Philip J. Kaplan, “F’d Companies”

Despite the fact that I was fully cognizant in the year 2000, I don’t remember much about the dot-com bust. I remember making fun of the techbiz-speak (like “next-generation synergy solutions using e-commerce platforms”) and seeing print ads for online-only currencies like Flooz. So when a Wikipedia search led me to reading some articles about spectacular website flameouts, I was hooked. This guy started a website tracking the demise of overfunded, underutilized e-businesses in 2000, and these are some of the best stories.

THE LOWDOWN
Published: 2002, 192 pp.
Obtained via: Library
Date started: 6.10.07
Date finished: 6.17.07
What I liked: The overview of each business, where it went wrong, who got burned, how ridiculous the funding and how ridiculous the “products” were are great. Did you know there was a MySpace.com before the current social networking site? It sold digital storage.
There are a ton of websites in this book that are direct precursors to current, successful websites. Some were trying to stream video — but before most people had broadband and fast enough computers. Sixdegrees was a first shot at social networking (and it flamed out by the end of 2000, a two years before Friendster launched). Online scheduling for individuals and businesses, grocery delivery, voice over internet protocol — Google Calendar, Amazon.com and Skype, anyone?
The main problem with these dot-bombs tended to be tons of pressure (from tons of backers) without a product that was proven to be successful and popular. The best dot-coms (and the ones that are thriving today, like MySpace [v. 2.0], eBay) start small, develop a customer base and grow at a reasonable pace. Like a bricks-and-mortar business would.
What I didn’t like: The humor is pretty sophomoric and dude-ly. Sarcasm’s pretty overdone. Occasional ALL CAPS FREAKOUT for unneccessary EMPHASIS. Frequent internet-style punctuation (meaning lack of).
What I learned: How not to launch a dot-com. And to hire a proofreader if I ever write a book.

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