Thu Dec 9 16:15:36 PST 1999
Quoting Dire Red (firstname.lastname@example.org):
> Actually, it reminds me of that section about business plans in
In case anyone hasn't read it:
Excerpt from _Cryptonomicon_, by Neal Stephenson, 1999, Avon Books,
ISBN 0-380-97346-4, starting on page 238:
Epiphyte Corp.'s business plan is about an inch thick, neither fat nor
skinny as these things go. The interior pages are slickly and groovily
desktop-published out of Avi's laptop. The covers are rugged hand-laid
paper of rice chaff, bamboo tailings, free-range hemp, and crystalline
glacial meltwater made by wizened artisans operating out of a
mist-shrouded temple hewn from living volcanic rock on some island known
only to aerobically gifted, Spandex-sheathed Left Coast travel bores.
An impressionistic map of the South China Sea has been dashed across
these covers by molecularly reconstructed Ming Dynasty calligraphers
using brushes of combed unicorn mane dipped into ink made by grinding
down charcoal slabs fashioned by blind stylite monks from hand-charred
fragments of the the True Cross.
The actual contents of the business plan hews to a logical structure
straight out of the _Principia Mathematica_. Lesser entrepreneurs
purchase business-plan-writing software: packages of boilerplate text
and spreadsheets, craftily linked together so that you need only go
through and fill in a few blanks. Avi and Beryl have written enough
business plans between the two of them that they can smash them out from
brute memory. Avi's business plans tend to go something like this:
MISSION: At [name of company], it is our conviction that [to do the
stuff we want to do] and to increase shareholder value are not merely
complementary activities -- they are inextricably linked.
PURPOSE: To increase shareholder value by [doing stuff].
EXTREMELY SERIOUS WARNING (printed out on a separate page, in red
letters on a yellow background): Unless you are as smart as Johann Karl
Friedrich Gauss, savvy as a half-blind Calcutta bootblack, tough as
General William Tecumseh Sherman, rich as the Queen of England,
emotionally resilient as a Red Sox fan, and as generally able to take
care of yourself as the average nuclear submarine commander, you should
never have been allowed near this document. Please dispose of it as you
would any piece of high-level radioactive waste and then arrange with a
qualified surgeon to amputate your arms at the elbows and gouge your
eyes from their sockets. This warning is necessary because once, a
hundred years ago, a little old lady in Kentucky put a hundred dollars
into a dry goods company that went belly-up and returned her only
ninety-nine dollars. Ever since, the government has been on our asses.
If you ignore this warning, read on at your peril -- you are dead
certain to lose everything you've got and live out your final decades
beating back waves of termites in a Mississippi Delta leper colony.
Still reading? Great. Now that we've scared off the lightweights,
let's get down to business.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: We will raise [some money], then [do some stuff] and
increase shareholder value. Want details? Read on.
INTRODUCTION: [This trend], which everyone knows about, and [that
trend], which is so incredibly arcane that you probably didn't know
about it until just now, and [this other trend over here] which might
seem, at first blush, to be completely unrelated, when all taken
together, lead us to the (proprietary, secret, heavily patented,
trademarked, and NDAed) insight that we could increase shareholder value
by [doing stuff]. We will need $ [a large number] and after [not too
long] we will be able to realize an increase in value to $ [an even
larger number], unless [hell freezes over in midsummer].
Phase 1: After taking vows of celibacy and abstinence and foregoing all
of our material possessions for homespun robes, we (viz. appended
resumes) will move into a modest complex of scavenged refrigerator boxes
in the central Gobi Desert, where real estate is so cheap that we are
actually being paid to occupy it, thereby enhancing shareholder value
even before we have actually done anything. On a daily ration
consisting of a handful of uncooked rice and a ladleful of water, we
will [begin to do stuff].
Phase 2, 3, 4, . . . , n - 1: We will [do more stuff, steadily
enhancing shareholder value in the process] unless [the earth is struck
by an asteroid a thousand miles in diameter, in which case certain
assumptions will have to be readjusted; refer to Spreadsheets 397-413 ].
Phase n: Before the ink on our Nobel Prize certificates is dry, we will
confiscate the property of our competitors, including anyone foolish
enough to have invested in their pathetic companies. We will sell all
of these people into slavery. All proceeds will be redistributed among
our shareholders, who will hardly notice, since Spreadsheet 265
demonstrates that, by this time, the company will be larger than the
British Empire at its zenith.
SPREADSHEETS: [Pages and pages of numbers in tiny print, conveniently
summarized by graphs that all seem to be exponential curves screaming
heavenward, albeit with enough pseudo-random noise in them to lend
RESUMES: Just recall the opening reel of "The Magnificent Seven", and
you won't have to bother with this part; you should crawl to us on hands
and knees, and beg us for the privilege of paying our salaries.
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