Snippets From SXSW Interactive 2003

Heather Gold
Heather Gold (Photo By Michael May)

The Upside of the Downturn

Tuesday, March 11, 11:30am-12:30pm
This panel could just have easily been called the Downside of the Upturn. Heather Gold, freelance writer, stand-up comic, and designer of Subvert.com, doesn't miss those heady days at all. "Back in '99," she said, "we had all these young guys who shopped at Banana Republic coming out of nowhere with some IPO. They were raising $10 million to make the Internet smell, or whatever. Thank god those people are gone now."

Panelist Thomas Scoville, author of Silicon Follies, honestly sees career opportunities in the current economic climate, if people stick to what they feel passionate about. This may sound naively optimistic, but Scoville has reason to believe -- this is his second downturn. "Technology stocks crashed in 1987," he said. "And I saw a lot of companies disappear. But the committed people, like Doug Lenat and others, figured out how to reposition themselves, change the buzzwords that surrounded their work and come back on top. Risky times are actually a good time to take risk. If you stay committed to what you are passionate about, you will be rewarded when things turn around."

Gold agreed that this was a time of great opportunity. Specifically, the lack of technology capital provides a great opportunity to stop worrying about making your first million and enjoy life. "This is a good time to volunteer," she said. "Or get together and play board games with your friends instead of an expensive night out. Before it seemed like I was always chasing the next opportunity, and having all these phony 'networking' conversations. These days people are open to really getting to know each other. I like it."

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