Ten years ago today, the first Star Trak site launched. The project that basically started my career.
Rewind a few months before that: I was working at a small, sinking design company in Union Square, doing stuff for banks and doomed dot-coms and growing more cynical by the day. A coworker friend said she had this freelance project, and wondered if I’d be interested in working on it. It was a site for a new record label, run by some guys named “The Neptunes” who I had never heard of. (Not many people had!)
I looked them up (googled them? yahooed them? how did people search back then? I don’t remember.) Apparently they had an album coming out, and their group was called N.E.R.D. I asked around at record stores to find out more, but nobody had heard of them. After I spelled the name to a girl at Best Buy, she laughed and said “nerd?” I eventually found a European version of their album at a store on Montague Street. (The US version hadn’t come out yet.)
I set out designing the site, and loved every minute of it. Even though I had a day job, I’d stay up late working on it. I’d brew a pot of coffee around midnight on weekend nights and stay up until 4 or 5am (and only go slightly crazy.) I poured endless hours into it, making this elaborate Flash animation of a spaceship exploding. (I’d later actually learn how to use Flash, and realize in hindsight that I could’ve created those animations in a fraction of the time, if only I knew what I was doing!)
I built the site with Nirav, another friend & coworker at the day job. He built a forum from scratch, (these were the days before you could click an “Install Forum” button with your web host and get one running with your eyes closed.) That forum was quirky and odd and unlike any of the other forums we’d seen. Admittedly it was hard to use and easy to hack, (which the fans helpfully showed us on numerous occasions,) but it was fun.
So yes. Long story short, the site launched ten years ago today. That night I posted on some other sites to say it was up, and watched. I only had to wait a few minutes before the forum started filling up with posts. The quirky little site I’d spent all those nights and weekends on was a success.
Within a year, I parted ways with my employer and set out to work on my own, and the results of the past decade can be seen at a glance over here.
Big thanks go out to Loic, who directed that project (and many more since then)… Heather and Nirav, for all their work on that first site… Pharrell and Chad, and the whole Star Trak family over the years.