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How I ended up working for a big corporation...

By Gregory Gromov

In short, knocking on the doors of some monolithic corporation to see if I could get hired by big shots - such a notion never even crossed my mind.

Furthermore, I hadn't come all the way to California just to sit in some cubicle. Ever since early 80th  when I began writing my first book on trends in IT, I had been interested in studying the basic stages by which these startup companies developed. Not startup companies in general, but specifically those in Silicon Valley. As soon as I had the opportunity, in the mid-1990s, I went for it.

In the beginning, like everyone else there, I went through the agony of starting my own company from scratch, even though I had almost no hope of making it big. This experience, as it turned out, was very useful in a variety of ways ...

After that-again, like many others-I threw in my lot with the "independent contractors".

This was the right approach. You'd get contracts for two or three months to a year at a time, working for some of the newest startup companies around.

I experienced every aspect of their early development, from the birth of an idea to its market debut, to the collapse of the business, or, if it so happened,  to the next round of funding. I saw it all up close and, most importantly, was able to study my subject from the inside.

Somewhere in my second dozen or so such contracts, I was the first employee to be hired "off the street" for a new startup, the latest in a series of ventures for its founders.

There were two co-founders, and then there was another trio that had worked with them for a long time. I thus became the sixth one in their group, but the first hire for this particular project.

This turned out to be the next course in my self-made "university" studying the startup secrets of California's Silicon Valley. When my contract was up three months later, I was offered a permanent position in what had a chance of becoming a fast-growing e-commerce company.

Several years went by. As was the case with some successful startups, our company began doubling its yearly revenue to reach tens of millions. The founders had proved to investors that, beyond simple growth, the company offered a reliable source of profit. Then investors began calculating their prospective rate of return...

With the company having become an established, growing, reliably profitable business, companies higher up in the same field set their sights on us. Again, this is the usual routine in Silicon Valley. The founders received an offer-"let's work together"-from an  incomparably larger company from the same sector, - where we had by this time become relatively high profile.

In this way our startup became a functionally autonomous unit in a larger, more powerful company, and we all became employees of this widely known, publicly traded company, with market capitalization of a half-billon dollars.

Meanwhile, the nature of our work hardly changed, which is the usual  pattern  in the first year after an  acquisition. As would be expected, we tried to divine what kind of drastic changes awaited us in the following year.

We never found out. We soon learned that the company that just a couple of months ago had bought us had itself been bought out by a much bigger company. This is the usual practice when an old-fashioned, traditional business is looking for the most efficient way to enter the field of e-commerce.

Along with our entire company, I thus became an employee of one of the biggest companies in America, with market capitalization of tens of billions of dollars.

Looking into the past,  it was a strange feeling. I had begun as a single cell in a fish egg that was lucky enough to survive to small fry-hood. Over the course of several years, we grew to marketable size and were then swallowed up by an incomparably larger fish. We didn't even have time to figure out what it was going to be like being inside such a big fish when we learned that this bigger fish had itself been swallowed up by a shark.

In other words, I advanced with one of my last startups as it shifted from being just one of a variety of enterprises developing in the field of e-commerce, to  one of the largest, oldest corporations in the country.

This is a typical story for that relatively small segment of Silicon Valley startups that are statistically referred to as successful or "well-established"...



Copyright 1995-2011,


The Roads and Crossroads
of Internet History

1. Internet Before World Wide Web
The First 130 Years: Atlantic cable, Sputnick, ARPANET,"Information Superhighway", ...
2. World Wide Web as a Side Effect of Particle Physics Experiments.
World Wide Web was born in CERN ...
3. Next Crossroad of World Wide Web History
World Wide Web as a NextStep of PC Revolution ... from Steven P. Jobs to Tim Berners-Lee
4. Birth of the World Wide Web, Browser Wars, ...
Tim Berners-Lee, R. Cailliau, Marc Andreessen, Browser Wars, ...
5. Early History of Hypertext
Hypertext Foundation of the World Wide Web: Vannevar Bush's hyperlink concept, Ted Nelson coins the word Hypertext, ...
6. "Living History" of Hypertext.
Hypertext Saga of Theodor Holm Nelson: The Fate of Thinking Person in Silicon Valley ...
7. "Xanadu" Plan
The Nelson's Xanadu Plan to build a better World Wide Web
8. Growth of the Internet: Statistics
Statistics of the Internet & World Wide Web: Hosts, Domains, WebSites, Traffic, ...
9. Conclusion
What is the nature of World Wide Web?
10 Prehistory of the Internet
Ancient Roads of  the Telecommunications & Computers
11 They said it ...
People Wrote About This Book

History of the Internet. We all need it. We all want it. But how did it happen in the first place? Gregory Gromov provides a ... comprehensive ... history of the Worldwide Web before it was the Net we all know and love. By Matthew Holt

 NetworkWorld. June, 1997


For a history of the Internet readers should consult Gregory Gromov's The Roads and Crossroads of the Internet's History. Humanities Computing Unit of Oxford University,  

Oxford University,  UK


The Roads and Crossroads of the Internet's History. By Gregory R. Gromov. A critically acclaimed site for a comprehensive history of the Internet.

The University of Texas, System Digital Library.


Gregory  Gromov provides an impressionistic overview in 'The Roads and Crossroads of Internet's History,' ... with a particular concentration on the development of  hypertext and the Web.

Current  literature of the online community   by Eron Main, Faculty of Information Studies, 

University of Toronto, Canada