironport.com). Great product, great team...

Amazing, first real dot-com I've dealt with that has a real solid shot of being the Big Dog in what they do ..

Re:Let's not forget ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313498)

Not to mention the terrific team at SteelDock Tech (www.steeldock.com) - they're awesome, a real pro-active synergy-driven group who think outside the box. I've met a few of them, and they're all team-players with the self motivation and drive necessary to push the envelope.

If you're interesting in buying some stock, let me know, I can cut you in with a good deal.

Re:Let's not forget ... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313951)

I would be very interested. You can contact me over at investigations@SEC.gov and investigations@FTC.gov. If you are with MS, please don't bother.

Let's not forget ...YOUR GAY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313547)

Shut up stupid faggot.

Re:Let's not forget ...YOUR GAY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313758)

That's "you're" (a contraction of "you are".)

I'm not usually a pedant - but if you're going to call someone else stupid, better make sure you get it right.

Dickhead.

Re:Let's not forget ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313816)

That's "interesting"? The mods are on crack--not only is it completely content-free (mind telling us who the hell they are), but it's just blatant whoring to try to get publicity for those jokers, whoever they are.

DRM? (4, Troll)

gunix (547717) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313437)

"These companies have real technology and a solid technical base
InterTrust (DRM - digital rights management), "

Is it just me, or why do I feel bad when I read "real technology" and DRM in the same text?

Well this is slashdot (1, Interesting)

andy1307 (656570) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313447)

And they are suing Microsoft [intertrust.com]

Microsoft Patent Infringement Overview In April 2001, InterTrust commenced a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft. Since that time, InterTrust has continued its investigation of Microsoft products and expanded the litigation to now include eight InterTrust patents and many patent claims. Overall, InterTrust's current assertions against Microsoft can be characterized as relating to:

Now you know why they were included.

Re:DRM? (4, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313526)

Is there a reason why DRM shouldn't be labeled "real technology" besides the fact that you don't like it?

-- Dr. Eldarion --

Re:DRM? (1)

gunix (547717) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313571)

For me, real technology means something that is valuable for all humans, that evolves society.
I'm having a hard time to see how DRM can do this.

Re:DRM? (1)

Ella the Cat (133841) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313673)

That's a tough test for any technology. A benign DRM could, for example, keep track of how many times a digital work is listened to or watched, without any restrictions on copying, and preserving privacy if so desired. From there you could figure out who pays and who is paid according a a mutally agreed contract. I like the idea of being able to haggle, or bargain collectively, or pay people who discover exciting new music ahead of the rest of us. (I've read Secrets and Lies so I can imagine the pitfalls, but if society wanted benign DRM, we could have it I'm sure, if we didn't value profit above all else).

Re:DRM? (1)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313799)

Narrator: In the center of the plot is the DRM. The nature of the plot depends on the nature of the DRM. There are different kinds of DRM's, for example:

The benign DRM (sits on a throne, looking very busy managing rights)
The evil DRM (sits on a throne, mimicing shouting "take him away!" all the time)
The crazy DRM (sits on a throne, doing silly faces)
The benign DRM with a physical defect (the same as the first one, only has a stiff leg)
The evil DRM hatching a plan
The crazy DRM hatching an egg

(after a sketch from Rowan Atkinson Live)

Re:DRM? (2, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313579)

There is the feeling many techies have, that real DRM on audio at least will always be ineffective. If you can play it over your stereo, you can record it and thus copy it. With other types of data it's not so obvious, but still, my impression is that DRM will never stop any serious pirate and will just be a hassle for consumers. In short, it won't work.

So calling a company a good solid tech company because it does DRM does sound a bit shaky to me.

Re:DRM? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313814)

It is a solid tech company as long as the status quo is maintained; to wit, that companies control the law because they spend more money on lobbying. As has been pointed out repeatedly on slashdot in the past, lobbying is simply necessary, and we need to find a way to carry out lobbying on behalf of the people. I think the best way would be a distributed network of people who know where important figures at all level of government would be at most or many times (it is not necessary to track them all the time, we just want to be able to talk to them, not shoot them) and just have it send people 'round to voice their opinion on particular issues, perhaps handing them a letter at the same time. Say the president is going to be at your high school, and you know you're going to be in the front line, you could take the time to say "I'm against DRM" :D It's not necessary to lobby through campaign contributions, we just need to get the word to the people who can make decisions...

Oh yeah, and, vote. If you don't vote, fuck you. I mean it. All over the world, if you can vote, you must vote. If you don't vote, shut up, and go away. You're part of the problem.

Re:DRM? (1)

croddy (659025) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313608)

DRM is real technology.
it's also a false economy.

--
now go work on your spamsite!

Re:DRM? (1)

hanssprudel (323035) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313617)


DRM is not real technology because it isn't inventing anything new. All it is doing is taking existing real encryption technology, and making it act against the user rather than for him.

Re:DRM? (1)

muffen (321442) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313631)

Is there a reason why DRM shouldn't be labeled "real technology" besides the fact that you don't like it?

Nope :)

Re:DRM? (2, Interesting)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313645)

Is there a reason why DRM shouldn't be labeled "real technology"

DRM is certainly a real technology in the sense that it has goals and implementation details. I do think there are ways to see it as not a "real" technology; admittedly, doing so involves adopting some non-textbook interpretations of "real". Suppose that we colloquially choose to say that real technology is that which results in a clear benefit for humankind; arguably DRM doesn't. These issues aren't black and white, but that's the spirit in which I read the original post. Sort of like saying that the HMO industry isn't a real industry because it doesn't add value; yes it does enrich particular people, and yes it employs many and has lots of papers to shuffle around, but its value to humanity is highly questionable and I don't mind dissing it as "not a real industry".

Re:DRM? (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313724)

Hardly real. I was attempting to use it at one stage, it never ever worked. The client was buggy, killed Windows 95, it was expensive, securing content was a pain, and then, instead of trying to fix those problems they switched to "securing" email.

They couldn't get their software to work, so now they've fallen back to enforcing patents. Or, expensive software that doesn't work, yup Microsoft is trying to do that too sometimes...

Worst QOTD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313440)

And in the heartbreak years that lie ahead, Be true to yourself and the Grateful Dead. -- Joan Baez
Worst. Quote. Of. The. Day. Ever.

Myths (5, Interesting)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313443)

1) Everyone fired or laid off post-dot-com was a skill-less, freeloading slacker who got their technical skills from "Learn $TECHNOLOGY in 21 days" books.

False. In fact, middle-management is now finding their IT department unable to do much of anything without a huge budget increase or new equipment. Middle-management, as expected, is still sitting there, having meetings and trying to figure out what to do.

2) Anyone who can't get a job as a programmer now is a skill-less, freeloading slacker who got their technical skills from "Learn $TECHNOLOGY in 21 days" books.

False. There are Masters Degree holders in both engineering and scientific fields of IT study who cant rent interviews, much less jobs.

3) Technical skills are a commodity.

False. Perhaps 10% of the working population has the training, education and experience to build a complete computer program. Middle-management, unable to understand this fact, much less the technologies they are in charge of, continues to presume that ordering a database is no different than ordering new file cabinets.

When these and other myths are no longer givens in the discussion of improving the IT department, then, and only then, will things improve.

Re:Myths (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313513)

I've had no problem receiving any number of job offers. Did ever stop for a minute and think that maybe the problem is YOU?

Re:Myths (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313557)

So lets see you post your resume madame flame bait.
Whores in my town are a dime a dozen and never have a shortage of work either.

Re:Myths (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313535)

Much of this perception has to do with the fact that when there was a shortage of people with computer skills in the late nineties, two things happened:

1. There were an awfully large number of "Learn $TECHNOLOGY in 21 days" types who got hired. Actually, more seriously, there were an awfully large number of "Know the buzzwords associated with $TECHNOLOGY in 21 days so you can pass interviews" types. I know this, I had to work with so many of these people. Programmers who didn't understand such basics as modularity and FOR...NEXT loops, who couldn't read a two paragraph spec, etc.

These people were eventually fired or laid off, which in turn lead to an assumption of guilt on the part of anyone fired or laid off. But I also know skilled, talented, individuals laid off from my own company, which didn't feel the recession (or, if anything, benefits from it - we do consultancy that tries to make certain types of retail outlet more efficient and profitable in a business where it's vital stock keeps moving) who were discarded due to temporary shortages or office politics. If I started my own business, I'd hire several of the people we laid off in an instant, above many of those I work with today.

2. Programmers got greedy. Seriously greedy. I recall two or three years ago reading poster after poster on Slashdot protesting that employers with problems finding employees were just paying too little, and if only they understood that $150,000 was an entry-level salary these days they'd see...

What they forgot was that few businesses can justify $150,000 on a computer programmer. Those that were paying those kinds of salaries were generally the dot-coms, who also had no business plans and were little more than VC money-pits. But because they were paying so well, programmers held out for those kinds of salaries, with the disasterous consequences we're seeing now - something close to a tech recession, many competant programmers drawing welfare, and businesses outsourcing programming - a medium where traditionally communications are already awful and need improvement - to other countries where they can find cheaper labour. Businesses were forced to look elsewhere, and that's exactly what they did.

How you resolve this issue is open to question. Despite general pessimism, the fact is businesses that need programmers will always find it easier to locally hire than set up labour pools in other countries, but it's time for some realism and some recognition that a safe, well paid, job is usually better than a temporary obscenely-paid one.

Myths-It's all his fault. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313565)

"How you resolve this issue is open to question. Despite general pessimism, the fact is businesses that need programmers will always find it easier to locally hire than set up labour pools in other countries"

The fact that they're outsourcing your job, shoots down the myth.

"but it's time for some realism and some recognition that a safe, well paid, job is usually better than a temporary obscenely-paid one."

3-People were laid off because the boss wanted to make the shareholders happy, and make his bank account fatter. The dot.com bubble didn't touch a LOT of people.

Blame the victum only goes so far.

Re:Myths (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313659)

There were an awfully large number of "Learn $TECHNOLOGY in 21 days" types who got hired
and they still are being hired. One of the hardest tasks in todays environment is hiring good programmers. There is so much noise out there.

Programmers got greedy. Seriously greedy.
bad programmers got greedy. good programmers are worth their weight in gold.

The same could be said... (4, Insightful)

uptownguy (215934) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313811)

bad programmers got greedy. good programmers are worth their weight in gold.

The same could be said of good teachers. Or good dentists. Or lots of other jobs that require equally as much talent, innate skill and hard work to earn the label of "good". Seriously, just because our field of interest happens to be technology doesn't mean there aren't other careers out there where dedicated, brilliant people don't stand apart from their peers and make a difference. And good _______ usually make more money than bad __________. But salaries for other fields still don't compare to what techies are paid. Programmers are still unrealistic about their expectations; management not so much... which is why you see the disasterously short-sighted trend to outsource overseas. They might be making the wrong decision, but they are reacting to a very real problem: IT salaries are still overinflated. (I say "over" inflated only because I think we are in the process of a correction in that valuation. If you want to get pedantic, I think that the market always pays PRECISELY what it values for careers. By definition. But because we are in the middle of a correction, those salaries will be sharply different in a few years.)

Re:Myths (4, Interesting)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313675)

but it's time for some realism and some recognition that a safe, well paid, job is usually better than a temporary obscenely-paid one.

Actually, you need to do a present-value cashflow comparison between the two options.

Really, "present-value cashflow comparison" is a Business 101 buzzphrase, but it's pretty much how you understand how financial decisions should be made. Everything else in finance (from internal rate of return decisions to Black-Scholes derivative evaluation) are variations on that theme, with different degrees of sophistication.

Here [macroanalytics.com] 's a quick tutorial I just found on Google. It's really easy to understand, and might avoid unwanted insertions in thy financial behinds.

Re:Myths (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313794)

The problem is that people were hiring programmers who weren't worth all that money, they could churn their way through writing code but they weren't the inspired sort worth the cash. If the expansion had continued unchecked then programmer salaries would have kept going up too. The programmer who holds your code together (there's usually just one or a few out of a few or a lot, respectively - once your project grows beyond a certain size it tends to become multiple distinct engineering projects anyway) deserves as much money as the CEO. A discussion of how much money the CEO deserves veers a little too sharply offtopic.

Technical employees of all sorts were making obscene amounts of money. In the valley it was not unusual for someone without any certification to land a job as an exchange admin for a medium-sized company - making $75,000/yr or even more. This is their only job, and they don't even have to maintain the hardware the server runs on in many cases, and they make 75k? The sad part is that my friend's predecessor in the MIS/Desktop role at a prior place of employ knew less than he did. Not about exchange - neither one of them knew crap about exchange -but about computing in general.

Also, you are neglecting the real cause for the dot-bomb, which is that the vulture capitalists funded anything with a business plan, whether it made sense or not, because as a rule they had no clue about tech and no one to lead them. The business plan has the word "internet" in it a few times, and they just throw money at you, because they're afraid that nothing but the internet will matter; or maybe because it's a new market, and they felt they just had to get a piece of it. I'm sure many so-called success stories of VC firms will mention the internet as a time of opportunity and danger in which they triumphed due only to technical savvy or dumb luck.

Many companies expanded too fast, or too slow, and lost amazing amounts of money. Some of them lost unamazing amounts of money, and they tended to continue to get funding, but all the VCs basically pulled out at the same time, a ton of big players were forced to admit they would never make money, and sank out of sight, and there was a resulting effect that passed through the industry in a fairly predictable fashion.

Re:Myths (4, Interesting)

elpapacito (119485) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313973)

I think there is a common misconception of what programmers really do. If we compare the cost of resources (in a certain moment in time) of the resources used by programmers (mostly books,hardware,beverages,food) and the cost of resources used by other workers (for instance , a plumber) with the market prices of their products/services and quantity of good/service produced , I think we'll see that programmer are living goldmines.

Let's say that a plumber spends some money in materials to build a network of pipes needed to bring fresh water to an house. He sells his product to one person, with one house. You can't resell that very same work to other persons, because each and every house needs its plumbing works and materials.

Now the programmer spends his/her lifetime in front of a computer and does some investments in himself by buying hardware and books.Some company may pay these costs.Once the program reaches a mature stage it can be sold to MILLIONS of clients with ridicolously low replication costs.

The programmers usually don't get royalties on quantity of software sold : once the program is developed, it's company property and (in theory) the programmer could be fired. Thanks for your help, goto hell.

Now is it unreasonable for a programmer to ask for -comparatively- otrageous wages ? NO ! We have just seen that he's not likely to see his revenue increase EVEN IF the company for which he developed the software sold some million copies.

He may choose to have stock options instead of cash , but as many programmers have understood that's too much of a risk expecially when there isn't a system preventing management from doing wrong business decision or simple fraud.

Someone may say that the programmer doesn't know jack about selling products, financing, accounting , laws etc so he deserves to be paid little because he's not sustaining all the costs involved in running a company. But how the f*ck is a programmer supposed to do ALL of that and still do his job of daily coding and bugfixing ?
It seems humanly impossible to me.

Yet, his product can be sold in enormous quantity and he's supposed to sustain all the risks of his job without a fair share on the QUANTITY of product sold. No wonder he's going to ask for comparatively huge wages.

Agreed... (1)

Slashamatic (553801) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313537)

You forgot to mention that it those same middle managers who couldn't manage their own staff are now mismanaging the outsourced projects.

What I hope is that techies are taking a lesson from Alan Cox, who is taking time off coding to do an MBA. Middle management have become too technically disconnected to be responsible for anything.

Perhaps things would be better if the mismanagement read "Learn $TECHNOLGY in 21 days". At least they might understand what is going on.

Re:Agreed... (3, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313625)

absolutely, to get a job nowadays (and there was trend to this before the dot-com era) is to be a top-notch geek, but *also* to be able to communicate with other people, and *additionaly* understand that everything you do is done in the context of a business making money, selling stuff, etc.

Too many geeks think that their project is the single most important thing, that they must spend another few months getting it perfected... without realising that getting something out to be sold on budget is the primary thing.

I disagree that managers should learn a bit of technology, my old boss tried that, and god it was awful. He didn't *learn* it, just the buzzwords, he read a few articles on the web, thought he knew it all (I've known a few programmers like that, and some /. posters too :)

No, managers need to be accountants or personnel people - deal with money or people, that's what they need their skills in.

Re:Agreed... (2, Insightful)

Slashamatic (553801) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313846)

Many years ago I was a projet management course and we were shown "Das Boot" as an example (this was the bit when the sub was stuck on the bottom). The manager (captain) was knowledgable enough about what each team was doing so as to coordinate between them. The lesson is that whilst you don't need to know the details, you had better have an idea of what your teams are doing.

One of the single largest examples of poor management is when there is the lack of real coordination. In developer terms, I don't need a manager that knows how to program, but I need one to understand what a software development project is. However, having a manager that knows about the job and can communicate is an asset.

We know about managers who are essentially accountants - that is why we got Columbia and Challenger. I'm sorry, training in accounting is not a good background for management. They are the money techies and like engineers, they need to 'round-off' their education a little. For accountants in particular, ethics is a good place to start!!!!

I agree with you about the single-mindedness of geeks - but that is what the manager is for. Yes, there is atension between the geek and the "is it ready yet?" manager - but this can work out. It doesn't matter if the manager is a former geek him/herself as long as they know what their new role is.

I have programmed, managed and as of the momnent, I'm back programming (more programmer jobs than project managers) - so I have a good overview of both sides. Although they kicked me off into business analysis when they realised that I understood what we were trying to do.

Re:Myths (2, Interesting)

emptybody (12341) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313545)

I know many people who are still employed because they do not have strong skill sets.

Management went through and axed folks who cost money. Skilled workers cost money.
They kept the low men on the totem pole. People that they could keep dumping crap work onto. People who will never find better jobs anywhere.
People who will continue to work applying hack after hack, and bandaid after bandaid rather than fixing any one problem because they do not know how to debug problems. People who accept gladly an artificially low salary.

They don't keep the skilled technicians that could maintain everything because they cost more money. instead they "hire the handicapped" and keep the cheap flunkies who do what they are told and will not complain when the finger of blame is pointed at them for the technology failing that they do not know how to support in the first place!

Re:Myths (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313575)

Gold is rare. Gold is also a commodity. It is bought, sold and traded as well as used as a basis for buying, selling and trading other commodities.

Technical skills may be both rare and needed, misunderstood and overlooked by managment and HR, but that does mean such skills are not a commodity. If they can fire you and hire someone else to do the same job, you are a commodity. Like it or not, right or wrong, businesses are structured in such a way that anyone can be fired and replaced by someone else.

Checkout clerk is actually a small technical skill. You can confirm this by going through nearly any Wal-Mart check out line. The low quality of of most checkout clerks is palpable. When you hit a good one these days it's almost a religous experience. I had someone actually count back my change to me the other day. It made me want to marry her.

This doesn't mean that checkout clerks are not a commodity.

You know the joke?

"What did the employed physicist say to the unemployed physicist?"

"Would you like fries with that?"

10% of the population? Hell, that isn't even rare. Colleges sell Master degrees, and even doctorates, as commodities. Get the right degree, get the right job. I'm sorry, but that's a pure commodity market. The very fact that you're talking about it in terms of job interviews proves it's a commodity market.

Get the right degree, go live in the jungle with gorillas. Get the right degree, live in a garret/basement writing poetry/free software.

That is not a commodity technical market.

The second you walk into an HR department you pick up a big sign that says, "I am a commodity, please buy me."

If they do not, but buy someone else instead, that proves you are a commodity.

The fact that they can't differentiante between a good apple and a bad apple when they are in the market for apples does not mean apples are not a commodity.

There is a way not to be a commodity. Don't walk into the HR department. It really is that simple.

But that's hard. You'll need some serious skills to pull that off. Skills the other 25 million engineers don't have. Some of those skills have nothing to do with the tech. They are life skills.

Aquire them. Make yourself unique in your niche and able to maintain life and limb without an HR department (although this may mean going to live in the jungle with gorillas. If what you want is a condo and BMW you just might have to enter the commodity market. In this case you'd be better off producing the commodity rather than being the commodity).

Otherwise you can just keep adding your resume to the stack that grows higher, and higher, and higher. . .

Other than that, I'm with you.

KFG

Re:Myths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313857)

I don't have anything to say about that. But you wroted that good :)

Re:Myths (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313780)

2) Anyone who can't get a job as a programmer now is a skill-less, freeloading slacker who got their technical skills from "Learn $TECHNOLOGY in 21 days" books.

False. There are Masters Degree holders in both engineering and scientific fields of IT study who cant rent interviews, much less jobs.
While I am not one that believes all unemployed programmers are "skill-less, freeloading slackers," I cannot agree with your reason for saying 2) is false. I have worked for (and with) people who hold masters degrees in CS and other related fields, and they couldn't program their way out of a wet paper bag, let alone in a production environment. They didn't have the slightest clue about how to use CS 300-level concepts like the STL, so they implemented everything with arrays (I'm talking about people who learned C++ in college, and worked in C++ only for years on end, not people who learned some other language and have no C++ experience).

A degree does not a good programming employee make. Someone can have the ability to complete a degree, and still lack some fundamental capability that's necessary to be a good programmer. I think if I ever find myself interviewing prospective programmers I will have at least some ability to sniff out the people who won't be a good programmer, even if they do hold advanced degrees. JMNSHO :)

Re:Myths (0)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313990)

A degree does not a good programming employee make.

No, but a degree, Masters or Bachelors, qualifies a person to hold a programming job by definition. Just because someone may or may not have a particular skill based on the opinion of a co-worker doesn't even approach justification for firing them for incompetence.

A Masters Degree ON ITS FACE qualifies its holder to teach that field of study at a University. The policies of most Universities require them to grant a presumed qualification and the title of Assistant Professor by virtue of the degree alone. Many faculty committees will address candidates by the title "Professor" during the interview process, as they should. It's no different than addressing a PhD holder as "Doctor." It is a title they have earned.

This entire notion of "just because you have a degree doesn't mean you're qualified" is a pantload. It is arbitrary, subjective and unfair. Creeping qualifications are no more efficient than creeping featurism.

Management that participates in such subjectiveness is also participating in the gradual dilution of the value of education, something which, I'm sure if they were asked independently, they would value as much as their candidates do.

I would call into question the qualifications of a hiring manager who does not recognize the significance of a Masters Degree to the character and values of a candidate.

Someone can have the ability to complete a degree, and still lack some fundamental capability that's necessary to be a good programmer.

Oh, I doubt it. If nothing else they have demonstrated the ability to learn whatever might be necessary to complete the job. Any hiring manager who is skeptical about the ability of a Masters Degree holder to learn a skill is wrong, period.

The idea that a candidate who happens to be familiar with the job is more qualified than a candidate who has spent a minimum of five YEARS studying to earn a GRADUATE DEGREE is ludicrous.

Familiarity with a job can be learned. Every single employed person is familiar with their job.

Very few of those people hold Masters Degrees in engineering or scientific fields of study.

Re:Myths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313970)

In my experience most people holding Masters degrees in CS have a BSc in another discipline and the resulting code they generate is piss-poor.

I'd rather hire a BSc in CS than an MSc in CS with a BSc in something else because those people lack the foundations they need to be good coders.

Re:Myths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7314010)

In my experience most people holding Masters degrees in CS have a BSc in another discipline and the resulting code they generate is piss-poor.

In my experience, more people have opinions than Master's Degrees.

VMWare (4, Informative)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313445)

VMWare is considered a new startup? They have been around since 1998, andn actually have a very solid product at a reasonable price to offer... nope, can't be a dotcom2 startup!

Re:VMWare (1)

g0hare (565322) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313501)

they're making money, that makes 'em dotcom2

Re:VMWare (1)

r.future (712876) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313833)

I agree that VMware is not a start up, however I have been seeing more and more people running VMware now. I work in tech support and many techs, my eslf included, will run VMware because we will get calls from people running different opperating systems. So basicly we are using VMware to see what the people calling us are seeing.

I have also heard of some people running a P2P program in a VMware session, burning what they download to disc, then closing the VMware session. They do this so that the should some mega band, or the RIAA, want to sue them for the download they can't because the evidance disappears when they close the VMware session. (I have never tried this so I don't know if it would work.)

I have also seen may people using it to show demos of some of the more popular flavors of Linux, such as suse or red hat, to other people. (Even though they could just use knoppix.)

anyway, thats my two cents for what it's worth.

-r.future

Is Carly going away? (4, Funny)

IM6100 (692796) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313454)

Does this mean Carly will move back in with her mother at the trailer park?

Will the good stuff get re-branded back to Hewlett-Packard and the bad product lines get sold to Dell?

A geek can dream, can't he?

I want to start a dot-com (1)

armando_wall (714879) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313455)

Let's advertise "I (love) X10" T-Shirts using pop-unders in google..!

Anyone?

X10 Spying on Nude Neighbor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313486)

"Let's advertise "I (love) X10" T-Shirts using pop-unders in google..!"

Is that an X-10 popup ad in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?

tellme does not belong on the list (5, Insightful)

andykuan (522434) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313469)

How does tellme.com fit in here as a company run by geeks? They got over 200 million in capital for a quintessentially dot-com biz model: a consumer-oriented the-advertising-will-pay-for-everything phone service. They've only made it through the dot-com crash because they're sitting on a ton of cash and they've got AT&T backing them. Besides, they're less technology producers than technology integrators: the speech recognition engine they use is from Nuance.

Anyway, nice premise for an article. It's good in concept, but the writer could've done a better job finding companies that really represent the ideal of companies run by geeks and driven by innovation.

Hear, hear! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313589)

I agree exactly with what you said.

Why is it that reporters eat every dish of crap served up by VC's, and constantly refuse to investigate the real news? Too tight deadlines I suppose.

This isn't limited to the NY Times. The San Jose Mercury News does almost nothing but repeat what VC's say to them. Dan Gilmore is a notable exception; and the only one to come to mind.

Re:tellme does not belong on the list (1)

bratgrrl (197603) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313763)

What the hell does TellMe do?? It sounds like a typical geek-less dotcom to me-

"Tellme helps its clients improve customer satisfaction and save millions of dollars by replacing traditional IVR and network prompters with a unified Internet-powered solution."

Huh??

"Solutions running on the Tellme Voice Application Network help businesses leverage investments in existing Web infrastructure and call centers to deliver mission-critical voice solutions in record time with unmatched quality."

WTF??

Same old dotcom buzzword crap. No product here, just fork over the vulture capital. We'll take it straight to an IPO and we'll all be rich, rich I tell you.

Re:tellme does not belong on the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313856)

looks like @home... smells like @home... will be gone in 18 months like @ home.

Interesting cycle (4, Interesting)

nepheles (642829) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313471)

It's interesting to see a shift this way.

It seems that the tech industry is highly cyclical, and, once the current batch of geeks have innovated sufficiently to create marketable products, slowly business people will come to replace them

Once these products have run their course, and a recession kicks in, the shift happens the other way.

It's a fairly symbiotic relationship, I think, playing to each group's strengths. It's certainly worked for the past 40 years. Long may it continue

Re:Interesting cycle (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313487)

Yes, it's really interesting.

Geeks are good at innovation, but lack in economic skills...

Re:Interesting cycle (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313539)

Maybe geeks do lack in economic skills, but the dotcom bust showed that managers, bankers, marketeers and lawyers are equally lacking...

Re:Interesting cycle (0)

5.11Climber (578513) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313594)

...ethics

Don't even try to tell me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313477)

about Tell Me...

These companies have real technology and a solid technical base that have historically been the bedrock of Silicon Valley - something that was temporarily forgotten during the dotcom bubble. Profiled companies include Tellme Networks (speech recognition),

Tell Me has a solid technical base? Yeaaaah, forgive me if that doesn't boost a lot of confidence.

TellMe is a geek company ? (0, Redundant)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313492)

Have you looked at their business model? and their millions in investments?

More like : this free Slashdot informercial brough to you by the TellMe board of directors ...

one of them is a lawsuit company (5, Interesting)

MobyTurbo (537363) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313493)

Intertrust, an example of a "geek company" in the article, stopped being a technology company with over 300 employees, and became a patents-on-DRM IP lawsuit company with a little over 30 employees, and no new programming. They are now involved with a lawsuit over DRM features of Windows Media Player.

I don't know why the New York Times chose them as an example of a "geek company" really the only true example of that was VMWare, which never was a dot-com bubble company in the first place.

Re:one of them is a lawsuit company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313578)

I like the list of products listed as infringing on their patent. It includes most everything Office XP, Win XP, Win ME, X Box, & Internet Explorer. I hope they have a good war chest. If they win, they could get a good chunk of Redmond.
I think this battle will make or break them. If they loose, then MS gets to add more innovation to the collective.

Welcome to Silicon Valley ! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313494)

On behalf of the rest of us in Silicon Valley, I, for one, welcome the return of our hornrimmed pocket-protected overlords.

These are Geeks ? (3, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313495)


Now excuse me if I disagree here, but these appear to be a combination of technical people with decent business people working towards a real solution or product. Technologists don't have to be "geeks", most are not. I'd say that the .com was more a result of geeks than most sectors of the market as it was totally ungrounded in business.

Steve Jobs & Bill Gates are not geeks, and its THOSE sort of people, and people like Metcalf @ 3COM, and the founders of the other successful IT businesses that Silicon Valley is founded on. Its people who combine strong technical skills, with an even stronger view on how to make markets.

Re:These are Geeks ? (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7314002)

I'd say that the .com was more a result of geeks

I would differ with that. The .com was routinely business ppl trying to pull off netscapes. They would get a business person who would start something, bring in some geeks, hype a lot, then IPO absolutly nothing but a shell. A good example of that is the way SCO operates these days. Lies being told be a total business person. Claims stuff was stolen and speaks about bringing their OS up to snuff by basically stealing from those that he accuses of theft. ALmost routinely, the bad .com's are the ones that are run 100% by a business person who is making a fast buck.

The geeks did things like yahoo, google, Amazon, netscape, Redhat, and most of the successful companies. To be honest, it these were not pure geek plays but joint ventures of geeks with good (and mostly honest) business ppl.

Important Stuff... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313500)

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Scalix real technology? (2, Interesting)

weylin (174709) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313502)

It's vapourware, there isn't a price or a release date anywhere on their site.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313509)

You are all my itty-bitty-titties!!!

creator back in charge? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313544)

& probably having second thoughts about this 'free will' thing?

having watched many of us squander/misuse our infinite gifts, it's no wonder that the creator might be a little peaced off?

get ready to see the light.

InterTrust? (3, Funny)

hanssprudel (323035) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313606)

(Firstly, it's Digital Restrictions Management and nothing else - don't propogate the doublespeak.)

Can somebody who runs a company founded on the basis of closing off computers from their users, and making it impossible to hack them really be called a geek? This is a company that lauds and depends on the DMCA - which is the antithesis of everything that being a geek or a hacker means.

And besides, Intertrust makes software based DRM, which shows that they can't have any actual technical skills or they would know their product can be defenition not work. Except for the "let's get rid of the open PC platform all together" crowd (aka TCPA and Palladium), anybody selling DRM is selling snake oil. Apparently the NY Times got fooled.

corepirate nazi stock markup fraud /.puppets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313632)

who also 'may' happen to own a few old t-shirts. that's all.

from the 'article" (after pateNTdead eyecon0meter filtering):

"we disappeared a 1/4 billyun so far, but in reality, we're just getting started".

similar quotes/entries can be found in the recently unpublished, 'hey buddIE, can you spare a .com?'.

Re:InterTrust? (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313736)

You have a VERY skewed definition of what "geek" means. I guess that I'm a hopeless nongeek loser because I use the evil closed-source Solaris. Oh well, I can live with that.

Re:InterTrust? (1)

hanssprudel (323035) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313775)

The comment in question was posted from a box running:
bash-2.05b$ uname -a
SunOS xxx.xxxxxxx.xxx 5.7 Generic_106541-16 sun4u sparc SUNW,Ultra-80

Solaris may not be open sourced, but it is still a reasonably open system, and to my knowledge it isn't user hostile.

Funny. The article is a marketing plant. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313629)

Geeks back in charge? Read the whole article. We've been reading "Silicon Valley is back" articles for two and half years now. Initial investors in the companies mentioned will probably never get their money back. Bottom line is that a few dotcom firms are still living off of their IPOs at 10 percent of their staffing levels. The founders are collecting their paychecks and stuffing their 401Ks and outsourcing to India. "Geeks back in charge"? Nope. Business as usual is more like it. The last "geeks in charge" were Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak. One bailed out and the other morphed back into the privledged little rich boy brat he always was.

Re:Funny. The article is a marketing plant. (1)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313714)

But then again, if I was teaching one of those hyped Human Resources classes at a business college, I'd insist on the case of Apple/Steve Jobs/John Scully as a fable on how no fancy management theory substitutes talent

I'd have to ignore the case of NeXT, but we want to teach people the right values, don't we? Microeconomic theory teaches that in the long run talent should prevail - talent being producing what customers want for the smallest cost, _not_ producing technically brilliant solutions that leave geeks drooling at the terse, elegant source code - but why step away from the opportunity of bringing the long run a little bit faster?

In any case, programmers need to satisfy the business demands, not their own egos. Brilliant programmers who fail to do so (and instead of patching and fixing the frankenstein that's already there demand that a new system is built altogether) will be unemployed, and, heck, they should be.

skilled=unemployed (3, Insightful)

emptybody (12341) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313638)

I know many people who are still employed simply because they do not have strong skills.

Management went through and axed folks who cost money. Skilled workers cost money.
They kept the low men on the totem pole. People that they could keep dumping crap work onto. People who will never find better jobs anywhere.
People who will continue to work applying hack after hack, and bandaid after bandaid rather than fixing any one problem because they do not know how to debug problems. People who accept gladly an artificially low salary.

They don't keep the skilled technicians that could maintain everything because they cost more money. instead they "hire the handicapped" and keep the cheap flunkies who do what they are told and will not complain when the finger of blame is pointed at them for the technology failing that they do not know how to support in the first place!

Re:skilled=unemployed=screwed (4, Insightful)

Ranger (1783) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313755)

Not only that, if you are skilled, employers for unskilled jobs are reluctant to hire you for fear you'll leave them as soon as you find a better job (which is true). Unless of course they know you can't find a better one because the economy sucks so bad (which is also true).

Skilled tech workers are in a double bind. Their jobs are being replaced by H1-B's, or outsourced overseas. The problem is companies go too far in reducing labor costs. Everyone wants the best bang for the buck. I do to, but you still have to spend money. It should be about getting the most value for your dollar and not spending the least you can possibly get away with.

Re:skilled=unemployed (1)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313800)

I have a hunch that it is much easier to generate money with 2 $30k dollar programmers than it is with 1 $60k programmer.

Nobody cares what skills you have or how you can better improve the product. Those are worthless unless they directly translate into more money for the company.

I wouldn't blame somebody for playing dumb just to keep a steady income.

Re:skilled=unemployed (1)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313863)

Untill you have sold enough of your product, then either you are going to need 2 30$ programmers and 4 25$ support staff, or 1 60$ programmer and 1 20$ support staff.
Or your clients will go to your compettitor after they get tired of the bugs in your poduct.

Adriaan

Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313681)

Put the business back in the hands of engineers. I don't see an obvious problem with that...

Re:Excellent! (1)

smitty45 (657682) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313791)

except when engineers are trying their hand at being UI or design-oriented people, which can literally kill the product.

Geeks in charge (4, Insightful)

mabu (178417) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313719)

I think the geeks have always been in charge (though I think "nerd" is a more appropriate characterization). It's just that for awhile, during the dot-com-boom, a bunch of MBAs showed up and snowjobbed management with their magical doublespeak skills and ran the companies foolish enough to drink their kool-aid into the ground.

Meanwhile, the many solid companies with a solid foundation of technical talent who maintained control over their ventures just plugged on. With all the FOD out of the way, they look like they're new when they're not.

The worm has turned. (4, Interesting)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313771)

I dont know what to attribute it to, but at least in my field, interest has exploded just in the past 3 weeks. It is as if someone pulled a switch, and Silicon Valley was turned back on again. For the past 6 months, I was getting 2-3 inquiries a week, and since October its been 2-3 a day.

Last week, I turned down business for the first time this year for lack of available time. I dont think there is going to be a lot of hiring, but for Consultants like me, things seem to be getting good again really quickly.

If things continue like they have been, I may have to hire an extra couple of consultants myself.

the worms might eat you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313810)

consultant? that's not a real job, is it?

be careful out there. one of the criteria we use in screening poteNTshill 'employers', is how many fraud/larcenyindictments are pending in the upper management rank&files deleted.

Why cant the /. Ed's use NYTIMES Partners Links? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7313788)

All you have to do is type the headline into Google News.

Feel free to use this registration-free link [nytimes.com]

The Article doesn't mention... (1, Funny)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313861)

...companies like Intertrode, or ini-tech??
...hmm what is the world coming to?

bfg technologies (2, Interesting)

r.future (712876) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313862)

bfg technologies [bfgtech.com] striks me as another company like this. If you go to their web site and look around you will see that theya re a group of techie gammers who made a video card company. If you look at the "Why we are different" section of their web site you will see that the

1. offer 24 hr tech support.
2. a lifetime guarantee on all their cards.
3. that the owners of the company are huge gamers who make the cards so that can use them when the play games.

The lord giveth and the lord taketh away.. (3, Informative)

Lysol (11150) | more than 10 years ago | (#7313926)

Two kickass reports about the whole 90's boom - one specifically going into some good detail on Quattrone - are viewable via Frontline.

Dot Con [pbs.org]

Wall Street Fix [pbs.org]

and even Bigger than Enron [pbs.org]

Dot Con is much more specific as far as the whole Quattrone thing goes. It's amazing cuz I went thru that with a company that I help found (like many others I'm sure) and it's just phenominal the greed that ensued and how investment bankers and investors just took most of the public for a ride.

I'm actually glad that I never invested during this time, however, I had many friends and family that did and just got sacked. If the majority of the public really knew what went on during this period of time, I doubt they'd look to invest again. Of course, nothing like this in tech will probably happen again any time soon, if ever.
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