Briggs was at Lotus for five years (1991-1996). After working in sales for Grammatik,
a company that licensed grammar checking software to Samna, John accepted a job as a
product manager with Samna. Samna had become the Word Processing Division of Lotus by the
time he officially started on April Fools day. He moved from sunny Southern California to
sunny, sweaty Atlanta and acquired a Jeep and a bull dog named Homey.
John's first year was spent working on Ami Pro 3.0 for Bill Jones with Eliza Hibben,
Joyce Reynolds and Doug Benson. The competition was fierce and the hours were long, if you
consider 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays long.
The hard work paid off because Ami Pro 3.0 led the pack with press reviews. From there he
moved on to the Ami Pro 4.0 team, and partnered with Brian Brinkman (1-2-3 Mac) on Ami Pro
4.0 for Mac, when unfortunately the Mac project was cancelled before it came to market.
In January, 1994, John moved up to Cambridge to work on SmartSuite for Windows. While
he missed the good friends he had made at WPD, Cambridge offered new opportunities and a
new start in what felt like a totally different company. John sold the Jeep. He and his
wife Susan got a place in Beacon Hill, and John learned how it felt to be truly cold
walking across the Longfellow Bridge to and from work every morning and night throughout
his first Boston winter. He made new friends: Alene Gansemer, Christine McLellan, Paul
Stroube, Mike Vax, Steve Manousos, and many, many more. He seemed to spend an inordinate
amount of time with them at two local watering holes: Rayz and The Sevens.
After helping get SmartSuite 2.0 & 3.0 out the door on the product management side
of the company, John moved across the street and joined the product marketing group for
SmartSuite 3.0 in January, 1995. John produced what seemed like "a million"
review & evaluator's guides, competitive analyses and he represented Lotus SmartSuite
internationally on the press tours. In John's words, "then The Great Event happened.
IBM bought Lotus and bought out my stock options. From then on, I was pretty much in job
search mode while eagerly awaiting my bonus retention check".
John's search came to an end two years ago this October, when he was offered an
opportunity to take a risk on 12-person Internet company called Yahoo!. The combination of
getting in on the ground floor of a very cool and fun company, plus the fact that Yahoo!
is located in Silicon Valley, where he grew up was too much to pass up. [Editor's note:
I'm not sure how long it took his Lotus boss to understand why he kept howling
"Yahoo!" down the hallways].
John is now the Sr. Producer at Yahoo! in charge of Yahoo!'s main site. He has been
focusing his attention on making Yahoo more than just a search directory by shipping a ton
of products like:
Yahoo has done much better than John ever imagined. So much so that John was forced to
get a Yahoo tattoo on his
butt for losing a bet with the sales force that the stock price would never break $50.
Here is the result just minutes after completion. The other tattoo you see there is a
whole 'nother story (Remember the grammar checking company? Well, let's just say that it
"happened" on the fourth day of Comdex. If you look really close, you'll see
that the name "GRAMMTIK" is actually misspelled).
John now lives in the small coastal town north of Half Moon Bay called El Granada (with
his wife Susan who's also a Yahoo). El Granada is about four miles north of Half Moon Bay.
Most of his free time is spent landscaping (barf), sailing his Laser, bar tending at the
Half Moon Bay sailing center and going to 49er games.