Directions to our offices

Prepare to abandon hope as you turn left at the second light.

By Bill Wasik
Published August 27, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)
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Aug. 27, 1999

From the north:

Take Highway 101 south toward San Jose. Exit onto Great America Parkway south from the right-hand lane. Continue 1.7 miles, through three traffic lights. You are steadily approaching our corporate headquarters -- the nerve center, as it were, of Competitron Networks, a multinational data communications giant.


Take a moment to think about it, as the Eastside Mall and a Super Stop & Shop pass by on your right. Competitron Networks -- $200 million in revenues; $3.4 billion in market capitalization (NASDAQ ticker symbol: CPET); 4,000 employees worldwide; offices in 15 nations on three different continents.

In comparison, your company is quite small. But in five to seven minutes (depending on traffic) you'll be daring to propose a partnership to this high-tech Goliath. And you'll be making your case to the man himself -- John T. Savage, our founder, CEO and spiritual light.

So it's only natural if, as you turn left at the fourth signal (Tasman Street), you have to steady your hand on the wheel. After all, you've heard the stories. Savage is one tough customer. Never smiles, never laughs. Fires subordinates at the drop of a hat. Destroys competitors with a single phone call.


"Destroys competitors." You chuckle at your own exaggeration, as you pass the public library, making sure to look both ways for pedestrians.

But up ahead, on the left (0.7 miles down Tasman), you notice the offices of one of our former adversaries, Salix Technologies. Boarded up. Graffiti-strewn. From the looks of it, razed with an acetylene torch. Exaggeration indeed. Your skin grows clammy, as the next turn approaches, 0.4 miles ahead, just after the Carl's Jr. -- Sequoia Drive.

Whoa. Reality check. What the hell are you doing here, anyway? You can't negotiate with a guy like Savage. Just keep driving, you tell yourself, straight past the gas station (at which point you would have gone too far), straight up into the brown hills that ring the valley, up and up, higher and higher, until the day's cares seem as remote as the workaday bustle below.


But could you go home tonight? Could you face your wife and tell her that you'd blown it? That's right, blown it. Blown your one chance to get out of that tiny, cramped townhouse in Santa Clara. Missed your only shot at the American Dream -- the same dream your parents whispered of 43 years ago as they fled the old country, stowed away on that slow merchant steamer.

Steel your nerves. Take that right on Sequoia.


But if you have a bottle of water, or iced tea, or gin, drink from it now -- a long, slow draught, like the draught of a man who hasn't known drink for days.

Over your right shoulder, you catch your first glimpse of our corporate headquarters -- an architectural marvel, a postmodern amalgam of polished glass and steel. You remark to yourself, as Paul Goldberger did in a favorable review in the New York Times, that the glistening structure serves as a tangible metaphor for the approaching millennium, fraught as it is with opportunity and peril. Which will it be for you and your little "business," you ask yourself, as you contemplate the Competitron logo: an eagle's talon, clenching a personal computer, from whose floppy drive drips a steady trickle of red neon ooze.

A wave of hysteria crashes over you, but take care to keep your speed down to 25 mph, as police in the neighborhood are known to ticket. Straighten your tie once, then straighten it again; grope frantically inside your briefcase for your presentation; mop the rolling sweat from your brow. Is there any mess on the passenger-side floorboard? Better shovel it into the back. (How ridiculous you are, to be cleaning your car, of all things -- as if Savage would come out and greet you at the curb!)


But empty your mind now. Let adrenaline take over. Turn right into the office park, at 2980 Sequoia Drive. (Be prepared to cave on a number of points.) Park in the visitors' lot, situated to the right of the building. (Your children will probably still love you regardless of what happens.) Go to the main reception desk, just inside the double doors. (If you lose your business, we always have positions available.)

From the south:

Take Highway 101 north toward San Francisco. Exit onto Great America Parkway south from the right-hand lane. Follow directions above.

Bill Wasik

Bill Wasik is an analyst at Bessemer Venture Partners, a venture capital firm. His work has appeared in Harper's and McSweeney's.

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