The Oracle of Apollo Snippets from the life of Apollo Lee

Feb 27, 2001 - 10:02


myplay Retrospective

I saw the ad in Craigslist and popped a resume off. I was living in San José at the time and needed a job badly. Unfortunately, I had no corporate experience to speak of. It was the first resume I’d ever sent in response to an ad on Craigslist, but ten minutes later (even before I’d hung up the Earthlink connection) I had a message. “Can you interview today?” the person I called asked. “Sure.” Then, Ian called me. He wanted to make sure that I knew what I said I knew. He needed me to come in person that day (August 19, 1999). “I’m a flathead V8 engine. Put me in the car and we’ll take this SuperSport 200 miles an hour,” I told him. Somehow, I convinced him.

Over the next few days, I built a pre-release demo single-handedly as he moved his gear up from Los Angeles. I worked around the clock and finished far ahead of schedule. Myplay decided she needed me permanently and the company offered me a salary on September 1, 1999. The salary was low, but I needed a foot in the door. This would be my first major corporate gig and, with all these really cool people I was working with, a hell of a lot of fun.

We launched the service on October 13, 1999, to the raves of a lot of people. There was a launch party shortly thereafter at Slim’s in San Francisco, and I was praised by a few of the people for having built the entire front end single-handedly. Honestly, I couldn’t have done it without the assistance on the help documentation of then-contractor (now-friend) Emmett, who took a massive section off my hands so we could push everything out into the world.

I was still kind of in shock that I could work with a staggeringly bright team of superstars, particularly given that I was recently out of my car, fresh from the frozen wastes of Northern Idaho. In October, the company took us to Las Vegas for an off-site. I danced at Studio 54 with some of my co-workers. Ian found us all nametags from absentees of the Laker convention, or some similar manner of evil, and everyone assumed a secret identity for the evening. Nothing is more funny than seeing our Taiwanese VP of Engineering answering to “Mr. Shapiro”. Heh. I became “Mr. Kincaid.” Giddy fun, I tell you.

Shortly after Vegas, it was time to launch the non-beta version of the service, which we did on November 17, 1999. Myplayers could now make playlists of their music and be really cool DJ people. I immediately posted “House of Jazz” and “Liquid Dreams” and was astonished at how many people were listening to my music. This remains, in my opinion, one of the coolest features of the service.

After we rebuilt the site in May 2000, I was moved into engineering. The redesign was a massive overhaul of absolutely everything on the service, which took Emmett and me a few months to complete, by virtue of the sheer volume of work. Now, the Locker and the playlist features were much more robust and streamlined and easier to use.

When I started at myplay, it was a mostly male shop of engineers, marketing, web production, editorial, and network administrators. Some time in early 2000, I noticed more and more female faces on the marketing side of the building. While there was never a majority of women, there were plenty of attractive young ladies running around — almost enough to distract me (thankfully, I have nerves of steel). Whew.

In celebration of the 2.0 product launch, we went to Vegas again for another off-site, which had me again on the dancefloor at Studio 54, this time accompanied by a lot more people than the four I saw there last time. Even the CEO and Senior VP of BizDev were on the dancefloor with all of us until well after 4 in the morning. And those marketing girls were dressed to kill. Damn.

Some time around that point, our marketing guru, Matt, ordered up some stress balls with the myplay logo. I don’t even care to remember how many times we had seriously exhausting ball wars, but it was great fun. I was one of, like, two people in the company that could throw one of those things halfway across the building and smack the windows, although sometimes those pesky light fixtures got in the way.

With a digital music service that boasted more than five million registered users and the ability to make and post playlists, we built the most amazing service for neophyte digital music fans. The trippy part for me was that I was there, building out the front end and having a magnificent time doing it—not just hearing about this really cool thing, but actually being in the middle of it all.

Unfortunately, myplay was forced to lay some of us of on February 15, 2001. My time had come to move on. I’ll always be a huge myplay fan. I’ll keep making playlists (like the forthcoming Concrete Jungle II and a commemorative playlist in celebration of the 2001 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival). I’ll keep hanging out with current and former members of the myplay family. Working on such a huge and magnificent thing has been the swansong of my career.

Perhaps I’m a little sappy because it was my first “real” job—my first fling with full-time salaried work where the other people respected my opinion, individuality, and capabilities. Maybe it’s a little like falling in love. No matter how wonderful your romances are in the future, you’ll always have a special fondness for that first real love. I think that, no matter where my path takes me, I’ll look back with fondness on that incredible experience.

Thanks, myplay, for the opportunity, and the memories. See you all down the path.