10.03.09

Get Big Fast – Behind the Pale Green Doors

Posted in Get Big Fast at 12:56 am by The Layman

The nondescript address of 100 Water Street represented a soaring, monolithic skyscraper in lower Manhattan; an imposing structure befitting the headquarters of BancManhattan, one of the oldest, most established banks in this city of banks.  If a visitor were to enter the lobby, board an elevator in the elevator bank dedicated to the middle floors, and push a button for the 32nd floor, a high-speed elevator would efficiently send her on a short, stomach-twisting ride up into the heart of the building.  Once the doors opened, she would step out into an anonymous, barren hallway lined with threadbare carpeting and light green painted walls.  On either side of the elevator, the hallway stretched out, turning into various branches which led further into the floor.

At seemingly random intervals along the hallways stood heavy, locked, metal doors bordered by substantial steel frames, painted a sickly pale green, with access controlled by key card readers.  Conspicuously missing were number plates or any other signage to indicate the occupants or function barred by the doors.  Perhaps the occupants of the floor belonged to some super-secret government agency which did not wish to call attention to its presence.  Or maybe it was home to the bank’s Human Resources department.  The last thing anyone would imagine was that behind the pale green doors toiled the employees of a young and trendy internet startup company.

Atomasis was a creature peculiar to the dot-com boom, one of the thousands of companies hastily formed in the rush to cash in on stock market’s insatiable appetite for new internet companies.  Therefore, the location of the company’s offices seemed curiously out of place given the nature of its business.  A large majority of internet startups established their offices in Silicon Valley, California; or if they were based on the east coast, in Boston, Massachusetts or Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

New York City served as the unquestioned financial capital of the world.  Wall Street bankers created, managed, and traded wealth.  Of course, one could easily imagine that the financial services titans of Wall Street employed huge information technology staffs and software developers to manage the massive data processing of daily operations as well as to bring to life the complex trading strategies developed by the rocket scientists on their staffs.  However, the image-conscious firms carefully kept these techies hidden in their back offices, choosing instead to trot out their traders and bankers as the faces of the firm.

So how did Atomasis end up occupying the 32nd floor of 100 Water Street?  Simply because it was a company hatched from BancManhattan’s imagination.  And to minimize the startup costs, BancManhattan found some under-utilized office space within its vast tower on 100 Water Street.  Since BancManhattan viewed this curious startup as a software company, the bankers treated it like they treated their own IT staffs.  As a result, Atomasis’ cubicles, offices, and conference rooms came to reside behind the pale green doors on the 32nd floor of 100 Water Street.

thelayman@thelaymansperch.com

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