Flash back to 1999, location: Silicon Valley. The Bay Area during the dot-com bubble was very different than it is today. It seemed everyone out there had a new start-up idea, venture capital funding, and dreams of striking it rich. It's where the cool kids were going to become someone in the tech industry. At least that's what it seemed to a friend and co-worker of mine, David Orth, who watched most of his friends abandon Ohio for the promises of gold in them darn hills. 💰
There indeed was money to be made out there which didn't help David try to convince many of his pals to finish up college here in the Buckeye State before running off on an adventure. There was a bit of jealousy that turned him a little sour towards the Valley. It was, of course, taking his friends away from his quaint midwestern life. 🐄
"In the past five years, I've probably had seven out of eight of my local friends move out to the Bay Area. It's killing me."
— David Orth
Not to be totally taken down about it, David decided to put that frustration into a more creative outlet. In the fall of 1999, he asked me to help him with a project. Certainly! What are friends for? During lunch breaks for a couple of weeks, we frankensteined a couple of old computers and got them ready to be online. I got Linux installed on one and the other was an old SPARCstation running SunOS. I spent some time getting the machines talking to each other on the network, configured Apache, ensuring firewalls were in place, and opening the right ports. 🖧
From a 2 bedroom apartment connected to the outside world on a mostly-stable blazingly fast 56K modem connection, he was ready to publish his first issue of the Silicon Valley Outsider - a web site that did no more than poke fun at the Bay Area. David wrote all of the articles weekly, usually parodying the Valley's obsession with money, the endless hype of new game-changing technology, Y2K, and businesses touting "web-based solutions." With a cow-spotted logo up on top and a lot of sarcasm & envy, David was ready to let it all out.
A month later, Mike Cassidy, a columnist at SiliconValley.com (now Mercury News), interviewed David and wrote an article about the site. Being one who chronicles Silicon Valley's unique and sometimes flabbergasting culture, Mike could see the humor in David's exaggerated prodding towards the Valley.
Week after week, short snippy articles were sent up to the web. Every week, a small part of the internet was amused. It was all very short-lived though - 11 issues in all. David ended up moving out to Sunnyvale four months after launch and worked at a couple of start-ups before the dot-com bubble burst. He's still out there and doing fairly well in the tech industry still. Mike did write a follow-up article on David's change of scenery and if he feels different about the Bay Area now that he's a part of it. 🤷♂️
"If you can't beat them, join them, I guess. I can either stay in Ohio and mock them for making millions and millions of dollars or I can move out."
— David Orth
It was a good albeit very short run and I do miss seeing David around ever since he traded the Miami Valley for Silicon Valley. Something the other day just reminded me of him, the web site, and the fun we had setting everything up. It was just coincidence that its 20th anniversary was coming up. Take a browse through its back issues and breathe in one man's take on Silicon Valley's culture at the turn of the century.