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Dotcom Business Plan Archive Open for Business 105

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the recipes-for-disaster dept.
prostoalex writes "The next time you launch a huge online enterprise designed to cash out on Nasdaq IPO, it might be worth to check the Dotcom Business Plan Archive, MSNBC warns. David A. Kirsch, a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, is collecting dotcom business plans and stories about creative destruction. Alas, both archives require free registration. There have been other attempts at creating such a collection."
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Dotcom Business Plan Archive Open for Business

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  • by fembots (753724) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:20PM (#10659774) Homepage
    1. String together a collection of dotcom business plans,
    2. Put them on a website
    3. Attract as many users as possible
    4. Don't make users pay to see these business plans (free registration is required), but attract advertisers who want their logos displayed alongside the glorious business plans.
    5. Profit!!
  • Also known as... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:20PM (#10659775)
    Fucked Company [fuckedcompany.com].
  • 1. Collect dot.com business plans 2. ??? 3. PROFIT!!!!!
  • Nice one (Score:5, Funny)

    by dmccarty (152630) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:22PM (#10659788)
    There have been other attempts at creating such a colelction.

    Apparently there haven't been many attempts at running Slashdot submissions through a splel chekcer.

  • WHAT?! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    You mean some of them actually had a written business plan?!
    • They did, but never one to generate a product or profit. They just generated venture capital and blew it on expensive toys.
      • Look at your post with the tag line in place.

        Kind of blends together.

        I'm just picturing a bunch of geeks blowing millions of dollars on anime and games in one wild orgy of geekiness.

        • The tag line is for a site owned by my daughter and her husband.

          Help your kids become very successful, they will pick your nursing home.
      • They did, but never one to generate a product or profit. They just generated venture capital and blew it on expensive toys.

        So true. The dot-bomb where I worked for about 15 months was a classic example of this. We had enough funding to keep a small group of us going long enough to create something useful. But the CEO hired by the board of directors ruined all that. They paid him a $300,000 salary, plus a $50,000 per quarter bonus that had no performance parameters. He submitted weekly expense report

    • Where do you think buzzwords go to die?
  • damn registration (Score:5, Informative)

    by applegoddess (768530) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:24PM (#10659794) Homepage
    http://bugmenot.com/ [bugmenot.com]
  • Great ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by allden (748789) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:26PM (#10659805)
    I am very sure the collection might have some great plans of companies which failed because the inertia of the market meltdown. One could even find plans which would had been too advanced for that time. Those plans could be used now.
  • A masterful plan:

    1. buy an old broadcast network
    2. ???? It's syngerny. Sell off trouble makers [slashdot.org] like Slate [slashdot.org] to keep people in line.
    3. profit?

    It's not all in your head.

    • by jgalun (8930) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:33PM (#10659833) Homepage
      You're a moron:

      A) Microsoft didn't buy an old broadcast network. Microsoft doesn't own NBC, they partnered with NBC. Big difference.

      B) If Microsoft was really bothered by Slate recommending Firefox, they would have tightened their control over an operation that they wholly owned. Selling it - so that it has even more freedom to criticize you - makes no sense in those circumstances. I thought we were supposed to be afraid of corporations controlling the media - not afraid of corporations selling their control of the media!
      • If Microsoft was really bothered by Slate recommending Firefox, they would have tightened their control over an operation that they wholly owned. Selling it - so that it has even more freedom to criticize you - makes no sense in those circumstances.

        We shall see how long Slate makes it on it's own or if anyone actually buys it. Nothing cracks the whip like a demonstration of the no viability of your whole business. In the mean time, the author and the editor will be canned.

        It's control as much as all th

  • by Dancin_Santa (265275) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:28PM (#10659816) Journal
    It's easy to look back now and scoff at what seem to be ridiculous ideas. "Sell catfood over the internet?" Yeah, well, that's what Petsmart is doing now.

    The problem was not an abundance of bad ideas, it was that no matter what new market arises, in this case the Internet, the entrenched business community will usually be able to make significant headway into the new market beyond what a startup with a good idea can do. The cost of starting up a new company and putting into place the infrastructure to support doing business is much greater than simply adjusting an existing business model to take advantage of the benefits of the new business environment.

    The result is that the startups get bought up, stomped down, or suffocated out of the market that they themselves created. The entrenched companies have the resources and mindshare to do that to the smaller companies. Only in a handful of success stories do we see a startup taking over a market where entrenched business was too late, too hesitant, or unwilling to take advantage of the new paradigm (Amazon vs. B&N/Borders).

    The moral of the story isn't that you shouldn't bet the farm on a silly idea. The silly idea isn't always going to seem to silly if it takes off. Most of those dot-bomb creators are rolling in money. The ones who scoff are still making $40,000 a year writing articles for Wired.
    • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:38PM (#10659851) Homepage Journal
      $40,000/year would be a nice raise for me. Then again, my bosses are assholes.
      • Most of those dot-bomb creators are rolling in money. The ones who scoff are still making $40,000 a year writing articles for Wired.

        And the wired writers, who work for a living, have the right to scoff at dotbomb insanity.

        ...Want to buy some nanotech-tulips?

        --

    • Most of those dot-bomb creators are rolling in money. ...and we call them "thieves."

      I don't care how much money a blatant thief is rolling in. Bob Scheer put it quite well regarding the dot-com's larger cousins (WorldCom, Enron, GlobalCrossing): "these guys have done more damage to capitalism than every communist who ever lived."
    • the entrenched business community will usually be able to make significant headway into the new market beyond what a startup with a good idea can do.[...]The entrenched companies have the resources and mindshare to do that to the smaller companies.

      Plus they understand boring things like logistics, inventory and supply chain management, plus even more boring things like accounting & cost control. Sadly, many of the dotgone brigade didn't have the foggiest fuck of a clue about any of that. It was "sooo

  • by satans_advocate (787715) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:37PM (#10659847)
    So, unlike others who scrambled to get first post, I went and had a look at the archive.

    Errm... it's a bunch of business names with a "submit information on this company" button next to them. So I did another search for listings with multiple documents and finally found a business plan after the tenth company I looked at which was Artex.com, business plan here [http].

    Looking at the executive summary, these guys planned to take a $20M investment and be generating $136M in revenues in two years. Ah, the hubris of those great days would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

    Anyways, so they planned to spend $3.5M on hardware/hosting/etc, $3.5M the guys actually doing the software development and $11.5M on the marketroids to sell the idea (and presumably the artwork). No doubt the marketing guys were being paid 3 times the software developers also.

    Is software development it's own reward? Do marketing people get paid a lot to compensate them for their frivolous job and their vapourous life?

    • by servognome (738846) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:40PM (#10660071)
      Do marketing people get paid a lot to compensate them for their frivolous job and their vapourous life?
      I wouldn't call marketing frivolous, at least in their importance to a business.
      Just go to a drugstore, right next to the $1.99 Wal-ynol is a $4.99 bottle of Tylenol. It's the same medicine, but somehow people are convinced the name brand is better. Sure the chemical engineers can figure out new ways to make each bottle 10 cents cheaper, but the marketing folks can convince people to pay $3 more. Which do you think is better for profits?
      Some marketing person convinced us that $5 for a cup of coffee, or $100 for a pair of shoes is reasonable; They even convince people that american beer "tastes great"!
      You shouldn't dismiss the social and psychological side of business. Too often the "better" product doesn't sell as well because people think the other product is "better."
      • You are right, but there is a problem. In this case, the marketing guys took the $11M, said "Sure, we can sell this, leave it to us, we know better", and let the company sunk, and went to the bank laughing all the way.

        An ethical professional would have said "You know, this business will die, horribly. Selling catfood through the internet isn't going to work, at least not today. Keep your millions, this advice will cost you $X thousands dollars".

        The IT guys couldn't know this. It isn't their work. But it w
        • An ethical professional would have said "You know, this business will die, horribly. Selling catfood through the internet isn't going to work, at least not today.
          I think that's more of a hindsight arguement. It was probably a combination of a workable idea, starry eyes of the .com boom, and ego thinking "I can make this work".
          Same thing happens to other professionals like programmers (late, overbudget, buggy products)
          • Yeah, of course today it looks stupid, because today we know what happened. But back in the day, some people (of course the minority), MUST have realized what was going on.

            In fact, Paul Graham did realize that Yahoo stock(which had employed him) was priced waaaay above reality. And acted accordingly. He sold his stock, and told his friends to do the same.

            He was a programmer. Yes, he had a lot of business vision. But the market guys should have had a lot more of this than him. It was their fricking job.
            • Actually most people realized what was going on, the problem was they didn't want to get burned by no going with the momentum.
              In late 90s lots of people said, yeah the market is overpriced, but it keeps going up so they had to stay in.
              The fear of fund managers was to not have certain stocks, then have them double in price (for no reason), and look bad because they only managed 10% growth while others were at 70%. So it became a continuous cycle.
              I remember a commercial, I think it was for beer, and a couple
      • You shouldn't dismiss the social and psychological side of business. Too often the "better" product doesn't sell as well because people think the other product is "better."

        Well, I didn't mean to come off sounding like the social/psychological side of business is frivoulous or vapourous, just the people who engage in it :)

        While your example of the ongoing benefits above (10c cheaper per bottle vs 3 bucks) has merit, it disregards the fact that without the chemists/engineers/ethnobotanists there would be n
        • Well, I didn't mean to come off sounding like the social/psychological side of business is frivoulous or vapourous, just the people who engage in it :)
          I know alot of engineers who went into marketing. There are different types of marketing. There are the vaccuous funny tv commercial clowns. Then there are the technical marketing folks who shape product roadmaps, who need to understand their industry and products.
          I didn't mean to say that marketing was more important than engineering, they need to go h
      • Generic acetaminophen does nothing for me but Tylenol-branded stuff almost always works. It's not this way for me with any other drug so I guess it must have to do with the buffers that Tylenol puts in their pills.
        • Generic acetaminophen does nothing for me but Tylenol-branded stuff almost always works. It's not this way for me with any other drug so I guess it must have to do with the buffers that Tylenol puts in their pills.

          Nope, that's called placebo.
          • Placebo, eh? Perhaps we could work together and find out the secret of this placebo that's in Tylenol. We'll corner the industry!
          • yeah, but I can take generics of anything else and it works just the same as the name brand. aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, sudafed, the only generic that is any different for me is tylenol.
            • That's because those "generics", as you call them, don't consist of the same thing. Take Tylenol Soar Throat for example: it actively uses acetaminophen, dextromethorphan HBr and doxylamine succinate (against fever, cough, and antialergen, respectively). Your "generic" probably only includes acetaminophen (for pain/fever relief). Make sure you check a complete list of ingredients before blaming a "generic" for not having the same effect as the brand name.

              PS: Look at how many variants of Tylenol there are [tylenol.com]
              • I know the difference between plain tylenol and tylenol sinus, ok? I can read an ingredients list.

                If I take regular Tylenol, which contains no active ingredients other than acetaminophen, it works. If I take a generic acetaminophen pill, which contains no active ingredients other than acetaminophen, it does not work.
      • No, it's less filling!
      • >>right next to the $1.99 Wal-ynol is a $4.99 bottle of Tylenol. It's the same medicine, but somehow people are convinced the name brand is better.
        This is supposed to endear us to these people?
        I think Bill Hicks [btopenworld.com] put is best:
        "By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing... kill yourself."
    • I'm the Professor at Maryland who has spent the last two plus years collecting the business plans and related documents. There are around 3500 objects from 2300 companies in the archive at present, with lots more in boxes and CDs in my office(s). Sounds like we need to improve the search functionality so you can find stuff you want to see. Full text search is on the way once we get the server situation straigthened out. In the meantime, let me also add that it's not just about the business plans; I'm al
      • I'm the Professor at Maryland who has spent the last two plus years collecting the business plans and related documents. [...] Sounds like we need to improve the search functionality so you can find stuff you want to see.

        Indeed. Also, an overwhelming percentage of entries seem to have no info on them besides the company name and description. Maybe the "browse by one or more documents" should be made a checkbox instead of one of the browse options?
        • I'll think about it; bottom line is that there are still many people out there who think that their old plans are much more valuable than they are; therefore, because they haven't given us permission, we can't allow public access to lots of the cool stuff we do have. Rats. Stay tuned.
      • Full text search is on the way once we get the server situation straigthened out. In the meantime, let me also add that it's not just about the business plans;

        Sorry bout that. The slashdot story billed it as a business plan repository.

        Perhaps if there were some way to search for a particular type of document (eg. business plans). I do find the other stuff such as anecdotal stories and listing documents, but if my real interest is the business plans, I want a way to go straight to them.

        Cheers,
  • > The next time you launch a huge online enterprise...

    So does this mean there's no help for the huge online sock emporium I am currently running?

  • by gtrubetskoy (734033) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:41PM (#10659864)

    I've signed up and have yet to come across any business plans, though there are some more or less intriguing docs like photographs of marketing trinkets.
  • I have been to the site and found no business plans. there is no actual content. You are supposed to post the business plan of your failed company I assume. Can't see any reason for somebody with a failed business to post their business paln that didn't work. I don't even think this plan would have worked in the nineties.
  • by jordandeamattson (261036) <jordandmNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:55PM (#10659909) Homepage
    I believe that this collection will be very useful to folks that are trying to see 1) what has been done and why it failed, 2) what assumptions (founded or unfounded were made), and 3) what want to see what failed but might work now.

    Unfortunately, the study of history - in any form - is very underrated in the current global culture and in American culture specifically. It is suprising to me the number of folks that feel history is 1) uninteresting, 2) irrelevnat, and 3) useless.

    I will be registering for this site (and for those of you that refuse to register, TANSTAAFL), and exploring what it makes available. I think I will learn a lot.

    And if you don't buy any of my arguments above, just remind yourself that this is a collection of the business plans that got funded by VCs. It can't hurt to look at them and use them as models if you are seeking VC funding someday for your idea.

    Yours,

    Jordan
  • by slashname3 (739398) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @10:57PM (#10659911)
    Why does everyone keep saying all those dotcoms failed? The basic business plan was to convince a venture capital group to turn over money. The "founders" of the dotcom then used the money to play around for a year or two doing all kinds of fun things and buying expensive toys and throwing parties. Then they had one hell of a garage sell as they unloaded all that expensive equipment.

    Saw this first hand at a storage service provider called Sanrise. Burned through something like 200 Million dollars in just a couple of years. Left more than a dozen Hitachi 9900 raid arrays and huge tape libraries all over the country.

    Heck of a party while it lasted. And for the CEO and a few of the founders I am sure they extracted a very nice sum prior to the final implosion.

    So all in all I would have to say that most of the business plans the dotcoms used worked just exactly the way they were suppose to. They extracted a huge amount of money from venture capital groups. The fact that most of them had silly ideas just makes the venture capital groups look very silly.
    • While many VC's did catastrophic investments, most of them are VERY good at protecting their investments from ending in the founders pockets until they've sold out, or the company has gone public. I'm sure a portion of dot-com founders that burned their VC's badly still managed to get out with lots of cash, particularly for companies that survived until some time after an IPO, but the majority likely were stuck with peanuts.
  • Former professor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LeiGong (621856) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:01PM (#10659927) Homepage
    I atteneded an undergraduate entrepreneurship class at UMD's Smith School taught by Dr. Kirsch. He's a great professor and is very passionate about archiving the .COM history. He used a lot of these business plans as part of his class. For each lecture we would do a case study of successful companies like Starbucks and many unsuccessful businesses. I must of read over a dozen business plans and case studies as part of his course. I think this resource is great for business professors and MBA students studying entrepreneurship. It showed the businesses that turned out to be failures were the ones that wrote the business plans to find money but didn't bother to follow through on it. The successful businesses were the ones that stuck to the original plan (assuming it was a good plan) and used it as a roadmap. You would be surprised by how many companies used astronomical figures like "$15 billion industry by 2005, with only a 1% market share..." Looking back at articles written in the 90's about rejected business plans, it made sense that so many were rejected... Business school and intro business/marketing classes should be required to teach these business plans as part of the ciriculum.
    • an undergraduate entrepreneurship class

      I've always found this fascinating. They teach an "entrepreneurship class" at the local high school here as well. I was invited to speak to this class a few times over the years; that's how I know that it exists.

      As an "entrepreneur" who never took a class in entrepreneurship (I own and operate my own small business -- my basic theory of business is that if more is coming in than is going out in expenses, then it's a success), I have no idea how anyone would actu
      • It's because of an attitude like that about 90% of businesses fold within 2-3 years of being started.

        Proper strategic planning can be learnt. Project management can be learnt. Business analysis can be learnt. Basics like learning methods for cost benefits analysis (i.e. not selling at a loss isn't always easy to avoid if the product or service is complex unless you actually spend some time figuring out how much it costs you to provide it), risk analysis, good hiring practices, basic accounting (good for s

        • It's because of an attitude like that about 90% of businesses fold within 2-3 years of being started.

          I don't think that's it. Personally, I have had my own business for ten years and have, lately, been "helping" another small businesses with a lot of stuff related to expansion and production of their product. I have seen a lot of small businesses come and go over the years, so I'd agree with you that most new small businesses fail. From talking to others about this, it seems that no matter what kind o
      • I have no idea how anyone would actually teach someone how to start a business.

        The vast majority of these "entreprenuership" classes are crap, because no one can really teach about how to be an entreprenuer. But, there are a few good programs that fall under the same header.

        A high school where I used to live offered a course that covered taking an idea from concept to market, basic economic prinicples (supply and demand, overhead, trade tarriffs), seeking investors, and writing a business plan. Of cour

  • by Anonymous Coward
    They just generate less and less funding in each new round of venture capital.
  • This ones perfect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dbIII (701233) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:30PM (#10660040)
    1. Become CEO of old unix company.
    2. Claim all *nix is belong to us.
    3. Get press by launching an unwinnable lawsuit against IBM.
    4. Get the company you run to pay millions in legal fees to your own brother.
    5. Watch share price grow as press releases hint that your tiny company can get IBM and millions of users to pay up or go out of business.
    6. Cut and run as the company implodes, and become bankrupt if necessary since all the cash is stashed with relatives or otherwise unreachable.
    7. If any of the company remains, sue it for letting you be such a wanker.

    8. Use your enhanced reputation to become CEO of a small and old soft drink company, and think about how it must have really invented coca-cola.

  • Surfed through a bit, didn't seem that good, with essentially lists of companies that folded, and a sporadic link to some pdf copy of an unfinished memo describing a vague business idea, or less.

    When I first started searching for this stuff, I wanted to see what a real business plan contained..
    Check out http://www.bplans.com/sp/ [bplans.com]; click on Sample Business Plans for some very thorough plans, but that page has some other stuff that might be useful (marketing plans, etc), although be warned, the company se
  • startup.com (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hrm (26016) on Friday October 29, 2004 @02:35AM (#10660940)
    Reminds me of a great documentary, startup.com [imdb.com], about a dot.com that wanted to do something or other that would make tons of money.

    So many funny and tragic things happened there that to this day I'm not entirely convinced that it isn't a mockumentary a la Spinal Tap.

    For us in old Europe it was a double treat, because we'd get to experience both the dot.com madness, as well as the "standard" American business practices, like the "Monday morning shout" and other weird (for us) motivational stuff.

    Definitely check this documentary out if you haven't already.

    • Well, there was Dot [imdb.com], which was a parody that was really close to the mark. More info at The Sneaky Kings [sneakykings.com] website. Startup.com was real, but as a parody, Dot was pretty close to the mark as well. A little too close.
    • What's a Monday morning shout? Never heard of such a thing.

      OTOH, my employee orientation was called 'Becoming One Voice,' which sounds horribly socialist/fascist.

  • The real problem I see, with many of these ideas, is not that they weren't good. It's that too much money was thrown into starting up a company based on a pipe dream that it will be worth 100 times what it's real-life true worth will really be.

    When you throw $100 million dollars of venture capital on a business that really requires only $5 million, what you end up with is a bunch of antsy investors who can't wait for the return on their investment. Many of these companies had sustainable businesses that
  • I already used my dot.com's business plan for toilet paper.
  • My dot com [weaselballs.com] is going to make it where the others have failed. Our business plan is infallible.

    I don't exactly know how this IPO stuff works, but I can't wait to allow people to make the claim that they own a tiny portion of my Weasel Balls.
  • Typical pages on the Business Page Archive (once you've finally figured out how to actually access the archive) look something like this:
    Company name and address, followed by:

    History

    No history yet in the archive for this company
    Documents
    No files yet in the archive for this company
  • Originally, 'creative destruction' meant reallocation of capital to uses that generated higher return. But, in the context of a weblog of the boom, maybe it means 'creative means of capital destruction.' :-(

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

Working...