January 12, 2006

Page 11

Back in our reality, by 1996 Scott had landed at a small consulting shop,
Vixie Enterprises, working for someone who didn't know quite what to do with
his new employee. Vixie sent Scott here and there, including to Phoenix,
Arizona, to meet up with the Chief Technology Officer of an Internet backbone,
a firm called Genuity; the man was called Rodney Joffe.

After a couple of months of bouncing around, Vixie sent Scott to San Francisco
to do some management work for David Holub, President of Whole Earth Networks,
a small regional Internet Service Provider (ISP). David was directly managing
his systems administration team, and wanted someone to take it off his hands
so that he could focus more directly on managing the company. Scott started
out working in San Francisco three days a week. After a couple of months,
Vixie messaged Scott out of the blue that he needed to give notice to Whole
Earth and get himself out to Phoenix again the next week. It seems that he
was moderately displeased that Scott and David had renewed Scott's contracting
agreement without consulting Vixie, and he was showing his ire by being rude
and arbitrary in terminating it.

When Scott went into David's office to give notice, David asked him if he knew
of anyone who was available to take the position over full-time, and named a
salary range that was a notch above Scott's current pay, with the title of
Vice President of Engineering. After not very much consideration, Scott put
in for the position himself and quit Vixie Enterprises. The parting was not
entirely amicable, and Scott had to threaten legal action over some back pay,
making things even less pleasant.

Whole Earth looked like it would be a pleasant gig, and the title, pay and
responsibility represented to Scott exactly where he wanted to be at that
point in his career.

Scott had never really looked into the ownership of Whole Earth Networks. He
learned these things over time: David Holub had started an ISP originally
called "Hooked" (as in "Get Hooked on the Internet"). The firm was under-
capitalized, as most small ISPs are, and he sold control to an associate in
order to get money to expand. At somewhere around the same time, Bruce Katz
(pronounced "Cates"), whose father had started Rockport Shoes, decided that
the Internet would be an interesting place to play. He had sold the shoe
company to Nike and had a considerable amount of money to play with. He
bought a conferencing system, The Well (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, a
spin-off of Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog), that was one of the oldest
and most prestigious conferencing systems of the pre-Internet era. Bruce then
bought Hooked and reorgnized the two companies into three. The Well was
stripped down to just the conferencing system. Development of The Well's
conferencing software was moved to a new company, Well Engaged. Lastly, the
portion of The Well's operation that provided access to the system was merged
with Hooked and the result was christened Whole Earth Networks (WENet).

About three weeks after Scott started with WENet, Bruce Katz' assistant
Claudia showed up one morning. David Holub was absent and Claudia had a
strange scary-looking fellow in tow. The new man was introduced as Kevin
Randolph, and the executives of Whole Earth were told that he was the new
President and CEO and that he had been hired to sell the company.

The firing of David Holub was immensely unpopular with the long-time staff,
especially with the systems administration group that reported to Scott. Some
of them went so far as to hang banners and pictures from their desks,
protesting the firing and demanding that David be brought back. It looked for
a while like the situation might get ugly, with a mass resignation, but with
time things calmed down and the company kept going under the new CEO.

Posted by scott at January 12, 2006 03:40 PM