The (not so) good, old days

had the opportunity to dine with two Peppercom alumni last night. I hadn't seen
one for several years and the other for at least a decade.

May 7  Talk
naturally turned to the good, old days and some of the crazy dotcom clients
from with whom we'd worked. To wit:


The group of Israelis who, until they leased their own Manhattan office space,
walked up and down our hallways day after day screaming in Yiddish into their
cell phones.

The 23-year-old PR director of another dotcom who, in our brief kick-off
meeting, dropped more F-bombs than the entire cast of Goodfellas did in their
two-hour plus movie. This ill-mannered young lady later went on to be named a
PR Week Young PR Professional of the Year. Talk about a f**king injustice

The dotcom CEO who, on the day of his firm's IPO, went ballistic on our hapless
account supervisor for some slight transgression. The latter now practices law.

The 'me-too' dotcom company who aspired to be seen as nothing more than another
Scient or Sapient so they could make the same kind of killing when they did
their IPO. We ended up suing them for unpaid fees after they went belly-up.

The brand-new dotcom client I confronted after learning from a Peppercom job
prospect that her agency was actively pitching the account. We fired the client
on the spot. That was fun.

The dotcom client that hired us in the morning and, after learning their
funding hadn't come through, fired us the very same afternoon. They still hold
the record for shortest client relationship ever. 

then, the talk turned to the employees. Because we were growing at an annual
clip of 75 percent, we hired anyone who could walk and chew gum at the same
time. So, we had:

– The employee who, one month after joining us, strolled
into my office, sat down, folded his arms behind his head and sighed, "You
do know I'm working on two of the hottest btob tech accounts in the nation
right now, correct?" I nodded my head. "Well," he continued.
"I want a raise and promotion now." Let's just say he moved on to
another agency shortly after that conversation.

One employee who got in a heated argument with a client, telling the latter he
had no clue what public relations was all about and singlehandedly killed the

Another employee who, on his first day of work, simply disappeared after lunch.
We sent out a search party around 4pm and found him chatting amiably with a
friend at a nearby Starbucks. He didn't think there were time limits to lunch

The two employees who, anticipating today's vitriolic Fox vs. MSNBC shout
downs, would scream at one another on subjects ranging from gender and race to
dress code and education. That sure made for a great workplace culture.

those were the days. Today seems so pale by comparison. How about you? Any
memorable dotcom tales you'd like to share? 

14 thoughts on “The (not so) good, old days

  1. I would if I could, Repman. I’m still employed by the crazy story factory…

  2. Such a great point, Julie. And the typical dotcom client was a 26-year-old, freshly minted Stanford MBA with a superior attitude that made the stereotypical Gestapo agent seem meek and mild in comparison. Each and every dotcom client expected to make gazillions of dollars when his company went public. As a result, he worked 24×7 and demanded his PR firms do the same. I often wonder in what rubble heap those arrogant, would-be masters of the universe ended up. The expression, ‘Pride goeth before a fall’ was custom made for those lunatics.

  3. Not at all surprising, Brian. We had one senior employee in those days who, like clockwork, would come to Ed and me every six months demanding a raise. He’d literally blackmail us by not only threatening to leave but, his employment agreement notwithstanding, to take the dotcom accounts he managed along with him. Not wanting to lose what, at the time, were $50k-plus per month clients, we caved. Once the boom went bust, though, we bid this dotcom Blackbeard a fond and final farewell.

  4. The dot-com era brought the “greed is good” mantra to a whole new level heretofore never witnessed. I remember a kid right out of college telling me that he was “demanding” a starting salary of at least $90,000 a year or he was moving on.
    The arrogance and entitlement of these goons who had achieved or worked for nothing in life still boggles the mind…
    While I’m not happy about the challenging job market today, it has definitely “corrected” the attitudes of some of these blow-hards by giving them a serious dose of “reality-check.”

  5. I was teaching at a well-known public university in Texas, where one long-defunct Austin company was asking to recruit our junior communication majors. Their hope was to get a jump on other companies who were only recruiting seniors.
    In those dot com days, even my least impressive students got jobs right out of college. Some of them had starting salaries that were far higher than those paid to their professors.

  6. Thanks, Alex. The dotcom days were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m glad they’re long gone, but I’m also glad I had a chance to be right in the middle of them.

  7. I can’t imagine being hired to a company and acting like that. I was still in short pants during the dot com boom, but those stories still had be laughing.

  8. Be happy you weren’t invited, Med. Lunch said he’d punch you out the next time he saw you. As for the event you describe, my bad. It definitely merited inclusion.

  9. i feel left out that i wasnt invited to such a dinner 🙂
    how about the employee that has his life threatened in the office by a jealous ex boyfriend of another gal from the office?

  10. The pleasure was all mine, Lunch. I’d forgotten about the language translation guys. They were real sweethearts.

  11. as lunchboy, i loved the meal even if it was hours after my favorite munching time, but the dialog was truly awesome and memorable. thank you.
    as for those days, a couple of vivid memories:
    a ceo of a dynamic roving community IM client scoffed at an acquisition price of some 60 MM. months later he settled for about 10 MM, mostly in shares that quickly lost value. he was lucky to get that.
    a content delivery start-up that won 50 MM in VC money, had a great launch party, and then was ordered to give the bank whatever money it hadn’t burned through. drug abuse and theft were rumored on the inside. the team’s client contact was a real charmer and worked us like dogs. hey, it built some character at least.
    i also remember every bio written for those dotcom start-ups started with an exec’s time spent in the israeli army. i hope none of these guys ever had to handle a weapon, much less see live combat, because they were all about 150 lbs. wet and built like, well, tech geeks. note to our own leaders: never piss off that nation. they might translate words at a click, or use live persons to chat us to oblivion.
    again, such a good time last night. looking forward to the party in september.