I Spent $10 Million And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
I met with a potential vendor yesterday and really hit it off. One of the main reasons is that we had both started venture-backed companies during the boom, and had failed to get rich. Ryan had actually raised much more than I had ($10 million versus $6 million), but at the end of the day, had ended up where he had started, albeit wiser for the wear.
There's probably a large number of us ex-dot-com founders running around, and what may be surprising to some people is that we're generally doing pretty well. Some, like Ryan, are still working for themselves, albeit in bootstrap mode; others are playing an important non-CEO role, like my friend Bob at OQO, or Ranjan at SAP. And some, like my friend Frans, have taken advantage of the last couple of years to actually write a book for HBS Press.
The point is, we're probably better off for having taken the plunge, than if we had simply gone to work for big companies (even if we hadn't been laid off). I suspect that one of the underappreciated effects of the bubble will be a surge in innovation and entrepreneurship for the next 20-30 years, much like the Baby Boom's lasting effects on American demographics.