Redfin attended the Technology Alliance annual luncheon today, to see who would win the startup of the year award. I brought my computer to the awards ceremony so I could work in the bathroom. We arrived a little late and tucked right into the meal.
But then we were moved by the speeches about improving Washington’s math and science education, and surprised again at the earnest, communal spirit of Seattle which, after all, has the most active Rotary Club in America. Perhaps a thousand people had come, seemingly for no reason other than to work together to make Washington a better place for new ideas.
And so we were already in a slightly altered state when the awards were announced; despite every effort to remain jaded or cynical, our hearts were racing as Dan Rosen, the master of ceremonies, reviewed each of the nominees.
Dan was so careful about unwrapping the trophy that he didn’t realize the giant screens behind him had already announced Redfin as the winner. When I bounded on stage, he handed me the trophy, then, with equal significance, the bubble-wrap.
For my little acceptance speech, I suddenly remembered the parting advice of Michael Sample, an engineer we hired at Plumtree after he fell off a ladder and broke both his ankles, lost his cafe and much more, then drove across the country to start anew in San Francisco.
Mike was the kind of compulsive person who considered liposuction as a way to lose ten pounds. At my going-away party, he asked what I was going to do with my life (“I don’t know”), then clapped a hand on my shoulder and told me to “f*** with the order of things.”
This advice seemed improbable until I walked into the apartment of Redfin founder David Eraker, and met David, and Bahn Lee and Savan Kong, who had worked all summer without pay to keep Redfin going. This afternoon’s little speech didn’t convey any of the emotions I felt then, though I wish that it had.
Afterwards, dazed with joy, Bahn and I ran after Steve Ballmer (who ran away from us).
Bahn posed with the trophy held high over his head, and Cynthia took his picture. We were all so happy that we couldn’t remember for 20 minutes where we parked the car. And then we went back to work, with Bahn grumbling the whole way that we should have taken more pictures.