Today Portent is 20 years old. I forgot until another Portent-ite reminded me. Which is painfully typical. Like a lot of CEOs, I tend to focus on the
bad areas for improvement and mistakes instead of the milestones.
We’re having our big party next week, but for today I’m going to:
1. Break protocol and swear on the blog
2. Not philosophize
As our 20th approaches, I’m realizing @portent’s history is really about getting shit done more than big thinking stuff. For better or worse
— Ian Lurie (@portentint) June 5, 2015
3. And give a little perspective
- We were originally called The Written Word, because we did a lot of writing. I changed the name in 2000, after a failed acquisition and the 950th time someone asked if we printed bibles
- In 1995, (I think) we had a (supposedly) blistering 100kbps+ dial-up connection using 4 connected modems. It was so fast people came over to e-mail photos. PHOTOS. Crazy.
- We used 3.5″ floppies, so we could store one photo on each floppy
- ZIP came out with the iomega drive. 100 meg of storage on one proprietary disk. We used a lot of ’em.
- Boyz II Men had a top-20 hit
- I spent 5 hours setting up a coax network among 3 computers in my office, which was the spare bedroom in a house so old it used copper-and-ceramic wiring and fuses.
- I was 26. WTF.
- For client meetings, I bought a shirt w/ a collar and pants that weren’t jeans. A radical change in my life.
- We built our first client site. I think it was a single page, gray background site with 40+ links to PDFs. The PDFs took 12 hours to upload
- A staggering 16 million people used the internet.
- The internet was 3.5GB.
- My cell phone was the size of a brick. BUT IT NEVER DROPPED CALLS.
- I cursed at spending $400/month on health insurance for me and my employee.
- I failed to set aside money to pay taxes on Portent’s income, leading to the Great Tax Panic of 1995, which was resolved by Ian’s First Business Debt of 1996.
- Time Magazine’s Man of the Year? Newt Gingrich.
- AuctionWeb launched. It became eBay a few years (I think) later.
As for regrets…
I can’t honestly say whether I would’ve done anything differently. Of course I’d want to. I’d at least want to put money aside for taxes. But Now Ian wasn’t there. Who knows why Then Ian did what he did.
I can tell you, though, the plan going forward:
- Keep doing great work
- Keep learning
- Keep helping great people learn
- Keep making money (yes, I said it)
Pretty simple, right? Not so much. But it’s a good project for the next 20 years.
Thank you, everyone, from my team to our clients to everyone who’s ever given me advice, listened to me rant or just not smacked me around for the many mistakes along the way.
Next big anniversary: 2035