Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

watch overshare: the story contact me

6 jan 1998

i guess i thought that visiting netscape would be like visiting some internet toy factory.

instead, i found the wizard of oz, as he explained:
if you look too hard, the wizard is a marketing weenie, just like netscape is overpopulated by marketing weenies.

rows and rows of cubicles. a young man with a hand-held stopwatch clocks the loading times of various web searches. people in the asile talk about their new trucks. no one we talked to knew where the "client engineering" department was located - either in our building, or out in building twenty, or twenty-one, the newer parts of campus.

in the morning, we stopped off in the cafeteria, we picked up some fresh juices; "that's one advantage to working at microsoft," she noted, "free odwalla."

later, a former swarthmore student would note to a roomful of netscape loyalists a litany of gripes with microsoft internet explorer. "it adds pixels at the bottom of the image!" they marvel in disgust at the sloppy programming. "and they're winning market share," another one shakes his head in amazement.

many prominent posters ask people to suggest new employees, while tales of imminent 400 person layoffs hang in the air thick. one in eight people to be fired - it was a depressing time to be there. a former eminds cohort now hired by netscape celebrated his high pay, supporting satellite tv to relieve the mountain view boredom, but lamented the declining stock price. he wasn't worried about his division though, they met their revenue target: "the web site makes big money."

at 2500 young people, netscape may be as large as it is going to get. this building 1, or 2, i am in, is nondescript from the outside - another silicon valley box dropped in between the others. only the logos distinguish one coroporate settlement from another. the titling of a netscape "campus" belies the distinct lack of public space. inside, bright colours behind netscape promotional posters. some employees sport interesting looks, most look like normal people pursuing normal jobs, the size of the company precluding responsibility.

outside a low numbered building, there's a netscape fountain: a large silverish n-logo adorns a few tan-tiled monoliths. any logo could sit in its place. she points out the netscape store, "you can buy t-shirts, mugs, netscape anything there." so you can buy normally promotional/free goods? "you'd be surprised," she says, "people buy a lot of stuff."

we head over to client engineering, which i've been told has the coolest climate - decorated by engineers. they're the folks that make the navigator browser for people like me. this is exciting - maybe i can find someone to talk to about my browser ideas.

instead i meet again the silent halls, the "cubes" tall enough to shield any sense of working community. the most interesting features are the empty conference rooms named after television shows, and the occasional christmas tree lights, kitschy fabric, or anime characters decorating the visible top-border of someone's work space. but the company is too large for my friends to know anyone; maybe we're just out of our division. curt greetings are the order of the day.

maybe it was a bad time. it was shredding day, i heard, where people are encouraged to get rid of old information. in the past, the first person to unload a lot got a free t-shirt.

during my day there, i ran into cyborganics: nadine schaeffer, ryan "super" powers, caleb donaldson; elliot; eminders jim race, chip clofine. i missed jen beckman and karen mcgrath. i've heard jonathan steuer works there as well.

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