Forgoing an Economics PhD scholarship at Stanford in order to join Allaire’s founding team was one of the better decisions I’ve made.
JJ Allaire invented the de facto standard Web 1.0 programming model–mixing snippets of code with HTML to generate dynamic Web pages. I became the architect of Allaire’s flagship product, the first Web application server ColdFusion. Priceline and MySpace were built on ColdFusion and thousands of sites still run on it nearly 20 years after the product was created. Later in my career at Allaire I helped create several of the core standards and technologies behind Web services through work at the W3C, JCP, OASIS and the Apache Foundation.
Allaire was a great startup story. JJ bootstrapped the company on $18k. We raised money from Polaris Venture Partners in 1996, went public in 1999, acquired several companies and merged with Macromedia (now Adobe) in 2001. We built a real business in the middle of Bubble 1.0 with revenues over $100M and positive EBITDA, which was out-of-fashion those days. We also created probably the strongest (at the time) Web developer community. We made many mistakes also. I learned much about startup culture, building teams, hypergrowth, layoffs, positioning, shipping products, competing in empty vs. crowded waters, cannibalization, building communities as well as the costs vs. benefits of standardizaton and open-source. I have many scars.
The early team at Allaire has proven to be very entrepreneurial. JJ Allaire is on his fourth startup now, RStudio, after selling one company to Microsoft and then creating the best weight management mobile app (LoseIt, which is now run by Charles Teague, another of the early Allaire crew). Jeremy Allaire became one of the pioneers of online video and recently took Brightcove public.