It always amazes me how long technology can live after its been created, and the creators have since nearly forgotten about it, and completely moved on.
I started a company back in 1999 with some colleagues. We created an audio fingerprinting system to identify sound recordings irrespective of audio compression type, bit rate, codec, etc. If you're interested, you can read all about in a paper I co-wrote HERE or from one of the key patents available HERE. In any event, at the time I was filled with all these dreams of how far our technology would go, how it would be used all over the world; I was so convinced of our success, that I was even concerned about how my friends would see me when I was filthy rich. Well we sold the company to another company; at the time it wasn't exactly a price or situation to be thrilled about - the market was crashing all around us, our VCs were tapped out, everyone was running to survive, and we all had to get new jobs. My biggest concern was whether we'd have health insurance since my wife was pregnant with our first child. My next biggest concern was whether the technology would see the light of day.
After working like mad to realize technology whose base algorithms you once naively flirted with on a napkin in a restaurant, its truly depressing to know there is a very real chance of it going absolutely no where. I distinctly remember a moment -- standing in the shower sobbing -- distraught that all these good ideas could simply die. I then emotionally unplugged, got a job with some health insurance, and moved on; I had more important things to worry about, like the birth of my first child.
Well surprisingly it turned out the technology lived on. Gracenote started shipping it with a fancy new name and marketing schpeal. And now, after more than 5 years have passed, good old MusicDNA (our buzz word), now called MusicID, is still quite alive and thriving on this Halloween day with thousands of geeks buzzing about it on Slashdot, and making major news headlines like:
Social networking giant MySpace has inked a deal with GraceNote to use the company's MusicID audio fingerprinting technology to review audio users upload to their profiles to make sure it doesn't violate copyright. Using the technology, MySpace intends to block uploads of copyrighted music recordings; users who repeatedly attempt to upload copyrighted material will have their accounts suspended.
I might have thought it'd feel good having something I played a significant role in building from scratch take off. Mostly it just feels odd, maybe even bittersweet -- perhaps something like a tragic relationship that never worked out -- one with lots of screaming and yelling and hair tossing that finally ends in an abrupt departure -- many years later, through some random friend in a random grapevine, you hear that this ex is doing well.