About half-way through Startup.com, a documentary depicting the rise and fall of internet start-up govWorks, there is a montage sequence of magazine covers and headlines showing the company’s founder Kaleil Isaza Tuzman as some sort of business genius. However if you pause on one of the articles (and sadly I do this all the time) you can read the strap-line “(Board member Joel) Hyatt asked whether govWorks would grow slowly and maintain control or grow quickly and lose control. The team chose the latter” which seems a bit odd. Read further in the main text and we find Tuzman quoted Patton at the company’s board: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.” Then a bit further on… “but the inexperienced founders made blunder after blunder… creating a demo site for citizens of Alameda County California and misspelled ‘Alameda’”
It’s amusing to see a article selected to show the rise of the company as actually charting their downfall but it also makes you think about the documentary itself. Because in the film Tuzman is by and large treated like some brilliant businessmen and the company’s downfall attributed to the stock market crash and the site not keeping up technically with the competition. And this technical incompetence is lain at the feet of Tuzman’s co-founder, who in one of the film’s most effecting sequences is kicked out. But do a bit of research and some odd things with the documentary turn up… like why was it not mentioned that the head of govWorks rival who appears in the film was soon after tragically died in a house fire? Instead of being the business genius could it be that Tuzman was well, actually a bit rubbish. Great at talking the talk (and bullying his fellow founders into getting his own way) but may be not so good at walking the walk.
Well govWorks wasn’t the only internet company that imploded during, looking back now, what where totally crazy times. Pity for Tuzman and his crew it was so public.