Predicting which companies are fucked

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From: Mike Masnick (
Date: Tue Jun 06 2000 - 00:31:08 PDT

Taking a page from Danny's "Falco" program, a website called (which I tried to look at now, but which seems fucked
itself by some sort of MS Access error) which allows you to predict which
companies are fucked before any such news is made public. Extra points are
given to predictions of less obvious candidates for being in a fucked
condition. Kinda cool. Salon article below.

This article is, of course, from the same company (Salon) that just last
week asked us all to stop caring about all these dot com layoffs and shut
downs. They asked the media to stop writing about them 'cause it just
ain't big news (their opinion). Personally, I think it's fascinating. I
think it's an important and valuable lesson and they should be reported.
Especially the overly hyped companies.

Now, in general, I'm against extremes, and I do think the dot com backlash
has gotten a little bit silly these days (though most of it is coming
strictly from the media), but realizing that it helps to have a real
business model, and a plan to survive as a real business (and not just a
cool feature) is an important part of building a business. Watching
companies run into trouble is somewhat refreshing. Do I think that some
companies are being put in trouble unfairly? Sure. But, for the most
part, the companies that are having trouble now are in trouble for a reason.


Dot-com deathwatch

A new site rewards those who predict the New Economy's losers.

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By Janelle Brown

June 06, 2000 | The New Economy's favorite vindictive game has long been
one of guessing which overfunded, overhyped dot-com company is doomed to
fail. But now that the industry is starting to come down around our ears,
the nervous Schadenfreude is palpable --!! Third Age!
They're all toast! People love to crow about the demise of their dot-com
brethren, while secretly praying that it doesn't happen to them.

So, it was just a matter of time before someone conceived the Web site -- the perfect post-ironic betting game for the digital
age. Predicting the end of the economy as we know it was never so fun.

The site, whose name and logo play off the New Economy journal Fast
Company, is a kind of riff off the Celebrity Dead Pool Web site, which lets
fans guess at which of their favorite stars is doomed to die and rewards
the winners. But at Fuckedcompany, it's the business plans that are the bet.

The idea is simple: Sign up, and choose five companies you think are
doomed. If and when those companies start having trouble -- whether it be a
nasty lawsuit, a layoff, or flat-out bankruptcy -- you receive points based
on a complicated system that awards up to 100 points for "severity." The
popularity of your choice, however, reduces the points you'll receive, so
that a more obscure choice will help you climb up the ranks faster than,
say, picking the obviously suffering CDNow. Each week, members get to add
five more companies to their list.

If, for example, you had predicted the demise of before it
announced it was out of money on Monday, you would have netted 160 points;
a prediction of Third Age's layoffs of last week was worth 159 points; the
discovery that was exposing its customers' personal data
meant that those who picked that company received 115 points. All "fucks"
have to be confirmed by the Web site Dotcomfailures, the sister site to
Fuckedcompany, which is attempting to chronicle each and every industry

And what do you get if you win? Well, there is no prize, except for the
glory of winning; but currently, someone named "diskore" is pulling ahead
with 174 points. All the more predictive power to them.

The two sites were created by one Philip J. Kaplan, a New York Web designer
who left for Brazil just a few days after launching the site just over a
week ago. He was inspired, he says, by the constant news of layoffs and
lawsuits, and decided to come up with a easy idea that could generate more
traffic than your average overfunded start-up. "I'm not a pessimistic
person but a lot of the ideas seem to be ridiculous, and are receiving an
even more ridiculous amount of money," he says from a hotel in Rio de
Janeiro. "The site is not to say that all dot-coms are doomed -- but a lot
of them are."

The most interesting part of the project, he says, is watching which
companies are chosen as failures-to-be. While a surprising number of
players are secretly choosing their own company as a potential "fuck,"
other popular choices are Napster, eBay, and Toys 'R' Us. "Watching the
companies being picked is more interesting than looking at the stock
market," Kaplan laughs.

The site has already signed up tens of thousands of players, he claims, but
he has no plans to make any money from the project. Kaplan does, however,
have an advertisement on the sites for SETI, the screensaver that crunches
data to assist in the search for alien life forms. So, if you're not having
much luck predicting the future in this bleak IPO landscape, maybe you'll
get lucky and find a UFO instead. Stranger things have happened.

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About the writer
Janelle Brown is a senior writer for Salon Technology.

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