Carlos Leyva

Silicon Stories

Chapter 1: Dirty Little Secret

Tulip Mania

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It would not be fair to close this chapter without a few stories related to the dot-bomb universe. Looking back, we were so stupid. How could so many knowledgeable people have been fooled? What were the social and organizational dynamics that enabled this folly? The bad actors have all come clean with mea culpa confessions. We are so much wiser now. Bullshit!

We were all seduced. We were seduced by our love affair with new technologies. We were seduced by our own abilities to create compelling stories that have no basis in reality, yet capture our imaginations and beg to be believed. Above all, we were seduced by greed and easy money. We got fucked and we deserved it. Our own hands carried us there.

The fact of the matter is that we are experiencing discontinuous change at an increasing rate, and unless we are collectively smart enough to learn real lessons, we will wind up making the same mistakes again. The bad news is that we fucked up. The good news is that as individuals, and as a society, we almost always learn more from failure than from success.

But if you conclude from our failures that new economy thinking and technologies are dead, then you are going to miss the next boat out. Entropy forces us to respond with complex information technologies in order to make sense out of emerging business ecosystems. We have no choice but to embrace chaos and complexity, and to create order (and value) from it.

Speaking of chaos…

It was the summer of 1998, and I had spent the last 3 years running the local professional services organization for a Northwest Computer Company. I was ready to get back into the software game. The Internet was making software exciting again, and the last place I wanted to be was on the sidelines when the revolution happened.

I got a call from an old acquaintance from my Big Oil Company days. He and some partners had started a company a few years earlier. Its function was to perform data rationalization (cleanup) of legacy data. The primary customers were the oil companies who were looking to cleanup their legacy inventory data. It turned out that his company had recently been bought by one of the emerging B2B players, and they were looking for talent that could take their software to the next level.

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