Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Monster Back in a Box

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Monster Back in a Box

Article excerpt

Like the Microsoft Corp. before it, Monster.com discovers eating the daily paper's lunch is easier said than done

Writing about Monster.com in last week's issue ("That Monster won't go away," p. 5), our Lucia Moses quoted several whip-smart industry observers warning newspapers not to gloat about the accelerating troubles of the online job board's parent, TMP Worldwide. Sage advice, no doubt. Nevertheless, our second reaction was, indeed, to gloat.

Our first reaction was a flood of nightmarish memories from the summer of 1997 that nevertheless triggered something like nostalgia. Then, Manhattan was mugged by Sidewalk. The logo of Microsoft's online city guide was everywhere: on billboards, buses, cabs, subway cars -- even the street-cart umbrellas of hot-dog vendors.

We remembered, too, the fear many publishers felt back then. The Colossus of Redmond, Wash., would wield its virtually unlimited resources to create massive, speedy, and user-friendly arts-and- entertainment listings. Sidewalk would strip newspapers of their local advertising franchise, starting with movie theaters, restaurants, and night spots -- and finishing with the capture of classified ads. Newspapers were doomed. They were "smearing ink on dead trees." They just didn't "get it."

But by the summer of 1999, Microsoft had rolled up its Sidewalk after pouring an estimated $200 million into the venture. In New York and every other market Microsoft targeted, the supposedly pokey local papers proved far more nimble than Sidewalk. Locals and tourists alike tried Sidewalk -- and ended up relying on the newspaper, in print or on the Web, for the most reliable content and service. …

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