Levi Asher is putting together a very definitive account of his ups and downs, both personal and professional, before, during, and after, the dot com boom of the late 1990s. Currently he is up to chapter 46, or events of around 2003.
I left the banking industry to join Time Warner’s new media division, where I played an integral role in the now-famous disaster known as Pathfinder. I also launched my own website, Literary Kicks, was hired to build Bob Dylan’s website, and had my own first taste of creative satisfaction and personal success. In 1999, I finally struck it “rich”, cashing in on one of the biggest IPOs in stock market history, just as my marriage broke up and my workaholic tendencies reached a hysterical peak. A year later, the high-flying dot-com stock market began to crash. My paper wealth disappeared along with my job and much of my remaining sanity.
An article written by Australian journalist Paul Ham in 2002, and republished on the website of Melbourne digital creatives DTDigital, bought back plenty of memories. Some good, and some not so good… not good at all:
The big Web designers charged up to 200 per cent more than they should have, according to GartnerGroup. The little ones would flog their granny for a client. The whole industry was built on an arrogant lie: that the design of a mere corporate brochure slung on the Internet was worth hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars to create. “Let us build it and the customers will come,” was the mantra of the Web’s early years; well, they built it, and it was totally ignored. Remember the Hong Kong firm charged $US100,000 by a Web developer for a $US49.95 part? Remember Westfield wasting $5 million on an online shopping centre? The history of Web development is nothing short of a fiasco.
Via the Australian INfront.
Here’s a blast from the past… design-communication-meisters of the dot com boom, Razorfish, have redesigned their website.
Despite the fact they were on the opposite side of the world (New York), ten years ago they were one company I would have loved to have worked for.
Razorfish were also behind a web fiction series I like a lot back in the day called This Girl, which followed the fortunes and misadventures of a twenty-something New York freelance designer named Phoebe.
Get into the onload guitar riff, and those hyperlink mouseovers, ahead of their time in 1997 they were. :)
“Creed” Chris O’Hanlon was one of Australia’s very own tales of dot com flamboyance. From humble beginnings in the not so humble Sydney suburb of Double Bay, Spike Networks became, for a time, the dot com epitome of world domination.
From its eastern suburbs web design studio, Spike, under the ambitious helmsman ship of O’Hanlon, not to mention the very generous backing of numerous venture capitalists, went on to expand into Asia, Japan, and the United States.
And Spike wasn’t just about a few very fancy, and very expensive websites either. At the height of the dot com folly, Spike radio was broadcasting on as much bandwidth as could be squeezed down its big fat, super fast, pipe to the web.
The Spike empire came spectacularly undone in the dot com crash however. The result was investors out of pocket by millions, employees out of jobs and entitlements, and everyone else wondering how so little could have come of so much hype.
Then stories of the extravagant lifestyle led by its high profile founder began emerging. Five star hotels, first class airline travel, and gourmet dining the world over, to say nothing of the extra martial affair with a Spike radio WJ (er, web jockey, perhaps) which degenerated into a sexual harassment court case.
So when an invitation from The Domain to hear O’Hanlon being interviewed by Mike Walsh of The Fourth Estate arrived a few weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity, estimating I would have to compete with numerous disgruntled former employees and investors of Spike for a foot in the door of the salubrious Club Bar at Sydney’s funky CBD hotel, to witness this “on the couch” interview.
In fact the evening did not turn into the rotten vegetable throwing free for all I had anticipated, and O’Hanlon only had to field a total of three audience questions, none relating to dubious past activities, business or otherwise.
Instead he offered an interesting insight into online media and communications in general. He has been working as a consultant in Japan for a well known car manufacturer in recent times, and spoke of how mobile phones had changed the previously rigidly structured fashion in which the Japanese communicated with each other.
He also spoke of the death of copyright, and the dearth of ideas when it comes to conceiving creative advertising campaigns for the electronic media.
I imagine the whole evening was really a plug of sorts for the upcoming publication of a book he is writing, “The zen of failure”. If nothing else, all of this shows that there are always opportunities to turn failure into, if not success, at least money.
The right attitude is also useful, especially when trying to turn around the tide of public perception. The gift of the gab, that is, the ability to sound intelligent, articulate, and well worded, is also somewhat useful.