Working 14 hours a day on an Internet Strategy

April 2002



On leaving the internet industry

After being laid off from my last Internet-company job in September 2000, I was unemployed for more than six months. I would not recommend this to others. Since I wasn't eligible for Danish unemployment compensation, and based on my rejection rate, apparently not eligible for many jobs, I lived on "cheese ends" from the supermarket, and watched so much MTV that I developed my own favorite member of N 'Sync.

It's funny: two years ago, about the time that Five George Washingtons was written, anything connected with the Internet had the tint of gold. Now, it has the taste of poison. Every single person I know connected to the Internet or interactive TV industry is or has been out of work in the past year. Some are taking the word "internet" off their resumes.

This fall from grace was swift. Less than a year ago, my former employer and I were still peddling "internet strategies" - which mostly consisted of charts full of triangles, arrows, and platitudes - to respectable corporate customers. Nobody sells internet strategies any more, and my former employer declared bankruptcy last week.

The decline of the industry has been written about exhaustively, so its probably not necessary that I add my own macro-analysis. All I can say is that from inside, when you were working on a new project for the web, it was nearly impossible to tell if you were helping to create something truly revolutionary or just running up massive bills to create a piece of garbage. For my part, I feel confident I've done a bit of both.

It took more than 200 applications, but I did eventually find a job, as a Danish-to-English translator and copyeditor for Danske Bank, Denmark's largest financial institution. The job's fine, the colleagues are friendly, and everyone leaves at 5 o'clock. That's a big change from the Internet business, where anyone who worked less than less than 14 hours a day was considered a sissy.

But it's hard to match the excitement of the old days.