Return To Silicon Valley

It’s been almost six years since I rolled through San Jose with several self-appointed “Masters of the Known Universe” crammed into the rented Ford whatever, in search of the next new sushi bar. While working on Sun Microsystems my social life had morphed into Geek Central and I could learn more in one binge night than in four previous days of suffering through the briefing boredom blues. But this was different.

This time I was looking for our first NeoAdvertising Sponsor.

The time had come to build the NeoAdNet 1.0 proof of concept alpha site. It would take at least a mill to make it real. So a few months back I went up North to grovel in front of all the usual suspects on what used to be Sandhill Road to find out who was flush in these ever tightening times. They asked all the usual questions. I gave all the unusual answers. Then I got the suggested wisdom I came for. Go to my prospective infrastructure vendors for sponsorship, pitch them on NeoAdNets, get them excited, ask them to introduce me to THEIR investors. The VCs I talked to seemed to think a million dollar sponsorship whose fees would be used to help the cash-flow of an investor’s own interests would be looked at as a sound media buy in such trying times as these. So a few weeks back I found myself in San Jose and environs pitching our efforts at reinventing Advertising and the resultant NeoAdvertising Network platform as invisoned by IAPIA. They were very polite. They took our beautifully designed 12 page business plan. They took us to lunch. They took our cards. “So, show us the site.”…(sfx:crickets)…”It’s not live,,,yet”…They took their leave. Except for one of their engineers who called my cell and left a message that basically told me how to cobble together a working prototype out of freeware, html and css and have it up and running in a month. “Don’t let no money stop your show.” was how he left it.

Of course the element that helpful engineer was talking about was passion. That magic ingredient that powers high tech startups through the “garage” stage, past the friends and family funding stage, well into the Angel finance stage that begins to establish whether or not there is a business at the nexus point of passion and genius, the will to go forward when everything is pointing in the opposite direction.

The drive down Route 5 from Northern to Southern California is 370 miles of parched hillsides and semi’s playing hopscotch. I always thought of it being akin to the stretch on Route 15 between LA and Vegas. Reflection Roads you might call them. “I went to Vegas and blew my kids tuition money on the tables. Now what do I tell the little woman?” is very close to “I went to Silicon Valley to hold a million dollar sponsorship conversation and I got these cool business cards for my time and effort. What do I tell the kids at the garage?”

As a result, we are now in the grueling process of jerryrigging a hodgepodge of apps and templates together to make a seamless user experience that somehow simulates how the audience will discover, engage with, respond to and find common ground with the sponsors of this new form of advertising. Of course, our first sponsor will be our own citizen stakeholders of General Motors ( Right now the alpha version is skedded to go live September 1. Fingers crossed and the rabbit don’t die.


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