Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Story of Gluejar

When I register for conferences or meetings or that sort of thing, I'm often asked to fill out a company name. I write in "Gluejar Inc.", because I happen to be President of that New Jersey Corporation. So I get a preprinted badge that says my name and the company name right beneath it. I engage people in conversation and they start staring at my badge.

"'Gluejar' I haven't heard of that company. What does it do?" they ask me.

"Nothing." I usually say.

There's usually a nervous chuckle as they wait for the punch line, but there isn't any. "I'm sort of on sabbatical" I say. Or "I've been blogging a lot recently". Or even "I'm not really gainfully employed".

Sometimes, instead of "Nothing", I'd say "It's a slumber-mode start-up" which seemed to make people think I had a team of engineers secretly designing high-tech beds.

One friend says I'm "a gentleman of leisure".

My son has been pestering me to take up farming. He comes home and asks "How was non-work today, Dad?"

Sometimes I tell the true story of Gluejar:

Almost four years ago, I sold a linking technology business I started in 1998. It was called Openly Informatics, Inc.. The buyer (OCLC), being a non-profit (401(3)c) corporation, chose not to acquire the corporate entity, but merely all of its business and (non-cash) assets, including me. I had to keep the company to fulfill contractual obligations. But since one of the assets they were buying was the name of the corporation, I had to get a new name for the company.

I called in my high-cost naming consultant (the aforementioned son, then 11) and asked for name ideas. He asked what the company would do, and I told him that for a while it would just be a container of cash, but that in the future, who knew? I liked doing things that made connections, that put things together, so maybe he could think of a name with that sort of connotation. He suggested "Goo-jar". I liked that, it seemed sticky, and jars are packages for java applications, so that part was both containerish and softwarish.

I did some googling to see if I could get "", but I found that "goojar" was an alternate spelling of Gujar, an Indian ethnic group, so we made the name even stickier and settled on "Gluejar".

A little more than three years later, it was time for me to move on. Initially, I thought I might restart Gluejar right away, but I soon thought better of it. I decided that everything would be much simpler (and a whole lot more fun!) if I waited 9 months until certain commitments expired.

Instead, I started studying technologies, industries, and issues and writing about them on the blog. I started twittering! I went to meetups, conferences and workshops. I went inside a Federal Courtroom! I even did a harvest of purple amaranth.

So now it's time for me to get serious about deciding what to do next. In the next month or two, I plan to write about the directions I'm considering. Some of them involve reactivating Gluejar, some of them don't. I don't really believe that startup ideas can be stolen, so I'll to write about as many of my ideas as I can. I like building things, and the first step in building on an idea is spreading it around.


  1. well that explains why we had a bottle of rubber cement on the table even though we had no things that needed rubber cementing

  2. FWIW, the Library of Congress contracts out to CACI for all sorts of IT staff. Technically the contractors report to managers at CACI...but they work on projects that are typically managed by LC employees--so it can get confusing. CACI is a big company with all sorts of IT projects across the Federal it's kind of rare that we find someone who is already familiar with the library domain. But honestly it's often nice to get fresh (more mainstream) ideas from outside the library world. Of course LC also has contracted with Index Data on a more limited basis. IndexData is sort of at the other end of that spectrum, since they specialize in library protocols and data formats. I'm not sure if this helps. It would be interesting to chat about this in Ashville.

  3. Good luck in your journey to figure out what GlueJar, and you, will be! ;)