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101 Dumbest Dot-Com Moments 143

Posted by Hemos
from the a-stroll-down-memory-lane dept.
brennan73 writes "eCompany.com has posted an article called "Boo! And the 100 Other Dumbest Moments in e-Business History". There's some pretty good stuff in there, but I particularly enjoyed revisiting the predictions of how sites like BBQ.com were going to change the world. My personal favorite quote, from Henry Blodget of CIBC Oppenheimer: 'Unlike with other famous bubbles ... the Internet bubble is riding on rock-solid fundamentals, perhaps stronger than any the market has seen before.' Um..."
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101 Dumbest Dot-Com Moments

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Actually, returning to the Gap or Banana Republic is a very very easy process. I was simply amazed that i could walk in, take off my jacket and say "I want to return this" with no questions asked.
  • Thanks for clearing that up. I'll reiterate my recommendation of Standage's book. Given your bibliophillic tendencies you'll likely find it a quick easy read.

    As to the nature of the kinds of communication possible over the web I think my mileage does vary from yours. The popularity of discussion boards such as Slashdot and the like may seem different. But perhaps only if you've never used a web browser to scan Usenet newsgroups. Otherwise they are quite similar (flamewars, respected authors/posters, lunatics and goat sex etc.).

    About the only big change in telecom I have seen is the dissappearance of public pay telephones to be superceded by the ubiquitous wireless phone (cell, PCS, etc.). However I know of several contemporaneous World War II films that showed GI's using Motorola built walkie talkies in the 1940's. In the late 60's/early 70's you could catch Steve McGarritt using such bulky walkie talkie inspired (no doubt Motorola built) wireless phones on Hawaii Five-Oh. The relative inexpense and subsequent ubiquity of today's cell phones is something of a cultural phenomenon. But does the term revolution truly apply to it? I just do not think so. I think revolution is a hackneyed marketing buzzword. Your opinion may differ.

  • by Tony Shepps (333) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @10:12AM (#295808) Homepage
    It seems to me that the statement "E-Business is here, and it's here to stay." is structurally just as brash as "Unlike with other famous bubbles ... the Internet bubble is riding on rock-solid fundamentals, perhaps stronger than any the market has seen before."

    Everybody expects e-business to stay, and I personally hope against hope that it's true. In fact, I've practically mortgaged my future on the idea that it's true. But y'know, the sad thing is that we can't take that statement for granted any longer. Even the really good business models seem to be failing. We still have Amazon, Paypal and E-Bay? Are you sure you'll be making that same statement a year from now?

    One of my favorite vendors of choice has been outpost.com and this morning's news says they probably aren't long for this world. I guess I should have foreseen that they were one of the FC's. But HOW? On Monday morning everyone says THEY understand what happened, but Friday afternoon all we have are bold predictions.

    Has there ever been a similar time in business history, where an entire market segment arrived, evolved, and 99.4% perished in the space of less than a decade?

    Fucked Company is a lot of fun for those who weren't fucked, and reporting on the end of a cycle is just as important as reporting on the exciting beginning of it. I just hope that at the end of this downturn we have something to work with.

    We all have to acknowledge that the net *still* requires the buy-in of the general public, who aren't like us at all. Some of them are even getting tired of $20/month dialup. The blue chip net stocks are dying. There doesn't appear to be any benefit to being online. Nobody can prove that the whole thing isn't a fad. Almost everyone has had to throw their assumptions out and start over.

    In uncertain times, certainty about the future is dangerous.

  • Actually, I think we will have at least E-Bay and Paypal in a year or so, if they don't fuck it up. I'm not so sure about Amazon, but they'll probably still be there too.

    But, more to the point, there will always be work for people who fill that same economic niche, and I think there is a niche there now.

    And yes, there have been times like that, it depends on external history, and you're exaggerating greatly. Prohibition, cocaine, and stuff like that are good examples. Even the stock market (NASDAQ and tech stuff) hasn't gone down by more than 60% since its peak; certainly not 99.4%

    And of course they're tired of $20/month dialup; that's because dialup is slow. They're getting cable modems or DSL. They're all addicted to e-mail, have websites, and have favorite websites. Some of them are on lists, and some of them use chat programs. And I'm not even talking about the geeks I know here...

    Oh. Nice post, and I have to ask: why are you still here? If there's any has-been site that should be mentioned here, it's SLASHDOT. :)
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • by pb (1020) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @08:54AM (#295810)
    The story isn't even amusing, and the methodology is flawed. E-Business is here, and it's here to stay. The only fact we've seen so far is that companies that can't make money fail.

    Note the structure in each of these "dumb moments".

    Person x starts company y. Blah blah blah. Then, n months later, company y dies horribly.

    Ooo, big surprise. Then you just pick, like, 50 people and companies, and a couple of anecdotes about each one, and figure out how long that n months is until the market collapsed. Whee, I'm a journalist now!

    What is more interesting is, instead of stupidly gloating, to note which companies are still *in* business and why, rather to glibly talk about the failure of e-business. Some companies are making money, or have viable business models. Ok, so pets.com is dead. Oh darn. But look, we still have Amazon.com, Paypal, and E-Bay!
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • by Kostya (1146) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:22AM (#295811) Homepage Journal
    Utek, a business development company that finds, acquires, develops, and finances university technology for its customers, issues the following warning in its prospectus: "Our management has limited experience operating a business, has had no experience in managing and operating a business development company, and has little or no experience in corporate finance and corporate mergers."

    That just sums it all up, doesn't? Raise your hand if you worked for a company like that. :-)

  • "And just because these junk bonds are junk bonds doesn't mean they're worthless.... oh wait, yes it does."

    Junk bonds are not in fact junk, if by that you are using the everday American interpretation of that word. It makes one think twice about the meme theory to realize that for 50 years or so financial professionals refused to deal with lower-grade bonds simply because they had been labelled with that term.

    It was the realization that "junk" bonds were really quite valuable once the correct math for valuation of risk were applied that unlocked the financial restructuring of the US in the 1980s (and incidently made a few people disgustingly wealthy). We in the US have been reaping the beneifts of that restructuring ever since, although we may be running out of gas here finally (2001).

    sPh

  • "Do you know who invented the computer? Charles Babbage or Ada Lovelace? Konrad Zuse? Atanashoff or Berry? NCR? IBM? John "I couldn't wire a circuit if my life depended on it" von Neuman? Alan Turing? Are you aware of when the telephone was invented? The Radio? The television?"

    Given that I have worked in the electric utility, telecommunications, and information management industries, and that I have over 500 books on the history of technology in my collection (publication dates ranging from 1500 - 2001), yes, I would say that I do know a little bit about those things. Never as much as I would like, though.

    I also have a limit on the amount of time I can spend composing Slashdot posts during my lunch hour (unlike, say, Jon Katz), thus leading me to be less clear or complete than I would like ("if I had more time I would write less"). Sorry if I what I wrote wasn't clear to you, but I think my meaning was there.

    And while I certainly believe that there is actually very little new under the sun, the kind of communication that is occuring today over the web is different from what has gone before. That's my opinion; YMMV.

    And to the previous poster: (i) 000 is a common accounting abbreviation for "thousands" (ii) Slashdot has a limit on the length of a post's title.

    sPh
  • by sphealey (2855) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:12AM (#295814)
    I have a collection of publications from the steam and electric utility industries 1880 - 1920. Around 1900 there were thousands of suppliers of switchgear, generator, transformers, motors, fuseboxes, electric irons, etc. People were trying to electrify everything from stoves (successful) to dog walking (unsuccessful). Companies came and went with incredible speed, fortunes were won and lost, etc. Sound familiar?

    Electronic communication is in its infancy, and it may well be a transition point similar to the arrival of the steam engine and electricy (MAY be). During any transition point there will be chaos, fortunes, and failures. That's the nature of evolution.

    What does concern me a bit is that this time government may be large and well-organized enough to be quash the chaos on behalf of the vested interests. (can you say DMCA? RIAA?) That could stop any possible transition in its tracks.

    sPh
  • Yeah... I got a question. Actually two.

    "So what do you want? A cookie?"

    Your prediction might have been a little more earth shattering if it had been made back in like '97 or '98. That's kind of like waiting till the fourth quarter to make a prediction on who's going to win.

  • Building a market on advertising, when your customers are primarily people who are too cheap to pay for your content, seems to be the stupidest idea business has ever had.

    This is BS! There are plenty of dot coms that brought in millions of dollars in advertising. The biggest problem ad-based dot coms had was 1) spending too much money and 2) expecting to always be able to raise more money.

    Let's look at Digital Entertainment Network. They raised something like $100 million, and were blowing $50,000 per video episode, for a burn rate of something like $10 mil/month. The truth is, they could have spent $1000 per episode and gotten similar results using cheap cameras and cheap talent.

    On the advertising side, DEN had a $10 million dollar advertising contract with people like Pepsi and Ford. Had they kept their burn rate to below their advertising pay-in, they would have been fine. And, I argue, that keeping it "real and small" ala early Slashdot would have lead to their content being more user-centric instead of more tv-esque.

    iCast repeated the same mistake. Pseudo, which started in a much more controlled way, spiralled out of control in an attempt to go public (again, chasing the "easy money" that turned out not to be so).

    Of course, I myself chased after the "easy VC money" after raising an initial angel round, so I understand why they did it...

    Early Slashdot also had a big advantage - a highly targetted tech audience, which resulted in higher CPMs than a "consumer" site. Also a smart idea :)
  • by TheSync (5291)
    Slashdot and a newly flush with cash Andover.net launch the Beanie Awards. After a mysterious process of nomination and voting, $100,000 is handed out for such awards as "Best Unix Eyecandy"...Video available here. [thesync.com]

    Hah, that was a hillarious night. Great quotes: "Is everyone drunk yet?" "Drink More" "IPO money needed to be spent" "Who here voted? Who lied?"
  • by szyzyg (7313) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:01AM (#295818)
    mp3.com's strategy of building something 'of dubious leaglity' and begging forgiveness later - websites aren't like white labels.

    Microsoft Outlook and the plethora of viruses it spreads.

    Amazon patenting One-Click shopping and therefore triggering a boycott by the geek contingent.

    AOL Buying nullsoft and then watching as Justin Frankel creates Gnutella and tells the world how to hack AIM.

    Some guy in ireland creating the first (free and open source too) mp3 radio software then not telling anyone about it.... 18 months later shoutcast launches and within days there are thousands of channels ;-)

  • by donturn (7351) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @08:49AM (#295819)
    ourfirsttime.com

  • I have a collection of publications from the steam and electric utility industries 1880 - 1920. Around 1900 there were thousands of suppliers of switchgear, generator, transformers, motors, fuseboxes, electric irons, etc. People were trying to electrify everything from stoves (successful) to dog walking (unsuccessful). Companies came and went with incredible speed, fortunes were won and lost, etc. Sound familiar?

    Yup, it just looks like the railroad craze in the 1850's...


    --

  • Zero's of failures? Dear God the travesty! Cheap I know, sorry.
  • What is more interesting is, instead of stupidly gloating, to note which companies are still *in* business and why, rather to glibly talk about the failure of e-business.

    Go right ahead and write about it. But why attack the authors of that article for writing what they wanted instead of what you wanted? That's childish.

  • How was that the fault of e-business?

    --
    Delphis
  • The "Quick-click" software actually dates back to the pre-boom pre-NBC era of Xoom (or whoever).

    Of course, even after flushing millions of dollars into NBCi, NBC execs were too stupid to spend any airtime marketing the thing until the realized that their portal was one step from death a couple months ago. Now there's a flurry of ads, never mind that they are shutting the thing down.
    --
  • Yeah, I saw that episode of Simpsons, too.
  • VA IPOs [yahoo.com]

    C-X C-S
  • they, in effect, didn't have a coherent business plan

    Sure they did. The business plan was "Find gullible investors and milk them until they wise up or run out of money."


    ---
  • by CokeBear (16811) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @08:56AM (#295828) Journal

    The winner, in my book:

    http://slashdot.org/articles/98/11/06/166258.shtml [slashdot.org]

    The oldest story on Slashdot that can still be accessed:

    http://slashdot.org/articles/older/00000004.shtml [slashdot.org]

    (I find particulary amusing the comments by Rob Malda... I think that would be the first slashdot troll ever)

  • Do you think he meant heresy or hearsay in comment #3? :)

    --

  • During Super Bowl XXXIII, Buy.com unveils history's least elegant TV commercial: It involves a man who's ... who's.... You'd better head to the newsstand to see the photos of this one.

    Anyone know what they're talking about?

    --

  • Scooped by The Register, and apparently Ars, yet again. keep it up guys!
  • Wow, when did that happen, I didn't even realize it, but its true. Now, I'm trying to remember the site that used to be at slashdot.com, and I can't :(
  • There was an interesting article in the Apr 9 issue of Newsweek. Allan Sloan writes:
    Amazon will survive, but not in its current form. Either it will pull a Netscape, which sold out to AOL, or else its main business will become running Web operations for other firms. Amazon is great at Web presence and savvy, crummy at making money. The world is full of companies that are great at profits, crummy at Web presence. The logic is irresistible.

    Even if this doesn't turn out to be Amazon's main business, it would be a great way for them to staunch their gushing cash hemmorhage. Unfortunately it might mean that other companies would license the one-click patent from them, and then loyal /.'ers would have to boycott a slew of potentially cool businesses. This assumes that the boycotters (of which I am one) decide to be consistent about their principles instead of confining their malice to Steve Bezos.

    -N

  • Bah yourself! This story _is_ very amusing. I don't give a damn about the methodology, it's not like this is Science, it's just a list of amusing things. They could publish a list of stupid things done by TV journalists, would you respond with "actually most tv journalists take their job very seriously blah blah"? Your last point "what is more interesting" misses the point. This article is not a survey of the whole internet, it's a post-mortem on some shuttered corners of it. If you want to know about current healthy businesses, just move on, nothing to see here!

    Personally I know full well about the successful web businesses etc, so do a lot of people. The point is, this article was an amusing look at those _other_ guys, a lot of whom made a lot of fuss and bother and brought themselves to our attention back before they failed. I found it much more interesting than "Ebay still here, making money, so is Amazon. MSNBC check, AOL check.... zzzzzzzz".

  • by Stavr0 (35032)
    Andover.net acquires PT cruiser, christens it the Slashdot Cruiser.
    ---
  • doesn't work for IE5, besides, it should search dictionary.com, not google
  • Kozmo.

    More words, actually: looks like Kozmo is leaving the building. Wonder if I can pick up a cheap gross-out-orange scooter and some cool messenger bags from them?

    Yes, I'd like to have local delivery service for things orderend by phone / web / telepathy, but Kozmo ain't it. Want some cat litter by mail? ("We may lose on each sale, but we make up for in volume ...")

    timothy
  • I like this Doonesbury [doonesbury.com] better...

    -Chris

  • by Hard_Code (49548) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @10:51AM (#295839)
    I actually have been receiving dead-tree catalogues of tools from Amazon. I didn't realize it until recently, but that's pretty damn ironic.
  • I re-read the JonKatz article, and my first responce was-
    "Holy Sh*t! That was in 1998?!"
    I remember that article, and the Halloween documents that preceded it. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but I suppose that with those postings, Slashdot became Mainstreme.

    When Netscape announced the next version of Communicator would be Open Source, I think that that drove more pople to the site to figure out what the hell 'Open Source' meant.

    Wow. It's been an interesting ride, slashdot.
    Let's see what the future holds.
    --

    This message brought to you by Colin Davis
  • by klund (53347) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:11AM (#295841)
    Amazon patenting One-Click shopping and therefore triggering a boycott by the geek contingent.

    Amazon.com loses money on every item they sell, so the "geek boycott" actually is SAVING them money, pushing the company towards profitability.

    Do you want to hurt Amazon.com? I mean really hurt them? Then you should buy everything you that you possible can from them. Amazon lost a BILLION dollars last year. With the combined purchasing power of all the geeks on Slashdot, we could make this two billion dollars and really drive them into the ground!
    --
  • True for most. However, if you purchase from buy.com (books, cds, movies, consumer electronics, computer stuff) they include the return postage! So if you don't like their stuff then by all means send it back! Now that *is* convenience. I order from them all the time. Between them and barnes and noble I can avoid ordering from amazon.com. I do that on principle because I disagree with their 1-click patent. Voting with my $$ :)

    JOhn
  • Don't forget the 2 stories they lifted from the front page of Spave.com today.
  • Uh, Space.com

    :)

  • Must've been incredibly funny. Does all the world have to view the superbowl on TV or what?
    My favourite was 11 anyway.
  • by citizenc (60589) <cary.glidedesign@ca> on Thursday April 12, 2001 @08:57AM (#295846) Journal
    .. was they, in effect, didn't have a coherent business plan. Online business is the same, from a management standpoint, as .. uh, real life business -- you need to offer something new and exciting in order to stay afloat. What, I can buy clothes online? But what if I want to try them on? Yeah, never though of that, did you?

    It's the same reason why I refuse to buy ANYTHING, other then things like CDs, online -- the return process is awful.

    That's just my opinion, however.

    ------------
    CitizenC
  • by citizenc (60589) <cary.glidedesign@ca> on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:26AM (#295847) Journal
    I just stumbled across this Dilbert strip [dilbert.com] which is relevent to this article. =)

    ------------
    CitizenC
  • The difference between NBCi's "clicking on a word for more info," and a useful idea, is the same as the difference between "lightning" and "lightning bug".

    (Apologies to M. Twain.)

    So do I click on each word in "lightning bug" or just mentally add the results of the two different clicks?
  • I never saw anything announcing the winner...
  • A quick note to you and the rest of the "scoopers" The News here is the posts not the Item. K?
  • The German term "Schadenfreude" has seen a lot of play in recent months. It means, "Taking joy in the suffering of others", and it perfectly encapsulates the spirit of not only the "eCompanyNow" article but of many of the new websites that have popped up to celebrate the downfall of the dotcom economy.

    The eCompanyNow article was something of a cute encyclopedia of some of the greatest excesses witnessed in the midst of the tech bubble. I enjoyed reading it, and laughed out loud at seeing so many portraits of hubris and foolishness in so compact a setting. But it makes for ironic reading, considering the origins of the magazine itself.

    eCompanyNow was a rag brought into existence by Time, Inc. for the express purpose of soaking up a fair share of the funnymoney dotcom advertising dollars being generated by the mania itself. But the timing was less than opportune, since they came to market in May of 2000, as the bubble had already begun its rapid deflation. The dotcom advertising budgets that had led magazines like "FastCompany" and "Business 2.0" to swell to the size of phone books were suddenly gone, and as a result, the new economy magazines have all found themselves in a perpetual state of whithering, many looking anoxeric compared to their 1999 selves.

    Not all new media rags were guilty of contributing to the bubble. Some were actually attempting to do a public service by reporting on the bubble as a genuine problem that was undermining both the common sense of the investing public, and the morality as well.

    "Red Herring" was somewhat lonely as tech rags go, as they constantly decried the ever-inflating bubble in 1999, even at the risk of alienating the dotcoms that were advertising in their magazine.

    Consider this prescient story [redherring.com] from October of 1999, called "Internet bubble popping American business ethics?". I admired Redherring enormously for continually bringing the bubble to the attention of their readership in the midst of the madness, when so many other tech/stock rags didn't have the stomach or brains to do the same. It takes guts to tell your readers that they are delusional and your advertisers that they are doomed, but Redherring did as much when the mania really got overwhelming.

    Now, "f-ckedcompany" [fuckedcompany.com],"downside.com" [downside.com] ,"NetSlaves" and [netslaves.com]"failure magazine" [failuremag.com] have all become the order of the day, each basically engaging in the time-honored tradition of "kicking them while their down". It is to be expected.

    But one has to wonder, how long can the gleeful celebration of the death of stupid dotcoms last? Like vultures surviving off of the carcasses of dead and dying animals in the midst of a sudden drought, after a while, you've picked the bones clean, and there is nothing left to eat.

    Kicking the recently humbled dotcom stars I guess is to be expected, but it will itself become tiresome. And then what will fuel the existence of those sites that were created solely for the Schadenfreude? Will they fail and be mocked by a 2nd generation version of themselves? Or simply forgotten? (I suspect they'll be the last to die before a new phase begins.)

    And what will become of "eCompanyNow"? Soon they have have no more companies to mock, and no more advertisers to subsidize the mockery. Consolidation is already whittling the new media magazines down to a precious few, and I believe I've heard rumors that "eCompanyNow" will be merged with "Business2.0" and renamed "Business2.0". I hardly care what happens to either, given the fact that both are predicated in their very names on the myth we now have watched vanished before our eyes. There is no "Business2.0" model- that was the lie that we were being sold in the midst of the mania. There is no "eCompanyNow" model to embrace. We're back where we started, looking to the "Fortune" and "Forbes" magazines that preexisted the latest bubble and the "RedHerrings" that decried it for wisdom about what is coming.

    FIN.
  • #99: "eCompany Now unveils the eCompany 40 in its March 2001 issue, touting its new portfolio as "40 Beat-Up Stocks That Will Rule the World." Since then, the stocks have shed more than 50 percent of their value."

    Ha ha, stupid eCompany! Oh, wait, who's publishing this list again? oh yeah, it's eCompany.

    This was the real problem with the internet "boom" and the ensuing stock market bubble -- totally incompetent people were offering market advice, and investors were actually taking it. eCompany isn't investment news, it's a Netscape portal toy publication. The thing that makes me sick is that the investment advice is so patently horrible that they even have the audacity to mock it outright in their own publication.

    Of course this isn't the first time people have gotten burned by chasing a "sure thing" stock tip from some essentially anonymous source. "Let the buyer beware," I guess. And no, I'm not bitter; I didn't personally invest in any of the issues on eCompany's little list. It's just that I know a lot of retirees who have essentially lost their shirts following investment advice like this, and from more allegedly "reputable" places, too, like cnnfn and cbs marketwatch.

    What it really goes to show, I guess, is the real watermark of the internet: irresponsible journalism. With all this hype, and columnists essentially a commodity, who has time to check facts?!


  • This article is a complete waste of bandwidth. They claim one of the dumb "E-Business" moments was the hamsterdance. It may have been one of the dumbest and pointless internet moments, but it had nothing to do with e-business.

    Unless hamsterdance.com formed a strategic alliance with Real Hamster that I haven't heard about.

  • Having worked for several folded dot coms and one that made it big, I can assure you that the problem *does* lie with a failure to consider things like a business plan, revenue models, profit......

    When I would point out the "plan" was just a bunch of hot air I would get either blank stares or be told flat out that market cap was what mattered, not profit or revenue. Year after year I was flabbergasted at the comic business models that would get VC.

    Of course since they were paying me big bucks it didn't seem prudent to quit in disgust. Maybe I was part of the problem. [shrug]

    The one dot com that did have a plan was a fantastic success. The owner retired with 160 million in his pocket. I was a short timer and only cashed in for 50K, but one of my friends got 250K after doing tech support for 2 years.

    My current employer is doing fine. I'm making lots of money. From where I sit the Internet is doing quite well.

    Jon Sullivan
  • It usually suggests that you disagree with a statement, as in usually followed by "I don't think so" or the like.
    The quote it seems to be directed at seems to support the view of most tech folks.

    To compare the 'internet bubble' with, say, the tulip bubble suggests there is a lot more valuable value added service with internet services than tulips. You buy a $10,000 tulip bulb and you are just making other rich idiots jealous. Making it easy for lazy-lovin' consumers to do less for more results sounds like a better business plan to me.
  • ...I read on Metafilter or Plastic.com first. Slashdot doesn't suck, it's just slacking.
  • Damn damn damn. I thought I'd fixed it for IE 5 Win, but I was wrong. Thanks for catching that. The best fix (IMO) would be to put .text after createRange()

    I usually use the most compatible browser around [webreview.com], so I sometimes fail to catch the annoying quirks [google.com] in IE 5 Win. For example, IE 5 Mac supports the Netscape-style getSelection() instead of Microsoft's object stuff, and supports navigator.plugins instead of the equivalent goop in VBScript.

  • by frankie (91710) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @11:55AM (#295859) Journal

    Strip out any spaces and save this in your browser's Favorites bar. Hilite some text, click the bookmark, and get the most relevant hits on the planet.

    javascript:q=(document.getSelection)? document.getSelection(): document.selection.createRange(); if(!q)q=prompt('Search:',''); if(q)location= 'http://www.google.com/search?q='+escape(q);

    Also, AutoGoogler doesn't send a continuous feed of click data back to a multinational corporation's marketing department. Your choice.

  • by TopShelf (92521) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:19AM (#295860) Homepage Journal
    The point here is to laugh at some of the more amusing corpses littered about the .Com landscape after some sensibility finally returned to the financial markets, and people actually expected companies to earn profits. The late 90's will always be remembered for this speculative mania, which turned out to have very few long-term survivors.

    The jury's still out on Amazon, in my book. They still bleed cash like a gusher, and until they actually turn a few quarters of positive results, I'd still bet on an eventual collapse.

  • by TheReverand (95620) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @08:53AM (#295862) Homepage
    Redhat IPO's [yahoo.com]
  • by DrCode (95839)
    It's been slashdotted!
  • To have this work in IE, I think you need to add .text:

    javascript:q=(document.getSelection)? document.getSelection(): document.selection.createRange(); if(!q)q=prompt('Search:',''); if(q)location= 'http://www.google.com/search?q='+escape(q .text );
  • What is more interesting is, instead of stupidly gloating, to note which companies are still *in* business and why, rather to glibly talk about the failure of e-business. Some companies are making money, or have viable business models. Ok, so pets.com is dead. Oh darn. But look, we still have Amazon.com, Paypal, and E-Bay!

    Do we have to go there again? The profitable companies sell pr0n.

    It will be a sad day when RedClouds [redclouds.com] goes under. -Tell 'em Igor sent ya!

  • Jon Katz? How's THIS one???

    http://slashdot.org/features/98/11/09/1124 251.shtm l

  • Also scooped by nerdperfect

    http://www.nerdperfect.null/display.np?sid=543

    for users of OpenDNS.

    http://www.nerdperfect.com/display.np?sid=543

    for users of legacy DNS.


    Claim your namespace.
  • Hehe, too bad most of them don't admit it!

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by kreyg (103130) <kreyg&shaw,ca> on Thursday April 12, 2001 @10:45AM (#295869) Homepage
    I always found the most curious thing about sites generating revenue through advertising was the huge inner loops with no external source of revenue.

    That is, company A and B advertise on each other's site, but both A and B derive their income entirely from advertising revenue... which only moves money around, doesn't make more. Since expenses are non-zero, and even the cost of moving the money around is non-zero, it's just a recipe for disaster.

    I always wondered where the traditional advertisers were. Brand name recognition, like Coke or Pepsi, is the only thing web advertising is REALLY good for. People can only read one page at a time (even if they have several windows open) and are, in general, looking for a piece of information. Click-through advertising relies on the reader to disrupt their search and chain of thought.

    I don't know anyone who would impulse buy a web server, which is what click-through really measures. Checking revenue before and after advertising is introduced is probably the best way to determine its success... unless nobody wants the service you are offering, which would cause TV advertising to fail miserably as well.

    And if I punch the stupid monkey, I'm going to need to buy a new monitor. But, hey! This is the web! When I need something, I'll go find it! I don't need to be advertised to about it!

    The ultimate point is - advertising in interactive media cannot divert the users attention away from the task they originally arrived at the site to complete. The Web is not TV, if you need a cliche.

    Advertising is not yet powerful enough to cause everyone who sees/hears the ad to spontaneously buy the product. From that perspective, the dotcom crash is actually a victory for capitalism - the consumers have chosen, and no amount of marketing could change that.
  • by devlogic (109750)
    55 On Jan. 12, 2001, MGM releases AntiTrust, a movie about the high-stakes world of the software industry, starring Ryan Phillippe as a computer-programming genius.

    To tell the truth, I don't see how this is a dumb moment in e-business. Ignoring the fact that I really liked the movie (I thought the acting was pretty god, and the plot, while unlikely, was mostly believable), it didn't have anything at all to do with ebusiness. It was more along the lines of an inside joke about the open source movement, with a little BillGatus bashing on the side.

    Methinks whoever writes this list/e-zine/magazine needs to actually do research before throwing non-sequiturs on the pile...

  • Oh, yes, we're laughing now at all of these extraordinarily dumb ideas.

    Diffidently, though, I remind you all that they didn't seem like stupid ideas at the time. Some of the mistakes listed were self-inflicted, but not all of them. Some of them were simply ideas that didn't pan out -- they don't always.

    Now, the Digital:Convergence's CueCat... that one, I'll agree, was a monumental waste of money. However, lambasting the investors in a company that had a fugitive as a CEO? That's hitting below the belt.

  • How about the founding of LinuxOne?
  • amazon has made a lot of people rich, I would bet.
  • by The_Messenger (110966) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @08:49AM (#295875) Homepage Journal
    #102 -- When Slashdot.org finally aquires the "slashdot.com" domain name.

    --

  • I think this one takes the cigar:

    Bill Gates Eats Cow Feces
    by Rob Malda on 11:12:00 10/06/1998
    http://www.cs.hope.edu/~malda

    This maybe pure heresey, but I'm pretty sure that would explain why he is ugly and stupid and smells bad.


    --
  • by Ronin X (121414) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:35AM (#295881)
    My sorry pathetic whine is that for every dot.bomb, there is a story of a dot.fortune.

    Hmm, wouldn't that be pronounced "Dot-dot-bomb" and "dot-dot-fortune"?

    My personal favorite pronounciation is Digital:Convergence: "digital colon convergence"...sounds like a new digital ass-interface...

  • As the owner of "Downside [downside.com]", I can say "we told you so". We predicted the collapse a year ago, and backed it up with financial data and long lists of doomed companies.

    Here's what I wrote one year ago, the day Downside went online:

    4.14.2000 - Today begins the Second Great Depression

    • All bubbles burst. This one just did. The great Internet bubble is over. First we had Internet companies with no profits. Then we had Internet companies with no revenue. Towards the end, we saw attempts to take public Internet companies with no operations. It had to end, and it just did. This is healthy. It's not the end of the Internet, just the end of the stupidity. Now we have to get through a return to reality. "Reality", in this context, is a return to historical P/E ratios, in the 6 to 20 range. What about the companies with no earnings? Uh oh. Losing money on every sale and making it up on volume is a joke, not a business plan.

    Any questions?

  • by ajuda (124386) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:09AM (#295884)
    If you're into failed .coms, head over to fucked company.com You can hear about failed sites every day.


    This message was encrypted with rot-26 cryptography.
  • Putting all your chickens in one basket of an unproven, brand new technology type just because it's the fad of the moment. The smart ones used that as yet another diversification technique and not the entire portfolio.

    Snake oil salesmen use some of the same techniques to seperate people from their money. Yes, some actually had a good idea but the SNR was rather on the noise side then too.

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • One of my favorites is Ice Cream Source [icecreamsource.com]. For just $59.94 you can get six pints of Ben & Jerry's delivered. It seems like a wacked business model, but they seem to still be going.
  • Amazon patenting One-Click shopping and therefore triggering a boycott by the geek contingent.

    The effects of which were dramatic in their insignificance.
  • The real beautiful part about that commercial is that NBCi announced [wired.com] that they are shutting down last Monday, but the commercial is still running! I just saw it during Conan last night in the Twin Cities.

    Looks like the dumb dot-com moments keep on coming.

    Also of note: Of all the services offered by NBCi, what generated the most buzz was their pretty spokesmodel (reminiscent of the sock puppet spokesman for pets.com, which became their hottest seller).

    Hey, now there's a model for bailing out NBCi.com... nude movies of the "pick a word, click it, get information" girl.

  • Oh yeah, that one absolutely rocked. Would have loved if they were real teens though.
  • Actually, it's more like for every 100 dot-bombs there is 1 dot-fortune. Hell, even Amazon is still in the red.
  • by Fervent (178271) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:21AM (#295897)
    Chalk Keen.com up there. Are these people even thinking about the net and net mentality before they go out for venture capital? I'm going to call some total stranger, across country, and pay him for lackluster advice (when I can get better online advice for free)?

    And they already wasted a good part of their budget on their TV ads decrying (what else in irony?) TV's. "People stop watching TV when they're on Keen.com." Which makes NO sense at all. Why would the TV be complaining? They should have some guy holding up man pages in pain.

  • The guy smells the dog's behind. I dont know what the point was anyway..
  • by sulli (195030) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @10:29AM (#295903) Journal
    on the mute button. Gawd, those were awful ads.
  • Your missing the point. Most of them seemed more like:

    company A gets 100 million in fuding and two weeks later spends 80 million in a givaway promotion... then they declared bacruptcy three months later. The point as I saw it was these people, for the most part, were not the sharpest business people.
  • As a side note, I went and downloaded the QuickClick program. In MSIE, it runs as a toolbar, and underlines some words in yellow. Not every word, as the commerical would lead me to belive, but only some words.

    In my post, for instance, it underlines "Java", "QuickClick", "NBCi", and "Scientology". Clicking on an underlined word brings up a menu with a few links. For instance, "QuickClick"'s menu allows you to download it or go to the homepage. "Java" has links to the programming language, and "NBCi" has a menu two levels thick of news, stock info, analysis, etc.

    For Scientology, it has two links, both to the Scientology magazine, Freedom [freedommag.org].

    Looks like the Church beat me to the idea.

  • Strip out any spaces and save this in your browser's Favorites bar. Hilite some text, click the bookmark, and get the most relevant hits on the planet

    javascript:q=(document.getSelection)? document.getSelection(): document.selection.createRange(); if(!q)q=prompt('Search:',''); if(q)location= 'http://www.google.com/search?q='+escape(q);

    That is the coolest trick I've seen in a long time.

    To do it in MSIE 5.5 (which may work in other browsers) I made a bookmark to a random page, and put it in the "Links" folder (which is, for me, the folder that contains bookmarks displayed in the Links toolbar). This caused the link to appear in the toolbar. I then right-clicked, selected Properties, and pasted the code into the URL box. It warned me a few times that "javascript" was not a registered program, then let me click OK. Presto, I can highlight a word, click the "AutoGoogle" Link, and I get a Google search, and I can click Back for the previous page!

    I only wish you had posted sooner in the thread, so you could have gotten some mod points and more visibility. Maybe you'll get refered in a Slashback.

  • I found that you could hightlight a phrase, then alt-click on the highlighted phrase, to search on more than one word. It's a interesting idea, to feed words to a search engine from a webpage, but the auto-googler, mentioned elsewhere in the thread, is a better idea.
  • NBCi.com seems to have come late to the game, but are trying hard. My favorite "drum up enthusiasm for a TV portal" commercial is for the Quickclick [quickclick.com] service.

    You may have seen it. The NBCi spokeswoman walks dramatically on stage. Hundreds are in attendance, all with their own muted terminals. The screen behind her shows a HUGE display. She introduces the concept ("See a word, click it, and get information"), the people are estatic.

    Every detail is perfect and hilarious.

    The spokeswoman is the anti-geek - attractive, female, thinks Java is a drink, lips as red as Valentine's Day. All marketing, doesn't understand a line of code of the QuickClick tech.

    She has to have an exagerated gesture for everything. The motion for "clicking" is not pointing (that was used for "seeing"), but instead Jazz Hands, or the motion of throwing away a basketball.

    The people at their terminals are blasted by light as their screens turn into spotlights, or perhaps microwaves digesting metal.

    One poor guy is so excited, you can see him squirming, barely unable to take his eyes off his personal terminal to ask "Any word?" He climaxes the answer, "Yes, Any Word!"

    They thunder into spontaneous applause. One guy lifts his arms and face to the ceiling, as if to say "Thank You, God!" or perhaps "All Praise to the CEO of NBCi.com!"

    Unfortunately, NBCi is a little late for the dot-com buzz. Still, I giggle a little everytime I see this commerical, and the thousands of cultists who dressed in their best outfits for the unveiling of the new tech.

    With Scientology in the air, it even gets more interesting - old LRH's learning tech hinges on the idea that all misunderstandings are over misunderstood words. When you don't get a new subject, it is solely because you didn't understand a word (not because the material is hard, or doesn't make sense, or the teacher is awful). You are encouraged to look up all the words you didn't understand, and then you will understand.

    The Church could directly license this "tech" for their own use. "Free will? What's that?" Click. "Being Clear enough to follow the teaching of LRH! I get it!" Further, the introduction of the "SciClick" tech would look a lot like the NBCi commerical, except that the spokeswoman would be replaced by David Miscavige in a sailor's outfit, with or without the lipstick.

  • by Darth RadaR (221648) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:57AM (#295916) Journal
    The worst thing that a lot of dot-commers do is once they get some $ from Vulture^WVenture Capialists, they go and set up shop in some expensive, flashy office instead of getting a proper server farm and tech staff hired. They seem to forget that one of the benefits of having a web-based business is not needing to rent really pricey mall/office/storefront space. I'm a tech who knows squat about business, but I can figure that if you want to make a profit, cut back on any over-head that's not making revenue.

    Urgh! These clowns should go back to selling used cars.

  • *giggle* You naughty monkey! You were just trying to get me to reply, weren't you? *bats eyelashes*
  • I know it's been said many time before, but I gotta mention porn. They've been profitable since day 1 using advertising. Just try telling the owner of Persiankitty.com that advertising doesn't work on the Net!

  • One could easily say the same of mail order catalogues- there is no reason to presume that they will be any better, and yet thousands of people use them with success every day. Part of the problems of online shops is the ideas surrounding them. As the internet is so well known for its freedom, the everyday user is extremely sceptical about the reputation of any online business whatsoever.

    One only to do a simply search to come up with thousands of people trying to set up an online business, mostly without success. It's easy to see which have a reputable name after experience of visiting many websites. But the average shopper is not a hardcore geek who wants to spend hours online. There is a huge distrust of online shopping from the general public simply because it is so easy to be conned, give out credit card details and never hear from them again. It's the worry of this that is causing companies to fail.

    Unfortunately the internet and internet businesses have had extremely bad press as far as security is concerned- far worse than any mail order catalogue company has suffered.

    I am more than happy to buy clothes and books online whenever I can- I'm somewhat restricted being under 18 and therefore only having an english debit card not accepted by most of the sites from which I wish to buy. The return process should not be a problem- no more than mail order catalogues. It is the stigma surrounding internet businesses and the lack of trust created by bad press that has caused so many companies to fail. Naturally some should due to poor business plans and management, however many of the businesses which have plummeted and failed are due to the huge hype originally surrounding them followed by the disappointment of the public that it's not quite so easy and simple as "one click", coupled with the poor publicity concerning safety of credit card details being given over the net.

  • by Bonker (243350) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:17AM (#295926)
    ...in any way whatsoever. It's the harbringer of the new dot.reality.

    I mean, it's great to read it and keep abreast of what tech industries are getting bent over that week. If you find out that it's blocked at your company's firewall, you know to start polishing your resume!
  • by noz (253073) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @09:01AM (#295932)
    Uhm, I wish I was smart enough to earn browny points by reading Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] and then posting submissions to /. [slashdot.org]. Only now you've been caught!

    "100 Dumbest moments in e-Business history - Posted 04/12/2001 - 1:19am EST" on Ars Technica.
    "101 Dumbest Dot-Com Moments - Posted by Hemos on Thursday April 12, @12:44".

  • This reminds me of StanLee.Net, which died recently thanks to it's major share holder and "Consultant" Peter Paul. This bastard, friend to greedy shits all over America, sold most of the stock (reducing it below $1.00) and single handedly destroying Stan Lee himself and yet another attempt to bring comics to the Net.

    This is more than a 90% reduction in the stock price, within 3 days (!).

    From their desks in the "bullpen", employees gasped as they watched the stock drop like a dead donkey from the top of the Daily Bugle Building. No Spiderman webs to catch that fall.
    ______
    jeff13
  • by Proud Geek (260376) on Thursday April 12, 2001 @08:57AM (#295935) Homepage Journal
    For every ugly website founded on millions of dollars of venture capital with a shaky business plan and appeal to at least zero people worldwide, there is another one that is just as ugly and appeals to just as few, but has more funding and no business plan whatsoever.
  • Building a market on advertising, when your customers are primarily people who are too cheap to pay for your content, seems to be the stupidest idea business has ever had. If you remember back in the days of 1999 (when I broke my e-business hymen with a small web company that did amazing work and made a lot of dough before being bought by a larger dotcom), everybody was about brand building, becoming the best known name in what they did. And of course, money would miraculously follow...offer the advertisers a huge name that they were plotzing to get space on. But somewhere along the line, people decided to start watching click throughs -- which was the nail in this type of business's coffin. Free content appeals to those of us who like free stuff, a class of people who aren't interested in impulse buys or leet gizmos. And of course, by the time decent content came about (and there is a lot of it around nowadays), the bottom had fallen so far out of this advert barrel for the remaining cash to spread far enough to cover the cost of truly great sites.

    E-business, however, is not the same as what we call the "dot com" model. The dot com model is content for advertising. E-business is a more robust form of catalogue and phone business, which has survived for years and years before computers could count to 257.

    Now, the trick is to find a way for all these wonderful content sites to stay cohesive, to make online newspapers a boon rather than a drag on print sales. The trick is to survive the stupidity of the branded marketting boom and move into an application and content model that is condusive to magnificent content but also will pay the bills. The internet has spent the past three years selling its cow for the magic bean of advertising, but it only grew into a small cactus. It's up to us -- the internet users, internet industrialists and yes even us open software paranoids -- to find a way to make the web work. I think it's going to take a lot of sacrifice -- hosting houses are going to have to drop their costs and standards will need to be opened rather than closed. Users will need to be educated in a way that benefits the 'net, because for every user tricked by a "your browser is not optimized" bar is one more who is wary of the new economy. And methods of payment will need to be found that don't require micropayments, advertisements OR goodness-of-your heart donations.
  • Melanie Griffith, the star of Crazy in Alabama and the founder of MelanieGriffith.com, tells Paper Magazine, "I don't care if people think I'm a dumb blond or stupid or an overage actress or over the hill. I don't care because I'm gonna have a very successful Internet company, and I'm gonna have $100 million in the bank and I don't really give a shit what anybody thinks!"
    I'm deeply saddened this site never made it to NASDAQ. After viewing her business model I always thought it would be a good idea to patent the whole concept of "Stupid"

    Think about the marketing that could have been:
    • Stupidity (perfume) 29.95
    • Dumb Jeans (a shirt) 79.95
    • Assinine Shirts (jeans) 59.95
    • Retarded socks (underwear) 19.95

    I mean Melanie is as sharp as they come.

    Is this the authentic apology [antioffline.com] from George Bush to China?

  • But it does not take hindsight to see that companies with no revenue and no coherent plan for collecting money from anywhere aren't a great investment...
  • Most people (myself included) hate the (almost dead but not quite dead) "culture" of the dotcom companies. Lavish offices in swanky locations just to show off and very expensive equipment and furniture for the twenty-somethings calleing themselves C*O and fast talking 'know nothing' IT pseudo-consultants. This whole farce would drive a saint to insanity. Now that most of them are titsup.com hopefully new and stable startups will keep popping up and who knows we may see the resurection of uber-cool so called basement startups(tm). Just the way it used to be in the eighties. Because you don't build a company by spending wads of money first. You build it by having a good product that people want first and growing from there. Good riddance dotcom world! Don't come back any time soon.
  • I see his spelling hasn't improved.

Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you never can tell." -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"

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