The end of Geocities

Images Fred wrote a great post about Geocities which is supposedly being shut down by Yahoo.  Geocities represents many things to me.  First and foremost, it was one of the first and most successful companies in the first round on the web.  Geocities, which was started by David Bohnett, one of the nicest men, changed our life.  The profits on that investment alone allowed Fred and I to move back to the city ( where we always felt we belonged ) and buy a home.  We always referred to that house as the house that Geocities built. 

For any of you that read Fred's piece, I want to add to it by sharing how that investment changed our life. 

Flatiron Partners was also a start-up.  Jerry and Fred began the partnership with capital from Softbank and Chase.  They started to see the most interesting deals that were happening on the Internet.  They were also seeing ones that were ridiculous.  The one thing that was special about how they did business is that they really cared.  We all did.  We loved the businesses, the people, their brains, their ideas and we all wanted to succeed together.  I fundamentally believe that Fred and I are still like that in every investment we make.  It is not only about the return but the excitement and the relationships you build getting there.

We were living in the burbs.  In a house that was vacant of furniture except for the strands left over from our first post-college purchases.  We had 3 kids, all young.  I was working with Jason Calacanis at Silicon Alley Reporter and loving being in the craze of things.  Our lives were stressed as we were basically living from hand to mouth. 

Flatiron had many investments, some good and obviously some bad.  As gung-ho as we both were about the possible upsides, we were watching out bank account barely holding its own.  Fred was so stressed that when Josh was born he got shingles.  We had a lot riding on the next steps in our careers. 

One particular day, I went to the grocery store.  We always paid cash for groceries.  Our theory at that point is pay cash for things that don't appreciate over time and charge things that do such as a new car purchase.  Anyway, I went to take out cash and we had none.  I called Fred.  At this point we were both at our wits end in some ways and just praying for something to change our situation.  Fred said, charge the groceries, Geocities is going public on Tuesday and it should change things. 

I charged the groceries and needless to say, Fred was right.  After Geocities, company after company started having exit strategies.  We then had the ability to think about expanding our house, buying a new one and just changing our living situation.  Instead, we decided quite quickly that back to the city was the call.  Within 2 weeks we have a contract on a house, had our kids in a school and never looked back.

Lots of hard work and of course luck too.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about how lucky I am to live in NYC. Many times I think about Geocities and how that company ( and obviously David Bohnett ) changed our lives.  I embrace every investment and person I have had the pleasure to meet with gusto but there is a very very special place in my heart for Geocities.  I am sorry to see them go but as they say, onward and upward. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. rachel

    Just read Fred’s piece before you linked/wrote about it and called my husband in and said you must read this immediatly (we both loved it). Totally admirable and a great story. After I called him in I had to think what would Gotham Gal say about it. You finished it perfectly! Two great writers… one great story. Seems like it couldn’t have happened to two nicer, more low key people.

  2. Kit

    “The profits on that investment alone allowed Fred and I to move back to the city…”Saying “allowed we to move back” would sound wrong; saying “allowed us to move back” would sound right. So, rather than “allowed Fred and I to move back,” shouldn’t it be “allowed Fred and me to move back.”In your sentence, “profits” is the subject and “Fred and me” would be the object.Many people appear to think that using “I” everywhere, even as an object, makes them seem more proper. This seems particularly true of young people. That’s probably where you picked this up.

  3. DonRyan

    I read your piece in the evening after reading Fred’s in the morning. They are wonderfully complimentary. While I enjoy reading the nuts and bolts business aspect of these transaction it is equally enjoyable to see the human side. Very nice.

    1. karen_e

      I agree. Two aspects of a great story.

  4. Doug Kersten

    Now this is what I want to hear! I love Fred’s writing, but this is the people part of it all. Struggling to meet the bills, having a dream, and pushing until you are successful. Everyone sees the success you and Fred have but I always want to know how it was on the way there and so many times you don’t get that real story. Thanks for sharing!Doug K.

  5. Marc Hedlund

    Great story. Thanks much for sharing it. In my work I hear a lot of people at their wits end about things like groceries; hearing this outcome is a wonderful counterbalance.

  6. Ted Rheingold

    Thanks for sharing this. Our industry is great at describing the stunning highlights and reticent to recall the lowlights. I really valued reading your and Fred’s entries on this part of your career and lives.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Always good to get the complete picture.

  7. senseq

    Geocities is closing?? Sigh… so many fond memories of the ‘new and exciting’ world of the internet… We’ll miss you, Geocities!

  8. deepeshbanerji

    great, honest post — nice to hear the whole story

  9. Kit2

    “We always paid cash for groceries. Our theory at that point is pay cash for things that don’t appreciate over time and charge things that do such as a new car purchase”what new cars did you buy that appreciated in value?

    1. Gotham Gal

      My bad. I mean depreciate.

  10. liamflaherty

    this is an absolutely remarkable viewpoint of a great event. i always wonder when that turning point will be for me and my family, i’ll keep you posted.