During the begging of the internet boom many of the new workers thought that they had come to heaven. The field was open with opportunities, the pay was great and all the free coffee you could drink. Many of these workers came to work for start ups, they had their own reasons for doing so, some wanted a shorter climb through the corporate ladder while others wanted to cash in on the stock options. But few were really aware what a wild ride they had gotten on.
The internet industry ticked by its own clock, everything seemed to change by the hour. One day knowing HTML could land you a job with a salary of eighty thousand a year, the next you better learn to code or you'll end up on the street. But the glasses were half full and the people looked past the risk and focused on their future success. This was the spirit that was driving the internet culture.
The working conditions in these start ups were unique. There were two main concerns that were running through the head of the average employee, getting rich and keeping their job. Doing so required for each employee to keep pace, your resume better evolve at a rate faster than the internet. And one should always keep in mind that your company might not be there tomorrow, merging and bankruptcies were all too common. When entering a startup every employee knew that they would not have a regular 9-5--Monday Friday schedule. But instead they were expected to put in as many hours as needed to complete their project. For example in NetSlaves 2.0 we read of how Jan was working every day, non stop with almost no sleep and when she asked her boss if she could have a day off he replied "We're only twenty-nine days, sixteen hours and 11 minutes away from D-Day. Can't you stick it out 'till then?" It is quite ironic how in such a work centered society job security was a luxury.
Many companies went down in the internet bust, but yet some remained. While it is hard to define which set of characteristics would definitely lead to success, we do see, through NetSlaves 2.0, some practices which would most certainly lead to doom. One of the most general but reoccurring characteristics is optimism. When a company would take a slight turn for the worse both its workers and managers would just hope for the best and try to avoid the worst. For example, in the story of CRT we see how many of the insiders, especially programmers, knew that the company had no real product to back all its marketing. This fact was not a great concern to them; they continued to go to work expecting their job be there tomorrow, this feeling remained the same even when the companies great lie was to be busted. When the time came most of the optimistic workers were laid of. Only one person came out on top, as the whole fiasco had unfolded. Vincent had been long bothered by the company practice, on his free time after work he had started working on a project of his own hoping to cash in if his greatest fears were to come true. But even he did not escape unsaved. When Aether acquired CRT, they realized that they had spent millions of dollars on a worthless company that had no product. The only thing they could cash in on was the Parser, Vincent's own little jewel. In the end Vincent and Aether had broken into a series of lawsuits over the rights to the parser, leaving Vincent with a huge legal bill instead of a severance package.
Although in many other industries of the world we do see a great link between knowledge and income this link in the internet industry is very faint. Knowledge does not always guarantee a better salary, but it does guarantee better job security. In the case of a merge between two companies if you are skilled enough you might be able to get a new position at your new parent company. Income depended much more on ones class. In this hypothetical merge a person higher up on corporate ladder might not just get a job but also a nice severance package, either through stock or cold, hard money. Least fortunate were the "Aliens" which had to struggle each day to not disappoint anyone so as to not be fired and deported.
People have always looked for a way of making the big buck in no time. The internet boom was certainly no exception, millions of people jumped onto the raging bull in hopes of scoring big. But as we see the NetSlaves 2.0 many of them would be happy to walk away with just a few broken bones, of course is a hypothetical sense.2004-11-16T01:30:56