Former Progeny employee Bruce Byfield wrote a nice piece for NewsForge earlier in the week called The reinvention of Progeny: How one FOSS company survived the dot-com crash. The piece was a follow up to his earlier piece Seven tips to help FOSS companies succeed. (And, no, for those around the office who asked, I never sent any memos related to chewing gum and the office carpet. Thanks for asking though. From what I and the other oldsters can recollect, the only story in the first piece to come out of Progeny was the young programmer who referred to all strategy discussions as “evil”. Those who worked at Progeny in those days know exactly who that was. :-)
The piece is a very accurate depiction of what went right and what went wrong at Progeny and the lessons we have learned over the years. The only thing I’d add is that any discussion of Progeny’s turnaround is incomplete without a mention of Steve Schafer, whose hard-nosed, pragmatic leadership guided Progeny through those rough-and-tumble months from August 2001 to October 2002. Without him, we wouldn’t have made it.
Bruce’s piece set in motion some reminiscing around the office, and one thing I said in particular caused one of my employees to say, “That soooo belongs in your blog. :-)” Here ’tis:
April 14, 2000 is another day I will never forget. I spent most of the day on the sofa with my one-month-old daughter watching CNBC coverage of the NASDAQ bloodbath. I had quit my job on the funding commitment, hired at least two other people who had or were in the process of quitting their jobs, and was scheduled to move from Arizona to Indiana in less than two weeks. But the deal was sealed with only a handshake, and I had no idea whether the investors would pull out after the NASDAQ tanked. Fortunately, they didn’t, but it was a nerve-wracking couple of months till we had the cash (which was June 2000).
Ah, the good old days..