Thursday, August 12, 1999

The Unsung Fathers of the Internet

By Paul Morand (

When pundits call someone "the father of the Internet," who are they really talking about? The following dialogue could be taking place in thousands of homes from Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley:

"Well, son, now that you're the CEO of an Internet startup, what are your future plans?" I asked, trying not to sound judgmental.

"Stop pressuring me, Dad," he replied. "You sound judgmental."

"Pressuring? Me? Ridiculous! It's just that, well, your mother and I were wondering, uh, if you'll soon be moving out of the house."

"Why would I do that?"

"Well, with the six-figure salary and stock options, I thought you might want a place of your own."

"Can't think about that now. We're still in mezz financing -- months away from an IPO. Besides, I like living here."

"Well, we've never begrudged you a roof over your head. Still, it would be nice if you had more space for the servers and programmers. It's getting a little crowded in the living room."

"Can't help it. We outgrew the dining room."

"I understand. But, if you don't want to move the T1 lines, maybe you could, uh, pay a little rent..."

"RENT?" His voice split the difference between shock and outrage. "Don't you understand what we're doing here? Our company is on the threshold of an e-commerce breakthrough that will revolutionize the world!"

"But you're doing it in our living room."

"Is it my fault the tech support guys are using the guest room and R&D needs the garage?"

"Speaking of the garage," I asked, "where's my car?"

"It's parked on the lawn behind the satellite dish. By the way, I'll need your car today. I've got a meeting with investors."

"Okay, okay. But this time could you put a little gas in it?"


"And one more thing. Could you drop me off at work on your way?"

Fathers, keep the faith. One day, those stock options might actually be worth something.

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