PICnet turns 10!

Co-founder Grey Frandsen during the early days of PICnet
PICnet co-founder Grey Frandsen during the early days of PICnet

It seems like only yesterday that Grey Frandsen and I were sitting in BJ’s Pizza near UCLA in Westwood, California, talking about a concept we believed could provide the world with insight into local politics from around the globe.  It was March 20, 2000, and the concept was called the Political Information Center Network.

Being an efficiency snob, I thought we needed a shorter name.  Grey, with loads of experience from the NGO world and a taste of government experience, thought the acronym “PICnet” might be fitting, because, as I can clearly remember after a long debate on the matter on the steps of my apartment building in Westwood, “it’s the one the sounds most similar to ‘picnic’, and I like food…so I vote for ‘PICnet’.”

The rest, they say, is history.  Well, you can actually see a little bit of history of PICnet courtesy of the Wayback Machine’s image of our early test site on May 11, 2000!

We’ve always been a team that listened to the marketplace, and built the business according to the needs of organizations and the economic realities. Fittingly, it didn’t take long for us to figure out that while we wanted to find ways technology could better serve the refugees we met in Tirana, Albania during the conflict in 1999, our goal to create a network of political reporters around the world wouldn’t be reached during a time where Yahoo! was the world’s search engine and “content is king” was the mantra of the day.  That, and the millions of dollars being pushed around Silicon Valley during the dot-com bubble, meant that funding and support was going elsewhere.

Our March 20, 2000 meeting notes sketching out an early PICnet
Our March 20, 2000 meeting notes sketching out an early PICnet

Instead, rather than trying to write the news and find the reporters ourselves, we thought it would be better to hand over open source tools that could be used by anyone around the world to share their organization’s stories.  That’s when the Political Information Center Network really moved into the “PICnet” days.

On February 16, 2001, officially opened shop.  We’ve been rocking and rolling ever since then.

Since our humble beginnings in tiny apartments in Westwood, PICnet has grown into a company that leads the way in innovating and deploying affordable and user-friendly Web technology for our non-profit and social sectors.  I’m proud of our track record:  we’ve served more than 400 organizations around the globe, and count more than 25 PICnet alumni on our rosters to date, each doing their part to make the world a better place.

Technology is not a panacea, and the technology challenges the non-profit world faces today are quite different than those of 2001.  At PICnet, we continue to aim our sights on helping organizations root out inefficiencies, and to seek new ways to empower groups to better serve their constituencies.

Bells and whistles are great, and smoke and mirrors might help sell software, but we believe the focus should be on building effective processes and tools that can enable organizations to meet their goals.

PICnet might be a small business, but we aim to make a big difference.  That difference is dependent on the amazing people that build our software, contribute to our community, and care about our organizations.  It’s an honor to work alongside so many bright individuals, and I’m humbled by the contributions every PICnetter, organization, and partner has been part of our successful history.

I sincerely thank my family, friends, and supporters that have always cheered for PICnet from the along the sidelines and on the field.  No man is an island, and there is no way I could have made it through the early days of pasta and ramen noodles without your support.

Here’s to 10 more years of success and innovation!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 at 11:04 am and is filed under picnetters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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