We are fascinated by you. As a magazine, as a nation, as a people, we can't help but marvel at those of you who manage to work from your homes, who have your minds set on blending real work with real life. Before you came along, everything was neat and tidy. Home was the place for the sofa, television and refrigerator, and the office the place for the computer, printer and copier. But you changed all that. And you intend to change the way we view work in the future. So what we want to know is, Who exactly are you?
You are a mass market of one.
You are Omar Wasow, 26, operating New York Online from your Brooklyn, New York, brownstone apartment. You've managed to build your Web site design firm to seven employees and hope sales will cross the $1 million mark this year. You were a self-described "nerd" as a kid, entranced by the computer since you first played Pong. Your initial programming experience was on a $100 computer called the Vic 20 that your parents bought you; today, your clients include Consumer Reports, the New Yorker, Vibe Magazine, the government of Martinique, and various nonprofit organizations.
And you are Jeff Berner, 56, president of Jeff Berner Creative, a writer, speaker, marketing consultant and, incidentally, coiner of the phrase "mass market of one." You forsook the route of the salaried employee and chose the life of a homebased business owner when you graduated from high school in the late '50s. People used to roll their eyes as you proclaimed that you worked from home; today, representatives from Apple, US West, Office Depot, Okidata Group and MCI Telecommunications are scrambling for your expertise. You've worked as branding facilitator for Java, Sun Microsystems' Internet software. And, as you ponder the irony of being considered a pioneer of one of America's hottest markets, you enjoy a view of the Pacific Ocean from your Marin County, California, home office.