It's been a crazy few weeks here at Vampster, and I've hit the point where if I don't take some vacation time, I'm going to crash and burn in a very not pretty way. My thanks to all of you for your efforts during the great server overload and the recent reorganization, and of course, for making the Friday the 13th pre V-day party such a success. I'm enclosing some gift cheques for you all to use as you see fit; have fun!
I'm going to go run off to Maui for a couple of weeks and I'm booked in a hotel very far away from the wired world so that I can really decompress (Hana is the boonies). I'll be able to make some infrequent trips into Central Maui for shopping and checking in online, but I don't figure that that's going to happen more than once a week.
If you absolutely positively need to get in touch with me, I can be reached through the hotel at 808-555-4563. I'll be back in town on the 25th.
I can tell you one thing from a technical perspective: our current configuration is unstable. Our hardware and bandwidth are maxed out, and everything is basically being held together with duct tape and improvised Perl scripts. I'm doing the best I can, but the next major event (hardware failure, slashdotting, etc) is going to bring us down hard. If that happens, even if we recovered relatively quickly we would still undoubtedly lose serious mindshare to "Demons, Demons, Demons" and be, for all practical purposes, finished as a company.
The upshot is that, IMHO, we are going to need a cash infusion, one way or another. And given that we know we're going to have to bite the bullet and deal with VCs, the big question remaining is, how doomed are we? I guess I see two major axes here: good vs evil, and muggle vs clueful. The good vs evil axis is pretty self-explanatory, and of course we'll be hoping to get investors who are heavy on the good and light on the evil. But the more interesting axis seems to be muggle-hood. Do we have a chance in hell of dealing with a firm that realizes we're actually fighting vampires and demons and not just running a chat room for goths? Perhaps Wolfram and Hart might be able to recommend a VC firm that knows about our real "core competency". Do we still have any contacts there?
I hate the idea of bringing in outsiders and relinquishing control of our operation, but the reality is that something has to happen, or we are toast.
Vampster internal memo-Confidential!
January 21, 2004
To: All Vampster staff
From: Roberta Martinez
Subject: Results of initial meetings with VCs
Considering we're such a small organization, I figured it would be useless to hide and extremely counterproductive to not let all of you know as soon as possible what I heard in my initial round of meetings with various venture capitalists.
What it boils down to is this:
If they pony up the money to allow us to expand our infrastructure to support more customers, they have a price. They want to put their own people in as CEO and CTO. Max has pointed out that we have primary goals and objectives that are not explicitly spelled out in our business plan (nor will they ever be! why would we tell the bad guys up front what we're planning?). My primary concern about bringing in new management staff is that they will not be supportive of our overall goals; frankly, I don't have a lot of emotional baggage tied up in my title, but I do worry a lot that we'll get sidetracked from the main fight. And of course, a new CTO will have hir own notions about what platforms we're going to use; a truly evil-minded CTO would probably sell our corporate soul to the Behemoth of Redmond and the Dark Lords of Santa Clara.
I can see several outcomes; the best one would be that we take the money, and the new management team gets aligned with our unwritten agenda. The worst one, of course, is tanking like i-BS. We can choose to remain independent for the nonce, and trust to luck and Max's skills that we can keep our systems up and running. We could take the money and try to run slayage as a black project that they don't know about with the risk that they find out and pull the rug out from under our feet. I know that we've gotten a lot of new interest in our services, especially after we appeared on the Yukino Miyazawa show; our systems are holding up to the increased load right now, but can they continue to do so?
I have a meeting with the VC folks early next week; I need to hear from you what you think about this deal by the end of this week, and of course, if you see things I've managed to miss, please do bring them to my attention.
check out www.urbandecay.com. I think there are some untapped possibilities for linking Vampster with goth fashion; especially the lip stain in sharpie format called "Bitten".
(who is not so sure about Perversion nail polish which is PVC black)
Found this in today's SJ Mercury News (the business section):
from Mike Langberg's article quoting a panel of VCs:
"Still, the panel seemed to agree several categories are indeed getting
too much money, including nanotech, anti-spam software, and the new
social networking serives that link together people who share common
interests....Dyson got the biggest laugh by suggesting a business model
for Sunnyvale-based Friendster, the popular social-networking service
and a company that has yet to collect any revenue from its users.
Populated by lonely singles looking to line up dates, Friendster should
start a personal gift registry, Dyson said. The bottom line would be:
"If you want to date me, this is what you've got to buy me.""
I'd say that if we don't want to go the way of i-BS, our business model
had better not look like Dyson's or Friendster's.
The latest person to make it to staff meetings gets to clean up after Sam-kitty.
Re: Andrea Eight Cheung
Can anyone think of a good reason not to tell Ifurita what we've discovered about her past? I'd like to tell her as soon as possible, but I don't want to do anything that might put us at risk. After what DBD has done to her she deserves to know the truth about herself, or at least as much of the truth as we can discover.
I realize she's potentially a ticking time-bomb but:
1. I don't see how telling her her real name would make her any more dangerous to us.
2. It's possible that this is the first step towards breaking DBD's control over her, which would definitely be a positive result for everyone.
I thought you all would be interested to read some followup information from our recent appearance on Yukino Miyazawa's show and our assignment with the Arima family/Tsubasa and the Hokuei Scoobies:
I must thank you again for aiding my friends. I had an opportunity to do what Hamlet said about testing the conscience of the king on the show this week, which is why I invited Dr. Ben David, who Tsubasa-san says may be a source of some of your problems.
I asked the Monks from the Santa Monica temple to do a simple purification ritual, which may or may not have contributed to the Doctor's mayflies bursting into flame.
If only it were live TV.
However, since I am the friend of a certain green entertainment lawyer at Wolfram and Hart, we were able to chase away Ben David's lawyers and run the segment intact.
You are most welcome anytime you are down in LA.
I'm wondering if that Santa Monica temple is the one that got all that press during the 1996 presidential campaign; I wouldn't be surprised in the least if it turned out to be one and the same. It might not be a bad idea to keep a line of communication open with them.