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
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
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.’”
by permission from Willamette Week, November 21, 2001.
Today Gutierrez is back working in high-tech, once again for the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He leads
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
super computers, and dams secure from hackers and other information