“Ok, you just gave me a rundown on how you are going to address some of the technical issues. But why can't I just do that in the Bay Area. What are your 'moats'?” Mr Liu asked.
“Footprint.” Dilip answered. “Footprint and Southern California young people.”
“We are building these resort campuses next to our major universities. In fact, we make units available to a select group of the students to recreate those 'college days' memories.” Dilip said.
“You said 'select group'. What are the criteria?” Mr Liu asked.
“We started out selecting students from STEM fields. We wanted students who would treat high-end programmers and chip designers like rock-stars. Basically, kids who would be in awe of your teams. Once word got out, we had a tsunami of non-STEM students who wanted to live in the resorts.” Dilip said.
“So we give them a test. We enter their name in a lottery if they can identify five super-star programmers...by their pictures... and can tell a terrabyte from bandwidth.” Dilip said with a shrug.
“You have not touched on the security issues.” Mr Liu noted.
“The Islands are nearly self contained.” Dilip said. “They are themed 'Santirini', 'Cheju', 'Fiji', 'St Petersburg' and so on. Our thinking was that the larger firms, like yours, would lease one 'Island' and parcel out vacations to your top performing programmers as rewards for outstanding performance.”
“The smaller firms will have to be content with the security inherent in the tight beam lasers and the double keyed mousepads.” Dilip said.
“I think you are stereotyping coders.” Mr Liu said. “We are really not that much different from other people. I think your concept runs the risk of being condescending.”
Dilip bowed his head in modesty. “I, too, am a programmer and many of my friends are coders. I respectfully disagree with you. For example, a much higher percentage of coders play musical instruments. Not just play at them...they are concert level musicians. I think it has everything to do with how themes interact together and come to maturity at the proper time.”
“In recognition of that tendency, several of our Fantasy Islands are already equipped with world-class recording studios and music rooms with concert grade musical instruments. I hardly think that is condescending.” Dilip said.
“That sounds OK for the younger programmers, but I have an even harder time hanging onto, and preventing burn-out in my mid-level managers. I don't see anything that will help them. If anything, the 24 hour pace will accelerate their burn-out.” Mr Liu objected.
“We anticipated that.” Dilip countered. “Each cluster of Islands will have a couple of family-friendly islands: 'Mackinac' and 'Prince Edward' for instance. Managers are a five minute walk from any of the other islands while still being separated from the gaming rooms and night clubs.”
Mr Liu shrugged his shoulders. “What do you want from me?” he asked.
“Beta users.” was Dilip's response.
“Banging together the code and selecting and plugging in components is the fun, easy part. Getting them to work together and deliver the desired results is that hard part. 15% programming and 85% debugging.” Dilip said. "We expect the same thing in the hospitality business. The concept is easy. Making it work seamlessly is hard."
“Our home-run scenario would have you sending us a trickle of test users. The last thing we want, at this point, is to over-sell our ability to deliver.” Dilip said. “We don't know what we don't know and we want the luxury of a slow ramp-up.”
Then Dilip threw in the 'kicker'. “We will not be charging Beta users. You can send them down here for free.”
“How many?” Mr Liu asked.
“That will change on a week-by-week basis. Dilip said. “But for now, my hospitality directors suggest that we start with twenty as we iron out the wrinkles in our all-inclusive, programmer's paradise resort concept. Then we want fifty next week. We will play it by ear from there.”
“Let me see if I understand what you are asking from me:” Mr Liu said “You want to entertain my employees at no cost to me. You want their feedback. You want to ramp up and eventually supply that service to all of my business associates in the Bay Area.”
“Yup!” Kenny said. “That is about it.”
“Why? I don't understand your motives.” Mr Liu asked.
“Are you a married man?” Kenny asked.
Mr Liu nodded “Yes.”
“Did you date before you got married?” Kenny continued. “Of course you did. Why do people date? Dating gives you a way to avoid expensive mistakes. It also gives you a way to feel out the other person and learn what brings them joy.”
“A person once told me that happiness is having your needs met while joy is having your preferences met.” Kenny said. “We want to 'date'. We want to be the best in the world at meeting the preferences of coders and system designers. If all goes well, I think we will both want a more durable relationship, but that is in the future.”
“No, that is not what I was asking.” Mr Liu said. “I want to know why you, Prime Minister Kenny Lane, are behind this project.”
Kenny pondered a second. He had not anticipated that question.
“Mr Liu...The odds in Los Vegas are 3:5 that I will not be able to finish my term. According to the bookies, odds are that I will experience an untimely death.” Kenny said.
“I ain't accusing anybody of anything, but odds are that you know somebody, who knows somebody...” Kenny continued. “My hope is that you will take back the message that Sedelia is an an experiment that should continue, that Kenny Lane is not the train wreck that the media makes him out to be.”
“Southern California is the closest thing to paradise this earth has to offer and it was morphing into a barrio where it was not even safe to ride around in an armored limo. I want to watch Sedelia turn back into the Garden of Eden and I want to help you guys make a mountain of money the old fashioned way: Designing and producing products that are a peak experience for the users. It has been my experience that folks who put honest dollars in other people's pockets get the right kinds of friends.” For Kenny, that was a very long speech.
“I withhold judgment but I see what your thinking is.” Mr Liu said.
“What is your vision of this 'more durable relationship?” Mr Liu asked.
“At some point, when you are dating a girl, you realize that she is the best you will ever find. And the thought that she might get away scares you. So you commit to long-term relationship.” Kenny said.
“At some point you will need more office space and a bright programmer will point out that Sedelia has cheaper rents and proven to have more amenities than the Bay Area. You are a sharp business man. You will make the right decision.” Kenny said.
“Our job is to prove that our amenities and infrastructure leave the Bay Area in the dust.” Kenny concluded.