This blog is a bit more personal than most. Last night I was watching the Golden Globe Awards (which was taking place just a few miles from my West Hollywood home). The Social Network won a great many awards. I have not seen it. That is surprising to a lot of people who know me and my background. Last night someone I was chating with on Facebook asked me why I had not seen it. I said it was too long a story for chat. But frankly, I am not sure what the story really is. For the last ten years, I have slowly reduced my involvement in business which for me means Internet Business. It was very purposful. I think there were two many reasons. The first is that I wanted to use the last third (or so ) of my life exploring my own personal creativity. The second reason was that, I did not want to work my way down in an industry in which I had played a meaningful role. Frankly, I do not know which of these two forces was the greater but I hope it was the former.
I know most of the board member of Facebook. I worked closely with some of them when I was Vice President of Business Development at Intel. I do not know the managment team at Facebook other than Sheryl Sanberg who I think is a very capable, talented person that is also a wonderful human being. I never meet Mark Zukerberg. Frankly, I don’t think I would like him. He reminds me too much of Steve Jobs (I am sorry to write this on a day when we all have to be concerned for Steve’s health).
I have never called myself the father of broadband but I had as much to do with creating it as anyone when I sponsored the development of what became the cable modem and introduced the concept to most of the cable operators both in the USA and Internationally. There can only be one father and since there where a number of people who played an important role in creating residential broadband, I did not find that a good term for my role.
It seems to me that a generation in technology is about ten years. The residentail broadband network the now use was developed in the 90s (starting around 1992). The companies that played the major role in creating residential broadband were companies like Yahoo, AOL, Lycos, Amazon and Ebay The next generation was dominated by Google and towards the second half of the second generation, Facebook. We will be entering the third generation soon. And just like the major companies of the first generation played an important role in the second generation, Google and Facebook will play an important role in the third generation. Is if I was a “father” in the first generation, I was a “grandfather” in the second and soon and I will be a” great grandfather”.
Two years ago, I was on a yatch party in the San Francisco Bay with about 30 people. Larry Page, the co founder of Google was on the boat. I had meet Larry at a few parties but obviously had not made an impression. This time he had nothing to do but to talk to me. So he asked me what I did. I said I was pretty much retired but that I had worked for Intel. At that point, I think he lost interest. His whole company was based on technology that I had made happen and he had no idea who I was or what role I had played. He probably did not know that Intel had played such a promient role in creating residential broadband just as he probably had no idea about the role of companies like Broadcom. And does it matter? I think not. Yes, my ego would have been pleased if he had said, “you’re avram miller”. But it is exactly my ego or in particular that ego that I need to leave behind. A few years earlier, I had lunch with Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress (which I am using for this very blog). One of his investors asked me to meet him. We had a nice lunch an a fun convestation of no consiquence. I realized that not only was I old enought to be Matt’s father, I was actually old enough to be his grandfather (although people are having children much later than my grandparents and parents).
Last week, I meet with an old friend who knew me at the hight of my career. He worked at the Creative Artist Agency when Intel and CAA creative multimedia demonstration lab. My friend asked me what I was doing. In particular, why had I decided to buy a home in LA (actually West Hollywood). I told him that I came for the sun but he perhaps wisely thought otherwise. He said there was a reason for my coming and imagined that I wanted to continue to work in the transition of the media industry to the digital world. I tried to explain that I wanted to explore my own creativity. I play jazz piano and I have recently started composing again. But it was clear from the discussion that I stil have a lot of passion and maybe too much passion for technology and media. But it also true that I want to explore my own creativity. I though the next day about how I could explain this a bit better. Imagine you want to learn Italian. You decided to take a year off and live in a small Italian village. Once there you discover that everyone there wants to improve their english and so they will never speak Italian with you.
So this brings me back to why I have not seen The Social Media. I think if I am honest with myself it is because I miss the time of my life when I was creating business and developing technology. It is the reason I stay away from conferences. It is hard to let go of something that possesed you so.
And I will always have a love for technology. A love that started when I was six years old.