Richie called me yesterday evening as soon as he was back from Breckenridge. In spite of more than a twenty year communication lapse othing has changed for the two of us, and in fact we decided on the spot on our next car travel journey -- the total solar eclipse of 21aug-17 right here in the good old USA ...http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/in_the_path.htm
I hadn't wanted to mention it before but Richie brought something up entirely on his own that I want you to know about. You see, DEC made Richie a millionaire thirty years ago, one of about a dozen key technical people bound to the company by engineering VP Gordon Bell using golden chains that were a mixture of cash and stock options. I've no idea how much better Richie has done financially since then -- it's not the kind of thing he and I talk normally talk about -- but Richie said that not only would he like to get involved, he wants to make a financial contribution himself, size and timing unknown.
Richie believes he has an even better way to get to Gates -- someone he knows who, I think he said, actually works for Gates at the Foundation. Richie thinks that getting to use Gates' name to open doors is entirely feasible, but he further agrees with me that getting Cutler involved anyway also would be a good idea.
Richie is now Chief Technology Officer at X-IO in the Springs. They make advanced storage systems and, Donald, I have zero doubt that if you were to ask for a system for the museum capable of storing a thousand terabytes, they would provide it at no cost if the museum agreed to be a reference and publicity account for them.
These are the kind of people you're about to get involved with. They won't want to run the museum -- they will want you to continue to do that -- they just will want to know that whatever funds, goods or services they send CRRM's way are going to be used for the greater good of the nation and/or the world. They are the same kind of people you deal with now every day- self starters who became successful through hard work and innovative thinking -- it's just that they stumbled into something so good that you have to append two or three trailing zeroes to all the usual numbers. Life has been good to them, now they want to give back.
And remember ... The cardinal sin in startup financing is failing to ask for enough money to ensure success. Nobody wants their money to have gone to waste simply because the recipient had not planned in sufficient depth.
What makes CRRM unique among startups is that you're already a going concern. When you talk about the museum and your plans for it, everyone will understand that you are not speculating -- you've already built the proof of concept, and you made it grow all by yourself. You have exactly the track record of success that makes potential large donors feel comfortable that you know how to use money as a tool.
I won't name names but someone at CRRM told me that the vanished Thomas cars should have been replaced years ago. This is nonsense and these kinds of big potential donors will agree. You needed those funds for other immediate purposes to help fuel the museum's growth. I assume you figured that at the time the Thomas Cars promissory note was called as it now has been, you'd work something out. That's the kind of self confidence that separates the startup winners from the losers, and it's something that these people will be looking for -- your ability to put plans together on the fly and somehow make them work in spite of major negative suprises.
Richie also thought my ideas about penetrating Hollywood to be entirely feasible. I will say to you that musicians Neil Young and Rod Stewart are huge model railroading fans, and I'm very confident that Stewart would love to be recognized as a member of CRRM's "One to One Scale Club". My music producer friend Tom Werman knows everybody who was in the music business back in the day so I'm confident that we could network our way to Stewart if you wanted to do that. What a wonderful attention-getting addition to the board he would be.
Stewart fulfilled a lifetime dream when Model Railroading Magazine featured his layout on its front cover. A related story is here ...http://www.therichest.com/expensive-lif ... ollection/
When he was still touring, Stewart spent his free time in hotel rooms scratch building scenery and rolling stock. I have no doubt that everything you see in those photos was built by Stewart himself.
Having spoken with Richie yesterday evening I know now for sure that you will be allowed to take this museum just as far as you want it to go. Speaking for myself, train rides come and go, as do locomotives, but the Richardson Library is properly the museum's long term legacy to mankind. I would be intensely proud to have played a part in making it possible for people all over the globe to do research at Richardson online. I think we're talking about something similar to Project Gutenberg here, and I think the big money people would be in favor of helping to make it happen.
I would like whatever role I may play in this to be kept quiet, for the same reasons that whatever tiny financial contributions my wife and I are able to make to CRRM should be kept anonymous. We are conservative altruists -- Quakers in fact, though I find myself surprised to use that term to describe me at this late stage of life. If we were to take tax deductions for our contributions, that would taint the contributions in our eyes. If I were to deduct driving mileage, that would not be right for us. We don't suggest that others should feel the same way, I'm simply saying what we personally believe is right for our relationship with The Universe.
The one exception is a brick I would like to now buy by credit card, with the inscription "Mike and Evalyn McCarthy, 2015". I would like it placed as near Bob LeMassena's new brick as is reasonable.
I would like you to think about you and Rick using me in the way I was used in my early days at DEC, which is as a troubleshooter and startup guy. My first DEC boss was a management wunderkind named Dave Stone. His boss was Larry Portner, the VP of Software Engineering, though in the early days it was called simply the Programming Department.
Anyway, on more than one occasion I received marching orders from some combination of Stone and Portner, the orders basically saying "We have decided to do X. We know you've been the biggest opponent of X, therefore we are tasking you with making X fly since you know more than anyone else about its vulnerabilities. Let us know when X is up and running to your satisfaction. Then we'll turn it over to a team of people for operations while you move on to the next problem."
That's who I am, Donald. A problem solver who prefers to work in the background. I'm a startup guy, not an operations guy. The two skill sets are entirely different.