Reed Magazine February
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2003

e-tailing it out of here

The growth was unsustainable, and the end came quickly. Only one of six warehouses nationwide was breaking even, and Webvan was leaking cash. In the first quarter of 2001, it posted a net loss of $217 million and had accumulated a debt of $830 million. “Most of us really thought Webvan would work,” he says, “but we had no idea just how overextended the company had become.” The stock—worth more than $30 a share at the IPO—dwindled to pennies. Webvan filed for bankruptcy protection July 2001.

As a top executive, Gutierrez saw the end coming sooner than many. Still, he says, “I can’t say I didn’t get caught up in the idea of getting filthy rich.”

But, perhaps because of his working-class background, he largely kept his head (and his shirt) during Webvan’s vertiginous ride. His only big indulgences were trips to Morocco and Australia and a new Passat, the official car of the dot-commer. He also has a basement workbench cluttered with high-end computer hardware, and, yes, he kept his Aeron chair.

Gutierrez worked for Webvan until September 28, 2001, then returned to southeast Portland, where he and his wife own a home. He is unemployed but says that he’s not very worried about finding his next job. He wants to continue doing computer security work, either as a consultant or perhaps by starting his own company. For now, though, he’s grateful that he’s able, at 29, to own a home and to have paid off his student loans and credit-card debt.

“ My grandfather once picked fruit for a living,” he says, “and he always told me: ‘Save your money. Things can change in an instant, in a heartbeat. You need to remember that, and keep it in mind.’”
End of Article

Reprinted by permission from Willamette Week, November 21, 2001.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Today Gutierrez is back working in high-tech, once again for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He leads a team of network and security personnel who manage the global network that provides the Corps with internet access to both commercial and other military networks. In addition Gutierrez’s group is responsible for keeping the network connecting Corps resources such as offices, data centers, super computers, and dams secure from hackers and other information security threats.

Reed Magazine February
Go to Page 1 go to page two go to page three You are on Page 4Link to Reed Mag  Home
2003