Dean Clough

April 29, 2022

Portico Darwin: Building Blocks


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Two consecutive blogs with no politics or get off my lawn rants?  Yes, it's true.  You're welcome. 

Today, I will tell a fun, small-world story. 

If you ever take the several hours/days/weeks it takes to read my thrilling monograph about entrepreneurship, you'll learn that a big accelerant in my career trajectory was the gig I/we landed with a General Electric company.  It was in mid-1996, and I had left Epigraphx and co-founded an IT consultancy, WestConnect Technologies.

That is not the story.  The story involves the building where I first got a taste of my future.  The building is 505 Montgomery, opened in the SF Financial District in 1988.   By 1996, GE subsidiary Genstar Container Company (at the time the world's largest lessor of marine shipping containers) had its headquarters here, on several floors.  It's the building with the spire, in the center of this photo.  The CIO's office was literally the penthouse corner, overlooking the entire Golden Gate.  Impressive to a 32 year old from Albany, I can assure you.  I was in that office several times, and in the building itself many.   It was the first time I'll always remember most, because it is was when my partners and I pitched a big deal (for us and probably anybody) to the CIO.


We landed the project - for a variety of (mostly nefarious) reasons, which are spelled out in On Entrepreneurship.  The gig - writing the information technology strategic plan for 1997 for Genstar - led to a whole bunch of stuff, including us living in London for a while, and we did the first deal in the CIO's office right there in the penthouse.  But that's still not the story. 

After London, I briefly detoured from entrepreneurship, and went to work at Charles Schwab, as a Director.  That lasted until the world changed after 9/11, and I then started Casa Integration in late 2001.  Now we're getting close to the story.

It is now the end of 2015 - 18 years after being in the 505 Montgomery penthouse - and I am doing amongst the last few "soup-to-nuts" projects I will ever do with Casa Integration.   I have designed and engineered all of the technology (WiFi, music, TV's, surveillance, control, etc.), and am now doing the final installation of the same at the home of Richard and Barbara Mendelsohn.  It is a gorgeous place, and his contractor, Moroso Construction, is among the best anywhere.  So the build (a to-the-studs remodel) was impressive, and it was great to be involved.

Especially when I went in to Richard's now-finished office to install a flat-screen monitor.  There, on a credenza, was this model.   


Yep.  My client was an executive with The Empire Group, who in the early 1980s began development of 505 Montgomery.  This was a scale model prepared by the building's architect, the renowned firm of Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill.

And a client of mine had it on display in the office in his house, on which I worked, almost 30 years after he opened 505 Montgomery.  In which I also worked.

Yeah, it's a small world.

One more diversion, for a Friday.  This was all over Twitter this week, so apologies if you've seen it.  But can you get your picks down to 3?  Even with the curious omission of the Hot Pastrami sandwich?  And the troubling inclusion of Gunther Strobel's favorite, the Cucumber Tea sandwich?  Put me down for a 10, 21, or a 31, but choosing only 3 is a challenge.


A tip of the cap to Dr. Davis Fladgate.  While his interpretation of events is often at odds with my own, he was kind enough to send this along.  And here, we agree:  most Americans don't know much about what's going on around them.

​​From millionaires to Muslims, small subgroups of the population seem much larger to many Americans | YouGov

The graphic is small but worth a zoom in - it is amusing but maybe also depressing?  I mean, imagine how many great Kosher delis there'd be if the Jewish actually did make up 30% of the US population!


And while few commented on my Station Wagon blog, what did come in motivated me to dig this up.  Is this not one of the prettiest convertibles of all time?  It is a 1959 Citroen DS19 Convertible.  I may build one!


Fun fact:  we celebrated Julie's 50th birthday in Paris a few years back.  After our overnight flight, we arrived early, and while waiting for our room to be ready, we went out to grab coffee in our neighborhood.  They happened to be filming a commercial featuring a bunch of Citroens.  Viva La France!


Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

Get down and get funky and get up to the penthouse office in a tower of power.  Here is Oakland's real Tower of Power, and their absolutely Killer (not to mention incendiary) "East Bay Archive, Vol. 1", which is actually a recording of a 04/23/73 show in Boston. 


Another fun fact:  rumor has it these guys will be gracing Stern Grove on June 12.  A must if true.

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.