By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Acacia Research spokesperson Pam Tomkinson said Acacia elected not to continue funding Soundbreak when it became clear that there wouldn't be a market for online music in the near future. "We didn't see the ability to raise additional funds in this environment to sustain growth over the long term. Bandwidth is just not at the stage that it needs to be for something like Soundbreak to be feasible in this market," she said. "The penetration of cable into the home is not what we thought it would be two years ago." In the future, Acacia will invest its considerable millions (98.3, to be exact) in biotechnology.
At 1 p.m. today, approximately 35 percent of Razorfish's 1,800-person staff will be laid off . . . you have about 2 hours to burn those CDs and steal shit . . .
WTF is Razorfish?
"Razorfish provides strategic, creative and technology solutions to some of the world's most successful digital businesses. We partner with our clients to plan, design and build products and services that shape the way the world perceives and interacts with your company."
In other words, we'll take your money any way we can 'cause we have no plan.
--Exchange between anonymous posters on FuckedCompany.com
NO DOUBT, MANY OF THE FLOATERS IN THE dot-com dead pool did not deserve to live. The list of flops, reported regularly on the Industry Standard's Web site, TheStandard.com, reveals a glut of businesses attempting to translate to digital space all the conveniences of real life: BroadbandSports.com, PlanetRx.com, GreatEntertaining.com, Greenlight.com (an e-commerce auto seller). They thought they could contain the world in a digital box, the way they tried to condense a city like Los Angeles into a mall in Burbank. But the sudden dot-com crash has confirmed what many of us suspected: The Internet can augment the analog world, but can't replace it. As such, it has room for only one eBay.
"There are dozens and dozens of sites for every niche," complains Rick Muenyong, a self-ordained expert in e-commerce based in Los Angeles. "There are dozens of toy sites, pet sites, music sites, and shopping online is still something people are starting to get used to. The only way these sites can make money is by advertising on television, or in the mainstream print sector." At the age of 18, Muenyong scored his first success in the dot-com world in the one niche that does seem to be able to sustain dozens and dozens -- in fact, hundreds -- of sites: pornography. (According to a recent survey by Alexa Research, the No. 1 term used on search-engine sites is, and has always been, "sex.") Back in 1996, he launched YnotNetwork.com, "a resource site for adult Web sites," essentially a portal for the porn industry. Two years ago, he started ShortDomains.com, which amassed a collection of "premier" domain names -- mad.com, official.com, viplounge.com -- and put them up for sale. ShortDomains has a current list of over 600 names, and has so far brought in more than $300,000 in sales. YnotNetwork.com was sold in January 2000 to a company called Flying Crocodile. Muenyong won't give an exact figure. "But it was in the millions, definitely."
The cash from ShortDomains' sales has allowed Muenyong to "get into the mainstream business," he says, which he'll try to do in the next year with Ranks.com, an index to the best sites on the Internet. Call it hubris, but not a hint of uncertainty creeps into Muenyong's voice. He plans to spend his money on capital and labor, he says, not advertising. And he advises other dot-commers still crazy enough to launch a new idea to do the same: "Start small, and when you do start to spend money on advertising, know exactly what your payoff is," he says. "Search for profits rather than exposure and popularity.
"It's just simple advice," says Muenyong. "After all, I'm not even a businessman. I'm just a computer geek."
The American compulsion to explain away the downturn has itself created a new industry, complete with its own jargon. Dot-bombsand dot-goneshave gone down the dot-commode --"the toilet," according to Keith Dawson's Web log, Tasty Bits From the Technology Front (www.tbtf. com), "down which billions of dot-com stock valuation recently disappeared." TheCompost.com offers up-to-the-minute reports on the industry's troubles and conducts a "dot-com death wish" poll. Online liquidators such as Overstock.com buy up the inventories of the fallen. The recently unemployed can reroute their e-mail to an address at ijustgotfired.com. Yet another site, startupfailures.com, struggles to establish itself as a portal of hope for dot-bomb refugees. In addition to an advice column, it commissions "Lessons Learned From a Startup Failure" from its readers. The first lesson comes courtesy of proprietor (and startup-failure veteran) Nicholas Hall: Don't squander your cash on labor. "Startup Failures is looking for one or two good volunteers to help with the administration of our Web site," reads a line at the bottom of the home page. Interested applicants are invited to contact Hall directly.
FuckedCompany.com's Phil Kaplan, otherwise known as "pud" (always lowercase), compiles a daily Web log of layoffs and shutdowns -- he calls them fucks. Contributors post anonymous commentary in the "Happy Fun Slander Corner," but it's Kaplan's unrepentant frat-boy humor that defines the site. When Women.com asked its readers to vote on the Internet's most eligible bachelors of the year, "Men of the Internet 2001," Kaplan campaigned on his site and won the contest with 14,000 votes. It was a contest as rigged as when Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf won People's most beautiful person of 1998 with the help of a Howard Stern driven campaign. But without Kaplan, it's not likely that Women.com -- which was recently acquired by iVillage -- would have lured 14,000 votes for anyone.
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