During my 1999-2002 stint as a reporter/news manager/Associate News Director at ON24, I worked (sometimes 12-to-16-hour days) alongside a wonderful mix-and-match group of folks in a crummy older high-rise called the “Bong Building” on the edge of San Francisco’s financial district.

Clint Henderson and Kim Rondepierre at the August 2, 2002 ON24 News layoff party.

Clint Henderson and Kim Rondepierre at the August 2, 2002 ON24 News layoff party.

I’d show up for work between 3:30 and 4 a.m. pacific time to open the newsroom and start the day. Two people were close behind: Sue Mittleman and Kim Rondepierre. Sue was a producer; Kim was a website manager.

The three of us (along with a rotating group of voice talent) worked mostly independently from each other in those wee hours, but formed a very well-oiled machine of mutual trust and respect that got our news operation up and started each day as hours later, dozens of other bleary-eyed staffers poured into the Bong building long after daybreak.

Our interaction was golden. Sue and I are both from the relatively uptight Great Lakes: Sue from the north Chicago suburbs; I’m from Fort Wayne and its northern suburbs. The two of us could get spun up on scandals or technological haywire at the drop of a pin.

Kim, on the other hand, much to our consternation and amusement, was a tried-and-true “go with the flow” Pacific coast girl – born and raised in Hawaii and later moved as an adult to San Francisco.

A true turn-of-the-21st century honest-to-goodness hippie 2.0 living among us yuppie-wannabes, she’d talk at length about her adventures growing up in Hawaii or as a nothing-shocks-me adult among the modern counterculture and tales of Burning Man – before it went commercial.

In fact, when I asked for extra days off around Labor Day in 2001, Kim assumed I was going to Burning Man – and that’s how I learned about the whole event.

After the 2002 layoffs when ON24 decided to shutter its news department – saying there was no future in consumer-oriented streaming video (don’t tell that to YouTube or Hulu) – sadly, Kim was one of the ON24 folk I lost touch with.

Left to Right: Kim Rondepierre, me, Rich, and Sue Mittleman.

Left to Right: Kim Rondepierre, me, Rich, and Sue Mittleman.

But last year when Barack Obama won the election, I emailed Kim – she’s the only person I knew who was from Hawaii and like Obama – she, too, spent a childhood on the islands.

Of course, it had been 6 years and I ended up writing a very long letter basically catching her up on my life.  Kim was one of the first and biggest supporters of my starting to date Rich back when I was still unsure about him. Rich is now my husband.

I also asked about her life. I knew she was working for Wells Fargo doing something – but that is about it.

I never got a response from her; I found out today that I never will.

Kim had died on August 4, 2008 from stage IV esophageal cancer – three months before I wrote that email. She died exactly 6 years and 2 days since I had seen her last at the ON24 layoff party.

I found out today after Peter Shaplen, my former boss/mentor at ON24, sent out the sad news as an alert mass email to a list ironically called “ON24 Survivors.” It read:

I have just learned that our friend and colleague Kim Rondepierre passed away last August of cancer.

Sad indeed. I hold all of you in my thoughts and with many fond memories. I will add Kim to my prayers.

All my best to each of you.

Peter

She would have turned 50 at the end of March.

So, Kim, I guess this is a cathartic moment for me, my goodbye to a former work friend and an apology sent into cyberspce for letting our friendship lapse to the point that I was unaware you were sick and in pain.

I take solace in the knowledge that your friends (as partly documented in a discussion on Tribe.net) were there with you keeping you company until the end.

And thanks for the going away hug seven years ago.

grouphug

At ON24 I was well-known as the Indiana boy who hated Californians' penchant for hugging at the drop of a hat. So, as the party was breaking up at the ON24 layoff party - an impromptu group hug sent me off on my way from San Francisco for the last time back to my home in the Silicon Valley. (Don't tell anyone but I secretly loved this hug.) Pictured clockwise from the upper left are: Ian Brown, me, Peter Shaplen, Kim Rondepierre, Sue Mittleman, Margaret Philpotts, and Susan Coss.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1eLqfzc35c]

Reporter: David Speakman
Date: 11-18-1999

Company/Ticker/URLAgilent
Company #2Hewlett-Packard

Headline: ON24 ON the Move: Agilent Up 50% from IPO Price

At the open Thursday, shares of Agilent Technologies were trading at 45 ½ – thats a 50% increase from the 30 dollar IPO price set for the Hewlett-Packard spinoff.

Agilent manufactures testing equipment for the medical, scientific and semiconductor industries.

Hewlett-Packard will keep an 85% ownership of the company.

((TAG))

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0HArBddB0U]

Reporter: David Speakman
Date: 11-18-1999

Company/Ticker/URLCovad Communications
Company #2Northpoint
Company #3Rhythms
Company #4SBC
Company #5Bell Atlantic
Company #6BellSouth
Company #7GTE
Featured Speaker:Tim Laehy, CFO, Covad Communications
2nd Speaker:
File path:
TRT:

Headline: Covad CFO: FCC Ruling One of the Most Significant this Year

On Thursday, the FCC rules that local phone companies must share phone lines with DSL providers like Covad Communications, Rhythms Netconnections and Northpoint Communications.

Tim Laehy, Chief Financial Officer of Covad, said the ruling will be good for investors in the DSL platform.

{{SOT}}

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY0JQHo5SHE]

Date: 11-18-1999

Company/Ticker/URLNorthPoint
Company #2Covad
Company #3Rhythms
Company #4SBC
Company #5Bell Atlantic
Company #6Tandy
Company #7Microsoft
Featured Speaker: Michael Olsen, Deptuty Gen. Counsel, Northpoint Communications Inc.
2nd Speaker:
File path:
TRT:

Headline: Northpoint to Take Full Advantage of Local Phone Access

On Thursday, the FCC ruled that local telephone companies must provide phone line access to independent DSL providers.

Michael Olsen, with DSL Provider NorthPoint Communications, said the decision will have a significant impact on the telecom sector.

{{SOT}}

Olsen said the new phone line access will help Northpoints push into the consumer market.

{{SOT}}

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBzgbnbBVxM]

Reporter: David Speakman
Date: 11-18-1999

Company/Ticker/URLSBC
Company #2Bell Atlantic
Company #3GTE
Company #4BellSouth
Company #5US West
Company #6Covad
Company #7Northpoint
Featured Speaker:
2nd Speaker:
File path:
TRT:

Headline: Regional Telecoms Take Hit After FCC Ruling

Regional US telecoms took a hit Thursday after the Federal Communications Commission ruled they must share their phone lines with DSL competitors.

Now companies like Covad, Northpoint and Rhythms Netconnections will be able to use a home or business existing telephone lines to provide their DSL service.

Currently, subscribers to independent DSL carriers must pay for the installation of an additional DSL-only phone line.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQnxsYReC8o]

Reporter: David Speakman
Date: 11-18-1999

Company/Ticker/URLVodafone AirTouch
Company #2Mannesmann AG
Company #3Orange PLC
Company #4
Company #5
Company #6
Company #7
Featured Speaker:
2nd Speaker:
File path:vodafone_1
TRT::56

Headline: Vodafone Board May Approve $138B Mannesmann Bid

The board of Vodafone AirTouch was expected to meet in London Thursday to approve a sweetened 138 billion dollar hostile takeover bid for German industrial conglomerate Mannesmann AG.

Vodafone the largest wireless operator in the world is recovering after Mannesmann rejected a friendly 116 billion dollar offer over the weekend.

Mannesmann AG the third largest industrial equipment maker in the world owns the largest cell phone company in Germany.

Mannesmann said it plans an international advertising campaign to convince stockholders to reject a Vodafone offer.

AT 9 AM eastern in European trading, Vodafone AirTouch was up 11 points or about 4% while Mannesmann was up more than 5% to 207.7 euros.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrZ5zBZz5Fo]

Reporter: David Speakman
Date: 11-17-1999

Company/Ticker/URLMCI WorldCom
Company #2Sprint FON
Company #3Sprint PCS
Company #4AT&T
Company #5GTE
Company #6SBC
Company #7Bell Atlantic

Headline: MCI WorldCom, Sprint Ask FCC to Approve $129B Merger

MCI WorldCom and Sprint filed papers with the Federal Communications Commission asking for approval of the planned 129 billion dollar merger of the two telecom giants.

In the joint application, the companies said a merger will create a strengthened competitor that can crack open local markets and bring voice and broadband serves to customers.

Included in the application were briefs by the company officers and outside experts saying a combination of the two companies would be beneficial to customers and industry competition.

Before approval is granted, some analysts expect the FCC to force the companies to divest part of their Internet holdings and Sprints local telephone business.

ON Wednesday, MCI WordlCom closed down 1 ½ to 88 ½.

Sprint FON Group closed the day trading down about a point at 74 1/16.