But first, March 2nd, 1995
On this day, March 2, 1995, phones resembled bricks, hair was bigger, and the text-based Internet was only the playground of academics and nerds. It was also on that Thursday that two young entrepreneurs stepped out to start what would become CQL. One with his last paycheck from the security of a Fortune 500 job, the other with a serendipitous pink slip.
Their idea was simple: if they stayed the course, they could create a place where
- All voices could be heard
- They could give customers the confidence to change
- They could build a team that would help connect people and data for good
But one thing for sure; they never imagined the world we live in today or the impact they would have twenty-five years later.
1995: No Maps? No Problem
To say that things were uncharted would be an oversimplification of the years when the Internet disrupted everything.
In those days, our team had to have the heart of an explorer and a lot of caffeine. Working well into the nights, the team would build first-in-the-world Internet applications, customer portals, and data-driven business applications.
It was a period when we spent a lot of time helping companies adapt to business in the digital economy. Before building solutions, we had to be teachers that could help retailers understand how ecommerce would transform their businesses, or show a manufacturer how dealer orders could be routed directly to fulfillment.
The pace of change of the new economy was hard for many companies. Our software engineers, designers, and strategists would have to work covertly alongside the intrapreneurs of conservative companies; prototyping consumer channels or business models out of the view of bureaucracy and nay-sayers.
And if you listened above the background office noise, you knew when *someone was getting on the Internet* by the sound of a squealing 14.4 modem in a nearby office.
It was an explosive time of learning; when the team delivered a first-time innovation, it made us smarter for the next-time solution. Every new customer, teammate, and partner brought more to the collective – ideas, skills, and perspectives.
It was hard for us to see from the midst of it, but we know it now; every part of commerce was being up-ended, and we were hand-building the foundations for a new era.
2020: Our Time of Greatest Influence
Today, CQL creates experiences that deliver hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars in revenue every year. Our business applications and strategies are used by Fortune 500 enterprises, enabling their teams to work smarter and launch world-changing ventures.
Every day, we feel buried in terabytes of data coming at us at nanosecond speeds; delivered to our desktops, pockets, wrists, dashboards, and toasters. Our lives are interconnected in a web of social networks, media, and commerce accessible by friends and bad actors alike.
One thing we know after decades of guiding digital change, it would be naïve to think the pace of digital evolution is going to slow or that our work is less relevant.
As we ready ourselves for what’s next, we are studying the most important trends and asking ourselves the questions that will define the world and our role in it.
Tomorrow: Still No Maps? No Problem
It’s pretty risk-free for us to say the next 25 years will be as uncharted as the last 25, but we are hopeful and curious about the road ahead. We will rely on the values that put us here to guide us once again.
As we live out our founders’ passions, we will be asking customers, partners, and thought leaders some now, near, and far horizon questions.
- How will we make real human connections in a digital age?
- Who will be the people teaching machines to think?
- What does “my data” mean in a cloud-based world?
- What does shopping look like in 2030?
- What will artificial intelligence systems do to human’s natural desire for choice?
- How can we build empathy and ethics into every line of code and interaction?
- What are the crazy ideas about flying cars and spaceships of the next generation?
If you would like to follow along, we will be sharing their thoughts here on our Insights page.
Celebrating our Gratitude
For those of us that were there from the beginning, this reflection on our past meant some quiet moments of deep gratitude.
We know it was God’s grace, our families, customers, teammates, and partners that picked us up when we fell and were an unseen wind at our back. From text-based Internet to modern-day custom and platform commerce solutions, the support from those above has helped craft us into the innovative and talented team of dreamers we are today.
We will celebrate with a bit of cake, plan some fun events to say thank you, and probably end up at a whiteboard to think about what we would do with our next million hours.