Dot Coms: Can Your Idea BE Any Dumber?Our recent Silicon Valley post got us thinking. The Great Dot Com boom was a heady time when venture capitalists willingly threw money, lots of it, at any idea with "dot com" appended to the name. Like the Gold Rush that came before it, a lucky few hit the jackpot while many, many more bit the big one. In hindsight, there's sometimes little to distinguish the ideas that became big and the ideas the came out of the gate flatfooted and destined to fail.
Some ideas became unexpectedly big hits. Who would have guessed that holding an online garage sale would result in the eBay colossus? Selling used clothes and dented pots and pans, sight unseen, to someone who claimed to have money, but could just as easily have been the perpetrators of the Nigerian lotto scam, seems a dicey bet, even now.
Some were early winners whose concept of running a company was a little sketchy. Who would have guessed that investors actually wanted returns and that every Stanford sophomore's digital wet dream wasn't necessarily a good idea? For example, Apple looked like the early favorite to dominate the OS market. Instead, Uncle Bill and the Seattle Microserfs became so big they now tell governments what anti-trust fines they will pay instead of the other way around.
Other ventures were patently stupid from the start. An early incarnation of ISP PeoplePC had a great idea. In an era of $2000 bare bones PCs, they gave away free machines to anyone signing up. Imagine our shock when that idea flopped!
Or Webvan, the online grocery. It turns out people actually want to look at their meat, smell their produce, and make sure their cheese isn't a penicillin culture in situ. Add the 28k dialup modems of the time and perusing their image-laden pages gave a 4-hour shopping trip all the appeal of seeing the Abu Grahib dentist. At one point, Webvan inked a $1.5 billion contract to build nationwide warehouses and logistical systems to compete with the likes of Safeway who already had warehouses in every neighborhood. They called them grocery stores. Throw in the huge fleet of new trucks and having to make money-back, guaranteed deliveries on tight timetables in crowded metro areas and disastrous hilarity ensues.
However, Webvan did have one positive outcome - it gave us the idea to propose a few dot com ideas that make about as much sense:
eBarber - Getting a haircut is time wasting and you never get exactly the look you want. eBarber is the answer! Surf on by, have an online chat with one of our hair styling professionals, and get a complete review of your perfect hairstyle. We'll provide you with a 67-page report showing the style mathematically chosen for you and throw in a coupon for 10% off a haircut at one of our brick and mortar stores. Sorry, we don't accept reservations.
Restaurenity - Restaurenity is the world's first online eatery. Choose from more than 16,000 entrees, desserts, and beverages and watch our award-winning kitchen staff cook it all up for you (streaming media application required). Our wait-staff will serve your sumptuous repast with the utmost care, professionalism, and flair! You can even watch a 600 pound man or woman (you decide, * transsexual diners coming in the fall!) consume your memorable online meal in full view of our 24 hour webcams. Digi-Yum!
DigiRide - Need a rental car? DigiRide's for you! Select from one of our 25 different models and we'll drive the car between any two destinations in the United States (not applicable in Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, and Texas). Just plug in your starting point and destination and leave the driving to us. You'll know when we arrive because we'll send you a customized online confirmation and a bill for $73.56 per mile (first 300 yards free!). Isn't it great knowing you never have to leave home again?
BloggerNation - Need news and information quick? Accuracy not an issue? Want to have only your opinion parroted back to you? BloggerNation is for you! Just pick the blogs you want and we'll send you a free RSS feed anytime they publish!
Oh, wait. We have that one already.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, April 02, 2006