As some have noticed the over all quality of the Church’s internet presence has been on the increase of late. In part this is no doubt simply the result of the Church cautiously exploiting a new medium, but I think there may be more to it than that, or so my brother-in-law tells me. In the interest of spreading unfounded faith-promoting rumors, here is the story as I understand it.
My brother-in-law, now of Seattle, used to work for an Orem/Pittsburgh-based company called WhizBang! Labs. As near as I can tell, WhizBang! was home for an unusually talented set of computer nerds, most of whom were educated at Stanford, Illinois-Urbana or Carnegie Mellon. Like many internet companies, it seems to have run on venture capital money, done technologically stunning things, and failed to turn any economic profit. A couple of years ago the company folded. One of the founders of the company was a Stanford Ph.D in computer science who once taught at BYU and made his millions at the height of the 1990s tech bubble. From what I gather, he is a very smart and talented person who could go on to further millions in the computer world.
He now works for the Church, more or less for free, trying to bring the Church into the internet age, and has been trying to recruit other high flying Mormon computer nerds to aid him in his crusade. Obviously, there are some financial sacrifices involved in such a move, but I suspect that the biggest ones are cultural. The Church Office Building is pretty buttoned up, staid, dress-like-you-are-going-to-a-stake-leadership-training-meeting kind of place. Tech companies seem to be the land of t-shirts, shorts, sandals, no shaving, lots of candy and snacks in the fridge, and air-hockey at break time. We can only be grateful that some people are willing to put even free work-place soda, fuz-ball, and lax dress codes on the alter of the Gospel.