The following are the resume I got a job with a dotcom with, my letters to the CEO in silicone valley, after he came to Seattle to have a conference with me, I thought things were going to get better, but as you can see from the resignation letter I sent to every employee in the company when I quit, they didn’. The company went out of business a month and a half later. Nobody got stock options.
301 W. Holly St. Suite U5
Bellingham, WA 98225
Personal Statement: I am repulsed by much of the monetary system we live in. I’ve tried to make my living in the past six months by “following my bliss”, but bliss won’t pay the bills in Whatcom County, so now that my resources are nearly gone, I find that I have to get a job. Working at TechPlanet sounds much less distasteful than writing radio ads for corporate America, working at Olive Garden, or any number of other exploitive, underpaid, greedy corporate employers.
August 1999-Present: Self employed publisher of Conchsense: A Bioregional Magazine and President of Conchsense Multimedeia. Duties included writing, sales, editing, public relations, advertising, printing, distribution, website maintenance, videography, photography,coordinating volunteers, organizing events, setting up promotions, and everything else necessary to start and run a small business.
Several periods over the past three years: KGMI/ Cascade Radio Group. Copywriter, producer, stunt guy, Mr. Beaver, DJ, engineering assistant, production work, promotions assistant, etc. etc. etc
Other jobs in the past three years: Bartender at several Bellingham and Juneau, AK bars
Craft Services for John Sayles “ Limbo”, Juneau, AK
Casting Assisstant for Hubbard Casting, London, England
Stand in for “Practical Magic”
Bed Builder at Liberty Bedworks, Raleigh, NC
Assisstant for Deans Tree Service, Bellingham, WA
Knife Sales, Juneau, AK
Other info: Honorably Discharged from USMC, 12/94- E-5, ATC, etc.
AAS Degree Whatcom Community College
I’m looking for at least $8/hr. Hours are very flexible. I am still publishing my magazine and maintaining my website, so any work week free hours will be appreciated.
1st Letter to the CEO
My name is Christ and I’m a Partner in Seattle. Part of me recognizes that writing this may be a CLM, but I have some serious questions that need to be answered if I am to
“ride for the brand”.
I want to believe in TechPlanet. I want to sell TechPlanet. But, I need reassurance that the vision that has been painted is, in fact, the same vision that you hold. Here is the vision I see:
TechPlanet was created because you saw a market niche that was not being fulfilled on a national scale. The idea being that in this rapidly changing world, small business needs the same tools as large business in order to succeed. Small businesses were paying too much for an unknown amount of service and were being outgrown by their technology consultants. There’s the market.
You decided to create a corporate culture that focused on working and playing hard.
Based on a simple set of principles: 1) It’s my job to make it right (initiative) 2) I’m always on stage (responsibility) 3) I’m a good person (morality) and 4) I’m a business person too (profit incentive) (I’ve intentionally switched 3 and 4.) The corporate culture would focus on the needs of small offices. It would provide known services for upfront prices and never outgrow its market. It would be a partner to the little guy.
The corporate culture (cc) would be built upon the 4 principles, self-motivation, integrity, and obsession with customer satisfaction. This in turn would provide opportunity for advancement, increased responsibilities, travel, and financial rewards (commission, bonus, stock options.) The corporate culture of TechPlanet seems designed to change the way corporations do business. Each office offering the same services for the same price, guaranteed.
Here are the problems I have:
1) 1) Are we on the way to outgrowing our 2 and 3 computer clients? Will we have time for them when the big jobs start coming in? I don’t want to tell the customer that we will always be there for them and then not have time for their needs. I build relationships with my clients. I don’t lie.
2) 2) I went to Burger King the other night because I was in a hurry. The employees were not well trained. The level of service was not what I expected; I saw obvious flaws in the operation. I see that happening at TechPlanet. While we are all good people and knowledgeable in sales, the level of technical expertise is very low. I don’t want clients to think of us as fast food computer guys without good training. The two weeks in Houston were a great introduction, but further classroom type training would be good. Mack Avery does his best here, but right now he is the one tech to our 16 partners and PITS. If we lose him, we are screwed.
3) 3) I’ve already seen a lot of valuable people leave TechPlanet because the immediate expectations were too high and the results and rewards were too low. A perfect example could be this recent mailer. The employee expectations were set so high that if it doesn’t work, morale is going to drop. We’ve all been cold-calling our asses off in Seattle, but the market is a bit different in the northwest. Business’ have money (and their computer needs taken care of), know someone in the computer industry, or can’t afford our services. We’ve priced ourselves out of the market in many cases with no latitude for competing.
4) 4) If someone came onto TechPlanet with the intention to rip us off, it would be easy. Partners could under bid the planet. Take hardware. Break into the office after hours and rip off all the gear (it sounds like that is what happened in DC.) Employee theft is something you have to count on and I don’t see many safeguards built into TechPlanet. This is a serious threat to our future.
5) 5) The stock options, rumors abound about them. What is this process? No lawyer can read the paperwork before we sign? Is there something you’re trying to hide from us? Do the options in fact max out at $100,000 and then revert to the company? If so, that should be made clear, $100,000 is still a lot of money, but it’s all about setting and meeting expectations.
6) 6) This is the big question…my big doubt about TechPlanet…when we go public are you going to sell the company? Is it the company or the cash that matters most?
I hope these doubts don’t appear insulting or silly to you, but my loyalty does not come blindly. Once it is in place, it is an asset to those who have it. I want to go places with this company, but I have to believe in it. I realize that the only way to get past my shit is to address my concerns to you. Everyone who knows you assures me that you are a very cool guy with an altruistic vision. Ideally, I’d like to sit down to some coffee with you and discuss business, marketing, philosophy, politics, and management. Just shoot the shit, but I realize how constrained your time must be.
I believe in the parts of TechPlanet I know. Each member of my training group, partners in the Seattle office, START members, and SD’s are outstanding human beings.
I just want to make sure we’re not all being naïve (you’ll pardon my distrust of distant corporate offices making broad based bottom line decisions which screw with peoples lives) in serving “Corporate”.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and to respond.
Letter to the CEO #2
Hello again Matthew,
“Whatever it takes”, that’s what it says on the pin I wear proudly on my collar, day after day. I believe in that philosophy. I believe that writing to you (again) is what it takes. On a purely descriptive level I like my job. Rather, I like the idea of my job. The reality of the situation is very different. I just don’t understand.
In my last letter, I mentioned that if we lost Mack Avery, the Seattle office would be screwed. Now we’ve lost him, and guess what? For the moment anyway, we are screwed. I assumed that whatever it takes meant at a corporate level as well as a personal level. I don’t see how this company can make it without retaining good people. There wasn’t even a counter offer made to Mack that I am aware of. Now we have Joe Scholl, a guy who works his ass off for TechPlanet in the same position as Mack was. He is the sole tech in our office and by his own account far less capable of handling it than Mack. Not only that. Robert Blakely has also left with no counter offer, despite other factors, Robert was one of a few technically able people in our office, losing him hurts. Adolph Briggs is probably going to follow soon based on “miscommunication” from corporate. We are in a messy situation here. All the venture capital in the world can’t save us.
Here is the Seattle office in a nutshell. A bunch of nice people who are not really qualified to handle anyones computers…even our own. Our network is constantly having problems, our computers have glitches, we don’t even have the firewall we recommend to others. We “feel like a bunch of idiots” standing around our fax machine. We are a highly qualified sales staff, but we don’t have the technical knowhow to do what we sell.
I went on a planet help today by myself because a tech was not available. This was a potential client who was ready to write a check for $2400 if I could fix what sounded like a fairly simple problem. I couldn’t fix it. In fact, when I replaced the lithium battery as Mike Easley suggested might be the problem over our help desk, I may have ruined this guys machine even further. I of course did not charge him and he of course did not write the check.I was not qualified to go on this job. Later another client called and asked for Mack, who was supposed to install a VPN for them. When she heard he had left she said “He was the only person with your company who knew what he was doing, we won’t do business with you again.” I received this message when I returned from my possible destruction of a clients machine. I called and she had left the office until Monday. I may be able to salvage things, but I doubt it, mainly because I don’t want to recommend us to anyone. We are not qualified for what we are doing.
I feel like you are leaving us out to dry. Why not use some of that venture capital to put some of us through an intensive technical course? How can you afford to fly so many people to so many places and then let them quit? Where is the support from above? I don’t like lying to people. I am a good person and this entire company is forcing me to misrepresent myself. I can make sales all day, but how am I supposed to feel good about charging someone $750 for a Frontpage website? If the idea is to make the company look good to the investors and buffalo them out of millions, bring me in on it, I can be helpful there. But charging a small business that is struggling to survive $300 an hour for my unqualified services is not a “decent” living in my book. Maybe I’m just seeing you as a talking head, but based on the more experienced people in this company’s view of you, I see you as that Tom Brokaw meets Willy Wonka sort of guy…I guess I hope that you’re waiting for Charlie to point out the problems and then you’ll let him stay in the chocolate factory.
Mike Campbell was allowed to leave despite the heavy investment in his training and his effectiveness as a sales leader in our office. You’ve lost people from Chicago, Portland, Seattle, and probably every other office. We don’t even have a library of technical books in our office, people were going crazy when I brought in DOS for Dummies….a bunch of “Techs”. You are not even giving us the tools to teach ourselves. We need many things to achieve success, here are a few of them:
1) 1) a solid technical library covering the basics (for dummies) through heavy duty techy stuff
2) 2) more training, the certification is a good start, but we need experienced teachers
3) 3) technical workstations to practice our in the box and some out of the box procedures
4) 4) All of our products installed so we can show them to clients who want to visit our office
5) 5) Regional marketing and practical promotional items like hats or umbrellas, or scratch pads
6) 6) A tech staff with incentives to stay (the stock doesn’t look too promising to me right now…I wonder how it looks to someone more technical?)
7) 7) Voicemail…if Shannah is not there my clients get picked up by anyone available…I lost one yesterday when an overenthusiastic PIT (lousy insulting term by the way) tried to oversell a callback for me while I was on a consult, he didn’t get a message
8) 8) Training on how to use Outlook and Filemaker ( I don’t know how to use them effectively because no one has taught me and I don’t have time to figure things out by playing and do the amount of prospecting necessary to sell some of our heavily overpriced products
9) 9) Real human beings instructing us instead of voicemail and e-mail
10) 10) Confidence in you
I can go on and on, but honestly I don’t think you care. If corporate doesn’t start living the same “Whatever it takes” attitude you want us to have, this thing is never going to work. If I sound bitter, I am. I thought this company was different.
Doubt you’ve read this far,
Unqualified Partner and Incredible Human Being
Why Am I Quitting?
My “corporate” “bosses” or “superiors” have shown a decided lack of integrity towards promises made to myself and other partners. (Compare your offer letter to the reality you have experienced, count the number of verbal promises or implied promises that were made to get you here and the number of these which were not met.)
“Corporate” has shown a lack of competence in training, marketing, inventory, and morale. These are areas key to survival.
Inefficiency in meeting payroll promises has led to a few black marks on my financial record as I bounced checks written on expected payment to meet financial obligations I only took on naively to help build “the premier brand in the world.”
Corporate has given me little opportunity to exercise my creativity (outside of the cold calls I make everyday or lying to prospects about my qualifications so I can screw up their computer systems.) No one has told me to lie, but little in the way of effective training and a strong emphasis on “making the sale” leaves little choice if I want to retain my job or have the possibility of advancement and a rise in responsibility.
I have very little economic security because my future income relies on a company that won’t pay mileage but would like me to put magnets on my car. A company which cannot seem to use its own products let alone sell them. I’ve felt little loyalty from distant “corporate” to make sure my needs were met while I’ve beat the drum for this “startup”.
TechPlanet lacks stability at the fundamental level of partner (employee) retention. Hyped marketing has shown little effectiveness and yet I am expected to show effectiveness through cold-calling. My time is 90% useless, robbing me of any meaningful work. A lack of training has lead to inefficiency, loose ethics, wasted time, curbed freedom (in a sales job), sub par excellence, distortion of the truth, very little excitement, faked openness from above, and very little honesty to those who have taken the bold move of putting their fate in TechPlanet’s hands.
We show little expertise, nearly complete disorder, and limited achievement to the world.
However, I do value the many friendships that have been born from this fiasco of an endeavor to “change the way corporations do business.” I have enjoyed the challenge of encouraging growth from a stunted seed.
It has been my pleasure to take part in a huge family of good people filled with affection and dedicated to helping each other. I have enjoyed the challenging problems of technology and tried to conduct myself with honesty.
However, I am a person who needs change and variety. I require independence, quality, and honesty in business. I value my community and the close relationships I form with my prospects and clients.
I am not a person who deals well with closed minds, blind authority, exploitation of people, soul-less values, bureaucratic gridlock, and lack of compromise, which is what I have experienced at the hands of “corporate.”
I believe each person needs a sense of purpose and has special skills and abilities that can benefit others. With respect and support from the people around us, sufficient resources, and fair treatment, each of us can achieve our goals and define our values. The result can be more pleasant physical surroundings, the ability to use our own ideas, and creating a sense of identity in the individual and the company. I just don’t believe in it anymore.h
I have taken a job in public service, it is a drastic pay cut but a dramatic rise in decency. I hope you all start looking for work or quit your jobs too because I’d hate to see you end up like Alain Eav who was moved to SLC with his new infant and wife and very excited about techplanet and was laid off about a month later.