As Was Company History
As Was was conceived when Debbie Levitt was four years old in 1976 and decided that one of her major life goals would be to someday run her own company. To train for this, she hoarded office supplies from her father’s law firm, making good use of legal, stenographer’s, and while-you-were-out pads. Playtime for young Debbie meant creating forms for friends and family members to fill out, and a visit from her supplier, “Mr. Ryder of Ryder Trucking,” played by Grandma Lee.
When it came time to make that company a reality (legally) in June of 1991, the only name of choice was “As Was,” taken from the punchline from a cartoon Debbie remembered seeing on an educational children’s TV show when she was two years old. While As Was developed on the side, Debbie graduated Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts in 1993 with a Bachelors of Arts in Music, and then completed a certificate program in audio engineering. As Was became a full-time endeavor in April 1995 when Debbie left her weekday job as a jazz booking agent AND her job as weekend manager at Donald Fagen’s NYC recording studio, River Sound.
Debbie celebrated her new freedom by visiting her computer guru pal, Ed, back at Tufts. He said, “You have to see this new thing, the web. Here’s a program that will show you how to make this stuff.” Stars shone in Debbie’s eyes and the incidental background music swelled as she thought to herself, “I bet companies would pay people who really knew how to do this.”
Being a life-long techie and computer-lover as well as being extremely creative, the internet was a natural outlet for Debbie’s interests in business, creativity, and technology. She spent a few all-nighters pulling down major companies’ webpages and figuring out how the code produced what she saw in her Netscape version 1.1 browser, and made graphics in Adobe Photoshop version 2.5. As Was was born (thanks, Ed!) and started taking off after Debbie returned from her work as tour manager and sound engineer on the summer 1995 European tour of “The Jazz Passengers with special guest vocalist Debbie Harry.”
The late 1990s were spent growing the business and expanding what As Was offered. As Was started with simple website design and development, and soon added custom programming, allowing clients to collect, import, and export data. As Was developed its own e-commerce website that was customized and installed for a number of clients. Through the 1990s, As Was completed projects for The Miss America Organization, Schering-Plough, ING Barings, and Scholastic.
In early 2001, As Was evolved from focusing on custom-programmed websites to offering multiple sales channels to clients. Customized e-commerce sites also became, in some cases, eBay auction management tools. Website designs became eBay listing templates. Mail order and retail businesses added eBay as a sales channel.
In 2004, Debbie became eBay’s first Certified Consultant and first Education Specialist Trained by eBay. As Was became eBay’s first Certified Service Provider, and helped create eBay’s Certified Provider program. As Was stayed a Certified Provider until August 2010 when the decision was made to stop paying the program membership fee.
April 21, 2011 celebrates our sixteenth anniversary. Debbie’s love of what she does has brought her success, and her success has certainly made what she does easy to love.
“I Want It As Was!”
In 1991, Debbie Levitt filed d/b/a papers to start using As Was as a company name. From where did that name come? It was part of the punchline from a cartoon Debbie remembered seeing on “The Electric Company” (though some have argued incorrectly that it was on Sesame Street) when she was two years old. She thought it was the wittiest thing she had ever heard (at the time), and it stuck with her. Here is the transcript of that cartoon, and someone was nice enough to load it to YouTube.
A shady-sounding guy and another guy are standing next to an old, beat-up car that has a large AS IS sign on it.
Buyer: How much for the car?
Car Salesman: Fifty bucks.
Buyer: Will you fix the fenders, lights, and stuff?
Car Salesman: See that sign over there? It says AS IS. That means you take it EXACTLY the way you see it there right now, AS IS. Fifty bucks, and it’s yours. AS IS.
Buyer: Hmmm. Five dollars.
Car Salesman: Thirty.
Car Salesman: Sold!
The car promptly falls to a million pieces with the AS IS sign still on the car.
Buyer (very whiny): I want it AS WAS!
The sign on the car changes to “as was.”