I’m reading a good book, dot.con by John Cassidy - see below to give it a read, on the heyday of dot coms and the Internet bubble of the late 1990s. The events described in the book seem to be happening again, with surreal valuations of Internet companies and hair brain online schemes coming out of the woodwork.
But the book has made me nostalgic for those glory days – the obligatory Fussball table, open and flowing bars, business meetings at Playdium, extravagant launch parties, expensive marketing campaigns, new technologies to learn every month, long hours and fat expense accounts.
While I’d like to think I was more level-headed than the others that got swept into the Internet insanity avalanche, I suppose my decision to go into the Internet field was influenced by rampant hyperbole in the media and business world.
At least I had good reason to go into the Net field. A friend at the time, however, quit her accountant career and took an Internet course to get into the then red-hot field (like many others she was back to her old career soon thereafter). For me though, I was working in dead-end jobs and had little luck putting my Film & Video degree to use. Still going into the Internet was rather crazy, as I didn’t have a computer, no email address, and had only been on the Net about 2 or 3 times before I decided to pursue a career in the field (I did work briefly for an Internet company earlier, by temping for Macromedia in their big launch of Dreamweaver). I almost went into eco-tourism instead as I loved travel so much. But I thought my media education and interest would be more suitable to the Internet. I also thought that television would be on the Net soon and my Film & Video degree would finally pay off!
After the dot bomb things kept chugging along and I thought there was much more sanity in the field. But the excitement over web 2.0 seemed to have history repeating itself again which is bad enough except that it’s happening again so soon!
Yes lately there’s been great reason for excitement (eg. social networking, participatory media, RSS, tagging, the semantic web, etc.).
But a news item today sums up the return to insanity. (As if the purchase price of Club Penguin wasn’t loopy enough, see my prior post on this.)
In MediaPost’s Just an Online Minute Wendy Davis describes the situation of Internet startup Eons. I hadn’t heard of it before, probably as it’s geared to baby boomers, but it was yet another social networking website. There are a gazillion already and really Facebook (& possibly MySpace) and LinkedIn, plus a handful of others are all that will ever be useful.
Eons, as recently as last March, received $22 million dollars plus another $10 million last year. Unsurprisingly, they have not delivered and the company is laying off one third of its staff.
Perhaps dot.con should be mandatory reading for anyone working or investing in the Net.