Monday, May 08, 2006

$20,000 rooftop parties

A party is fun, sometimes even if it's a work party.

The Industry Standard had parties.

For people who had spent their life working for regular newspapers or tech magazines and were quite used to paying $3 for a beer at some lackluster event, the Battelle parties were a shock -- almost as big a shock as our very short-lived huge salaries.

Battelle would tell people we were about to be a "billion-dollar company" and the "Dow Jones of the 21st century."

Of course, that's stupid and vainglorious -- or, I should say, that's Battelle. John Battelle was the biggest phoney of the entire dot-com collapse. He hurt a lot of people, and he was never punished. He pretty much ruined my life, but that's a story for another day. That's a story as common as fog in San Francisco.

What's crucial right now is that people avoid him at all costs. When John Battelle comes sniffing around the toilets, it's all over. Your hopes have died. Your careers are finished.

(Side note: On the day we all got fired, I was walking to my car with this pleasant young woman who had been at the magazine exactly three days. She was crying, but laughing. A lot of us were. But she was lucky; she didn't have a family waiting for her paycheck, or an appalling mortgage payment. She just had that very brief experience of having a bright future. "I've never made this much," she said. And then she got in her ratty old Ford Escort and drove away.)

So when I later found out those final rooftop booze extravaganzas weren't even paid for, I had something to laugh about again.

Sure, I couldn't make my own house payment, but John Battelle owed hundreds of thousands of dollars for his stupid parties with their Absolut bars and sushi platters.

Surely he would suffer for what he had wrought. Surely he wouldn't re-emerge nearly a decade later to dump his dumb schemes on yet another Internet generation ....

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