From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Sat Jul 01 2000 - 05:31:08 PDT
Okay, I admit it, I spent more time this week reading the
FuckedCompany.com discussion boards
than I did reading RedHerring.com, TheStandard.com, and VentureWire
combined. Not that there's any extraordinary content on FC.com.
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...
| www.realnames.com. Not a big surprise here. 63 people gone, 254 left.
| Doing what, I'm not sure.
| When: 6/29/2000
| Company: RealNames.com
| 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
> 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 F--edCompany.com
> (http://188.8.131.52/) 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
> ROSTER OF TARNISHED GLORY
> The lineup of predictions is a roster of tarnished glory: CDnow and
> drkoop.com, 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 MP3.com; 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
> INCREDIBLE DIRT
> ``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 DotComFailures.com
> that's also rife with doom-and-gloom rumors. Its motto: ``Kick 'em
> while they're down.''
> A San Francisco site, StartupFailures.com, 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, StartupFailures.com 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.''
> DOT-COM CARNAGE
> Columnists on sites like ZDNet are running their own contests for
> readers to predict dot-com carnage; Upside's site has a dot-com
> 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 Pets.com
> 3 drkoop.com
> 4 Amazon.com
> 5 Kozmo.com
> 6 Buy.com
> 7 Napster
> 8 MP3.com
> 9 AllAdvantage.com
> 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
> -- Espanol.com: 46
> -- VarsityBooks.com: 13
> -- Anything.com: 40
> -- Sparks.com: 4
> -- Learn2.com: 47
> -- APBnews.com News: 140(n)
> OUT OF BUSINESS
> -- Petstore
> -- Reel.com
> -- Surfbuzz
> -- BeautyScene.com
> -- Brandwise.com
> (n) Had planned to close the company, but has rehired some staff
> and is talking to investors.
> (nn) Sold to Pets.com
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, http://www.fortune.com/fortune/2000/07/10/mic4.html
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