Web Masters Episode #7: David Bohnett

Below is a transcription of  Web Masters Episode 7: David Bohnett. To learn more about Web Masters and subscribe, check out the Web Masters podcast page.



The Branding Source: From 1998: The moody GeoCities 'g' by Landor

David Bohnett:

It started with an email blast to maybe 12 friends saying, “Hey, try this new thing. Here’s the link.” And then, I remember I had an email client where I would hear just a little ding every time we had a new registration. And I thought that’s pretty cool. And started to hear it more. And then, a little more. And ding and ding, ding. And so, I really thought, “Hmm, this is going viral pretty fast. We’re not doing anything right now. And there’s people joining. And our big job is to keep up with it.” So, of course, I had to turn that off because there were too many.

We had millions of users and we were at one point adding, I want to say, four or five users every second of every day, 24 hours a day. I mean, we were adding users at a phenomenally fast rate. Just like the social networks have done today. So, it spread like wildfire. You can create your own webpage, you can meet other people. It’s cool. They make it easy. It’s free. That appealed to a lot of people because remember there wasn’t that much to do. It was still very new. And a lot of people it was their very first time getting on the internet, with their very first computer. They needed something to do. And we gave them that opportunity.

Aaron Dinin:

That was David Bohnett and the opportunity he and his team were giving people was an opportunity to join global communities. Now that might not seem revolutionary today because all our big social media platforms are global communities, but David did this in 1994. And think about what it would have been like back then. For all of human history prior to that point, communities were primarily restricted by geographic location. In other words, thousands of years ago you had hunter-gatherer tribes. And slowly that evolved into small farming villages and bigger towns, cities, city-states. And even today, we still operate on a geopolitical landscape based on location and nations. For example, I live in the United States and call myself American. Some of you listeners may be British or Indian or South African or whatever.

The point is, for most of human history we’ve built our communities based on geography. Where you were born dictated who you regularly associated with. But of course, the web changed all that. You could easily be part of a community with thousands or even millions of other people around the world. And those communities, instead of being based on location and shared cultural heritage, could be based on something different. They could be based on interests. That is the opportunity David was giving people. He was giving them the opportunity to build worldwide virtual communities around shared interests. And he called those communities, GeoCities. You ready to hear his story? Great. Let’s get dialed in.

[INTRO THEME]

Aaron Dinin:

Welcome to Web Masters. This is a podcast where we get to hear about how the earliest digital innovators and entrepreneurs turned the internet from being a niche, geeky, academic thing into, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating here, the backbone of modern society. In other words, these are the people we have to thank for all the things you love about the modern world and probably all the things you hate too. I’m Aaron Dinin and your host for this episode. I used to build internet businesses, and now I teach innovation and entrepreneurship at Duke University, where I also spend more time than any person reasonably should studying the history of the internet and the worldwide web, because it is fascinating. And today, do I have a great story for you? If you were on the early web, I’m guessing you lived it firsthand. And if you weren’t, well, much of what you do today on the web is because of what we’re going to learn about.

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Let’s be honest, if you were using the web by the early 2000s, you already know what GeoCities is. In fact, you probably used GeoCities. If you’re particularly nerdy like me and my friends, you probably still occasionally make jokes referencing GeoCities. And so, now we’ve got David Bohnett, the man who created GeoCities. It’s the platform that gave millions of people around the world the ability to launch their first websites. And he’s going to tell us in his own words how and why he built it. As you probably expect, to understand where GeoCities came from, we need to learn a bit more about David and where he came from. So, let’s go ahead and get started there.

David Bohnett:

Ever since high school, I had a great interest in both business and a career in business, as well as computer science. And I was fortunate that in my high school, we had a teletype time-sharing terminal, where I learned basic programming language and could execute those programs on punch tape. So, that was really my first introduction to structured computer programming. And when I was deciding where to go school, I picked the University of Southern California for my undergraduate degree because USC had an early computer science program. I was admitted. I enrolled at USC and I started studying computer science and found out that to get a degree in computer science at that time, you had to get a math degree. A lot of the focus was on the theory of computer design, which of course is a lot of math. But there were a number of programming courses that I took, application programming courses. And that was always my interest, which is the application programming side of software and computers and solving business problems and reporting and information.

Aaron Dinin:

Okay. So, we’ve got David starting kind of where we’d expect. He got exposed to early computers at a young age. I mean, punch card-style teletype machines certainly weren’t in every high school back then. And as he also mentioned, he chose USC specifically because it was one of the earlier universities to have a computer science program. But computer science back then really meant computer design and math. David was mostly interested in programming, which would have been unique in the sense that, at that point, coding wasn’t really an industry in and of itself the same way it is today. And I guess, more importantly, David was also interested in business. So, you had this unique combination, particularly at the time, of someone interested in coding and business. And that led David to his next steps.

David Bohnett:

I ended up getting a business degree from USC. And then went on for my graduate degree at the University of Michigan, with my MBA. Combination of finance, accounting and some marketing. My first job after graduate school was with Arthur Anderson Consulting, which was the systems consulting division of Arthur Anderson and Company. And that was the forerunner to what was then and what is currently Accenture, just a phenomenal systems design organization. So, I started with Anderson Consulting and I was trained in a variety of computer languages. And I was trained in structured program analysis and design. And worked for a number of clients, designing management information systems, whether it was general ledger systems, management reporting systems, inventory systems. I found the work fascinating because it could combine my interest in actual computer software application design with understanding business issues and understanding information that businesses need top rate efficiently.

Aaron Dinin:

So, now we’re talking about the late eighties and early nineties. And you’ve got a software engineer who’s interested in helping businesses operate more efficiently. And then the worldwide web launches in ’91 and, well, that becomes a really exciting tool for a guy like David, because he can combine his interests.

David Bohnett:

I had a lot of background and curiosity and interest in online services prior to my first introduction to the web in 1993. I’d had one of the first IBM PCs. And then when modems came out, I had a 300 baud modem. That just changed everything because you had this hunk of metal on your desk that could run spreadsheets and word processing, but when you had a modem and you could connect a phone line, it created an entirely different experience because all of a sudden this inert machine that was just sitting on the desk doing tasks was now connected to the outside world through the telephone line.

Aaron Dinin:

For reference, a 300 baud modem means the modem transfers data at 300 bits per second. To understand the kinds of speeds we’re talking about here, consider this, the average file size of one of these Web Masters podcast episodes that you love listening to is about 80 megabytes. There are 8 million bits in a megabyte, meaning this podcast is roughly 640 million bits. And assuming my math is correct, which is always a big assumption, with a 300 baud modem, it would take you roughly 2 million seconds to download this episode or over 35,000 minutes or 592 hours, which brings us to roughly 24 and a half days. And that by the way, is assuming you get full transfer speed on that modem for the entire time. So, yeah, David was experiencing a very different internet than the one you and I are used to. But he still saw the massive potential.

David Bohnett:

There were early bullet boards or BBS systems, whether it was about cars or it was about sharing tech information, so you would dial in to a certain number and you would get a menu and you get a list of topics. And then, the online services started to evolve. So, there was Prodigy, there was CompuServe, there was AOL. These were three major online services in the U.S. where they offer their own suite of services. There was email, there was chat, there was news, there was some e-commerce, there was bulletin board topics. So, AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe all had their own walled gardens and their own worlds. You would get a disk and you would load it in your computer. And all of a sudden, you’re online. Initially, these services didn’t talk to one another. You would be within AOL or Prodigy or CompuServe, doing all the things that they would offer and provide. And so, I was always fascinated by these services and an early, early subscriber. When I first read about the web, I thought, wow, this has the potential of being this global AOL, global online service with just enormous opportunity ahead.

Aaron Dinin:

So, it sounds like you’re seeing these siloed web portals and you’re thinking they need to be joined. Is that kind of what brought you to the GeoCities concept, building more of a global un-siloed platform?

David Bohnett:

I knew I wanted to build a business around what I thought was going to be great potential of the internet. And the first thing that we built… And created a company with a very ill-chosen name, Beverly Hills Internet, because I had an apartment in Beverly Hills and that’s where the company started… and it was a web hosting company. So, I bought a Sun SPARC server station and just started to put the word out that me and, at the time, then my co-founder John Rezner, we’re starting web hosting. And we would create very simple rudimentary websites for companies that wanted to have a presence on the internet. This was at the time when seeing an internet address in your business card or in an ad was very unusual.

Aaron Dinin:

Okay. So, you’re building websites for companies because you’re seeing that professionals want websites, but GeoCities was personal websites, right? So, how did you get from professional websites for clients to personal websites for everyone?

David Bohnett:

We started to build up clients doing web hosting. It just wasn’t necessarily my passion, but it was building an internet-based business. At the same time, I started to see a few early, early video cameras connected on the internet, very, very early. They weren’t even called webcams, necessarily. And there was a fish cam pointed at a aquarium tank. There was a famous coffee pot cam, the Cambridge coffee pot as its own Wikipedia page, where engineers in Cambridge really didn’t want to have to go downstairs to see if there was coffee so they wired up a video camera to see if there was coffee in the coffee pot.

David Bohnett:

And although those two things just sound very esoteric, what it demonstrated to me was the power of the medium with regard to video and how important this could potentially be for everyone to create their own videos, create a sense of place. So, I was fascinated by these webcams as well. I thought, well, if we could put webcams in a few different places… And I had a friend that had an office in Hollywood at the corner of Hollywood and vine. And I said, “Can I point this video camera out your window and put this little Sun SPARC station?” And they had no idea what I was talking about. But I had a camcorder that had a video output. And we soldered that video output to a video card on a Sun SPARCstation and created webcam. You couldn’t buy webcams. You couldn’t even buy interface cards. And so, that would refresh every eight seconds the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

David Bohnett:

And then, we had a cam pointed at a bus bench on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Because webcams were so new, started to attract a lot of traffic. Anywhere in the world, you could see what was going on in Hollywood or see what was going on on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. It was very unique. It did generate a lot of traffic. And I thought, what can we do to capitalize on this traffic we’re getting? And then there was the merger of my experience with the online services and my experience in building this business on the internet. I thought, why don’t we create communities of interests where people can set up their own free web pages on any topic in the world?

Aaron Dinin:

I can’t overstate how revolutionary this idea actually was. Yes, the web existed. And yes, companies were starting to put up websites. But individuals, they didn’t need their own websites, they didn’t need their own unique spaces online where they could post pictures about themselves or discuss their interests, engage with other people who were maybe interested in similar topics. What a strange idea that was. Except, people loved it. And how did David know they would?

David Bohnett:

Well, I had learned through my own experience that one of the things we all have in common in humanity is the desire to connect with one another, the desire to tell your story or share your knowledge. And in my life, I’ve just had opportunities where it’s been very important to share who I am, what are my interests and find other people who share those same interests. And I think that’s a common theme across us as people, the desire to share, the desire to meet others who share some of the same interests and passions.

Aaron Dinin:

And so, what you’re basically describing here as the foundations of a modern digital social network, right? I mean, even though that’s not what it was called back then.

David Bohnett:

So, it was an early social network founded on the principle that everyone has something they’d like to share and giving everybody an opportunity to contribute and participate in the new medium. We built a series of applications for everyone to create their own webpage. I wrote all the initial native HTML. I had to write different native HTML templates for the different online services, because that’s just how people were getting online at the time, that the internet was AOL and CompuServe and Prodigy, and just a few independent ISPs like EarthLink.

I would then say, “Well, let’s have webcams in places. And we will borrow on the brand equity of these place names for the themes of the communities.” We would use Wall Street for finance, for example, and Hollywood for entertainment and Nashville for country music and Area 51 for science fiction and UFO’s. And although we didn’t end up having webcams in all those places, that narrative resonated with people. And you would join GeoCities. And you had to pick a neighborhood based on a theme. You’d actually pick a two-dimensional topology of a street and a location. And you knew you were joining a neighborhood of people who had a similar interest, about anything, sports, photography.

It was all subject matter based. And we gave people the tools to create their own webpages around these subjects because a lot of people have a lot to share about their passions. Maybe it’s books, maybe it’s music, maybe it’s fan pages. We organize this in a way that people felt a sense of community, because there were other people that were in the same virtual neighborhood creating similar kinds of pages. You could reach out to, you could communicate with them, you could share information. And it just started to take off. And people would start to publish their GeoCities page and their emails and tell their friends about it. Just like the social networks today. It became very, very, very popular because people were feeling a sense of participation and a sense of meeting other people, particularly meeting other people of similar interests.

Aaron Dinin:

Okay, everyone, let’s pause for a moment to add some more historical context. And it goes back to what I mentioned at the beginning of this episode. Historically, and I’m talking for thousands and thousands and thousands of years of human history, we grouped ourselves by location. In that world, the ways different communities interacted and connected were basically through two mechanisms, trade and war. You either liked other communities and worked with them or you hated other communities and tried to conquer them. Either way, that’s how information spread between cultures. But as information technologies evolve, it changes how information gets transferred. And I’m not just talking about the internet, books and the telegraph and radio and TV all played a part in this transition as well.

So, the web and a platform like GeoCities is actually sitting on top of this massive infrastructure of cultural knowledge transmission that’s been building since the beginning of human history. And I suppose, technically, it’s been building even before that. In fact, there’s a distinguished literary scholar at University of California, Santa Barbara, named Alan Liu, who sums all this up nicely in an article about social media called Friending The Past. Professor Liu points out that, “In the age of digital networks, spatial barriers to sociality seemed fewer and less impassible. This is due to technological progress, but it is also due, in great part, precisely to the fact that the dirtiest work of war, pacification, oppression in modern empire building has already been done to create a world safe for the transport of both capital and information. Web 2.0, in other words, is a libertarian pygmy standing on the shoulders of a tyrant ogre. As a result, spatial political barriers that once took muscular civilizations centuries, if not millennia, to traverse by pushing through roads, et cetera, are now over-leaped in milliseconds by a single finger pushing sand.”

And that’s what David and GeoCities is capitalizing on. All the messy work of empire building and road building and fiber optic cable laying took thousands upon thousands of years. But please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying any of what David had to do was easy. In fact, most of what David and GeoCities did was create even more infrastructure to harness the desire people had for building communities around shared interests.

David Bohnett:

We had to develop everything from scratch, web page editors and everything, to build the infrastructure for this site, make sure it’s available and display the pages and create the neighborhoods. But the fundamental idea of giving away free webpages wasn’t necessarily unique. It was the idea of doing in the context of a community of interests. And even that wasn’t necessarily unique, but we did it very effectively. And we communicated to the users that we appreciate your participation here. You are creating the content. It’s an advertising and e-commerce supported model. Everybody knew that from the beginning. We always respected the users even more than if they were paying customers because they were the ones that were creating the content. So, we never took our users for granted. We were always focused and centered on providing them the tools and the services and the reliability and the speed, the more they shared, the more we benefited. And that was sort of the value proposition.

Aaron Dinin:

And how’d you decide what to give them?

David Bohnett:

We asked them. I had a sense, let’s create the basic structure of a service where people could pick a community of interests, create a basic webpage, and then we’ll learn from there. It’s a good question, Aaron, because I think that was another big part of our success. We never presumed we knew what people wanted. We have to look, we have to observe, we have to ask what people wanted. And then execute that based on our own priorities and resources. It was a user-centric culture. So, we would have suggestions and forums and tell us what you like. And as we would add new features to these utilities… What would you like to do? One of the big things people wanted to do was write their own HTML.

With Facebook and Instagram, it’s very structured in terms of how your participation is. You can’t go into Facebook and really create too much custom stuff. But what we did was, “Hey! Okay. You want to create your own page and write your own HTML? Have at it.” It was those kind of enhancements over time, creating better page editors, more support for different file formats, things like that, that would keep the site fresh and keep the site with more and more engaging things to do.

Aaron Dinin:

Okay. But devil’s advocate here, one of the jokes about GeoCities is how crazily and horribly designed and cluttered a lot of the sites were. And of course, the same thing happened later to, I think it was Myspace, right? They all became very clutter-looking sites. So, one of the things Facebook and current social network seems to have done really well is establish consistency for people’s personal online spaces. Is that because allowing for infinite customization, like what you’re talking about, just isn’t scalable?

David Bohnett:

Well, as a matter of fact, it is. Myspace was really just a cacophony and a Wild West. You can create a structure for people to contribute and participate, and you can create areas of customization that are way beyond things we’re allowed to do today. And that’s kind of the operative word with some of these social networks. And I think why there will continue to be evolution beyond Facebook and Instagram, people want to do more than those services provide. And there are others that will and continue to evolve in ways that expand those opportunities. So, yeah, I’m of a viewpoint that I don’t like being forced into the format of how I can contribute and participate.

Aaron Dinin:

Fair enough. I’ll buy that there’s more to come after the current generation of social media. If anything, I think that actually gives me some hope for the world.

David Bohnett:

What I’ve found in my fairly long career in tech and in software is what we see as new has fundamental historical precedence. And I think that’s a lot of what you’re trying to get at in these podcasts is, what was it like at the time, in the beginning of the internet days? And you’ve chosen to do these podcasts because you’re actually curious about the history of the internet. So, I think that this fits right into the question you just asked.

Aaron Dinin:

And David is exactly right. There’s so much to be learned from the repeating cycles of innovation throughout history. And that’s what this podcast is trying to help us with. So, let’s keep moving forward on that journey by learning how David and GeoCities dealt with unprecedented and massive growth. I mean, at its peak, GeoCities was one of the most heavily trafficked websites in the world. But if you remember from what David has already told us, or from your own personal experience, they were giving people websites for free. So, how did they support their enormous scale?

David Bohnett:

We had to raise a lot of venture capital financing. We had to raise numerous rounds of subsequent financing to keep up with the growth. The difference between then and today is there was no cloud. There were no ad servers. There were no traffic management. We had to build everything from scratch. We had to have rooms and rooms and racks and racks and racks full of servers and data storage and write all the infrastructure around all that. And that just took a lot of money and a lot of people. Whereas today, so much of that is plug and play. You can start and run a company much more efficiently than what we could do. But in any case, we did it because we had to. And raised subsequent rounds of venture capital financing.

The business was ad-supported and e-commerce supported. Now, when we started, there was still no banner ads anywhere on the web. This was just the hope and promise and anticipation that this would turn into an ad-supported medium. Everybody thought, but nobody knew. You then started to see a few advertisers start with some test campaigns. But the attractiveness of our model, which has endured with all these other social networks is targeted audiences. We had communities of interest, demographic information, we knew who people were, we knew about them, and we knew what their pages were about. That, ultimately, was very attractive to advertisers and sponsors and e-commerce deals. But it was very, very early. It was still very unproven. And a lot of what we tried has come to pass, but it was very unknown at the time.

Aaron Dinin:

I mean, I’m sure that must’ve sounded crazy. How were you selling this crazy model nobody had ever heard of before to VCs? What were you pitching them?

David Bohnett:

There are, and there will be, any number of ways to monetize this traffic. But the hardest thing to do is to build up this level of growth and this level of viral growth. We never paid for any traffic. We never paid for any users. So, from that standpoint, it was extremely unique at the time. There were investors that truly bought into it and they were visionaries, companies like SoftBank. It was four years later after we started that we went public. Going public is just another financing, except you’re raising money from the larger public and institutions. We hired underwriters that would go out and promote our offering. The timing was very, very frothy. It was a very hot time in the internet. People were starting to recognize the potential future value of these companies. And so, we had a successful public offering in ’98.

Aaron Dinin:

Would you mind talking a bit about what it was like running one of the biggest internet startups during the peak of the 90s dot-com boom? I mean, I got to know.

David Bohnett:

I remember that other companies were going public around that time and they would have their stock price on the display in the lobby. And I said, “I would very much discourage anyone from watching the stock price or for any public posting of the stock price, because you can’t personally affect the stock price. You can only affect the things that affect the stock price.” And I think we had a very strong culture that everybody pretty much knew what our mission was and they knew how to operate independently within a larger framework.

Aaron Dinin:

And what was the mission? Can you verbalize it for us?

David Bohnett:

Giving everyone the opportunity to contribute and participate in the new medium of the internet, share their knowledge and meet others of similar interests.

Aaron Dinin:

So, that was your mission, but that mission got overwritten by someone else’s mission pretty soon, right? Because, I mean, you didn’t stay public very long.

David Bohnett:

I thought we would have a long life as an independent public company, but there was a land grab for companies with high traffic. We had a lot of high traffic and Yahoo was very highly valued at the time. And so, we did a phenomenally large deal that benefited quite a few people. And I’ve always been very grateful and appreciative.

Aaron Dinin:

So, you basically built one of the first enormous social networks. Looking back on that, what do you think about social media and internet culture as we know it today, based on the foundation that you, in essence, created?

David Bohnett:

Let’s talk a minute, how things have evolved. We’ve talked about culture. I’ve always felt it was important to develop a culture of social responsibility. There was very clear guidelines that evolved over time on what was allowed and what was not allowed on the site. Some obvious, but some not so obvious. We’re going to make the rules in terms of the type of content that’s allowed. Behavior, speech, this was all very strictly enforced. And this was all very comprehensively laid out because I thought we have a responsibility, we have a social responsibility here. And this is the kind of company that I want to build, where people contribute on these subjects in these methods and you’re free to join, or you’re free to leave. We didn’t tolerate hate speech. We didn’t tolerate a lot of what is tolerated now online. We set that culture and tone very deliberately. I’ve been surprised that other companies have not recognized their social responsibility, the same way we have, and they are allowing behavior and speech and content that we never would have allowed on GeoCities.

Aaron Dinin:

But how did you moderate that? I know it’s something the big social media platforms are struggling with today. What was your team doing?

David Bohnett:

We had our own monitoring. We developed a lot of our own monitoring software. And then we had tools that we would empower our community leaders. So, we would ask for volunteers to become volunteer monitors, community leaders. And we gave them tools to kick people off, to warn people. And that’s how we kept the site standards. We couldn’t do it all ourselves. We could do a lot. The things that the social networks and other mass communication platforms need to do are doable. There’s precedent for it. And there’s precedent for it in the broadcast networks. There’s precedent for it in the radio networks. And so, this idea, “Well, the internet is so new. The same rules don’t apply.” Well, that’s (beep). It’s really time for, in many ways, just to recognize that this is a medium that needs regulation, just like we regulate other medium. It doesn’t mean you’re going to constrain legitimate free speech, but unregulated mass medium is danger for society.

Aaron Dinin:

I also wonder if there’s a difference in expectations around what kind of content gets posted on the platforms too. I mean, the way people post on GeoCities was just different, right? The internet had a very different culture back then.

David Bohnett:

I wanted to create a site where people could share their knowledge about the world, about politics, about science, about sports. We were not about a self-referential. We’re not about, join a community to talk about yourself. Join a community to talk about what other people are interested in the community, not yourself. You have the knowledge that you’re sharing with people, but you’re sharing your knowledge, you’re not sharing what you had for lunch or some highly curated version of your personal life. That’s the part that I find discouraging and disappointing is where can you go today that is such an enormously large, cohesive community, where the mission is for people to share their knowledge. It’s like a university, you’re there to learn and to share. And I don’t know where you can do that today. And I don’t even know if it’s possible. There’s sites like Wikipedia, there’s sites like Pinterest, there’s sites like Reddit. Yeah. It’s not the same. And I’m extremely discouraged by this egocentric, self-referential focus now that is dominating social media. Will that evolve? I don’t know. But I think it’s been a deleterious factor in society in many ways.

Aaron Dinin:

Ah, the early days of the internet, those were simpler times for sure. Can you imagine a world where your Instagram feed was filled with people trying to teach you about science instead of showing you how amazing their vacation was? But here’s my one bit of pushback and it’s that the world is a big place with lots of different interests and passions. GeoCities was just the start of that. And it existed at a time when access to the internet was still significantly limited to people with the appropriate means. Remember, computers and internet connections were, relatively speaking, significantly more expensive in the late nineties and early 2000s so you really only had a small subset of people online.

As access to the web increased, it brought more people, more diversity and more online communities, cities so to speak. And that diversity, of course, brings lots of different interests, more than GeoCities probably ever could have imagined. And it’s that exponentially larger scale that the Facebooks Instagrams, Twitters and YouTubes of the world are having to deal with.

At the same time, we also can’t just pretend internet access is some sort of universal thing today because that’s actually not true either. And in fact, it’s David who reminds us of this. Since selling GeoCities, David has dedicated a huge part of his life and his resources to helping more people gain access to the internet through his David Bohnett Foundation.

David Bohnett:

After I sold GeoCities, I set up a nonprofit foundation. And one of the things we started to do was create, they’re called CyberCenters, but they’re basically just internet labs. You go in and there’s a computer and it’s free and you can use the computer and apply for a job or create a resume. 20 years ago I thought, “This is important. Not everybody has their own computer. But I doubt we’ll be doing this 20 years from now.” And the need now is just as great. We have 60-something of these community centers all around the country and some at universities. And it’s astounding, other people don’t have access to the internet, don’t have the tools, which is even more distressing. So, that’s been one of our favorite programs and it’s something that we will continue to support.

Aaron Dinin:

So, in a way, it actually turns out that David sold GeoCities in order to pursue exactly what he described earlier as the GeoCities mission.

David Bohnett:

Giving everyone the opportunity to contribute and participate in the new medium of the internet, share their knowledge and meet others of similar interests.

Aaron Dinin:

How cool is that? David is someone who has been a huge believer in the power and the opportunity of the web from its earliest days. And he spent a career, both at GeoCities and now with his Bohnett Foundation, trying to share that opportunity with as many people as possible. And to be completely selfish, I’m glad he’s been so successful because, well, the more people there are in this world who love the internet, the more people there are to love this podcast.

And that’s it for this episode. If you did love it, or even if you just liked it a little bit, I hope you’ll consider subscribing, giving us a great review on your podcast platform of choice and sharing it with your friends. I’d like to thank David Bohnett for spending the time with me to tell his story. If you’re interested in learning more about the great work of the Bohnett Foundation, check it out at bohnettfoundation.org. I also want to thank our sound engineer, Ryan Higgs, for helping turn my marathon conversations with people like David into much easier to listen to episodes. And thanks to our amazing sponsor latonas.com. Don’t forget to check them out if you’re interested in buying or selling an internet business.

Also, while you’re checking other things out, don’t forget to check out my Twitter. I’m @aarondinin, that’s A-A-R-O-N-D-I-N-I-N. I also write lots of startup and entrepreneurship articles over on medium.com. And you can just search for my name there.

If you’ve got questions, comments, thoughts, or feedback about this episode, unfortunately you can no longer reach us on our GeoCities page. So, I guess that means you’re going to have to find us on Twitter. We’re @webmasterspod. I look forward to hearing from you there, or really, wherever else you’d like to engage with us on this big, magical, global connectivity space we like to call the internet. Until then, I guess it’s time for me to sign off. Goodbye.