A Real Correction, a Real Winter, and the Hope for a Real Government
Dave Aiello wrote, "Season's Greetings from everyone at Chatham Township Data Corporation. As the Year 2000 comes to a close, we find that business is better than ever. We have realized higher revenues and higher profits, and deployed a greater number of software products than ever before."
"It's been hard to read The Wall Street Journal for a while now, particularly since The Election. It's depressing to see so many newly minted Internet companies go out of business leaving their customers and employees to fend for themselves. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that the only thing those companies had in common with CTDATA is that we used the same technologies to communicate with the world. In the end, we have our paying customers, while the failed Dot Coms have -- um -- their memories."
Dave Aiello continues:
During the first six months of the year, these "Dot Com" companies got steadily larger on a rich diet of venture capital. At the time, they seemed so successful that it made me question the approach that CTDATA had taken beginning in 1990: that we fund everything we do from our own cash flow. This is why we are still so small in our eleventh year as a corporation.
In spite of that, there are two inescapable facts that keep me going in this direction:
- CTDATA produces a profit every year.
- CTDATA controls its own destiny.
A Real Correction
I'm sure most of you who are taking the trouble to read this are aware that the employees of unprofitable technology companies are not the only ones taking it on the chin this year. If you remained heavily invested in the NASDAQ in spite of the warning signs that began to appear in January and February, you are probably feeling significantly less wealthy than at the beginning of the year. Yet, I know that many of us were talking about the need for a correction, a rationalization of the share prices of the companies that make up this index. Now, stocks like Amazon.com are down 85 percent since the beginning of the year. Perhaps what we've experienced wasn't exactly what we had in mind.
I would still argue that we needed a real correction in order to establish what kinds of businesses ought to be built with this new technology. The fact that Amazon.com isn't 100 percent lower than it was in January may indicate that it has what it will take to survive as a thriving business. However, there probably won't be thousands of successful businesses in the space that Amazon occupies.
A correction of 10 or 20 percent would not have stopped the investment in single concept Internet retailers. I (personally) bought several things from Bike.com before it closed and sold its assets to Excel Sports, a real retail business in Boulder, Colorado. Bike.com, as it was constituted before it closed, was a great place to get Rudy Project sunglasses. But, beyond that, the business made no sense.
A Real Winter
Forgive me for being so politically incorrect, but I am a skeptic when it comes to the concept of Global Warming. So, it is with some pleasure that we note the possibility that we will experience a real winter this year in the Northeastern United States. Since 1996, we have not had the kind of cold weather and snow that we are told is typical for the New York Metropolitan Area. We look forward to the return of snowmen and skating on the lakes with anticipation.
The Hope for a Real Government
Speaking of anticipation, we also look forward to January 20 at noon, when President-elect George W. Bush will take the oath of office and replace Bill Clinton. You don't have to agree with Bush politically in order to look forward to the transition.
In an era when the Cluetrain Manifesto resonates with so many people -- when people will not accept unadulterated hype and spin from Corporate America -- why should we accept it from our Federal Government? I believe that most people in this country do not remember what it was like when our Government did not attempt to place a political spin on everything it did. We may not see an elimination of spin in the Bush Administration, but it's quite likely that we will see less of it.
We also desperately need to restore integrity to The Department of Justice. The hope for a real government that I suggest is the restoration of the principle that no one is above the law.
From my perspective, the Clinton Administration began with unreasonable expectations. If the Bush Administration begins with lower expectations, perhaps it can achieve more of the nation's goals.
The Successes of CTDATA in the Year 2000
Enough talk of macroeconomics and politics. What has CTDATA accomplished?
- CTDATA successfully ported a news-oriented community Web Site framework from Linux to the Windows NT and Solaris platforms. That framework is called the Slash Engine, and was originally developed for the Linux Community Web Site called Slashdot. We published a good technical description of our development work on the Slash Engine on ctdata.com at the end of October.
- We deployed our version of the Slash Engine at J.P. Morgan in March. J.P. Morgan has been our largest consulting client for several years, and we were able to work with them to adapt the Slash Engine to the needs of a corporate resource department that was looking for a basis for an Intranet Web Site that would also serve as knowledge management tool. We worked with Scott Bevier of J.P. Morgan and Richard Ziegler of Modis Professional Services to successfully complete this project.
- We deployed the Slash Engine as the basis for CTDATA's Web Site in July. Since then, we have communicated with our customers and potential customers much more effectively. We are posting pages at an annualized rate of 400 documents per year with no measurable increase in Web Site management time or resources.
- Based upon the success of ctdata.com, we relaunched the Rensselaer Club of New Jersey Web Site (rcnj.org) in September. This has been our experiment in running a community-oriented Web Site. Prior to this move, the RCNJ Web Site had become dated, and traffic had been falling steadily for the first nine months of the year. Once we established RCNJ on the Slash Engine, we were able to increase coverage of Rensselaer sports and on-campus news without increasing the time committed to maintenance of the site.
- CTDATA is now able to measure the number of visitors to our sites as well as what interests them most. The Slash Engine offered us integrated traffic reporting tools, and we significantly enhanced them October. These tools give us a good idea of who uses our sites, how often, and what they are interested in seeing. This is an important feature for revenue and non-revenue sites, and experience with developing customized traffic analysis tools is sought after by clients.
On behalf of my co-workers at CTDATA, I'd like to thank our clients for helping us to achieve remarkable things this year. Thanks also to our partners at other companies who played key roles in the completion of our projects and the smooth operation of our Internet services:
- Martin O'Donnell
- Max Murad
- Richard Ziegler
- Scott Bevier.
Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season.
Chatham Township Data Corporation