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[CEO who went to work at a McDonald's counter
is a celeb in Bloggerland!][CEO who went to work at a McDonald's counter
is a celeb in Bloggerland!]

   Anita Bora


If not for the Internet we would not know Scott Heiferman.

In 1995, Scott founded i-traffic.com, an ad agency in the United States, dedicated to online media. In 1999, the company was acquired by agency.com, leaving Scott without a job.

In October 2000, Scott decided to take a break and work with the fast-food company McDonald's as a counter hand for a few weeks. Why? Because he wanted to experience working in the "profitable, well-oiled, multi-billion-dollar machine". But it wasn't this move that brought him fame.

About a year later Scott started experimenting with his personal site, heiferman.com and decided to put his McDonald's experience online. Titled I was a 20-something dethroned dotcom CEO that went to work the counter at McDonald's, the essay began to be circulated around the Internet. Its popularity increased with a number of people linking to his site from their blogs and journals.

At the latest count, according to Blogdex, an online service that tracks referrals to particular blogs, there were 31 links or mentions of heiferman.com and this number is only growing.

Scott, who put up his essay for a lark, admits he was not prepared for his newfound fame. In this interview, he talks about his short stint with hamburgers, his celebrity status online and his upcoming secret project. Which incidentally has nothing to do with burgers.

[Scott Heiferman] There are many "profitable, well-oiled, multi-billion-dollar" machines out there, then why McDonald's? A whim? A well-thought-out decision?
It was not well thought out. McDonald's just seemed like the farthest thing from being CEO of a high-growth Internet company. The thought of it made me laugh so I just did it. Also, McDonald's was the most unlikely thing for me because I haven't eaten red meat for the past 10 years.

You have become famous among the blogging community? Did you expect this kind of popularity?
The McDonald's thing was for my own adventure. I wrote the essay for no reason, and put it online over a year ago. Until recently, nobody visited it, nobody cared and I didn't want or expect otherwise. I'd never written anything beyond emails, PowerPoint presentations, business plans and school papers. It's great that people liked my McDonald's essay.

Will you put this down in your next CV? And do you think something like this would actually impress either a future employer or a VC?
I think it's interesting and funny. But I don't really care if it impresses anyone. I learned what I learnt, some other people liked to read about it and that's all that matters.

How long do you plan to work the counters?
I worked at McDonald's for a couple weeks in October 2000. That's it.

If your family album is fake how do we know that you are not a fake too?
Good question! I don't know.

What kind of work would you ideally like to be doing?
I like starting companies that do some good for the world. In 1995, I started the first online ad agency in the hope that online advertising would be less annoying, disruptive and inneffective than other ad media. Some online advertising achieves that (such as search-keyword ads), but most do not (such as pop-up ads). I'm hoping that my next company, unambiguously, does some good for the world.

Why do you still hand-code your site, when there are tools like Blogger, Manila and Diaryland?
If you're referring to my 'Photo of the Day', existing blog tools are made for text and my site is primarily photos. Also, I am not very good at technical things! I taught myself basic HTML in 1994 and that's all I know. I'm not an engineer!

[Scott Heiferman serving fries during his Mcdonald's stint] What do you think of the blogging phenomenon?
I love it! The Internet economy may be down but the heart and soul of the Internet is more alive than ever. And it's this homegrown, bottom-up, people-powered embrace of the Internet, like ebay.com and email, that will revive the Internet economy in the long run. The future of blogs is not the voyeuristic, intimate diary-type blogs. The future of blogs is regular, everyday people keeping in touch with extended friends and family in a way that email, instant messengers and phones can't do.

Ex-CEO of i-traffic.com and counter-hand at McDonalds. Now starting a new experiment called CLOUD. What does Scott actually do?
It's great that you called CLOUD an experiment. One of my heroes, the late designer Tibor Kalman, said: "Everything is an experiment." I love that. Everyone is always experimenting. If you try a new pair of socks or have a kid or talk with someone… everything is an experiment. So, like everyone, I experiment.

But for the Internet, we wouldn't even have heard about you, leave alone mailing you a questionnaire... so what do you think of the Internet?
The Internet connects people and that makes it a wonderful phenomenon.

What is CLOUD? Tell us a little more.
The Internet connects people and that makes it a wonderful phenomenon.

Do you think the kind of training you have received from your job at McDonald's will stand you in good stead in whatever else you choose to do in life?
It's very important to put yourself in others' shoes and my McDonald's experience was just that. Plus, I know how to make fries now.

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