Saturday, September 8, 2012

Not a sausage (software)

In the early days of the internet, when the humble internet cafes were king and 56K was seen as 'lightning fast', there was a company born out of a bedroom: Sausage Software. A coding genius (whose name escapes me) locked himself in a bedroom for a few days and after realizing the internet had much more to offer than porn and mp3s, built his own software and then fame and fortune in that order. From an article I read at the time, he was probably going to be the next Bill Gates and was busy rubbing shoulders with the whose who of Australian business. I saw posters and billboards and plenty of ads for it.

What happened?

But what happened next? And why doesn't anyone remember him or the company he made?

A bit of research (thanks Wikipedia) reveals the bloke in mind was: Steve Outtrim who was from New Zealand, not Australia. And Sausage Software was built on the back of an internet project: Outtrim wanted to make a Web page and put up a picture of himself and information about the music he liked. (!!!!)
Steve likes music, the internet and go fast red Porsches.

Yes kids, what takes you 4 seconds on Facebook today took a bloke like Steve a handful of days to write a program that wasn't as frustrating as a drunk uncle at the Christmas table.
In terms of internet revolution, Steve helped build one of the first Model T Ford's of the information superhighway. And he did this way back in 1996 with not much at all.

From there he managed to create one of the most popular programs on the net at the time: Hotdog, built one of the very first e-commerce websites (think before the towering giant that is eBay) and sold software around the world. His product was a niche and the world snapped it up. In 1996 he also floated the company on the Stock Exchange, becoming the youngest CEO in Australia at the time. Sausage Software was THE place to work with its staff invited to play Pinball and do fun things daily (sounds similar to Google nowadays actually).

With such staggering success though, why isn't the name 'Steve Outtrim' and 'Sausage Software' known so well anymore? Well unless you were there when the internet was just starting to grow, you'd probably never heard of Sausage and it's products - 12 years ago it merged with SMS Management and Technology and the original name was dropped. Steve sold his stake for a whopping $51 million (or $66 Million depending on which article you read) before the dot com bust (must have known something) and moved on to his hobbies - starting up other businesses (why not? He had plenty of money and time to burn) including Aussie Bodies, Majitek and Ecoliving.

Since then aside from an ex-lover with a grudge, Steve has been keeping a pretty low profile. According to that article I linked, he's quite media shy and prefers to play Xbox in the spa than tell his story (and why not, I couldn't argue with that logic) and according to Wikipedia he's currently developing ways to save energy with his former school Wellington College. There's barely any images of him through Google Image Search and he's definitely not a Steve Jobs and that suits him just fine.
That's Steve on the right, day dreaming of 911's

Whatever he's doing, we can't wait for one thing: Steve to get frustrated again. When that happens, get set - he'll probably rebuild the entire internet from scratch again in under a month. Only this time from the comfort of his mansion instead of his dingy bedroom and hopefully many more people will remember him for the brilliant work he does.

Onya Steevie!


  1. Hey Almigo, cool story, thanks. I am living in San Francisco now, as beautiful as Australia is, it's not a great place to do business. I tried to follow Richard Branson's strategy of using the media as free promotion for my business. Seemed to work! I don't really need them these days, I can have more fun if I'm out of the spotlight. - Steve

  2. BTW in the bottom photo I'm talking to Leo Villareal - a Burning Man artist who recently set a new record for interactive art: an $8 million commission for the world's largest ever sculpture, the Bay Lights project

  3. Hey Steve, thanks for dropping by! (Got to admit it's pretty rare that someone I write about actually takes the time to drop by and leave a comment...I'm looking at you Flo Rida, you and your love of Netball..) Glad to hear things are going well over there :)

    Do you still have a passion for Porsches?

    1. Hi Steve O :-)

      Love♥ your work Santa Sausage :-)
      Whats the next Web evolution with HTML 5 ?
      Distributed Data via Home Clouds ?

      lUv aNd hUgs
      aC aka Santa Conan :-)

      Living a meanful life
      enriched by our sense of connection
      & service with others :-)
      (-: ♫♪★❤☮♥ aC ♥☮❤★♪♫ :-)

  4. Santa Conan! Nice dude, meeting an old friend late at night at the pub. I can tell it's really you FrOm tHe tYping, you pioneered that stuff long before it was cool mate.

    Almigo, my first car in Wellington was a Datsun 180B. The Porsche in the photo was bought second hand and leased by the company. I later replaced it with a Range Rover, I am a big fan of those. I owned a Porsche Cayenne Turbo when they first came out with the SUV, and a Ferarri 550 Maranello V12. My family were in the car business and I grew up around antique cars, I like modern cars and just got back from Vegas where I got to do this for 20 laps in 4 different supercars with some old mates from New Zealand:

    It's affordable enough that anyone can save up and do it. Yes I drove the McLaren, 2 seconds off the lap record - not bad for only 15 minutes of practice (and only 2 in the McLaren) on their track. Needless to say, I was grinning from ear to ear - AC you'd love it

  5. See kids? Not only do ramble on about all and sundry, I also help old mates catch up. All in a days work really :D

    A 180B? Please tell me it was the original factory 'Sunburst' orange (was the Datsun Z series the only Datto's that came out in British Racing Green?).

    The good news is that on the father in laws farm there is a 180B wagon - if you find the McLaren was a touch too slow for your liking, we could hook you up with the blistering speed machine that you know well ;)

    The bad news is you'd have to clear out the ten years of rotted hay and rat poo as it's been sitting at the neighbors for ten years as a car/storage container. (It's a parts car for his Stanza Rally you might have to bring some wheels too...oh and maybe an engine.)

    Hope the weather in LV is better than here!


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