April, 1998 – People Take Notice

It soon became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to handle running ONElist by myself much longer. Answering customer support emails was starting to take a significant amount of time every day. In general, ONElist was starting to feel like it needed to be a real startup. To make it a real company, I needed to work on it full time. And I also needed help. To do all that, I needed money. One way to get money is from Venture Capital firms, or VCs. I didn’t know any, so I did the equivalent of a prolonged cold call to Steve Jurvetson, the VC backer of Hotmail. Every day I would send him an email, with the current statistics. I would also discuss one aspect of the company in each email. I was such a punk. After 9 emails, it worked.

A couple of things happened from my pestering of Mr. Jurvetson. He told Ariel Poler about me, who became the first person who wanted to buy ONElist, as detailed in our email conversations. Steve also granted a meeting with me.

I had never pitched a VC before, and was nervous as all hell. I didn’t have a presentation or anything. I took the day off from Sun and met with Steve and Warren Packard on Monday, April 27, 1998. It went about as well as you could expect. Which in hindsight was pretty bad. I didn’t hear from him again. Back to square one.

Around this time, Bert Fornaciari, CEO of Web21, also contacted me. His company was a collection of web sites, including 100Hot. He was looking to sell his company, and thought ONElist would make Web21 more attractive as an acquisition target. While he did eventually sell out to Go2Net in December 1998, it was without ONElist. It just seemed too early in the game to sell out. Or maybe I just hadn’t suffered enough yet.

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