I was at Dell when the 2008 Great Recession started. I hadn’t thought much about the housing market in the years leading up to the crash, and certainly had never heard of Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). I did think it odd the number of people I knew that were buying expensive houses and taking out home equity loans. Even when Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in September 2008, I somehow held out hope we might avoid the worst of a downturn. But then a couple weeks later I started to follow a series of articles posted by VentureBeat about a secret meeting at Sequoia (Sequoia is sort of the British Royal family of tech). I was mesmerized by the series of articles, wishing I had been in the room. And then one day, VentureBeat posted the presentation.
There are several pivotal moments in your life that you remember acutely years later. Sequoia’s RIP Good Times presentation was one of these for me. I was sitting in my office at the former SilverBack facilities on Concord Road in Billerica. The slide deck opened with a gravestone with the words “RIP Good Times”, and then followed by a photo of a hunk of meat with a knife stuck in it. It was hard to page through the deck without feeling like you were just punched in the gut. The message was clear: stop spending, reduce staff, and hunker down for what might be a long cold winter. In that moment, everything suddenly got real for me and my family. I had two boys in elementary school, and was my family’s sole income. Overnight I went from worrying about my 401K, to worrying we might live through a second Great Depression.
Today as I watched the news scroll past me - 8% drop in the DOW, social distancing through August, China’s economy showing a dramatic pullback, Boston stopping all city construction - it was hard not to feel today was the RIP Good Times of the Coronavirus Crisis. It’s bad and unfortunately will likely get worse. But just like 2008, it will eventually get better. So let’s pull together, support our neighbors, commit ourselves to helping our businesses navigate through this difficult time, try not to hoard toilet paper, and do our best to make it through with our friends, families and colleagues all intact.