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How Rafat Ali Found a Job (Part 5)

Posted on Monday, Sep 8th 2008

SM: How did getting married affect the business?

RA: I had to go away for about 40 days because my wife, who is of Indian origin, was from South Africa. The marriage was in South Africa and the reception was going to be in India. The entire ordeal was going to take 40 days. There was no way I would be able to run the site during that time. I knew I could not stop the site. I had a responsibility to the readers as well as the to advertisers who were paying me. I tried to hire two people for two months each, one to run mocaNews and one to run paidContent. I posted a job listing on my site and got a lot of resumes. That is when I hired Staci. While she did not apply for the job, I already knew her. We had both worked at Inside.com. A guy from Australia applied for the mocaNews position.

Both of them were virtual hires, just for the time I was gone. I had bought a new laptop which I figured I could take with me to India, login, and check my email. It was a Gateway laptop so it was cheap. The first night the computer blew up because of the voltage fluctuations. There was no service center in India. Whatever money I had saved through the site had been put into the wedding, so I could not just go buy a new laptop. A week after I left the servers on the hosting company melted.

I was in the middle of getting married, traveling to India, with Staci and James doing this part-time, and we had to now find another host. Luckily we had archives on our site. This all happened while I was away, and I was trying to troubleshoot on the phone because of lack of Internet access.

When I came back I made some decisions. The economy was coming back, so advertising was paying more. I decided to ask those two to continue beyond the two months, and ultimately they came on full-time as contractors. In early 2005 I started getting interest from people who wanted to invest in us.

SM: What types of people were wanting to invest in your sites?

RA: Industry-type people who were readers of the sites. They were senior executives who had recently left jobs, or some angel investors who were reading the articles. I was not approaching them, they were approaching me. I knew nothing about getting investments. A group of five industry luminaries, all senior executives, were going to take a majority stake in my company for $100,000. Those were desperate times and I did not know any better. I hired a lawyer here through some references, which cost me about $25,000 because negotiations went back and forth, then I got cold feet and went out, then I came back in, and at the end of all of this he told me “Rafat, forget that I am a lawyer for a second. I am telling you this as your friend. Do not take this deal,” and I listened. It created a lot of ill will because I had known these guys for six months, and I walked away at the last minute.

This segment is part 5 in the series : How Rafat Ali Found a Job
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