Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Surviving after the Dot-Com Collapse

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Surviving after the Dot-Com Collapse

Article excerpt

How can you make money on today's lean-and-mean Web? Ever since the dot-com collapse of 2000 and 2001, with thousands of Internet companies shutting down their sites and billions of dollars lost in new-economy investments, people have been asking this question. Many have tried to answer it.

Some of the best answers come from a new book by Bill Lessard and Steve Baldwin, one-time Net entrepreneurs themselves. NetSlaves 2.0 is a follow-up to their first book, NetSlaves, which chronicled dot-com workers who put in interminable hours for the pot of silicon at the end of the rainbow that for most never materialized.

Their new book is more than yet another Internet revolution postmortem. It's the story of what became of the foot soldiers who worked the trenches in the Net economy, from those who survived the collapse with varying degrees of damage, staying in the game as best they can, to those who have given up on the industry entirely.

Lessard and Baldwin put their own Net stake down, creating a Web site by the same name as their books where dot-com workers could commune in cyberspace. In June they ceased operations while keeping a shell of their site still online - as a "floating monument to failure," said Lessard in a phone interview. They recently took this down as well.

At the end they were charging $4.95/month for subscriptions and running banner ads. They were getting 700,000 page views per month at their peak, but ultimately, like so many others, they "didn't make money," Lessard said.

From their own experience and that of the Net workers who used their site as a virtual water cooler, they learned some good lessons, which they share in their book using the style of the online world - informal, energetic, brash, funny, sometimes confrontational or disjointed, often engaging. To succeed today after the bust, "just do the opposite of what everyone did during the boom," they write. "Anything less, and you're toast, pal."

For those wanting to make a go at e-commerce, they write, success will "belong to the scrapper who watches every penny and bends over backwards for customers. (Radical thoughts indeed for an industry notorious for putting the customer last, wasting billions of dollars of investors' money, and foisting junk products and junk IPOs on the unsuspecting masses.)"

Lessard and Baldwin have coined the term "bootstrappers" for those who run small, profitable technology companies on a shoestring budget, depending largely on themselves for both capital and creativity. …

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