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From Dot-Com to Dot-Gone --a Diary

January 05, 2001|STEPHEN HUNT | Writer Stephen Hunt lives in Santa Monica. E-mail: sbh9924@hotmail.com

Labor Day, 2000--Arrive home from vacation to discover job at L.A.-based entertainment Web site has disappeared. "We all love you," says former boss with something approaching sincerity. "There's just no place for you here." San Francisco office needs a writer. She will recommend that I be re-purposed there.

Memo to Self: Check definition of "re-purpose." Make sure it has nothing to do with rural work camps.

Sept. 8--San Francisco office says it needs writer who actually lives in San Francisco, apparently unaware of New Economy concept called telecommuting.

Sept. 11--Unbeknownst to San Francisco, 35-year-old multimillionaire CEO plans to eliminate office there. No word yet on where CEO plans to "re-purpose" employees.

Sept. 13, morning--Unemployment rates down to around 3%. It's the best time in history to need a job!

Sept. 13, afternoon--In rare fit of industriousness, submit resume to a variety of Web sites, among them Razorfish. Have no idea what Razorfish does, but it has cool site and offices in Santa Monica, Soho, London, Milan, Stockholm and Helsinki. Within hours, receive automatic e-mail thanking me for my resume, we will contact you, don't contact us, yada, yada. Spend remainder of day hiking in Topanga Canyon, still fantasizing about being a Razorfish trouble-shooter. Will fly to New York, stay at Mercer Hotel, eat at overpriced hotel restaurant on Razorfish expense account. Will rise at dawn to fly to Helsinki where, in vodka-induced stupor at tony New Economy bar, will stumble on to the "new Nokia" of the coming Wireless Revolution. Will introduce youthful, bearded, brilliant-but-naive Finnish high-tech visionary to Razorfish execs--whatever they do. Soon, very soon, it will be IPO time. Become overnight billionaire at 39, without ever setting foot in those recherche income brackets occupied by people such as the 35-year-old CEO who "disappeared" not only me and the San Francisco office but his fiancee just weeks before their wedding. "She has no reason to be upset," he said about the fiancee. "I gave her fifty grand."

Oct. 19--In second-hour lingering over coffee at local haunt, catch tiny paragraph buried inside L.A. Times Business section: "Razorfish . . . plans to fire as many as 200 employees, or 10% of its staff, less than two weeks after it warned that third-quarter results won't meet forecasts."

Oct. 21--Fly to New York for Subway Series. Can't afford tickets to Subway Series. Visit Soho Web producers I created pilot for earlier in the year, at which time I enthusiastically negotiated stock options and mastered such New Economy jargon as "dilute at same level" and "vests at."

Memo to Self: New Economy negotiating jargon is way of saying, "We'll pay you later, provided this bubble economy doesn't burst."

Nov. 27--Watch Nasdaq drop, fueling my growing realization that the whole Internet boom was a big pyramid scheme. Ugly turn of events could severely impact ability to bypass recherche millionaire and multimillionaire status and leapfrog to billionaire, via timely drink in Helsinki watering hole. As cosmic comeuppance, receive a letter from Toronto law firm: New Media magazine, which owes me money for article, has filed for bankruptcy. Debts: $5.7 million. Assets: $28,000.

Canadian dollars.

Dec. 4--L.A. Times reports a dot-com a day going out of business. More than 8,000 dot-com layoffs in November.

Memo to Self: Time may have passed for it to be best time in history to need a job. Corroborating fact: Present stretch of unemployment enters 13th week with no re-purposing in sight.

Dec. 12--U.S. Supreme Court announces it would really prefer it if Dubya were president. Finally it's time for that postelection stock bounce!

Dec. 13--Nasdaq drops 109 points.

Dec. 27--Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a private job-placement firm, reports that more than 100 Internet companies have closed since December 1999, including Garden.com, Furniture.com, MotherNature.com and Pets.com. "The two halves of 2000 were like night and day for dot-commers," Chief Executive John Challenger says in a report. "In the first six months, all you heard about were job fairs, lavish recruiting parties and after-hours mixers where would-be entrepreneurs hoped to meet free-spending venture capitalists. Now, pink-slip parties are the rage."

Memo to Self: Check to see if Kool-Aid is publicly traded.

Dec. 29--Nasdaq ends year at 2,470, down 39.3% and 51% off its high of 5,132 on March 10. Biggest single yearly drop in the history of major stock indexes. Sunday New York Times runs article on investing advice mentioning that your tech portfolio may have lost 40% of its value during year, as if this were a normal, everyday occurrence, like the Rangers missing the NHL playoffs.

Memo to Self: If the Chinese word for "crisis" is same as word for "opportunity," what does that make the Chinese word for Razorfish?

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