We lost Ron May. There’re those that are bitter and those that’ll weep. There’s those that always revere him and swear by his widely circulated May Report—and then there’s the others that still feel the sting. Everybody has a powerful opinion, but I got more than one reason for liking the guy.
I recall my first private equity meeting in a BIG room with an ENORMOUS conference table, a room packed with a double ring of tough investors—beer in hand, every face seasoned and hard. I sit back in a high-backed leather chair and listen to a terrific investment pitch that includes an impassioned plea—hugely impressive and compelling. And the oohs and aahs from these highly experienced men and women. How can I not invest in this offering? Everybody wants in!
Then a voice cuts through the warm glow like somebody just pulled the ripcord on a chain saw. “I heard you give that same pitch two years ago. What happened to that venture?”
The room goes silent a long moment. Then the speaker tries to wiggle out, but Ron keeps after him. Am I grateful? Hell yes! Ron May plucks me from certain destruction and I’ll never forget it. Then he goes after the next speaker, but that guy gives it right back to him, fighting like rats.
Ron gets banned from that venue but not from others. I’m at another event when I hear that rasping holler: “Jonelis, you still writing that shit?” Well, yeah. Hello to you too, Ron. But I still love ya.
Ron’s a blogger with the instincts of a newspaper reporter. More than once he shouts at me from across a room:
“Jonelis are you going to get this out by morning, because I’ll call you every hour on the hour till you do!”
That’s the way Chicago people encourage each other. Those of you at sophisticated New York events and California beach parties may not appreciate the Chicago way. Too bad. It’s a good way.
The phone rings real early one morning and I feel around in the dark for the receiver. That voice again. “Jonelis, your magazine is a joke! You know who this is talking to you?” How can I not know? And he doesn’t stop with vulgar generalities. He goes on to tell me precisely what’s wrong. And yes—he’s got the problem nailed! Now I know what to do. That day, I make major changes. I’m still working on it. Thank you Ron!
Just the other day he calls me from the hospital—just out of intensive care. He might lose his foot. He states the circumstances without griping. No, that’s not his concern. He’s gonna miss the FFF event—maybe even Techweek!
So I get back from FFF with over 6,000 words of notes and I know what I gotta do. I send ‘em to Ron so he’s got material for a few articles while he’s in the hospital. And I let him know I’m praying for him. Then I give him a call. But so many people are trying to get this guy on the phone, his voicemail is all plugged up. I never hear that harsh, grating, magnificent voice again.
John Jonelis – ChicagoVentureMagazine.com
PS: In the final edition of his May Report, he writes: “Despite much prayer and hope it was Game Over. So if you have sent me any emails recently, don’t expect a response… We had a good run and I leave this life with no real regrets, at least none that I can print… To all my family, friends, faithful readers, supporters, detractors, gadflies, cronies and anyone else I hit my cane, I am signing off one last time…Till we all meet again. I have to go now. This really is my final report.”
PPS: You can read his obituary in Crain’s Chicago Business: “Tech blogger May’s final scoop: His own death.” It’s a real good article by John Pletz.
Here’s one from Tech Cocktail: Chicago Tech Reporter Ron May Passes Away: The End Of An Era
Here’s another in the Chicago Tribune: Ron May, longtime Chicago tech gadfly, dead at 57
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