I’m standing in room with about 150 other people. I know most of them. I don’t really need to to read the names on the name tags, as I’ve met most of them before. At the same event but on a different first Tuesday of the month. The name tags have little coloured dots on them: red dots mean that the person is an investor, green dots means that the person works for something called a start-up and yellow dots means that the person works for an agency or is some kind of consultant. Both yellow and green dots are on the look out for money. I’m wearing both.
The room we’re standing in is something called a “lab”. Or an incubator or something. It’s situated in the grimmer part of Frankfurt but the city seems to be pumping cash into this particular street, a street which a slightly over zealous PR “expert” has called “Silicon Alley”. This particular “lab” is home to three or four start-ups and their mentor, a gentleman named “Frank”, is skipping around from person to person, doing something which has come to be known as “doing what Frank does”. Nobody seems to know what that actually is, least of all the people employing Frank.
The version of me standing in this room has hair, is much younger and is insanely arrogant. This version of me has no idea that the bubble is about to burst, that within the next 12 months all this will be gone, that Frank will be selling tickets to pink slip parties and that most of the people in this room will end up with a well paid job in some business consultancy somewhere. This version of me doesn’t know that he is about to become very ill and has already created irreparable cracks in the foundation of his marriage.
I finish my beer, leave the building and cycle home.
That was all 14 years ago. I’d forgotten about most of it. A couple of weeks ago someone asked me to put together a list of 5 books that were really important to me, which I did, and then Sascha had a diva moment because I’d not included any of his books (he’s written some). So I bought one. On Amazon. The novel. His first one. It was odd reading something written by someone you kind of know. I was worried that it might be a tiny bit shit. It wasn’t. It is actually brilliant. It includes marbles, putting shiny conkers in your mouth and a piglet. It is also about the Internet and the start-up bubble. The first one. I find it truly startling how accurate the book is and how close it was to my experience of this time in Germany. It also made me look at the old version of myself (the one with hair) and who I am today and I’m pleased with how the middle aged version how turned out – regardless (or maybe because) of the hiccups along the way. I’m still arrogant, I’ve just lost the insanity (and the hair).
Sascha, thanks for writing the book, it’s smashing. Everybody else should buy it.