One of those doors was the computer room where the schools sole Commodore PET computer lurked connected by modem to the Lawrence Hall of Science.
Of course students spent most of their time playing games like snake or playing text-based games via the modem. Some of us however did learn to program ( a little bit ) in basic. My first basic program that my buddy Tim and I created was a math test. If you could answer a math question correctly then you were rewarded with an ASCII rocket shooting off into the starry sky.
From that moment on I was hooked and I knew computers were for me. I also knew that I never wanted to be a core programmer (Tim could do that and he ended up being a kick ass programmer and working for Xerox) because I was more interested with what I could do with the programs that others wrote then with creating the programs myself.
By the time I hit college I was an apple fan boy using my Apple IIsi to digitize video, Adobe Illustrator to create reports for my science classes and Hypercard/Supercard to create basic learning applications for biology students.
When I started work on my post-graduate classes at Georgetown I realized I was spending more time building learning aids for my Embryology class (using Gryphon’s software Morph) then I was actually invested into the content of the courses themselves. I knew then that my present course wasn’t the right path and a new one was needed to be found.
From 1993 to 1999 I struggled to find that path. I found myself in various startups (Conceptual Media, XStudios and Creative Contemporary Source) playing the role as both salesman, account manager and scripter, using applications like Macromedia Director (Codename Purple), Supercard and Authorware to create:
- computer Based Training applications for companies like Macys, Pyramid Technologies and Quantum
- interactive help sections for Intuit’s Quicken for the Mac (as well as creating all the videos)
- animated and Interactive presentations for the Education for the Future (EFF)
It was what I called combat multimedia ( scripting was what you did in multimedia – this was how CDROMS were being built at the time ) . Everything I learned I had to learn on the fly. No google for help for me, just my persistence, whatever documentation I could buy in the form of books and a lot of lack of sleep.
It was in the late 1990s that I was introduced to a new scripting language called HTML (by James Brown) and finally I had found my path.
In 1999 I was hired by a local company called Verio (a hosting company) to work 50% of the time in their professional services department building websites for their hosting customers and 50% of time as learning and using a proprietary language (language tags) and application they used to manage their small business hosting customer facing e-commerce website.
Around May 2000 Verio was acquired by NTT Communications Company in Japan and I saw my role start to shift away from professional services to help manage not just the e-commerce portion of their small business hosting website but the Verio.com website as well as sites for our new Japanese owners. During this time we had the opportunity to evaluate and pick both an Enterprise Content Management system and a Global Translation application called respectively Interwoven and Globalsight. We worked with our IT group to set up and implement both systems for not only the US site but also our European Site and Japanese sites. During this time I was sent to Japan to teach our Japanese counterparts how to use both Interwoven and Globalsight.
The experiences at Verio were invaluable and paved the road for 3 ex-Verio employees (me, Tim Sullivan and Ken Coffee) to start a new business in 2004 that aimed to bring Content Management to the masses.
Tim’s role was CEO and handled sales and marketing , I took the role of COO an ran Operations including the development, support and implementation teams and Ken was our CFO and handled all things financial and human resources.
Armed with our experience of using Interwoven and its clear separation of function from form we set out looking for opportunities and funding to build a business that offered these options to small businesses. Thus Godengo was formed. Godengo was built on the foundation that we found value in the people that we hired and worked with. We were inspired by this quote from the character Goto Dengo in Neal Stephenson’s novel Cryptonomicon:
“Gold is the corpse of value,” says Goto Dengo.
“I don’t understand.”
“If you want to understand, look out the Window!” says the patriarch, and sweeps his cane around in an arc that encompasses half of Tokyo. “Fifty years ago, it was flames. Now it is lights! Do you understand? The leaders of Nippon were stupid. They took all the gold out of Tokyo and buried it in holes in the ground in the Philippines! Because they thought that The General would march into Tokyo and steal it. But The General didn’t care about the gold. He understood that the real gold is here–” he points to his head “–in the intelligence of the people, and here–” he holds out his hands “–in the work that they do. Getting rid of our gold was the best thing that ever happened to Nippon. It made us rich. Receiving that gold was the worst thing that happened to the Philippines. It made them poor.”
It didn’t take long for us to discover that small-medium sized magazines (mostly city and regional magazines) had poorly representational websites for their print magazine counterparts and were grossly underserved.
In 2006 we released our first version of Rivista to Palm Springs Life Magazine (still running on Rivista ). Rivista, a SaaS content management system (or CMS) application, was built from the ground up to serve Magazine Publishers and enabled them to easily get their articular content online. In 2015 Rivista is used by over 200+ Magazines in the US, Canada, South Africa and Qatar. In 2012 Godengo acquired Texterity and in 2013 rebranded as GTxcel. Currently GTxcel is $10,000,000 a year business with 90 plus employees and head quartered in Southborough Massachusetts. There are no founders left from either business still with GTxcel (I was the last).
Today I run Digitalweavers where I work on my own software products and help others get their software products released.
Here is a link to my linkedin.com account where you can look at the finer details of my work history.