Where have we been these past 20 months?
DEAD - some users must have assumed. Multitudes of websites manage only a few painful breaths of reality before expiring, while those that leap into cyber life rush up the charts are so rare.
With The Beachfront Club website frozen static for a year and a ''alf, it's only natural to assume ''graveyard'' for us, too. But no, while we may have lived with one foot in the grave this past year, The Beachfront Club is now very much alive, standing on three solid legs.
And we are out to achieve all we originally claimed in January last year when the first Beta view of our mapping and hotel branches was opened.
What happened? Why didn't the promise of a unique, innovative website that fills a unique niche in the marketplace take off as so many people expected it would?
Actually it did take off, for a very short time. Following the opening of our incomplete Beta version a press campaign was launched and editors around the world responded.
The Beachfront Club's innovative mapping of the world's true beachfront hotels was featured in hundreds of newspapers globally. It got a mention or feature in many of the major newspapers of Europe, North America and Australia.
The Daily News of London named it Website of the Week, while also noting it was quite incomplete. The site rocketed up to 27,000 on the Alexa scale. But then it crashed.
People, not the business concept, were the problem.
And I and my foolish idealism were the problem behind the people. I assembled the original team to build the business as a group of partners - somewhat over idealistically, perhaps.
This team of six, however, fell into the familiar pattern of new business ventures with multiple partners. When did the troubles begin?
As soon as the money got tight.
The younger, more tech-savvy members of the team were convinced that they, and only they, could build and run a new-era, digital business like our hi-tech, interactive website.
Only young minds tightly meshed into the digital world could understand and predict the intricacies of the emerging technology, they believed, with some justification.
They wanted control far beyond that dictated by their shareholding. The older, more experienced members argued that their business acumen and market knowledge had to rule the directions that the business took - while sometimes reminding that their majority shareholding backed up this assertion.
Software development ran many months over schedule and budget, and cash began to run out. With all members of the team working for points in the business, most getting minimal or no salary, the disagreements on how to proceed became more impassioned.
The tech-savvy members of the team, still in their early twenties, took up the weapons of ideological battle to win one-man one-vote and slay the unfair, elitist demon of superior shareholding that held the older partners and their decisions over their heads.
Emotions flared easily on both sides and disagreements took on a bitter, then savage edge. Even within such a small group, relationships turned confrontational in several directions.
Those older partners - and particularly this founder - regretted having inspired the young guys to use their technical brilliance to build this website ''as partners in the team''.
We regretted our own ideological follies in inspiring dreams of a team working in the manner of friends and ''equals''. The authority of the ''boss'' was no longer recognised.
There had been solid reasoning behind my original efforts to inspire each partner to share his abilities for the common good, to expend maximum sweat, blood and tears to earn his shareholding. All very nice ideologically, but . . .
A bitter struggle for control of the website began.
The young tech partners removed themselves to the other side of the planet, taking a trump card in their pocket.
An old story? A very common one, we are now told. Almost every experienced businessman knows of one personally, it seems.
Friends cannot do business together. Friends should never do business together, goes the old maxim. I swear I will never try the same again, nor put trust in either human nature or idealistic motives if starting a business again.
It's not that I had no business experience - but 30 years of running my own business in Thailand, Cambodia and neighboring countries was void of such idealism and partners. Without partners, I had complete control - great for the decision making process.
The flip side of that however, is that anyone with 51 percent or more of the shareholding gets 100 percent of the problems - to handle alone.
In the print and magazine publishing business that I had run the problems came in multitudes; human, technical, financial, legal, competitive.
I had long dreamed of a more comfortable, friendly business environment in which partners shared ownership, responsibilities and burdens. With the right partners, I had dreamed, I would be free to abandon the office and head for the beaches with a camera in my hands.
Through 2011 shooting photos of Thai beaches was about all I did. We could not build a website. While disagreement raged, the website was locked down. It's obvious who had both the passwords and the motivation to close us down.
Such business standstills, wherein the manager loses control of critical company resources, may not be the well-known story that business partner blow-ups is - or not yet.
The intelligence I pick up from this new high-tech, digital world suggests that right now a new generation of code-writing ''businessmen'' is fast rewriting the rules, and situations like ours are becoming something of a new norm.
Managers and owners of new digital businesses face a new world of challenges based on changing mores.
Through most of 2011 the founder and partners were locked out of the website by the hot-headed, younger techies.
Only near the end of the 2011 was a negotiated settlement achieved and control of the site returned to the legal owners - causing a full year loss in development, plus the loss of investment and other opportunities.
Further technical problems with the site, largely the result of the year of neglect, cost several more months in rebuilding.
With our financial resources long since depleted, this year we plodded through a slow, struggling reconstruction - with some new build.
Now, in October 2012, almost four years since work first began, we are finally announcing the completion of Phase 1 of the site.
There is no ''Beta'' on this, and it stands on all three major legs; the maps, the hotels (seen last year in early form) and now the new travel info and photo branch.
Due to the meagre resources available, this new branch is only seen in Thailand for now. However, is it a well-planned, solid example of what we plan to achieve, and it will expand, following our beach maps around the world.
After the struggle we have come through, the remaining working partner, Jade Wei, and I will not let up on our determination to make this website fulfill its original global promise.
John Everingham, Bangkok
Check it out at: thebeachfrontclub.com
''Never again be fooled by misleading advertising from hotels not truly on the beach''