The hottest start-up

We were the hottest start-up ever
balancing the business case
a red-hot book-to-bill
and vivid burn-rates shrinking assets.

Drink champagne we said.

It was the new economy
where value can be calculated
with goodwill and belief.
We knew we lived inside a Ponzi scheme
were owners gave us more
since we were faster better, bolder.
painting red with black.

Drink more champagne, forget we sang.

But when their cash had dwindled,
and assets turned to ash,
they hanged themselves and left us
going south with a simple choice
of drowning
or to die from thirst.

We laced the last Champagne with henbane
we drank
we died
knowing we’d enjoyed the ride —

I wrote this based partly on an experience of working with a startup that didn’t end well. But I think we handle the worlds in just about the same way which ties well to the first image in Magaly’s prompt at toads.
May 18, 2019

27 responses to “The hottest start-up

  1. The cock-sure braggadocio in this feels so spot on. And the way the subject still clings to it as the water rises around him. It’s like the story about a frog in boiling water (it doesn’t realize the boiling will kill him until it’s too late), but in this piece the frog is so excited he figured out how the oven works, he’s almost proud of the way he contributed to his own demise.

  2. Facing the consequences of our bad decisions–even if it isn’t our fault–rarely evokes the best of feelings. I wonder how many people stick to their guns (figuratively and literally) just because they are too ashamed to admit that they were wrong… or worse yet, to have to accept that they are the main culprit behind their own doom.

    I feel like I should read the last stanza with a slightly hysterical, drunk… voice.

  3. This is awesome. 🙂

    Off to research henbane. Actually, nah. Off to a fifth grade dance. 😛

  4. And that devil-may-care attitude is what will send us all to hell 😦 You’ve captured that fiddle while rome burns atmosphere here well.

  5. Your poem reminded me of working in the City of London in the 1980s. I never joined the champagne Charlies – I don’t like champagne, or alcohol very much. The lines that resonate for me are:
    ‘It was the new economy
    where value can be calculated
    with goodwill and belief’.
    The final lines are so dark and remind me of the Depression, when many people committed suicide.

  6. “We laced the last Champagne with henbane
    we drank”
    Sometimes humans are really lemmings
    Happy Sunday Björn


  7. I love the title. I thought it was going to be about a hot romance!

  8. This is incredibly potent! Especially like; “But when their cash had dwindled, and assets turned to ash,
    they hanged themselves and left us going south with a simple choice of drowning or to die from thirst.”

  9. Hi Bjorn,

    A start up business can be risky and when the backers feel a loss they usually cut whatever they have to and on many occasions do not care about personal situations. I can feel this as “business is business” to some the hell with the rest.

    I can feel the pain.

    PS – never go into a partnership with a friend, as that can turn very sour.

    I want to email you about something if you wouldn’t mind. I think I met your twin.

  10. For some reason, this piece reminded me of the way it felt sometimes to work as an attorney in a law firm– working the almighty billable hour

  11. My brother ended his own life about 10 years ago, so this poem really hits me hard.

  12. This packs a punch! There are so many people who get burned in too-good-to-be-true schemes. Many spend money they don’t really have hoping they’ll make it big. You tell the sorrowful tale all too well. I had to look up “henbane.” That ending…ugh!

  13. kaykuala

    Nevertheless, one is the richer in having gone through the works and coming out alive.


  14. for one startup that is successful and in the news, how many died and are forgotten by the wayside?
    your poem reminds me of the stock market craze that gripped here many years ago. everyone wants in to earn some easy money but most end up losing their shirts.

  15. Someone always pays for bad decisions, and sadly, it is usually victims. The high of a lie is deadly.

I try to reciprocate all comments. If you want me to visit a particular post, please direct me directly to that post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.