Unemployed@home – ’90’s Dotcom Story

—– Forwarded Message——-
From: Bruce Sauser <bruceysauce@earthlink.net>
Date: Mon, 04 Mar 2000 20:56:53 -0500
To: <markw@thorhammerfinancial.com>
Subject: Re: Jon’s November Newsletter
This is what I was telling you about.
—– Forwarded Message——–
From: Beth Cutler <beth_cutler@gswcapital.com>
Date: Sun, 03 Mar 2000 20:56:53 -0500
To: <bruceysauce@earthlink.net>
Subject: Re: Jon’s November Newsletter
Hey B – your favorite newsletter strikes again. What’s worse is he calls me every week asking for $$.
Lunch Friday?
—— Received Message——-
From: Jon F. Ward <solutionsward@hotmail.com>
Date: Fri, 01 Mar 2000 11:13:34 -0500
To: Jon’s Distribution List
Subject: Jon’s March Newsletter

Hey everyone!  Happy March (?) and word up to my hommys!  It’s Jon “solutions” Ward just checking in with my monthly newsletter to all my friends, business associates and network.  I’ve attached a version in Adobe Acrobat in case you’d rather print and read a nicely formatted hard copy – but, come on – let’s save the trees folks!  Please forward to anyone else who would be interested or is in the biz, or visit my personal homepage at http://www.jonsolutionsward.com.

What’s New

It’s now been 10 months since my departure from seniorbuffetlink.com.  I left on the best terms with its principals, some of whom are on this distribution (hey Sebastian, Tomas, Dunkirk, Dean and Julie!).  I will say I checked out the site and it didn’t look quite as fresh as it once did.  For instance, where are the hyper pop-ups I suggested? Where is the 5 minutes of opening video animation of the old people in the buffet line?  What about the ultra-strike color scheme?  What’s with those big buttons on the right screen side?  Remember, I still have 100,000 stock options in your company!!  You guys have got to push the envelope and think out of the box to bring the paradigm shift necessary to unlock the true ROI in aggregating demand in the senior, all-you-can-eat market.  Kendra Bloomberg, who is a great HTLM jock, and I would love to help.  Call me if you want to do a consulting engagement (cell, 410-352-6724).

And that goes for the rest of you!  We have to remember that we Internet professionals have to push the envelope to bring off this lifestyle and commercial revolution.  We need to set an example for the rest of the corporate world, showing those button-down accounting types what the 21st century of business will be like.  With bandwidth and processing power increasing by orders of magnitude each year, I foresee a world in which a consumer never has to leave his home and can do everything on the net.  When that day comes, we will all live the American Dream.  I’m ready to do my part … and receive the ROI I deserve for my efforts!

So I guess that’s a long way of saying I still don’t have a full-time position, and it appears the Valley’s job market is softening a bit.  I’ve surveyed a lot of job postings and there seems to be an increase in marketing and business development professionals (like myself) as well as web designers and programmers.  I’m not worried, as it seems it was always the case that the rest of the country was behind the Internet’s rapid speed of innovation.  My resume is also attached so, as always, feel free to forward.  10 months is a long time, especially in the tech world.

So that’s not to say “solutions” Ward is not without his share of thoughts, insights, and adventures.  I do not want to let you down.  Also, for those new to the list, feel free to visit my website for archive copy of past newsletterswww.jonsolutionsward.com or www.stanford.edu/alums/links/JWard91.  Post comments & questions as well.

The Solutions Index

So let’s start with my review of new business developments and start-ups to keep your eye on, for marketing, joint venture or investment!  As most of you know, I’m a Stanford MBA, so I have a good handle on this and stay pretty plugged in (literally!!).  I spend 20 hours a day on the net or on my cell phone, and I love to distill my thoughts.

So as you’ll remember from my July newsletter, my foray into day trading didn’t go quite as well as I hoped.  First of all, have any of you ever tried to negotiate out of a margin call?  I think this just proves that the brokerage firms will be rendered into dust by the daytechs and the suretrades.  I only got hooked into these greaseballs when I was with priceline.com, and made my first big IPO splash.  This Goldman Sachs asshole in New Jersey called me and said that the value of all my positions in my Solution’s Index (see www.jonsolutionsward.com/investing/solutionsindex) had gone below the price I bought them at margin, and I needed to wire $20K to them or else they’d start selling.  Now does it make sense to sell low?  Of course not!  But I turned the table on them: I asked this hotshot broker if they would loan me another $20K so I can add to my position while all of these stocks were low.  It’s called a value play.  He said no, of course, so the next thing you know I’m bargaining with Amy the call center manager at Citibank, trying to get a $20K extension on my Visa.  She was more polite at least, but not forthcoming with the dollars.  Seeing a future fortune evaporate, I called this broker back and said, “Hey, give me a break and maybe we can do some business.  I have a lot of Silicon Alley contacts.”  (Yep, that’s you Tony!  How ya doin’?)  He insisted on the cash, so I hung up on him.

So later that week I found out Goldman Sach’s lawyers are about as bad as their brokers. Needless to say, I was forced to take drastic measures to save the Solution’s Index.  Practicing what I preach, I liquidated all my holdings in old economy stocks.   Mutual funds are for wimps, so I never played with those.  I was foolish to diversify in ’97, and I missed substantial ROI because of it.  I looked at each company I owned and evaluated it based on the rules of the impending Wired world.  So I dropped my Wal-Mart stock because I do not think they have a sufficient online strategy and will soon be rendered into dust by their more virtually integrated, online-real time competitors.  So I also sold my shares of GE for the same reason – do you realize that in the year 2000 you still can’t purchase a turbine jet engine online?  Why maintain a sales force in this day of age?

So I added to my positions in onlineautostore.com, the UK online cigarettes store fags.com, and Mike Allen’s 3rd company pretend.com, which just went up last week (nice site Mike, but your click-throughs are still a little funky.  I’m ready for an engagement.  Call me on my cell 410-352-6724).

Have you seen the slick sites put out by specialty retailers such as blendersandmixers.com or cheapbathroomproducts.com?  Wow!  They’ve got the buzz, the look, the guerilla marketing and the right VCs and angels.  These are fast companies ready to put brick and mortar competitors like Bed Bath & Beyond out on the street.  With lower price points by 10%, why would you ever buy a juicer at a mall?  So I’m ready to get some shares flipped to me when those IPOs come.  I’d love to have founders shares of those babies – I could easily buy that vineyard in Sonoma I’ve had my eye on!

So I also bought 10,000 shares of crakerbarrel.com, the down-home restaurant chain’s Internet commerce spin off.  This is perfect brick and click.  They actually let you design your own rocking chair on the site and will FedEx it to you for next day delivery.  Now that’s brilliant!  Do you realize the potential market for this?  There are over 10,000,000 trailer households in America (source: company website) – so imagine the potential: let’s say only 40% of those households buy, and there are two people buying per household, and the average retail is $50: 4,000,000 x 2 x $50 = $400,000,000 in sales!!!  And that’s just rocking chairs!!!  They also sell rustic candle holders, authentic woven wall art, and patriotic t-shirts & country music CDs!

Business Advice: The Revenue Conundrum

So a lot of start-ups get panned for not having a “revenue model” by the beancounters and analyst greaseballs.  Of course it takes time to ramp-up, so I think these critics are a bit hasty.  Nevertheless, we have to be realistic: businesses need to have sales.  We’re all in this together, so maybe start-ups should cooperate more and give each other business.  That way we can show revenue to these picky investors, and buy the time to get to the scale where the true ROI is.  We can all provide each other consulting services and then show that service as revenue.  After all, there is a lot of embedded knowledge among us that can be helpful.

So, as an example, Jackie Sue Mentoff-Yun’s meat.com (a B2B/B2C that does online ordering of rare meats to restaurants and consumers) could advise Larry Dobby’s yourdinner.com (a site that takes its users through a decision tree that helps them decide whether to cook, order-in or go out to dinner & what they should eat) on his menus, and Larry can advise Jackie Sue on the types of meat she may want to sell.  Larry bills her $1,000,000 and Jackie Sue bills him $1,000,000.  They pay each other and keep their cash intact.  End result: 2 start-ups with $1mm in revenue!

Let me know your thoughts.  I’m thinking of turning this into a full-length article for Wired.

Consulting Solutions

So I’ve been offering my services to several companies, and I thank all of you for your advice and assistance in finding new associates and friends.  As you know, I’m consulting with George Pietro and Ann Smith-Gunthrie on their arthritis-management geared website chronicarthritis.com.  They also own the nationally recognizable number 1-800-772-ACHE.  Their main competitor for this space is arthritis.com, the most frequently entered URL in this realm of online chronic pain searches (source: Excite), run by a Stanford alum I know named Mike Sachs (yo Mike!).  I’ve been trying to get them to merge without much success.  First, both companies have a combine burn rate of $2mm a month on a combined $100,000 in revenue, so we had to get financing in.  The first round VCs refused to put any more money in, and strategic partnerships were plenty but cashless.  Banks are too slow and bureaucratic to offer fast companies like these lines of credit, so I hit every contact I have in the VC and angel world.  After 2 weeks, I only got offers of equipment leasing from my friends at Cisco Capital and HP.  Thanks to Ruleesh, Maggie, Aton, and Franklin, but we have all the servers and routers we need.  We need some operating capital to make this merger happen!

I finally hooked into this outfit called Big Plains Capital.  So this is some private fund for some rich family in Tulsa.  Do you believe it?  Oil money.  They can offer up to $5mm in mezzanine financing.  So their main banker, who will remain nameless, flew into SFO last week and I picked him up and took him to the Soma Starbucks (hey Lucy and Furock!) for a meeting. I start out with the Jon “solutions” Ward standard opening and schmooze approach.  I tell him who I am and what I do.  I tell him about my previous 5 tech start-ups.  Then I pitch the concept: oldies getting all their arthritis needs fulfilled online, just by using a mouse and typing on a keyboard!  I tell him about the principals at the companies and the obvious synergies of the merger.  The ROIs are huge.  I think it was a great pitch.  Of course, I also threw in little relishes to make him comfortable.  For example, I refer to him as “sir” instead of his first name, trying to play-up to his rural Midwest sensibilities.  (See more of my pitch best practices at www.jonsolutionsward.com/tipsoftrade/artofthepitch).

So – big surprise — this guy is totally clueless.  The first sign was during my pitch, when he kept asking for all this minor financial detail, like “what’s the current ratio”, and “what is their IGR.”  I was like “Hey, let’s not get lost in the details yet, sir.”  He sat there looking puzzled, wearing a tie (!), and seeming uncomfortable in Starbucks.  So I finish up and he’s like, “Great, I have another meeting now, so what’s next?”  First, I wanted him to sign an NDA before this went any farther.  To my dismay he says, “I’m not signing anything.”  I’m like, “What?!  No NDA? You have to sign one!”  I mean, who doesn’t sign an NDA?  It’s pro forma.  I talk to this hick smartass and he tells me he looks at hundreds of deals a year and just doesn’t sign NDAs because usually there’s nothing proprietary to protect.  I tell him “How do I know you won’t steal chronicarthritus.com’s business plan and other proprietary information?  You can take it to an online healthcare behemoth like Drkoop.com or MDsays.com.”  The bumpkin just laughed, like it was a joke.  I said, “Hey, sir, you want to miss the biggest boat to sail in the online arthritis market, that’s your prerogative.”  Well, it was all for nothing.  But, hey, I know a bunch of these Palm Beach types with plenty of bucks … lots of clothing biz money from New York!  So George and Ann, don’t lose faith.  We’ll all look back on this and laugh someday.  Call me on my cell — 410-352-6724.

 New Technology Solutions

Hey, who has a digital camera?  This technology is bound to revolutionize corporate communications, and eventually the slow, non-tech consumers will catch up.  Invest and go for options in these companies now – SurePic, MyDigitalPhoto.com, and MonkeyLenseNet.  Billions, if not trillions, will be spent in this area by corporations in coming years.  I predict from now on it will be a standard business custom to email your picture around to people you’ve never met.  Why?  Because putting a face with a name is important in high-tech, high-touch businesses.  This will really get those old farts into the ‘net.

So let me be one of the first to introduce myself by photo:


      Jon “solutions” Ward – March, 2000

Personal Biz

So my house in Palo Alto is for sale by owner.  I’m asking $600,000 for it.  It needs some work, particularly where my waterbed exploded and flooded my in-house gym.  It’s a great place, but the best thing is it’s wired for business.  That’s right – a few years ago I spent $30K for a T-1 line, meaning I’m all that on this block!  I’m selling it myself because the real estate brokers didn’t think that my T-1 line added at least $100,000 to the value of my place.  One was like, “It’s a 3 bedroom ranch.  Who’s going to move in here?  Larry Ellison?”  No, but the next big guy behind the next big thing will buy it!  It’s served me well these past two years, but a studio apartment in Soma is fine with me – like I’m ever home!  Besides, San Fran has all the new start-up action!  Anyway, so I need to sell it quick, so call me on the cell if you have any leads — 410-352-6724.

So more weird news – My racing yellow Porsche 911 was stolen last week.  You’ll all remember I bought it with the proceeds of my bonus from the site launch of stuffjobs.com in ’99 (hey Franco, you’re keeping that site looking good, but there’s too much hot pink and royal blue on the site. And who’s that ‘Krystil’ by the way? I loved her school uniform … well, better leave it there!  But guys, I gotta admit, she’s a hottie! cell — 410-352-6724).  Anyway, I left it in front of the Matador in San Mateo and, after having their fish taco special and talking on my cell phone for an hour, I went out and  — voom – it was gone.  I guess they must have pick pocketed my keys when I was inside, because they were gone too.  I was so engaged in my phone calls I must not have noticed the guy swipe them from me in the middle of the restaurant!  Crime is a drag, and we all need to be careful.  Luckily, my car was fully insured, and I still have my Jaguar XJ-6, though it was recently keyed when I was in Berkeley.  Anyway, State Farm should be delivering a fat check my way soon.  Luckily, I took my Goo Goo Dolls CD into the restaurant with me – I’d hate to lose that disc because it totally rocks!

So on the personal front, I’m putting a special shout-out to my defense lawyer, Bobby Gains at Thurmond Ellis in downtown San Jose.  As a lot of you know, I’ve been questioned by the police about the disappearance of my former girlfriend-fiancé Monika Zubowski.  Monika is a former waitress-actress and Polish émigré.  I brought her into the biz in ’96 when I was at amazon.com.   At the time, she was just off the plane and was working as an exotic dancer near the Oakland airport.  We hit it off and I saw her considerable talents in meeting organization and facilitation.  As a result, she gained considerable monies in the IPO, and then spent most of it a Mustang 5.0 and another breast enhancement.

Most of you know she ended our relationship after those cocksuckers (sorry Dean!) at seniorbuffetlink gave me the shit can.  Anyway, Bobby G. helped me when I was accused of stalking Monika when she worked at Faultline BrewPub up in Walnut Creek, and we all know that was a bullshit claim.  Everyone knows I love a good microbrew and oven-fired basil chicken pizza, even when offered over an hour away.  So what if I only went there when she waitressed, or went out with her friends, or had a date, or went to get her paycheck?  I’d just fire up my Dell at the bar and hang-out talking on my cell phone. Is it stalking when I’m working?

So last year when I was arrested outside Monika’s house at 3 AM, that was just a misunderstanding.  Unfortunately, I had an 8-ball of coke and a 9mm Berretta on me, so that didn’t look too cool to the police. I was holding both for a friend, and that’s the truth. Luckily my lawyer got me off, and I’ve followed to terms of the TRO and my probation to a T.  I mean, I’m a successful tech exec, right? That bitch means nothing to me!  (Sorry to my buds at womynpower.org … hey, by the way, Cindy G. says you didn’t pay her for that engagement we did for you guys.  She subcontracrted me, so I need her to get paid so I can get paid.  Let’s get it done!  Give me a call on the cell 410-352-6724.)

Anyway, I haven’t seen Monika since she moved to the San Fernando Valley to start her acting career.  I swear to God.  The cops are treating me like a suspect, and it isn’t fair.  So, now I’m OJ (sorry Julan and Rufus!) because her roommate and new boyfriend haven’t seen her for a week, and they found her car abandoned in San Luis Obispo.  I just don’t get the police mind.  They’re fascists who’ll never make it in the new, wired world.  Anyway, that weekend I was camping down in Carmel and trying to learn how to surf.  All the cuts and scratches I had on me were from hitting ocean rock near the shore, and going through a pine forest.  I called at least 30 people on my cell and talked to them when I was there, including someone from Microsoft!


That’s a wrap.  Remember I check my email (solutionsward@hotmail.com) every hour and the cell phone (410-352-6724) is always on!  Next month’s issue may be delayed if formal charges are brought against me.  Nevertheless, I’m still available to work from anywhere.

So that is the true miracle of the Internet: my laptop and cell phone will work anywhere, so if I leave the country I’ll still be here to participate in our common effort to wire the world.  Don’t let financial scandals or criminal accusations deter you from using my services or making me a principal in your next start-up!  I’m ready to add the business solutions you need from anywhere, even from Algeria or Venezuela!

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