1999 October 25

On the plane again

Once again I am writing from my seat on the plane, cramped elbow room, awkward posture and all. It's great. This is only my second flight with linon and the novelty hasn't worn off yet. Seems to be a nice day to be travelling; Boston was crisp and pleasant, and Maryland glowed leafy and golden from the air -- had to change planes in Baltimore.

. . .

A lot has happened in the past week. Boot camp is now over, obviously, and generally went pretty well. I learned quite a bit, had a good time, and got possibly two job offers out of the deal. I went hoping for a job with arsDigita, but am surprised to find myself much more aggressively courted by a startup called revbox (``because all the other names were already taken''). ArsDigita, meanwhile, sounds sort of positive about maybe making me an offer once I talk to the guys in their SF office, but not half as enthusiastic as revbox. I can't help feeling sort of swayed by that, and have been thinking a lot about how much weight I should assign to such things when making decisions. It's certainly tempting to think it would be more worthwhile to work in place that would really think I was important.

But that's not the only reason I'm finding myself rather tempted by revbox. For one, revbox is still tiny -- they haven't gone live on the web yet. I'd be getting in at something pretty close to the ground floor as employee number 12 or so. I'd apparently wind up being the only technical person actually working in their main office in SF (the others all being in Boston, oddly enough), which means I'd probably become the guy the CEO, Jim Wu, goes to to ask technical questions. And this CEO sounds like a pretty interesting guy -- used to be a shark among sharks as a leveraged-buy-out specialist on Wall St. Okay, working with nothing but MBAs around me might not be the most fun arrangement in the world, but it seems like I could really learn a lot from watching Wu operate, particularly since I'd be starting from knowing almost nothing about how the business world works. ArsDigita could possibly teach me to be a better software engineer than revbox might, but I think maybe I'd learn more overall from revbox.

And hey, what more exciting place is there in the world than riding the pointy end of a technology start-up after they've filled the tanks with money and lit the solid-rocket boosters? I'm feeling kind of reckless.

Oh yeah, what revbox actually does. They've got a sort of boring but convincingly plausible business plan to manage sales of extended warranties and service contracts for online retailers, based on an exclusive contract with a big insurance company that already does this stuff on paper. Like I say, sort of boring, but proven profitable. The nifty internet value-added comes from features that will automatically keep track of everything customers buy, and let them know with one click how much time remains on the basic manufacturer's warranty, and keep track of the exact terms of the warranty so they don't have to worry about keeping track of the booklet that came with the item, and schedule a service call/repair request direct from their inventory (``My Revbox'') page.

. . .

Whoops, out of battery, got to shut down now. These things don't last very long at all, do they? I need a backup battery.

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