Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A perfect 10: celebrating 10 years online

In other words, our saved trees could make Los Angeles carbon-neutral for almost eight months. Our trees could keep a city of 89,325 families carbon-neutral for a decade. Denise and I live in Palm Bay, Florida, the largest town in Brevard County. With 97,478 residents, 37,491 households, our saved trees could keep Palm Bay carbon-neutral for almost thirty years!

With that, let's look at another set of mind-blowing numbers:

  • 2 founders (Denise Amrich and myself)
  • 1 decision (online instead of print)
  • 287,427 trees saved
  • 1,580,849 tons of coal burning countered by reabsorbing the carbon dioxide
  • 10,719,097 houses carbon-neutral for a month
  • 89,325 houses carbon-neutral for a decade
  • 284,552,730 pounds of oxygen released into the air

So if anyone ever tells you that one or two people can't make a difference, just look at those numbers. When Denise and I decided to publish online, we made a simple decision. The net result of that decision, 10 years later, was a tremendous ecological benefit.

Hey, if you want a simple solution to global warming, move all publishing online. Now it begins to make sense why Al Gore invented the Internet!

Whew! We've been busy. Of course, back in January of 1998, we didn't know if we'd make it to June.

Those early days

Those were the early days of the Internet, what we now call "pre-bubble". When we started, nobody knew if you could really make money online (and, for some companies out there, we're still not sure). We certainly didn't know if we'd be able to sustain ourselves almost entirely on ad revenues.

You see, we did something different back then. Back in a time when almost everyone was going for the venture money, we decided to fund the company out of our own profits. After almost a year of discussions with venture capitalists large and small, the one big conclusion we came to was that it wasn't for us. By managing our income and expenses with care, we were able to be profitable from Day One -- a business strategy that helped us thrive through the bubble.

In those early talks with VCs is a clue that shows how much the world has changed in the past 10 years. Back then, I'd incorporated into our business plan a small discussion of the green benefits of publishing online, the saving of trees, the absorption of CO2, the reduction in printing toxins, and so forth.

At the time, all the potential investors I met firmly instructed me to remove any environmental discussion from the business plan. I was told a business plan was about business and a discussion of environmental issues was just a side-show for tree-huggers. Now, of course, there are entire VC funds devoted to environmentally conscious companies. My, how times have changed!

As history has proven, we were probably right. So many of the other companies formed during that time became victims of the dot-bomb, while we just puttered along, fueling our business entirely on our own revenues, remaining fiercely independent, saving trees, and providing great reading for all of you.

Not only did we make it to June 1998, we made it 10 years and it's now January 2008. In August, our next big anniversary will be 10 years of DominoPower. Even our newest magazine, Connected Photographer, has been going strong for more than four years.

So much has happened over 10 years

When I think back over the last 10 years, I'm struck by just how much has happened, how many stories we've told, how many challenges we've overcome, how much we've learned, how many cool people we've met, how many people we've helped, and how much fun we've had.

To all of you who've been reading our magazines for these last 10 years, thank you. It's been an amazing journey. And we're not even close to done. Keep reading. We'll have a lot more for you over the next 10 years.

See you next week!