Jonathan Bates: The Hundred Thousandaire


Fortune Magazine // September 27, 1999

Your intrepid blog host & writer was featured in the 1999 edition of Fortune Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 issue, with the headline “The Hundred Thousandaire”… read on to see why it was appropriate given the timing of the issue:

San Francisco, 1999:

Working at the center of the Internet world, youthful hubris leaving no doubt that all of us in our 20s were changing the world forever. It was at an endless circuit of launch parties for startups that a friend introduced Jodi, at her first event like this.

As I had liberally made use of the open bar by then, I started riffing like a Boor about dot-commers inheriting rock-star status; changing the world more than electricity; just the worst. Jodi seemed to get that I was “playing” the role of total doofus, not living as one. Ran into her twice more, talked shop.

A few weeks later, several big-shot types I knew emailed to ask why an editor in NYC was asking about me. I didn’t know.

Within 3 days, I got a call from NYC: Fortune had a photographer en route to SF, and would be shooting me in 12 hours. Wouldn’t tell me why… Then a month passes, and every one on my team had a copy of Fortune’s issue on the 40 most influential Internet players under 40. When folks kept staring at me at a bistro over lunch, I asked my top guy what was up.

He showed me this:


Fortune Magazine “Internet Top 40 Under 40” issue featuring Jonathan Bates – 1999 by Jonathan Bates

Can’t Put Your Phone Down During Dinner? Try Picking Up The Check.


Can't put down your smartphone during dinner? Try picking up the check.

Many people, young and old, complain about how technology is doing this or that to their lives. Writers bemoan the loss of real connections, or whatever they think people did before phones/the Internet/computers ruined everything.

Last weekend, for example, the New York Times ran three separate articles on getting away from the plague of always-on communications, as Atlantic contributor Nathan Jurgenson noted.

“In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time,” Pico Iyer wrote. “The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug.”

no mobile phone signFor the past couple of days, a great example of this kind of thinking has been making its way around the Tumblr ecosystem. A San Francisco dancer named Brian ‘Lil B’ Perez and his friends came up with a game to constrain their cellphone use when they’re out having dinner.

Here are the simple rules:

Don’t Be A Di*k During Meals With Friends

The first person to crack and look at their phone picks up the check. Our (initial) purpose of the game was to get everyone off the phones free from Twitter/Facebook/texting and to encourage conversations.

Rules of the Game:

  1. The game starts after everyone has ordered.
  2. Everybody places their phone on the table face down.
  3. The first person to flip over their phone loses the game.
  4. Loser of the game pays for the bill.
  5. If the bill comes before anyone has flipped over their phone everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.


That seems like about the right level of social conditioning necessary to make people think about their technology use. Not soulful wailing, but collective ribbing.