April 2000: TechRepublic editors put the *almost* in almostEverest

During the DotCom boom era, Internet companies did all sorts of crazy things. TechRepublic was no exception. Eight years ago, two TechRepublic editors went to Nepal and participated in an adventure we called AlmostEverest. See how the trek went and what venture capital would buy you at the turn of the century.

As TechRepublic closes in on its 10th Anniversary, it's interesting to look back and see where we've been. One of the most interesting places was Nepal in a project called almostEverest. The idea behind the project was to take two TechRepublic editors (Michael Jackman and David Bard), equip them with the most rugged of mobile equipment, and send them up Mount Everest and see what would happen.

Well, they didn't actually go to Mount Everest itself. Actually, they wound up going to a large mountain in the same range, but a few peaks over called Island Peak. That was why it was called AlmostEverest.

The press release announcing almostEverest included quotes from Michael and David as well as TechRepublic founder Thomas Cottingham:

"As representatives of the entire community of IT pros, we are excited to be taking this type of technology to the highest mountain range in the world," said Bard.

"If we can make this type of high- technology equipment work on the roof of the world, IT professionals around the world can make this same equipment work wherever they are," added Jackman.

"Climbing a mountain in the Himalayas is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Tom Cottingham, president and CEO of TechRepublic. "We're excited to add an educational component to the expedition that clearly demonstrates the power and potential of technology."

The press release also noted that

TechRepublic's 520,000 members will also be involved in the climb, providing solutions to Bard and Jackman for any technological difficulties that may arise. Taking advantage of the access and community that the Internet provides, the climbers will attempt to solve their problems by implementing the solutions submitted by TechRepublic members from around the world.

Blogging before blogging was cool

Over the course of the months of April and May in 2000, Michael and David undertook an early form of blogging whereby they would record what happened that day and then beam it back via satellite phone to our offices in Louisville. Editors here would then post the information to the site and send out updates to TechRepublic members via a special newsletter called the TrekMail.

All of the original posts still reside on TechRepublic, but we've changed publishing platforms a couple of times since then, so they're hard to find. However, here are a couple of the key entries from the trip:

Almost almostEverest

Neither Michael nor David made it all the way up the mountain. Dave had gotten altitude sickness at one point and Michael continued on without him. Michael went up a few thousand feet higher and then turned around and came back down the mountain.

The whole trip didn't really accomplish much. But, in the era of the DotCom boom, it didn't have to. The official point was to test out technology in extreme conditions, and even though the trek up the mountain failed, the technology by and large succeeded.

And although neither of them made it up the mountain to plant the TechRepublic flag on the top of Island Peak, they survived the whole ordeal much to the surprise of many TechRepublic members. A few of them had even organized a Deadpool of sorts whereby they were going to gamble TechPoints to see who wasn't going to make it back. Not completely out of character, huh?

What a difference 8 years makes

Both David and Michael have moved on from TechRepublic since then. Since they went up the mountain, TechRepublic was acquired by the Gartner Group and then CNET Networks. The New Economy of the DotCom era faced the realities of the Old Economy, drying up the unending supply of money for Internet companies. Finally, TechRepublic's 520,000 members mentioned in the AlmostEverest press release has ballooned to over 4 million.

Even though chances are we may not actually go up Mount Everest again, we like to think we're constantly conquering new metaphorical mountains to bring TechRepublic members new and interesting content.