Newsletter #172 The Early Days & the Internet in 1999
15th February marks the 20th anniversary of the birth of Netinsites Ltd and by an amazing coincidence and a degree of providence it happens that my wife and I are celebrating this date with two good friends. One of these friends Henry, is a lawyer with Wynyard Wood and early in 1999 I wrote the first official Netinsites invoice to his company! Things were quite different in 1999....
In February 1999 I started Netinsites in a small bedroom in a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, with no customers, no contacts from within the industry, just friends. It was ground zero. Over 20 years later we're no longer in a small home bedroom but we still don't have a 'proper' office.
It worked in 1999 because it gave us the flexibility we needed when we had a young family and now the kids are grown up that same flexibility is still something I treasure. I don't waste time in a commute, live in a lovely sea-side suburb and can take time out to do other things when I want to. But when 'push comes to shove' I can still stay up half the night to make a deadline or catch up in busy times.
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1999 was early days on the Web, the klaxon call of dial up, 'dancing babies' and 'under construction' signs. If you want to see what the Web was like in 1999, checkout netinsites.com in 1999. Cool huh? No designing for mobile, the iPhone was still eight years away! There wasn't even the (now) very basic iPod; it wasn't launched until 2001. When Netinsites formed, Google was still operating out of a garage in Menlo Park, California and Amazon was dividing analysts with its mounting losses. Was Jeff Bezos a genius or an idiot? As for Facebook, social what? Facebook didn't launch until 2004.
Y2K was big news in 1999. There was a lot of angst about what would happen when the clocks clicked over to the year 2000. Would banks crash, airplanes fall from the sky, the lights go out and computers be unusable? All because programmers often used two digits to record the year making 2000 indistinguishable from 1900. The actual effects were minimal. Maybe it was the start of the age of hype? Let's get people anxious because it makes great news.
In 1999 there were many who doubted that the Internet was going to make it big. "By 2005 or so, it will be clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's." Paul Krugman (1998).
In 1999 I believed the Internet would change the way society functioned and I staked a business on it.