It’s been a long road since my college apartment in Palms while attending UCLA where Loren Data began. The official first day of Loren Data is the day I graduated. Back in 1987 the job market sucked (sound familiar) and I found myself making twice as much programming PCs with dBASE and Clipper than I could with a job in my field (Chemistry and Materials Science).
My trusted friend, advisor and angel, Michael McGinley at the same time tooka job at this little start up in Thousand Oaks for a measly $18,000 a year. We still had to pay for all his beer he was making so little. Wouldn’t you know it he ends up being employee #226 at AmGen.
I’m often asked how one goes into business for themselves and how to be successful. The answer is the same for both, just do it. (Sorry Nike.) Nothing more, nothing less. An early mentor, Herb Gleike of Altawood Aerosols (the king of spray paint, and the young chemist who fixed the fuel tanks on the Spruce Goose), a curmudgeon with a pipe, said, “Todd, here’s the secret to business: Don’t ever give up.” I never have.
The last 10 years have been quite a lesson in “not giving up.” Introducing a new model to a market is always hard, but nothing like trying to do it with a monopolist fighting you at every turn, and few others willing to stand by your side. I can only keep thinking of the story of David vs. Goliath; and we know who won that epic battle.
But today, I celebrate. 25 years of innovating, creating, and serving my customers. So here is a trip down memory lane:
- Loren Data’s first computer: Compaq Deskpro 286/12 and still in my storage unit along with my Mac SE.
- First printer: Epson FX-286e
- First mascot: Bitbucket the goldfish
- Second mascot: Edison Carter, a cat
- First real office: 6733 Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045 (ECR High School friend Steve Solomon leased it to me.
- First national customer: Patrick Media Group (now Clearchannel Outdoor). The introduction was by lifelong friend, Marc A Friend, now an extremely successful VC.
- First company cell phone: 1988 and it was a brick
- U.S. Air Force Contract 1992 with AFNAFPO
- Commerce Business Daily Today launches 1994, now FBODaily.com
- LD.COM domain acquired December 1994
- 10MB Fiber Connection directly into Los Nettos (Information Science Institute) and met the late, great Jon Postel
- World-Wide EDI Certified by Department of Defense 1997. I have to mention Col. Michael McFarren and Cpt. Lebbeus “Lib” Curtis, two treasured mentors who were the visionaries of FACNET and the inspiration for ECGrid.
- ECGrid conceived 1999
- First ECGrid customers 2000: SPS Commerce and Energy Services Group (and still customers today!)
- First battle with GXS 2001
- IBM as an ECGrid Customer: 2004
- First prerelease of ECGridOS: 2005
- Major launch of ECGridOS: 2008
- Filed Federal Antitrust Lawsuit Against GXS: 2010
- 2012: Still not giving up!
I could not have done this without all the fantastic employees and advisors. Not that anyone I miss is anything less, but here are a few highlights:
Shael Lewis: First employee…young and amazing programmer. Moved a cot and himself into the office for a few months. Drove around in a VW Bug that had no front seat and sat on a milk crate.
Eddie Lovelock: Loved to fly. Built up hours flying us all over California for installs and emergency fixes. Even flew the whole staff to Las Vegas for Comdex one year. Captain Lovelock is now the Chief Pilot for Disney!
Fernando Garcia: Another great programmer, supplemented his pay sharking the pool tables…he was nationally ranked.
Jared Vishney: Spent his senior year at UCLA working for Loren Data. Quite the IT marketer if you can every get your hands on him.
Regina DeSimone: The best assistant I ever had. What’s up, Reg?
Michelle Pinkerton: My heart goes out to you.
Gary Koepnick: No better partner in crime. An athlete’s athlete. How I ever managed to keep up with him playing racquetball I’ll never know.
Dave Sievers: Walked in at the right time when I needed the quintessential customer service manager.
Greg George: My college roommate came in part time and really helped focus the company and launch ECGrid.
Don Reigrod: Another college pal. Don will never come work for me. However, he is a salesman extraordinaire and has been a trusted advisor. Don squated on an e-mail address at LD.com because he could spell his name with it…
The current team including Kristine, Crystal, Shelley, Alan and Tom are unmatched in talent and passion. I thank all of you for the magic that is the first 25 years of Loren Data.
Also, a big huge thank you to all my customers, past, future and present, it is only for you that Loren Data exists.
One more thank you, to my mom, Marcia Gould. Mom, you are my inspiration, my motivation. I see all that you have done, and know that whatever I achieve, it is because I have the perfect role model.
The next 25 years looks to be amazing. Once we win the current battle, the sky’s the limit. Can’t wait to have you join us.
President and Employee #1
Loren Data Corp.