Thursday, July 31, 2008

Internet Bombsites

Remember the days of the dot com bubble? Yeah, we all do because it only happened 10 years ago. Odd that a housing bubble happened right after it. Well a business website recently compiled a list of well known Internet Bombs. In the defense of the internet fever that gripped the nation, to most lay people, the potential was beyond our imagination, and reality would never match up to those dreams. Money making ideas were out there, just not where you would expect them. Many people forgot that many California gold rush miners didn't died penniless, but the pick axe and denim manufacturers and salesmen did well. I wrote a paper in 2001 about the destruction of some of these start ups in the manner that eToys.com killed itself: advertising expenditures and other ways of burning through cash raised on frivolous jets and other corporate toys. Many of these firms were given more money than they knew what to do with and were under 30 with no prior business experience. My paper wrapped up with a prediction that brick and mortar retailers and businesses would learn from the failures of internet only start ups and expand their corporate reach through the web for revenue growth with lower overhead. I falsely predicted the death of Amazon.com and subsequent purachase of Amazon by a traditional book and music retailer. All in all, the internet boom was a redistribution of wealth rewarding risk takers and creative, intelligent people that ended horribly as a lot of that wealth went >poof< as everyone crowded into the boat to get some green. The destruction of so much stock market wealth in so little time has still kept many Americans from investing in the stock market 8 years after the peak.

I had to attach a photo of the Pets.com sockdog. I loved the ads that they wrote for this sock puppet. Extremely quirky and funny, they could get you to laugh for the most ridiculous reasons. The sock dog sang "spinning wheel". I loved how they kept up the pretense that he was a dog ("he's got a stuffed thing") and mixed it with deliberate moments to show the puppet-ness of the premise ("i'm a happy puppet thing"). Having gone to wikipedia, I have learned that Michael Ian Black of "The State", which was MTVs funniest concept ever, was the voice of the sock puppet. I would look forward to each new ad. Sadly, selling low profit margin kibble on the internet was not a good business model. The company went under, the entire schtick became a symbol of the dot com boom, but the sock puppet lived in. The sock dog puppet likeness was sold for use in another company's ads. These were creative ads that I wished more companies used for television, but I fear companies would only do something like this through a 'viral marketing' campaign now.

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