August 31, 2001
As much as enjoyed working for Penthouse, it was clear that career opportunity was a bit limited, and I didn’t think that my parents would nod approvingly at the thought that their $100,000 Yale investment would contribute to the proliferation of pornography, regardless of quality.
My classmate Troy was working at a technical recruiting agency, and pulled me in for an intereview. After speaking with a number of recruiters and a few aborted interviews, Troy finally suggested that I talk with Richard Johnson, the president of the firm. Richard was trying to “do something on the Internet” because he thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Richard is one of the most charismatic people I know. When folks talk about the guy that can sell shit in a bag, they are really talking about Richard. But his charisma is his charm, and even though he had no idea who I was, he decided to hire me on a 30-day trial basis. He sold me on the idea that I would make $30,000 my in the first six months, $40,000 in the next six months, then $50,000 the second year. I thought this was pretty compelling.
After I designed the company logo, business cards, and letter head on my first day, Richard decided to keep me. But the salary wasn’t enough to live in New York, so I took up a second job at a publishing service bureau from 7pm to midnight.
Richard imparted a few pearls of wisdom on me during my tenure. “Allen, when I get up in the morning, i look at myself in the mirror and I say, ‘Hey Good Lookin’! I hope you *never* die!'”
Earle and Chris were the other first employees of this new company called “OTEC.” Both were reforming computer hackers — The kind of guys that “Wargames” was based on — literally.
Without a real plan for total global domination, we embarked on a few integration projects. And in the meantime built a small job board for companies to list their openings and receive applications in real-time via e-mail. After several months, it became clear that the integration projects weren’t really the ticket to millions of dollars. Richard sat us down and said, “You build all this stuff, but I have no idea what it does or how to sell it. The only thing I know how to do is get people jobs, so let’s concentrate on that.”
We took that little job board, and turned it into the little job board that could. We made the logo a little more prominent, and instead of being known as “OTEC,” it became known by its more popular name, hotjobs.com. Maybe you’ve heard of it…
By early 1998, we had been doing the hotjobs.com “thang” for a while. We were slowly building a following of corporate users and job seekers. But we weren’t a household name. Richard pulled me aside and said, “If things don’t start picking up, we’re going to run a Super Bowl commercial.”
I chuckled. Crazy Richard. Crazy, Fucking Richard. Crazy, Crazy, Frisbee Throwing, Truck Driving, Loud Mouthed Richard. The Super Bowl is the advertising bonanza of the year. It is the Bud Bowl. It is Apple’s 1984 — the greatest commercial ever created. It is not tiny dot.coms. But in typical Richard fashion, he put his money where his mouth was. He took half of our revenues, some $2 million, and bought himself a Super Bowl commercial.
This first ad idea was rejected by FOX on the grounds of poor taste. This is the network that brought you “World’s Scariest Police Chases,” and “When Animals Attack.” But nevertheless the rejection of our ad by the big network giant generated a ton of press coverage. We were the smallest advertiser to ever have a Super Bowl spot. And along with our nemesis, monster.com, we set the stage for the Year2000 Dot.com Super Bowl bonanza. Our $2 million investment generated about $30 million in ancillary press coverage.