Sunday Morning With the Wayback Machine

I’ve been reading a bunch of history lately. So I was psyched to see a long post titled Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job highlighting some of the amazing stuff that the Internet Archive has done with the Wayback Machine and its other properties including the Live Music Archive and their Software Collection.

So – I decided to go down a website memory lane trip for Intensity Ventures (my personal investment company), SOFTBANK Technology Ventures (my first VC firm), and Flatiron Partners (Fred Wilson and Jerry Colonna’s first VC firm, which was an affiliate of SOFTBANK). As a special bonus, I was the webmaster for Intensity Ventures and SOFTBANK Venture Capital (for at least the first few years.)

Let’s start with Intensity Ventures on 12/23/96 (the first entry in the Wayback Machine). The URL is www.feld.com (just like site for the page you are currently on) – I’ve owned the feld.com domain since 3/2/95, although apparently I have to get Seth Levine’s permission to change things now. Here’s the home page.

Intensity Ventures website

If you want to play around, just click on the image above and then start exploring from within the Wayback Machine. For example, take a look at the Companies page.

Intensity Ventures Company Page

Ok – time to move forward in time to 12/5/98, the first time the Wayback Machine grabbed a copy of the SOFTBANK Venture Capital page which at the time was called SOFTBANK Technology Ventures. Note the four partners and the various office addresses, including mine in Eldorado Springs, Colorado.

SOFTBANK Technology Ventures

If you want a little more SOFTBANK Technology Ventures, take a look at the Partners page.

SOFTBANK Technology Ventures Partners

You’ll note a few extra partners here. Ron Fisher, who at the time was Vice Chairman of SOFTBANK Holdings was responsible for watching over us for SOFTBANK. Ron is one of my favorite people on the planet and has been an incredible mentor for me. Any time he calls me about anything, I make sure I do everything I can to help make sure it happens.

You’ll also notice Flatiron Partners on the list. At the time, it was jointly funded by SOFTBANK and Chase. Fred Wilson and Jerry Colonna owned the firm but SOFTBANK and Chase were their LPs, they were an extended part of the SOFTBANK team, and we were an extended part of their team. There is a ton of history here that’s good basis for longer blog posts at some point, but for now I’ll leave you with the Flatiron Partners website from 3/29/98 along with a special bonus link to the Flatiron Partners 1996 Holiday Card.

Flatiron Partners

It’s always useful to remember that humans can modify their view of history, but the Internet never forgets.

  • Chuck

    fascinating to see how some of the top websites have evolved
    over time

  • I love playing with the wayback machine, but since it honors robots.txt, you can lose your history if you give up a domain name.

    I’ve started several short-lived websites and then given up the domains. For some, the history is gone.

  • Was it more fun in the beginning?

    • It’s always been fun – even when it’s painful.

  • Plumgood Food was an online grocery store from 2004-2008. I had the pleasure to build all their tech and just a few days ago the founder asked if I had a backup somewhere as he needed some content.

    It took just a few seconds to snag it from Archive and give him the link – the founder was completely blown away seeing the website of our ill fated startup living on the web.

    Archive is a fantastic resource – it’s like a time capsule of the internet and I hope it lives forever.

    Plus there’s the live music – especially the Grateful Dead archives!

  • Rick

    “move forward in time”
    .
    Remember when you move forward in time you always arrive in the past!
    .
    The internet is so full of horseshit that it would be best if we rebooted it.
    .
    Why aren’t any of you guys building companies anymore?

    • Rick

      I guess I should rephrase the question… You founded an IT firm and built it up then sold it. Why did you not continue doing start ups? VC can’t have less head aches. Is the money in VC that much better? Do you just like the lifestyle better?

      • I’ve written about that plenty on this site and in my book Startup Life. I did / have continued to do startups after I sold my first company in 1993. I spent from 1994 – 1996 starting up companies as well as making angel investments with some of the money I made from the sale of my first company. I co-founded a VC firm in 1997 and it wasn’t until 2001, when the Internet bubble burst and my world was a complete mess that I made the decision that I couldn’t BOTH run companies and be a VC. I was burnt out on being a CEO / chairman by this point and didn’t love the role anyway, so I decided to spent the balance of my adult work on the investor side. However, I’ve continued to start companies – co-founding Techstars in 2006 is a very visible example of this, even though I’ve never had a day to day operating role.

        • Perhaps the better distinction is “operating role” vs. “non-operating roles.” A lot of VCs / investors used to have operating roles as entrepreneurs. Given the choice of being a non-operating investor, they chose investor. Makes sense: it’s more rational to spread risk around as investors can, and the investor lifestyle seems better and easier than the operating-entrepreneur lifestyle. I know a lot of entrepreneurs who someday want to be full time angels or VCs — if they make enough money and earn enough credibility. I don’t know very many VCs who are craving to jump back into the full time operating trenches.

          Some entrepreneurs are cynical about the fact that VCs cheerlead entrepreneurs to jump into the trenches when the VCs themselves are choosing not to, but the truth is the folks who the VCs are encouraging don’t have a choice — they could’t be an investor even if they wanted to. Their choice is between starting a company or taking a job somewhere…

  • nostoppingprogress

    Brad, your areas of interest back then seemed to include a lot of music. Don’t hear much about music in any of your postings about start-ups or your life. Not much time for it or ?

  • Didn’t know bout the Wayback Machine, interesting resource — thanks.

  • What a good blog you have here. Please update it more often. This topics is my interest. Thank you keep blogging http://www.plaket.biz.tr

  • John Funk

    the Internet never forgets, but we get more photogenic over time, as do our memories :). Delighted to see that Mercury Mail made your investments page… Email still rules!

    • Email does rule! And you were ruling with it early.

  • love it Brad. I dug up the old landing page from my 1st startup, JustOn. What a trip down memory lane… https://web.archive.org/web/19991005040157/http://www.juston.com/

    • Sign on now. It’s free!!!

      I was hoping for some blink tags…

  • benwen

    Woah, that was fun and wistful. I hadn’t looked at the ThinkFish site in ages. Let’s hear it for the 3D Web with goggles!! WHAT were we thinking? Oh. Wait.

    • Thinkfish was SO ahead of its time. Delicious!

  • Recent New Yorker article by Jill Lepore on archiving the internet is worth a read too: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/26/cobweb. She mentions the Perma.cc project which helps scholars and legal folks with the problem of citations pointing to a dynamic web. I found it very interesting.