Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

At South by Southwest, a Web 1.0 Blast From the Past

baby-bubbleTrue story: The guy behind me in the cab line at the Austin airport offers to split a car. He seems nice enough, and once we’re in the cab we get to talking. I’m in from New York to check out South by Southwest interactive, the nerd spring break/convention. He’s from Wilmington, N.C. I tell him what I do. He tells me that he doesn’t have a job right now because his company got sold to Yahoo.

Wait a minute. Yahoo (YHOO) hasn’t bought anybody for quite some time.  When did his company get acquired? 2002, he tells me. And the reason Richard Johnson hasn’t worked since then is because he didn’t have to. He was the founder of HotJobs, which Yahoo bought for $436 million in cash and stock.

johnson_richardJohnson, who’s a very pleasant fellow, says he hasn’t been in a coma since then. He’s invested in some companies, including stock photo agency Photoshelter. But he’s also spent a lot of time fly-fishing in Wyoming, and says he hasn’t felt compelled to start up something new because he hasn’t found anything that both excites him and that he understands. But he’s hoping that might happen in Austin this weekend.

So there you are: A walking, talking winner from the Web 1.0 era, here to poke around the deflating Web 2.0 bubble for opportunity. Johnson’s particularly interested in Present.ly, a Facebooky/Twittery tool for enterprise customers–he knows the company’s founder and has volunteered to work at the start-up’s booth so he can get a better handle on the business.

Drop by and say hello–and if you get a chance, ask him about his company’s then-famous ad that didn’t run in the 1999 Superbowl.

[Image credits: Bubble/Pink Sherbet Photography; Johnson/University of North Carolina Wilmington]


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik