Ten years ago this month, Scott Bonds and I started Kyber Systems. The reason: I had run out of money.
We were both engineers at UC Berkeley and we both had to pay our way through college. Having run a business in high school, I had the luxury of not having to work during my first few years in college (and only working during the summers). Instead, I was able to major in social life, student government, and beer. But as I was closing in on my senior year I realized that I was rapidly depleting my savings.
Around that same time, like everyone else around me, I started using Mosaic and then Netscape … spending all my free time surfing the newish world wide web. Scott and I decided that we’d help political candidates create web pages … of course, that was a really bad business model and it didn’t last too long. Our first and only political client was San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan (who was running for re-election and lost to Willie Brown). The San Francisco Chronicle did write some very nice things about our web page and I met some terrific people on the campaign (including working closely with Mike Farrah who is now the political advisor to Gavin Newsom).
After our excursions in politics, we decided to instead build corporate Intranets (of course, this was before the word “Intranet” was used) and our clients included Bain & Company, Charles Schwab, Sybase, and others. We hired a few really smart Berkeley students (some dropped out to work more) and I learned how to program better (Scott was the tech genius). We were young, brash, and thought we knew everything. We got a 150 sq foot office in downtown Berkeley that quickly filled up so Scott and I got an apartment together and leased an ISDN line so we could work from home while our employees worked from the office. It was awesome.
I remember landing the Bain & Company account. After they signed the contract I told them “I just want to let you know that I’m 21 years old and I’m the oldest person in the company” (Scott was 20 at the time and some of our employees were as young as 18). They understood, we were told. Of course, we found out later that our bid for the project was one-third the price of the next highest bidder. But for us, we thought we were rich. The check we got from Bain was the largest check I had ever seen at the time. I ran to Bank of America to deposit it.
We sold Kyber Systems in 1997 and started BridgePath together in 1998. But I will never forget the early days of 1995.
And so, now it is 10 years and three companies later … and I remember fondly those early days that have changed my life and so many of the lives around me … and I am really looking forward to seeing what the next 10 years will bring.