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November 08, 2007

My Departure from NewsGator

As many of you now know tomorrow (11/9/07) marks my final day at NewsGator.  And it is with mixed emotion I greet this milestone.

image My tenure at NewsGator began three and a half years ago when, at my weekly pool league, Greg Reinacker innocently enough asked me if I would be willing to work with him as his new idea for bringing RSS Feeds directly into MS Outlook was beginning to catch on.

"What's RSS?" I asked... and after a Sears Tower sized elevator pitch on the concept of NewsGator I said, uh... "Let me think about it..." 

"And... What the hell is a NewsGator?"

Obviously I agreed at some point to take Greg up on his offer.  I reported to work in April of '04 at the lavish 2nd floor office/loft of Greg's house... 

"Hey John, maybe we ought to look into getting you a desk or something to work at huh?... don't worry I have a desk chair you can use..."  Famous words to numb your butt by!

Anyway, NewsGator had begun.  Initially we envisioned an entirely different path than what has resulted now some 3+ years later... "No plan ever survives first contact" and all...  and NEVER survives VC advice! Right, Wrong or Indifferent!  We initially focused on providing a delivery mechanism for Premium "High Quality" full article content from known (and not so well known) publishers and writers.  Yeah that panned out!  Looked good on paper, but having to explain the dynamics of RSS and Feed Subscribing to, well... EVERYONE!... really took some time and creativity.

But for those with vision, the structural part of NewsGator and concept of information organization and access within Outlook as well as a web-based interface was intriguing.  And it was in June of '04 Greg decided to accept VC funding from Brad Feld and the folks at Mobius VC.  Wow!  Funding!

"Hey Greg, can I get another chair?" 

- "Yeah, go ahead and take one from the dining room table"

We then set our sites on expanding our employee count!  Cuz Greg was now having to hob-knob more and program less... We brought Lane into the office/ dining room suite at Casa de Reinacker... Let me tell you, Lane is awesome!  I have met no one better at rapidly sizing up a situation, formulating his assessment, compiling a cogent sentence to describe it, then deliver with properly cadenced inflection, dripping with sarcasm resulting in all around him on the floor with laughter!  We needed it then (and still do today). 

Lane's view of Greg's kitchen, and the "Old Growth Forest that used to be pizza in the refrigerator" was not one to be envied!  I was glad to have the loft, and Greg was happy I had taken to nailing his various '80's posters to his wall, instead of lying on the floor.  I still bet to this day that loft is the only room in his house to have anything hanging from the walls!

"Hey Lane, by the way, would you like an Office Chair instead of the Dining Room chair your in?"  Lane opted against "Iron Butt."  Smart man that Lane!

Over the years we continued to grow and continued to try to identify what we wanted to be when we grew up!  We eventually focused our efforts on an Enterprise Platform utilizing a centralized database of feeds, content, and community relevance data.  And those efforts continue to this day, albeit in much better digs than Greg's house!  And with many more employees!  3 office spaces later and employees numbering close to 70, NewsGator has indeed grown to become an influential player in the "Web 2.0" sandbox! 

As would be expected as employee #1 at a start-up, I have transitioned in roles at NewsGator from, Premium Content Solicitor, to Marketing Evangelist, to Cold Calling Outlook Sales Ferrengi, to Inside Sales Lacky, to Enterprise Sales Exec (securing our first 4 enterprise sales), to Director Client Services taking care of our 70+ Enterprise Customers and 20+(at the time) Private Label Media companies in their pursuit of Web 2.0 (always hated that moniker- lacks panache) initiatives.

Much fun has been had over these years and I am proud to say I was part of this fine team of people.  There is a phenomenal brain trust here and it will be tough to leave these fine folks.  But alas, I must move on my ADD has once again reared its head. 

I bid farewell to "Uncle NewsGator" and set sail for seas unknown, at a new company with familiar faces, in a new industry with boundless opportunity... and I hope a comfortable office chair!

Thanks Greg... it was one hell of a ride!

By the way... I still feel the Logo should have been something like this...

Newsgator Orig Logo

November 8, 2007 in Biographical, Business, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink


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Hello Tom Walker!!!

Thank you for the information. Great job you have done and keep it up.

Posted by: denver pool builders | Sep 4, 2012 3:51:37 AM

Noooooooooo nooooooooooooooooo don't leave me alone with LANE PUHHHLEeeeeeeeeeeeease...

Posted by: Anita | Nov 17, 2007 12:37:12 AM

Good luck in your new venture, John! Hope the fridge at the new startup is forest-free :)

Posted by: Nick Bradbury | Nov 9, 2007 6:39:26 AM

Hey, John, that's one of the last of the old guard on the way out! NG will be poorer for it, not to mention that it's totally going to screw up the balance of political affiliation :)

Posted by: Gordon Weakliem | Nov 8, 2007 8:45:20 PM

Congrats on your new thing (And your marriage, too! You and Ginger are definitely a matched set. :)

I figured, you know, once I left, it had to be all down hill anyway. ;)

Posted by: Brad Wilson | Nov 8, 2007 5:08:10 PM

Good luck on the new job and I'm glad you were able to help Greg out all those years ago. I might have to dig up a jpg of the original NG logo, it at least had the alligator theme in it. Oh, and yes Greg's fridge is truly a thing to behold...from a safe distance...with appropriate personal protection.

Posted by: Tom Walker | Nov 8, 2007 2:56:49 PM

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