The drive to New Jersey took pretty much the whole day. So they found a nice hotel, checked in, and went looking around for something to eat.
Anchor 44 filled a large house on the New Jersey shore in an area called Asbury Park, which was made famous back in the day by Bruce Springsteen whose first mega-successful album was titled Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Anchor 44 was primarily a think tank for the digital industry. A few years earlier they had partnered with a couple from Virginia Beach, Penny Jones and Deacon Fredericks, and developed one of the most successful AI business programs to date. Everybody involved with the project ended up getting extremely rich.
Anchor 44 were four partners who had been together since their days at MIT, and for people like Terry and Shawna, Anchor 44 was everything that they wanted their little company to be.
When Terry was at MIT, he became friends with a guy named Charlie Drake, who was the younger brother of one of the Anchor 44 partners, Damon Drake, and, through that connection, he managed to get a meeting with the Anchors, as they were called.
Terry wanted to show them the demo of their Bloodhound app, and see if they could poke any holes in it before they took it down to Washington and got the government involved. He also had something else in mind.
At dinner that night, Shawna was particularly quiet.
“Are you alright?” Terry asked.
“Yeah. I’m…Terry, I really don’t like surprises. I really need to know who we’re going to see. I need to be mentally prepared.”
Terry to a sip of his drink. “When I was at MIT, I was friends with a guy named Charlie Drake.”
“I know Charlie. Not well, but he’s a very smart guy.”
“Yeah, well what you probably don’t know is that Charlie’s older brother is a guy named Damon Drake. And Damon is partners with three other people in a little company called Anchor 44.”
Shawna said nothing for a few seconds then realized she had forgotten to breathe. Then she took a deep breath. “The Anchor 44?”
“Yep. And my pal Charlie talked to his big brother Damon and got us a meeting to preview the Bloodhound program.”
“Holy shit. Anchor 44. Those guys are legendary. They’re all multi-millionaires from Lilliworx. I wrote a paper on Lilliworx and Anchor 44 in my senior year. I knew who Damon Drake was. I just never made the connection to Charlie.”
Terry just smiled. He could see how impressed Shawna was that he was able to engineer this opportunity.
She looked at him some more without saying anything.
“We’re going to show it to them and then, if they like it, we’re gonna suggest a partnership. Say sixty-forty. With their clout in the industry, we can open many doors.”
“I don’t know whether to kiss you or kick you. This is amazing but I’m so pissed you didn’t tell me sooner.”
“The look on your face right now was worth the deception.”
It was a beautiful summer day in Ocean Grove. Across the street from the big frame house that held the Anchor 44 Group, the wind below in from the ocean and created substantial waves and the soothing sound of crashing water.
Damon Drake was sitting on the porch steps as they walked up to the house and introduced themselves. Damon was about the same height as Terry, but he had the lean, wiry frame of a runner. High-end nerds were of two basic types. The kind that sat around all day munching on all manner of confection, and the opposite, the ones who ran, or worked out or shot hoops. Terry pegged Damon for a runner.
“I did a little research on you both after Charlie called me. The Senator Roman thing was a work of art. You should be very proud that it finally got the government off its ass and doing something about all the hucksters out there.”
“That’s part of the reason we wanted to see you. Shawna has come up with something that could take an even bigger bite out of that activity.”
“Well alright. Come on in and meet the gang.”
While Shawna and Terry got their coffees together in the kitchen, Damon rounded up the crew. A few minutes later they were all seated in the large back porch, which served as their boardroom.
“So this is the core of our company. Tina Marshall is from Toronto. Dimitri Yelovich, Istanbul. Joseph Lee, Tokyo by way of Beijing. And finally,” Damon said gesturing to one of the monitors, “Ray Conlin is our legal counsel. He’s in New York. Ray is our patent attorney, business coach, and a pretty shrewd financial guy.”
“OK. It’s great to meet you all.” Terry said. “I’m Terry Moorehouse from Plymouth Mass, and this is my partner in crime Shawna Lennox. Our company is called The Human League, we have about six people at the moment, and we are getting ready to go to Washington to present this idea to Senator Roman’s Committee For Cyber Safety. If they buy into the program, the dam will bust open and this software will be made available to anyone who wants it. We’re hoping that it will turn into a pretty decent money-maker around the world. Why we’re sitting here with you is that we both consider you to be the best people in the country to advise us on moving forward. We’re happy to pay for that advice. We would even be willing to partner with you if you’re at all interested in doing that. So that’s my piece. I’ll turn it over to Shawna, because this is her baby.”
Shawna look around the table. “You probably hear this a lot, but you guys are gods to people like Terry and I. So I am honored that you would take the time to see us.”
With that Damon, connected Shawna’s laptop to the large monitor and she went through the entire demo presentation that they had prepared for Senator Roman’s committee.
The demo only lasted a few minutes and included three examples of the analysis it would perform. One on text, one on stills and one on video. Shawna was very confident about this, having rehearsed the hell out of herself in anticipation of going to Washington.
What Shawna explained to them was that the Bloodhound program was basically designed to be an app, that worked in more or less the same way that Grammarly worked. It functioned by identifying pre-programmed ‘markers’ or indicators of plagiarized material, in text, audio and visual formats.
The Anchors sat there and simply marvelled at the brain it would take to figure all this out and then do the lion’s share of the work to program it.
When she was finished, the Anchors all looked at each, wide-eyed. Then Damon spoke. “Almost four years ago now, another couple about your ages, sat where you are and showed us an idea that ended up becoming not just the industry standard, but the beginning of a whole new category of Business AI.”
“Penny Jones and Deacon Fredericks,” Shana said. “I wrote my Masters’s paper on Lilliworx. It’s a hell of a story.”
“Well, they say that lightning never strikes twice in the same place.” Damon said. “But I think they were wrong. This could certainly be refined a bit and the database expanded, but kudos to you Shawna. This is really something special.”
It was all Shawna could do to keep from crying, after all the work she had put into developing this software without actually showing it to anyone but her team and Terry.
“Thank you.” was all she could muster and still keep her composure.
Then Terry said. “So the real questions are: What’s it worth? How much more work needs to be done. How do we get it out there? And, do you guys want to play?”
Damon looked at his partners. Then he turned to Terry and Shawna as the printer at the far end of the room came to life. Damon got up and retrieved several sheets from the prints.
He handed one to everyone. “This is our standard non-disclosure agreement. We will all sign it, and you can leave us a copy of your prototype and we’ll analyze it and give you our recommendations and our decision within a week from today. But yes, we are very interested in what we saw.”
And with that, the agreements were signed. Shawna gave them a thumb drive with the program demo on it, and the meeting was over.”
As they walked to the door, Damon said. “After our next meeting, hopefully to go into business together, we should be able to do the rest of what needs to be done remotely, so we’re not spending valuable time on travel. AI has turned into a virus, and a program like this will be worth its weight in gold to anyone who uses the web for any reason.”
“Understood. That’s really the main reason we’re doing it. Profitability is just the icing on the cake.” Terry said. “And thanks for your interest. It means the world to us.”
“We’ll give this our top priority, guys. And thank you for thinking of us. This comes at a very good time for us as well.”
Terry and Shawna climbed into the car and took off. As they did Shawna burst into tears. She was six different kinds of happy. Terry just smiled and held her hand pretty much all the way to New York City.