Ratiocination means “the proposition arrived at by logical reasoning” or “the process of exact thinking” or “a reasoned train of thought”. WordBowl Word of the Day provided by the blogging force behind One of Thirty Voices.
Logisticians, engineers, mathematicians: the original Silicon Valley pioneers staked their claim, threw up low-slung form-follows-function offices to house servers and people alike, charged with improving processor speed or the next leap in enterprise software.
The goal to increase worker productivity — engineers were “workers” before a new nomenclature transformed them into “team members” — approached with equal rigor. Logical, for a company to provide lunch. Eliminate the need to leave. Encourage employees to eat in front of their monitors. Or, least-optimal scenario, mingle with co-workers in the cafeteria. Next came the on-premise gym, to improve physical stamina for the all-nighters prior to product ship dates. Fully stocked kitchens for sustenance to code. Drop off dry cleaning service arrived. The HR perks matriculated into foosball tables, weekly Beer Bashes, Aeron chairs, the Friday roving cart stocked with wine, flowers, chocolates for last minute dinner party hostess gifts, dates, wifely apologies.
Everyone knew someone who knew someone at a company providing weekly in-office massages.
Business boomed, buildings begat “campuses”, the new seats of higher learning, temples of knowledge. Gave rise to a defining school of interior design, bold, bright, whimsical replacing vast seas of oatmeal cubicles.
Wall Street missed the first few, West Coast IPO blips. Then Netscape, and the overnight Silicon Billionaires. Wall Street would not miss again.
The marketeers arrived en masse. They extolled paradigm shifts and first-to-market strategies, touted page view rankings, tracked eyeballs as obsessively as their own stock options, referenced Marc Andreesson or Jim Barksdale or Kleiner Perkins as casually as film producers mentioning celebrity talent attachments. They registered the domain names of every thought that popped into their heads, issued press releases like trial balloons. Launch parties became an Olympics-worthy competitive sport.
The marketeers, they mastered virtuoso techno-marketing spoken word performances designed to dazzle, distract, Do Not Look at the Man Behind the Curtain. The unspoken, pervasive, Cardinal Rule: Do Not Ask (Ever, Ever) “But What Does It/You/They Actually Do? Because you either Got It, thus proclaiming you crossed the threshold of this awesomely unprecedented transformative era of perpetual innovation and prosperity, or you were dismissed as roadkill along the Information Superhighway.
Money, actual money, positive P&L, rendered meaningless, superfluous in this New Economy, the Tech Economy, the Venture Capital Economy, the Wall Street Economy, this universe in which valuation was king.
Up, up, up, as if it were the only direction. The biggest Series A, the highest-profile acquisition, the most successful IPO — was toppled by the next. Expectations defied logic.
For every Netscape or eBay or Google there came an array of spectacular flameouts: TheGlobe.comPseudo.comBoo.comFlooz.com. The laws of gravity applied. What goes up, most often, does come down. Buildings in San Francisco and Silicon Alley abandoned, bright-colored signage defaced with graffiti, empty Aeron chairs lined up like sentries.
Still, the entrepreneurs come, as do the VCs and the Wall Streeters casting about for the Next Big Thing, placing bets before the next spin of the wheel, visions of IPO glory dancing in their eyes.
Handwriting about IPOs and tech bubbles, I thought of heading down to Wall Street for a little thematic cocktailing, but stumbled across El Toro Blanco (“the white bull”) in the West Village, and Dream Baby Bar in the East village, both of which struck as metaphorically appropriate.
Caffeinated fuel was in the form of “Alphabet City Blend” from Ninth Street Espresso in the East Village.
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