More names from the past


After thinking about Bob Layfield for the last few days, I thought about other people I used to work with, and googled a couple of them. Most of them I either couldn’t find, or found minimal information, but one turned up in a number of places: Alykhan Jetha (known as AJ) is the CEO of a company called Marketcircle, based in Toronto, which makes Mac software.

I don’t remember much about AJ. I worked with him at Comnetix for about a year, maybe a little longer, before he left. One thing I do remember — he was an Amway rep, and tried to get me into it as well. He invited me to lunch one day, saying he had a “business opportunity” for me. I had no idea what Amway was, but he gave me the whole dog-and-pony show. He told me that software development was what he enjoyed doing, and it paid the bills, but the Amway thing was going to make him rich. “In ten years,” he said, “I won’t need to work anymore.” Don’t know how well that worked out, AJ, since you’re still working. Then again, he’s CEO of a company that looks pretty successful, so I’d say he made a good decision or two somewhere along the line. Congratulations AJ!

I have been given the Amway spiel three times now, including once by a guy I didn’t know while in line at Harvey’s. My logic for saying no was that I did not go to university for 6 years, obtaining two degrees in computer science, to get rich selling toilet paper to my friends. That sounds snooty, and I suppose it is, but the real reason is that selling toilet paper and whatever other products they sell will not make you rich. The way you get rich with Amway is by selling the concept of Amway itself, and recruit people to be below you in the pyramid heirarchy. Then when they sell toilet paper to their friends, you get a cut. Do that enough times, and have some good sellers (or even better, more recruiters) below you, and you can make a bundle. Of course, I don’t actually believe in the concept of Amway (it’s just a legalized pyramid scheme that sells products to generate the income, rather than just having people “send $x to the person at the top of the list and then add your name to the end of the list”), so it would be hard for me to sell it, and I would make a lousy salesman anyway.

AJ is actually the second person I used to know who is an executive of a tech company. I first knew Cameron Ferroni through my buddy Jeff, since they were both engineers at UW. I remember thinking his girlfriend Gail was really cute, but way out of my league. Gail and I eventually became friends, and then she and Cameron broke up a couple of years later. A year or two after that, in 1992, she asked me out, we started dating, got married in 1995, had two kids, and are still happy together. After graduating, Cameron started working at Microsoft, where he worked on Windows for a while (writing some Winsock specifications that I’ve actually happened upon at work), and then basically invented the freakin’ Xbox and was General Manager of the entire Xbox software team. Now he’s also happily married and is CTO of a company called Marchex. Hey Cam, if you’re looking for your RAMPage rugby shirt, you left it at Gail’s place, and she gave it to me. I think I might still have it somewhere. Oh, and congratulations to you too!

Update: Forgot a couple: Crispin Cowan was a Ph.D. student at Western when I was there doing my Master’s. He was CTO of a company called Immunix until they were acquired by Novell. Don’t know if he’s still employed by Novell. I remember him describing hockey as a very stupid game, which was as exciting to watch as a packing peanut bouncing around in an air duct. Bastard.

Also forgot Brad Siim, another friend of Jeff’s from engineering. He was one of the founders of PixStream, a Waterloo company that was eventually bought by Cisco for many millions of dollars, making Brad very rich. He was also bored, apparently, since he left Cisco and went on to co-found another company called Sandvine, where he is now COO.

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