Wow. The ninth Blue Moon for TiVo. Those roman numerals are getting impressive!
I'm in a bit of a time crunch this year, so the eagle-eyed among you will notice that I've done some cut and paste work to bring you the story this year. I'm sorry, I just don't have the bandwidth I need to spin the story from scratch this year. I hope you understand.
But first...an update. We had a Blue Moon celebration here at TiVo headquarters yesterday. Just towards the end of the day. A great big beer bash, with stories of the olden days (which you will never, ever hear!), Blue Moon Cookies, Blue Moon Beer...we even broke the very first TiVo DVR out of it's glass case and took photos with it. A lot of fun with a great group of people, old and new.
But you may be asking...Blue Moon. What is it? Some of you probably have no idea, some of you have heard the story before, and a few even remember it by heart. It's a good story.
Tomorrow is the last Friday of March. It's a TiVo holiday. Everyone at TiVo puts down their pencils and goes home to play. It's Blue Moon day.
A Blue Moon is something special, something that happens only once in a great while. It was also the code name for the launch of the very first TiVo DVR.
We were in a race. Our internal goal had always been to ship by March of '99. ReplayTV had shown a similar product at CES in January. March was coming fast and there was a ton of work to do. A lot of behind the scenes stuff, but some customer facing stuff too…like a program guide. We really needed a program guide before shipping the product.
Nevermind all of the backend service support, finishing the manufacturing line, or the qualification hoops that Philips (our manufacturing/retail partner) was demanding we jump through.
There was a big 'reality check' meeting, with reality clearly saying 'You're not going to make it. May is a nice month. Or maybe June. How about August?'. It true TiVo fashion we chose to ignore the nagging little voices that said 'you can't!' and agreed that we could and we would. We knew we had the best product. And we'd worked far too hard to be second to market. And Olivier promised we'd be remembered (yes, we watched a bit of Henry V at the end of the meeting).
We needed a code name, and one of our engineers had noticed that there were two full moons in March of '99. We had our code name - Blue Moon. It's really nice when the code name has the launch date built into it, eh?
The stretch between CES and the end of March was wild. It was the most adrenaline (and caffeine) injected development project I've ever seen. Everyone in the company pitched in - people were in the office 24/7. Literally! Futons were unfolded in the open space. A closet was converted into storage for pillows and blankets (and a smelly closet it was…it had been full of gym gear and spare autoparts before). Our company lunches (we used to have lunch brought in for everyone in those days) became company dinners. People set their normal lives aside, abandoned their families, and lived and breathed nothing but TiVo.
And we did it. At the end of March we all met at the manufacturing line (Our products were built at a subcontractor in east San Jose at the time). Everyone in the company donned blue manufacturing smocks, and walked the line, watching blue and brown boxes with TiVo DVR's in them piling up on pallets and going out the door. Our partners were there. We drank champagne. Took lots of photos. We cheered, we shouted, we laughed. We had every employee sign the carton of the very first TiVo DVR (it's in a display case here at TiVo still). And we beat everyone else to the market and never looked back.
Mike Ramsay, our CEO then, announced that the last Friday in March would be a TiVo holiday, forevermore. Blue Moon Day. He ordered us all to stay home, he was padlocking the doors. Nobody was to come in. Go home and see your family & friends. Tell them the stories. Enjoy some daylight and fresh air. Do whatever you want - but don't come to work.
And we did. Those that have heard the story before may remember that nine months following that first holiday five Blue Moon babies were born. So not everyone took the advice about daylight and fresh air.
And now we're at Blue Moon number nine. TiVo is closed for business Friday. We're all off having a bit of fun. Remembering not only the Blue Moon launch, but the effort that has gone into developing and launching each and every project here at TiVo since. We work hard, but we recognize that we need to play some too. We even move our payday up a day so our finance folks can take the day off. But our customers support team, they'll still be working. Someone has to answer the phones! So please be extra nice to them if you should need to call Friday. It's a special day.
And pat your TiVo doll on the head. Give your DVR a good dusting, change the batteries in the remote, show the little box that you still care. Think good thoughts. Post good things. Because it's getting to be 'a long time ago', and none of us should forget the effort that went into producing the world's first DVR. The St. Crispin's Day speech promised that.
“But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:*
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.”