resets the score on its Dead Pool today.

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (
Date: Sat Jul 01 2000 - 05:31:08 PDT

Okay, I admit it, I spent more time this week reading the discussion boards

than I did reading,, and VentureWire
combined. Not that there's any extraordinary content on
It's just fascinating to watch how mean people can be when they're
participating in a Dead Pool. [All scores are reset as of today "so
that we can all play for real"... lovely group of people there, simply

Typical gruntings read like this sampling from today's gristle:

| RealNames lays off 20 percent:
| Let's see... a company that does nothing but create "easy" names so
| people don't have to type in a full URL like oh, say...
| Not a big surprise here. 63 people gone, 254 left.
| Doing what, I'm not sure.
| When: 6/29/2000
| Company:
| Severity: 45
| Points: 145

I don't get it, what's wrong with a company taking steps toward reducing
costs? And saying that the company "does nothing but create easy names"
is way oversimplifying RealNames' value proposition (and business model).

What I find unbelievable is that 70,000 people are participating in this
"eBay for Masochists"...

On second thought, I can believe it. Many people are at their happiest
when they're knee-deep in dirty laundry. Kick em when they're up, kick
em when they're down...
> Web of Intrigue: Who Will Bite the Dust?
> Predicting next dot-com flameout an online sport
> by Carolyn Said, Chronicle Staff Writer, Friday, June 23, 2000
> Forget ``Survivor.'' A real-life elimination contest is playing out all
> around us on a grand scale, as dot-com companies go belly up. But
> instead of TV, it's the Web that's drawing great ratings, as digital
> denizens meet online to predict who will be next to fall.
> Dot-com companies increasingly have been getting expelled from silicon
> paradise over the past two months, victims of shaky business plans and
> drying cash reserves. But instead of a morning-after chat with Bryant
> Gumbel, the folks in the trenches and those who watched from the
> sidelines are finding consolation by going online to a crop of new Web
> sites to lament, lay blame and mock.
> One wildly popular site, a variation of the celebrity death watch,
> involves calculating the odds for which dot-com will bite the dust next.
> Another site, designed to minister to laid-off workers, has become an
> instant media darling, with coverage around the globe and a founder
> who's the new poster boy for Internet meltdown. Pundits and news sites
> have been quick to leap into the fray, with forecasts, death lists and
> contests on who's next.
> ``People view the meteoric rise and fall of these firms as they would a
> football season,'' said Lenny Siegel, director of the Pacific Studies
> Center, which monitors Silicon Valley trends.
> Or maybe it's just Schadenfreude.
> The same fascination that draws people to a train wreck is attracting
> them to monitor -- and gloat in -- the downfall of free-spending
> companies.
> About a dozen dot-coms have gone out of business in the past two months;
> at least three dozen have cut staff in response to changed market
> conditions. The e-tailer herd is expected to continue thinning over
> coming months, as investors refuse to support money-losing firms.
> Playing off the name of the hefty new economy magazine Fast Company, a
> site whose name is truncated here as
> ( launched over Memorial Day weekend. It has
> already drawn some 70,000 people to its dot-com deadpool; many share
> their deeply cynical view of once high-flying companies on the message
> boards. Players get points when a company they've fingered as doomed
> suffers negative events like layoffs or actually goes out of business.
> Soon, the site will start awarding its top Cassandras prizes like
> stereos and vacations, donated by dot-com companies (presumably ones
> that want to stay off the list).
> ``This is in the grand tradition of people in the middle of the culture
> having snotty things to say about it,'' said Paulina Borsook, author of
> the recently published ``Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp Through the
> Terribly Libertarian Culture of High-Tech.'' The sites act as therapy.
> ``If you can talk about a problem you're having, it's not as icky,'' she
> said.
> The lineup of predictions is a roster of tarnished glory: CDnow and
>, which both have acknowledged they're running out of money;
> PlanetRX, which is now exploring ``strategic options'' (read: shopping
> itself around); Kozmo, which sources said just postponed its IPO and
> laid off employees; current hipster sites Napster and; and
> eToys, which was running out of money but has landed $100 million in
> private placement.
> New York consultant Phil Kaplan, 24, started the site as a joke; he's
> bemused by its overnight success, but hopes his firm, PK Consulting,
> will pick up some business as a result.
> Kaplan spends about an hour a night updating the site. It has turned
> into a gossip hot sheet, as industry insiders send in tips about
> layoffs, lost deals and odd corporate behavior. It's been several days
> ahead of established news sources in reporting layoffs and has published
> insider memos, such as one from an Internet chief executive ordering his
> employees not to leave work before 7 p.m. (he did not return calls for
> comment).
> ``They get incredible dirt,'' said Michael Tchong, editor of Iconocast,
> an e-mail list for marketers.
> ``Employees know when things are starting to slow down and not go right.
> This is the kind of thing you can just smell at a company,'' Pacific
> Studies' Siegel said.
> One well-known Internet analyst said he checks the site before
> recommending companies, to make sure they're not listed. A headhunter
> said his recruiters actively call employees at listed companies,
> figuring they'll be ready to bail soon.
> Kaplan's roommate runs a complementary site called
> that's also rife with doom-and-gloom rumors. Its motto: ``Kick 'em
> while they're down.''
> A San Francisco site,, takes a cheerier attitude
> with its slogan: ``The place for bouncing back!''
> Run by entrepreneur Nicholas Hall, who's been through three failed
> startups himself, offers resources such as job
> boards, coaching tips and discussions to help entrepreneurs recover from
> the sting of failure. Hall hopes to make a business of it, with
> sponsorships and paid job listings. The photogenic 30-year-old has
> grabbed attention from media as far away as Australia, South Korea,
> Italy and Brazil.
> ``This is a place where people can submit the lessons they've learned,''
> he explained yesterday as a Japanese TV crew waited to film him. ``We're
> like Oprah Winfrey; (other sites like F--Company and DotComFailures) are
> like Jerry Springer and Inside Edition.''
> Columnists on sites like ZDNet are running their own contests for
> readers to predict dot-com carnage; Upside's site has a dot-com
> graveyard.
> Despite all the attention, the rash of problems doesn't mean all
> Internet companies will collapse. Across all sectors, about one-fifth of
> new enterprises go out of business their first year; half disappear
> within three years.
> ``The fact that a few ill-conceived businesses have folded doesn't mean
> the dot-com economy's in a tailspin,'' Iconocast's, Tchong said. ``The
> Internet does not save you from gross missteps.''
> He pointed out that investors poured $19.9 billion into some 1,700
> Internet startups last year; it's not surprising that not all succeeded.
> ``We're at the end of an incredible boom when money was flowing like
> water, but, like every party, it has to come to an end,'' said Martin
> Kenney, a professor at the University of California at Davis and editor
> of ``Understanding Silicon Valley,'' a forthcoming book. ``Now the
> guests have a hangover, and people who weren't invited to the party are
> pointing that out. But many would say the blowout party was so great,
> they'd take the hangover.''
> Sites most likely to go belly-up, according to a popular web site:
> 1 CDNow
> 2
> 3
> 4
> 5
> 6
> 7 Napster
> 8
> 9
> 10 eToys
> In just the past two weeks, several dot-com companies have either laid
> off employees or shut down.
> -- EMusic: 40
> -- PlanetRX: 70
> -- Great Entertaining: 12
> -- MedicaLogic/Medscape: 110
> -- Salon: 13
> -- InsWeb: 96
> -- Kozmo: 24
> -- MarchFirst: 260
> -- 46
> -- 13
> -- 40
> -- 4
> -- 47
> -- News: 140(n)
> -- Petstore
> --
> -- Surfbuzz
> --
> --
> (n) Had planned to close the company, but has rehired some staff
> and is talking to investors.
> (nn) Sold to


Microsoft isn't the only company promoting XML. Indeed, one of the most interesting wrinkles in the Microsoft.NET strategy is that Microsoft has opted not to try to create a proprietary version of XML that it could sell at a huge profit. Instead, the company is working closely with IBM and an industry-standards body called the World Wide Web Consortium, which has the support of Sun, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, and more than 400 other companies, to hammer out a version of XML they all can live with. "I told Bill [Gates] I thought it was the single most courageous thing he's ever done," says Dave Winer, founder and president of Userland, a small Silicon Valley software-tools company that is a key player in determining XML standards. Winer thinks the cooperation will discourage predatory behavior: "IBM and Microsoft and Sun will keep each other honest," he says. -- Brent Schlender, "Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead", Fortune magazine article on Microsoft.NET, July 10, 2000,

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