Googler 13

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Steve's story- Googler 13


I was born in 1972 to a poverty-level family in suburban Chicago. During the first few years of my life, I shared a 600 sq ft, 1 bedroom cottage with my parents, older sister and dog. As a kid, I grew up helping my dad kill roaches and trap rats in his one-man pest control business.



Inspired by my architect grandfather who dabbled in the stock market, I started playing the market when I was 15 years old. In 1994 at age 21, I graduated Magna Cum Laude & Dean's List from Babson College, an undergraduate business college outside of Boston. Shortly thereafter, I moved to San Francisco to find the stark reality of an uninterested job market. After a period of trivial and unsuccessful undertakings, I took to the streets out of desperation to "make something happen." My thought at the time was: "if my resume falls on the floor, nobody will bother to pick it up".


It was September 1995. I had been in San Francisco just over a year and had nothing to show for it. I remember walking around the streets of San Francisco and seeing two individuals who made a profound impression on me. One was a panhandler who simply sat on a corner and directly asked for money. The other was a man standing on a milk crate wearing a sandwich board that said "Repent! The end of the world is coming." I was in a state of mind where I was open to anything. The things that struck me were that the first man had gotten to a point where his ego had been worn away and he was willing to simply and directly ask for what he wanted without beating around the bush. The second man believed so strongly in his convictions that he was willing to physically wear his message and present it to the world. By the end of the week, I had created a sandwich board expelling the virtues of my skills. One morning, I put on my best thrift store suit and boarded the 5am bus to the financial district with my sandwich board under my arm. I stood outside the Bank of America world headquarters, put the two-sided sign over my head and began passing out resumes. I was there for 12 hours. I passed out resumes as people rolled into work, when they went out for lunch and as they left for home. This was one of the most humbling moments of my life. I stood out, exposed, bluntly asking for help and displaying my convictions. The response was amazing and really helped renew my faith in people. In the back of my head, I think I was expecting people to throw tomatoes at me (which my friend in New York said would have happened on Wall Street). Instead, many people took my resume and talked to me. A news crew even came.


In the end, this seemingly crazy idea lead to me getting a job as an associate equity analyst covering high-tech companies in downtown San Francisco. In my job, I was able to use my stock experience and education, but it did not take long to realize that I did not like analyzing companies. What I really wanted was to be involved with starting one.


In October of 1996 at age 24, I left my job in order to write a business plan for an idea I had relating to the relatively new phenomenon known as the commercial Internet. The idea revolved around creating a platform for pooling individual investor dollars to provide angel funding for fledgling companies and create a secondary trading market for these shares.




Unfortunately, after a few months I ran out of money and needed to look for a steady job again. I found a job opening for an entry-level, market research analyst at a small Internet company in San Francisco. Over a two-week period, I left messages on every single voice mailbox I could get at that company. I was never able to get a human on the phone or get a call back. One day, I randomly entered an extension off the main number and heard the message "Mark Goldstein's pager number is....". I knew from the website that Mark was the CEO of the company. What had started two weeks prior as a timid, pump myself up "you can do this" pep talk turned into a "somebody is going to talk to me, damn it!" When I got that pager number I called it immediately. Soon after I got a call asking "who is this?" I explained that I wanted the job his website had listed, but had not received a call back. He said that the reason nobody was there is that a few weeks earlier he had sold the company and its technology. He said he was downtown at a conference and to meet him at lunchtime. I ran over and he preceded to tell me that he was a serial entrepreneur that would be starting another business at some point soon and to stay in touch...He emphasized that he was impressed that I was sitting across from him given the situation.

Time passed and Mark had yet to start his new company, and I was flat broke. I went to him yet again and asked for help. He simply picked up the phone and called a Venture Capitalist friend of his. The next day I was at breakfast with a VC. Two days later I was working at Netscape Communications (one of the companies responsible for the commercial Internet taking off) doing business analysis and portal deal modeling.

It was there that I honed my skills relating to understanding business models and became an expert in the Internet itself. I also proved my worth to the Netscape executives and built a reputation for myself there.


(Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, Steve Schimmel, VC John Doerr, 1999)

In 1999, America Online purchased Netscape and many executives left the company. One in particular was the Vice President of Business Development. He had decided to go to a very small company that was looking for venture funding so it could afford to try and build a company out of some very good technology it had developed. The company had been incorporated by two Computer Science Ph.D. candidates at Stanford University a few months prior. It only had the two founders and a few engineers working there. The Netscape VP joined the start-up in March of 1999 as employee 12 and hired me to help him build the business. In May of 1999, I joined the founding business team as lucky number 13. That company got its first and only round of Venture Capital, $25 million, a month or two later. The company was a Search Engine company that had only a few hundred thousand searches performed on it per day by at most a million users per month, mostly academics. The company had no revenue at the time. That company, now widely recognized as Google is the world leader in search technology, bringing in billions of dollars in revenue per quarter by aiding many millions of users all over the world find information on a daily basis.


During my career there, I negotiated our first $100k and $1million deals; was on the design team for the original ad program; ran a cross-functional external technology evaluation team; negotiated 3rd party technology licenses; was an all around go-to guy to just about every department that needed business help...and I founded and ran the Google Wine Club :-)


(Steve Schimmel, Google Co-founder Sergey Brin, 2000)


I could not have imagined a better job for myself. I was not constrained by any specific job description and was free to to add value wherever it was needed. I truly got to be a Business Development Renaissance man.


(Steve Schimmel, Vice President Al Gore, 2001)

When Google went public in 2004, it was one of the most successful IPOs in history. For me, that was a defining moment. I felt that I had made my impact, left my personal mark and accomplished everything I had set out to do there. I left shortly after IPO to pursue other interests.


My confidence and follow-through, along with the chances awarded me by individuals who saw something in me and believed enough to give me a "shot", took me from poor kid to successful businessman "retired" by 32 years old. At no point did I ever compromise my integrity. I do things that I can be proud of. My colleagues and I lived by the motto of "don't be evil". It’s not a gimmick. It’s a philosophy of doing what's right and letting the money follow.


Having reached a level of financial success that awards me the freedom and flexibility that it has, I am now looking to share some of my knowledge and experience to benefit the next wave of those who aspire to do as I did.


...and that is my story.


Steve


89 comments:

michal said...

awesome and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Great story Steve. I once wrote a song... "What you gonna do when you get some money?"
So what are you going to do now that you are retired. Perhaps some public service?
Why not join #wikileaks?
Or perhaps you'd like to introduce safe mobile banking and democratic identity to the world, but not the BoA or government type?
There might even be a buck in it.
Best regards
Dean Procter
I am anonymous (aren't we all) because I can't be bothered with all that information and process. So I'll just put my name right here.

Anonymous said...

A really inspring story. I am particluarly moved by the picture of you hanging the board on your neck and this lines:

'This was one of the most humbling moments of my life. I stood out, exposed, bluntly asking for help and displaying my convictions.'

'Time passed and Mark had yet to start his new company, and I was flat broke. I went to him yet again and asked for help.

In both instance you were driven by your convictions to ask for help. I have taken note of both as a lesson of life.

Lucretia said...

That's a fabulous story Steve. Hoping it hits tomorrow's visionaries when they most need to see it - before anyone else sees how awesome they are and can be.

p.s. came her from @davewiner's tweet.

Anonymous said...

Great post and a wonderful display of a can do attitude. Since you are looking to help up and encoming entrepreneurs, is there a way i can contact you?

Thanks and cheers

Anonymous said...

A little pluck and a lucky break ... It's what we all need in life.

Carl @FellowCreative said...

Brilliant!

I couldn't help but notice the last presentation slide in your original TechnoEquity Inc. deck – it seems your investment in blogging may well align to it:

…21st Century Investment
Empowering the Entrepreneur
Empowering the Investor

Great demonstration that it's about the journey, not the destination.

Thank you very much for sharing your story, Steve.

Carl @FellowCreative

Sanford Dickert said...

Steve - excellent story mate. And a great way to work through adversity and preserver.

MarathonMom said...

Great story and congrats to you.

Will look forward to your next great accomplishment!

JC said...

And now you're a blogger! Great story. Is it true: Once a Googler always a googler?

Matthew said...

I love your story. In my career I have had times where I feel like I'm losing my nerve. Your reminder that perseverance pays off is a good one.

Thanks.

wylie said...

Steve, I hate cliches. So, I didn't want to write: Great story. Send me money.

Yes, it is a story I had to read to the end to find out how you became a success. I am retired after 30 years of teaching in a country, ghetto, rich, and Scottish schools in Edinburgh, Scotland. I loved every second of teaching. Heart condition made me retire early. (Computer in my chest-defib/pacemaker. Pretended to pull it out in my class.)My new book, see at www.knowords.com,opens in the middle as a door and turns into 2 books:The World's Most Creative (And) Dangerous Quote Book, comes with left-brain/right-brain wristbands. I collected these over 30 of teaching. Because I am not famous, I have been getting famous creative people to write blurbs. I have 3 famous blurbs so far and 4 books out waiting for more. I will take the blurbs, the book, and requests to buy it on Twitter and Facebook. I am on a retired small check so I couldn't afford to have it printed. (I want a publisher with distribution around the world.) David Baldacci gave me his agent's name and phone number, but I want the blurbs to take to the agent. Ray Bradbury said my book was beautiful;Ray is my hero. He is the reason I changed my major from economics to English. He is the main reason I became a teacher.
Steve, if you have any suggestions for me or if you know of anyone creative/famous who might write a blurb, let me know.
(www.knowords.com and nwyliejones@hotmail.com) I wanted to send a copy to the founders of Google, but I was afraid it would not get to them. (My story: in the last 6 years my 2 sons were told 4 different times I was going to die.They said I had a great will to live. I am out of the wheelchair and walk normally again. Love creeativity and life.)
N. Wylie Jones Richmond,Virginia.

Markgee said...

Hey Steve
Mark Goldstein here, its been awhile and I loved your writeup...and am so glad stuff has worked out...Im between companies again!!...having sold my last company last month..but would def enjoy to work with you on one these days....speak soon!

Tony Cochran said...

Thanks for sharing your story Steve.

I'd just like to say thank you and the guys at G for the work you have done.

You have contributed to a better quality of life for countless individuals worldwide.

Anonymous said...

Man I love an up from nothing story. I hope to ask you more some time.

Good health,

@Ed

Dayton said...

Inspiring read! Make it into a movie. People love a good true story.

Sunil said...

Very inspiring story. Most of all, the highlight for me was in the following sentence at the end.

" At no point did I ever compromise my integrity. I do things that I can be proud of ".

An ideal worth living up to, no matter what the end result is.

Best,
Sunil.

Tim Cohn said...

Steve - Thanks for sharing...

I found both your experience and strength instructive proving that everything worth having in life comes only after having first paid the price to get it.

James Gallagher said...

Thanks for posting this, it's great to read a can-do type story. It's also great to see someone be open about how they got to where they are, we all need that encouragement from time to time (if not everyday)

Franklin McMahon said...

Steve, excellent and very inspiring story...bravo!

Frank

sarahwallace said...

This is by far the best blog post I have ever read.

Perhaps it's because we're similar in age and perhaps it's because I appreciate your tenacity but thank you for sharing your story.

Keep kicking ass and keep inspiring. You remind all of us that if you don't take a chance, you don't stand a chance.

beorn said...

Again a good example that the "lucky break" is a fantasy.

The luck factor is offcourse always there, but the situations/opportunities for those events to happen are always created by yourself.

Lady luck just completes what you've set up through perseverance and believing in yourself.

Thanks for sharing

T. Chaudhri said...

wow. that was awesome. thanks.

Tony Sr said...

Proof Positive that asking for what you want is the fastest way to get it.

Brooke said...

Great story & thanks so much for posting.
Just goes to show you, if you want to get in the game there's no point in sitting on the sideline watching.

Rio said...

Go Babson!

-Mario '02

Ed + Ed Jr. + Carl + Alex said...

Great story Steve. Thanks for sharing.

Raymond Crandall said...

Awesome! The best lesson anyone can learn from life is the importance of never giving up :)

Glad to hear you are living the dream

Rick said...

Thrilling story. Thank you for sharing.

Amazing how you made your luck happen.

Travis Kiefer said...

Hey Steve,

Great Story! Mine is somewhat similar... Born in South Dakota. Parents didn't graduate high school. First in my family to attend college (Stanford no less!). I was recently featured in TC (Sarah Lacy is incredible) - http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/03/for-27-this-kid-will-do-whatever-you-want-in-antartica-on-tuesday/ - and I would love to pick your brain (particularly on business development).

If you're interested in talking, please send me an email at travis@gumballcapital.org.

Balakumar Muthu said...

Mind Blowing and so touching !!

direwolff said...

Great post Steve, but you forgot to mention your one month stint helping Mark's next startup, Impulse! Buy Network, in March of '98 :) Glad to hear your story "from the horse's mouth" so-to-speak. You may remember me as Pierre. Cheers.

Andy Huang said...

Go Babson!!

Amit said...

A very humbling and inspiring story! Straight from the heart, straight to the heart!

You really deserve the success you have.

Sean McColgan said...

Thanks for sharing your story Steve - truly inspirational...

dilocrp said...

Wonderful story Steve. I own the domain name dontguess.com. Any thoughts on what to do with it????

Anonymous said...

@dilocrp: talk to companies selling software estimation software, or authors of software estimation books.

LMS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LMS said...

At the risk of repeating what others have already said - it is a great story. I'm not sure everybody will take away the same lessons, but whatever the lessons are - they have the potential to be life changing.

Having found no more discreet a way to to convey this to you - please have a look here and contact me, Larry - my contact info appears here. We are on a mission to improve peoples lives - I would welcome your input.

philcoders said...

Very inspiring... Thanks for sharing this.

Steve D said...

Steve,

Great post. As a big admirer of Abraham Lincoln, you are living proof of his motto of perseverance. An inspiration for all of us. Thanks for sharing.

Regards,

Steve

Arthur Abogadil said...

This post is really inspiring, show a lot is possible just by persevering and not giving up...

mike said...

Thanks Steve, this was very inspiring

Matt Johnson said...

Love your story, if I were you I'd want to prove you can make your own billion dollar company. After Google though what can compare? And since you're a millionaire what's your incentive to improve upon your experiences? At just 32 I'm sure you don't want to end your ventures there. There's a new wave of startups coming, possibly Google and Facebook killing startups, if I were you I'd want to apply your expertise to fostering those startups... or even your own. Congrats on your achievements and good luck for the future

Sapinto said...

As a fellow Steve, just dipping my toe into Business Development, this is a great article and very inspiring. Thanks Steve!

Lilly said...

I so agree with Matt Johnson! Awesome Steve, keep going with the momentum, you are here once, make the biggest mark you can!

saintneko said...

I don't really have anything of substance to add but "Damn sun."

I'd say keep up the good work but I'm a month away from your retirement age so I'll save that good work for myself. :)

I have to say though, I'm glad you got out of banking and into technology. I just can't imagine what your skills could have brought to, say, Bear Sterns....

Silicon Valley Hiker said...

"Those who dare win." - British SAS Moto

Reminds me how I got my first tech job at NASA-JPL as a college freshman while numerous upperclassmen were scratching their heads doing nothing (how'd you do that?) ... I called and called, demonstrating I wanted the job more than they wanted the job.

Neat that you make no mention of gov't handouts or gov't programs or gov't anything. You did it all on your own rather than having someone guarantee a particular result to you.

Now begins the incessant inquiries for money, advice, and 'opportunities' to grow your money.

Travis said...

Steve,

This is definitely an inspiring post. I'd love to get your feedback on something I'm working on in the realm of college/career readiness. I want students to believe in themselves and not be afraid to ask questions of people who can help them out.

Travis

dariob said...

Great Steve, thank you a lot...

Anonymous said...

Steve

Great story!
Now on to phase two

Radar Pilot

Francisco Costa said...

Thanks for sharing your life and job experience.
I'm from Portugal and I am experiencing a similar situation at the moment. Due to tha bad economy in my country it's been a very difficult time to young entrepreneurs to build their businesses.
I've started a podcast a few months ago to gain some attention in the very small tech scene and this week I've made it to a a regional TV.
Reading honest stories like yours give me strength to face the future in a more optimistic way!
Thank you !

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story... I still owe you $$$ (and will pay you back before my lifetime ends! just need to turn this ship around man and it's turning a bit harder than expected!). I do remember: (1) crying when you told me what you were doing in Sanfo with the sandwich board after leaving Boston in your Porsche; (2) Telling you that you were "crazy" for leaving AOL and joining "what was that Google??" - you then met me shortly there after in Sanfo with Tshirts for me, my hubby and baby. The rest is history Steven -you have proven all wrong and I hope you shall continue to excel on the next stage of your life -- Keep soaring! Love you always and very proud of you.

Bruce Cahan said...

Steve -

Thanks for sharing this great story of how much passion, perseverance and instinct count towards success.

I've been pushing forward on high transparency banking with that same energy and commitment: http://www.frbsf.org/publications/community/review/vol5_issue2/cahan.pdf

Please keep us updated on your next challenges and lessons learned.

Best,

Bruce

Anonymous said...

This is a great story. ... I wish you well in your next venture. ...

Bob said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As I sit here in Washington, DC, I am wishing we had a few more people here with your spirit and tenacity. If you ever want to meet some inspired and ambitious people on the East Coast we would love to buy you a glass of wine or a beer.

Anonymous said...

Really inspring story..thanks very much for sharing..

shipofthesun said...

Hell, I don't care about cliche's. Give me some money. I could have easily been you had I not been Bipolar/Schizophrenic/ADD and been undiagnosed for years. My ego ,and super ego, have been torn away. Detoxing off of 3 different meds at once while in the county lock-up suicide cell in only the turtle suit does that to a person. But on the bright side, plenty of time to consider new projects that never came to fruition...

sanjay said...

Truly commendable,I guess in this work if you love what you do and are in a stimulating ecosystem you can achieve the impossible. As they say "Impossible is Nothing"
cheers
sanjay

Anonymous said...

This really inspired me. My room mate always tells me that success is part perseverance and part luck. You have to work really hard, and then when the right moment comes-you're ready. This story is a perfect example of that paradigm. Best of luck in the future Googler #13.

Steve said...

what an interesting book the story of the 1st 100 employees, before, during and after Google time, would make .....

Vanilla Chunk said...

I am a high school English teacher. My seniors will be reading this blog post. Great story.

Kickstart said...

Serious question...you got some lucky breaks (hearing the pager number, meeting the right people at the right time, etc.)...do you feel that there is an obligation by those like yourself who have been fortunate to give "lucky breaks" to others? I hesitate to use the word "luck" since it's more a case of seeing and jumping on opportunities that present themselves, for what it's worth.

I've found in my previous dealings with successful people in the past that there is a tendency to ignore that those breaks happened, or an inability to see that they happened, or a general "I got mine" attitude. As a guy who is chock full of ideas without much in the way of resources, I admit to being a little disheartened.

Ricky said...

This is an inspiration. Thank you Steve.

Sally Khong said...

this is a fantastic inspiring story and this will definitely gives a lot of people the idea to stick to their own conviction without giving up their integrity. thanks a lot for this story.

Helen said...

Love hearing stories like this! Especially from fellow Babson alums. Truly inspiring!

Anonymous said...

Awesome, inspiring story.

Anonymous said...

Cheers to you.

Justin said...

Steve,

Today is my 29th birthday and I am truly inspired by your determination and relentless pursuit of learning and making the most of every moment. Thank you for sharing as your story provided some much needed positivity in striving for my own goals.

Best regards,

Justin M

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve, thank you for that inspiring story. I have an uncompensated affiliation with a non-profit organization that facilitates young adults in achieving their career dreams. We have our 10th anniversary event in a few weeks but we have no more tickets available so I'm not posting the organization. I would however like to invite you as my guest. The organization is still run on a shoestring but I promise that you will be inspired by the equally courageous stories you will hear......If you are at all interested please send an e-mail and I will forward more info. and the company URL so that you can investigate further. Just a thought, no pressure. Thanks.

Sabina said...

Amazing. I love the creativity you show standing there with a sign. Perfect!

Brent said...

Nice write up. I just did something similar outside TechCrunch's office. I wasn't able to 'break through' w/ my startup no matter how hard I tried, so I made a sign and walked back and forth with a chicken mask on till I got their attention. Here's the article: http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/17/dont-parade-in-front-of-techcrunch-hq-wearing-a-chicken-costume/

Robert Wagman said...

l GO STEVE l

You are one of the proofs that anyone can be rich. Feel honoured - becasue you worth it.

I will follow this blog as a I need some tips to be rich, he he he.

Do you play games? If so, which games do you play? Just asking by curiosity.

Zdrava dijeta said...

this story proves that everyone is the master of its own destiny... anything is possible if you put your mind to it...only the lazy ones do not get this

Pam Morris said...

How do you tell a blind man what blue is.

How does a self made man share power?



I wonder if you would find value in finding ways for powerful companies to maintain their power...but get their reward from doing more valuable enterprises.

Anonymous said...

Good story, but maybe I am wrong for asking the obvious question, what have you done in the past 6 years? It seems like that would be enough time to start/join another company. On the other hand, "retired" is what it is.

Anthony said...

What a story Steve. An inspiration even for a 62 year old senior.
I believe you also believe in Pay Forward and Payback but don't want to boast about the good deeds you are now able to do. Still I hope you will share some of your good deeds one of these days.
Btw, did any of your many school teachers inspire you in anyway?

Courtney said...

Steve, this rags-to-riches story couldn't have happened to a nicer, harder-working guy! Honored to have worked with you.

karen xhackelford said...

How about some advice - i'e got a platform and a flawed.product,self financed -committed enough to sell my Birkin Bag. And s sd5 carat diamond but mainly I need help getting my product to market. Will you call me at 601-362-7926 or shackelfordk@mac.com? Sorry fo typos. Karen

karen xhackelford said...

How about some advice - i'e got a platform and a flawed.product,self financed -committed enough to sell my Birkin Bag. And s sd5 carat diamond but mainly I need help getting my product to market. Will you call me at 601-362-7926 or shackelfordk@mac.com? Sorry fo typos. Karen

karen shackelford. said...

I have a pretty good story too.

Hearing Aids said...

It was very nice blog and got lots of information .Thanks

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,

I'm new here.
Btw, I happen to be a [url=http://forums.cutelittlekittens.com/forum/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=24004 ]lawyer[/url], too. :D
Hopefully I can contribute here!

Buy fax numbers said...

GREAT STORY...THANKS

elastomer keypad said...

Great story and congrats to you.thanks

mark schimmel said...

Steve, you are awesome. I shared your incredible story with my film students here @ Columbia. Way to go, love to the family! Mark Schimmel

Mclmini said...

Thank you for inspiration.I came to U.S. alone when I was 12 and I am just starting my journey as an entrepreneur. Ready your story reminded me of why I chose what I am doing now. Thank you and congratulations!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tablet android Honeycomb terbaik murah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.