E-Mail from the Valley

By denton, nick | Management Today, June 2001 | Go to article overview

E-Mail from the Valley


denton, nick, Management Today


In 1998, I invested some money in a start-up Silicon Valley company called iSyndicate, an online syndication marketplace for content; and, for a while, it seemed like a competitor to Moreover, the web monitoring company I co-founded. Now, iSyndicate is in colourful, messy trouble.

Some of its investors, which include NBC, Microsoft, News Corporation and Bertelsmann, have refused to disburse funds they had committed. The company's sales fell 70% below target. The CEO's workplace romances got him into legal trouble. The company is in a firesale, but a potential acquirer is deterred by the liabilities.

Very little of this has been reported in the mainstream media. iSyndicate is just not important enough to warrant coverage on News.com or The Industry Standard.

So, how do I know all this? Well, in part, because we are interviewing recently laid off employees from the company. But mostly they are just confirming what I have already read on Fucked company.

This is an online bulletin board for disgruntled employees and customers of vulnerable dot.coms and has become a potent source of information about internet companies. The name drives terror into the hearts of CEOs, investors and PR professionals.

Its implication is shocking: that there's a new information food chain; that management should expect all internal information to be shared with the outside world within hours; and that there may be no such thing as a corporate secret.

The site takes no responsibility for the content, though it will take down postings in response to ferocious cease-and-desist letters. Many of them are puerile, slanderous or just plain vicious. They need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but anyone with an eye, such as a journalist or a competitor, can tell quickly which are written by well informed insiders.

As Fucked company is to the internet sector, so Vault.com is to blue-chip companies: less vitriolic, but all the more credible for that - a reader can get a breakdown, sector by sector, of the investment banking profits of major financial institutions. The pharmaceutical industry has the Biotech Rumor Mill, and some companies, such as Ford and AOL, are privileged to have web sites dedicated to making their lives a misery.

None of this would matter if the readership was limited to disgruntled employees, but investors, customers and competitors have become avid readers. …

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