Episode #5

I have no words...

Michael Smith Jr.


These are not the opinions of my employer, AWS, and the only purpose of this newsletter is to share, learn through sharing, and foster some honest discourse in the community at large.

Prep for the worst but hope for the best:

Wow. I don’t think I can say much about what will happen. I remember when the .com bubble burst so vividly since it hit me right in the face. I left a great paying gig with stock options that were in the money to chase my own .com dream. It was fun while it lasted. We raised 17m USD from the LVMH venture fund - yes, I bet you didn’t know at the time that they had one. Best part is when I got the email to fly to Paris to meet the man himself, guzzle his champagne poured by runway models and hang out with the tech elite of the moment. Good times.

Fast forward to after the crash and I am walking my Aeron chair down the street from Protrero Hill to my loft down on market street. At least I had put a lot of my bubble options cash down on my pad so my mortgage was manageable providing I got a job quick. I called my ex-boss back and was back at BEA Systems in a flash. Once I got back on my feet I requested a transfer. After a few months the boss asked me to meet him in the office to discuss the options for where to move. He said both cities started with an H. One was in Europe and one was in Asia. I only wanted to move to Asia so it was an easy decision.

Email me back if you know the city in Europe that starts with an H that I didn’t want to move to.

Hong Kong was simply awesome. I will cherish those years I spent there forever because that was the last time Hong Kong was the Hong Kong I will remember. I doubt it will ever be the same given what has happened since then.

I eventually left Hong Kong and headed to Thailand. It was new to me, different enough from Hong Kong and just crazy enough to distract me from my early mid-life crisis. I sold my pad, more stock (little did I know how good that timing was for both transactions at the time) and lived like a pauper in Bangkok.

Of course I couldn’t do nothing forever so like any smart tech person, I bought a bar and later a pub and lost most of that money during the Thai coup and subsequent drought in the nightlife business. I blissfully was unaware of the GFC 2008 since I wasn’t really working or investing. I was just surviving my bad decisions to get into the F&B business in a city that doesn’t play by the rules I was accustomed too.

I eventually was able to sell out and find a gig. Moved to Singapore to work for Yahoo, got my PR and settled down to family life. Again - how lucky am I to have been in Singapore during COVID and the next financial crisis that might turn out to be bigger than the one in 2008.

Lots of people like to espouse how smart they are but I usually tell people that a lot of life is luck and timing or both. If I am honest with myself, I know that none of this was of my own design and it feels like it just happens. Sure I try to learn the right things, work at interesting places since God knows I must work, and do my best to have a few good friends I can call to discuss just about anything.

The best part is holding my 1 year old while she sleeps and realizing none of this affects her for now. Let’s hope it stays that way.

My best guess is we have yet to see the global economic fallout from COVID, but I am impressed with Singapore and how they are handling it. I feel incredibly lucky to be here right now and to have a government that is switched on and able to make a difference. I want my Singapore passport so bad right now. :)

Each of you are probably experiencing COVID in a different way and I hope all of you are healthy and stay that way. If anyone is in Singapore and wants to grab a coffee - hit me up with a reply to this. I’ll do what I can.


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