Last night was the Christmas party for Navarik, the company I've worked for since 2003, and for which I had the occasional contract in the three years before that. Several of my college colleagues founded it in 2000—a web software company started just as the web software bubble collapsed. It's about the same age as my younger daughter, or this blog.
Early on Navarik was the leanest of self-funded startup companies, with a tiny office where people were nearly stepping over each other and everyone could go for lunch around one table. Last night I looked around and realized that it is no longer a startup at all. The many employees who have been there nearly from the beginning are now seasoned veterans (with far more experience than, say, the folks who run Facebook; Navarik itself is several years older than Flickr and WordPress). We've brought in more seasoned veterans over the years to help run the place.
Pointedly, Navarik has hired more new people since I went on medical leave in February (and thus with whom I've never worked directly) than formed the entire company when I started. Some of them I'd never met until last night. Back in 2003 only a couple of us in the office had children; in the past two years there has been a substantial baby boom, enough that we're having another Christmas party next week, just for all the kids.
The business we do is not flashy or high-profile, though it requires considerable skill and intellectual effort. We help some very big companies move important, money-making information around. Our website needs updating to reflect what that means in 2007 (that's one thing that's not getting done while I'm away), but it is fundamentally the same vision that Bill, the company's founder, had while working in the marine bulk shipping industry in the late 1990s.
I'm itching to get well again and return to helping make that vision real. I joined Navarik more than four years ago not simply because my friends started it. Rather, I saw a company built on new technologies and ideas, created for the Internet, that could show important worldwide industries how to do better than the clumsier old world of traditional information technology.
That's not Web 2.0 hype, but a real business. And a strong one, I think.